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“The Cure vs Extensions of Life” - Just Sundance Pondering...

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

It’s been awhile since I wound up and had something to say about much since surgery and now with the treatments beginning – sort of sapped my inspiration. But my mind has been busy writing this post a thousand times.

Having my 3rd recurrence this time around has gotten me to thinking a lot about my own mortality. Prior to this recurrence, I was always of the mindset that I was going to make it all the way – I might have to do these things, but I will do them and I will eventually walk away from this.

Like all of you, I have seen so many people on this site pass away this year – I’ve lost count there have been so many. It reminds of me a discussion I had with my first onco, a little over a year ago. I had told him about the board and how we were doing great things. He looked at me and said, “But some of those people are not going to make it.” I looked at him blankly – not my friends, I thought.

But, he was right there, his 35-years of experience was telling me what I then did not know. He’s seen Life and Death with many of his patients and he knew the realities of cancer. I was just too naïve to believe that anyone I cared about, would pass away.

As with any subset of test examples, there are going to be some on each side of the equation. We’ve seen folks who have lost their battle and we’ve seen a few folks, who have made it and gone on. We know it can happen – we hope it happens for us and we try very hard to attain that goal. The difference between the two groups is the numbers of people in each group.

As a realist, I’ve come to realize that “curarative” is still my doctor’s and my goal and that’s what my doctors are saying, and still in the cards – but then, on the other hand, just reviewing my own journey, has gotten me to think more and more about the role of medicines and “Extensions of Life.”

I want so much to believe still, but am a little more uncertain, than I’ve been in years past. The raw reality of the Board and watching my friends fade away has opened my eyes and showed me an alternate reality that I could not force myself to believe in the early days – but how I can argue with it after what I’ve seen?

Having said that, I’m still committed to winning, but I know I’m at a critical juncture for myself. If I can hold on for all that radiation again and all the chemo treatments, we will probably have knocked the cancer back down in the dirt for a spell. But how long?

As a Stage IV now, I’ve got but two choices: Fight or Die

Ultimately, I might still fight my hardest and still pass away. I guess what I’m trying to say is I wish there were some sort of mathematical equation with a “guaranteed return.” Something like, you will take XYZ for a period of 1-2-3 and it will equal ABC – and you can walk away and be free of the Cancer.

It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? Isn’t that what we all want? Well, of course it is. I’ve tried to adopt ol’ Phil’s methodology of “Living With Cancer” as a terminal disease. I’ve really got little choice but to look at it that way. I would just like to think of a life where Surgery-Treatments-Watch and Wait – and then “rinse and repeat” were a thing of the past for me and so many of us.

I know “The Cure” is the ultimate goal and I hope that mankind does see this dream to fruition one day in somebody’s lifetime. Until then, it does look to me as if the real progresses in medicine are coming in the “Extensions of Life.” What I mean by this, is that the medicines have advanced to such a degree that we are extending our lives much further than we would have otherwise – and with varying degrees of quality, over a longer timeframe. That’s where the real miracle of medicine is being won right now, IMO.

That’s certainly been the case in my 6.3 year journey so far – the lights certainly would have been turned out on me out long ago, if not for the treatments and surgeries available to all of us today.

I’ve always talked about RECURRENCE being where the real battle of Cancer is fought – and ultimately won or lost.

I still believe that. We can all do just about anything once in our lives and then with it behind us, it becomes out of sight and out of mind. Having to consistently repeat the performance over time and realizing that you must, is where we find our inner Courage and Strength.

For afterall, we have some semblance of what we are facing and to willingly step back into the arena of battle, does require much from the individual themselves. It’s as much a mental battle as it is physical. The body will go where the mind wills it to, a lot of the time.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago, that I may “Waver” or that I might “Bend” but that I will never break. But remember, that Sundance does not intend to quit and I will give it all that I have for this battle, because I feel it is a very important stop in my journey – the difference literally between Life and Death. Not much stronger motivation than that, I reckon.

I still strive to be somebody – and to be one of those folks on the board that people can point to – and say “I can do it too.” I fight as much for YOU as I do me, and you can believe that.

So very good to see everyone today – and as always, thanks for being there and sharing a part of my life – "for if we each live on in each other’s hearts, we truly never perish."

Take care and let’s all get well:)

-Craig

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi Craig,

I am sending you a big cyberhug. As usual, you put your thoughts into words so eloquently. I don't have any magic answers to any of this; though I sure wish I did. Some days I truly believe I will "beat" this, other days I think I can live with this as a chronic illness, + then there are days when I think, "who am I kidding?" Whatever my ultimate outcome is I have committed to myself, my husband + my kids that I will fight as hard as I can because I truly believe life is worth it + my family is definitely worth it. I think you are right about advances being made in extending life + although I would love + still hope for a "cure" I am happy advances have been made to at least prolong our lives. I have been reading articles on "hitchiking too - using one treatment for awhile until another better one comes along. Apparently some have lived a long time in this way. Losses on this board are so difficult, but sometimes I use them to help motivate myself in my own fight, by saying, "If Donna (or someone else) were here, what would they do with this day?"

A few Christmases ago, one of my nephews, who is a teacher in another province, said something to me which I remember to this day, as well as my response. He is a coach for a high school + very competetive. He said he has told his students that sometimes competetiveness comes from people you would least expect; for example, his aunt (me). he told them that when we play Trivial Pursuit, euchre, etc., I become very competetive. I said to him, "Sam, in the end it isn't as important if I have won or lost so much as I want to know I did my very best." That is how I look at this cancer fight - I want to know that I have done my very best + I want my family to know that too. I never like to let my team down.

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

I still strive to be somebody – and to be one of those folks on the board that people can point to – and say “I can do it too.” I fight as much for YOU as I do me, and you can believe that.

"Having to consistently repeat the performance over time and realizing that you must, is where we find our inner Courage and Strength.

For afterall, we have some semblance of what we are facing and to willingly step back into the arena of battle, does require much from the individual themselves. It’s as much a mental battle as it is physical. The body will go where the mind wills it to, a lot of the time. "

Craig - this part - the fear of having to go back in the ring, is probably the crux of all of us cancer patients - damn, I have to do this again??????

I am not surprised at all that you are questioning it at this point in your battle. You must be soooo tired. But I MUST get something off my chest in response to your statement "I still strive to be somebody – and to be one of those folks on the board that people can point to – and say “I can do it too.” I fight as much for YOU as I do me, and you can believe that."

You need to understand, really understand in the core of your being that your "value" to us, to your semi colon friends who have so grown to love you, that we do so not BECAUSE you are a warrior, not BECAUSE you keep picking yourself up and going back in the ring. Yes we admire you for it and shake our heads going, my God, how does he keep this up?....but we love you because of your Spirit and attitude, behind all of this. Your ARE somebody, you are beautiful, wonderful, eloquent, supportive Craig. And IF some day you just say F-It, I'm done, I'm bone-azz tired, not one person here would ever call you on it...evah! Please don't wear yourself out truing to "be somebody"...you ARE, and a particularly fantastic one at that

((hugs))

Peggy

462lt's picture
462lt
Posts: 118
Joined: Jun 2010

You are that somebody that we all look to and are inspired by. YOur words moved me and I know that you are a real fighter. Thanks for the inspiration. Laura

lesvanb's picture
lesvanb
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

"As a Stage IV now, I’ve got but two choices: Fight or Die" and how we go about just that is the crux. Just spent a week working with my teacher on that one; we can only control one thing – the mind. Integrity, discipline, and ultimately compassion for ourselves and others.

I was sitting in the A annex of the Denver airport early this morning on the way back to Wyoming (our 9 PM flight last night was canceled) and a cowboy there was talking about how mornings are such a special treat for him and how he works st not letting things spoil or get in the way of his enjoyment of them. He then described how early in the morning, before he went to work, when he was sipping his coffee on the porch in the summers, his youngest daughter would wake up and come out and snuggle into his lap and they would watch the sunrise together. Brought tears of joy to my eyes picturing that.

"Ultimately, I might still fight my hardest and still pass away."

My hardest struggle with all this is not letting anything (like having cancer) get in the way of my living my life as best I can and doing my best to be decent human being along the way.

much love, Leslie

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

I have many of the same thoughts. You've said it well.

Stage IV. We have a choice. Fight or die. Cure? Maybe. Fight and extend, yes. But for how long, we do not know. I'm fighting till I can't fight anymore!

okthen's picture
okthen
Posts: 232
Joined: Jun 2010

Craig, After reading on this board just a few times you were one of the few that stuck out to me. To be honest some of your posts that I read scared the begeesis out of me, but looking back, it also prepared me for what was to (possibly)come, which helped me prepare my husband. Thank you for that.

I do not have cancer in my body, I realize there is no way in hell that I can "know" how you all feel...but I would take it from my husband in a heartbeat. I feel that I have more of a drive to fight it,(he's 20 years older than me) more trust of the medical field, and more patience to understand it, which in turn would help me understand why I needed to do what I needed to do.

I say that because he has pondered whether or not to do anything...days were stressful leading up to his surgery, he really didn't want to do it, he didn't comprehend why he needed this when he felt fine. He was willing to roll the dice, even though rolling them a year back bumped him to a stage 3 this year.

I feel like I have struggled for a year and a half, struggled with insurance, struggled with well meaning relatives who don't have enough information to say what comes out of their mouths, struggled with letting my husband speak his feelings without breaking out in tears begging him to fight this, struggled with guilt that I didn't knock him out and drag him back to the Doc when this was just a benign mass.

As I said, it does not compare to those of you fighting this in your body, but I have my moments where I don't think I can struggle with any of this anymore either. Thats when I come here and read, thats when I get hope for my husband by reading all of ya'lls encouragement and prayers. Thats when I try to pull up my "big girl panties" and tackle the next obstacle. If I can make his fight and recovery from this even a smidgen better at least I've done something.

You owe no one anything. But you sure have made a difference in my attitude on how to handle this, and how to support my husband. For that I thank you with all my heart!

Prayers your way!
Chriss

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

Chris- thank you for sharing the caregiver's side, it helps balance out the craziness that goes on in our cancery heads. I love your attitude

Peggy

okthen's picture
okthen
Posts: 232
Joined: Jun 2010

Thanks Peggy...I almost deleted my post because I really didn't want to give the impression that I think my struggles are even remotely close to all you survivors struggles.
I admire you all and have huge compassion for each and every one of you!
I borrow my attitude from my Mom some days and from my cousin on others. (o:
Those two women have talked me through more pity parties in the last year than they should have ever had to. haha

Take Care,
Chriss

luv3jay's picture
luv3jay
Posts: 534
Joined: May 2009

Craig, when I started this journey, my onc said we were going for a cure. Two years later...we are (he is) hoping to extend my life. Although he thinks the chance of a cure at this point is less than likely, I still hold on to hope. Even while I'm on my second experimental trial. I still believe. It's hard...especially after so much heartache on the board lately. Today, I have experienced fatigue like never before. And wondered if its worth it. But as I look at my 3 wonderful children and great fiance (to be married next month) and I say ABSOLUTELY! Thank you Craig for putting my thoughts into words.

sheri22
Posts: 278
Joined: Jan 2009

Glad to see you posting. one thing you know the drs have hope for you that is always a good thing good luck on your chemo and radiation I am waiting to get my biopsy but am pretty sure from what the dr has already told me he is pretty sure it is more cancer so guess my vacation as I call it will be up soon and I will have to put my boxing gloves again

Prayers good vibes your way

Sheri22

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amcp
Posts: 251
Joined: Jan 2009

Your words are like a light in a dark tunnel. It helps us to find our ways. You have a very special talent in expressing what so many feel but can not find the words to express it correctly. You are always in my thoughts and always praying for you and requesting prayers for you. Things are not going good here but we keep fighting and are thankful for each and every minute of each and every day. Stay strong, keep fighting, we need your wisdom and courage and your insight. Big hug.
Anna

coolvdub's picture
coolvdub
Posts: 410
Joined: Aug 2009

Craig,

As usual you have brought up something we all have ponderd, our own mortality. I can tell you have put a great deal of thought into this. And I can understand your feelings on this. In the end we all have the choice to make, living or dieing. For all of us I'm sure the choice really boils down to quality of life in the end of it all versus qauntity of life.

For me personally that past several months have been tough, not because of physical things. But more on the emotional/mental well being side of things. I really love each and every person on these boards even though we have never met face to face. Where it gets tough is when we have multiple passings in a short period of time, that has been so hard for me. I suppose it makes me think about my own mortality. I have so much to accomplish in this life still and wonder if i will have the time to do so. Time is the one thing we can never get back, so we must use it wisely.

I have been inspired by so many of the stage IV people on the boards. The drive and courage to fight on no matter what. The reality is as has been stated already some of us will make it and some will not. I hope that we all make it, but I know all will not. So what do we do, we come here to get ecouragement and give it when we can. We try to learn and support each other. The really great thing about the people on the boards is we are all sharing experiences, ideas and the knowledge we have gained from doing battle with the beast.

What I love most about this group is we all contribute what we can to help others. For without love and compassion for our brothers and sisters in life we have missed the point of it all. I just wish I didn't have to get cancer to come to that realization.

Don

angelsbaby's picture
angelsbaby
Posts: 1171
Joined: May 2008

you are in my thoughts

michelle

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi my brother,you have a very very clear mind,everything was considered.You yourself are a miracle already,you have beated the odds and are surviving,again,beat the odds.

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

Craig,

You're always an inspiration to me and to the whole board. It's very sad to lose so many of our friends here. I admit that Donna's death hit me very deeply, and I'm truly grieving over Eric's condition right now. But I tell you what, you need to keep fighting, because losing you would just take the stuffing right out of me.

France is lovely, I'm sure, but DON'T GO THERE! (hope you remember that reference)

*hugs*
Gail

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2118
Joined: Oct 2009

As usual - well said.

Take care - Tina

Paula G.'s picture
Paula G.
Posts: 596
Joined: Apr 2009

love to see you posting like this again. I hate that it is true that many have and will die of this monster. I try to be upbeat but it is hard some days. I know that John will most likely die from this. He could always die from something else.

I miss the ones we have lost. I hope that one day they will find a cure for all who have this and many other cancers. Until then we just have to live our lives. I love what people have said.

Keep fighting and posting. Love Paula

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I just wanted to thank everyone for sharing deeply on this thread. It's always interesting to read the thoughts of the community on a subject such as this one.

As my journey continues, I am constantly evaluating my thoughts and feelings on a great many subjects of our disease. When the thoughts become too much, I post them, because if I'm thinking of them, then I wonder if someone else out there is also thinking similar thoughts.

I always appreciate the deep reflection that we put into a thread such as this one. Alot of times, a thread such as this, will bring someone out of their comfort zone and they will reach deep within to express their thoughts. This is always beneficial to all of us. Afterall, this is how we learn from one another.

Thank you again for taking your time to read and respond. The best to you.

-Craig

dorookie
Posts: 1736
Joined: Jul 2007

As always, I enjoy very much reading what you write. As I finished reading your post, the first thing that came to my mind is I wonder what Donna would have posted to you? I miss her. I miss her posts...And even though I know we have lost several this year from our family here, Donna's passing was extremely hard on me. Really opens the eyes.....I am currently not in treatment, thank God, but please know I am with you as you continue to fight. I so totally hate cancer. Stay strong and keep fighting..and if you ever get to the point you cant, well thats okay too, we will love and care for you no matter what.

HUGS
Beth

PS See you next month right?

betina61's picture
betina61
Posts: 644
Joined: Aug 2006

I hope and pray to see your fighting spirit continuing to show in this board.
We all love you and need you very much.

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Craig,

Always good to read your posts! I know it's tough, as I struggle with the same things- how long am I going to keep fighting and will it make a difference?- these are things that all of us who are having to continue to fight ask ourselves. I will keep fighting! You too- we love you too much for you to ever give it up.
Anytime you're weary- give it over to the Lord (I say that not to offend anyone reading this, but because I know you have a deep faith).
Keep coming here and we will buoy you up as much as we can.

Hugs to you Craig-
Lisa :)

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

I think it IS making a difference; you seem to be very participatory + are sharing in so many important moments with your family. Take good care!

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