Beating Incurable Terminal Stage IV Lung Cancer
During a recent conversation, a friend was surprised to realize my lung cancer is a terminal disease. She was under the impression that I was beating lung cancer.
Perception versus reality
I know many other people think the same. On the outside I look like a normal, healthy person. I'm out walking my dog and finishing 5Ks. I don't fit the perception of a stage IV, terminal cancer patient. After almost every three month check-up I have good news to report. A majority of the time my periodic scans and labs show the cancer is stable, shrinking or diminished to the point of not even being visible on a scan.
Treating lung cancer as a chronic disease
Stage IV lung cancer can not be cured with the scientific knowledge and treatments currently available. My terminal, late-stage, lung cancer is being managed similarly to chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These potentially fatal chronic diseases are managed with medications, allowing people to live otherwise normal lives. My chronically terminal lung cancer is being treated to keep it at bay, not as a cure.
I'm living with the most advanced stage of lung cancer, stage IV, which means the cancer has metastasized (spread) from my lungs to other parts of my body. Lung cancer tends to metastasize to the liver, bones, and brain. In my case, it’s my bones. When I was diagnosed, the cancer had already metastasized to my spine.
An ongoing boxing match
I am fighting incurable, terminal, lung cancer. I'm surviving which means I'm still in the fight. Thinking of this “fight”, let's say one month of lung cancer is equivalent to one round in a boxing match. I'm coming out of round forty-one, on top, and entering round forty-two. Thinking this way, lung cancer has only won two or maybe three times. But I survived. So, as I write this article, I'm declaring myself the winner of those rounds. In turn, I’m beating lung cancer.
Unless they find a cure for stage IV lung cancer, I'll be in treatment and in this fight forever. The hope is to continue my current treatment as long as possible and to still be alive when new treatments are developed and available to me when I need them.
I will have the last punch
Since my diagnosis, I've had this idea that my fight will be over when I'm dead and can't fight anymore. Me dying will not only be the end of me but the end to my lung cancer as well. I've never envisioned this end as losing to lung cancer or anything but a victory. When I die, no matter what the circumstances, I will get the last punch and I’m taking lung cancer down with me.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?