Hopeful for the future, grateful for the present
Published 6:28 pm Friday, October 21, 2016
As the saying goes, “No news is good news.”
Or in my case, no news is, well, no news.
Several people have asked why I haven’t written a column lately. The truth is, there really hasn’t been a lot to write about. My chemo and hormone shot therapy treatments have been going well and, so far, my monthly blood work has pleased my doctor. My spirits are good and except for a few days here and there when I am especially tired, I have pretty much sailed through my first three months as a cancer survivor.
Tuesday, Oct. 25 marks the three-month point of my diagnosis. It will also be another important milestone for me as I am scheduled for a CT scan, the first such test I’ve had since the week I was diagnosed. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous; to be frank, that is all I am thinking about these days. While there are no indications the scan will bring anything but good news, there is always a thought lingering in the back of mind, wondering if my “good luck” is about to run out.
That day will be a full one for me and it will be only the second day of work I have missed since the beginning of the new school year in late August. Not only do I have a scan first thing in the morning, but I am also scheduled for more blood work as well as a consultation with my oncologist and my team of doctors. I will pick up my next round of chemo in pill form (my fourth round) and I will top the day off with another round of shots intended to slow or halt tumor growth.
Yep, I imagine I will be one tired puppy.
A few people have inquired why I have been a bit vague about the exact nature of my cancer and my diagnosis. The truth is, I don’t know a lot of details myself. It is lung cancer, which is ironic since I don’t smoke and never have, if you discount the two weeks when I thought I was being so cool as a 15-year-old purchasing cigarettes from a vending machine (well, I am dating myself there). And like a certain former president, I did not inhale. In fact, I made a lousy smoker.
My particular form of lung cancer is fairly uncommon, so (like a fool) I did some online research a day or so after my diagnosis. Big mistake. As many other cancer patients and my doctors have told me, a computer is not a friend to someone who has received that terrible diagnosis. I was convinced I was going to die right away; obviously that is not the case. I face an uphill battle but there are so many treatment options available my life is far from over.
So one reason I haven’t gotten very clinical about my cancer is because I don’t want people to read this column and think it necessarily applies to them. Every single case is different, and my course of treatment differs from others who have received the same diagnosis. I have been fortunate that my treatment has not been especially aggressive up to this point and there have been few side effects.
Which brings me back to the CT scan looming in the very near future. Those results will determine what happens next. If I receive good news, if the tumor has shrunk or cancer growth has slowed, I expect to continue the same course of treatment that began in early August. If the news isn’t the best, we will map out the next phase of treatment, one which more than likely will affect my day-to-day activities.
My money is on the good news scenario. I feel good and I don’t dwell on the fact that I have a life-threatening disease. People I don’t even know have added me to their prayer lists and, believe me, when you have a bunch of Christian prayer warriors in your corner it is easier to be optimistic.
Time will tell. God, my doctors, my family and friends have brought me this far. Either way, I know I am not alone.
*Kevin Scott Cutler is a teacher assistant at Chocowinity Primary School and a freelance writer for the Washington Daily News.