Living Despite the Lung Cancer Epidemic
Last updated: April 2019
In the cancer world, there is a term called cured, although I really don't believe it means the same thing that is in Webster's Dictionary. You see, I haven't had "active" cancer in 5 years. I've had two pulmonary embolisms, but my oncologist refuses to use terms such as "remission" or "cured". He knows that at any moment, this cancer can wake up and we begin to look for another solution. So, to all of the people looking at me on Facebook and thinking, "She looks great, she came through this!", just know I didn't get through yet. Yes, I may not be actively spitting out cancer cells, but I could be next week, next month, next year. It's scary to face your own mortality in this way for so many years.
433 is what an epidemic looks like
I knew two people down here with lung cancer, Sarah Jeffords and Paula Lusher. Sarah lost her life earlier in 2018 and Paula passed recently. It doesn't ever get easier, because you consistently think, "Why was I spared?" And with Matt, Nicole, and Kelly earlier this year, 2018 has been kind of rotten to the lung cancer community. Believe me, there have been many more. Around 433 a day. This is an epidemic. This is what an epidemic looks like and it really drives me insane that our society does not see it that way.
Researchers should be all over this. Instead, it's a popularity contest of funding. We just don't make the cut. And before many of us can make a long-lasting impact, we are taken by the disease. Some of us quit fighting for research because we have no more fight to give, we just want to spend that time with our family. I know that I go in and out of advocacy quite a bit. I get wrapped up in living.
Remembering a simpler time
A past weekend my daughter had two of her best friends sleepover. These girls have known each other since they were two years old. They used to have a club at their preschool, called Fight Club. They all three went on to become volleyball players and in this last year before high school, another one is moving.
So one is about 2 hours away and the other will be about 7 hours away. The way these girls get together is amazing. They can go years without seeing each other and pick back up right where they left off. They know each other's secrets and dreams. Some friendships are meant to last forever, I think this is one of them. Karley misses them both, but thanks to social media, they can always communicate back and forth. Karley does have other friends, just not like these. I loved every minute of listening to them laugh.
They remind me of a simpler time. I remember being that carefree. They look so grown now. I think, "Where has the time gone?" I've been so concerned about my illness and trying to resolve it, I've forgotten to live in the moment.
Focus on living for today
I think cancer made me worry so much that I've missed some of Karley growing up. But cancer has also allowed me to live like the normal housewife. I'm able to take her to the doctor, take her shopping, watch movies and youtube videos with her. And I don't hear that clock ticking in my head when we are doing all of this. It's not there, she makes me forget. They all make me forget like I'm Peter Pan and I never grew up. I don't hear that alligator with them. So, when I go off the grid in advocating, it's because I'm living. And I can't apologize for that.
What healthy habits do you use to improve the quality of your life?