PublicAffairs has kindly provided the following extracts on the story, A Good Fight, written by cancer survivor Sarah Brady. You can order it online from www.publicaffairsbooks.com
A Good Fight
As I begin this story, I am fighting for my life.
I have lung cancer. Three kinds of chemotherapy and one round of radiation have not knocked it out, and I am now on an experimental drug. I have very high hopes for it. And even if this one fails, I've been told there are others in the research pipeline that I'll be able to try. Certainly, I have no intention of giving up.
Of course, it's always a huge shock to find out that you have a potentially terminal disease, but despite that, I had started out with great optimism. First I thought I would certainly be able to have that big surgery, and the cancer would be excised and I would be cancer-free forever. When that didn't work, I thought the radiation would, and that the chemotherapy would kill off any other little cells that might be lurking somewhere in my system. For that entire year, I think I was pretty good at keeping a positive attitude. But step by step, as each treatment didn't seem to do the trick, there was no denying the fact that I was coming a little bit closer to an end point. And although I was still maintaining my optimism, I am also a realist, and I had to face the fact that there might come a time when there would be no hope left, nothing further to look forward to.
Meanwhile, I am taking life one day at a time. I feel wonderful right now- the best I've felt in quite a while. Probably I don't have as much energy as I had before this came up, but pretty close to it. I'm trying to pay closer attention to everything around me, to enjoy, fully, the people and things I love most, to appreciate every moment as much as I possibly can. I have always adored the shore and the sun, for instance, but now every walk on the gorgeous beach near our house in Delaware - the ocean is just a hundred yards away - seems extra peaceful and relaxing.
Since I was diagnosed with cancer in Year 2000, I notice certain changes in my outlook. Little things don't get me down the way they once did. Take traffic, for instance. Everyone around here complains in the summer when it gets a little crowded out on the highways. That just doesn't bother me at all anymore. Life's little hassles seem insignificant.
I've learned to take things much easier. It seems to me that we spend too much of our lives looking forward to the future. When you're a little kid, you can't wait to be a teenager. Then you focus on getting your driver's licence, graduating from high school, going to college, getting married, raising kids - you're always looking ahead, kind of wishing your life away.
That's something I don't want to do now. I am living in the present and rejoicing in all the beauty around us here. I find myself loving every season, enjoying the changes as I never have before.
Our life is quite simple, on the whole. It seems like heaven on earth to me simply to sit outside and listen to a good mystery book on tape. And we love seeing our friends, of course. These days, I find myself noticing how each one has some different quality that I prize, something special to share. All of them provide so much support, and I could not be more thankful.
I don't know at this point what the future will bring, but I know the experts have some more rabbits in their hats. When I finish with these radiation treatments, I will be on a new regimen of some kind to attack the cancer systemically. In the meantime, I'm feeling well. It is a beautiful world.