Enjoy this guest blog by one bold woman.
Surviving cancer is one of the greatest triumphs anyone could face. Being a long-term survivor of a terminal cancer called mesothelioma, I should know.
Many doctors are amazed I am still here and to be honest I am amazed myself. I have no idea how I keep dodging the bullet of doom, and I hope that I will continue to do so for years to come.
My journey started badly in 2000 when I was struck down with mesothelioma, although at that time and for another four years it went undiagnosed. Young women (well nearly young I was 40) didn’t get what was then considered An Old Man’s Disease.
So my diagnosed journey commenced on 26th August 2004, when I was given a name to blame all my pain on, mesothelioma. We had to ask for the spelling as neither my husband nor I could pronounce it.
I was given less than 12 months
But thankfully a new chemotherapy was on the final trial stage and I was given a trial dose. This gave me nearly two years of peace, and I lived a normal life with plenty of holidays thrown in. I didn’t write a bucket list of things I wanted to do; instead I wanted to be “normal.”
Pain started again, but my x-rays showed nothing. I even went to see a heart specialist, as every 10 weeks I had an episode, where I thought I was having a heart attack. Again nothing; my heart was extremely strong. I felt terrible one day and went to see my general practitioner. He listened to my lungs, heart, etc. and phoned the hospital; a CT scan was ordered immediately. My oncologist said in hindsight there had been changes on the x-rays that weren’t picked up. Know that CT scans should always be used to monitor mesothelioma.
This cancer didn’t want to give up and I had to up my game
I had growth around the pericardium; in the early years this wasn’t recognised as a place that mesothelioma would grow, but my pericardium was covered. In 2007 I was rechallanged with chemotherapy, and the second round did what it said on the bottle. But it only gave me the minimum of four months reprieve.
I read an article about trials in the USA for cryoablation; they freeze the tumours, so a few weeks later I was on a plane heading out for some new treatment. One of the tumours that was causing pain was situated by my aorta, pushing into the diaphragm and encroaching on the space above my kidney. I was pleased to say it was blasted, and I then took a leap of faith, putting myself in the hands of a surgeon, and had my chest once again opened.
I thought, stupidly, that removing everything in there would knock the mesothelioma out, but a year later four tumours had appeared. I gave them a year before once again I flew back to America and had them removed. The growth, thankfully, has been slow this time but by 2012 I was starting to suffer more.
There isn’t much to choose from with mesothelioma, so it was thought I could rechallenge with the only chemotherapy we have, Alimta. I have a low tolerance to drugs so the dosage was made to 50% of what it would otherwise have been. I still had a bad reaction, and my treatments were stopped.
To my utter amazement I actually managed reduction of tumour by up to 75%. There are some stubborn areas in my chest but overall I would say this was and is a success. I live to fight another round, and would like to hope the mesothelioma took such a defeat I won’t see it for a few good years.
I started my blog late 2008 and have shared every feeling I have with cyber space
I think at times it is more for my benefit than for others. It’s a place to lay it all out with no worries about what I have written. My husband doesn’t read it, so I can let loose on feelings I can’t let him know about.
I look to the future, although most plans are made only thee months in advance. I plan projects that will take no more than a year. For instance I recently wrote my first novel, “The DreamWeaver’s Choice” where proceeds will go to charity.
Even if you have terminal cancer you can have life, turn anger into something useful
Pull together all those projects you never get to do but can manage now. Start a new hobby and include your partner; they too are having a tough time of this prognosis and could do with some relief.
Don’t think you should do this now because you are dying. Do it now because life gets in the way of finding time to enjoy what we never find time to do.
You can find out more about me or follow my journey on jansjourney