Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Remission Accomplished!

Today marks seven years of being in remission from Hodgkin lymphoma. Was this the actual date that the very last lymphoma cell, gasping and weeping, totally alone in the dark confines of my body, died a terrible death from being poisoned? Undoubtedly not, but there is no way for me to mark that exact date. So therefore, I declare two weeks after my last chemo as my total victory over cancer date, because this was the date I would have gotten my next chemo. But there was no evidence of cancer, so that chemo wasn’t needed. Remission accomplished!

I’ve done a lot with my life over the last seven years, blogging quite a bit about the last two of them. I am happy and lucky to be here. But my sense of celebration is muted by the sobering fact that my sister is once again in a fight for her life with her breast cancer returning. My remission has lasted seven years and continues. Hers lasted just over a year and has ended, as we recently learned. It is difficult not to feel sad and scared about that.

It reminds me how much more remains to be done in the war on cancer. The more treatable cancers, like the one I had, are still very difficult to deal with and there is no guaranteed outcome. The hard to treat cancers, like the one my sister has, are infinitely more difficult to treat. We have a long, long way to go. There are some cancers where patients will never really reach true remission, where the disease will be managed to the extent possible as a chronic condition.

On this day, one for me to celebrate my amazing good fortune, something like 145 Americans will die from blood cancers. In the short time while I write these words, a few of them will pass away, remission not to be attained. Their loved ones will weep and wonder why this happened. All I can say is, and it is no comfort, that it is the luck of the draw. When my cancer hand was dealt to me, I got cards that I could play to live, with the help of medical science. And I have used some of my time and energy since then to try to make a difference for others, so that more people will eventually survive these awful, awful diseases.

So on this day, I will give thanks to my four toxic buddies that saved my life seven years ago. Thank you, adriamycin, you Red Devil, you Jonestown Kool-Aid with your beautiful but deadly red color. Thank you, bleomycin, destroyer of lung tissue but also of cancer cells. Thank you, vinblastine, miracle gift of the Madagascar periwinkle. And thank you, dacarbizine, my slow companion with your drip-drip-drip delivery five days in a row. I appreciate all you did for me. You saved my life! You taught me a lot about myself and what I am made of. But most of all, I really appreciate that day - December 9, 2002 - when I could say “Remission Accomplished! I don’t need you anymore, ABVD! Goodbye!”


Hopesrising said...

So happy your still with us my Friend.

Katie said...

WOW, seven years!! That is quite amazing! I know your strength will help pull your sister through. Keep being an inspiration to us all!

EllsworthME said...

Congratulations! on this accomplishment and all you've done in the past 7 years to help those challenged by cancer too.

Elayne said...

Congratulations Art! I must say that is one way I have never viewed my chemo. I too had the not so much a pleasure of the red cool aid demon.

Hoping and Praying for your sisters recovery. Please let her know there is hope in the midst of his second diagnosis. She can contact me anytime:)

Racn4acure said...

Thanks everyone. I appreciate your words very much. I am happy and grateful to still be here.

yeah, the ole Red Devil, hey Elayne? Nasty, nasty stuff it is, but a life saver.

I appreciate your thoughts on my sister and will pass that one.