Am I still Cancer Free?

One year ago I had a sharp abdominal pain under the right rib cage. I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a very large tumor, liver cancer. Even though the tumor was twice as large as they normally will operate on, at 10 cm, I found a surgeon who convinced the tumor review board to allow him to cut it out. Otherwise he said I would be dead within the year as the cancer would spread to my lungs and brain.

During the surgery it was discovered that the tumor had grown into my diaphragm, they had to cut some of that out as well and patched it with gortex. It was a rough recovery, due to infections and a paralytic ileus, but after a year I have accepted a new normal. Even though my tumor markers are on the rise my CT scan four days ago showed no recurrence of cancer. I was told by my oncologists that 4 out of 5 people with my condition do not live more than 5 years. With a prognosis like that it is frightening to think of my future. I wouldn’t be able to walk my daughter down the aisle or grow old with my wife. The only way I could stay sane was to focus on the present. When I don’t, I get depressed, anxious and angry.

Living in the now is like when you are in so much pain, post surgery, and you have to wait for your next dose of morphine. All you think is excruciating pain. The kind of pain you have when they cut your belly open and remove over half of your liver kind of pain, and your intestines are blocked so you are swelling up and throwing up dark green bile type of pain. When the morphine gets injected the now is an overwhelming warmth and pain free joy, until the effects go away. There is no time to think about the past or the future. Living in the now is not all about bliss, it is about accepting and embracing the present — good, bad or indifferent. So yes, at the moment I am cancer free and I am grateful to be alive with my beautiful wife, my rambunctious black lab, and my daughter who keeps me and all of her hundreds of friends posted on facebook from far away.

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