3 year cancerversary

Written by Lars Haakon Soraas

I don’t usually post mid-week, but I think we have a decent reason for making an exception: yesterday we celebrated Dyanne’s 3 year cancerversary. On 5th March 2015 she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. I think it is safe to say that it was the worst day of our lives. Our daughter was approaching her 1 year birthday, and our lives were suddenly turned pretty much upside down. To put it in numbers: Dyanne’s life expectancy on that day went from roughly 50 more years, to roughly 1 year. When we a couple of weeks later learned that her cancer cells had an activating EGFR mutation which could be targeted with a drug called erlotinib, her life expectancy suddenly jumped from 1 to 2 years. That was a day of happy tears.

At the time of diagnosis, we knew virtually nothing about the disease that was suddenly threatening Dyanne’s life. We did not know any oncologists, cancer researchers, and practically did not know any other cancer patients. We did not know about PubMed, sci-hub, ASCO, ESMO, IASLC, WCLC, osimertinib, metformin, immunotherapy, exome sequencing, neoantigens, peptides or cancer vaccines. Now we know a bunch of oncologists, dozens of cancer researchers, plenty of other EGFR mutant lung cancer patients and, generally, a lot about cancer and, in particular, EGFR mutant lung cancer. In the beginning we were depressed, desperate and clueless. Now, even if we do not know what the future will hold, we have knowledge, a network and, importantly, hope. I dare say that we are also pretty good at enjoying our lives. Maybe because we do not know how long either of us will be here. We hope for decades, but realize that life is fragile and that one must enjoy the time one is on this planet.

I guess this is a good occasion to thank some of the many people who have helped us along the way. It is dangerous to mention names, because it is easy to leave out people who ought to have been mentioned. I, nevertheless, want to give it a try. If you are not mentioned, but believe you deserve a large thank you from us, then please blame my genes (yes, along this journey we have found out I am genetically predisposed to be somewhat forgetful, so I have a very convenient excuse). Here goes: Dr Rafael Rosell and Dr Niki Karachaliou in Barcelona, Prof Elke Jäger and Julia Karbach in Frankfurt, Prof Hans Bojar and Dr Hans-Bernd Prisack in Dusseldorf, our oncologists here in Oslo, Dr Ross Camidge in Denver, Prof Justin Stebbing in London, Dr Richard Kast, the Care Oncology Clinic, Dr Emma Shtivelman of CancerCommons, the team of The Anticancer Fund in Belgium (and UK), our fellow patients around the world (you know who you are!) and, finally, our family and friends, who have been there for us and supported us in so many ways. There are many more who have helped us along the way, and we truly appreciate the amazing help we have gotten from so many people around the world.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far on this journey! It means a lot to us and it has enabled us to put up a proper fight against this disease. The more I have read about this disease, and cancer in general, the more I am convinced that humankind has the ability to cure it. Or at least turn it into a chronic disease. It is certainly not easy, but I am convinced it is possible. One day it will happen, and we plan to be there on that day.

What did we do yesterday? Well, we enjoyed the Norwegian winter and went skiing in the snow. I am happy to report that Dyanne’s skiing skills are steadily improving. Soon she will be at the level she was before the brain surgery last year 🙂 Below is some photographic evidence.

Dyanne skiing on our 3rd cancerversary

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