Monday, April 6, 2009

A Cancer Survivor

I took a photo with about 50 pancreatic cancer survivors on Saturday (4/4). The photo was at a symposium put on by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Jacquelyn and I went down to Philly for the day – in the middle of her birthday weekend.
Appropriately enough, on the eve of Holy Week – and mirroring so much of this journey - it was a day of contrasting emotions for me. I was reminded of the dark statistics of my disease. It's a reality I recognize but try not to dwell on. Seeing and hearing the survival numbers always scares and sobers me. I have always, and still, believe that I am that 20% that will, by God's grace, survive. The prayers of my angels have been wonderfully supportive for me throughout. Thank you all.
On the other end of the spectrum, it was heartening to see so many people, of all ages and walks of life, surviving and thriving. It was uplifting to hear their stories; to see other vibrant patients; to learn instances of tumors that have been disappeared by neo-adjuvant chemotherapy; to gain exposure to the recent advances in treatment and hope for the future. To appreciate that there is an entire community living through an experience similar to ours. There is lots of hope and lots to do.
I received a terrific vote of confidence on Saturday. I had my first post-operative CAT scan this past Wednesday. It indicates that I am still cancer-free! What an incredible relief. I have been feeling super, but you never know. I reached another milestone this week in completing my third month/cycle of chemo. I am scheduled to start 5-6 weeks of radiation (in conjunction with a different chemo drug as a sensitizer) on Monday the 13th. I have been feeling particularly good lately. This is a second chemo-less week for me as my system clears out and gears up
I don't really understand what it means to be a "survivor". I appreciate that it could all change at any moment. All I know is that I am still here. I plan on being here for another 42 years. Whether or not I am is mostly up to God. I'll do my best to give him every reason to keep me around. Still…it's his plan. I thank God that we've been seeing his plan from the same angle lately. Every day is a blessing. (This weekend we celebrated Jacquelyn's 40th birthday. How blessed am I that I get to start every day with her!?! Add Ana and Noah and, in our house, every morning is truly a celebration.)
Speaking of thanks and blessings…because of the kindness of so many of you, my friends and family, my buzzed head has garnered over $3,000 for St. Baldricks. After some matching gifts, I am hoping that we will have raised $4,000 in support of children's cancer research. Thanks all. I appreciate it.
Peace and love.


Jennie said...

What wonderful news on the CAT scan results!!! So happy for you and the family!

Jennie, Kevin, James and our newest addition Katelyn!

Kathleen said...

I am so happy about the CAT Scan results... I too believe you are in the 20% and that you will be around to celebrate our 80th birthdays together!!! We need to get together soon... We miss you...
Love, Kathleen, Ralph and Hunter