The L.A. journalist revealed her secret today at her blog, Cathy's World:
Because sure, breast cancer is no fun; Iíve had friends whoíve died of it. But it also has a survival rate of around 85%. Thatís the unsurvival rate of lung cancer, which is what I have. Iím actually lucky still to be alive, given that I was diagnosed almost three and a half years ago, after a cough that wouldnít go away, and most lung cancer patients donít make it past two years. Except that, since I never smoked even one cigarette, never lived or worked with smokers, and in fact have zero family history and no other risk factors at all (unusual even in people who donít get cancer), the bald truth is Iím pretty unlucky to have this in the first place.
Here is my situation, which really has put a crimp in my usual Nietzschean sense of physical superiority: I have Stage 3B (if the pathologist is feeling Pollyannaish) or 4A (if heís not) adenocarcinoma of the lung, the kind nonsmokers get, although most who get it do have some history of smoking. Itís too widespread to be treated by surgery or radiation. ďObviously, this is not resectable,Ē the surgeon wrote in his report. Occasionally I flip through my giant file while Iím waiting to see the oncologist, see that sentence, and think: OK, I understand heĎs talking to other doctors here, but did he have to say obviously like that?
The only options so far are different kinds of chemotherapy or newer drugs like Iressa, and these have mostly worked for a while (they donít for most people Ė again, lucky me!), but eventually everything runs out of steam and you have to try something else. Thatís where I am now, on a new semi-experimental treatment, and I donít know yet if itís having any effect. The three tumors that show up on CT scans are still relatively small, which is why I seem in better shape than most of the slugs you see around town. But being physically fit, unfortunately, is not always a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Comments and best wishes are streaming in over there. Cathy's teenage daughter Maia posts about it at her own blog: "When people asked me how my mom was faring, even her friends, I figured it was better to sugarcoat the truth just so life seemed easier. Whenever I was sad at school, I always tried my best to hide it and be there for my friends." In Portland, former L.A. scribe Nancy Rommelmann blogs of her friend, "see how a person can bend the paradigm, can shake us into thought, who by example can make us courageous, too."