As men we’re not usually encouraged to celebrate the fact that something has shrunk, but I think this time it’s allowed!
Yesterday as I downloaded my radiology report alone in the backyard, my hands shook like crazy. I could hardly hang onto my phone and my heart began racing. This is something that I experience every time I am about to read one of these shitty reports. It’s intense and is usually followed by disappointing news. This time it was actually news I could celebrate. The tumour has shrunk 3cm since April! This is significant however celebrating wasn’t something I felt like doing.
How do you celebrate this? I still have cancer. People will think I’m crazy when I tell them that I didn’t get excited. Even after reading the report my hands continued to tremble and I felt slightly disappointed. I guess I wanted to see the tumour completely vanished. I long for the day where I no longer have to worry about this.
I feel selfish admitting that I didn’t feel the same way everyone else did who received my news. I know there are other cancer patients out there struggling who would give anything for a tumour reduction. Many of them will never receive news like this. I know that I am fortunate to still be here and I should be happy.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that these drugs don’t usually have a sustained response. They tend to have drastic results initially and then the cancer outsmarts them. The son of a bitch finds a way to come back. A lot of the time it comes back more aggressive and this makes the game even more challenging. I know it sounds crazy to dwell on this when I just had a huge success, but this is what I deal with. It’s an odd place to be. The drugs have bought me more time but how much?
Writing this blog post is my way of processing emotions. I really want to share in everyone’s excitement but at the moment I feel like I am not at a place to rejoice. Don’t get me wrong, this is a victory but I haven’t won the war.
My ego tempts me to delete this post because of the guilt and shame I feel for not being more excited. I have watched several people die who never received an ounce of good news. The guilt comes from a place of fear. Fear that this will be the last time I have good news. Fear that I am not strong enough to continue. Fear that the drug will stop working and the cancer will take off.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I am tired. Too tired sometimes to celebrate a small victory.
I am not saying that I am not grateful. I am extremely grateful and fortunate to be at a place in time where I have options. Like I have said many times, when I started this journey there were a few options and all of them had a minimal success rate. I endured several of them and they were all horrible. I am still recovering from most of them.
You might be thinking ‘wow this is really depressing’ and I understand that, but allowing myself to process these dark emotions also allows me to flip it on its side and see all of the amazing things that are happening. MY TUMOUR HAS SHRUNK!!! I have been waiting for this for a very long time and I was getting close to where I didn’t think this would ever happen.
I am also now at a place that even if these drugs stop working, I have more options. I have been successful in delaying the disease long enough so that new treatments have had time to be vetted. There are several that are on the verge of being approved and a couple of them have HUGE potential. Once again, not everyone responds to them but I will cross the bridge when I get there.
Six years is a long time and it has allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible. I am a more compassionate, loving and confident person than I ever was. I see life very differently.
Lastly this news only fuels my fire more to keep going. Keep moving forward every day. I struggle with a lot of the things I have lost on this journey but also celebrate what it has brought into my life. I was feeling down this morning until Stella, Gwen and I had a dance party in the kitchen. It’s moments like these that truly make me realize that my life is worth fighting for.
I may not be raising a glass in celebration like the guy in the picture, but I am happy to have a tumour that is smaller than it was three months ago. This little f’er has a target on his back and I will get him sooner or later!
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