Cancer Update #3

Feb 2, 2015

Dear Friends, Family & Colleagues,

I’m finally being discharged from the hospital later this afternoon. I will have been here for 9 days – long enough. I’ve had the opportunity to see our medical system operating up close. I’m pretty wowed by what good care I have received given these days of medical cut backs. The democracy of a big city hospital ward at work is breathtaking – all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds up close & personal. Two women died  in the room I’m in during the 9 days. Almost what shocked me the most was how I wasn’t shocked. The hospital handled it very discreetly, the bed was washed and the next person was brought in, usually within a few hours. The nurses and other staff, on the floor I’m on anyway, maintained good humour and kindness throughout.

So my treatment plan, as it is called, has begun. I have started chemotherapy, albeit at this point the lite version known as Induction Chemo. I will be doing it once a week for 16 weeks.  At then end of that phase, I begin a drug which makes my stem cells grow madly. They harvest those cells via a dialysis-like process. The cells are frozen and stored. Then I’m tested to see if my body is up for the Big Chemo. If all is well, they hit me with High Dose Chemo. That’s when the big side effects occur. Then they re-seed my body with the stored stem cells. If all went according to plan, the process, thus far, would take me until the end of July. Then a month or 2 of recovery. Depending on the strain of cancer I have, I may get another round of High Dose Chemo and reseeding a year or 2 afterwards. I’ll also probably be on a maintenance dose of chemo thereafter. This cancer is treatable but not curable. This all seems to be about buying time. I think the oddest thing for me is the idea of living for ever more on these powerful drugs. Was I really once a hippie who said I’d never sully my body with legal pharmaceuticals? Sigh.

At least three people on this list are currently going through cancer treatments and many others of you have family and friends who have done so recently. You all know much more about this than I do. What has struck me in this early phase is how when I first hear the word ‘cancer’, I really hear ‘death sentence’. Yet almost immediately I see that, like almost everything else in life, this is not so simple, not so black and white. Really I have embarked on a journey and it is everything to do with how I live that journey. Just like the rest of life. So here I am, very suddenly, on a new phase of my life. The experienced nurses here keep telling me the mantra is ‘one day at a time.”

Your supportive letters continue to come and I so appreciate them. Back today to our temporary home in the warm welcoming basement of Amy and Maureen and then later this week we move back to our renovated house.

& finally a little bit of showing off – Humber College made a video about a number of their faculty this past fall – I’m one of them: scroll down to find “Diana Meredith’s Story”

Lastly, although I’m being quite open about all this – feel free to pass the news along to others – I would like to keep any references to it all off  FaceBook.




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