My Experience With Lung Cancer – Part 3: A Lousy Week

By Terry on 2014-07-14

[In Part 1, Terry described her diagnosis and initial treatment. In Part 2, she discussed the stigma of lung cancer.]

I wrote my last section about a week ago, when I was feeling a lot better – it is easier to be positive in those circumstances.

This past week has been really tough – I had a routinely scheduled MRI of my brain on Monday, and learned that, despite the treatment, there are several small metastatic lesions in my brain.  Although I knew that the drug I am on does not reach the brain as well as other parts of the body, this was a terrible blow. My first reaction was – “why can’t I just get a break? Why does this cancer always seem to be one step ahead of me, no matter how hard I try to fight it?” The next day was Canada Day, and all I really remember was that we didn’t stop doing things all day – as one wise colleague said, it was like we were running to keep ahead of the depression that was trying to catch up to us.

The next day I developed a respiratory infection with a terrible cough that wore me down physically for another few days as well as new laboratory abnormalities.  All of this became too much – for the first time since March I began to feel overwhelmed – feeling that I didn’t have either the physical or emotional strength to keep fighting the cancer.

I think I needed about 2 days to digest the results of the MRI and during that time I had a chance to speak to the care team and discuss the treatment plans.  And I had to convince myself that we need to just keep going on – one day at a time, one event at a time. I will be having radiotherapy to the brain lesions and then will discuss further treatment with my oncologist.  Once again, it is the support of the treatment team, my family and my friends that keeps me going; they let me vent, cry, and swear, and then they make sure that I am ready to keep going.

It is now Thursday, July 10th, and I had the radiotherapy session yesterday evening. I don’t think I realize how frightened I was about having brain metastases and the treatment until it was all over. The session was long – I had to lie on the table with a mask to immobilize my head for almost two hours. A friend of mine had recently shared a life-threatening event with me, and during the procedure I was inspired by his courage and strength during that terrifying event. Apart from the duration, the session went easily for me, and so far I am feeling tired but otherwise fine. Now that that is over, I can also feel myself getting back on track – we have treated lesions in the lung, liver, bone and now brain – and we will keep on treating each challenge as it presents itself.

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