Saturday, April 28, 2007

Optimism and Hope

Thanks for all of your suggestions, thoughts, prayers, anger for and with me, and general support since my post mid-week. I've certainly been up and down this week emotionally, as I processed the medical information and its implications for the future. And the truth is, gallbladder cancer is aggressive and dangerous, and my diagnosis and overall prognosis haven't changed since last May. I have Stage 4 gallbladder cancer, and it is a terminal diagnosis. I keep hoping for more time, and maybe I'll still have it, but the truth is, no one knows what the future holds.

We talked with the oncologist, Dr. J, on Friday, and he is eager to see the results of the CT scan, scheduled for this coming Monday, but we won't have the radiologist's report until Wednesday or so, and then at the end of the week, I'll meet face to face with Dr. J. The CT scan could provide some surprising good news, in which case we could consider going on with the current chemo. However, I'm liking the idea of stopping the chemo and trying the biologic agent he mentioned last month, sorafenib. It's not a chemo, so doesn't have the same side effects, and maybe I could regain my appetite and energy, and actually be able to do some things I would enjoy.

Regardless, I will undoubtedly have some medical procedures to try to bring things under control. I am currently scheduled to have the stent to my bladder replaced on May 8, and I'll go ahead with that if I don't do chemo on May 4. If my bilirubin continues to climb, we'll have to do something to drain the bile. If I'm not on chemo, my body should be able to tolerate these medical procedures better, and maybe I can regain some of the weight I've lost in the last four months.

So, why am I feeling optimistic and hopeful? Truthfully, I don't know. I think a lot of it is my temperament and my desire and inclination to see things in a positive light. I don't think I'm in denial; I spent a lot of time this past week feeling very sad, and internally processing the new information. It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but it's what was, what is, and I can't change it. And I guess I return to where I started. The news hasn't been good about my diagnosis from the beginning, and nothing has changed that . So, I'm left with the choice of feeling miserable about the situation, or just accepting what is and moving on, trusting that I will have more time to enjoy my family, my friends, the things I love to do, like gardening and baking and silk painting and scrapbooking. The truth is that none of us knows our future, nor how many days are left in our lives.


Anonymous said...

My dear friend and colleague, some say there's a fine line between hope and denial; I think we all have to opt for hope, but not expect anything -- love what we have, and don't count on more. Hard to do -- a tightrope walk for sure. I've been reading old posts today, and something someone (Jan?) quoted really resonated -- no pun intended (you'll see what I mean when I repeat it): "Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget the perfect offering, There is a crack in everything -- That's how the light comes through."

God bless you and keep you and yours, my friend, my colleague, my mentor; my inspiration.

Mary F.

Unknown said...

So sorry to hear that the medical issues aren't going well. We have little control over that, but out outlook is our biggest weapon. So, please plan on joining me, and as many other gall bladder and bile duct cancer patients, and all of our supporters, in Los Angeles the first week of March 2008, to participate in the LA Marathon. I am planning a big party, a shorter walk for those of us not able to walk 26 miles (even with the help of wheel chairs and pushers), and a Guiness Record for the number of us gathered at one time.

This invitation to participate obviously includes all of the supporters posting on this site.

Love to you and the family,

Woody Beckman

Anonymous said...

Life is a terminal condition. The problem is that until we have a life threatening illness we don't think of it that way. Cancer is a beast that has many heads. Our only hope in fending if off is in trying all the therapies offered and gaining whatever time we can. My hope for you is that the sorafenib will arrest the growth and give you more time to do the things you love the most. Your optimism is one of the best things you have working for you right now. I'm glad you are feeling more positive after the tough week you've had. Laugh, live, and love.

Anonymous said...

I am family member of someone who is dealing with cancer. I said to them recently that they could live to a ripe old age, and never realize how precious their family members are. The situation forces her to spend truly "quality" time with those who wish to visit with her. I guess I am trying to say that out of every tough situation something good can come out of it. I hope this makes some kind of sense.

NEVER stop fighting because scienitific discoveries are always in progress. Human will is an awesome power. God bless.

RE Fox

Anonymous said...

Ah! Lynne! Your fine balance between optimism and realism is just wonderful.
I agree....who knows what the future may hold...for ANY of us! Even those of us who are lucky enough to feel well...or think we are well cannot for certain know how many more days and nights we have in our future here on the earth!
Indeed, any one of us could be in for a huge surprise!!
I agree that instead of our panicking...or feeling helpless in the face of impending doom we need to live life to the fullest...not taking anything for granted.
When I am tempted to complain about this or that I try to remember that it is a blessing to have the opportunity to do any of it.....any of the work we have been set on the earth to do.
I remember chatting with my friend Janine while she was home, battling melanoma and no longer able to do her teaching. She suddenly stopped talking and said in a matter of fact way..."Hey, remember how much we complained to eachother about having to go in to school and face our toughest classes each day...and how we couldn't wait to be out for vacation?.....well....I would give anything to be back there now instead of being here and doing this!!"
On my grumbliest of days....I remember that moment and the slap in the face it gave me.
Everything I am able to do....on my own....from the smallest of delights to the most annoying of actually a good thing.
"It's better than the alternative" as my mom would say!!
I admire your courage, tenacity, strength, wisdom and unending supply of optimism and spirit, Lynne!
I send thoughts your way throughout my day everyday....and pray for your healing and comfort and for time.
.....lots and lots of time!

Teresa Hartman said...

Lynne, thank you for your words that have given me strength during my cancer treatment. You are an inspiration to me, and I am glad that I have met you through your words. You are a star to me, and my prayer is that your star shines for a long time. You are an important person to this Nebraskan, and if there is ANYTHING I can do for you, just name it. Please know I am sending healing thoughts your way daily.

Anonymous said...

I will add to the chorus of folks who refer to you as an "inspiration". You have a personality that simply attracts people, and now that you are facing this nasty illness, the traits I have always admired in you are shining like the sun. You have had a week of returning to an emotional place you didn't want to see again. Though you may be spitting nails at the cancer, you are also loving life and its many gifts in a way that is truly....well....inspiring!
God Bless you, and may this week's news be better!
Mary M

Anonymous said...

Lynne -
As you know, I've been out of town this week, visiting my stepfather who also has cancer, so I did not read your recent test results until this morning. You are in my heart.

Elaine Pascale said...

Hi Lynne
I don't think it's denial at all, I chalk it up to a resilient spirit (which is a wonderful gift). I am currently reading "The Life of Pi" about a young boy trapped on a life boat with a 450 pound Bengal Tiger! I think of you often as I read, as the character is very strong, brave and resilient, like you. He also has a great deal of faith. I imagine you outsmarting cancer as Pi outsmarts his tiger!

Anonymous said...


My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family in this week ahead.

Sue Flynn