Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Cancer Journey Week 29

Kathy completes radiation therapy on July 31.   On that date she moves from cancer patient to cancer survivor.    I have only two more posts to write about this segment of our journey - Week 30 and Week 31.

At this point, radiation therapy is going well.  Kathy feels bone pain under the radiation site and the skin of her left breast is slightly tender/irritated.   The fatigue of each day limits her nighttime endurance and she longs for sleep at 9pm.   However, being a survivor makes it all worthwhile.

Kathy has been reading several interesting New York Times articles about cancer as she prepares for the next stage - health maintenance and monitoring for recurrence.    The role of survivor comes with its own emotions and responsibilities.

The past 29 weeks have taken their toll.   Kathy still has limited hand strength and can only walk short distances because of the Taxol induced neuropathy.   We could speculate that she did not need the taxol and that adriamycin/cytoxan would have been enough.   We could speculate that new advances in therapy, personalized to the patient's and tumor's genome, will soon eliminate the need for Taxol.   We could speculate that new testing methods would have detected her breast cancer before it became Stage IIIA and required aggressive chemotherapy.

However, all such speculation is unproductive.   She's a survivor and that's what matters. We've both learned that asking 'what if' questions about the past can only lead to frustration.    We live in the here and now, looking forward to a future in which she is cancer free and her neuropathy resolves over time.

Kathy, the survivor, is ordering 5 tons of second cutting Timothy Hay for our alpaca and llama herd which arrives August.   She has plenty of time to plan for the future because she's a cancer survivor.
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