Bad luck? Good luck? I'm confused!


I’ve thought about luck for a long time. For me, luck is what happens in our lives that we cannot control - which is a big chunk of all of our lives. We learn early to judge, so we label the stuff we can’t control “good luck” and “bad luck”. When I look at the luck in my life over the past year, I find myself using those labels often to describe what has happened. I wonder how useful they are.



All of my exercises in writing a short biography, which is something you do if you are active on social media sites, as I am, have included the word luck. One of my earliest attempts at summarizing my life included, “Although no one will remember me when I die, I am one of the luckiest people who has ever lived.” Since my lung cancer diagnosis, I’ve decided those words would not be easy for another to understand, whether or not I still believe them, so I’ve rewritten that part of my short biography as, “I’m very content to be one of the little people, whose names aren’t recorded in history books and who are remembered only by family and friends after they die. I’m luckier than most to live where and when I do.”



My favorite short biography is the one I wrote during the “Write your life in six words” meme that swept through the Internet several years ago. “Right place, right time, sheer luck”. These words have a very deep meaning to me. “Right place”: I live in a peaceful, affluent part of the world with clean air and abundant clean water. “Right time”: I’m living in a place and an era of history where I have an incredibly comfortable life due to inexpensive, abundant energy supplies available on demand - and I don’t even have to be wealthy to enjoy such comfort. “Sheer luck”: I did not have any control over where and when I was born.



Adding to “Right time”: medical science is now learning more about the type of cancer I have, so there are improved treatments available to me that have not been available in the fairly recent past.



When it comes to the cancer itself, I’ve used the words “good luck” and “bad luck” quite a bit over the past year. It was a shocking bit of bad luck to be diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. I don’t care how much mindfulness theory of “the beauty of accepting things just the way they are” you or I or anyone else wants to throw at the situation, I’m still going to have a hard time not judging the event as a negative one in my life. It has been followed, however, with a series of events where it’s hard not to judge them as good luck:



  • I tested positive for the EGFR mutation, which occurs in 10-35% of people with my type of lung cancer. There are targeted treatments for people with this mutation that may extend life.
  • I was old enough and had enough years of active service in a retirement system to be able to retire shortly after getting the news. Not everyone with a similar diagnosis is that lucky.
  • After developing resistance to my first line of targeted treatment, I tested positive for the T790M mutation, which happens in 50% of the people who develop resistance. This opens up a clinical trial for me for my second line of treatment - a shiny new drug called CO-1686 that has good results so far.
  • I found out about the trial and signed the informed consent paperwork just a few weeks before the drug company closed the trial. They are getting ready to go for FDA approval. “Right time” works out again.
So 50% of maybe 20% - that puts me in a pretty small group of people for whom continued targeted treatment is even possible. To boggle my brain further, the promising new drug has only been taken by maybe 150 people so far. I’m in a select club that could fit comfortably in an average high school auditorium. That is a bizarre kind of “good luck” that is exciting, shocking, and a wee bit daunting all at once.

Given the complexity of the situation I’m in, I can no longer decide whether I’m having bad luck or good luck. I think that means it’s time to put those labels aside.













Comments

  1. Arrrgggghhhh. I wrote a lengthy comment, and it disappeared when I clicked on "Preview".

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    Replies
    1. (Blogspot is fighting me...)

      First of all, I am so happy for your GOOD luck.

      I am also very happy for my good luck to be spending some time getting to know you. You enrich my life with your knowledge of art and your love of music - not to mention a certain computer game! Most of all, I admire your grace. I love our trips to Ottawa. Thank you.

      May The Force stay with you, Anita!

      Delete
  3. Greetings,
    My name is Dr. Dana Hansen, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Kent State University. You can learn more about me by visiting my faculty web page at http://www.kent.edu/nursing/facstaff/bio/~dhansen1/
    We are contacting you because you are listed as the contact person of the blog. My research team and I are interested in learning about the family caregiver’s experience with reading their loved one’s illness blog.
    A family caregiver is someone who provides emotional, spiritual, or physical care or support to a loved one.
    I was inspired to conduct this research during my sister-in-law’s journey through breast cancer. After interacting on her blog, I began to wonder what it was like for her husband (family caregiver) to read her blog. The family caregiver of the person who is writing the illness blog can find out more about our study by going to our study website: https://nursing.kent.edu/caretaker. There is a screen for you to share your contact information if you are interested in participating.
    After we receive your information, we will contact you to discuss the study further and establish a time to conduct a 1 hour phone or Skype (your choice) interview. During the interview, we will ask questions about your experience as a caregiver interacting with your loved one on an illness blog. A nominal onetime payment of $50.00 will be mailed to you once the interview is complete.
    Participation is voluntary. Refusal to take part in the study involves no penalty or loss of benefits to which participants are otherwise entitled. Participants may withdraw from or stop the study at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which they are otherwise entitled.
    If you are not the family caregiver of the person with a serious illness, please forward this information to someone who is.
    Thank you for your time and consideration,
    Dr. Dana Hansen
    Dana Hansen RN, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Kent State University, College of Nursing
    113 Henderson Hall, P. O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242






    ReplyDelete
  4. Greetings,
    My name is Dr. Dana Hansen, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Kent State University. You can learn more about me by visiting my faculty web page at http://www.kent.edu/nursing/facstaff/bio/~dhansen1/
    We are contacting you because you are listed as the contact person of the blog. My research team and I are interested in learning about the family caregiver’s experience with reading their loved one’s illness blog.
    A family caregiver is someone who provides emotional, spiritual, or physical care or support to a loved one.
    I was inspired to conduct this research during my sister-in-law’s journey through breast cancer. After interacting on her blog, I began to wonder what it was like for her husband (family caregiver) to read her blog. The family caregiver of the person who is writing the illness blog can find out more about our study by going to our study website: https://nursing.kent.edu/caretaker. There is a screen for you to share your contact information if you are interested in participating.
    After we receive your information, we will contact you to discuss the study further and establish a time to conduct a 1 hour phone or Skype (your choice) interview. During the interview, we will ask questions about your experience as a caregiver interacting with your loved one on an illness blog. A nominal onetime payment of $50.00 will be mailed to you once the interview is complete.
    Participation is voluntary. Refusal to take part in the study involves no penalty or loss of benefits to which participants are otherwise entitled. Participants may withdraw from or stop the study at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which they are otherwise entitled.
    If you are not the family caregiver of the person with a serious illness, please forward this information to someone who is.
    Thank you for your time and consideration,
    Dr. Dana Hansen
    Dana Hansen RN, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Kent State University, College of Nursing
    113 Henderson Hall, P. O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242


    ReplyDelete
  5. So Beautiful.

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