I’ve learned much, the past couple of months, about the battle against cancer.
For one thing, it’s not a battle, it’s a war and wars are won by winning a series of battles.
Mobilizing for war is arduous especially while defending against an unexpected attack. It takes clear thought to the goals and what will be lost if one doesn’t win. There’s the cost of fighting a war, mentally, physically, psychologically and monetarily. One leaves behind ‘normal’ life and has to focus everything on fighting and winning the war. It becomes the daily existence. One has to channel funds into getting the best weapons and equipment, assembling a strong motivated fighting force, and have a good knowledge base of the enemy and its goals. Not an easy task. The initial euphoria after an attack often wears thin and so keeping the reasons and goals for fighting the war to begin with, needs to be kept to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Then it’s hunkering down for the long haul and fighting to win.
Somewhere along the line I lost sight of parts of that mobilization process. I was unexpectedly attacked and I mustered up what was needed initially. Mindset, support group, funds to deal with travel and tests. I was armed but it was only the first of the battles that needed to be faced and although there were skirmish victories my mind lost sight of the long haul. And it’s daunting.
I think one of the problems is I’ve had several surgeries in my life. Usually, after a surgery for a particular thing, the mind then faces the healing process (like rebuilding after a war). In this instance, the removal of the tumor was successful. Pathology indicated that all was clean in the breast. Lymph nodes all clear. My mind leaped right past the concept of war and focused on the battle won and onto healing...wrong. It was only the initial battle. Yes, I won that series of battles but the war was by no means won.
This trip to CTCA was very intense. I had a list of questions and one of those questions had to do with further treatment. See, everything was healing. Pathology showed all clear, so why did I need chemo or herceptin? I brought my page of questions forward and got back several pages of answers and much more information for the war beyond this initial series of battles.
We went back to the preliminary findings and again defined the cancer I’m facing—Her2 positive, grade II, stage II—highly invasive and consequently fast growing and with a penchant for stray cells to migrate to other places and basically homestead. Without proper treatment this cancer will come back and even more aggressive than it was initially. I was given a clearer picture of what it takes to conquer this particular type of cancer and what weapons I will need to win the war.
Countries gearing up for war can divert resources from existing assets and/or increase taxes to fund it. I have no one to tax and only a limited amount of funds to divert and yet there is no question that if I want to live and win this war, I have to go forward. On the plus side I do have very good insurance. On the negative side the co-pays are going to hurt financially. Then there is travel, daily food, and lodging that must be taken care of over the next eighteen months. This war is going to be expensive.
Just like soldiers and civilians in a war, I want normal life back. Well, that’s not going to happen for awhile. There is much in between the victory in these initial battles and eradicating the threat and demolishing the enemy. All the wishing in the world isn’t going to make this cancer go away as quickly as I want it to.
All I can do is have courage and move forward, keep my spirits up, and focus on demolishing the enemy. To do that I have to hunker down for the long haul.
And it will be a long haul.