It seems like a blog post on gratitude would be standard fare from any cancer patient who finds herself doing well in late November. I am doing well, and I am indeed grateful!
My 3-month scan after starting treatment with Tarceva shows significantly diminished cancer in my lungs. There are some pesky swollen lymph nodes in my armpits, and I had a PET scan last week to take a look at them. My oncologist will discuss results with me this week. I’m feeling confident that whatever they are doing, we can deal with them due to one simple fact:
I feel great. Yes, there are pesky side-effects, but the big deal is that I feel healthy and vigorous and I am gaining in strength.
I’m grateful for good tools, all of which are helpful now or in the future to maintain my health. The ones most important to me right now:
- Mindfulness meditation classes with my friend Charlie Bradt, and support from his website “What do you really want?”. I started going to Charlie’s weekly sessions before my diagnosis, and I credit what I am learning from him, the resources he shares, and my own practice with helping me weather the storm of the diagnosis as well as I did. Meditation helps me be positive, hopeful, joyful, and loving every day.
- The online game HabitRPG. My daughter turned me on to this fun and helpful role-playing game, where you list the habits you want to develop and the tasks you want to accomplish, and check them off as you accomplish them. It’s surprisingly fun and reinforcing to collect pets and equip my avatar, and I also work hard to do all of the daily things I want to do (meditate, drink water, exercise, write in my journal) to avoid losing health. I firmly believe that establishing consistent healthy patterns of behavior is one of the most proactive things I can do to maintain my wellbeing.
- The number of good drugs for my particular cancer variant that are rapidly becoming available. There are new drugs being developed that work on EGFR mutations after a cancer becomes resistant to first line drugs such as Tarceva, and people are having excellent results from those drugs.
- Retirement. What a wonderful gift to give myself! I am truly fortunate that I was ABLE to retire. Robert and I are not rolling in money, but we will continue to be comfortable.
- Good health insurance. Again, I am fortunate. So far nothing has been denied me, and everything is covered.
- On-line communities of cancer patients. I am using two in particular for information (SmartPatients.com and Inspire.com), and find them to be very helpful for finding out about treatment trials, what other people like me have learned, and how other people are doing with various treatments, new and old. These sites are, with few exceptions, positive, hopeful, troll-free places.
- Unconditional love from family and friends.
I am feeling so well, I have just volunteered to train as an AARP tax aide for the upcoming tax season. It’s a big step for me to make an outside commitment, and I’m looking forward to helping others this winter.