My life is a totally different one today than a year ago. In January, Mike and I consolidated our homes, and we are (gasp!) living together without benefit of clergy. However, this is planned to change as soon as we can see ourselves clear to marry. Two things are standing in our way at the moment. (1) My education and crazy schedule; and (2) The fact that Mike has stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the lung.
I knew Mike was ill when we met. I didn’t know the extent of it, but he and I agreed to meet for dinner after corresponding through the Internet, and the chemistry was instantaneous. Both of us felt we had never met more kindred spirits. We have important variables that we don’t share, but we are remarkably alike in many ways. Our personalities, for example – we are so much alike that we fully understand each other. Despite his illness, I was smitten. He found out about his cancer in September of 2011, the same week as his birthday, which falls on the 21st. He had stage 4 – meaning it had spread beyond his lung, through the lymph nodes. He has several brain tumors. In fact, it was the brain tumors that alerted him to the cancer in the first place – he had suffered two seizures prior to going to the doctor. After his cancer was diagnosed, the first line of attack was to the brain metastases. He was fitted for a special helmet and subjected to 17 radiation treatments. Immediately after those, he was given two rounds of chemotherapy, one after another. A year later, the week we met, he found out his brain tumors were gone; and the lung tumor was smaller. It appeared he was going to survive longer than expected, and his doctor called him the “Miracle Man.” His odds had not been good, but he was obviously beating the numbers.
Another remarkable note about Mike is, he has battled cancer before. Almost five years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent a radical prostatectomy, and radiation treatments. For a man in his late 50s, he has been through a great deal. Today his PSA is less than 1, almost zero. That is ideal. So he is cured of that cancer and lives on to fight the next. But the radiation treatments, both to his nether regions and to his brain, have taken a toll. He has peripheral neuropathy and uses a cane. I also suffer from peripheral neuropathy from my diabetes, so I understand what he is dealing with. I also must use a cane, on occasion. The cane is useful for maintaining balance when walking on uneven surfaces, and protects people who have lost feeling in their extremities from falls.
So where are we now? Mike ended chemo nearly six months ago, but his tumor is growing again. He also has fluid around his heart. To further reduce the tumor and hopefully achieve NED (No Evidence of Disease) he must now begin a targeted therapy. Next week Mike begins taking one of two drugs: Tarceva, or a newer drug that is similar. He is also waiting to be admitted to a clinical trial. If he is admitted, he will receive one of those drugs. Reports around the Web state that many times a patient can achieve NED on these drugs. It can prolong life significantly. That is what we are hoping for.
In December, after we decided we wanted to be together for as long as we both have, it was decided that Mike would come to live with me so I could help him in his quest for recovery. We merged our animal families and he moved most of his things to my place. It is working well. We are very compatible roommates, and we are so happy to be together. I have the satisfaction of knowing he is taking his meds, eating regularly, etc. And he has the satisfaction of knowing I’m taking care of my health needs and we are both safe, warm, and cared for. Neither of us feel we have sacrificed anything by the arrangement; we both feel we are better off together than apart. He still has a home in Arkansas, in Garfield overlooking Beaver Lake. But it is too far for me to commute to school and work, so we have decided to stay in Jane.
So, dear readers, now you have it. I will keep you posted on our quest.