Two year anniversary essay
This month is the two-year anniversary of my life with kidney cancer. A lot has gone on during that time. We all share these: the numbing appointment when the doc first reports that “it’s cancer”, the day of the surgery, the long recovery, the endless series of follow-up appointments at the oncologist’s office and, of course, the anxiety over the scan results. Then, there is the emotional side of it all.
Briefly, my situation is this: Cancer discovered in January 2013. On February 1, 2013, the surgery team removed my right kidney, a large tumor, a cancerous adrenal gland and 18 or so lymph nodes (most cancerous). Two months after surgery, I began an Everolimus clinical trial which lasted 13 months. All follow-up scans were clean until this past October. Then, we found four cancerous lymph nodes in my upper chest area. These have been caught fairly early. Now, I’m on Sutent … trying to find the right dosage for me. My latest scan was done just two hours ago. We won’t have to wait too long for results. It’d be good if the Sutent is doing what it’s supposed to do.
Some good things have happened through all of this. I have nothing but words of praise for the medical people that have entered my life. My local oncologist and his staff (sadly, I am there so much that I know most of them by name), the surgeon and the hospital where I had the surgery (including its recovery floor people and oncology department) have all been great. We really haven’t run into any ringers amongst all of those people. I am very grateful for having good people looking after me.
My wife has been beside me throughout. She has hung in there tough. We have had our meltdowns, for sure. But, through it all, we have persevered. She is right there with whatever help she can muster. I think that she’s been into most every cancer/nutrition cookbook in the local library. If there’s a way that nutrition can tilt the scales in my favor, she’s been on it. Oh, yes … there is also the exercise thing. Not my cup of tea, but she’s on it for me. Cancer is a tough thing to put onto a couple and I love her all the more for how she has been able to deal with it. That’s not to say that this hasn’t been difficult for both of us. But, we haven’t gone into a downward spiral.
I am also most appreciative of friends and family who have stuck by us. You know, those folks who really care, follow along with how you’re doing and also are around to have a little fun with. They seem to have an understanding of what we might be going through. Then, there are those folks who kind of abandon you. Maybe they don’t know what to say. Maybe problems like cancer scare them. Whatever it is, they kind of write you off. That’s been strange to see that happen. Folks seem to either step closer in this time of need or step away.
I am also appreciative of two years of pretty good health (considering) since my surgery. I’ve felt pretty good throughout and we have been able to enjoy ourselves. Some travel, a couple of cruises, etc. From that angle, it’s been a good two years.
Believe it or not, I am also grateful for my insurance company. The claims people haven’t stood in the way in any medical decisions. Claims have been processed smoothly. And, the claims people are decent to talk to. I didn’t need to go through battles with those folks.
I’m Stage IV; this is not exactly where I would have envisioned myself at this stage of life (age 63). I can see that there could be tougher situations to be in. I’m thankful that my body isn’t in more of a mess than it is. Sure, I’d like to be one of the Stage I or Stage II folks who I read about on the blog. I’ll take their odds any day. But, I’m Stage IV and I have to accept where I’m at.
I am really sick of this disease. If this is a joke, it’s time for it to be over.
I don’t understand people who choose not to take care of their bodies. Well, I had to learn this the hard way.
My heart goes out to the younger people that I read about on the blog. This would have been tougher for me if this had happened when my kids were still in the house or before my retirement was in sight. I see where some of the bloggers are back to work soon after the surgery. My hat goes off to you, too. Going back to work was one of the furthest thoughts in my mind. I don’t think that I could have done it. My prayers go to you younger family types and working people.
Our faith is another thing that’s been important to us. It definitely keeps us going. That’s one of the biggest things at work in our situation. Prayers are important.
That’s my philosophical bumbling for today. The two-year anniversary demanded something. Maybe you see some of yourself in bits and pieces of what I’ve shared.
Best wishes to all of you.
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