Monday, July 11, 2011

Cancer Is Always With Me

I recently had a conversation with my oncologist in which she confirmed that, for many excellent reasons, I will never have another pregnancy. In fact, it would be a bad idea to even try. She seemed surprised that I am still cycling as chemo often brings on early menopause. She also said that although so little is known about my cancer, there is a high chance for reoccurance but they have no way of predicting what my chances are. So, I was reading about CUP online the other night, trying to see if there was any new information out there and I found this article (from NCI) that freaked me out a little. The pertinent paragraph was this one:
The prognosis for patients with CUP is poor. As a group, the median survival is approximately 3 to 4 months with less than 25% and 10% of patients alive at 1 and 5 years, respectively. CUP is represented by a heterogeneous group of diseases all of which have presented with metastasis as the primary manifestation. Although the majority of diseases are relatively refractory to systemic treatments, certain clinical presentations of CUP carry a much better prognosis. In each instance, distinct clinical and pathologic details require consideration for appropriate, potentially curative, management.
It has been almost 4 years since my initial diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. I am alive. Why? I am really happy and really lucky to be alive. Wow, I have such a small chance of being here now and yet, here I am. I guess I am in that weird class of "certain clinical presentations" which "carry a much better prognosis" ...or???? Every moment is precious. 

On another, but related note, this summer is different than any other summer I've shared with you so far because I am very busy...busy doing what, you ask...well, I guess, reluctantly, I will tell.

I am studying to take the Bar Exam. Yes, my second shot. Last time I did this was the summer of 2007. My son was a little baby and I was (unbeknowst to me at the time) full of cancer. Here I am now, with a 4 year old boy and in remission (till the next CT scan, anyway). A very different experience.

Studying for the bar is all-consuming. I dream about it every night. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about The Exam or The Character Interview or Whatever. I am always studying or attending class or doing a practice test. I never feel like it is enough. Some days I am convinced I will pass and some days I know I will fail. StressFul.

I didn't want to tell you about it because I wanted to avoid potential shame resulting from not passing and having to tell you that I failed, again, only with no good excuse this time. However, the reason I am sharing now is because something really ironic happened on Thursday and I thought you blog readers would appreciate it in a way others who don't know my whole story would not.

I received two letters. One was from the State Board of Law Examiners--it was my seat assignment. A big, fat envelope full of official papers and instructions. The other was from JHH; it was a thin envelope, containing one sheet of paper, confirming my next CT scan appointment. It feels a little like the last time I studied for the exam--the fear of the exam, the fear of the doctor's appointment. Impending doom. Or does it? This summer I am so much better prepared for the exam and I feel so much more confident about my health.

But there are echos from that summer 4 years ago. I feel buoyant--bobbing up, dropping down, bobbing up...well you get the idea (always hopeful and always prepared to bob back up). :) Mostly I try to keep uppermost in my mind how beautiful the world is and how I love my captains, my family, and my friends. (Sometimes I sink down a bit, though, and then I just bob back up with the next wave.)

I sit for the Bar Exam on July 26 and 27. The CT scan is August 19. God help me with both!

OK, gotta go study. Bye for now.


Diana said...

You can do it, sweetie! Even if it doesn't work out, you have been working SO very hard. I have every confidence in you!

As for cancer, you beat it once. Your own body destroyed it! You are an anomaly, so do statistics like these really apply to you? If it did show up again, your body will fight for you again!

Emily said...

Something that Isaac's new favorite movie has reminded me:
"If you think you can, you will. If you think can't, you won't." Believe in yourself - I KNOW you can do this! :-D (this inspirational comment brought to you by "The Little Engine that Could")

mamefati said...

You are so amazing and inspiring. I am sitting here attempting to study for the GRE- I am a horrible standardized test taker, feel defeated before I even take the test. Thanks for inspiring me to give it my all. Much love to you- and I bet both days will bring you the best news :)

Melissa said...

Read through this yesterday, but kept it "unread" in my feed reader so that I'd be sure to write the dates down (mission accomplished!). Will be praying, as usual!

And for the record, I think you're one awesome mama! Your little Captain will learn so much from your perseverance and fighting spirit!

Rose said...

You guys are the best. Thanks so much for your compliments and encouragement. Makes me feel loved.