Good Treatment News Prompts a New Outlook
JOHN YDSTIE, host:
Commentator and cancer patient Leroy Sievers checks in with us every month. He's just gotten some good news about the combination of chemotherapy drugs he's taking, and he's finding that good news takes a little getting used to.
LEROY SIEVERS: Hope is an amazing thing. I wrote this while sitting, looking out my window into a backyard filled with trees. All the leaves have changed colors - reds, yellows, oranges. It's truly my favorite time of year. Maybe because I grew up in Southern California, where the seasons are pretty much non-existent. As children, we knew it was fall because we drew colored leaves in art class, even though we didn't see the real things outside.
Don't get me wrong. I love summer on the beach. But a cold, crisp fall day is truly something to be savored. I'm not just stalling here. I'll get to my point shortly.
I've been thinking a lot about this fall, trying to make sure I take the time to enjoy it because my doctors had said it wasn't entirely certain I'd live to see another one. That's a strange idea to face. How could I not be around next year? Were they serious? Well, yes, they were. But those predictions, or fears, more accurately, are based on averages, not specific cases. And my case has taken a turn now.
After a couple of setbacks, I had new scans last week that were good. The tumors in my lungs have shrunk and there's some evidence that the tumor on my spine is healing. All good signs.
It's taken me a couple of days to truly understand this. I'm not sure why. Hope is a new sensation. I don't want to overdo it. I think cancer patients build up a defensive posture. We put up walls to shield us from all the bad news we get. I'm a little scared to think that there may come a time when I'm essentially cancer-free even for a little while. Is that really possible? I push that thought out of my mind.
The positive results have certainly bought me more time, and that's something I hadn't really expected. I have to admit that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. We used to have a huge Halloween party every year. It was a big deal. It took weeks to get ready for it.
We're not having it this year for obvious reasons. I'm just not up to the work involved. I probably shouldn't admit this, but if we did have the party this year, I think I would have come as a tumor. After all, what's scarier than that? And I've always believed that good taste has no place when it comes to picking a costume.
But next year I think maybe we'll have the party. In the meantime, I'm just going to sit here for a little while and enjoy the leaves and my new hope.
YDSTIE: Commentator Leroy Sievers has podcasts at npr.org/mycancer. This is NPR.
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