Even in a period of change, I still look at my dear husband frozen in time due to this disease.
Kim is currently surviving stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. As a veterinary oncologist, she writes from two perspectives: as someone knowledgeable about the world of oncology medicine and as a thriving cancer patient reimagining her life. Kim hopes to help others by writing and sharing her story as she “re-purposes her purpose.” She lives in Denver with her husband, three dogs, cat and seven chickens.
"Boy, do I welcome change right now!" Two months ago, I would have been very nervous to change my cancer treatment—now—as I gasp for air when changing my clothes—I welcome it with open tired arms.
Like anyone experiencing change—this change could be for the better or
the worse. My new treatment plan may not be effective and I will have to deal with a whole new array of side effects. However, this change I approach will be a "transitional change." Since my lung cancer is "driven" by a molecular alteration, I have been receiving a clinical trial targeted therapy that worked really well for 6-8 months. Then a slow progression of the lung cancer begun, which has resulted in enough cancer spread that my lungs are screaming, "Uncle!"
The next new targeted cancer drug is not yet an option for me. I'm so close. Just an arm's length away from receiving hopefully what will be my next miracle. Given that my lungs did not reach the timeline agenda for the arrival of this trial to my local hospital, I will re-start conventional chemotherapy tomorrow to bridge the gap in the timeline. If I do not make a change, I do not think my lungs could hold out much longer. I suspect that this is what a lot of other advanced stage patient's are doing who have ran out of standard treatment options—"hop scotching" around until the next miracle is pumped out of the drug pipeline.
Change is not just scary for the patient. We can see the anxiety and fear in our loved ones' eyes. I look at my husband frozen in time. We witness other 30-somethings making moves in positive growth directions. If it weren't for this cancer shackle, he would be onward bound.
These thoughts allow me to reflect on a message that resonated with me. "When you lose a parent or grandparent, you lose a part of your past. When you lose a child, you lose a part of your future. When you lose your spouse, you lose a part of the past, the present and the future."
Cancer affects more than just the patient. Those who care for us and grieve our losses with us carry its deepest wounds.
We hope that I will benefit from these next few treatments so "we," as a couple, could experience a tidbit of the growth we deserve as a happy couple.