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Meet Kuching...

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Hello. It is November, and time to meet another member. Kuching‍ . shares her experience of getting a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis and then learning of her husband's diagnosis.

I am a 72 year old non-smoking female with stage 4 lung cancer.

I grew up in England and Singapore, a British “army brat”.   After high school, I wandered around for a few years, stopping off to work in Mallorca, Australia, Hong Kong, and the Amazon.  I finally washed ashore in Canada in 1972.  I got a B.Sc., and became a hydrographer (sort of like a land surveyor but on a boat).  I met my future husband, Bob, on a survey crew on Lake Erie. 


The summer we met, Lake Erie 1975
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In 1978, we drove to Florida, bought a 29 foot sailboat, and lived on it for the next 14 years, working hydrographic contracts on the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico whenever the money ran out. In 1992, we bought a little cottage on the beach in the Bahamas and moved ashore. 

Little Harbour, our Bahamian home.
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In 1999, Hurricane Floyd tried to wash the cottage away, so we built another one on higher land.  In 2007, we bought some land in Ontario cottage country and built a house on it.  Since then, we have spent the summers in Canada and the winters in the Bahamas.

Visiting the neighbours, Bahamas style
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This is all a rather long-winded way of saying we had a really nice life, and things always seemed to work out well without too much effort on our part.  But in the summer of 2019, the roof fell in.

In July, I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. 
In August, Bob almost died of internal hemorrhaging.
In September, Hurricane Dorian wiped out most of the island we lived on in the Bahamas.  
In October, Bob was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer.

The year passed in a blur of Xrays, CAT scans, MRIs, PET scans, biopsies, and doctor’s appointments.  Sometimes I had to check my notes to see which one of us was meant to be going in that day.  Bob was living in an opioid haze.  Neither of us was eating or sleeping. 

In February, Bob went into the hospital for the last time, and died 2 weeks later.  I was holding his hand when he simply stopped breathing.  The rest of the year has been spent selling the house, moving into town, dealing with grief, with Covid, with endless paperwork, and with my own cancer.

I am EGFR , and was put on targeted therapy drugs right from the start, first Gefitinib, then Tagrisso, with minimal side effects.  I have a CAT scan every 3 months, and am currently stable.  I still walk a lot, kayak a lot, and have no cancer symptoms at all.  I take a pill a day, and get scanxiety every 3 months.

 Having terminal cancer is a bit like moving in with your mother-in-law:  there is a constant stress level, even when things are going well, and the feeling that some malevolent force is lurking in the background, ready to pounce.  I have never taken life very seriously, and still try to see the funny/ridiculous side of everything, but sometimes it’s hard work, especially now that I have no-one to share the joke with. 

I’ve always been a very private person, and found it very difficult to ask for help.  But I gradually realized that most people want to help, and are happy to be able to do something useful.  And, at a time when I thought we were the unluckiest couple on the planet – both of us getting terminal cancer at the same time – I discovered Cancerconnection, and was humbled by how many people were dealing with similar issues, or were even worse off than we were.  The sense of belonging to a community where everyone “gets it” is very, very special.

I guess my mantra nowadays is:  “I’m going to die – but not today!”


Thank you for sharing your story and pictures of you and Bob with us Kuching



 




Comments

Kuching‍ , pleasure to meet you. My name is Sher49 and I too have stage3b incurable non small cell lung cancer. I have gone through radiation and chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumor which it has done but not enough for surgery. So I guess I am terminal also but I prefer to look at it as living with cancer versus dying with cancer. You have certainly had quite a year and I am so sorry for everything you have gone through. You certainly must be a strong lady to have gone through all that and still be standing. Feel free to chat at any time. Someone in this group is always here to listen. You have found yourself a wonderful place to be. Take care of yourself.

Sher49
  • Posted Mon 09 Nov 2020 11:15 AM EST
Kuching‍ - Such a pleasure to meet you! Another Army brat. Love the photo of you and Bob when you first met - such a beautiful love story. I would love to read a book about your life.

Just the other day I was thinking about how our lives can change in just a day and turn into something we never imagined.

I can only imagine how difficult the last 2 years have been for you. Thanks for sharing you with us.

Hugs
Judy
 
  • Posted Tue 03 Nov 2020 05:56 PM EST
Thank you for sharing your story with us.  My condolences on you losing Bob. I  keep a calendar of the year I  was diagnosed with cancer because that year will  forever be frozen in time for me.
 
  • Posted Tue 03 Nov 2020 05:28 PM EST
what a marvellous adventure you & bob were able to have!
so sad to have to say goodbye to your partner - my condolences.

thanks for sharing your story - this is a wonderful community.

Kuching‍, cheers & hugs
(love your mantra)


 
  • Posted Tue 03 Nov 2020 07:40 AM EST
Hello Kushing and thank you for sharing your story, your world. I look forward to reading/hearing/sharing your journey with us all.....and....what lovely photos and memories you have shared here too.
Warmest regards,Lillian/Whitelilies
  • Posted Tue 03 Nov 2020 04:44 PM EST
Thank you for sharing your story with us Kuching‍ !   You are a much valued member of this community...............I look forward to reading your words of wisdom each morning. 
  • Posted Mon 02 Nov 2020 09:27 PM EST

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