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Stories and Experiences

DLi2014
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2014

Hi everyone,

My name is David, and am new to the forums. I recently lost my mom to non-small cell lung cancer. She was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in November 2012 and fought bravely for nearly a year before she passed in September 2013. Needless to say it's been a tough couple of months for the whole family.

Going through this experience has made me realize how limited the treatment opptions are for cancer in general. This got me thinking that maybe we can't simply rely on drugs for the healing process, maybe there are some other lifestyle changes, whether that be exercise, diet, etc. that also plays a large factor in recovery.

I'm hoping to compile a collection of stories from survivors like you guys as a resource for all cancer patients and to see if there are any patterns that begin to emerge. Although it's too late for my mom now, I truly believe that being able to hear and learn from survivors' stories would really help all current and future patients.

Would love to learn about all of your stories and triumphs! Please feel free to private message me or if there are any California Bay Area residents, would love to grab a cup of coffee with you!

 

Thanks so much,

David

 

CH
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2011

I am very sorry to hear about your mother.   Try to remember her strength and love.  I am 47 and a 47 year survivor.  I was 2 months old and in a near final stage nephroblastoma that at the time was widely fatal.  My primary memories concern 2 decades of treatment for the effects of the chomo and radiation that saved my life.  I am happy to answer any questions you have about lifestyle, but in my case, I lived a realtively typical life free (ironically) of any health problems beyond those caused by raidiation.  Eat fast food occassionally, dont excercise as much as I should, traveled the world working on a doctorate in law, eat meat, love bacon.  Ironically, given that I have "excellent" body mass fat indexes and no heart probrlems (unlike all my other relatives) I think the absorption problems caused in my intestines from the radiation may have prevented a lot of heart ailments.   It can be genetics.  I know that much.   People tell me I look 15 years younger than I am and I don't do anything more than drink beer more than I should.   I will say I never smoked.  Feel free to ask anything you want.  Again, very sorry for your loss. 

gabby_ca
Posts: 38
Joined: Jul 2006

Hi there,

So sorry about your mother.  I completely agree that it's maybe not just the drugs that cure us of what ails us.

I was diagnosed at 38 with T3,N0,M0 anal cancer.  My husband was killed when I was 10 weeks pregnant with my son who is now 8 and I was diagnosed with cancer when he was 2 months of age.  That was almost 8 years ago now. (July 26 is 8 years NED For me.) I did the standard chemo and radiation and I never lost my hair and I never got sick once. I worked throughout my treatment and I looked after my newborn baby and I decided to change my whole life.

I have a BSc in computer sciences and I walked away from that to be a good mom.  I started ground training competition horses and I never looked back once.  I started drinking red wine at night and I started writing and I looked for and lease a few acres in the country for my son's benefit and for mine.

I started eating less meat and cut off the dairy for the most part and started eating more salads.  I threw caution to the wind and decided that I was going to live the life that I wanted and after 5 years of checkups and the fear, I gave that up too.  I got kicked out of cancer school and I can honestly say that I have not ONE doctor about my cancer and I have no idea if it's back or if it's not but I will tell you that I really don't worry about it that much anymore.

Cancer is what it is.  Some of us triumph over it and some of us do not.  I truly think that this statement alone is what gives all of us survivors the will to keep going and try and beat the 'beast' when we have to as we really don't know when it will be 'our' time to truly go.

I refuse to live my life 'around' cancer.  I instead chose to embrace my life as having survived cancer and I truly think that this is key in our treatment as well as our recovery. We are all going to die.  That is a fact.  We do however have a choice as to how we live that life after our treatments and maybe that really does play a key into how long we stay NED for.  I am not looking to offend anyone as this is really just my own story and I am now pushing 8 years NED.

I busted the 2 bones in my lower leg in the summer last year and I remember being so scared that my cancer was back.  The demon never really goes away.  We just think of him less often, tis all.  Imagine my relief to find out that I broke it just because I jumped out of the back of my pickup truck and I landed wrong.

Today finds me being self-employed working with horses and I am a few credits away from a masters degree in math.  I sit on the executive of my local hospice and my local school board and I rescue horses. I currently have 12.

There is one bad thing about being 8 years NED and that is the fact that no medical study follows us anymore.  It's like we really don't exist after all.  Once we hit 5 years NED, we are just forgotten and no one really knows what happens to 'us' that are long-term survivors and I very rarely see anyone on these boards and I still wonder if maybe a lot don't survive and I wonder if I am really alone here?

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I travelled the world for work.  I courted the most amazing of government agencies and I interviewed nannies to look after my son and I wanted to go back to work after a 12 week maternity leave.  My cancer diagnosis changed all that and looking back, it was the best thing that EVER happened to me.

I drive my son to school and I read to him at night and I drive him to taekwondo and we go swimming.  I have no symptoms and really people would be shocked if they knew that I survived cancer.  I don't speak of it often and maybe that's because I did that in my 'last' life and not this one.

A couple of times a month, I sit with people dying of cancer in my volunteer hospice position and I am humbled and in awe at the different journies we all take in dealing with cancer.  There is really no right way to deal with cancer is there? Our journies are all different.

My son wanted me to be a school mom who helped out and I instead got into politics at the school board level and I showed him that this was what I was made of and I never would have got the courage to do it if I didn't see my life maybe ending in the first place with my diagnosis in the first place.

I guess in summary, what I am really trying to say that for some of us it's just 'will' and a 'need' to stay in the life of the living and maybe it's a bit of 'mind over matter' as well.

Sometimes, I look at pictures of my son playing with the nurses in the waiting room while I had my appointment with 'sparky' the radiation machine and I realize that I am truly blessed to have made it this far and sometimes late at night, I wonder why it's 'me' who gets to live and not some young child that dies from cancer that I see in the newspapers?

A life well lived is based on perspective.  Some of us eat organic food and refuse to eat red meat and some of us instead choose to throw caution to the wind and live our lives like we were going to die tomorrow.

Gabby

ps.  As for the absorption thing, you might be on to something.  I had IMRT radiation and find that my body likes that.  My BP is 117/54 and all blood levels are on the lower levels of normal which is awesome.  Another positive to the cancer after all. :)

 

 

 

 

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

 

I too lost my mother to cancer and then 12 years ago went through it my self. Sometimes life deals a lot of bad things to us but even with all the bad things I find that there is love. I have made so many new friends because of the cancer and we all are able to help each other for when one of us hurt we all hurt.

 

Hondo  

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