If you’re here reading this, you probably already have your diagnosis. Maybe you’re at the beginning, maybe you have finished your treatment or maybe you’re just moving through the uncertain process.
That’s where I am. A woman diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in the spring of 2022 at age 51 when I had surgery to remove the descending colon. Multiple pericentimetric metastases were found in all eight segments of my liver so unfortunately, those are unresectable.
Now, at the beginning of September 2023, I’ve done 15 rounds of FOLFOX, 11 rounds of FOLF hold the Oxaliplatin and 18 rounds of targeted Panitumumab therapy with no end yet. The plan is to do this maintenance therapy until it just stops working.
As of this writing, it’s working! The MRI scan six months after the start of treatment showed a partial response of 31% and my latest colonoscopy was clear. I can’t say that it’s been easy. There have been visits to the emergency room and crappy side effects so bad that I needed a break from treatment but again, it’s working!
At the outset of learning that it was a stage IV diagnosis, everything seemed so bleak. I worried about being away from my job and when I could return, I’d worry about my finances and insurance. I mourned not being able to travel and do the things I loved to do. Sleep was fitful during those first few months of treatment. I’d be so exhausted that I’d fall asleep right after supper and wake up with the hamster wheel of negativity spinning in my mind. Then I’d look at the clock, notice it was only 10 or 11 pm and say to myself, oh, it’s not even tomorrow yet. Sometimes I’d settle myself back to bed reading up on the latest research, stories of cancer survivors or watching vlogs of the people going through my same treatment for encouragement.
Right here, thanks to the hard work of the people behind this very website and the community sharing their personal stories, I’ve found a lot of comfort. People with metastases in their liver, lungs and even brain have thrived for years under the care of their team. Science is making new discoveries every day. I’m just doing my best to take the medication, eat well, rest and exercise. The rest of my life will be as good as it can be following this plan. No sense in getting all stressed out by it even though some days are painful, some days are rough. My team is always there to help and I urge you to do the same and call on your team no matter what.
It’s hard to not know what the end game is going to be or when it’s going to be. It’s hard to want to plan for anything more than a few weeks into the future and it’s really hard to stoically answer the question: “When will your treatment be finished?”.
Take a breath, enjoy the moment. It’s not even tomorrow yet.