We all have our superstitions, right? Mine are more on the order of OCD gotta-do’s. Being sure all of the bathroom cabinets are closed when I leave. When I read the paper (yes, we are still papyrus reading dinosaurs), I always read it front to back, never out of sequence. Making sure my checkbook (yes, I still have one of those too) is balanced to the penny. OK, I actually gave up on that several years ago but I used to spend an hour looking for the 26¢ I was off. But today we are not here to discuss my bookkeeping quirks.
So when did Friday the 13th turn lucky? After all, it was 17 years ago today that I had my spinal fusion surgery, and it just so happened to be on Friday the 13th as well. Totally lost my voice for ten weeks after they nicked one of my vocal cords. Lucky? I’m thinking not.
But as you know, today is my two-year anniversary from the date I was given my initial lung cancer diagnosis. As you also know, I try and avoid statistics, but I do know the odds were against me even being here to type this blog two years later. So, the fact that I’m still around to 2-digit finger poke is lucky indeed. But luck mixed with a whole bunch of other stuff.
So today I give thanks where thanks are due:
Medical Staff (onc, lung-onc, radio-doc, GP etc.)
Yes, I’ve had an occasional issue here and there with a misdiagnosis or forgotten drug interaction. But over all I have had excellent treatment. Over at Moores Cancer Center, all the staff in the infusion center know me and my oddball sense of humor. We all joke about the likelihood of getting stabbed more than once to draw blood. OK, I’m sorta joking. And my urine specimen is my special “gift” that I provide to whoever drew the short straw and had to deal with me. All of the staff who have assisted in my numerous CT scans, MRI’s, xrays, bloodletting excursions, radiation treatments, EKG’s, echocardiograms, Zometa infusions, and yes, even my lung-suck thoracentesisessessesses (thoracentesi?), have been very pleasant, and in many cases, downright friendly. Well, maybe that first knuckle-noogie echo-tech is not on this list. But how many docs do you know will high-five you on a good scan result?
Even though I won’t give it its own paragraph, I also want to thank my wife’s insurance company. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful plan through my wife’s job as a teacher. After two years, I’d venture to guess that my medical bills would have approached the $1/2 mil threshold. All in all, I doubt seriously if I’ve been out of pocket $1000. Definitely feel lucky in that regard.
Even if I was diagnosed only 5 years earlier, I’d be singing a different tune. If I was even alive to sing. Even if you wanted me to sing. Which you don’t. Biotech advances, especially genomics research, have grown exponentially and are bringing new drugs and treatment options to bear quickly. Two years ago I had never heard of EGFR or T790, but those two acronyms or abbreviations, along with the designer drugs associated with each, Tarceva and AZD9291, have played an extremely important role in my survivorship to this day. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring but I raise a toast to the pharma companies out there working on the next new thing. After last week’s news, I encourage you to work even a little faster…
Fellow Bloggers, Tweeters and Support Sites
I met some of you through your own blog or through websites that deal specifically with the type of cancer I have. Unless you’ve been there, doing that, it’s hard to relate exactly to what is going on in my life and my not-always-there mind. Having other survivors to chat with that are going through what I have, or have already gone through a particular treatment, is a blessing. Nobody likes surprises and I’ve been able to avoid most of them with your help. Of course there is still a lot of unpredictability in my life, but at least I know, for the most part, what my options are because there is a village out there lending advice and support.
That would be you. You have no idea how much your support, good wishes, prayers, bottles of Rombauer, Facebook and blog comments and get well cards have meant to me. I have only been able to maintain a semblance of sanity and keep a semi-positive outlook because of you all and my family. I may not respond to each comment on my blog, but trust me on this, I read every single one. And I’ve even shed a tear over a few that really hit home to me at the time.
Of course my family is my rock. They have had to ride this roller coaster right along beside me, and try and not scream during the scary twists and turns through tunnels etc. None of us bought a ticket for this journey but there they are, in lock-step with me every day, ensuring that I keep placing that next step right in line with the last one. Business as usual? It would absolutely not be possible without them.
So Friday the 13th is lucky? Damn straight, even with last week’s less-than-stellar scan results. I am still here, I feel great, you all say I look great, I have an incredible support network to tap into, and I still have a few bottles of Rombauer left. Lucky indeed.
OK, don’t forget, if you are available this evening (Friday the 13th) at 7pm PST, join us on the Cancerversary page and drop in comments, pictures holding wine glasses, anything you want. I’ll be on the site from about 7-8pm or so responding to comments, pictures, or even any questions you might have. Never could figure out how to do a really techie virtual celebration so we will have to use this somewhat lame-o method. But hey, the bottom line is I get to celebrate. And here Kim and I are getting ready. I’m modeling the “Life is Good” sweatshirt she bought me. You can click on the picture for a better look. Check out the wine glasses as well.
Business as usual. Day at a time.