Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Quality of Life

I love many things about being a mother, and one of the aspects of my relationship with my baby that I cherish most is breast feeding. When I was pregnant I feared breast feeding more than giving birth--I'd heard waaaay too many horror stories. So when my experience was easy and natural and wonderful, I was surprised and pleased. I love nursing my baby.

Now I am weaning to prepare for chemotherapy. You can't nurse on chemo--the drugs get into the breast milk and the baby cannot have that poisonous stuff. I hate weaning. It makes me so sad.

The thing that makes me saddest is that we do not even know if I have more cancer or not. The two lower lobes of my right lung were removed on September 6, 2007. The linings were clear and all the tumors were removed. Now I have to wait to heal enough from surgery to have some more tests (a PET CT scan and an MRI brain scan) which will tell us if there is more cancer that can be seen in my body. Of course, even if there are no visible tumors, the oncologist wants to do chemotherapy.

And that's where my problem starts. I don't want to do chemo. Stage IV lung adenocarcinoma has about a 2% survival rate for 5 years. OK, that statistic includes all comers and I am much younger and healthier than the majority of lung cancer patients, but my youth and health get me like, what up to an 8% chance? A 10%? No one knows--or at least, no one is telling me. And even if I do survive 5 years, my cancer has a high chance of reoccurance. And on top of that, one of the side effects of chemo is that it causes...you guessed it: CANCER.

So, if I'm going to die of cancer (and that's what it looks like), and I'm probably going to die soon of cancer (like within 10 years), then what is the point of doing 4 months of chemo? It will be torture for me (I HATE HATE HATE IVs) and really does not give me much better a chance of survival. Yes, chemo supposedly adds 15% chance of surviving 5 years. So what am I up to now? 20%? 25%? Is it really worth it?

What about my quality of life?

Let's say I do survive...will I have permanent tinnitus (ringing in the ears that makes you hard of hearing) or my hair be ruined or will I go into menopause because my reproductive system has been destroyed by chemo? Maybe I will only have nerve damage in my hands and feet.

Is death really that bad? Is it really worse than living crippled? Wouldn't it be better, more peaceful, to die now instead of going through all this fighting and effort and die anyway?

Wouldn't it be better to enjoy life now? To heal from my surgery, nurse my baby, hang out with my husband, and enjoy each day rather than subject myself to the pain, worry and constant waiting. I'd rather enjoy myself. I don't want to do chemo.

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