Saturday, March 08, 2008

Some dreams fall through

In the wake of my celebration (which I will write more about later) I received some sobering news. Dr. Samuel Hassenbusch, the neurosurgeon who came up with his own treatment for his glioblastoma, died at the end of February. He almost made it to "long term" status (3 years is considered "long-term survival"), and had actually gone for two years without a recurrence. But nine months before he died it came back with a vengeance.

Dr. Hassenbusch has been a role model for others facing this illness, and he had been very kind to me as I am sure he has been to many. It is very disheartening news.

I'm around the same point in the post-diagnosis timeline where he was when his cancer returned. I have the benefit of good clinical results right now, and I am very grateful. But this was a reminder that I have to keep looking over my shoulder.

Stuff I have to remember as I digest this news:

1. Hearing good stories is encouraging and hearing sad stories is discouraging. But my reality is not determined by someone else's outcome. (My reality, however, can be influenced by my attitude.)

2. Some people succomb to this disease very quickly, and some drag it out much longer than expected. Everyone's biology is different. Everyone's life is different. We each have a unique purpose and plan.

3. Everyone eventually dies from something. Meanwhile, life is worth living and savoring while we have it.

4. I don't get to choose whether I follow a similar outcome pattern. But I can choose to follow his positive example of managing life with this disease, and try to give encouragement to others to do the same.

There was a brief line from a sad little song from -- of all things -- the Muppet Christmas Carol movie that popped into (what's left of) my mind as I thought of this very kind and influential person who fought the good fight:

Yes, some dreams come true
And yes, some dreams fall through
And yes, the time has come for us to say good-bye

(and "thank you")


Paul & Nancy said...

Hopefully his research and treatments will continue on through other collegues that have the same drive and determination to cure this terrible disease.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Dear Krista,
I'm sorry to read the sad news about Dr. Hassenbusch.

You are doing an amazing job of balancing your sadness over his death with distancing your own situation in realistic and hope-preserving ways. You honor his memory by continuing to nourish hope and embrace your life.
With hope,
Wendy S. Harpham, MD