Stage four lung cancer is a pretty rapid killer for most people diagnosed. A third gone after three months. A half gone after six months. I’m now at six months and while I’m not exactly punching the air with joy I am feeling lucky.
It becomes clearer by the day that between June and November last year I was a dead man walking. Immense back pain. Physiotherapy. No cancer treatment. I might not even have made Christmas.
At the point of diagnosis last November I was aware of the average survival rate after diagnosis being just six months, not that the oncologist would tell me. The way the football season was going at the time that might even have been welcome, although things picked up a little on both health and sporting fronts.
The genetic mutation that caused my cancer was generous enough to be a nicer form of lung cancer than most others get. One that responds to the drug that was prescribed a month after diagnosis. I suppose that’s my reward for being a non-smoker. The afatinib is only likely to give me a couple more years or so, but that sort of timespan is excellent for focusing the mind on good stuff, while the niggling thought of dying takes a back seat. There is always the fear I might not make it to the next holiday!
So on I go within my new reality. No job. Mobile to a point, but so much less so than a year ago. Cash to treat myself with. Despite a mindset that still demands value. Knowing I’ve just beaten “average” for surviving this disease. Knowing that above average isn’t close to being a promise of reaching old age. And then fearing my pension pot will run out if I get very old, however unlikely that scenario is.