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Living a quality life

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters." --Seneca

This quote made me think about a recent decision by my husband to halt his chemotherapy treatments. He said he needed to feel whole again and that he just couldn't continue with the toxic treatment that was destroying the quality of his life.

At first I felt very anxious about his decision. He has stage IV cancer and the chemo cannot cure his illness. It has, thus far, not even helped shrink any of his tumors. What it does do is keep them from getting much bigger, but at great cost (exhaustion, no taste, aching arms, heavy legs, damage to organs, etc.). Even his oncologist agreed that it might help him feel stronger if he took a break.

So he is on a break right now. And he is elated. His energy is back, his taste for food is back, he was able to exercise at his gym a few times, he is feeling more and more like himself. All in all it seems to have been a very good decision, and I try very hard to push away any fears of what the tumors are doing in his body right now.

So what does this all have to do with Spark? Well, I was thinking a lot about the value of living a quality life and how much of a role self care plays. Eating moderately and nutritiously gives me the energy I need to work as a high school teacher, raise my daughter, and care for my husband. Getting enough rest (well, I am still struggling to achieve in this area) helps give me sustained energy, a clear head, the ability to handle a lot of stress, and helps my body to function correctly. Exercise gives me a wonderful stress release, boosts my energy levels, gives me that incredible endorphin rush, and helps me feel flexible, strong and fit. Drinking water helps me stay hydrated, think clearly, and keeps my body healthy at a time when I cannot get sick!

I am very proud of my husband. He's been incredibly brave through this entire nightmare, never dwelling on being sick, trying hard to maintain as normal a life as possible for our daughter and for his sanity. And making this choice to stop a very toxic treatment in favor of regaining his energy, vitality and wholeness seems to have been a choice in favor of a better quality life. More than ever I find that making choices to improve the quality of our lives are imperative. I've come to learn that no time here on Earth is promised to any of us, so we had better make the most of it while we are here!

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ― Eleanor Roosevelt
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDAF49 5/21/2013 10:25PM

    Very powerful writing and living that you and your husband are doing and what a ministry to my heart in reminders to live quality life and to figure out how to best define that quality. Press on in the strength and GOOD Courage that you have shown thus far. you are a blessing in my life through your living and sharing your life.
Linda in WA

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SUSANNAH31 5/21/2013 7:16AM

    I admire the strength and courage your husband is showing. And I feel he is fortunate to have your support of his decision.

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SHIRAZSOLLY 5/20/2013 12:12PM

    Ira Byock, palliative care doc says: Patients with late-stage cancers commonly find that when they are finally free of the side effects of treatment, they feel better and stronger. In living with, rather than relentlessly fighting their cancer, they ultimately live longer.” (The Best Care, 99)

I am not a doctor - only a student, an aide and the daughter of a cancer survior - that chemo is terribly painful, and that making the choice whether to continue or discontinue it ON ONE'S OWN, without feeling pressured by medical personnel - is very, very liberating. This may be the most power your husband has had in a while. It's his life again.

Hugs as you work through this. I am proud of you for not to neglecting your own exercise, even when it's just a jog around a few blocks.

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_JODI404 5/19/2013 8:30PM

    I just cannot imagine what you are going through with your DH.

You are so wonderful to support him in his decision and to be so understanding of his needs.

I love this quote so much:
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. Eleanor Roosevelt

I have so much respect and admiration for the grace and strength that you both have to face this difficult time.


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2BEEFIT 5/19/2013 11:12AM

    I was very moved by your blog. My husband too fought cancer. He is in remission now and I am so grateful. I learned the word: "please" is a complete prayer. I hope all goes well for you and I am inspired that you continue to take care of yourself. I let myself fall apart and just now feel like I am getting it back together!

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PHOENIX1949 5/19/2013 5:31AM

    Quality trumps quantity in my book. Praying that your husband experiences a miracle that will eliminate getting back on the chemo courses. Take care.

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LCERVERA 5/18/2013 8:17PM

    You have such a great attitude, which I'm sure is such a blessing to your husband and your daughter. It's so true what you said about taking care of ourselves paving the way for us to be able to do the things we need (and want) to do. I hope your husband has many, many years of feeling good ahead of him.
PS I didn't realize you are a HS teacher. I am an ESL teacher at a community college, part-time. I used to teach elementary ESL and. before that, middle school English. What subject do you teach?

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WATERMELLEN 5/18/2013 12:56PM

    All we can do: cherish every minute and be here now. Because that's all we know for sure we have.

Incredibly hard to do though.

I am in awe of your wisdom and your gracious support of your DH"s choice.

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BESSHAILE 5/18/2013 6:59AM

    Oh my! I am so sorry you all are having to go through this - and I am in awe of the wise kind good choices you've all made.

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WILSONWR 5/17/2013 7:23AM

    I completely understand your husband's decision. I know this road hasn't been an easy one for both of you, but it's nice to have a "normal" life again, even if it isn't for a long time. Cherish the moments. You both are still in our thoughts and prayers.

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KRISZTA11 5/17/2013 4:35AM

    Very good of you to understand support his decision.
I believe a person with stage IV cancer has a totally different point of view about life, about value of time and quality of life.
Your positive attitude and energy is an inspiration.

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EJOY-EVELYN 5/16/2013 4:17PM

    Sounds like you both are incredibly strong in willpower & determination and i pray you have many more great times together.

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GLORIAMAJDI 5/16/2013 4:02PM

    We have dealt with cancer in our family too and it takes so much for the person who is ill, and for the family. Kudos to your husband for taking a time out to regain his energy and his zest for life. And to you Julie, a standing ovation for being there for him and supporting him through all of this...and for recognizing that you must take care of yourself so that you can maintain your responsibilities at school and at home...and so that you can help him continue through this difficult journey.

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JENSTRESS 5/16/2013 3:12PM

    I can't imagine what you must be going through. I know many people who have beat the horrid disease, and some that have lost the battle. I don't know how to tell you to not worry, because I don't know if I could. I'm glad your hubby is feeling better though. Just cherish every second, as I am sure you are!

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ADRIENALINE 5/16/2013 2:45PM

    It's a funny thing without quality in your life the quantity of years doesn't count for as much. You are truly a hero. I never would have guessed that you are carrying such stress. You do it so gracefully

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DEEDEE1102 5/16/2013 2:01PM

    Thank you for the beautiful wake-up call and giving me another reason to be grateful. Life is precious and should never be taken for granted.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful attitude! And your determination, courage and strength are inspirational!

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MINIUM 5/16/2013 1:23PM

    Brilliant, as is your custom! Your husband is very brave indeed and I'm so happy is feeling whole and strong again. Surely, it must be linked to the good care you're taking of yourself.
Have a lovely evening!

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SLENDERELLA61 5/16/2013 1:08PM

    I had no idea what you are going through. You are amazing! Kudos to you for all you do to take care of yourself and your family. Your wisdom is apparent. I hear your message to live each day. Thanks for that wake up call. I admire your acceptance of a decision that is not yours to make. You even found the positive in it. You are not in an easy place, but are very wise in so many ways. Take care.

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VISUALLYRICS 5/16/2013 12:42PM

    What a wonderful decision you make daily to live a quality life...:::and esp your DH too! I applaud both of you....::::and wish you a blessed life with all my heart!

emoticon emoticon to your health! ~ Laura

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    It sounds like it was the right decision to make - the quality of our lives is more important than the length as we have to make the most of each day because we never know when our last day will be. For someone like your husband - of course it's scary because it's the big C but positive thoughts, attitude can change the course of things there too - or at least make for a better quality of life as you say.

Kudos to your husband for being so strong and positive and for getting to the gym!!

Kudos to you for being the supportive wife and mother!! emoticon

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CHERYL_ANNE 5/16/2013 11:10AM

    emoticon to you for not choosing to let your anxiety get the best of you.

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