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Nov 26, 2021 06:56AM
Moth and exbrnxgrl - You both bring up really good points about the whole quality of life thing. I am definitely much more fatigued and physically "challenged" since cancer treatment, due to side effects, etc. and in my case I don't think it is aging, but cancer treatments. I was 66 when I was diagnosed and I'll be 69 next month and I do not believe that all of the changes I've experienced in these last 3 years could be chalked up to normal aging. It would be the fastest aging on record. Had I not gotten cancer and had treatments I'm sure I would be at almost the exact same ability level that I was at 66. I hate these changes and would love to be what I was just a little less that 3 years ago. That said, I am still very glad that I'm around and can spend time with friends and family and still work, and be a help to other people, although the working has really scaled down and I am looking at gradually easing out of it over the next few years, if I don't get "let go" first. I don't like that I had all those treatments or that I continue to take Letrozole, but the alternatives might be worse.
When my father was in his late 80's he and I randomly wound up having a bit of a conversation about his "quality of life" at the time and how he felt about it. At that time he had multiple health problem (CHF, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, mild dementia, etc.), and struggled through most every day just doing the routine things, showering (reduced number of days per week), getting dressed, fixing meals, etc. His whole day was taken up by doing "just the basics", because everything took so much more time and he'd have to stop and rest in the middle of everything. He could no longer go out and work in the yard, couldn't drive out to see me; could drive to the store once a week, but with difficulty and probably shouldn't have been driving. My mother had died about 4 years prior and most of all the relatives and friends he'd had had were long gone. He spent most all of his days in the house, just getting through a daily routine, and then watching the news, some TV shows, or reading some of a book (that he wouldn't remember most of later) in the evening. He told me however, that just being present "for the day", the weather changes, an occasional letter from say a spouse of long deceased friend, just asking how he was doing; the anticipation of what he might make for lunch, the visits from his 3 children and 2 grandchildren, and continuing to plan things in the future - even if a just a short future, provided him with a "quality of life" that he felt was "worth it", i.e. he did not feel like "packing it all in" and that life was not worth living with all of the limitations he experienced at that time. His heart failure eventually got him and he died at 91, but it wasn't until the very end, after being in the hospital for about 10 days and determined to be in a terminal state by the doctors, that he appeared to feel that there was no longer quality of life and that he was "ready" to die.
I think I feel similarly and that while I can't do what I used to do, due to all these cancer issues and treatments, I still enjoy what I can do and think that a whole lot about life is still very worthwhile. I have good friends, enjoy getting out for walks, going to the store, learning new tidbits of information, seeing agency clients that I work with who are elderly, disabled, have dementia, etc. When I see them, I really count my blessings and realize that while I am now less able than before, I am still very abled in comparison to many. I absolutely hate the side effects that surgery, radiation, and letrozole have left me with and would love to throw that bottle of letrozole away forever every time I look at it, but since I don't know if my "quality of life" would improve without it, or if I would experience a spread or recurrence sooner than I might otherwise, I'll never know, so I keep taking it. Even if I quit the Letrozole, I'm left with side effects of painful chest muscles, neuropathy, and fatigue, etc. from the chemo, surgery, and radiation, so even without the AI, I assume my quality of life has been lessened for good. It's just that it still is "good" in the grand scheme of things.