Where to start is the question I am faced with each Tuesday evening. This is when I have to discover the week’s Guest Post, nestled among the over 600 cancer blogs on the blogroll. The first decision I make is what cancer section to start looking in. As I scrolled fown the list this week, I settled on lung cancer. Not very many blogs here. Lung cancers are an aggressive sort. It took me months to amass the collection of just eight lung cancer blogs. I just had to click on the first two on the list to hit paydirt. Perhaps not so ironically I found two posts with similar themes – what it means to be surviving lung cancer.
~ The first selection is by Linnea Duff who writes very intelligently in life and breath: living with lung cancer . If you visit her site be sure and read her “About” section. In this post “Survivor vs Surviving” she dissects the two terms, deciding that she is not comfortable using the usual term “survivor”. Here is her argument:
Survivor versus Surviving
The term “cancer survivor” has become part of our everyday lexicon. Even within the cancer community, there is confusion as to what exactly it means. According to the National Coalition of Cancer Survivors, survival is… “from the point of diagnosis forward”.
When considering overall survival statistics for a particular cancer, there is a more specific reference point: it is the percentage of people who will still be living after five years (excluding those who die from other causes). Before I go any further, it is important to clarify that survival statistics should be viewed as estimates, and not actual predictors of an individual’s prognosis. Statistics describe a trend, or a likelihood of an event (in this case, death from cancer) in a large group of people. They are based on actuarial tables that are by necessity at least five years old, and thus may not reflect recent treatment advances.
Statistics are in essence a fraction. When you read that lung cancer has an overall survival statistic of 15%, it means that the number of people diagnosed with lung cancer over a period of five years (the denominator) has been divided by the number of deaths over that same five year period (the numerator).
Overall survival statistics are all inclusive as far as type (NSCLC and SCLC) and stage, and do not address other considerations such as disease or progression-free status.
Survival statistics that are broken down by cancer type and stage, are more useful for evaluating treatment options and for predicting prognosis. But, it is possible to focus too much on these statistics. ”What stage?” is often the first thing we ask after we are given a cancer diagnosis. In essence, we are asking whether or not we have reason to hope.
After my lobectomy, I was staged a IB. I felt incredibly fortunate, but that sense of good fortune was tempered by the awareness that being staged a IB was very different from being staged a IA. The difference between an A and a B was a significant survival advantage. Statistically speaking, cure was possible, but certainly not probable.
I became all too aware of the emotional impact of staging when I went from stage IB to IV. It was devastating. My cancer was essentially the same cancer, but now, statistically speaking, the situation seemed hopeless.
The Merriam Webster definition of survivor is: 1. to remain alive or in existence, to live on. 2. to continue to function or prosper.
I certainly wasn’t prospering, and it was questionable how much longer I would function or even continue to exist. And yet, I was indeed still hopeful and there was no question that I was still alive. Did this make me a survivor?
Survivor seems to me to imply that the trauma has passed. You’ve faced a great challenge, yet you have persevered. There was no question that I was facing a great challenge, but I knew that it was highly unlikely that ultimately I would either persevere or prosper.
I don’t refer to myself as a lung cancer survivor. I prefer to say that I am surviving lung cancer. To me, this clears up misconceptions about both my status (terminal, rather than in remission or cured) as well as to the degree that I am still involved in this battle. Each day is a fight for survival, every new breath is a victory.
~ My second selection comes from the second blog in the lung cancer section – LUNG CANCER LIFE:. This Canadian blogger writes with unusual courage and conviction in the post “My Life Has a Mind”.
My Life Has a Mind
The aches and pains,the agony of not knowing what is coming next.
Cancer really sucks!
The diagnosis of Lung Cancer,Emphysema,Cirrhosis of the Liver,Heart attack,seizures,and diabetes,etc.etc.etc.has really gotten me down mentally as well as physically.
My life really does have a Mind.
My body gets up every morning,and Thank God,I am not attached to IV’s or any other supports.I am in my own home.My body is at rest right now
But….I have had so many tests lately,so many scares.
The MRI’S,CT scans,ultra sounds of the heart and abdomen,these tests yield results and it is the results that scare me.
I have terminal lung cancer.The word says it all,doesn’t it?
This was a positive journey as far as the physical ailments are concerned.I am still unable to be employed full time,and now can only do my passion and past career part time.
The tests showed that I have had a heart attack in the past.They say it was a silent heart attack.I guess it must have been,because
It is the mental distress any disease,fatal or not ,that takes its toll on so many.
I know that early diagnosis does save lives.I just sometimes wonder why I am bothering to go through all these tests. other wise I am sure i would have known.The tests regarding my enlarged bile duct,turned out to be negative for Pancreatic Cancer.Thank God,again for that.
I know I have Lung Cancer,I know I am going to die soon.Why do I really need to know anything else.
It seems the only time I get out lately is to see a doctor.
I also know how very lucky we are in this country to have doctors to see.
Don’t get me wrong,I will always make the right choice,I hope.
I will however give a lot of thought to my last days.
I know that lung cancer is very painful in the end.I also know that I will have to have chemo in the near future.
I also know that at that point in time,I will have a lot of decisions on whether I even want to extend what will probably be a very painful existence.
When my time comes closer with each day that passes I hope to share with you some of my views on the different kinds of cancer treatments,and how and when we should consider them.
Though this post sounds so down,I still want you to remember
DON’T STOP BELIEVING!
from: LUNG CANCER LIFE: