Not only did last week’s CT Scan indicate shrinkage, where necessary – and stability, where hoped for – it also accomplished these hoped-for goals after only two months of chemotherapy (still infused every three weeks) rather than the normal three months of chemotherapy. So depending on how the calendar/treatment schedule actually fell, I probably received two fewer infusions than usual, yet all the radiological indications – and interpretations – continue to be encouraging; after five and a half years, no less. I think I’m entitled to use the word amazing – and lucky, too.
Certainly I’ve made lifestyle changes, as you regular readers know, though I’m hardly the poster child for outliving-your-terminal-stage-IV-non-small-cell-lung-cancer-diagnosis. I haven’t incorporated all the suggestions made to me, but I have listened – and learned, of course. Still, I’m proud of the path I’ve traveled, which wouldn’t have happened without the help and guidance of friends and family who I trusted, and who I know had my best interests at heart. And I have survived, thrived almost, because of their persistence.
But change is not, and has not been easy for me. In fact, “change” might as well be a four-letter word, although I do use my share; never in print, and less frequently in public probably wouldn’t kill me. But I’m also good at rationalizing my behavior – both good and bad, so doing/not doing and providing plausible, semi-defensible explanations (maybe even denials) has become one of my best mechanisms. Ultimately, my bottom line in all of these attempts at modifying my behavior is stress reduction – which equates to self-preservation, if you want to know the truth – and doing so in a way that is consistent with my personality, allowing me to maintain the effort. I don’t suppose starting and stopping would solve much. It’s sort of like a placebo effect. If I think something I’m doing is working, then maybe it is. The mind is a terrible thing to waste and I want to give it every opportunity to bring me back to “normal” health. For all I know, some new pill I’ve started, some new behavior I’ve assimilated, something (like sugar) I’ve reduced is all working together to make me whole again. And since I generally don’t look for trouble – considering that trouble has already found me, I try to leave well enough alone until a little birdie tells me otherwise (anybody, anywhere; any source, anyhow; any medium, any way). Now I don’t want to knee-jerk myself into a decision. I’ll make a few inquiries, I’ll do a little research, but overall, I won’t make the pursuit my life’s work.
In spite of it all, and in spite of me and my peculiarities, I approach this week’s five-and-a-half-year, post-diagnosis anniversary with less fear and trepidation than perhaps I should. But as I’ve said many times previously, and again in this column: “What do I know?” Enough to keep me up and at ’em and alive and reasonably well, I suppose. And way more than I had a right to expect and almost too much to understand. I’ve never asked “why me?” but I’ve always thought “why not me?” And so it goes – and has gone; maybe my level of ignorance has been a sort of bliss. However, if I really understood what ails me, I might not be so glib about it.