Chemo treatment number five is done- well, except for the next day and a half on the portable 5-fu pump. When that gets unhooked on Friday, five will be history. Three more to go, then a scan to see how well the chemo has worked and what the next step will be.
One of the other patients in the infusion room today was getting his last treatment in a series of twelve - - he’s been going to the infusion room for chemotherapy since February and has endeared himself to the doctor, the nurses and the other patients. He is always so upbeat, with a smile and greeting for everyone. He was there for my first treatment and today I was there for his last. We had one other treatment day together. On that day we had chairs next to each other so I got to know him a little better. Like me, he is a stage 4 colon cancer patient, and like me he has managed to escape the worst side effects of treatment. He is more than happy to tell everyone that he didn’t even lose his hair while doffing his cap to show us his still healthy gray curls! We were all happy to see him come to the end of this particular leg on his cancer journey, but we will definitely miss his smile and his good humor and the hope he dispenses liberally.
A stage four diagnosis can be devastating because at that point, once the cancer has metastasized treatment is geared more to managing the cancer as a chronic condition rather than an attempt to “cure” it. But with modern treatments, there’s a really good chance that the cancer can be subdued and held at bay for months or even years. While many people think of a diagnosis of stage four cancer as a death sentence, this is no longer necessarily true. There are many stage four survivors who continue to lead active, meaningful lives for many years. I hope my friend is one of them. And that I am, too.
In the meantime, Tim McGraw's “Live Like you were Dying” gives some pretty good advice for all of us, with or without a cancer diagnosis. We may not all be able to or even want to go rocky mountain climbing, nor ride a bull named Fumanchu, but we can love deeper, speak sweeter, watch the eagles fly and live each day to the fullest. Carpe Diem!