Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-18 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
For the past two weeks, I’ve searched for the words to make my medical news more palatable, but nothing I say can change the fact that after more than three years in remission, my cancer has returned. I knew all along that a recurrence was likely as my cancer was already stage 4 when it was discovered. If not for my surgeon’s Herculean efforts, and the tireless support of an army of friends and family members, I would not have survived this long.
My most recent “eyes to thighs” PET scan revealed two small cancerous spots, not imaged on previous scans. Unavoidably, a few dormant cells remained from my original bout with cancer. Recently, they began to multiply and reappear. The good news is that this should be much easier to deal with than the first time, not only because we caught it early, but also because there are many new potentially viable treatment options available.
New and promising treatments are based on studying particular substances in the tumors. Laboratory testing is used to identify genetic markers and tell the doctor which drugs are likely to work best. Already doctors are obtaining much better results with fewer side effects.
Also promising are immunotherapy, which improves the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer, and clinical trials, of which there are many for this type of cancer.
Finally, if none of these work out, the plan is to repeat the same chemotherapy regimen that worked so well for me the first time around. We have time to determine the best approach which will start in four to six weeks.
Even with so many options, thinking about the future scares me, as there are still too many unknowns. I hesitate to plan even a couple of weeks out, not knowing how I will feel when the day comes. I force myself to do it anyway, because having things to look forward to is key to living longer.
While life is going to be scary and difficult for awhile, I know it will get better again because I am a warrior and I have already survived the worst. This time, I feel I have the upper hand. Knowing how I responded to previous treatments will help doctors plan our new strategy. Knowing what treatment demands of me, I have already begun preparing, both mentally and physically. Most importantly, I have a secret weapon I didn’t have the first time – my 21-month-old granddaughter, Parker, whose life I intend to be part of.
The one person missing, however, is the surgeon who saved my life initially. She moved last week to take a key position in a gyne-oncology program in California. I sent her off with my blessing, knowing she was born for bigger challenges than me, though many who know me best would argue there is no such thing.