I participate a bit in a few cancer forums. The CSN forums has an active and awesome community for head and neck cancer, and it was a huge help last time… but its lung cancer forums are less active. I found two others that so far seem to be good communities: Inspire and Lungevity.
I mention forums because after I said the statistics on lung cancer were troublesome, someone on the forum suggested Stephen Jay Gould’s article The Median Isn’t The Message to me. That was one of the very first blogs I posted last time I had cancer, and I used it as a part of an article I wrote for Gamasutra called The Metrics Aren’t The Message (and its follow up, Hope Is The Message).
Yet somehow I lost track of the point of that article. In fact, I lost many things I learned last time because of fear, plain and simple. I let fear of possible outcomes overwhelm what I believe and what I know. I’ll forgive myself for it because I’ve lost so many family members to lung cancer (both grandfathers within a month of each other when I was 8, my uncle and recently my mother) that it’s understandable why it would create so much fear. But there has to be a point where I stand up and say, “No. I’m not going to let fear dictate my behavior or run my life.”
It’s compounded by what used to be a nausea phobia, but is now just nausea anxiety. Going through the intense nausea of the last cancer treatment was a sort of unofficial systematic desensitization–not enough to completely get rid of the fear, but enough to knock it down a bit. I’ve been worried about the higher dose chemo I have tomorrow even though I’ve been through chemo so much before.
Being anxious about it won’t help–in fact, it makes it worse. I know the chemo tomorrow is going to be fine–in fact, it will be uneventful and kind of boring (chemo always is). We’re trying a brand new drug called Varubi for nausea–it was just approved by the FDA last September. Assuming it arrives in time for my chemo, it and other medications will take care of any nausea. I’ll feel fine for the day of chemo and fine for a few days after and then I’ll feel fatigued and crappy for a few days and then it will be done. Three weeks later I’ll do it again, and then I’ll really be done.
It’s far too easy to let the what-ifs in life get the best of us. I tend to be a forward-looking person so I spend a good deal of my time thinking through what-ifs, usually from a more positive perspective. It’s hard living with uncertainty. The honest truth, though, is that we all live with uncertainty every day–we just choose not to think about it that way.
I’m going to work to regain my focus. I’m not quite ready yet to regain my drive, and when I’m going through treatments isn’t the time to do that anyway. That time will come, though.