How do we make decisions?  With our reason right?  If we were buying a new car, we would want to know all kinds of factual things – like the cost, what’s the warranty, how much horsepower, fuel efficiency, colors available, the interior options, etc. etc.  And the sales guy would provide all the details,  options, hard facts, stats, fixed data.  And after all that, we make our decision based on everything we’ve learned (we might still buy the car because it’s cool rather than practical but that’s for another blog). 

Now imagine deciding on the pros and cons of radiation treatment following 6 months of chemo and surgery.  We’d ask, what additional benefits would radiation treatment have?  How much would the odds for full recovery improve?  What are the potential side-effects, especially long-term ones that may show up in 20 years’ time?  Could just another round of chemo be as effective, especially with the newer more targeted treatments? What are the stats for survivability with or without radiation?

Those were our questions and many more.  And unlike the car sales guy, our doctors are unable to provide hard facts or point to recent scientific data.  The complexity of cancer is one reason for this ambiguity.   Another is that research studies take years to complete accurately so by the time the results are out, new chemo treatments are available, new discoveries of specific cancer cells have emerged and the landscape has changed.  Then add to this, the enigma that even when a stat is available (90% of women survive this kind of cancer or 25% experience this severe side effect), no one can predict which group you might belong to.  As a consequence, we end up contemplating probabilities in the vaguest terms.

So for the past month we’ve been debating, discussing, deliberating the pros and cons of radiation.  Do we still need to go through this option?  After all, the cancer has been removed and the lymph nodes are no longer cancerous.   Or?  Are there microscopic cells invisible to current science hiding in there somewhere, waiting for the poisons to go away?  The answer is a resounding, “Maybe! We don’t know for sure but what we do know is that it COULD be there.  Or you could be cancer free.  There’s no way to check”.  So our doctors (all of them) tell us that Linda should consider 5 weeks of daily radiation treatments just in case.

And that’s where we finally have landed.  After a month of meetings, phone calls, pouring over research studies on-line and long philosophical existential exhausting discussions, deciding whether the risk of long-term side effects are worth the possible ‘maybe’, we’re going through with it. 

My poor darling.  I’m sorry in advance for the fatigue.  The sleepless nights.  The skin burns.  The stress on your body and soul.  We didn’t ask for this.  No one ever would. 

So, in the end, it’s a leap of faith.  It’s trusting that we make the best decision based on everything we know and everything we don’t know, at this moment in time.  We shine a light into the darkness and hope, wish and yearn that all will be well in the end.  And who can argue with that?

❤️ Håkan 


Linda’s post-script:

I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid of life that’s not worth living. 

I kept coming back to this fearsome thought. At one point, the answer seemed very clear:  absolutely no to radiation. Then next moment, I was not so sure  anymore. What would constitute a life that isn’t worth living? What kind of health conditions would put ‘my life’ in the ‘not worth living’ category? In the end, we decided that radiation and its side effects may be worth the risk compared to the consequences of cancer recurring to start creating havoc in different parts of the body and vital organs. I haven’t made many decisions in life with ‘which one is less bad’ and choosing a lesser evil. In a way one can say that I have been blessed not being in that situation before.  

Still, the decision is behind us. We’ll walk through it. This too will be over soon enough like everything else in life being what it is – transient.  

❤️ Linda

Previous Post

Cancer – the good, the bad, the ugly – Part 2

Next Post

Breathe in – breathe out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top