Here, to get you up to speed, are the basics of our situation:
In June I was diagnosed with Pneumonia after the doctors took an Xray of my chest. The followup Xrays after the pneumonia revealed that there was a mass in my upper right lung. In August, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. We did many more scans and a couple of biopsies, and the cancer was further diagnosed to be a “Non-Small Cell Squamous Carcinoma” or as we now know it, “NSCSC”.
By the time that we caught it, the original tumor had spread to my lymph nodes on both sides and has metastasized to my ribs, spine and a couple of small spots on my hips. Due to the spread of the disease, this is considered to be Stage 4.
I eventually had two MRI’s and both revealed some good news. Firstly, There is no evidence of the cancer having spread to the brain. This is good for obvious reasons. Brain cancer would really suck. So that is good.
Secondly, I do have a tumor that is in my spine that threatens to interfere with my spinal cord. The docs have looked very closely at this and have agreed that we do not need radiation on my spine to address this for now. Radiation on my spine would delay my lung cancer treatment and it would also suck.
Stage 4 Lung Cancer is inoperable and is considered incurable.
Pretty much everyone knows and understands that Stage 4 Lung Cancer is ugly. It is not one of the cancers that you hear about going into “remission”. In fact, it is not a cancer that you hear anything good about. Mostly what you do hear and see are dark stories of the Marlboro man and legal commercials on late night TV with nightmarish images of people with oxygen tubes talking about class action lawsuits and such.
The truth is that Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in America. 1 in 14 people will get Lung Cancer in their lifetime whether they smoke or not. Thirty percent of all people who get lung cancer have never smoked, or worked with asbestos, or in a shipyard, etc. Non smoking lung cancer ranks as the 6th leading cause of death in the US. The ugly truth is that it just happens to people – and it happens a lot.
And the Good:
What good news we do have at this point is that people are living longer and longer with this disease. We are living in a time where there are some dynamic new changes in how we are treating cancer. Lung cancer treatment is experiencing an exciting growth spurt. We will use this journal to help share the information that we learn about these new and emerging treatments. I will be on the front lines of this new era and helping usher in a new approaches in the fight against cancer.
The other good news is that we are just getting geared up for this fight. We are ready to challenge and beat this disease. I couldn’t be surrounded by more inspiring, powerful and supportive family and friends. We live in an area where there are world class medical and pharmaceutical companies who are at the forefront of creating cures for these diseases… Kaiser, Stanford, UCSF, UC Davis, UCLA, and Roche/Genentech are just a few.
As far as cancer patients go, I am considered by all to be young and strong. My overall health is good and though the road ahead promises to be rough, I truly believe that we can overcome this.
With your support and good positive thoughts and wishes, I am confident that we can all bend the statistics in our favor.
I have the blessing of having Keely and Theo here with me in the day to day and please know despite being overwhelmed and scared at times, we are well – and plan to stay that way.
Right now we are very busy meeting with anyone and everyone we can. Every day is filled with meetings and forms and calls and appointments as we try to very quickly become experts in all of this. We cannot communicate directly with everyone individually every day so Keely and I will be posting progress and stories here online so that everyone can check in, comment and keep up to date with our fight.
We love you,