Happy Anniversary to Me
As of last month I have finished 7 full years fighting stage 4 cancer. I've been through every type of chemotherapy and biologic immunotherapy available. I've been through two clinical trials with medications that didn't even have names yet. I've had times when I have just felt bad and fatigued. And I've had times when I could hardly get up out of bed. And I've had times when I could not be more than 60 seconds away from an available bathroom.
There was a time that my medication was so hard on me that I woke up one morning unable to get out of bed or walk. I somehow was able to make it from my bed to the bathroom, only a few steps away, by using a walker. I had to be helped outside to the car and to my doctor appointments. It took 5 months of intense training before I was able to put away my walker and my cane and walking stick and walk again.
Last summer I was at a time when I was unable to walk again without a walker through the house and to the car. Once to the doctor's office or hospital I would have to be transferred to a wheelchair and someone from the hospital would have to wheel me through from appointment to appointment or test to test because my 80-year-old mother was not capable of pushing me. I was on oxygen at the same time. Trips were rough because I had to carry so many oxygen tanks with me. I had an oxygen concentrator at home that left me tied to a ball in chain so to speak.
Once before my first clinical trial I was taken off all my drugs. Though very fatigued and unable to do much I was able to take a trip with my parents and my sister to Oklahoma to visit the Ree Drummond, the pioneer woman's ranch in Oklahoma. There was a second time before my second clinical trial that I was able to make a trip up north through New England, to see lighthouses, but specifically to visit four states that were the only states that Mason, the person with me, had not been to in the continental US - finishing up his tour of all 48 lower states.
My last trip, still on medication, was to Houston to visit my parents. I knew that it would be my last visit to Houston in my lifetime, a city that I love very much and had visited very often and had even lived in for a year. It was a very difficult trip. I basically could do nothing, even carry my own suitcase. I had to be helped walking and going up and down stairs. And the driving had to be done for me. I appreciate that I was accompanied by my friend Mason, a very strong helper who is in the national guard and was able to carry my weight by helping me get up out of chairs and carry everything for me; and to have the patience to drive through high flood waters as we had arrived during a hurricane that hit Galveston. Thank God I was with someone who could save my life if needed.
Jeff, an old college friend of 40 years has spent the past 7 years doing yard work for me and knocking down walls in my mobile home so a wheelchair can fit from end to end. My parents have probable depleted any savings they had paying for things that had to be bought, while free labor was provided by Jeff. He missed many weekends with his teenage daughter to help me out. How very Christ-like of him and my family.
Over the past to 3 years there has been a basic countdown of my life expectancy if things do not change. Things have not changed. My last couple of CT scans have been better than any others during the last 6 years. Yet the cancer does not shrink or go away. Still on an unknown timeline I continue to fight and do the best that I can, while having the most positive attitude I can muster. It takes all I can muster. But with help from loved ones I have been able to stay in my one home, where everyone prefers to die.
This year will be the first time in 2 years that I will be able to get on my riding lawn mower and mow my own lawn. Someone else has to put the gas into the tank for me as I cannot lift a gas can. I cannot push mow or weed eat or pull weeds or clean my yard in any other way. There are days that I can cook and there are days that I have to have food brought to me by my sister or parents.
Most 7-year anniversaries aren't that special. But mine is. Because My seven years of fighting have caused me to live twice as long as what was originally expected 7 years ago. Everyone else I knew with stage 4 colon cancer 7 years ago has died or disappeared out of my life.
Some friends and acquaintances have disappeared out of my life as well, some claiming to be too busy, and at least one being honest and saying that my sickness is too much to handle emotionally and that hanging around with other people is more fun than hanging around with me. The pandemic hasn't helped any in that regard either.
Please cheer me on as I continue my fight because I will fight to the very end or until it becomes so painful that I beg to die, which has happened too many people in my family.
And thank you to those who have stuck with me through thick and thin, who have believed in me, who have not let their prejudices get the better of their beliefs in me, and who occasionally cry for me just because they miss being around me so much.