Pack Your Pony!

On the Friday after Christmas, Seth and I closed on a very special property where my mom and our small family of animals will live much closer to us. I’m over the moon!

Having my mom and lifelong best friend so far away has been one of the most difficult things about being sick. We have an integral bond not completely definable in terms of friendship, love, and endearment. (It will make good book fodder should anyone ever talk me into writing my memoirs.) Needless to say, it’s a key ingredient in the special sauce that is my intrinsic happiness.

And while I am too scientifically stubborn to believe my medical progress is directly correlated with stress or support of one relationship, I know many of my friends and even casual acquaintances reading this who do. It doesn’t seem like a productive ‘argument’ to have, so I’ll agree “stranger things have happened” and leave it at that. What I do know is that I will be a much happier bunny once my mom and I are more available to each other than we presently are.

Knowing this better than anyone, Seth has done his part to move heaven and earth – again.

I grew up on a small, rural farm which my mom literally built with her own hands, and sadly we lost it due to a combination of the economic downturn and unrelated domestic events. Seth and I had been work friends and dating for only a short period of time; I was bowled over when he offered to invest in a new farm, essentially providing enough capital that would allow us to keep our family (animals) intact and not homeless.

We had to find a place on a very small budget, and time was of the essence. We found a tract of land with a half-finished house in West Virginia. The distance would be a challenge (going from a 2 hour to 7+ hour drive), but what we could afford wouldn’t be anywhere near Philadelphia. I promised my mom I would visit once a month, and that’s exactly what I did for two+ years, while I was healthy and airplane flights were competitive.

Unfortunately things went to hell in 2011. My mystery illness turned cancer diagnosis made independent travel nearly impossible, and the 7+ hour drives became more frequent.

Previously Seth and I would drive out for a week-long visit just two or three times a year. Now he is schlepping me there every six weeks or so. (And not once has he complained.) Seemingly overnight the farm’s distance went from unhappy to unbearable. I was in and out of the hospital, while my mom had no one we could trust to tend to the animals, not to mention help her with a very long, stressful drive, so she could visit me.

We listed the farm as ‘for sale by owner.’ A year passed with little activity. We broke down and decided to list with a Realtor in early 2013. To date, we’ve had some interest (showings) but no offers. I have listed the property information at the end of this post and appreciate you sharing the listing with anyone who will read and share.

Seth and I knew we had to sell the existing farm in West Virginia before buying a new one. To carry an extra mortgage for an undetermined length of time would be foolish, stressful, and insane! And that doesn’t even explain that I would need to use every penny I’ve ever amassed for a new downpayment. What kind of crazy person would do such a thing?!

Me, apparently! There are few events that will make two balanced, logical and otherwise risk-adverse people take a chance like that. And frankly, I hope you never figure out where your limits are. Mine was a grand mal seizure and the discovery and growth of a dozen+ small brain tumors. Seth having to check for life signs after my seizure may have been his breaking point.

Very quickly our priorities clarified, and we made the conscious decision to move my mom immediately, no matter what that meant.

Fast forward five months, and here were are! The house needs some basic pieces (appliances, a floor refinish), and the barn and fence need patching before we can safely move everyone to their new home. Paint and other cosmetics will be projects along the way and aren’t considered critical to the move (or in the budget!)

Even though she will have to manage everything at a distance, my mom hopes to move by the end of January. I think an end-of-February goal is more feasible. She has been tasked as the general contractor on all things ‘new farm,’ and my brother (a marketing pro) will continue to focus his attention on attracting a buyer for the farm in West Virginia. Please help us spread the word about this beautiful property for sale!

* Via our custom, mobile-friendly site: http://propertyforsalewestvirginia.com/

* Via realtor.com: http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/2468-Dudley-Hill-Rd_Middlebourne_WV_26149__M37821-07279

* Contact our Realtor, Harry Cain, at (304) 455-2550 or harry_cain21 (at) hotmail (dot) com

I’ll do my best to keep you updated as the big move nears! Please know that moving our furry and feathery family is a delicate process! My fundraiser stays open to help me pay all expenses on my Frog List, including the cost of moving one very handsome, roan pony! 😃

Here’s to the Happiest New Year yet!


67 Miles

A few weeks ago I made a conscious decision to keep something from my blog readers. I haven’t felt guilty about it; I don’t feel like I “owe” my readers anything but my gratitude, which you certainly have.

Still, secrets and half-truths are a real pain in the ass. My favorite Judge Judy saying is, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory.” And when I began keeping this one, I thought my silence would be needed only for ten days. That was November 3rd.

It’s now five weeks later, and I find that keeping one secret has really stalled me from sharing other things, too. So without further ado…

Seth and I found a small farm where my mom and our animals can live. It seems to meet most of our needs, and it’s less than an hour and a half from our home. Can you imagine?!

We made an offer, and it’s been accepted on contingencies. The time issue is that it is a bank-owned foreclosure; so paperwork that should take days is taking weeks.

Yes, weeks! For five weeks, we have been holding our breath (insert lung cancer jab here) and hoping that the building and septic inspections don’t turn up anything devastating that we can’t afford to fix. (Like most foreclosures, the bank plans to sell “as-is”.) Perhaps this would be as good a time as any to begin building my contractor contact list for the Delaware/Maryland Bay Area!

I’m not a superstitious person, so I can’t say that I was afraid of “jinxing” the deal by blogging about it. But I was trying not to get my hopes up until we got through inspections. After all, if we have to install a new $20,000 septic system, the deal is off. But now my hopes are up, and both my mom and I will be devastated if this falls through. (sigh)

We are waiting for the bank (owner) to approve a quote and make repairs needed after they un-winterized the house. Then one Saturday or Sunday very soon we will head down to Maryland to meet the inspectors. The bank originally wanted to close before the end of the year, but with their self-imposed delays, I doubt it will happen until early next year.

Now that I’ve spilled my guts and shared all my deep, dark fears that we’ve found the perfect place that could have hidden, expensive problems, allow me to say… I’M SO FREAKING EXCITED!

Less than an hour and a half south there sits an empty farmhouse and some assorted outbuildings on four acres of land.

It’s just about perfectly square and was fenced for animals which hopefully now have happy homes elsewhere. The two acres around the house is mowed, but the rest of the property, mostly in shrubby pasture, hasn’t seen a deck mower in a few seasons. Looking at the aerial map I can almost imagine the horses grazing out in the back pasture.

The house was built 95 years ago and is small compared to some others of its era. Inside it needs a lot of cosmetic help, but it’s always what you can’t see that concerns me.

You can tell it was loved once; even recently you can see where new pavers were laid for a back patio that never saw its first summer barbecue. There is granite, probably rescued from remnants, atop the old, painted beadboard cabinets. And someone started to drywall a room upstairs, presumably for a master bathroom. This place feels right.

Of course, if this all works out (it just has to!), the pressure is really on to sell the existing farm in West Virginia. Yes, we know that will be stressful. But having my mom close to me couldn’t be more important!


Year Two

I awoke November 14 and knew I had completed a milestone most never would: I had survived with rare, terminal (stage 4) lung cancer for two years. If you factor in my June diagnosis of a dozen brain metastases, the typical survival rates shrink exponentially.

I enjoyed celebrating my cancerversary. I suppose I could have seen it as the day my life crumbled. And in some ways, that would be accurate. I lost a lot when I gained my diagnosis.

But the fact I’m still alive is like giving cancer the middle finger, even though I’m not normally the vicious “let’s battle cancer!” torch carrier. My fight is quieter and feels much more personal, even if the accounting of my progress and feelings is quite public.

So this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for my loved ones – human, furry, and feathered – and for the chance to spend another year learning to love them even more. 


Patrick Leer

Earlier this week, lung cancer extinguished a bright star. Patrick Leer is the first cancer friend I’ve lost. It’s heartbreaking in so many ways; some were anticipated, others were not.

Patrick was diagnosed in January 2012, just a few months after me. He was stage 1 and had surgery in March 2012. After 14 months cancer-free, his doctors discovered new lung tumors and brain mets in May 2013. He had WBR for his brain and was suffering through chemotherapy to treat his lungs when he started going downhill. I know he was hospitalized with an infection but had come home shortly before he died.

I knew Patrick through his blog, our emails, and short Twitter direct messages. He was a kind man whose primary passion was to love and care for his wife, crippled by MS only four years into the 28 they would spend together. He loved her so much and spoke of the time they spent together only as a privilege and never a burden.

Patrick blogged at http://lung-cancer-survivor.blogspot.com. I’ve found myself going back, seeing if I could piece together his last few weeks, but I can’t. Maybe his daughter will finish his story someday.

Lung cancer only exists to kill, and after two years in this unfortunate club, it has taken one of my friends. The rest of us can only hold hands a little tighter and hug our loved ones a little longer. And when we tell you “I love you,” please know that we mean it so much it hurts.

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Post Production

I’m pleased to report that I’m feeling human once again.

Last Tuesday I had my third dose of Camptosar (irinotecan) chemotherapy. It reminded me why some drugs are given on a “three weeks on, one week off” schedule. The body needs that fourth week to detox before you can add more poison. This is my best guess since each week it took me longer to bounce back than the week before.

In addition to making me feel like crap, this line of treatment has really impaired my blog post production.

Sometimes I think I have no more to contribute to the world of blogging. I’m nearing my two year cancerversary (diagnosis anniversary), and I wonder if I’ve shared everything there is to tell about lung cancer and the impact it has had on my life.

Treatment side effects stopped being unique long ago: fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and abdominal and back pain. Whether it’s a chemo drug decades old or the newest clinical trial for ALK+ tumors, there’s no doubt that I sound like a broken record.

I suppose I’m afraid of getting stale. I want this blog to be insightful and not just a place to bitch and moan. (I use Twitter for that!)


Race Weekend!

It’s time to take a break from cancer and update you on our awesome NASCAR race weekend!

On Friday night Seth and I flew to Greensboro, NC. The flight was uneventful and plane definitely reusable. (That’s how I judge a good landing!) From there we rented a car and drove ten minutes to our hotel.

The DoubleTree by Hilton was very nice and clean. After plane tickets were purchased, my mom made some calls to hotels where I have a member number, explained why I was coming to the area, and tried to get the lowest rate. Her efforts paid off! The DoubleTree manager was very nice, and with the discount, we essentially got three nights for the price of two. Another bonus? Free hot breakfast each morning.

Saturday morning we drove approximately one hour north to the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA. Our first stop was the NASCAR credentials trailer. My ticket donor said there would be pit passes waiting for us. We filled out the disclaimer form and waited in line. But once we got to the front they couldn’t find us on “the list.”

“That’s okay,” I said to Seth, trying to hide my disappointment. “We’re still here and have great seats!”

The woman at the table pointed to a closed door which led to a small, separate room. “They have other packets. I don’t know if they can help you or not.”

So we squeezed our way into the tinier room and waited for one of the two women to be available. We gave our names, and she scanned her list. She was flipping pages quickly when Seth said, “Wait! That’s us!” A packet was passed from one woman to the other, and two magic pieces of paper emerged. They said “HOT.” We printed and signed our names on a form already containing others. They trashed our disclaimer forms.

I was barely able to get back to the car and tell Seth, “close your door, close your door” before going “SQEEEEEEEEEE!!”

A “hot” pit pass gives you carte blanche to be INSIDE the track before, during, and after the race, including qualifying and practice. We were there for all the events both Saturday and Sunday. One of my favorite highlights was attending the pre-race driver’s meeting. While there was no room under the tent, we were all the way up front and just a few feet from the drivers, crew chiefs, and teams.

The races themselves (a lesser series on Saturday and the main event on Sunday) were great. The Sunday race was my favorite that I’ve ever attended: it had plenty of action, our seats were great, and the track is so short, there is always action right in front of you. (You don’t wait or watch with binoculars while the cars drive around a 2+ mile track.)

Seth and I took many pictures and a few small videos; I’ll share some on Facebook when I’m up to it.

Thank you for making this trip possible. Your donations via my YouCaring site paid for the airplane tickets, rental car, and hotel. And guess what? I can cross it off of my Frog List!

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Boris

My favorite goose died today.  I’ll miss you, Boris.

 

Photo  82  Photo  63


Camptosar: Week 1

The days immediately after treatment are not the time for clear-minded, sharp writing. But during these precarious and emotional times, keeping this blog current seems more important than my grammatical shortfalls. For whatever reason, though, this post has been particularly stubborn, requiring four days and way too many drafts!

Monday was a milestone in my cancer journey: day one of a new treatment.

Camptosar, FDA approved in 1996, is a brand name for irinotecan (eye-rin-oh-TEE-kan). It is a chemotherapy drug most often used for colon and rectal cancers. The most common side effect is diarrhea, which can be severe if not managed aggressively. The onset can be early or late. On Wednesday I began to experience the late-onset side effects. The cramping pain was much more debilitating than the diarrhea. But following a strict schedule of huge Imodium doses did the trick, and now I’m right as rain (I think). As with most chemotherapies, there is a laundry list of other possible side effects. This comprehensive list is courtesy of the ACS. My main side effect was just feeling like crap. Because that’s what chemo does: it makes you feel like crap. (Eloquent, I know…)

This is my third line of chemotherapy. I keep track of my cancer treatments and other milestone dates using a cool site called Timeglider. The events there link back to applicable blog posts too, in case you decide to check it out. 

Beginning in May 2012, I had a cocktail of carboplatin, Alimta, and Avastin to try to control aggressive lung cancer growth. Although I enjoyed the treatment schedule (infusion once every three weeks), I experienced no improvement in my condition.

In July 2012, I began Gemzar (gemcitabine). This weekly infusion was very difficult for my body to handle. I had some nasty, uncommon side effects and was rather relieved when I learned it wasn’t doing anything to help my cancer.

Now I am revisiting the chemotherapy well in an attempt to halt the cancer that has metastasized to my brain. My doctor chose this drug because it has the best chance to be effective (not because it’s going to be the gentlest). The odds of it benefiting me? Who knows. And when my doctor saw the question coming, he simply responded: “There is no other Jessica Rice.”

I began to press for more information. His next answer – the Camptosar brain met stats and his experience with a standard patient – was composed and sitting at the tip of his tongue. But I stopped him. I knew only his first answer was accurate.

There is no one else who has what I have, has responded to various treatments/trials in such ways, and perhaps, has even lived long enough with this very aggressive lung cancer to try what I’m attempting in controlling the growth of new brain tumors. I guess I’m pretty special, although not for the reason I would prefer!

My doctor once told me that every lung cancer patient – if able to live long enough – will get brain mets. Most don’t ‘get the chance,’ for lack of a better phrase. And for those with slow-growing varieties of lung cancer, that could be 10+ years! (I don’t want to incite any unnecessary panic.)

On Monday morning Seth and I arrived on time for my 8:15 appointment, and we didn’t wait longer than 10 minutes to be escorted to the back. I stepped on the scale and unwisely peered at my weight before heading into the exam room. Talk about adding insult to injury! (I should stop eating so much and retaining fluid once I’m off daily steroids.)

One nurse began the routine questionnaire while another accessed the port embedded in my upper right chest. The thick Huber needle didn’t hurt much. They flushed the direct access catheter with saline, and I made my standard funny face. I am one of many patients who can taste when some things are pushed into the bloodstream. Saline flush isn’t yummy, but at least I know when a vein is hit correctly!

The next step is to draw blood so they can run my ‘counts.’ This tells the doctor a number of things and assures that I am indeed healthy enough to receive treatment that day.

The nurse pulled back on the syringe. The saline was now tinted bright red, but it wasn’t pure blood. She pumped the syringe back and forth, back and forth. No blood.

(sigh) Sometimes ports are stubborn. And during my past two office visits, I’ve had to do some gymnastics to get the flow started. In 18 months of port ownership, I have had a real problem with it only once.

We tried the moves that nurses swear by. I gave myself a bear hug, stretched my neck around, lied down completely flat, raised my arm at various angles, and shrugged my shoulders. They flushed more, tried some heparin, more flush, a larger syringe. But then part of the plastic hub snapped off.

(sigh) They would have to remove the needle and stick me again. This one hurt briefly, but that wasn’t why I was fighting back tears.

I had remained quite calm for the first half hour, but I was starting to break. When a device implanted in you doesn’t cooperate, you’re allowed to panic. (I wrote that rule.) It didn’t help that two people had been hovering extremely close to me for a long time. I was physically overwhelmed by the invasion of my personal space. Knowing that I was reaching the end of my rope, we decided I would see the doctor and complete the rest of the exam before trying anew.

The port trauma was enough to keep me pretty quiet during Dr. Roush’s exam and our Camptosar conversation. He did the entire ‘this is your new drug’ song and dance, but much of it was a repeat of our phone conversation. He was thorough, and I didn’t have any new questions.

As I mentioned earlier, I refrained from pressing him for Camptosar odds. And I was in such a ‘bad place’ by this point, that my brain couldn’t have generated any positive conclusions from any data he could give me anyway. He finished his exam and asked the nurses to “tPA” my port.

tPA, tissue plasminogen activator, probably does a lot of things. But I know it as “Drano for ports.” A small amount gets injected just far enough to journey to the end of the port catheter: the tube that terminates at the top of my heart. Once there it breaks up the fibrin sheath that can develop over the end of the line. The build-up is like a flap. When fluid goes in it pushes open without a problem. But when trying to withdraw fluid (blood), the flap gets sucked against the tube end and nothing can come out.

The nurse injected the tPA, and I waited for an hour. Then… POOF! Lots of easy flowing, dark, rich, good, yummy blood. Yay!

I was exhausted and ready to go home, but the day’s events hadn’t even begun. My bloodwork was run, Dr. Roush approved my orders, and pre-meds were started. We were exactly two hours behind schedule.

It took more than four hours for the rest of the drugs to be infused. The pre-meds were the same I received with Gemzar: Aloxi, Decadron, Ativan, and Pepcid. Camptosar came last and took two hours for infusion. We had to slow the drip a little when my nose started running and eyes got watery. Moving forward, this will probably be a four to five hour day depending on how busy it is in the infusion room.

This is a weekly treatment given 3 weeks on, one week off. It is the same schedule I was supposed to follow with Gemzar, but my body wouldn’t tolerate three consecutive, weekly treatments. This is a totally different drug, though, so I go in expecting the best and this schedule:

Treatment Dates:
Oct 20, Oct 29, Nov 4
Nov 18, Nov 25, Dec 3

After those two cycles I will have an MRI of the brain, and the radiologist will assess my progress. Hopefully there will be a) no new brain tumors and b) less suspicious “brain lint.” If brain tumors continue to grow, that will be the end of my Camptosar experiment. I’m not sure what drug or trial would be next. Those are concerns for another day.

This week I’ve focused only on recovering as quickly as possible. Today is all about packing and travel. The wait is over, and it’s time for our awesome weekend at the NASCAR races!


Semi-Precious

For ten days I’ve been sliding down the sheer face of a cliff, desperately grabbing for something to slow my plummet. It’s been the most painful and unsettling time I’ve experienced since my diagnosis.

Every problem feels magnified. There are no small issues. Nearly every decision is life-changing or life-threatening. I’m trying to pick through them, teasing out just one at a time so I can try to deal with something. So I can try to unravel a mess of a life.

This week I began to understand one of my many current flaws: I equate people wanting to help me with people’s want for me to live.

When I was first diagnosed, my friends had a wonderfully successful fundraiser that really helped me get through that first year and a half with an income cut in half and boatloads of new bills. Seth and I escalated our plan to combine our homes and households. I cut my expenses and changed my lifestyle to better accommodate my new income. But I still have important responsibilities, and after putting it off as long as possible, I had to bite the bullet and ask for help again.

The decision to go public seemed logical. My blog has a small but respectable audience, and I thought maybe just $10 or $15 from a lot of friendly strangers wouldn’t have a huge impact on our economy, but it would make a very significant one on me. Two new and very fun online friends helped me launch my YouCaring website at the beginning of September. We planned it using my signature Frog List: Things To Do Before I Croak.

Unfortunately, there are many people in need and only so much help to go around. There would never be a fair way to say one person is more deserving than another. (I wouldn’t anyway – it would be rude!) But I can tell you that a lot of people have a better story than I do.

I’m well-educated, middle-class, and I’ve never saved anyone from a burning building. I’ve always tried to do the right thing and live my life focused on love first. But those things don’t make me stand out. They certainly don’t make me “better” or more deserving than anyone else.

The most unique thing about me is that I could be you. Average health, with friends, a family, and a bright future, yet dying very suddenly of lung cancer. My true WANT is to be worthy of your time, interest, and compassion; not your $20.

But desperation brought me to a point where I just thought if people cared enough, everything would be okay. That somehow there would be enough strangers who cared and had money to make the end of my life as easy, comfortable, and happy as possible. I now see how illogical this is, and quite frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed for getting so carried away. Donations do not equal caring. Nor do they equal whether or not people have given up on me living.

Part of me needs to accept that I’m not going to get the help I need. I think it’s so difficult because I’ve always been able to work hard to get what I needed to take care of my family and myself. But those rules no longer apply – and that screws with one of my basic value systems. I keep coming back to “I must still have something to offer someone…”

I’m going to continue to focus on the things that bring me that intrinsic happiness. Writing for my blog and hopefully other publications too. Spending time with my loved ones. Neverending property searches to get my mom closer to me. And maybe it’s time to think about wedding details too. My Frog List will continue to drive the fundraiser website, and I will have new updates posted soon! If someone chooses to contribute, I promise the money will be used for something that will bring me peace and joy.


No Brakes

6:30am is not one of my scheduled times for a dose of Ativan. The short-acting benzodiazepine is a go-to drug used to alleviate everything from anxiety to nausea to insomnia in cancer patients. I suppose I am in need of all three right this moment. 

I had my 3rd-ever CyberKnife session yesterday. The neurosurgeon was running late, which meant an extra hour in the waiting room while he and my radiation oncologist put the finishing touches on the plans to zap three growing brain tumors. 

Two were to be dosed that day and one next Tuesday. The treatment went off without a hitch. The head cup was a little more comfortable this time, and after 55 minutes of being strapped to a hard table by my face, I was free.

The next step was to meet with the doctor before heading home. 

He was available immediately. We sat down and asked a few follow-up questions. I wanted to confirm that we could keep zapping little pop-up tumors based on where they were, which CyberKnife “fields” are were still available for use, etc. 

But at one point he just interrupted with “I have some news.”

I didn’t feel the room get cold. There was no tingling that ran up my spine or goosebumps on my arms. I just sat, perfectly still, and waited for the approaching semi to hit me. 

He explained how he and the neurosurgeon reviewed all my scans in as much detail as possible: the ones done to match the precise CyberKnife machine calibration, with the newest software program. And they had a few recommendations.

First, they discovered other tumors (ones thought to have not grown or have previously only been identified as “lint”) they would like to treat, as well. FIVE of them.

It took Seth and I a minute to comprehend the simple arithmetic. “So you want to go from 3 total to 8 total?” I said at one point. 

Indeed. 

So we talked it through, and the idea of waiting to see if they would suddenly stop growing (for no reason) just seemed absurd. I was already scheduled for another session, I have my mask already made, I might as well deal with them now. 

In my case it takes 25-30 minutes per brain tumor. So on Tuesday and another day TBD I will lock-in for long, 90-minute sessions of CyberKnife once more. 

Still, I’ve tried to think of this as a positive thing: treat them now and not later. But the news didn’t end, and I sensed the semi was gaining speed. 

The two doctors didn’t feel that I received any benefit at all from whole brain radiation (WBR). (More on that soul-crusher later.) So their final recommendation to me and my primary oncologist is to begin chemotherapy immediately after my third CyberKnife session.

The runaway truck hit me, and as I sat positioned between the doctor and Seth I could only hope I was shielding him as much as possible from the impact.

My headed flooded. I was expecting a normal “everything went well – see you on Tuesday” conversation and handshake. Instead I was getting version 2.0 of shitty scan results.

We talked for a few more moments. When I asked if he thought he could still get my doctor on the phone, he said, “I think I can.” It was already 4pm, and I knew if he could get Dr. Roush on the phone, I would get a callback from Dr. Roush before the weekend.

Briefly, I recapped our agreed-upon next steps: a) we will zap the remaining SIX spots during 2 sessions, b) one is already scheduled for Tuesday, and c) the name of the person who would be calling to schedule the third.

I told him I would need to think about anything past that, talk to Dr. Roush, maybe others, and thanked him for his time and candidness. Somehow Seth and I found our way to the car, then home. 

Dr. Roush called from his cell phone around 5:30pm – much earlier than I anticipated. I quickly placed him on speakerphone. 

He was “very disappointed” by the follow-up news from the neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist. We talked only briefly about the success of WBR: he still holds that there was partial benefit – maybe that’s just him wanting with all his might to think we didn’t fry my brain for nothing. (Thinking about that is a vomit-inducing post unto itself.)

Moving on, he agreed that I (generally) have nothing to lose by zapping the five new spots discussed that day. (I say generally because all of this treatment has risk, of course.)

We spent the remainder of the conversation discussing chemo. Was Camptosar still his drug of choice? Yes. What are the other drug options? He explained. Why not them? He explained. What would your colleagues say? He talked though various scenarios, why the other drugs would be a lot riskier, etc, and at the end of it all I felt good that he had done and will continue to do all research, reading, and discussion with anyone he needed to make sure I get the best treatment. He’s not going to cure my cancer – no one is. 

Once I know the date of my third CyberKnife session, I’m to call his office to schedule the visit and chemo infusion. Camptosar is administered weekly and tends to be gentle as chemotherapies go. (Hopefully I’m in that majority this time.) I didn’t ask how long I might benefit from Camptosar or what is next when it stops working (if it works to begin). I didn’t have the heart or the stomach to hear those answers. Not yet. 

After a pause, I finally did ask him if we can delay chemo until November. He told me he would work around whatever I have scheduled, but no, we should begin right away. (I purchased our plane tickets to the NASCAR race just the night before. Had I waited another 24 hours, my decision would have been different.)

So, you’re up to speed now – less than 24 hours since it all began. I feel particularly horrible about the whole thing. Problem is, I’m not sure how much of it is feeling my impending and escalating timeline to death -or- just feeling crappy from being bombarded with so much radiation.

I certainly don’t remember feeling so sad and scared after my last CyberKnife treatment.


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