Although a good movie and incredible book (that I highly recommend) about life in the poverty-stricken Ozarks (where I spent the last part of my childhood), this post is about bone metastases that sometimes accompanies lung cancer. In particular, the discomfort and real pain that comes about or increases during the winter.
I have a lot of bone metastases.
My cranium, my spine and multiple spots in my sacrum, pelvis & upper femurs all light up like the seasonally-appropriate Christmas tree whenever I have PETs, CTs and MRIs. Although I am lucky enough to have had some success with surgery, radiation and Zometa stopping the tumor growth and actually growing new bone, come winter time, I feel like Old Man Winter incarnate.
The discomfort can range from achy to heavy fatigue to the occasional sharp, stabbing pain originating in the back and running through nerves to remote areas of the arms and legs. On the upside (not to be too masochistic), the pain does remind me that I’m still here. I’m still alive (take THAT cancer - HA!).
Some time ago, my oncologist told me that to have such extensive bone metastases (as opposed to extensive primary tumors or extensive metastases I more vital organs) is a little unusual. My orthopedic oncologist told me that this sort of cancer ‘expression’ is a double-edged sword – you get to live longer, but you also end up with increasing amounts of pain and debilitation. What do you say to that?
The way I see it is this – many people who have other diseases or disorders live a life wherein they hurt a lot and/or can’t get around very well but still maintain a good life (friends, family, hobbies, etc.). I can deal with eventually having to use a walker or wheelchair. I can deal with daily pain (so far anyway) especially if I can maintain a clear mind with which I can think up any number of distractions from the pain.
Also ready access to any number of popular pain medications – yeah, drugs help, too.
Here’s hoping we all survive Winter’s Bone.
P.S. At the very least, rent the movie.
P.S.S. A shout out to Deborah the Poet for inspiring this post.