Hey all. I promised a lot of people an update, but I’ll be brief.
The large nodule that was previously 11mm has grown to 19mm. At this point we’re pretty confident the nodules are metastases, so apparently there is still more learning to be done.
I’ll have more to say later, but I need a minute or two. Thank you all for the support. Your love is incredible and I lean heavily on it during these moments. I love you all.
Not all days are awesome. I got my scan report early yesterday morning, and it showed that one of the modules in my lungs grew from 4mm to 7mm. Still not sure about next steps, but if you want the honest truth, it has been a rough 36 hours. Turns out that overcoming one’s fear of death is a repetitive process. I couldn’t sleep after getting the news, and I spent all of yesterday exhausted and worried.
Im happy to report, though, that I’ve moved out of the initial chaos and into the recovery phase of this particular scare. Three things in particular have helped me get myself back on my feet:
1. Juanique. She completely took up the slack for me yesterday while I waded through my dark stupor. This affects her just as much as me, but she was a rock while I was putty. Thanks to her strength I was able to process my experience, get some serious sleep, and exercise some demons.
2. Faith. When we find ourselves teetering on the edge of the black abyss, we have two choices: let the fear overwhelm, curl up into a ball, and give up. OR figure out what you believe in and trust that it will catch you when you dive into the blackness. It has never been easy for me, and I would never mistake faith for surety, but I choose to believe in something and dive in faith. What that faith entails is an entirely different matter, though…
3. Gratitude. Have I beat this drum enough? Every 👏 Single 👏 Time 👏 I find myself mired down in emotional muck, gratitude is the rope of grace that helps me pull myself back onto solid ground. Thanks to a solid night of sleep, I had the opportunity to spend about 45 minutes of solitude with a mug of apple cider vinegar and a notepad. Taking the mug’s advice, I began writing down things I feel particularly grateful for today. What you see is about half of the list I wrote before Tennyson came downstairs to entertain me.
The fear still lives in the back of my mind. There is still a lot of shadowy doubt surrounding my present situation. But I am no longer incapacitated, my energy is back, and I can see a few steps in front of me again. I am not alone, and, therefore, I can overcome. Thanks for letting me share my experience with you.
Trying to get some work done and I can’t stop thinking about my family. Ben Folds is singing The Luckiest on repeat and my mind and heart are full of gratitude. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time recently with some incredible souls, and I am honored that I get to call them wife, son, and daughter. These magical days will most likely come to an end pretty soon, but I will forever see life differently because of them. Everyone should be jealous of me.
On a slightly different note, my chest scan is today (June 1). I would not judge you for a second if you felt like sending vibrations of fortune, health, and/or acceptance my way. The tests are way worse than the treatments, but going in with a wave of community energy makes a world of difference.
Finally pulled myself into bed at 2am and found this situation in my bed.
Ever shaved while wearing a baby? No? 😯
#youhaventlived #dadding #sowarm #babycoveredinhair #ivemadeahugemistake
I wasn’t able to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom, but 2/3 of the greatest women I know is still pretty good.
On the cancer update front, we decided today to discontinue chemotherapy. The side effects of the last round were quite a bit more unpleasant than previous rounds, so the oncologist suggested the potential long-term side effects might be reaching a point where they are outweighing whatever extra benefit I would get from continued chemo.
Next steps are to do a PET scan on my chest and hope there haven’t been any changes in that spot on my left side. The next difficult decision will be whether to have part of my lung removed so we don’t have to worry about the spot. As with continued chemo, it’s a guessing game and a balancing act between side effects and potentially life-saving benefits.
Decisions are hard, and the higher the stakes, the harder it is to feel confident about a decision. It’s no wonder we are drawn to take on labels for ourselves–identifying with a group allows us to outsource a lot of our decisions. This isn’t always a bad thing, obviously, but it brings with it the risk of living a passive life of no consequence.
Throughout this cancer adventure I’ve often found myself being tempted to retreat into the patient identity, usually in hopes of outsourcing my treatment decisions to my doctors. For better or for worse, they never let me get away with it and I end up having to do the hard work of deciding between treatment options, then holding the responsibility for the outcome.
In the end I appreciate the responsibility, though. Because whether I’m right or wrong, and in spite of the risks it carries, it contributes to living a life of intention and purpose. The world makes it far too easy to be an observer of your own life, and I don’t want to get to the end of mine and regret not being a more active participant in it. I’d rather struggle through the decision-making process and fail then feel helpless while the world determines my outcomes for me.
I know just the thought of me already brings up some death anxiety in many of you–understandably–but I can’t resist making a plea to everyone to face your fears, acknowledge your eventual and unavoidable demise, and have open discussions about death with the people you love.
I don’t know the original source, but an obviously wise person once shared the following set of realizations with me:
Realization 1: I’m dying.
Realization 2: I was always dying.
Realization 3: We are all always dying.
Realization 4: Nothing has truly changed.
Realization 5: I’m at peace with that.
Most of the time, most of us are successful at pushing death to the background, where she creates a mild sense of unease at best. Some get lucky and brush close enough to death (at great cost) that we have no choice but to shake hands with her. And some find her acquaintance without any prompting. In the end, a few are able to embody the 5 realizations and experience genuine peace until the moment of our actual physical death.
My point is, don’t wait until death forces herself into your consciousness to start making these realizations. No matter how strong your faith in your beliefs about the next life, there are no shortcuts for coming to terms with the inevitable end of this life. A peaceful acceptance of your death means a peaceful acceptance of your life and everything it throws at you. I’m not there yet–in spite of the accelerated crash course I have been given–but I’m closer and my life is more peaceful as a result. I would love for these benefits to exist for all people, long before death is knocking at the door.