Thursday, December 17, 2009

Keeping the Faith!

About a month and a half ago, I blogged about being on the team “Faith’s Hope” for Light the Night, and how Faith, a local woman with stage four Hodgkin lymphoma, started this team to make a difference even while she was suffering through chemo, hospitals, and blood transfusions.

I got some great news today from Faith – despite her lengthy battle for most of 2009, despite having tumors throughout her lymphatic system, despite having cancer spread to her bone marrow, lungs, and spleen, Faith is now in remission. While she has a 35% chance for developing cancer again within five years, today she is cancer free!

As anyone who has had cancer knows, she and her doctors will need to be vigilant. There will be frequent checkups and CT scans – here, just drink three pints of this delicious chalky barium fluid, it tastes just like candy. You get an ache or a little pain, and you think “Hmmm, what could this be?” And usually the answer to that is “nothing.” She has a two thirds chance of having this cancer behind her for good.

As someone who just hit seven years remission a week ago, I think I know how happy Faith must feel today for getting that news. It is an amazing feeling. You become overwhelmed with gratitude for making it to remission, and for not having to get poisoned anymore. And you hope that in the ensuing months, you will gradually regain some degree of strength and stamina, and that the fog that seems to envelop your brain will burn off in time. And maybe, just maybe, you will eventually feel like your old self.

With an American dying from a blood cancer every 10 minutes, not enough people know that feeling of reaching remission, the holy grail for cancer patients. One of the goals of all of us doing TNT is that this ten minute number will increase because more people are hitting remission and less are dying. Research and a lot of work has made it that way for Hodgkin lymphoma – so now we just have to keep making progress on other cancers. Maybe in a few years, the time lapse will increase to a death every 15 minutes, maybe a few years after that it will be every 20 minutes. Maybe someday it will be one person an hour, or even less.

I wonder how many minutes go by every day on average for a patient to reach remission? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that today was Faith’s turn. Congratulations, Faith! Live each day! In 7 more years, it will be Faith talking about being seven years in remission, just like I was last week. You’ll get there! Keep the faith!

4 comments:

Cheryl said...

Hi Art....this post gladdened my heart. I am always so thrilled when I hear that someone is in remission. I cannot possibly imagine what you all have to go through.....but you have my respect and my very best wishes always....

Well done Faith........and well done Art......

Racn4acure said...

Thanks Cheryl. I know that Faith and I both feel lucky to still be here. It always makes my day when I hear of someone beating this beast we call cancer. Art

Anonymous said...

Thank you both! I would have commented on your blogs earlier, Art, but didn't have a google account. You are so eloquent and on the money with your blogs. Thanks for your guidance through this confusing and often trying period in my life. Finding other Hodgkin's patients for support is invaluable. I look forward to my seventh anniversary of being cancer free. I'm ready to continue healing and live every moment to the fullest. Faith

Racn4acure said...

Thanks Faith. I am so happy to have you join my cancer remission club. We always need new members! ;) Art