Home » Advocacy » Third Time’s a Charm

Third Time’s a Charm

Today I celebrate my three-year cancerversary. It was May 10, 2011, when biopsy results confirmed my lung cancer diagnosis.

My life has evolved quite a bit since that day. My first cancerversary in 2012 fell two days after my sixth (and last) dose of second line chemo, and a month before my second series of radiation treatments. I was stage IV, continually felt like I had the flu, and though hopeful, didn’t feel much like celebrating. My second cancerversary in 2013 fell sixth months into my current clinical trial. I had achieved No Evidence of Disease (NED) and focused on enjoying life, but was nearing the timeframe when others who took the same experimental drug typically progressed. I flew to Denver every 4 weeks for trial check-in, juggled side effects of treatments past and present, and felt anxious about the future.

My third cancerversary is different. Life no longer revolves around cancer treatment. I’m 17 months NED in my clinical trial, and the drug’s side effects are minimal. My visits to Denver every other month seem almost routine, with only a hint of scanxiety. I’m exercising most days, rebuilding my fitness level, and starting to lose the 60 pounds gifted to me by various cancer treatments. Physically, I’m less a cancer patient and more an out-of-shape fifty-something.

My life still revolves around lung cancer, but not in the same way. I’m busy most days with lung cancer patient advocacy. In addition to writing this blog for over a year, I moderate Lung Cancer Social Media (#LCSM) chats on Twitter and work with lung cancer nonprofits, healthcare professionals, researchers, and patient advocates to raise awareness and support of lung cancer issues such as benefits of mutation testing, screening with low dose CT, living with metastatic cancer as a chronic illness, and the need for increased research funding.

To celebrate this cancerversary, my husband and I spent a quiet vacation week in Whistler BC. The drive from Vancouver along Howe Sound into the volcanic coastal range (via Sea to Sky Highway) showcased Mother Nature at her finest. I enjoyed exploring Whistler Village and surrounds as well as writing. As I watched the snowboarders walking down from the Blackcomb gondola, I did feel a twinge of regret that I can no longer ski. However, I later reveled in the warm sun as I walked the mile around Lost Lake (2200 feet elevation!) at a moderate pace, with only a few stops–I could not have done that in 2011, 2012, or 2013.

So life has returned to an acceptable state of normality. At this point in time, a headache is just a headache—it doesn’t automatically trigger anxiety about brain mets. I look forward to seeing my son graduate from college next May. I accepted a commitment in fall 2015 without first asking if I’d be alive on that date. I know my targeted therapy cancer pill likley will fail me someday, but I now can go weeks without thinking about that.

As Trillian says in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
“We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.”

Howe Sound, British Columbia photo 2014-04-27150318_zps7217a637.jpg

Howe Sound, British Columbia

BC's Coastal Range from Sea to Sky Highway photo SeatoSky5_zpsc97e0de9.jpg

BC’s Coastal Range from Sea to Sky Highway

Lost Lake Outflow near Whistler BC photo 2014-05-02144426_zps1653fad6.jpg

Lost Lake Outflow near Whistler BC

11 thoughts on “Third Time’s a Charm

  1. Congratuation ! I like BC. It is so clean and the air is so refreshing. We go up to Vancouver once a year to enjoy and they have the best Chinese food besides Hong Kong.

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  2. Congratulations! I KNEW, just KNEW, you would kick cancers ass. I am so very happy that you are alive and well. It makes every day seem like a great gift. Glad you had a nice celebration and please, keep making plans for the future!!! I think and hope you will be around for a long while! (((hugs)))

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  3. Good for you. You deserve some good times. You help in ways you don’t even know, by your communication, education, and joy for life. You have helped me and you do not even know me. Thanks and my prayers for your continued improving health.

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  4. hi, its Kathy in Florida. I enjoyed reading your positive post. You surely have been to hell and back. I am happy so happy for you. Everyday is a gift and a learning experience. I have lost 5 people, one of them my very best friend to Cancer since Jan 1st. So when I hear people are doing good I get very happy and excited for them. If you ever want to come to Florida you are more than, and I mean this, more than welcome to stay with us. You have to like dogs, WE have 5 shih tzus, all loving of course…of as we say in the south COME ON DOWN YA’ALL….LOL…Happy Mothers day to you. I am gong Kayaking with my one and only son..who is 32…I have been up since 3am, had a headache, almost gone now…thank heavens for aspirin….and coffee LOL…May God keep blessing you and your family. Your pics are beautiful, like you.I am so so happy for the good news. Love you
    Kathy Hanley

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  5. Lovely post. I could not agree more about the state of being at yr3. I hit mine the day after you. 🙂 Your thoughts, feelings, behaviors are quite similar to mine.

    I might need to camping trip to Nairn Falls on my summer to-do list.

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