All has been swimming along quite well, until it stopped. On October 20, 2020, on the basis of a consultation with our oncologist, I sent the following note to my family and children. Just for convenience, I’m posting it here for readers of my cancerblog. I expect this may mean more postings from me. It appears easier to write about challenges than about “swimming along”.
“Mom and I have been busy, busy, busy over here, video conferencing with our General Practitioner, Oncologist, Pulmonary Doctor (with add-ins from Palliative Care, Radiology, our Pastor), etc.
Chemo: I have, over these last nine years, blown through all the existing accepted chemotherapeutic protocols to combat my cancer. There are no more medications that can be offered.
Clinical Trials: There seem to be three Clinical Trials either in startup stages, or seeking qualified candidates. All happen to be at UCSF. We’re putting our name on the “waiting list” to get more information. We’ll see whether any are a good match; whether their likely results are worth the cost of experimentation.
Pulmonary Options: The Pulmonary Doctors specialize in Lung Health. They’ve evaluated my CT Scans and know about my coughing.
There are two types of bronchoscopy available to us. Neither of these are urgent, but are available on an “as needed” basis.
Palliative Care: The “short” of it is that we can now expect the cancer to continue encroaching on my lungs and making it increasingly difficult for me to breathe. That’s where Palliative Care comes in. They have a number of possible “interventions” to help me breathe when I have difficulty. They can administer such care in the hospital or at home.
Death: Whenever THAT time comes, we WERE prepared to have a Polish Wake and Funeral Liturgy “with a cast of thousands”. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, that won’t be possible. No party for some time.
Timeline: Typically after stopping chemo, patients have around 6 months. But—as our oncologist pointed out—I’ve consistently outlasted the statistical expectation chart. We all hope this continues to be the case.
I share this with you because having cancer has given us the opportunity / necessity to plan ahead in this practical way. People approaching the end of their life without terminal illness often don’t have this opportunity. They just suddenly die one day; frequently without notice.
We have notice. We have a chance to think about the process as well as the end (or, actually, of course, the new beginning).