The journey of a thousand miles began this morning with Kevin in the rain.
How many steps will I walk, strokes will I paddle, pedals will I push until I am on the other end of the forthcoming chemo treatments? Will the distance total a thousand miles? Perhaps that is the best way to look at this new journey.
It wasn’t long ago, I remember, wondering how people face cancer the second time? I thought it must take a very brave person to stand up – again – to that disease. After-all, first timers kind of go through treatment blind. It’s like childbirth. It’s not so bad when you don’t know what to expect, but baby number two is “eyes-wide-open”.
It’s not so much that I’m disappointed that immuno-therapy turns out to be the “second” option, it’s that I can now see this is my life-long battle until a cure is found. “If not now, then when” is the question that must be on the tip of my tongue in my future. Immunotherapy is a viable option for me… when chemo no longer works.. they think. It is new. In fact, it is in clinical trials. I didn’t exactly understand what that meant until yesterday. Now, I understand, it is a trial – there is no known outcome.
“You are better to go with chemo as you are fairly confident that it will work”, said Dr. Stephanie.
I’m not sure whether it was her sage advice that soften the blow for me or her lulling French accent. I was almost dumbfounded that I didn’t feel worse. I was hopeful that this treatment may have offered me a cure. Afterall, if you can teach a man to fish? Of course, in this case, it would have been teaching my own white cells to fight the cancer. Makes sense. There are, however, side effects. And it is not known to be effective on ovarian cancer. Effectively, I may be damaging my system to a point where chemo would be too toxic for me and then, there would be nothing to stop the cancer. Or at least – fewer options.
“It’s all about the timing, Stacey”, Dr. Stephanie explained to me. “If you use chemo for this round, it may buy you some time so that you can try immune therapy next time. And by then, it may have been refined and shown to be effective on ovarian cancer.”
She just made good sense.
So, I have options. I have choices. None are a cure, but many are treatments that buy me more life. For now – I’m good with that. How could I not be?
It is with open arms that I then embrace and am grateful for a therapy that will allow me time to live. Aching knees, cloudy thinking, bald head, and isolation are the side-effects that require me to be brave. But, if that’s the price I need to pay, it is a very small one for the privilege of life. And, my quality of life will return. I hope.
Courage: the ability to something that frightens one.
Chemo frightens me, but missing out on life frightens me more.
So, one week this Thursday, we begin, once again – my journey of a thousand miles. I’ll walk the walk but I will be sure to enjoy the scenery as I go.