Finding A Purpose
Last updated: March 2020
I've been living with lung cancer for nearly 7 years. There have been so many ups and downs since this nightmare began. I've cried and laughed, loved and lost. I know this is part of my life now and am learning to embrace it.
Treatment ups and downs
Once I began Tarceva, my tumors began to shrink. In October of 2013, I had progression. I had SBRT to the lung in order to stop the progression. My insurance denied my claim because they felt it wasn't "medically necessary". Henceforth, setting off a battle that lasted approximately a year to get the $117,000 covered.
After the first time I received radiation, I developed pneumonia twice. I was sure my time with Tarceva had come to an end and I would need to look for another treatment with the assistance of my oncologist.
My oncologist had a faith that I didn't have. Each PET scan after the progression continued to show a cloudy area where the radiation was. We couldn't tell if it worked.
Am I in remission?
On Friday, December 14, 2014, my oncologist walked in after my PET scan and said, "Great news! We don't see any active cancer." My family was elated and I was always inquisitive. My parents believed I was cured, but I remember all of the doctors that said there was no cure. So, I asked. I turned to my oncologist and asked, "Does this mean I'm in remission?" He didn't look up from the report and replied, "Well, this is about as good as it gets. I don't like to use the word 'remission'".
Ignorance can be bliss
At the time, I didn't understand. But slowly I did begin to understand what he was saying. He was telling me, as he originally told me, "There is no cure for stage 4 lung cancer". My father was still so happy, he hasn't taken down his Christmas tree.
Being the ever realist that I am, it slowly sank in that I would never be fully cured. I still had two tumors in my lungs and though they were dormant, I knew the cancer could resist my medication and progress at any time. Some say ignorance is bliss, I believe that.
My purpose is to be there for those I love
So, since I know I can't be cured, what is the purpose of my life? Why am I still here? I think there are several reasons of which the first is my daughter. She needs me and I need her. During such an impressionable time in her life, she needs her mother.
Originally I thought my only purpose was my daughter. I then realized she would one day grow up and not need me as much. My purpose became helping others. I thought it was advocacy. I did so much to try and spread awareness about lung cancer. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like I was making any progress.
Now, I believe my purpose is to help others. There are so many people with cancer who feel alone and depressed. If I can just help someone find a bit of hope or put things in perspective, I believe that is my purpose. Surely this can't be all there is. I believe in God. There are some that don't share this belief, and that's ok. But maybe, one day they will.
Don't fight lung cancer alone
It makes me feel good to share my story with others, whereas in the beginning, I was embarrassed. It's amazing how this cancer changed me. People I don't know email me after reading my blog. Sometimes they message me on Facebook. I try to give them hope, we all need it. I even need it sometimes. This disease is overwhelming and shouldn't be fought alone. Having a support system is so important.
What healthy habits do you use to improve the quality of your life?