I think I better start at the beginning and if you are only looking for results, go ahead and skip to the end, I won't be offended. This post is as much a therapy session for me as it is informative for you.
In the beginning: I have been fighting Breast Cancer since November 2, 2009 at 10:30am. That very moment is very clear in my mind, but that is not what I am focusing on today. I do want to just give you a background of the world that is "fighting stage 4 cancer".
Survival Rate: The estimated amount of time you have to survive your individual disease. This number is so pathetic. They take a healthy 30ish woman who has been in good health her whole life and an 80 year old great-grandma,who has smoked 50 years and is 100lbs overweight and throw you all into the same "average survival rate". Silly?! agreed!When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, if you are a stage I, II, or III, you have an 80% chance of "surviving" this disease. (which is why they push the "detect it early" aspect). Now, if you have stage IV, your survival rate of living five years is down to 20%...gulp!
Stable disease: A stage IV diagnosis that should NEVER be confused with "remission". Stable disease just means that the tumors and cancer are not growing or getting worse, they are simply "stabalizing" or staying the same. If you were sick all the time before....well, you might want to invest in nausea medicine, etc.
Survivor: You are not allowed to use this term if you are Stage IV simply because "surviving stage IV" is impossible. You will have this disease until the day you die. (and your death date will more than likely be determined by this disease. ) You cannot "beat" or "survive" stage IV cancer of any kind. It is medically impossible. You can be "cancer free", but it can bite you anytime, anywhere, anyhow it wants.
Pallative Care: This is a term that describes any type of care, surgery, chemo or otherwise that is not done to improve the "survival rate" of the person. It is mearly done to keep the patient feeling a little bit better until they die. (usually sooner rather than later). This is a legal battle that FDA is constantly fighting because if it doesn't improve the patients "survival rate" then why give it to them? (Ha! they must not have cancer, or a soul for that matter!)
Metastisized: Where the original cancer has spread to. For example, I still have "Breast cancer" even though the cancer is in my brain, lungs, chest wall, liver, abdomen, and bones. It is still the same monster, just running around to different places setting up camp. Plus this simplifies publicity, because if I had to tell everyone that I am currently fighting brain cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, esophagial cancer, stomach cancer, bone cancer, and breast cancer..it would be hard to fit on a shirt and hard to raise money. Plus, Susan G. Komen is the one with the deep pockets!I think that will at least give you the background of a few terms I commonly work with.
Also, there is a huge debate between myself and others because they only use the word "survivor" if you "beat" the disease, so theoretically if you die fighting cancer, are you a "failure"?! Something for your brain to mull over.
Also in the cancer world it is commonly known that Oncologists (the fancy name for a cancer doctor), do not believe in anything healthy, organic, hippy, etc to help cure cancer. If it can't be quantified, qualified, or somehow put in an FDA approved pill, it must not work.
On the other side: Naturopathic medicine hates the "medical world" and wants you to stop taking any of that "poison" and join "their side".
My theory: We need to just get along and understand that if you are fighting cancer, you need EVERYTHING to work to get rid of this monster. You need your mind to be sharp (hard to do with chemo and/or brain radiation), You need your spirit to be unbreakable (hard to do with chemo breaking your spirit constantly), You need to have a healthy body to fight (again, poision=pale gray, nauseous, exhausted, depressed, sick people). But you also need just the right amount of "medical" to help out. You need scans, x-rays, radiation, PET scans, and yes, even chemotherapy. I think you can get the picture. My personal theory also states that the Good Lord in Heaven can supercede all other categories, so praying for a miracle is the way to go!!!
My life: If you tell the Oncologist that the chemotherapy is making you exhausted, they will prescribe a pill for the exhaustion and when you can't go to sleep that night, they will perscribe you a sleeping pill. Notice the cycle.... (by the way, I am taking all of the above stated "pills")
On the otherhand, if I could just get my exhausted body to exersize and the pain to subside with a pain pill here and there, and I try to eat better so that I am not "feeding the cancer" and making it grow....you get the picture there too. This balance beam is sooooooooooooo hard to maintain though if you haven't already guessed. And if you throw four kids into the mix......
So, your making your kids a snack, they don't finish it and you pop it into your mouth...ahhh. Or you forget to excersize because your body is well.... exhausted and all you want to do is sleep. And when you wake up from taking a nap, all you want to do is eat some sugar, or better yet, chocolate. And when you realize that you have "wasted" most of the day doing said stuff, you stay up until 2am trying to "keep up" with the housework, and picking up after before-mentioned children. Theoretically, you just might find yourself sucking down a Dr. Pepper just to make it through the next hour. But then again, Dr. Pepper has a load of sugar and other crap.....Oh CRAP! Now it is MY fault that my chemotherapy medicines aren't working, and therefore my fault that cancer wants to kill me. Am I killing myself???
That is all I am going to do tonight. Counseling session complete for today. I will be continuing this "view from my perspective" in future posts, but lets sneak ahead to the good stuff..
My 9th chemo is actually working! (I am actually attributing this more to the category of "Miracle" instead of "Medical"). "Working" basically means that the tumors are decreasing in size, or in the case of my abdomen tumor, growing in size because it is killing it from the inside. Confused?! Well, what did you expect, your new at this!
p.s. I am sooooooooooooo excited by this miracle in my life, but that doesn't mean that it will be fast, easy, or painless. There will still be pain, exhaustion, and possible surgeries in my future, that is just reality. There are many, many tumors scattered in my body. It doesn't happen all at once, even with a "miracle". Still, the happy dance is being performed repeatedly in this house!