Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Right Place Right Time

Over the past six years of my cancer journey, I've never, thank god, been at a loss for luck. No doctor thought I'd make it this far, and I know deep down that I have each and every one of you to thank for getting me here. Never was my luck more on display than the morning after I awoke from 8 hour long surgery having a new Pleurx catheter placed in my chest. You made this technology possible, and this technology was keeping the cancer at bay in my heart. You were responsible for draining the cancerous fluid that was compounding in my lungs. You were helping me to take every single breath. With every breath I have each of you to thank.

My doctors needed your help too, and they received it. Each time my cancer was exposed to a new chemo drug, my cancer got smarter. Every time my cancer has gotten smarter, we've needed to find a new drug to combat it. The morning I received my Pleurx catheter, also happened to be the morning when I opened up the "Dana Farber Report" and saw this little news snippet.

"Susan G. Komen for the Cure grants $315,000 to Dr. Lein Chen for research into PI3K pathway." That Monday morning also happened to coincide with a visit from my doctor informing me that I had been selected for a clinical trial, a clinical trial looking into a new drug that would inhibit my cancer's ability to grow along a specific - PI3K pathway. Talk about right place at the right time!

Susan G. Komen was planning to go one step further with me though. Never one to stop in just one place, Komen wants to partner with me to help educate the public about clinical trials. Enrolling in this trial was not an easy decision. My life was put on hold and, while that seems like an obvious choice, it may not be an obvious choice for every patient. What are we fighting for? How long do we fight? How much money do we spend fighting? What does our life living and fighting with cancer look like?

To enroll in this clinical trial, I visited Dana Farber every single day, from 7am until 9pm. Over the ensuing six weeks, my cancer shrunk 12%. But then, two weeks before Thanksgiving, I found myself in an ambulance, headed to the hospital because of problems with my heart and lungs.  My body could no longer handle the clinical trial. I just couldn't do it.

The trial bought me time, and I was able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family and friends. But now, I face the reality that the battery of treatments can no longer keep my cancer at bay.

So now here we are. We have made it from Halloween, to Thanksgiving, and now we are celebrating Christmas. (The Big Man bought me a gorgeous diamond ring for Christmas!) Even as we celebrate, my year has, yet again, revolved around cancer. But I'm not complaining. I am thanking you. I thank each and every one of you for getting me here. I'm going to ask now for just one more favor.

It is time for me to ask each of you to let me go. It is time to say goodbye.

Over these past six weeks, my ability to breathe has been compromised. Every breath is a struggle. I cough all night and most days. I am exhausted. My mother and brothers have flown in to help.  I'd like to stop working and go enjoy a nice cold drink with my husband on a beach somewhere. I want some time alone with him. Time without doctors appointments and scans, without work, just the two of us. No PI3K pathways. No trials. No hospitals. Just Bridget and her Big Man.

So thank you. Thank you for fighting with me over these past six years. Thank you for hoping with me. Walking every step of the way alongside me. I couldn't have done this without you. I wouldn't still be here if it weren't for each and every one of you and the dollars you have raised in my name.

Please, don't forget about me.