Hi, Anita--it's been more than three years since Suzanne hooked us up as CCA buddies in 2005. I was full of questions about HAI pumps and liver resections, and way short of people who'd experienced either. Thanks, by the way, for your help back then. I wasn't going to contribute to this thread--but after your post, I decided to speak up. A lot has happened to me, too, since we first spoke--and like you, I've also lost a lot of people who I started out with.
Call it 'survivor's guilt' if you like--but I am also *very* uncomfortable with the label 'cured'.
When there are lesions visible on scans (even if they're stable), that's remission.
When (although I have no evidence of disease) I still can't give blood and no organ in my body can be donated to anyone but an oncologist for research, then that's NED.
However, as I understand the word, neither of those situations qualifies as 'cured,' since in both classifications, cancer can *always* come back...and in fact is far more likely to come back than to remain at bay.
'Cure' is used as both a noun and a verb.
As a noun, Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin cura, cure of souls, from Latin, care.
Date: 14th century
2 a: recovery or relief from a disease
b: something (as a drug or treatment) that cures a disease
c: a course or period of treatment <take the cure for alcoholism>
d: spa 13: a complete or permanent solution or remedy <seeking a cure for unemployment>
As a transitive verb:
1 a: to restore to health, soundness, or normality <cure a patient of his illness>
b: to bring about recovery from <cure a disease>
2 a: to deal with in a way that eliminates or rectifies <his small size, which time would cure for him — William Faulkner>
b: to free from something objectionable or harmful <trying to cure him of a bad habit>
Those uses of 'cure' paint a picture of complete and permanent solutions/remedies, elimination of illness, recovery from a disease, and--my personal favorite--'restoration of health, soundness and normality.'
So, maybe I'm being too literal, but it seems to me that a 'cure' by definition should be a complete and permanent recovery--a situation where the cancer never recurs, never comes back. Is 'never' as long as 'always'? Is 'never' a very long time...or just as long as some doctors/surgeons have time to observe? In any case, when did three-four-five years begin to equal 'a very long time'?
As people with Stage IV dx's, if we are very lucky in our treatment responses, we spend time without evidence of disease (NED); we may also spend some amount of time without progression (remission). But are we cured ... in other words, has the cancer permanently been resolved?
Come ask me that question in ten years...and to borrow a quote from Randy Pausch...'give me that opportunity.' But right now, in or out of active treatment, in remission and/or NED are the labels that make more sense to me.
Be in harmony with your expectations.
- Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment