In November 2011 I was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. I was told that it couldn’t be cured – only ‘palliated’ – and that people with my diagnosis can normally expect to live about 18 months. At the time of my diagnosis I could barely walk up a flight of stairs, was having daily visual ‘attacks’ and could no longer read. A year later, I’m still here….healthier than I was then, not only reading again but writing too. As November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve decided to use the opportunity to reflect on the crazy ride that has been the past twelve months.
- Moving from a woman diagnosed with ‘anxiety’ to one with metastatic cancer
- Balancing traditional cancer treatments with alternative nutritional and psychological approaches
- Quitting my old job of being an assistant professor and accepting my new one of getting healthy
- Struggling not only with the shifts associated with cancer and disease but those associated with weight, beauty and sexuality
- Trying to balance the joy of living in the moment with the necessity of planning for an uncertain and undefined future.
As cancer treatments become more effective and younger generations of cancer patients continue to challenge the old assumptions and statistics surrounding a so-called terminal cancer diagnosis, there is the increased need to report back from what Gould calls the ‘death zone’ not only with the message of what it means to face ones mortality, but also with the message of what it means to live beside cancer, around it, with it.
In my effort to raise awareness about the disease, I will be trying to post most days throughout November. Pulling together the thoughts and experiences of the last year into a format that I hope is helpful not only to me but also to those that may be having similar experiences of their own or through their loved ones. All typos, mis-takes or inappropriate content I attribute solely to one of my eleven brain tumours.