When I was in high school, our well-meaning cheerleaders painted the inspirational phrase, "ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING" on the wall of the lunchroom. While their intentions were good, the execution was poor in that they chose to paint it in our school colors, yellow and purple. They alternated the color with each letter, and unfortunately chose a very light shade of yellow. When painted on the off-white walls, the saying looked like this:
A T T D I E E Y H N
I remember staring at it for ages, wondering what this cryptic message could mean.
I have received a number of beautiful cards and messages from people, many of which have remarked on how I am keeping such a positive attitude through all this. I definitely appreciate the kind words, but I'm not quite sure how else I could proceed. I certainly have my moments where it hits me how totally crappy this all is, but I don't see much point in dwelling on that, since it is pretty hard to function if I just feel sad all the time.
I'm no fool, I know how terrible the prognosis for stage IV lung cancer is. Shoot, I watch "Breaking Bad," and Walter White is only stage III! However, I have also heard from many people who are still chugging along years after this diagnosis. I plan to be one of them. There is a young woman who is a stage IV lung cancer survivor, and she repeats to herself each evening, "I beat cancer today, and I will beat it again tomorrow." I love the simplicity of that. When the future - everyone's future, really - is a series of question marks, looking at each day as an accomplishment makes it much more manageable. (Check out Emily's blog, she has quite a great story: http://embenkickscancer.wordpress.com/)
This cycle of chemo was definitely harder than the first. I was really wiped out for the first few days, and it took me a full week before I felt like I could do much of anything. Jason had a rare night out last night, and I was very happy that I was energetic enough to do dinner, baths, and bed with the trio solo. No small feat, as any of you with small children know! Thankfully they all slept well, since I spent the evening recovering on the couch watching TV. It is very strange adjusting to needing 10-12 hours of sleep.
Several people have asked how many cycles of chemo I need to do. I have a scan on August 16 to check on how things are going. Hopefully, it will show that the chemo is keeping the cancer in check and ideally shrinking the tumors. I am breathing better than I was before treatment, so I am taking that as a good sign. If the chemo is working, I will have two more cycles then go onto maintenance chemo. That continues, well, for as long as it keeps working. I find it helpful to think about this as a chronic illness, something that I will have to deal with on an ongoing basis. Lots of people have chronic illnesses, this is just a particularly nasty one.
If the scans do not look good, then there are some other chemo drugs we can try, and we will go from there. So, fingers crossed for a good scan on Friday!!!
All in all, I am enjoying lots of time with my family, and trying not to dwell on things I cannot control. Just remember, when life is getting you down, repeat this helpful phrase: "A T T D I E E Y H N."