David Sachs and I have never met, but he has been following my adventure for the beginning and shared his desire to do something similar, someday. This week, David sent me his response to “How will we live tomorrow?” coincident with November being Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The photos are from Dave’s recent participation in the Pan Mass Challenge.
How will we live tomorrow?
Everyone has a limited lifespan, and then we will die. Healthy people generally believe they have 20 or more years left to live. When I was 20, I thought someone 40 years old was “old”. Now I’m 53, and I think 70 is old. Statistically, I probably won’t see 60 in my lifetime. I have metastatic lung cancer. I never smoked, I have been a “runner” since high school, as well as triathlete, cyclist and scuba diver. Despite this, the perception is that lung cancer is a self-inflicted disease. This may explain why lung cancer research funding is lower than any of the other leading cancers. Yet lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in our country, and the world. In fact, lung cancer replaced breast cancer as the leading killer of women, and kills more men than prostate cancer. Researchers believe people such as myself, called “never-smokers” would be the 6th largest group of cancer patients. Yet due to the stigma, our cancer is not adequately funded.
Neither my doctor nor I know for certain how I was stricken. However, thanks to a clinical trial I am now on a targeted therapy that is giving me a fighting chance. But as with many targeted therapies, it will only work for so long, and then I will need to try another medicine, or perhaps make a decision if chemo is worth a second shot, or even to die with dignity (my first two rounds chemo didn’t go well for me at all).
Today I focus on living for the day. I try to be involved with my children as much as I can, to make memories with them, and impart any “wisdom” that I may have. They are only 8 and 9, and they know I have lung cancer. We haven’t discussed how sick, or what the ramifications of this disease are since I don’t appear ill. I have told them that my lung cancer had initially spread to my spine, my ribs, my liver, and kidneys, and brain. Now I’m down to two small tumors in my lungs, thanks to the clinical trial! Hopefully my children will be a bit older before I need to have “the talk” with them, revealing that I most likely won’t be able to outrun this disease forever.
I meet with a palliative doctor. She mentioned that for many people, the way we live each day is the most important example we can give our children. In many ways I don’t worry about living tomorrow. I worry about living today, and making this day count. If I make it to tomorrow, I will live it the same way!
More about me, and my fantastic ride with the Pan Mass Challenge http://www2.pmc.org/profile/DS0382
Lung cancer infographics