Or, when all your friends are on maintenance treatments and you’re not.
Axons, insertions, deletions, rearrangements, EGFR, ALK, ROS1, VGFR, PD-1, PDL-1, HER2, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, precision medicine, what do they have that I haven’t got? Peer pressure is tough to withstand at any age and the need to keep up with the latest and greatest takes on even greater import when it’s your life you wish to protect.
One of the scariest, most exhilarating moments in a cancer patients life is the very last day of treatment. Some oncology centers invite patients to ring a bell, others present the patient with a Certificate of Completion. What they don’t give you is a manual on putting your life back in order and how to cope with being out from under the constant (and reassuring) scrutiny of the medicos.
For the duration of treatment you know you get daily and weekly clinical care. It seems that your next encounter with a nurse, tech, doctor, phlebotomist is never more than 3 days away. Maybe a week if you get a break in the chemo schedule. But what happens next. They can’t tell you. There are no answers. And so you wait.
My first 3 month CT came and went. Then another. And another.
With that break in my treatment I began reaching out and learning more about my dis-ease. And there was so much to learn.
What peaked my interest most was this thing called maintenance treatment. Like a mini chemo making sure that the little buggers stay in check. For some its a daily pill, for others its a trip to the infusion center every three weeks. Every lung patient I met, every care giver, they all wanted to know what type of maintenance chemo I was getting. They were all getting them.
Bowing to peer pressure I asked my oncologist why wasn’t I getting any additional treatment. After all, ALL of my friends were. He responded that I hadn’t had any progression so far so why mess with a good thing? You know what? HE WAS RIGHT- AGAIN! Then he added something about preserving the integrity of my bone marrow against a day when I might need full on chemo again. Gosh, he’s smart and…
I am blessed.
Today’s blog is dedicated to my dear friend Maureen Mason. Her journey with this non small cell lung cancer began less than six months ago. Today her journey comes to an end even as I write. She is the embodiment of the phrase zest for life. Gentle landings, Maureen. Gentle landings.