I don’t think about often enough how lucky I am.
I know I just wrote about how unlucky my family is. But it’s easy to get stuck in the details: whether a liver transplant is a good decision, whether I should switch up my chemo because my second opinion said I should, whether this sore developing in my mouth is an infamous chemo side effect, whether my recent blood work is any cause for worry, whether my health insurance company and my doctor’s offices will ever leave me alone with the paperwork… on top of the accident and long recovery for my dad.
Hold on a second.
The big picture says: I’m lucky. It sounds incredibly perverse, I know. But let’s look at the facts. I have been living with cancer for over a year and a half. And by living, I mean living. Having fun, taking trips, making videos, working, continuing my graduate studies. My 1.5-year survival rate is 100%. My “quality of life” is high. (sample size=1)
I have treatment options. I have so many treatment options that my second opinion doctor doesn’t mind taking a transplant off the table because there are about five other drugs or combos of drugs I can try, along with any number of other “locally invasive” (or “ation“) procedures. Maybe these aren’t cures–but they’re options. Maybe it’s complicated and every doctor has a different opinion on how my treatment plan should look–but I have a plan, however uncertain. (According to my second opinion doctor, the plan is to keep me living for as long as possible with the best quality of life possible.)
Not everyone diagnosed with cancer has a plan, especially not one as positive as mine. Not everyone has options. Not everyone can boast a 100% 1.5-year survival rate and an excellent quality of life.
People can die from cancer so quickly. It is incomprehensible to me that someone who I met briefly at a cancer event less than five months ago–and looked so healthy at the time–can be dead now. It is incomprehensible to me that I have so many treatment options–but so many others don’t have any. Or any left. I am unsatisfied with the chronic nature of my condition, but that isn’t an option for so many people. Why did I get “lucky” with my diagnosis but so many do not?
Every time I go to the doctor, I am reminded that I may not be lucky forever. My tumors are pretty aggressive on the spectrum of neuroendocrine cancer. But yesterday, after I thoroughly depressed my family by recounting another visit with my second opinion, I found myself saying insistently, “There’s no reason to be depressed. Nothing has changed.” The reason I keep blogging is because cancer keeps my head busy, not because I have health updates to broadcast to the world. I’m lucky.