Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Statistically speaking

After writing the post Wednesday that says Saturday on my blog, I was unable to post it.  I wrote two others, but lost them completely. I have continued taking the tramodal and ativan before I go to bed and I am sleeping better.  I still wake up but I am able to get back to sleep within 15 minutes, so that is not bad.  

Thursday after work I went to the Stage Company Board meeting and that evening headed back into town to LaFiesta to celebrate Judy and Rich's birthdays.  We had so much fun and laughed and talked and ate and laughed and opened presents and laughed.  It was a lovely birthday celebration.

Friday I went up to Thomasville to do my labs and meet with the nurse and then the doctor.  All went well with drawing the blood.  And again with the nurse all was well.  The nurse is so sweet and funny. 

Then Dr. Antonio Banderas came in and checked me out.  I told him about the panic attacks I was having and how I was handling them.  He asked why I thought I might be having panic attacks.  I explained about my retirement and that I did not have enough information to decide what to do.  Keep working, retire, go into drop, and so on.  I asked him if he could provide me with any statistical information to determine what to do.  He rolled closer and leaned against me and looked me straight in the eyes and said you know I can only give it to you straight.  I said that is what I needed.  I understand it would not be easy, but I needed to discuss this with him.  He said he had told me before that this is Stage 4 Lung cancer.  It is not curable.  I said I understand that, but I have lived with Hepatitus C, it was incurable.  

The doctor said, if we stop the treatments now and do nothing else, then I would have, best case scenario 6 months.  With the treatment he had me on, which is three different chemicals, two of which are new ones specifically for lung cancer, I am looking, statistically, best case at 3 years.  Three years.  I know I have said this before, but I feel so alive, it is hard to imagine that in three years I could be gone.  I do understand statistically means that some people will live much shorter time and others will live longer.  But as he explained, longer is more in the line of 5 years.  Did I have a shot at 20?  I should not plan on that, it was highly unlikely.  How about 10, again, not a high probability.  He said if I really like my job, well that is fine, but I really needed to consider what did I want to do for the remaining time.  Did I want to work or retire and maybe do some of the things I had always wanted to do.  I was fighting back tears.  It is not that I had not heard this before, but everyone who loves me keeps saying that I will fool everyone and live forever.   I wanted to believe them, but my gut did not say this was right.  And this time when I heard Doc tell me to stop and think and get my life in order so to speak, my gut said, that is right, you have a few years yet, but not that many.

I am not giving up.  I am being realistic.  And by admitting that I have a limited amount of time will help me to make the best decisions financially.  I need to consider that I will have to do to have enough money to live on for 5 years, and I will need some money to do the couple of things that I want to do.  I have decided that I don't want to go through with the stress of redoing my trailer.  I have a few repairs that I will make, but painting and new floor.  That is going to be an ordeal, and I don't want to even consider this as I am going through treatments.  I want to focus on being as strong as I can.  I want to take my Dad to Europe this spring.  I want to go to New York, maybe next fall with Rich and see some Broadway plays and go to the Planetarium.  And then the next year I want to go to Scotland with Vicki to stand on our property.  It is hard to say they are part of a bucket list, but I guess they are as close as I will get.  Oh, and I want a convertible.  Not a little one.  I need it to be big enough to hold at least one dog.  I really like the SAAB Turbo convertible, but I understand that they are not reliable enough.  But something that size would be great.  But not red.  I am not a red car person.  I like green.  I suppose I could get it now.  But I don't want it now.  I want it in a year.  A year from Monday will be my nephew Nathaniel's 16 birthday.  I would like to work something out with his parents for him to get my Malibu.  I really like my Malibu and I will miss it, but I will look forward to seeing what is available out there in the way of a green convertible.

And just a note, this Monday is not only Nathaniel's 15 birthday, but Dave Brubeck's 90th birthday, so "take 5".  

I think I will retire this spring right before Dad and I go to Europe.  I think I know my plan.  I called Rich and talked to him about it.  He thinks I have put a lot of thought into this and my reasoning is sound.  

I do not plan on stop living, and I do not think that just because he said 3 years that I might not make it a little longer.  But I have to be realistic and prepare for the worse, which the doctor calls the best case.  I have to be prepared for the worse and hope for the best.  And I need to live the rest of my life as fully as I want, and I need to remember to rest and not over do it.  Balance.  That is what I was panicking about.  I needed to find my balance.  

And don't get me wrong, Ms Moon and I drank Martinis and discussed this, as well as happier things.  We laughed and we cried.  But we faced the statistics head on.  It hurt and was not what either of us wanted to deal with, but we did, and I can't tell you how much that helped me.  I had to process this, and tiny tini's and a dear friend to talk to, helped so much.  I also called Dad, and Vick, my brothers, and let them know my decision about retiring.  About being unemployed for the first time in almost 40 years.  

The doctor's office called before I headed over to Mary's last night.  My platelets are too low, we will have to postpone my next treatment for a week.  The doctor still feels very positive about this treatment and feels that after 3 or 4 treatments that we will see an improvement.  He thinks that I could be on matenance chemo after one orat the most 2 rounds of treatments.  He feels very positive that this treatment will be successful and that I will have the 3 years or more.  

After the lovely appetizers and tiny tini's I left the Moon house and went to downtown Monticello.  I was going to the live nativity to see the camels, but the line was like 2 blocks long.  I will see the camels another time.  

This morning I had wonderful phone calls from so many people, including my cousin Lori in Ohio.   Then I went to the Christmas sale at the Art League with my friend Carolyn.  And then we drove into Tallahassee and hand lunch at the Sahara Cafe behind New Leaf.  We split a Veggie platter and some wonderful desserts, then walked next door to Woolie Boolie.  Carolyn bought some beautiful yarn to make a hart and scarf for a niece.  She also bought me a lovely shawl pin to wear with my lovely new shawl that she made me.  It is so beautiful in shades of mauve.  And then we shopped at Borders and then World Market.  We found so many things and laughed and looked and talked and had a lovely time Christmas shopping.  And now I am home sitting in my red chair and watching Toy Story 3.  I feel much better over the idea of how long I have.  And each day until then will be special.  And then each day after that will be a gift of extra time.  

Tomorrow I will have lunch with Janka, Geeta and Baa for lunch.  I am working on balance.  Trying to rest, but still live.  Doing, but within reason.  First be a being, then do as I can.  As I enjoy.  As my body says I can.  And then rest.  

I will continue to be positive, but realistic.  The statistics are not the final word on how long I will live, but they are more realistic then the wishes and hopes of my beloved ones.  I appreciate your desire for this to go away, but I have to live with the reality of what I have, and with rest and treatments and eating right it does not matter how long I have left, but how I live it.  

For all of you who are sharing this journey with me, please understand that insisting that I will live forever is meant with love, but it does not help.  Let me have what I have and appreciate it, and live it.  Please do not put the wall between us of your good wishes for me to live longer and what I have to deal with.  It will be what it is.  And none of us know how long that is, but I think what the doctor is telling me is healthier then denial.  I am sure that my life will be fuller facing this little cancer.  

After all I have cancer light, one lymph node removed instead of 10.  13 radiation treatments instead of 20 or 30 or more.  Chemo every 3 weeks for how many months needed, not years.  I am lucky and blessed, and I am still thankful for this gift of cancer.  Please share it with me, or if it is more then you can bear, I understand.  But I have an opportunity to face my life and death with this, and I look forward to all of it.  Don't take that from me, and I promise to live as fully and long and as healthy as is given me.


  1. I promise! And I would say so many things including how you already live your life more fully than anyone I know so that three years can be a lifetime, a full and joyful one and it is my greatest honor to be any part of it, my darling Kathleen.
    I love you honestly and completely.

  2. I am glad you are sharing this with all of us -- those who love MM, and have to come to be a part of each other, in this strange way.

    You make me think. I think, if I were you, I would be doing the exact same things as you are. Live, don't give up, but be realistic too. You're brave, although I'm sure you don't consider yourself as such -but, you are.

  3. Sounds like you've got your ducks in a row. You're doing fine with this huge undertaking.

    And I must say that Dr. Antonio just seems so great.

  4. You may be the wisest woman I "know".

  5. You amaze me and I love you so much!

  6. your strength sends out such ripples , you know. it does.
    I wish you only peace in this.
    It's all anyone can wish for however long they have .

  7. I like that you are facing this head on with the facts as they are currently known. That is something that I find comforting.