By Malia Lane
Malia’s Miles Blog
This is a follow-up article to one from May 24 by Malia Lane, “Dealing with cancer as a full-time RVer.” In that article, Malia began: How do you deal with cancer as a full time RVer? I don’t rightly know, but I guess I’m about to find out….
Unusual for me, but I’ve been at such a loss for words and my mind has been so jumbled, I just have not been able to publicly share the diagnosis the oncologist gave me on May 24.
But I’ve gotten to the point where I must because quite honestly, I just can’t yet bring myself to individually answer the emails and messages I’ve gotten just since I first heard of the possibility of me having cancer as I wrote about last month in Dealing With Cancer as a Full-Time RVer.
I’ve replied to some asking about the diagnosis and mostly, I was only able to give the facts. Here they are:
The oncologist and throat doctor agree that based on all the tests (and believe me, there were a load of them over the last few months) and what they ruled out, their diagnosis is stage 4 lung cancer. It seems to have started in the left lung and has moved to my lymph nodes in the neck, throat and upper chest. It is terminal and there is no treatment, neither surgery, chemo or radiation they think would do any real good at this point.
Certainly none could be a cure, so she agrees the side effects are not really worth the reward. That part was almost a relief so I don’t have to debate with anyone about what I should and shouldn’t do. I always said I wouldn’t do chemo after seeing what it did to my favorite aunt. And just in general, I don’t believe in the idea of poisoning your entire body hoping it also gets the cancer and you get over the poison. Then good luck with all the other side effects and other cancers it causes.
Anyway, I’m glad even the doctor didn’t push that issue. I think she may have been surprised at my reaction that I was relieved that none of the things I’d been dreading even considering was a recommended option.
SHE SAID LIFE EXPECTANCY is a year, and reminded me that average means half of the people died in less than a year and the others made a year and maybe a bit more. She has no way of knowing what half I’m in, but thinks I will start feeling pretty “uncomfortable” from these enlarged and growing lymph nodes within 3-6 months.
We talked about immunotherapy, but there are issues with that, too, and that’s for another day’s consideration. Since it is a long process where I’d have to be in one place for the whole treatment where I can be monitored, I’ve decided to get on to Oregon and see an oncologist there for a second opinion and actual review of the slide from the biopsy.
But first, my earth angel friend, Rochelle, and I will be in Cortez tomorrow for a few days to explore Mesa Verde National Park. We bypassed that on the way here so I could hurry to Durango for the oncologist appointment. It’s something I long wanted to see and since I already had to give up Antelope Canyon, I’m determined to see Mesa Verde! I truly wish I could have seen more during the month we’ve been in Durango, but another disappointment was that our scheduled Durango-Silverton train ride had to be cancelled due to a wildfire they’re fighting that has also had the nice scenic road I wanted to explore closed, also.
So I’m moving on and still feeling pretty good right now considering the whole picture. Energy is noticeably reduced and breathing a little more difficult, but I don’t know how much of that is still adjusting to the altitude in Colorado. In any case, I want to explore as much as I can on the way and oncologist agreed there is no harm in that. I probably won’t be to Medford until mid July, have contacted an oncology group there and all my records are already on the way to them. I will establish residency there so I can qualify under their right to die with dignity law. I sincerely believe in that and also appreciate the fact that marijuana and all forms of CBD treatments are legal there.
In the meantime, I will continue the immune boosting and anti-inflammatory nasty tasting stuff that was recommended by the holistic oncologist I first saw. I’m also using heavy duty CBD cream on my neck and sublingual CBD oil. I know some people have no faith in these kind of alternative treatments, but I’m using them anyway. Even if it just helps keep the big lump from growing so quickly and keeps me comfortable longer, I’m okay with that.
While still a bit in shock, I have found at least a small measure of peace with it all. Quality of life is much more important than quantity and I’ve certainly had a blessed life. I’ve thought about it and I am still grateful for the choice I made to start fulltime RVing almost 17 years ago now. It’s the wondrous sights I’ve seen all over this country and the incredible people I’ve met that make my statement I have no regrets the absolute truth. If I had waited until normal retirement age or until I thought I had enough money or whatever, I’m sure I’d be a lot more pissed off about the shortened time now. I have had all kinds of interesting thoughts and advice about that kind of stuff, but that’s also for another day.
A true living hell has been telling my family and close friends. I’m sure our hearts will be broken again and again before this process is over. But there have also been moments of joy and I see no reason not to fully enjoy them. My 10 year old great granddaughters came here for a visit for a few days with their amazing paternal grandmother who I love and appreciate dearly. And it was great to be able to meet some great folks from that side of the family, too.
Also, I am completely blown away by all the messages from friends, both old and new, met and unmet as Facebook friends. I know I’ve been doing this public sharing of my lifestyle for a long time and have quite a few followers who have come to care about me in deeper ways than I even realized. I read, cry a little at the beautiful sentiments, and give a prayer of gratitude for them all.
PLEASE UNDERSTAND I WILL DO THE BEST I can to answer each message personally because they truly do touch my heart, but I can’t guarantee it will be quickly. I will be sharing on Facebook since that’s so easy to do when I’m out and about and I’ll update this blog as I can. I’ll probably be able to write more once I’m settled in Oregon.
I’m honestly not afraid of what happens after death as my faith is strong in that regard. I’m a little afraid of the process and it’s a little hard to accept that I could be gone from this earth in such a short time frame.
I guess we’ll see, but I’ve at least come to believe that living like you have only a year left is not a bad thing to do if you really think about it.
I’ve always liked that Tim McGraw song anyway. Live Like You Were Dying. Some good advice here – and Tim is always fun to look at.
Love, Love, Love – Love is all you need…Malia
I have great admiration for you and wish you the best possible!
Thank you, Karen, I appreciate your kind comment!
You might want to see a Naturapathic Doctor for that second opinion. Can’t hurt. Might be worth it. I wish you the best.
Scott, I may check that out after I see oncologist for second opinion. Also have to see primary care physician to qualify for the right to die with dignity laws here. After all that, I may check out alternative medical sources, but since insurance doesn’t cover those kind of doctors and I certainly don’t have unlimited funds, I’m going to at least take advantage of the legal cannabis treatments and resources here in Oregon. Thanks for your good wishes!
A blessing to read your story. Years ago some Christian RVers were attending our church while working at a nearby Christian camp. We shared our dream to do the same. They told us to not wait until 65 to do it. If they had known how much fun it was they wouldn’t have waited. We set our goal when my husband turned 55. We started when he was 56. We took up workamping where we were paid because we had no income, planning for him to take early SS so we could then join SOWERS or MAPPS. At 60 he was diagnosed with Early On Alzheimer’s Disease. Glad we started early. My one regret in hindsight was hanging up the keys 5 years ago when although he couldn’t drive, he could still enjoy traveling. We still live in the MH but traveling would now be too hard on him.
May God bless your remaining days with the love of family, friends, and all his creations.
Rvgrandma, you echo my best advice to others with dreams, too, no matter what they are. We plan for the future like it is guaranteed and think fate will wait until we have all our ducks in a row or enough money in the bank or whatever. I’m glad you started early enough to enjoy a big part of your own dream, too!
I will definitely miss your intelligent appreciation for nature and it’s beauty. And your interesting writings of such. You are such a kind and caring type that is obvious. I can only wish you much love in your future as an inhabitant on earth or otherwise.
with love and caring for a fellow human
Bill and Karen Massicotte
Bill & Karen, I’ve always appreciated your kind support and your following my travel writings. I love the way you put it” “as an inhabitant on earth or otherwise.” I have had much love here and know that will follow me into the next episode, too. Thank you, beautiful fellow humans!
Welcome to Oregon. While your stay here won’t be great people like you are why we “have the right to die laws”. It should always be quality over quantity. Be sure to stop and smell the roses ( which we’re also famous for).
Sandy, beside the fact that Oregon has always been my most favorite state, I am most grateful for their right to die with dignity law. But I’m not unhappy to be here for any reason. And the roses are in full bloom here at the park where I’m staying. Definitely smelling them babies as much as I can! 🙂
As a cancer survivor and a full time RVer, I totally get your decision. I live every day with the knowledge that every year I get older the chances of its return is greater. Your story only gives me hope that I will have the courage to make the best decision for myself and my spouse.
Sylvia, you’ve been down this road and I have total faith that you will have whatever you need to make future decisions for yourself and your spouse. We do seem to be gifted with special strength at times like that, I think.
At least your out there enjoying life and not just sitting around waiting for the cancer to end your life! I admire your spirit and I am sure everyone who reads this or meets you on your journey will agree.
My wife was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer January 26, 2010. She decided to fight and was told that chemo and radiation was her only option. Well, when she died three months later her kidneys and liver shut down due to damage caused by radiation and chemo! But even the doctor told us at the start that the chemo and radiation will either extend her life some or end it sooner. It only ended her life and caused her misery. In some cancers it is a “cure”, but I think in many other cases it is just a money maker for doctors and corporations.
Marty, that’s awful what happened with your wife. Of course we hear some success stories with chemo and radiation, but in my opinion, on balance from everything I’ve heard and personally seen in family, it would not be my choice. That’s why I maintain I was relieved when they didn’t even recommended it as a viable option for me. And I’m especially sorry to have to agree with your assessment that such treatments are more about profit points for greedy big pharma and medical centers. That’s a sad statement for our current system, that’s for sure.