I'm still here, despite the long stretch between posts. I'm past the thirteen month mark, and if I can manage to stay off icy roads, maybe I'll pass fourteen. Hitting the one-year milestone was a big deal, but I keep remembering the Temodar study, which gave hope for a fourteen-month survival rate. This study was touted as a significant improvement in patient survival. So even when I passed my anniversary I still had February 12 sitting in the back of my mind, like a little expiration date stamped on my head. I think I'll feel some relief after that date (I promise not to turn sour), and I think I'll really start feeling like I'm living on borrowed time. (Of course, who isn't living on borrowed time every day?)
After having a few conversations with some doctors about this, the Wilson Phillips song, "Hold On" has been playing in my head (yeah, add it to the blog soundtrack); especially the part that goes:
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
As I've said in earlier posts, the bummer about cancer is that you're never really "done" until you're dead. Even during remission, the threat of recurrence still hangs around. But there is a point (even with glioblastoma) at which the prognosis gets a lot better. If I can hold on like I have been until my second anniversary, the likelihood of being a long-term survivor gets dramatically better.
Granted, "long-term survivor" for glioblastoma multiforme is defined as someone still alive three years post-diagnosis, but "long-term" is relative, since only about 2% of the patient population gets there. Fortunately, studies show that these lucky few are often young and high-functioning at diagnosis, with treatment similar to mine (complete surgical resection with adjuvent chemotherapy). And if I keep holding on with the continued quality of life that I have enjoyed, my chances might get better and better. (Just gotta be that Little Engine that Could: "I think I can...I think I can...") And of course, I'm sure the studies have not figured in the prayer factor, which I consider to be the biggest reason I'm still around and able to sing, write, and play a mean game of Scrabble. (BIG thanks to those who continue to keep me in their prayers!!!)
There was an interesting article published in Japan in 1998, about a man who lived 6.5 years after his surgery and diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme. He was treated after surgery with radiation and chemotherapy. He died of accidental head trauma. (Maybe he didn't stay off the icy roads.) But what was fascinating about this article was that his autopsy showed no evidence of glioblastoma in his brain. All they found in his brain was damage from the trauma, along with some histological effects of radiation. It was ruled a confirmed case of histological disappearance of tumor tissue. So in this man's case, he really was "done" with cancer and didn't know it until he had died of something else. It's neat to think that although not common, it is apparently possible to get all the banana pudding out of the vanilla pudding, or all the dark crumbs out of the marble cake, or whatever analogy fits best to describe the complete capture and destruction of these nasty tumor cells.
I also had the opportunity to meet someone at the oncologist's office, who is a twelve-year survivor. He was able to go six years without treatment. It was incredible! I don't know what kind of tumor he had; his situation may not be the same as mine, and even if he has the same diagnosis there are always a lot of factors that play into patient survival (including traffic on the freeway between home and the doctor's office). But it was still exciting and encouraging to meet him. I am getting to know others who have passed their typical expiration date (and are not sour), and it gives me something to hope for. It's nice, because it makes this process a little less overwhelming, like eating the elephant one bite at a time.
And wearing my seatbelt.
I think I can...I think I can...I think I can...