Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Knowing When It Is Time to Stop

Good Morning Cancer Patients and Caregivers;
At a presentation I was giving to a cancer support group I was asked the question: "How do you know when it's time to stop?" The person who asked the question, informed me they had been battling cancer off and on for over 11 years now because it came back 3 times. I asked if it came back again would they be willing to battle it again? They responded, "at this time, yes".

 I don't know the right answer to this question. My treatment lasted for 3 months, 5 days a week for 4-5 hours in an infusion chair every 4 weeks for 2 months; another month of carrying an infusion pack 5 days a week with 24 hour infusion and 25 days of radiation; recovery for 6 weeks; surgery; recovery from surgery; and 6 more rounds of 5 days a week 4-5 hours a day every 4 weeks for 6 months. That was my treatment protocol. I haven't been faced with the decision to make about when it is time to stop. I know when I completed my 6th round of treatment, I wasn't in any condition to be able to continue treatment if needed. My body told me it had enough. Although, after the 4th round of the 6 round regimen of treatment, I was asked by my oncologist if I was able to continue treatment. My body wasn't telling me it needed a rest or that it couldn't continue. My response was "I will tell you when to stop". It took me 18 months after treatment before I could say I felt good again. During the 18 months of recovering, I was asked if I would go through treatment again if it came back. I responded, I didn't feel like I wanted to but yes, I would go through treatment again.

Every cancer patient decides how they will conduct their personal battle with cancer. I believe if you listen to your body, your body will tell you when it's time to stop. This is the time when the mind, which may be willing, needs to yield to the body. Regardless of your personal strength, stamina and courage, there may come the time when enough is enough and your body tells you no more and your mind concurs. It is not failure, and you are not giving up. It is acceptance, and time to do something else. When you have been pushed out of a perfectly good airplane and your parachute is a streamer that won't open and there isn't anything you can do, it may be a better choice to enjoy the time you have left, and the view.

Stay strong, keep your sense of humor, and never ever give up.