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Searching for My Optimism with Lung Cancer

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I’ll admit it, it’s been a tough week.

I flew to New Mexico for a long weekend with my family and had a lovely time. I was waited on hand and foot, ate lots of green chile (and brought a fair amount home with me), and basked in the love and attention of friends and family. But the trip exhausted me. Everything exhausts me. It is becoming more and more difficult to get myself up and at ‘em in the morning and my pain levels are gradually increasing so that I will have to increase my Oxycontin dose with the next refill. My feet and ankles are swelling. But mostly I’m just so very tired.

I saw my oncologist for Gemzar and Zometa on Tuesday and have had no significant problem related to those this week. I’m still on fairly good doses of steroids because I wanted to feel as good as possible for my trip and then will wait until my off week from Gemzar before I try another dose reduction (next week). If I feel worse with the lower dose, we’ll go back up to where I was before any dose reduction and see if it helps the fatigue. If I feel better, we’ll keep trying to reduce the dose. I’ll get two more doses of Gemzar (for a total of eight) and then I have a scan scheduled on December 8. I don’t expect any good news from the scan - you all know that I don’t really think any of the treatments (except maybe Zometa) that I’ve received since I came off the original Carbo/Taxol/Avastin in August 2008 have really done much about my cancer. It’s just a slow growing, mostly in-the-bones cancer.

But it seems to be affecting more than the bones now, with the fatigue and swelling, and I’m feeling demoralized and worn down. I still have many things to keep me going at this point - quilts, Thanksgiving with my family, visits from friends and family - but I’m feeling less sure, less optimistic about how much of that will really come to pass. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where it takes me.

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Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Lisa - First, I'm jealous of your trip to New Mexico and your green chiles. They're so wonderful and those of us who live in the Southwest are so lucky to be able to get them when they're fresh. I'm sure you're really going to enjoy them.

One of the things society seems to expect of someone with cancer is that they always be optimistic. Well, that's just bs as far as I'm concerned. There are going to be times when doing things that we used to be able to do quite easily are going to exhaust us. And the changes our bodies go through during treatment can be horrible. We have to have friends that we can talk to and openly discuss this with. So, Lisa, even though we haven't met in person I just want to encourage you to think of us as your friends and people you can talk to about anything. Good days, bad days, crazy days, whatever.
I do hope , as Diane says so well, you'll feel better now that you're back in your home routine. You need a chance to recover from the exertion of your trip and your treatments. If this doesn't pass, and you become concerned and would like help from us beyond listening ears, just let us know. I can feel your pain, and am glad you're letting it out, but if we can help you in other ways just let us know. We're here for you.
Take good care of yourself,

November 5, 2009 - 5:32pm


It's disheartening that you've had a rough week, especially with the exhaustion and the mental fallout from it. You are so in-the-moment that we can really feel your questioning and discouragement.

I am sure that the trip -- the travel, the different locations, the different beds and food -- took a lot out of you and that it's a primary contributor to how you're feeling. I hope that after a few nights back in your home routine that you'll be less fatigued and feeling a little more optimistic about things.

Best of luck with this week's meds and appointments. I wish you deep sleep, good days and a rebound from the exhaustion.

November 5, 2009 - 8:19am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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