Let’s sort this all out…
As many of you know, there is no cure for glioblastomas — only treatments. Treatments designed to help the cancer victim function better and live longer. One treatment is surgery. I’ve had two brain surgeries, and I’ve had the services of the top brain surgeon in the world — Dr. Mark Johnson. Treatment in July, and then another treatment in March but no cure.
Another treatment option is radiation. I had a course of daily radiation that carried me through August and September and October of last year. You can flip back to some of my earlier blog posts and read all about it. It seems, looking at it now, as if I was so happy then. Radiation is treatment. It probably added days and weeks and months to my life. It was a really good treatment; but, like I told you, there’s no curing the glioblastoma tumor.
There’s a third treatment, and that’s chemotherapy. I’ve had eight rounds of chemotherapy. Each round is different. Each chemotherapy brings its own special hope – hope for a longer life, hope for a better life, hope for a happier life; but, of course, no hope for a cure. And, of course, each chemotherapy brings its own cluster of nasty side effects. I’d tell you all about the side effects, but I’m exhausted.
Don’t forget, folks, there’s a fourth treatment — the treatment of the mind. These days even mainstream medicine recognizes the link between a healthy mind and a healthy body. The wonderful people at the Herbert Benson Center certainly know that. It was there that I joined with an amazing group of cancer survivors, and cancer veterans, all women (we call ourselves the ‘Benson Babes’.) The mind, we’re taught, can be treated with meditation and prayer and positivity and hope and treatment is wonderful; but treatment isn’t cure.
Then there’s the fifth form of treatment — no treatment at all. The last time I went to Dana Farber to meet with my health care team (What a horror show that was! It took two ambulances, four EMT’s, a ramp and a stretcher to get me to my appointment) I told them that I’d fought the good fight and that I was ready to stop fighting. My wonderful oncologist, Dr. Eudocia Lee, teared up when I told her. My super-duper wonderful Nurse Practitioner, Jenn Rifenburg, told me that it was an honor to have worked with me. How can I express to her what an honor it’s been for me to work with her?
So, friends, I am going to let the cancer run its course. I am not afraid. I am at peace. I just can no longer witness the looks of anguish and suffering I see on the faces of the family I love so very much.
Over the past month I have become completely paralyzed on my left side. I can’t walk or even move my arm. Surgery is no longer an option. Even with physical therapy I can never regain the control I once had. I had an option to try even more invasive chemotherapies but I just didn’t see an upside in that. Even if I could put up with it, I couldn’t bring myself to put Angelique and Paul through it.
Besides, there was no guarantee I would even have qualified for one of these new chemotherapies. The trials are just so competitive! I can just imagine them checking the Fifth Grade report cards that have been enshrined in my ‘Permanent Record’. There’s no way I’d win any competitions there. If only I’d studied my geography lessons!!
Don’t feel bad. I truly am at peace. I’m ready to go. I feel blessed. I feel nothing but gratitude. I’ve had the chance to speak to the people I love and to tell them how much they’ve meant to me. Not everyone gets that chance.
I am so grateful for everything.
My husband and daughter have been my angels. My friends and family have been my saving grace. My community has come through for me. The Fire Department has responded again and again, picking me up whenever I fell. I’m not going to fall anymore, though. These days I can’t come close to standing up.
Don’t feel bad for me. I’m grateful I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by love and compassion. Think about all the people who end their lives in isolation and loneliness. I’m at the other end of that spectrum entirely.
I’m grateful to the other ‘Benson Babes’. It’s been a privilege to fight cancer alongside them. I’m grateful to my nieces and friends who are organizing a team to walk in the upcoming Brain Tumor Walk. Keep your eye out for Pam’s “Bossy Posse”. More to come.
I understand that God has chosen me for a specific purpose. I am willing to serve God’s purpose. I’ve even gotten to see the way God has been glorified through my experiences — but I’ve had experiences enough. Now I’m praying for an end to my family’s suffering.
Maybe you’re shocked that I’ve chosen not to pursue any more treatment. I am so sorry, but the time for fighting has passed. Now is the time for me to learn acceptance. I can accept the fact that my life is what it is when I think about what a wonderful life it’s been. Please be happy for me. Be happy I’ve had such a fulfilling life. Be happy I’ve had love, and joy, and fun … and lots and lots of crazy times.
I love you all!
I love you all!!