If’ you’d asked me in 2006 whether I’d turn 38, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say “yes”. If you’d asked me in 2007 whether I’d turn 38, I would have hesitated.
When I was first diagnosed, I was so certain that my cancer was a one-time thing, a fluke, something to be excised, poisoned, and recovered from. Dust my hands off, grow my hair back, return to my regularly scheduled life. But once the first recurrence showed up and we scheduled my scary surgery for October, I was convinced I’d be gone by that Christmas. Started mentally divvying up my couture, regretting that I’d never get to embarrass my boys at their rehearsal dinners, wondering who would let the lonely cat sleep in their bed. So when that round was over, I was totally flummoxed. And we all know how much I loooove uncertainty. How long do I have?
No one on my medical team is willing to even take a stab in the dark at a prognosis. They all say we have lots of tools in my treatment arsenal, and plenty more coming down the pike. (Have I mentioned yet how much I adore being treated at D-F?) Since my lungs are now showing signs of (tiny, glacially-progressing) tumors, I’m starting to get an inkling of the way it’s going to go in a long-term sense. But how long?
These days, when someone’s diagnosed with Stage IIIc like I was, they have a 45% chance of living longer than five years. And with each recurrence, your percentage drops. So I have to admit that while I have never exactly been morbid, I am trying to be realistic. I certainly stopped worrying about the health of my IRA. (See? A little gallows humor never hurt anyone.)
Anyway, here I am at 38. In another 18 months, I’ll be one of the 45%. Since statistics-busting has been my m.o. from the start, I’m happy to keep the trend going. And maybe if I keep kicking ass I’ll come to really regret my adolescent sun-worshipping habits in my fifties and sixties.