A REMARKABLE JOURNEY
ROBERT LOWE a UK long term double survivor, patients advocate and a founder member of the local Stobhill Lung Cancer Support Group
A lung cancer prognosis is a prediction which is based on test results, scans, medical experience, and average stats. They are an educated guesstimate, a forecast, but not set in stone, there will always be some variations and occasional exceptions. Studies confirm that positive patients do much better than negative ones, may my personal experiences inspire hope and provide motivation for others.
In 1993, I was 53 yrs old, very happily married with two children, and had an enduring persistent cough, and was belatedly diagnosed with advanced small cell terminal lung cancer and told I had only 2 to 3 months left at max. My consultant asked if I wanted to consider life prolonging treatment and my immediate response was no! Extending the time that family and friends would watch my demise, with no hope of a cure, wasn’t an option. Then, as I was discussing things with my wife and carefully selecting my words to try and tactfully explain my decision, a thought just came out of the blue. As this cancer is definitely terminal, if I refuse treatment, I will be remembered by family and friends as a quitter. On the other hand, if I ask for the strongest treatments available then that would be a very different scenario; I would be remembered by my family as having tried my best. I went back and asked what the strongest available treatments were; I was told that with the strongest chemotherapy there was a good chance that the chemo would kill me before the cancer did. Great, just what I was looking for, I get everything over quickly, and everyone remembers me as fighting right to the very last, a win, win. Okay, I said to my consultant, as I have nothing to lose, hit me with the strongest of everything.
The chemo was to be fed intravenously and administered in 6 doses. I was whipped into hospital right away and on starting the chemo, I was immediately bed bound, and just lay on my side continuously vomiting in to a sick bowl. After each dose, I was asked if I wanted another, after the fourth, my body was hairless, skeletal and had absolutely nothing left, so I stopped it. I was deteriorating fast and was quickly moved to a side room on my own. My wife told me later that she was called on 3 occasions and told to come quick as pos as I was slipping away, but on each occasion, somehow, my emaciated body pulled through. After the chemo, I gradually improved. Then came radiation and again I had to cut the number of treatments short, but was surprisingly allowed home at weekends. Ever so slowly, my strength continued to grow, and 1 year after treatment stopped, I was back at work.
In 2007, started coughing again, getting progressively weaker, and was diagnosed with non small cell lung cancer. I couldn’t get chemo or radiation as I had it previously, and as the tumour was tucked in close to my heart, the medical team decided that surgery would be at best speculative and complicated, and I was also pre-judged as probably too old at 67yrs to survive it. After many, many tests, scans and a deep discussion with my sympathetic surgeon, I fought my corner and received surgery. Now, I am doubly fortunate and forever grateful to be still enjoying a pretty good quality of life in my retirement.
The speed, strength, and length of both my recoveries bemuse the medical profession, and the moral of my story is that while there is some life, there is always hope. Twice I have been very fortunate to deny the deadly lung cancer beast, and twice it has been by taking a positive stance. If I had to pass on any comforting advice, it would be that with the modern emphasis on early detection, and improving treatments, the outlook for the newly diagnosed will continue to be more and more optimistic than mine ever was.
LUNG CANCER HAS NO BOUNDARIES
DO GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT @ GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONEhttp://stobhilllungcancersupportgroup.weebly.com/