What’s Up

I have small cell carcinoma, this cancer strikes 10 to 15 percent of all lung cancer victims. Of those who have small cell, only 50 percent survive 2 years and only 2 percent survive 5 years. I am 27 months into this journey and this cancer is still localized within the same area in my left lung. Recently there has been some activity, some growth that is concerning, worrisome to my oncologist.

The good thing about this is I have been allowed to have a PET scan. This scan will tell where my cancer is and if it has spread yet. The scan shows that the only area is Adolph (I named my tumor Adolph) and the surrounding area, while Adolph should have sent out minions to infect my body, he has not – he has remained consolidated within his “bunker” tight against my lung near the bronchial tubes.

As this is very unusual, I have been referred to a new doctor in the Portland, Maine area. It is the hope that this doctor, a radiation oncologist, may consider using radiation on the new minions, however the possibility is slim.

How does that make me feel? I sure would ask that question if it were someone else. The answer is so complicated, feelings are complicated themselves without the added stress of a life or death variable thrown in.

My spouse and I have been awaiting the spread, each quarterly CT scan is met with anticipation, I do hold my breath until the results are explained to us and until this last scan the results have been positive. Now we have strange behavior to consider. Behavior that puzzles my oncologist and therefore simple baffles me. I have looked at the illness as a challenge, I have been determined that the results will be leveraged my way. I have a deep faith in God and have placed myself in his hands, I have no impact myself on this journey, only God can determine my fate. But I don’t know why he has put a wrinkle in the journey I had prepared myself for. You see I secretly steeled myself against bad news, I expected it and was determined to take it in the cheek. I feel that the reason I have this disease is to show others how you can have a bad thing happen and still get up in the morning. I still put my big girl pants on and face the day. I no longer work, memory issues make it difficult to work in accounting and business. I joked to my friend this morning that I always did want to be a “kept woman” guess I have succeeded. My husband should be amused at that. I participate in life, I spend time with other people. I do have some time alone, but I do not spend it being morose, I usually spend it with our three dogs, who now are beyond spoiled.

I see a therapist on a regular basis, if you have cancer you really need to spend time with a person who is there to listen, who is impartial to the experience and can advise you about all the things that are going on. My therapist regularly tells me that his purpose is to ensure that I am healthy and that the best decisions I make aren’t necessarily for my husband, kids or other family members, but those decisions benefit me. Hence I did not have any guilt for just taking off to Virginia for my granddaughters 1st birthday. I don’t feel guilty for just jumping up and doing something adventurous possibly heading to Mt Washington for the day or maybe to Bar Harbor to people watch. If you have a diagnosis similar to mine, you need to take time to place yourself first. Don’t ignore your desire to do something simply because another person might disapprove. Other people aren’t living your reality, their opinions should support you, if they don’t then they probably aren’t the type of person you need in your life.

So what’s up in my life? As you can tell a lot, I am afraid, afraid that the new doctor will tell me that there is nothing that can be done for me. A statement that has been told to me by another doctor almost two years ago. And almost equally afraid that they will give me options that might help and/or might hasten the spread of my cancer. What choice would I make, would I take a chance at an extended life at the risk of hastening the end of my life? For a while I dreamed that they would be able to remove my lung and with it the offensive cancer, I could live with just one lung. But for my type of cancer, that surgery would almost certainly hasten the spread of my cancer. But now that Adolph isn’t playing the game according to the rules, is there a slight possibility? Is there an actual chance? I toy with that idea, just mull it over slightly, then take the idea and shelve it away in my mind, protecting myself against the very real chance that that hope would indeed be crushed and my emotional well being along with it.

For now the book of my life continues to be written.

Cindy McIntire

About Cindy McIntire

Cindy is a lifelong resident of Waldo County, she is a wife and mother of three adult children. She was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma in her left lung in January 2014. Statistically only 2% of the people who are diagnosed with this disease survive more than 5 years. After trying to find literature written by others in her situation, Cindy chose to write this blog, in hopes that it may serve as a rough trail map for those who may follow.