Last week, the docs ordered another set of films; earlier this week, I heard the results. One of my tumors – the one on my liver – is growing again. This means the combination of chemo drugs I was on for the last seven-plus months are no longer working. So my oncologist put me on a new chemo regimen, which, so far, is about as nasty as the one it replaced.
This is not terrible news, but it isn’t good news either. As I understand the situation, there are three plausible chemo regimens for someone in my circumstances, not counting any clinical trials out there. One of those regimens has now proved ineffective. When—realistically, it isn’t “if”—the same thing happens with respect to the other two, I’ll likely be near the end of cancer treatment; palliative care will be all that’s left, and the cancer will take its course. Plainly, I’m not there yet, and hope I won’t be there for awhile. But I’m a step closer.
All of which leaves me a little sad. Not surprised: I’ve done better for longer than I had any right to expect, and I think better than my oncologist expected. But still sad. Life on chemo is often unpleasant, but there is still a surprising degree of pleasure and dignity and joy. I love those things, and as anyone in my shoes would, I want more of them. And yet . . .
More and more, I’ve come to see my cancer’s natural progression as containing within it great gifts. Cancer steals life, but the theft is slow and happens in stages. None of it catches me by surprise, for which I’m thankful. I’m even more thankful to have the opportunity to finish some work and, especially, to do things for my spouse and our kids that I might not have done had I expected to live a long time yet. Life feels more precious than it did before, yet I don’t feel the need to cling to it as much as I did before. Whatever happens with the course of my treatment—maybe the next set of films will be better; maybe not—I’ll be fine. God is good.