Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/02/26

little word, BIG IMPACT!

Hello, my friends, on this sunny Sunday almost-afternoon here in Middle Tennessee!  The trees are budding, the daffodils are blooming, the birds are chirping, and it’s as if nobody has a clue that the groundhog saw his shadow earlier in the month and we’re supposed still be knee-deep in winter.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’ll take this beautiful not-quite-spring weather for sure!  Just also don’t get me wrong:  I don’t think I like where the summer might go, with all the bugs and such that didn’t get struck down by a Big Freeze.  Guess the comedian was right:  you can’t have everything (where would you put it?).

I can’t seem to catch a break these days, either, where my health situation is concerned.  Last week, I let you know that my latest chemotherapy was dubbed “a fail.”  I can’t say I was surprised by that, either, as I’d been having symptoms again for a while which led me to believe I was either extremely crazy/psychosomatic (always a distinct possibility, since it’s ME we’re talking about here), or was experiencing tumor turmoil again.  It turned out to be a combination of both. (Of course.)  As Leora Horn (oncologist) started explaining to me about the immunotherapy clinical trial I’ve decided to embark upon in the next couple of weeks, she started using some little words that I’d heard many times before during this lung junk odyssey, words like, “but,” “and,” “then,” and my all-time least favorite, “if.”  Geez, I HATE that word!!!!  Every time I hear it, I think about when I was married, and my husband and I were blessed with his family’s money, and we’d go to meet with one of our financial advisers about how best to invest some of it.  They almost always would show us stocks or bonds or such and say, “Now, if you had invested this amount of money here 10 years ago, you would have experienced a 25% growth in the investment over that period of time.”  Which sounded really good, until they spoke their next sentence: “Now, that’s what the market did over the past 10 years.  There’s really no way to know how it will respond moving forward, but the track record looks good.”  Sigh…

It’s the same with me and my treatment plans:  the track record looks really good, and it’s worth a try.  And the word “if” sneaks its sneaky butt into the picture, as in, “If this is going to work, you can be on it indefinitely.”  That’s happened to me now three times in the past not even 6 months, with the Avastin chemo, the return to Tarceva treatment, and now the Alimta chemo.  So, when Leora offered me the new clinical trial, and told me about its good track record, and started to say, “if it works, you can be on it indefinitely,” what I said was, “Yeah, I’m not so interested in the 50% who did or are doing well on it.  Tell me what happened to the other 50%.”  Because “if it is going to work” doesn’t seem to be working out so very well for me lately, and I’m kinda tired of trying to hang my hopes on a tiny word that ultimately has big and not so nice impact on me.  Leora told me that the other 50% simply went on a different chemotherapy treatment, and that there are at least 3 others for me to try if the long-haul isn’t part of the immunotherapy plan for me.  And again, I sigh…

They’re little words, my friends, what Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers call “sight words.”  Words like a, and, but, in, the, was, and you.  The words that, when you play charades, you put your thumb and pointer close together in an almost pinch to let your competitors know you mean “small word.”  What I thought was interesting was when I was looking for a picture to put to this blog today, I couldn’t find one list of sight words that had the word “if” on it until I came upon the picture I’ve used, which listed “if” as a Challenge Word.  That seemed pretty appropriate to me, actually.  I am challenged by this tiny word, “if,” on a regular basis.  Maybe even daily.  I am vexed by its potential to do good and to do harm.  I am confounded by its coyness and its tyranny.  I am stunned that it can twist me into knots a sailor couldn’t untwist, even as my heart hopes against hope that it will lead me into that nirvana of being on a treatment “indefinitely.”  Damn stinkin’ little word!

So I head into my week with this silly tiny word demanding attention and respect.  It’ll be riding shotgun with me tomorrow as I have my first bone-builder shot, and Tuesday when I meet again with the radiation oncologist.  It’ll be what sits up and watches me sleep every night as I ponder that yet again, I can’t sleep on my right side (hurts), and my breath capacity isn’t so good (might be allergies, might be cancer).  It’ll be with me as I shampoo my now-red hair (!) each morning with my beloved Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, which I can’t smell anymore, and as I eat each meal that I can’t taste, either (again, could be allergies, could be cancer).  If, if, if, if, if…..

If we’re really lucky, maybe we’ll all have a great week!  That’s my hope for all of us!

With love,

Teri, the vexed by a little word Flying Elephant in the Land of Lung Junk

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