October 15. New arborvitae tree planted. It’s a sweet, little green thing. May it grow as tall as its elders.
October 16. I spend the morning at a downtown hospital. First, I have a pulmonary function test to see how well my lungs work. Then I see the surgeon and her nurse practitioner. The surgeon has three criteria for performing lung surgery: healthy heart, healthy lungs, and no cigarettes. I pass the last two, but have heart history. I’ll need to have a stress test to see how well my heart is working.
My choices are surgery, stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), or nothing. SBRT is five high doses of radiation. The standard for stage 1 lung cancer is surgery and studies show that people having surgery survive without cancer for five years. SBRT is new. Reports are available only for three years of survival sans cancer. I ask what the lung undergoes in surgery. The cancer is removed, the lung stapled. In SBRT, the affected area becomes scar tissue.
The surgeon says I’m healthy enough for surgery.
Well, I have to do something. I want to live. Four months ago, I had no idea I’d be making a life or death decision before Christmas! The trajectory of life can change in the blink of an eye. I’m not getting any younger and if I am healthy enough now for surgery, I think I should have it.
I choose surgery.
The surgery lasts 3.5 hours. Three incisions will be made just below my rib cage on my side. The hospital stay will be four to five days.
The following day, dates are set. On October 21, I’ll go to the hospital for an echocardiogram, CT scan of chest without contrast, and preadmission testing. The surgery is set for October 29. Ryan will accompany me both days.
Am I afraid? I’d be a fool not to be.
I’m fortunate to have within me a hopeful nature. Years before the cancer diagnosis, I’d find myself wondering why, when my country was in peril and I’d lost so much in life, I did not give up, or lose myself in depression and bitterness. The answer is that I always think there will come a better day and I’m a fighter for hope.
I also have a guardian spirit. I think most creative people do, especially if they live alone. When life brings me to a precipice, my spirit takes my hand and we leap together. As I write this, my spirit hovers near. I can feel warmth on my shoulder.
Next Blog: At eleventh hour, doctor orders another test.