This week marks my third anniversary of coming out of surgery to learn that I had Stage IIIC2 endometrial cancer, considered advanced because of lymph node metastasis, instead of the Stage I we expected from the clinical indications. Well, I didn't hear that news for a few days, actually--but my poor husband did, and had to come to grips with what that might entail on his own. I should qualify that statement too, because as it happened he had the crucial support of a long-time friend of his, and a long-time friend of mine, both of them in the medical profession and both very well qualified to help him make it through a very long night.
So perhaps those are the first two lessons we learned from dealing with cancer: that things are not always what they seem, for good and ill, and that one does not have to face this alone.
I'm mindful of that anniversary in yet another way now, eighteen months into remission. It feels more solid now, although our dear alliedoc had a recurrence of endometrial cancer several years after her initial surgery, and she eventually died from it (see lesson #1). (I met alliedoc only once, but it was an unforgettable encounter. I do miss her keenly.) One never knows, nor does one ever have any guarantees. I had a local acquaintance who also died about a year after her recurrence of endometrial cancer, and then there is HylasBrook, also beloved by many here, who never even got to recover from her initial surgery. Her third-to-last comment on Daily Kos was to accept the offer of a Community Quilt.
Yet this diagnosis is not always fatal. Besides me, another of the women in my real-life support group has endo ca, and she appears to be doing well about seven years after diagnosis. There is no telling, statistics notwithstanding. Survival is a mystery (variation on lesson #1) that I doubt I will ever fathom.
Tonight I spoke with an old political friend I hadn't been in contact with for several years. He has grandchildren now, though I could swear his children are younger than mine. Not impossible, of course. I'm still a little envious. And part of our conversational updates included my rather perfunctory reference to being in recovery from cancer. It's almost simple to say it now, not only a matter of dread. I concluded by saying, "So far, so good." That appears to be my version of one day at a time.
How are you all tonight? This has to be an open thread; I'm still bogged down in NN14 panel prep. But I will keep popping in to hear what's new with all of you, and what you are looking forward to this spring.
Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.