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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just a Touch of Dread

Addendum to this post: I am not talking about stopping chemo altogether, but the most toxic agent. I'm sorry that I worried you people. Although there may come a day when I do talk about it, so be ready.

This past year, a couple of cancer blog authors that I have followed have died, one just a few days ago.  These young women were in their primes (26 & 31 years old) but handled their cancer in very different ways.

One who had adenocarcinoma (my kind of cancer) of the esophagus, underwent surgeries and chemo, but once she had a recurrence, decided to eschew further chemotherapy. She decided to eat healthily and exercise instead knowing that it probably wouldn’t make a difference. She died about six months after her recurrence was discovered and spent the last month of her life on an island in Maine with family and close friends. She died peacefully in a beautiful place. She had survived two years since her initial diagnosis.

The other who had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, underwent initial chemo and then a marrow transplant. She continued to seek treatment, after treatment, after increasingly toxic treatment. The photos of her on her blog showed a person who looked almost nothing like the person who started the blog. She was bald and swollen; she had bleeding out of her skin and horrible thrush and mouth sores. She spent much of her last months in the hospital. Finally, her body just gave out. Her husband said she died peacefully, but in her last posts she talked about suffering from major pain and panic attacks. She had survived four years since her diagnosis.

Each of these deaths left me a bit stunned, heavy-hearted, deeply sad … and with just a touch of dread. It’s becoming time for me to make some treatment choices and I ask myself, which person would I rather be:  the one who lives four years but suffers horribly and spends much of their time in the care of strangers, or the one who lived only two, but is surrounded by home and family and beauty?

We, the cancer afflicted, are encouraged to fight, fight, fight and that’s all well and good if you have a chance of winning. But I don’t, and if my suffering serves no purpose but to add to medical statistics, then fighting to the end…well…seems kind of stupid to me.

Perhaps I am not as tolerant or tough as I once thought. The truth is, I hate, hate, HATE how I feel on this tough chemo.  It could be vastly worse, I know, but I’m not sure I want to tolerate it anymore. 


  1. sometimes you just get plum worn out.

  2. Ruth, I know it's been awhile since this blog was written and I don't know what your decision was about your treatment, but you and only you know how to proceed. I see your point about the two women you mentioned above and the differences in the quality of their end of life; certainly the one being with her family had the better option even though they both had the same outcome. I don't know what your doctors have given you for statistics, but the statistics don't always pan out and treatments and clinical trials are always changing. You know best what you have to do with what information you've been given and have learned in your own research of this horrible disease. I'm sure that writing this blog has helped you cope with all of the physical woes you've had to endure, but it's great to see your sense of humor. I know you've been a fighter in every sense of the word, for many years, this being your toughest battle yet, but you and only you will know when and more importantly, IF you should stop any form of your treatment. You have a lot of loving family behind you, supporting you and pulling for you, Ruth! God Bless You! Love, Aunt Bonnie