As our Publisher and fellow cancer survivor, Mary Kimm, e-mailed back to me last week: “Who knew ‘stable’ could be so exciting?”
Yes, ‘stable,’ as in the results of my most recent diagnostic scan after four heavy-duty chemotherapy infusions; even though I have been diagnosed with stage IV (meaning metastatic, meaning: moved already) lung cancer, nothing much is happening. For the moment, and that moment has now lasted three-plus years, I continue to be, fortunately for me, an anomaly: alive and reasonably well. Can I hear an “Amen?!”
Though I’ve tried, repeatedly, since June ’09 when I first went public, column-wise, and confirmed my diagnosis/prognosis in print, it still remains nearly impossible to articulate exactly what bounces around in the head (figuratively speaking) of an otherwise healthy, then 54-year-old male (now 57), non-smoker, with no immediate-family history of cancer – or of even having ever smoked cigarettes, to be diagnosed with advanced-stage (IV; there is no V) “terminal” lung cancer. However, I continue to try, as you regular readers know. And thanks to the varied feedback I receive: cards, letters, e-mails, books, inclusions on prayer lists, and the expressions of encouragement and support typically contained, I am relatively healthy, in no small measure I believe, to the words and prayers – of hope and faith, directed to me.
Though I didn’t start writing these “cancer columns,” as I call them, for any greater good – it was simply what interested me, given my circumstances – they have evolved into a kind of cathartic exercise that perhaps has enabled me to still write them, if you know what I mean? If I didn’t have this outlet (space) to indulge myself (thank you again, Mary Kimm), and subject you readers to the rigors – both physically and emotionally, of the ongoing struggles of a cancer patient living day by day, and writing about it week by week, I don’t suppose I would be so proud of what I’ve accomplished/what I’ve endured.
That is not to imply that I have suffered any more than any other cancer patient and/or any other diagnosed-as-terminal patient; in fact, comparatively speaking, I think I’ve had it pretty easy (other than the reality of it all). Nevertheless, being diagnosed with cancer is all it’s cracked up to be, despite one’s relative good fortune in managing to outlive their prognosis (“13 months to two years”). I still can’t get the characterization “incurable disease” as initially used by my oncologist, out of my head. As such, as good a result as what I recently received, it’s still a temporary result, albeit it an amazing/great/miraculous one, but one subject to change, from what I understand. And as much as I want to receive and hear a permanent you’re-cured-type of assessment from my doctor, apparently the chances are fairly unlikely. Still, I have to remain satisfied with the “stable” because the “stable” is all it’s cracked up to be. And for a terminal
patient, when you’re no longer stable, generally speaking, you’re no longer an anomaly.
Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers