I Think I Have To Clarify Something

Which is to say, I still have cancer, and unless something miraculous happens, I will always have cancer. Recurrent endometrial cancer (aka recurrent uterine cancer) is inoperable, incurable, and terminal. There are something like four different forms (I think it’s four) and I have the one with the worst prognosis. 

However, it is treatable. My cancer cells have progesterone receptors, which means that doses of progesterone can keep it stabilised at a low level. For how long? Impossible to say. Could be months. Could be a few years. Could be more than a few years. Nobody knows…just like someone without cancer. Technically, I’m still terminal but now the more accurate term would be incurable. My own preference is incorrigible.

I like to think that the longer I live, the longer I’m likely to live but that’s not really true with recurrent endometrial cancer. That’s recurrent endometrial cancer, not a one-time occurrence as most cases of endometrial cancer are. My oncologist made it clear: this can turn around and bite me at any time. If I continue to lose weight (yes, I still need to lose weight) and maintain healthy eating and exercise habits, I’ll increase my chances of living longer. But there are no guarantees either way. There’s no five-year anniversary for me because I’m not in remission. Being in remission would be a miracle.

Correction: being in remission would be a bigger miracle than the one I’m living right now. It is at least slightly miraculous,  in my opinion, that I am not looking at the last six months of my life after all; that I am not in pain; that my cancer has decreased to such a minuscule level that my straight-shooter, down-to-earth oncologist who couldn’t crack even a faint smile when we first met now beams at me every time I see her. 

Some days, I actually forget I have cancer. Being a cancer patient isn’t all that I am but it’s something I’m always going to be. I live twelve weeks at a time; I make plans only within each twelve week period. I don’t think any farther ahead than that and on week eleven, I don’t even buy green bananas.

That’s okay. Could be worse. Eventually, it will be. But it isn’t today and today is all I have to worry about.

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12 thoughts on “I Think I Have To Clarify Something

  1. Hi Pat, not meant to console, but as a remark: Life of us humans is terminal, for each and everyone. And we share uncertainty of our presence in terms of duration: a dumpass terrorists blowing us up, lighting (or a meteorite) strikes us down or an airplane crashs, a runaway truck hits us biking, or just the good ol’ shindle dropping on our head – and don’t forget the wear-out of an essential body part (heart attack: that’s entropy at work!)…no one knows for sure if there will be another day. So, we’re with you in taking it one by the other…and should love it 🙂

    • This is true. I’ve said in at least one previous entry that life is the terminal condition we all share. Mine is just a little more terminal. 😉

  2. Thank you for updating us all, and for sharing with us your human side (vs the intangible author-as-suprahuman side that at times gets imposed upon you (yes, by me, I admit)).

    Your endurance and stamina and ability to see the miracles in your life and health, are inspiring to me.

    I am here, in the sidelines, cheering for you, and enjoying the fruits of your craft.

  3. We can’t say no to death every day, but we can defer it if we’re lucky and well-treated and live well while we can. And besides, you have a Worldcon to toastmaster in less than two months!

    • True! I can’t die, I’m booked!

      Or as I’ve said before: I believe we were put on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. I am now so far behind that I can never die.

  4. I’m sending healing thoughts and good wishes. I was very fortunate in having the easiest form, and I have passed my three-year anniversay (of diagnosis). I hope to meet you some day, and to share a drink in celebration of living long and prospering.

  5. Brava! Attitude is vital. Cherish the now. I was told I wouldn’t see 30. I’m 55. I don’t have cancer at this point.. a full hysterectomy, a lot of love, laughter, and early detection are powerful tools. My father, mother and sister had their own dances with cells gone wild. Dad triumphed for over a decade, but .. well, he made it to 70, a decent run he said. My mother and sister were lucky, blessed that surgery and some chemo did the job.

    At the same time my first husband died at 44, a medication interaction stopped lung function. “There was no pain, just slipped away in his sleep” they said. It could have been worse, I tell myself. Our last words were “I love you”. I hold on to those things. There are no guarantees. Life is the ultimate STD, always terminal.

    After several years of isolation and grieving, I remarried, because life is for living. If we are able, we remember that life is now. Petting the cat, enjoying great music, food, art, sex.. the good stuff. We hold those we love and help them find laughter as they do the same for us. We read interesting books and giggle at the dry wit and intelligence that takes us away, to explore new worlds, to wonder. (Thank you, Pat, as you are one of the authors I’ve enjoyed on my more challenging days.) The journey is the all.

    There will be difficult bits; rough roads, frustrations, pains, grief. All of them are easier with attitude. You get to choose how you see the challenge, how you respond to it. And you are doing a good job. Hear the virtual applause?

    Thank you for sharing your journey. For the wonder, the mystery, the laughter, the puzzles, the questions, the ups, the downs and the exploration. You are a lighthouse in the mist of the overwhelming, your grace, style and wit ease the path. Hugs.

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