When we take a step back and reflect on our cancer experience, there's a very definite cycle:
- You're diagnosed with cancer, fear presents itself, you take treatment, and the cancer retreats.
- You feel good, because you feel like you're now winning - beating the cancer.
- But then your body builds up a resistance to the treatment, new tumors are discovered and you feel fear again. Call this the "resistance and fear" phase.
- But then you start taking a new drug, and much of the cancer goes away. You feel like you've hit a grand-slam to re-take a comfortable lead. There's even a euphoria that comes with it.
- But the reality lingers in the background that there will likely come a day when your body builds a resistance to the current drug - maybe in a year; maybe in 5, but it likely will happen.
This cycle causes "highs" and "lows." Highs when you're winning, and lows when the cancer returns.
The trick is to find a way to eliminate, or soften the lows. And the answer to that, I believe, lies in your view of the growing pipeline of new cancer drugs.
If you allow yourself to be confident in all that research and innovation that's happening in the pharmaceutical industry - confident that they're going to continue to produce new oncology drugs at a faster pace than a generation ago - you won't fear the arrival of the next "resistance and fear" phase. You'll stay confident in your ability to win, knowing that there will always be another new drug available.
Every great baseball team has a strong bullpen; when the starting pitcher is no longer effective and the opponent begins to put men on base and score runs, the manager goes to the bullpen to bring in a relief pitcher with a new, fresh arm to beat back the opponent. (My late Aunt Janis used to say - but for slightly different reasons - "A good coach always keeps a few good players on the bench.")
Cancer never used to have much of a bullpen. It does now. And that's something to feel good about.