January 3rd, Group emailing. Subject: Happy New Year!
Hope everyone got off to a good start so far. It's been great here. Chris, Kuma and I started our year with an early morning ski tour. We found some wonderful slopes where the surface snow had metamorphosed into tall feathery crystals. Skiing through the feathers produces a tinkely sound much like holding your ear up to a fine champagne. That kind of snow is rather rare, and the effect is, well, intoxicating, so we considered it a good sign. Then we sped home and had our traditional New Years Day celebration where friends and family stopped by for good food and togetherness.. I wish you all could have been there....
Another yearly tradition of ours is to put out a custom Christmas card. With all the commotion this year, I was afraid we might not make it. We managed, but I didn't do a real good job of remembering who I did and didn't get cards off to so check it out here.
Cancer is becoming less and less an oppressive element of my life. I'm still underweight, easily fatigued and hairless, but I'm getting out daily and feeling like I'm recovering part of my active life. Windows are opening. There is also a crossroads up ahead. Tests are coming up in a couple weeks. I'm slowly starting to realize I'm getting nervous. Waiting to hear the results of these kind of tests is no good. Humans are the only creatures on earth that have to bear this kind of torture, and it takes all the human strengths to stay positive and accepting about it.
It's funny because as I sit at my computer pondering this stuff, I suddenly take notice all the healing elements brought into my life over the past several months; Buddha sits on top of my monitor, a large crystal on the desk by the keyboard, half empty bottles of holy water rest on the shelf next to books of alternative therapys and tapes of meditational healing, a pennant from the site of a miracle dangles around my neck..... So, gee. Thanks for all the support.
And Happy New Year!
January 12th, Group email. Subject: The Wait
I sat in the patient review room. I was about to find out if I could live without the blood cell holocaust of cytoxin, the hair loss of vincristine, the rush of 100mg prednisone, the irritable bowls of adriamiacin, and the stupor of lorazapam. I was waiting, and the fact the the Dr. was 15 long minutes late wasn't helpful. Dad was talking to me, trying to keep my mind off the subject, but I could hardly listen. When he asked me a question I couldn't respond. The nurse took my blood pressure and and remarked about how uncharacteristically high it was. "nervous, ey?" she giggled. I really wanted no more of this chemical rhythm! I was ready for a rhythm of my own. The rhythm you get in when you don't have to see a doctor every week to find out life altering news...
Okay, I was really, really nervous. But my doc, like all good docs, broke the news rapidly, like a quick tug of a bandaid. "well, you tumor has stabilized"
Excellent news, but it only means that I'm ready to move on to the next test which will answer the really anticipated question: is the tumor stable because it's dead, gone, bye-bye, or is it stable because it's figured out a way to undermine the chemo and is regathering it's forces..... Gulp.
My chances? By the book, 30-50% chance of success. By my doc, closer to 50%. By my second opinion, closer to 30%. By me, whatever, I'm going skiing.
Looks like on January 22 at 4:00 I'll be really nervous again. Or maybe I'm getting better at this "receiving life altering news" bit. Bored of it...
Drum roll, please!
January 23rd. Group emailing. Subject: <no subject>
Sorry, couldn't think of a subject. I've been trying all morning. Can't think of what to write either, but I know I have to. Didn't get good news at the docs yesterday. Didn't get terribly bad news either. I've still got some rampant cells going on in my sternum area.
Take a look at my full body Gallium scan. Cancer cells collect gallium and show up as dark splotches. We were hoping for no splotches on the "after" scan. But hey, that was a huge blotch to begin with, and the blotches in my abdomen are gone.
Don't know the next step yet, first there must be a gathering of the minds. A "Tumor Board" as my Doc calls it. Sure would be nice to be on the other side of the Tumor Board, one of the members, not one of the subjects.
Suprisingly, the news has not been a big deal. I sneaked a peek at the gallium scan last week and realized then that this epic is not over yet. And I'm happy to have the next two weeks before any new treatments are started. It's going to be an AWESOME two weeks.
January 25th. Group emailing. Subject: Da Plan
Well, it looks like the lesser of the 3 evils has been selected as my next torturous path: straight up radiation.
Tomorrow I go to the University Hospital for them to draw some "connect the dots", "this end up", and bullseye diagrams on my chest. Wouldn't want them to radiate the wrong chest after all. Then it's off to yet another CT scan, of which I'm beginning to consider myself a connoisseur.
The plan as of now is three to four weeks of daily treatments (Monday through Friday, no holidays), and a follow up gallium scan in three months, or 6000 miles, which ever comes first. I can handle three months. Luckily the tumor only partially overlaps other essential organs, so as we blast the tumor to kingdom come, only parts of my lungs and heart will go with it. Hearts are over rated, anyways.
Do you get the feeling that I think the whole idea is a little barbaric? Well, I do. But considering the alternatives (death, leeches, or naturpsychopatics) I say, "two thumbs up!"
So to help me survive the whole cancer thing, about three months ago I decided to go ahead and plan a couple ski trips. Despite my condition, better judgment, and all the unknowns, reservations were made and tickets were purchased. Hence, on Monday, I'm leaving for a weeklong ski vacation to beautiful, Cosmopolitan whistler British Colombia! Come On Down! I'm thrilled as I haven't left the shadow of St. Mark's Hospital for over four months now. The second ski trip to the rustic Teton Mountains I'll regrettably have to miss as I now have tanning booth appointments at the University Hospital.
Hey, one out of two ain't bad!
So, three more months. As much as I love writing to my Chemo update email group, I was hoping to be disbanding the mailing list by now. Guess you're stuck with me for 3 more looong months! Aghhh, Hah,hah, hah. [menacing laugh]....