Saturday, January 10, 2009

Decision To Live

No more chemo. That's my decision. I'd rather "bear those ills [I] have than fly to others that [I] know not of." The chemo route is too much of an unknown, more so than just letting nature take its course.

The emotional decision would be to keep trying chemo. The rational decision, based on statistical odds, weighing of risks, logistics of timing and other reasoned factors, would be to stop chemo.

Now the big project is to keep my liver going for as long as we can and keep my body strength up for as long as we can. I say "we" because this is a joint project to keep Josie and Toby's mother alive. This is not about me, making me happy or comfortable or keeping me alive longer just so I can say I "fought the good fight."

What does that mean, anyway - fighting the "good fight"? Does it mean persisting with every chemo drug available, battering the body's natural's defenses until it just can't take it any more? Does it mean sacrificing quality time that could be spent with family in exchange for bragging rights that I "never gave up" and tried every chemo drug available, even if they left me dead while still alive?

Judging from some of the comments from readers, I think there's some misunderstanding among people, usually people who either have not been touched by cancer themselves in any way, or who have had a family member with cancer but who have no sympathetic understanding of what that family member experienced. These are the people who consider it giving up when a cancer patient decides to stop treatment in favor of quality life.

I know I've made the right decision because I feel at peace with it. When I was thinking of trying chemo again, I was uneasy and felt like I was taking risks with Toby and Josie and possibly taking their mother away from them too soon.

If I didn't have kids, I'd risk more chemo. But I have Josie and Toby to think about. It would be irresponsible of me to play around with their mother's life, risk killing their mother and steal what few months they could still have together.

Stopping chemo doesn't mean I've given up. I'm now going to put all my efforts into researching alternative, natural ways to strengthen my liver and my immune system. I'm open to any and all suggestions as long as they don't involve money, psychology, or religion (the Axis of Evil).

I'm going to live. Maybe a little longer; maybe a lot longer. I'll do it my way, and I'll do it for Toby and Josie.


Alilee said...

Hi Shin,

I only started reading your blog 2 days ago when a colleague of mine sent me the link.

I have since read through every single blog entry you made.

You are probably tired of people telling you how inspiring and brave you are. Well, sorry, but I will say it again. You are inspiring and you are brave.

Inspiring because clearly, through this blog, you have affected change (big or small) in many lives (I also read many of the comments). Inspiring because you made me think about how I would like to live my life from this day on, now that I am 32 going 33 and still haven't done most of the things on my "Things To Do Before I'm 30" list.

Brave because you can talk about your illness with such clarity of mind, honesty and humor. Brave because you have participated fully in your treatment and not left it solely to the medical profession.

I salute your latest decision to stop chemo and search for alternatives. I wish you luck (is there such a thing? Or do we make our own luck?), love, and all things bright and beautiful :-)

Yours sincerely,
Alison (Malaysia)

P/s* I love your stories about your kids. When I have kids one day (and very soon I hope), I, too will write down all their stories and keep all their things!

writerinresidence said...

For whatever it's worth, from what I've read, you've gone through the process. It sounds like you've made the right decision. And it doesn't sound like you're giving up. Nothing is set in stone, after all, so I'm going to do what I always do - keep hoping and praying for you and your family. Always.

ainiin said...

Dear Shin,

I don't know you in person, but from your blog, you sound like you will never 'give up.' Your decisions appear to be based on clear, rational thinking and logic following thorough research, and made in the best interests of your family.

You are a very brave, strong, and amazing person. You have taught and inspired me, be it lessons on living or mothering.

Your blog is testament to the grace, dignity, strength, and rationality with which you have handled such a difficult time, as well as the extent that you love your children. As a mom myself, when I think about the choices you have had to make this week, my heart completely breaks. (I already cried the buckets when I first started reading your blog last year).

You are a wonderful mother to your children, and I wish you plenty of quality time with your Josie and Toby and Tony.

With love,

P.S. Does acupuncture work, or help ease cancer symptoms?

Lynn said...

I think you made the right choice.

My grandfather died of liver cancer when I was about 10, and he came to live with us in his final months, when the family decided not to pursue further treatment.

We had a ball - playing in the garden, talking about birds and plants, and I remember him taking us to school and cooking us chilli crab on weekends.

We celebrated Chinese New Year and he taught us how to make love letters. He nagged us and told us off and spoilt us silly. Those final few months would not have been possible had he been hooked up on tubes, stuck in a hospital.

Take care, Shin. Big hugs from Kenya.


Anonymous said...

Shin --
This really sucks...what terrible news to start the year with. There is nothing that anyone can say or do for you, but to express support and love and admiration.

Fight the good fight? How could anyone suggest that you have not and you are not? You are fighting for your life and for your family and for the future...what else is there?

My thoughts and best wishes are with you.