Lessons from Cancer: What happens when cancer keeps growing?

Joyce Rothman

My head hurts under the emotional weight of these cancers growing in my lungs, lymph nodes, adrenalgland and pelvic bone.  And now there is the question of a liver lesion being malignant. Plus, there’s a new finding that the right upper lung mass has collapsed part of my lung, not to mention that it is abuts the superior vena cava.  The right main pulmonary artery “courses through the mass but is still open,” says the CT scan report.  I wonder if these major vessels can block off or bleed. My oncologist tells me not to worry: “there should be no immediate (or any worry for the vessels.) The scans just show predictable tumor growth.” 

What does predictable tumor growth mean?  How can this put me at ease, and what can I do right now?  I still have another week until I see my oncologist face to face, and I’ve already sent him several questioning emails. I have a strong feeling that I’ll be in limbo for the next week, suspended in the unknown.   

Predictable tumor progression in an unpredictable situation is so unsettling, even though I gave up on chemo because it wasn’t stopping the cancer.  Of course, I’m still hoping and praying that the Protocel is working.  A naturopathic, doctors tell me it can take up to six months for the Protocel cell destruction to show up on CT scans.  It’s only been 1 1/2 months.  

They also say that the CT scans can initially look worse before they start to look better and that my symptoms can stabilize before they actually begin to improve.  So, in evaluating the 4/6 CT scan to the one done on 3/20, the doctors think the blockage that caused my lung to collapse is from increased tumor growth and not an increase in the pneumonia. 

But it could also be from debris or trapped mucous.  It’s not 100 percent clear, and unless I have a bronchoscopy, we won’t know for sure.  But, having another bronchoscopy could cause an increase or reoccurrence of the pneumonia. OMG. There are so many loose ends to sort out.  This is the most confusing time of all, and I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. What can I do?

Maybe it really is limbo time, and all I can do right now is chill out and wait.  My gut tells me that this is so, and my mind tells me that I need to internally accept this and adjust to my time being suspended.  My spirit says that I have to trust and have faith, but since I’ve been spinning in circles, wanting to slow down and make sense of it all, I desperately need divine guidance.

Please tell me what I need to know. (I write in a stream of consciousness.  It is unedited, and I write the words one at a time as they come into my head.  I’ve come to believe that they come from a higher source because the guidance is much wiser than anything I’ve ever thought on my own.)

You are right to come here –– to this place of comfort and trust where unanswered questions are put to rest: put to bed for the time being.  Sometimes there are no answers when we think we want them.  Sometimes we have to slow our heads so that we can hear our hearts and when we come to this place, it is time to stop and listen.  What do you hear?

I have to close my eyes and go within, and when I do, I hear all the chatter in my head telling me to “call this one, call that one, do this, do that,” and on and on.  I’m so far removed from the serene place that I want to be in, and I’m swirling about in a dust cloud of cancer questions.  The air needs to clear so I can breathe and see what’s in front of me.  I need peace in this place of turmoil and I have to ask for Divine guidance to bring me there now, because if I don’t go, I’ll suffocate.  

OK, the air is clear, the dust is gone, and peace is being restored to my soul.  I’m aligning myself with spirit and getting out of my head.  My breathing is slowing and sanity is being restored.

You are back where you want to be, where there is quiet to hear your heart beat.  Listen for it; its steady rhythm and its peaceful sound.  Let it wash over you and permeate into you.  Know that this rhythm of nature is in synchronicity with your being.  It is all the same in this place.  Breathe and feel the harmony and be with it.  Ride its gently rhythm.  Let is soothe, comfort and protect you. It is all good and it is as it must be.  Just bring yourself there with your intention and your own heart. That, along with love will heal you every time.

Joyce Rothman of Onset, Mass., a nurse for 40 years, was diagnosed with lung and pancreatic cancer in July 2010. Since then, she has been writing about her diagnosis, her treatment and her outlook on the process, in hopes of helping others. Follow her journey at http://makingsenseofitall.joycerothman.com.