Now that the word "hospice" has appeared front and center on my blog, it's natural that my readers (and friends and family) should be wondering how much longer I will live.
The short answer is, I don't know.
Sometimes I'm a coward, and when I saw Dr. Lee on Friday I did not ask him for his prognosis. Not that he KNOWS, you understand, but there are signs--like my total lack of appetite--that he can read better than I.
I have asked before: after I was hospitalized in spring of 2010 Dr Lee told me that he thought I would live about another three months. Later that year, my three oncologists told me--separately--that they thought I would live another year, which would have taken me into 2011. But then, of course, we found T-DM1. And I'm writing this post in 2013.
Here's the link to a 2011 post that gives more details:
For those of you who are wondering just how long it has been, I was first diagnosed with breast cancer just about 15 years ago (1998). You can read about those early days in:
Then my cancer decided to metastasize, and although I was not writing this blog yet, and don't--at the moment--remember when my cancer spread (except that I got the news on New Year's Eve, but I forget which year, 2001 or 2002). Since then, it's been a battle to have a life worth living, despite cancer.
Don't think I deserve a prize for surviving for 15 years--this is not a party. Or a road race. Don't tie a pink ribbon on anything in my honor, or in my memory, when that time comes.
OK, back to the "H word," hospice. it is my understanding that most families call in hospice during the final days or weeks of their dying family member's life. But you can get hospice involved a whole lot earlier than that, as I've written before.
My understanding is that a person who is not longer receiving treatment and is within six months of death according to their doctor's best guess can receive hospice care.
Please note that I am not yet on hospice, but I probably will be once I finish the radiation to shrink the tumor that is causing me a lot of discomfort. That radiation is not curative, it is palliative, as I've explained before, so I suppose I could go on hospice now, assuming that I will not live longer than six months from now. (Didn't ask, remember?)
That is probably my prognosis: I will live for several more months, but probably not more than six.
I have lots of worries about hospice--lots of worries--and Ann will answer at least some of those for me when she comes to see me on Wednesday this week. Remember Ann? She's been my hospice contact for the past three years, ever since I wrote this post: