I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the length of time that is 30 months. It’s two and a half years. It can seem a long time or it can go by in a flash. 30 months is also the median amount of time that stage IV colon cancer patients typically live after diagnosis. December 28 will be 30 months from diagnosis. I did it, I made it two and a half years after a stage iv cancer diagnosis.
I’ve also been thinking about those who didn’t make it that far. Making friends with other cancer patients is hard because you know some of them aren’t going to make it. That’s especially true when you start making friends with others who have stage iv cancer (cancer that has metastasized). At the same time, it is so important to talk to others who are where you are, or who have been where you are. They can understand the push and pull required to live fully for today and tomorrow, all while wrestling with your own mortality. You can’t be a cancer patient, especially a late stage cancer patient, without wrestling with your own mortality. For all that science has gotten better at treating cancer, it still hasn’t really conquered metastatic cancer.
This is my third Christmas since I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and Lynch Syndrome in June 2018. I didn’t know it at the time, but my family didn’t think I’d see that first Christmas. I couldn’t see past the next round of chemo, or the pain in my side. I opened my Christmas presents that year from the hospital. We waited until Saturday the 29th to open presents since the whole family would be around. However, my back pain got bad enough that on the 27th that an ER trip was necessary. I spent nearly a week in the hospital with a liver drain draining an abscess. My dad brought my presents to the hospital on the 29th, where we FaceTimed with the rest of family back home and opened presents. Last year, I avoided the hospital, but wasn’t feeling great.
As for this year, I’m not feeling great. I’m back on antibiotics for a UTI that won’t leave. The heating pad is my friend and today it needed the help of narcotics to make me functional enough to frost sugar cookies. There will be a call to my doctor on Monday. I’m am also facing another surgery on January 6th – my fourth since June 2018.
Even with all that, and even facing down my 15th hospitalization, I’m still here. It’s been 30 months and I’m still here. Come January I will hit 30 months cancer free. 30 months cancer free marks the halfway point to the magic five years. The first 2-3 years are the highest risk for recurrence and I’m nearly through them. I still have a bunch of medical issues, some of which still aren’t understood. I’m on social security disability and that’s not likely to change. But it’s been 30 months and I’m still here.