At the end of April, I had brain surgery. They removed a lemon sized tumor from my brain. Then they scheduled radiation. They also informed me I had lung cancer. According to my surgeon, my survival time based on the size of the tumor and the fact that the cancer had already spread to other parts of my body was measured in months, if not weeks.
He estimated I’d have 3 months to live, but I could theoretically live for up to 6 months. That is what he told me was statistically true based on the types of cancer I had.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that my breast cancer was back, and, given that it is inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive form of cancer, the prognosis is not good.
Yet… it’s been 3 months since my surgery.
And I’m not only still alive, I am getting better.
The photo above is me playing with my dog at a park about 3 weeks ago. I used a rollator because I couldn’t walk without assistance, particularly in an outdoor setting where the ground is uneven (or wet) and where there aren’t any walls to lean on or railings to grab onto. The wonderful thing about the rollator — it encourages me to exercise because, if I get “too far”, I can always sit and take a break. Plus there is a storage area under the seat so I can keep a cell phone on me to call for help if I need it.
Most people with rollators probably use them for essential activities like going shopping or walking to the mailbox.
But I take mine off-roading.
Why? Because it’s fun. I avoid deep muddy spots because I don’t want it to get stuck or areas which might damage it, but otherwise — I’ve taken it on hiking trails. When I go off-roading though, I do make sure I’m with a friend. Which I would need to do anyway when I go to a park, since I can’t drive because of the meds I am taking.
But I got to enjoy a couple of hours playing outdoors with my dog because of the rollator and kind friends willing to go with me. We all had a great time. I think the joy and laughter, the fresh air and sunshine, do me as much good as the meds I’m taking.
Then, today, I hit another milestone.
For the first time since my surgery — I walked around my house and garden without any assistance. No rollator, no cane. Just me. I didn’t lose my balance, I didn’t need to hang on to a wall. I just lived like a normal person for the first time in way too long.
It felt awesome.
I’m making progress. I’m getting better. I feel healthier and more energetic.
And, yeah, I’m not following doctor’s orders 100%. But hey, they told me I’d be dead in 3–6 months. They tried to get me signed up for palliative care and indicated I might be bedridden by now. Before I left the hospital after my surgery, someone came in to talk to me about end of life care, and mentioned they could move a hospital bed into my house if I wanted.
Well, it doesn’t look like any of that will be necessary. At least not for a long time, or so I think.
So, pardon me for not considering M.D. to stand for “minor diety”. I respect doctors, but I don’t consider them to be gods. They can be wrong, and I push back when I need to with them. I’ve refused certain treatments because I don’t want to deal with the side effects.
When the oncologist pushed me, pointing out that chemo would extend my life, I pushed back by asking how much time that would get me.
Reluctantly, she told me, “Statistically, it could give you an extra 3 months.”
“And during that time, what condition would I be in?” I asked. I’ve been in chemo wards. I know what the treatment does to the body.
“Do you honestly think it is worth it to go through being in agony for several months just to suffer for an extra 3? How is that worth it?”
So I made the decision that was best for me — that would give me the best quality of life given the cancers I’m dealing with.
I have not refused other treatments. I’ve done the surgery and the radiation. And I’m taking meds for the lung cancer that are a targeted treatment.
By making my own choices, I’ve empowered myself. By doing things that make me happy and by enjoying my life — I am giving myself the will to fight the cancer. And I think this is going to extend my life.
Heck, even if it doesn’t — it sure beats lying in a hospital bed all day.
Previously Published on medium
Photo: Author and dog Snowy playing in the water — photo by a friend.
From The Good Men Project on Medium
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