But I’ve gotten to the point where I must because quite honestly, I just can’t yet bring myself to individually answer the emails and messages I’ve gotten just since I first heard of the possibility of me having cancer as I wrote about last month in Dealing With Cancer as a Full-Time RVer.
I’ve replied to some asking about the diagnosis and mostly, I was only able to give the facts. Here they are:
The oncologist and throat doctor agree that based on all the tests (and believe me, there were a load of them over the last few months) and what they ruled out, their diagnosis is stage 4 lung cancer. It seems to have started in the right lung and has moved to my lymph nodes in the neck, throat and upper chest. It is terminal and there is no treatment, neither surgery, chemo or radiation they think would do any real good at this point.
Certainly none could be a cure, so she agrees the side effects are not really worth the reward. That part was almost a relief so I don’t have to debate with anyone about what I should and shouldn’t do. I always said I wouldn’t do chemo after seeing what it did to my favorite aunt. And just in general, I don’t believe in the idea of poisoning your entire body hoping it also gets the cancer and you get over the poison. Then good luck with all the other side effects and other cancers it causes. Anyway, I’m glad even the doctor didn’t push that issue. I think she may have been surprised at my reaction that I was relieved that none of the things I’d been dreading even considering was a recommended option.
She said average life expectancy is a year, and reminded me that average means half of the people died in less than a year and the others made a year and maybe a bit more. She has no way of knowing what half I’m in, but thinks I will start feeling pretty “uncomfortable” from these enlarged and growing lymph nodes within 3-6 months.
We talked about immunotherapy, but there are issues with that, too, and that’s for another day’s consideration. Since it is a long process where I’d have to be in one place for the whole treatment where I can be monitored, I’ve decided to get on to Oregon and see an oncologist there for a second opinion and actual review of the slide from the biopsy.
But first, my earth angel friend, Rochelle, and I will be in Cortez tomorrow for a few days to explore Mesa Verde National Park. We bypassed that on the way here so I could hurry to Durango for the oncologist appointment. It’s something I long wanted to see and since I already had to give up Antelope Canyon, I’m determined to see Mesa Verde! I truly wish I could have seen more during the month we’ve been in Durango, but another disappointment was that our scheduled Durango-Silverton train ride had to be cancelled due to a wildfire they’re fighting that has also had the nice scenic road I wanted to explore closed, also.
So I’m moving on and still feeling pretty good right now considering the whole picture. Energy is noticeably reduced and breathing a little more difficult, but I don’t know how much of that is still adjusting to the altitude in Colorado. In any case, I want to explore as much as I can on the way and oncologist agreed there is no harm in that. I probably won’t be to Medford until mid July, have contacted an oncology group there and all my records are already on the way to them. I will establish residency there so I can qualify under their right to die with dignity law. I sincerely believe in that and also appreciate the fact that marijuana and all forms of CBD treatments are legal there.
In the meantime, I will continue the immune boosting and anti-inflammatory nasty tasting stuff that was recommended by the holistic oncologist I first saw. I’m also using heavy duty CBD cream on my neck and sublingual CBD oil. I know some people have no faith in these kind of alternative treatments, but I’m using them anyway. Even if it just helps keep the big lump from growing so quickly and keeps me comfortable longer, I’m okay with that.
While still a bit in shock, I have found at least a small measure of peace with it all. Quality of life is much more important than quantity and I’ve certainly had a blessed life. I’ve thought about it and I am still grateful for the choice I made to start fulltime RVing almost 17 years ago now. It’s the wondrous sights I’ve seen all over this country and the incredible people I’ve met that make my statement I have no regrets the absolute truth. If I had waited until normal retirement age or until I thought I had enough money or whatever, I’m sure I’d be a lot more pissed off about the shortened time now. I have had all kinds of interesting thoughts and advice about that kind of stuff, but that’s also for another day.
A true living hell has been telling my family and close friends. I’m sure our hearts will be broken again and again before this process is over. But there have also been moments of joy and I see no reason not to fully enjoy them. My 10 year old great granddaughters came here for a visit for a few days with their amazing paternal grandmother who I love and appreciate dearly. And it was great to be able to meet some great folks from that side of the family, too.
Rochelle and I took the twins river rafting and had an absolute blast! Can you tell I was having at least a little fun, even though I was holding on to that rope for dear life? 🙂
My daughters and granddaughters and other family members will come to Oregon once I’m settled there. As you can imagine, telling them and watching them try to be strong for me while I try my hardest not to fall apart for them is the hardest part. But love is being expressed lavishly and freely and that’s the best part.
Also, I am completely blown away by all the messages from friends, both old and new, met and unmet as Facebook friends. I know I’ve been doing this public sharing of my lifestyle for a long time and have quite a few followers who have come to care about me in deeper ways than I even realized. I read, cry a little at the beautiful sentiments, and give a prayer of gratitude for them all.
Please understand I will do the best I can to answer each message personally because they truly do touch my heart, but I can’t guarantee it will be quickly. I will be sharing on Facebook since that’s so easy to do when I’m out and about and I’ll update this blog as I can. I’ll probably be able to write more once I’m settled in Oregon.
I’m honestly not afraid of what happens after death as my faith is strong in that regard. I’m a little afraid of the process and it’s a little hard to accept that I could be gone from this earth in such a short time frame.
I guess we’ll see, but I’ve at least come to believe that living like you have only a year left is not a bad thing to do if you really think about it.
I’ve always liked that Tim McGraw song anyway. Live Like You Were Dying. Some good advice here – and Tim is always fun to look at. 🙂
Love, Love, Love – Love is all you need…