September 3, 2015 (Thurs) – Christmas in September? Let’s Hope Not.

Xmas Sept 3I may actually beat Target and Costco to the punch in mentioning the “C” word (Christmas, not cancer) this early in the season, and especially before Labor Day. And I’m sure there are people who would appreciate having Christmas come early. I’m just not one of them, for reasons described momentarily.

I just realized that I haven’t posted a blog in over a month. Wow. Been crazy busy at work so I guess that’s a good thing. My wife may beg to differ but hey, I’m still working full time. Plus some. Beats the alternative.

Last I left you, I was powering down a less-than-scrumptious club sandwich. Well, tomorrow we find out if I need to add another layer of Limburger Cheese. And if a fuzzy IS hiding out in the frozen tundra that is my right shoulder. Or anywhere else Human Christmas treefor that matter. Because of the uncertainty about some anomaly that showed up on my shoulder MRI, they are opting to go the whole nine yards and switch to a kitty-cat + PET scan this time around. It’s been a long time since I had one of those light-me-up radioactive sugar juice injection procedures. And that is where Christmas comes in. I really am not looking forward to a result that may have me mimicking a brightly lit LED covered (I’m nothing if not energy saving) tree. So getting lit, unlike during my college days, is not a positive thing.

Right now I am having a tough time typing this blog since I’ve been required to go on a low-carb diet all day so that no-carbs-sign-vectorfalse readings are kept to a minimum tomorrow. I guess my blood sugar must be low as I have a bit of the shakes. I never realized how tough it was for a carbivore like me to ignore the mashed potatoes I had to leave on my plate at Rotary today, the slice of birthday cake I had to pass up on in our office, or the handful of Cheez-its I was almost tempted to grab when I got home. Maybe after all of the tests tomorrow I’ll stop at KFC (that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken for you younger folks) to make up for lost time. OK Kim, just kidding…

Of course, prior to the Geiger counter clicking starting up, I have to have my regular brain MRI to check on Mr. Upstairs Fuzzy. And after those two are a wrap, head on over to UCSD for my every-twelve-week echo-echo-echocardiogram. Somewhere in that scheduling fray a regular blood workup needs to happen. And finally wrapping everything up with my regular onc-doc appointment in the late afternoon where I may, or may not get the results of my tests already. Nothing like getting everything out of the way at once. My luck, I will get the news the next day while out of town. Of course. Those of you that have been on board my fuzzy wagon for a while may recall the time I got the news while sitting on the tarmac at O’Hare Airport. That would be my infamous Chi-Town meltdown. But perhaps I’ll get good news instead and celebrate during my vacation/business trip.

InjectionAs for my shoulder, I was finally able to get approval for the fluoroscope-assisted steroid injection which I had earlier this week. Although “immediate relief” is a phrase that was dropped a lot as it relates to this procedure, I can’t say that I notice much of a difference yet. We shall see. It obviously doesn’t affect my golf swing as I actually had my second lowest round ever the other day. No numbers are being provided, however, as it really is embarrassing to claim what I had was a “good” score. But hey, I’ll take it.

I just realized that this whole blog has been a medical update. Yeech. Somebody slap my hand, will you? Or better yet, slap me upside the head. Maybe you’ll nail my fuzzy.

After all of the junk above, I must say that I am still feeling very good. My hips were giving me a bit of grief but that was self-induced and have mostly resolved themselves. My shoulder is still a question mark but overall I really cannot complain.

Off to see my sister-in-law perform this weekend in Berkeley. It will be a bit of a reunion with several family members meeting up for the event. Plus I will get to spend some quality time with my daughter in San Jose over the Labor Day weekend. Can’t wait.

Last but not least are the results of our third major remodel. Here are some pics (before and after) of our new master bath. My designer wife, who teaches PE, missed her calling.
Before and After 1 Before and After 2 Before and After 3

Business as usual. Day at a time.

July 27, 2015 (Mon) – A Triple Decker of Tasty and Not-So-Tasty Morsels

Triple Decker SandwichMy wife knows I love club sandwiches. She will invariably guess correctly when we go out to eat at a casual restaurant if a club sandwich is on the menu. What can I say? I like predictability and knowledge that I will enjoy all ingredients included in said sandwich. Call it comfort food. Or call it a boring husband.

Yet, my journey to date has been anything but predicable. Hopeful yes. Predictable? Not usually.

Thus begins my quickie (don’t go there) summary of my most recent triple decker sandwich, aka my set of 3 scans last Friday. Unfortunately not all ingredients were mouth watering. Smacking my lips and gagging at the same time – now that’s a lunch entree that would result in a nasty Yelp review.

BaconLet’s start with the bacon: My brain MRI came back, once you got through all of the medical gobbledygook, as “No significant change right cerebellar metastatic focus when compared with most recent exam...” Obviously not written with proper grammar in mind but I will forgive the transgression this time. Bottom line: upstairs fuzzy is hibernating, hopefully like Rip Van Winkle. Yea!

Triple mixtureNow mix some castor oil with pureed Brussels sprouts. I had no idea there was an “s” on the end of Brussel, did you? Squirrel!  In any case, make a nice paste with those two ingredients, perhaps add some Vegemite for texture and spread on your sandwich. That would be my kitty-cat (CT) scan of everything else. Again, skipping over the impossible-to-decipher technical jargon, here is what you get: “Progressive malignancy in the lungs and mediastinum. Suspect enlarging renal metastasis.” That’s where the gagging kicked in. But I was mentally prepared based on recent history and had my virtual barf bag handy. So no cookies were actually lost in the process. Bottom line: same ‘ol, same ‘ol story when compared to the scan results for the last 3-4 scans. Continued growth in the fuzzy boys below my noggin.

Triple mixture 2Finally, layer some Limburger cheese with anchovies and sprinkle some ground up ghost peppers (those that know, know) for good measure and you have completed my meal. Some of you might actually like this. Yeech. This last set of ingredients comprised my third scan – my shoulder MRI which, when chewed up and digested down to words I could understand, came out like this: “Magnetic resonance imaging of right shoulder demonstrates features (‘features?’ Really?) of an active inflammatory phase of adhesive capsulitis. Nonspecific focus of signal hyperintensity and replacement of fatty marrow within the coracoid process Frozen Shoulderpossibly reflecting a metastatic focus given the patient’s history of lung cancer. This focus may be mildly sclerotic on CT. Stress remodeling of the coracoid process is thought to be less likely.” Bottom line: Looks like I have a case of “frozen shoulder” which will probably be treated by an ultrasound guided injection of steroids directly into the achy area. Then most likely continued home PT rehab. Problem being that this may not be allowed under my current AZD9291 (A-team) trial. We shall see.
Ashes

And if you nuke this sandwich to just charred remains, as I would suggest you do in any case, you may get what is alluded to in the last paragraph as “reflecting a metastatic focus…” So there is a possibility that not only do I have a frozen shoulder, but a fuzzy with a parka is hanging out in the tundra. The plan is to keep an eye on it and perhaps do another MRI on my shoulder after having received the steroid stab. Maybe it’s just an empty igloo. Stay tuned.

Had my regular lung-onc visit today but was seen by a sub since my regular onc was out of town. So, although he was not in a position to prescribe any specific course of action, he was pretty certain that we will be staying on the same route for at least another 6 weeks. He was especially happy that all of the parts he checked out seemed to be in fine operating condition. Obviously he did not check out all of my parts…

Business as usual. Day at a time.

July 18, 2015 (Sat) – Why Me? If Only. And Other Time Wasters

why-meEarly in a cancer patient’s diagnosis, the “why me” pops its ugly head. I say ugly because no good comes from asking that question. Some of us quickly get past that futile endeavor while others have a tough time shaking it off. Certainly lung cancer can have some obvious direct causation connections: smoking, long term asbestos exposure, even living in an area with high levels of naturally occurring radon gas. Yet many of us without any obvious causes have to accept the fact that life can be random. Roll of the dice. Luck of the draw. Turn of the wheel. Mutant gene. Who knows? And more importantly, should I care? No. It is what it is and stressing over what might have caused it just takes energy you need to weather the storm.

if-onlyIf only is not any better.

If only I had built a better wall with my cereal boxes when I was a kid sitting at the breakfast table with my smoking parents. I would surround my bowl and duck Cerealsmy head into the enclosure with boxes of Sugar Pops, Sugar Frosted Flakes and Sugar Jets forming a barrier. Now that I think about it, it’s more surprising that I don’t have diabetes with that diet. Yes, those were the actual names of the cereals back then when they weren’t so PC health conscious. I can almost guarantee they have just as much sugar these days but that is a bad word now. But perhaps second-hand smoke from 50 years ago was the culprit.

JointIf only I hadn’t partaken in college. Could that have caused the bad boy fuzzy that sat around for 40+ years and just now decided to rear its ugly head? Would have enjoyed eating the brownie version more anyway.

popcorn scraping 2If only I hadn’t scraped the asbestos-laden popcorn off all of our ceilings in our house. Although I wore a good respirator, maybe something slipped past. Could one of those minuscule fibers that I possibly inhaled been the snowball that got the avalanche started many years later?

But once again, do any of these “if only’s” have any proactive benefit in the healing process? Of course not. So why waste what valuable time I have in doing something so detrimental? Not gonna.

What ifNow “what if,” “if only’s” cousin, can play both sides of the fence. If used looking backwards, it takes the same shape as “if only” since wondering what might have been is wasted breath. And trust me, wasting breath is the last thing you want to do as a lung cancer survivor. But if you use “what if” looking forward, it can have a positive benefit, as long as what follows that phrase are actual steps taken. What if I am able to get into that clinical trial? What if I spend more time Googling new treatment options and bring them to my oncologist? What if I connect with other NSCLC survivors to compare notes and exchange info? What if I win the lottery? OK, maybe that last one is a bit out of my control but hey, hope is a good thing too. And I have to pay for our bathroom remodel somehow.

Bathroom2How’s that for a segue? Yes, we are biting the bullet once again and are currently remodeling our master bathroom. Only a Bathroom1couple months after redoing our guest bath. And only two years after our total kitchen transformation. I figure if I let my wife keep changing things in the house, she might lay off changing her husband. Or changing him out. So far so good. We were what-iffing whether we should do this remodel, just as we asked that same question two years ago before doing the kitchen. But now, like then, we are looking toward the future and I plan on getting many years of magazine reading time on the new throne. OK, these days it would be iPad reading time, but I think you get the picture, even though you may not want to.


rotary_logoI’m going to cheat and use a “what if” in the past. What if I hadn’t joined Rotary almost 10 years ago? That is not something I want to think about as it was one of the more important, and rewarding, decisions in my life.

Recently I was asked by our incoming Rotary President (Peter) to provide the beginning-of-the-meeting 2-minute inspirational message. It was truly an honor to be asked, especially for Peter’s inaugural meeting. Our club always has the Mayor of San Diego do the swearing-in ceremony so I was sitting next to him at the front table. So how about the Chargers, Mr. Mayor? Nah, we only chit chatted about Rotary Spiel July 2015nothing in particular. But as for my message, the last time I gave one at this club was just after being diagnosed a little over two years ago. It was my coming-out party, so to speak, although I had already started up my blog.

So this time around it was a similar message. If interested in reading the text, you can click on the graphic.

But the major surprise at Rotary was something I never saw coming. My wife had told me she wanted to come to the luncheon and I had assumed it was to hear me give the inspirational message. Yeah, right. Little did I know the true reason.

Here’s the background: many of you know that I have volunteered as a Rotarian “reader” to one of our elementary schools we have partnered with. However, instead of reading, I found I was much better able to keep the 1st grader’s attention by doing simple science experiments. If the students were any older the science would have gotten over my head. There is another Rotarian, Doug, that has been teaching science as a volunteer for many years at another school. So, that sets the stage. Speaking of stage, Doug was sitting next to me at the head table but he did not have a clue as to why. They just asked him to.

The incoming President always has their own agenda for the year and typically has one or two new programs they are introducing. So as Peter was introducing his plan, he mentioned a new science scholarship that they were creating and began discussing what it would be named and in whose honor. So I thought thought “Cool, that’s why Doug is up here. They are going to honor him by naming the scholarship after him. Awesome.” Yet when I turned to see the PowerPoint slide behind me, I saw both my picture and Doug’s. Turned out the scholarship was in honor of both of us, and in a nod to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure movie, it was named “Craig and Doug’s Excellent Science (CADES) Scholarship.” It was jump started by a very generous $30K donation by another Rotarian and is intended to be perpetual. I was absolutely humbled and I must say, wiped a drought-breaking drop or two off my face. Very cool. The scholarship(s) will be given to students that are entering the science field in college.


3-ferOn the medical front, next Friday I will be enjoying a 3-way. OK, get your minds out of the gutter. I’m talking scans here. Of course there will be the usual CT scan of my chest area and the MRI of my brain to check on fuzzies in those locales. But since I have had an ongoing shoulder issue that has prevented me from playing softball, I asked if they could “throJuly scan calendarw in” a third MRI of my shoulder to at least determine what is going on there. I have done PT, and then I’ve rested it for months, to no avail. So we shall see what my options are. I may have the results of the scans by the end of the day on Friday. Stay tuned. And yesterday was my one-year anniversary from entering the A-Team (AZD9291) clinical trial. Yes, I’ve been popping that magic pill for 12 months and I will continue to see how long I can milk this puppy. Although I cannot imagine anyone wanting to milk a puppy…

Business as usual. Day at a time.

June 19, 2015 (Fri) – Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

If you haven’t read my prior blog, this won’t make much sense.

I’ve heard this saying before but never really knew where it came from. It actually originated with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem “The Rainy Day.” But that is kind of a dark and dreary poem, and thus not appropriate, so I will only steal the one sentence.

Soggy spiderAbout that California drought I was hoping would continue? Well, this spider got a little dose of El Nino this past week. Down the spout I washed. Not all the way to the drain but enough to put a damper (oops) on my climbing ability. Essentially, and honestly no surprise to moi, my scans showed continued growth in the various areas (9 locations to be exact) previously showing progression, typically in the neighborhood of 3-4 mm increases. However, my onc-doc was more positive in indicating this growth is still pretty small.

I have been working on budgets at work for the past couple of months and even a few percentage points change couldPercentage be huge. So when I look at the growth in my cancer, I calculate a 30-40% increase in size and that seems gargantuan. However, when you really crunch the numbers, it only equates to 1/10 of an inch or so, thus pretty minimal in the scheme of things. But it’s the trend that is of concern. Each of the last three scans essentially showed this similar pattern. Here’s a cut and paste from the official write-up: “appearance of slight-mild interval worsening of pulmonary metastases and mediastinal metastases.” Whatever happened to the terms stable or resolving? I know, I know. That’s life on the spout.

The upstairs brain fuzzy showed “interval slight increase in size of right cerebellar enhancing lesion now measuring up to 11.1 mm.” Thus, it appears that, as Dr. Frankenstein said, “It’s alive!” Still some question because they apparently used the higher res, or stronger magnet, scan that could account for some of the measurement differential. Rumor has it (since I’m still waiting to hear from my radio-doc) that we will wait until the next scan in six weeks where they will be sure to use the same scan settings. That way we can actually compare fuzzies to fuzzies (ie. apples to apples) to make a better judgement on what might or might not be changing. So, it looks like it will be business as usual until the end of July or so.Singing in the rain

But you know what? Right now I’m spider-dancing in the rain because I am still doing really well. I have no difficulties doing day to day stuff including my volunteer gigs, working 40 hours per week (quit laughing Kim) and golf. I’m not playing softball because of my current shoulder issues but that is unrelated (I hope).

In terms of what is on the horizon, my lung-onc-doc says there really isn’t another magical pill for me in the near future. Apparently the new whiz-bang immunotherapy treatments are not quite there in terms of matching up with my particular situation. If any of my lung cancer peeps out there have more current info, please let me know. As it stands now my next option would be chemo-therapy. And that has me concerned. I know some of you with chemo experience would say, yup, not something easy to deal with, while others would say, eh, it’s no big deal. Everyone reacts differently and it all depends what cocktail you get. I prefer margaritas myself.

Prayer BlanketRecently a friend from our Rotary club presented me with a prayer blanket that her church friends had quilted. Now how cool is that? Thanks Diana. You know, the support I have had over these past 2+ years from every facet of my life has been incredibly amazing. I really think, no, I know, that is why I am doing as well as I am today. Thank you.

And speaking of Rotary, yesterday I had the privilege, as Chair of the Day, of introducing our guest speaker, Karen Possemato, the Chief of Staff at Illumina, here in town. Illumina is all about genomics and how that new cutting edge technology is coming into play in so many areas of our life, especially health care. It was a timely and appropriate talk, especially as it relates to my past and future journey. All very interesting, and encouraging, stuff.

Back to my spout climbing.

Business as usual. Day at a time.

 

June 7, 2015 (Sun) – I’m Just an Itsy, Bitsy Spider

Itsy spiderI’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of spiders. Right now my wife is reading this and going “Not a big fan? You hate them!” Well, let’s not exaggerate. Hate them? Nah. Afraid of them? Not as long as they keep their distance. But walking through a spider web would definitely send me into muscle-pulling, swatting gyrations wondering where the little bugger was.

Unfortunately what my father passed down to me and my brothers (let’s call it respect for spiders), my son BrownWidowinherited as well. Yet he had the ultimate scare that sends tingles down my spine. See the picture on the right? That is a brown widow spider, something I did not know existed until that fateful day a few years back. If you tap on the picture to get the bigger version, you will not only get a better view of its hourglass signature, you will also notice the white round edge on the perimeter. And that, my friends, is the edge of a toilet bowl. Getting the picture? My son discovered this 8-legger after making use of the facilities in a sit down mode. Now that will give you the heebie-jeebies.

But where does the itsy-bitsy (aka incy wincy) version come in? Not sure if this is a universal nursery rhyme so I will repeat the verse here:

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout.
Down came the rain
and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun
and dried up all the rain
and the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again

Now if that does not describe a cancer journey, I’m not sure what does. Each time I feel like I am near the top of the drain spout, along comes a rainstorm (eg. bad scans) that knocks me back. Then a new treatment comes along, whether it’s Tarceva or AZD9291, which dries up all the rain and allows me to climb back up. Now with my new set of scans coming up this Friday the 12th, I am hoping this California drought keeps up.

Business as usual. Day at a time.

May 17, 2015 (Sun) – What Router to Buy? A Cancer Blog?

Commute-mudIf you think a hard drive is a tough commute or Adobe Acrobat is a gymnast rolling in the mud, you may not get this one.

Yesterday I spent the better (or worse, depending on your point of view) part of 3 hours routerresearching and then traipsing all over town to replace my aging wireless router. For you nerds out there, I had an old “G” Linksys that would not keep our dueling iPads connected to the internet all the way across the house. Ended up buying a higher-powered “N” version that seems to have done the trick.

But, as before, this is not a blog about getting your tech on. In a roundabout way, however, it will touch on connectivity. More on that later.

Business as usualNo, I’m talking about business as usual to the nth degree. So would I be shopping for a router before cancer? Of course. Would I be spending all day at the office working on our non-profit budget on a Sunday (today) before cancer? You betcha. At dinner with friends, would I be powering down a couple glasses of sangria (spiked with tequila) followed by a Rombauer chaser, before cancer?  Absolutely. Would I typically be getting only 6 1/2 hours of sleep before cancer? Unfortunately yes. Should I still be doing all of these things at that level with cancer? Uh, no.

My wifey would categorically agree with the statement that I am pushing myself too far with this business as usual stuff. And I would be hard pressed to disagree. And disagreeing with your wife, in any situation, is not a recommended course of action. However, figuring out how to dial back my daily activities to a lower level than BC is easier said than done. Gotta have a router. Gotta balance that budget. Gotta have my Rombauer. The sleep thing? That I could work on. Maybe it would take some really bad news to press me into (in)action. Let’s not test that theory though, shall we?

ConnectivityOn the connectivity front, last you heard from me I was on my way upstairs to connect with a bunch of lung cancer peeps at the Lungevity Hope Summit in DC. Having only met 2 or 3 other lung cancers survivors in person, it was a Group photo Hope Summittotal trip to be in a roomfull (150) of them comparing notes, sharing stories and treatments and just reinforcing the fact that we are not alone. Lots of survivors there, many of them stage IV unfortunately, but the longevity ranged from the newbies (6 months since diagnosis) to 25+ years. Gives you lots of hope, which amazingly was the title of the conference. Duh.

In addition to the camaraderie, which was awesome by the way, we were also treated to several sessions put on by docs talking about the latest and greatest treatments and options on the horizon. Just keep pushin’ it out. That’s the plan.Survivor pic

BloggersOne of the more fun things was to finally meet (in person) some of my fellow lung cancer bloggers who, with the exception of Dann, I have only met on-line. Here is a picture of a bunch of us. And can you tell we were having fun? And the dinner that Saturday was to die for. Oops, poor choice of words. :) Hey, dark humor has helped keep me going these 2+ years. (Photos courtesy of Randy Elles Photography LUNGevity Foundation).

Since my flight was covered by a grant from Lungevity (thank you very much), I stayed on in DC for a couple extra daACys to visit a few Closetmuseums. Visited the Spy Museum, the Newseum, and the Museum of American History. But since I am the one in charge of our budget at work, I could not justify staying at the Marriott still. Instead I found a 101 year old hotel just a few blocks from the White House. Very interesting accommodations. Although I needed neither a closet nor the A/C for the one night I was there, it was enlightening to see how they managed those features in such “classic” accommodations. The pictures speak a thousand words.

June 2015 calendarBack in the home country of San Diego, it truly is business as usual. Nothing new on the scan front until Friday the 12th when I get my next double dose. Scanxiety should kick in about the 9th or 10th. Keep those positive vibes coming so I can surf ahead of that wave and take advantage of some new options down the road.

Business as usual. Day at a time.

May 1, 2015 (Fri) – Life is a Box of Chocolates…

OK, say it with me now: and you never know what you’re gonna get. That’s kinda the way it works in the lung cancer world – you look right ForrestGump_Chocolatesand get smacked on the left. Or you look straight ahead and get rear-ended. This particular time, while expecting, but hoping against, a particular result, I actually was not surprised. I got that chocolate nougat I thought I was picking out. Not a particularly tasty morsel but not a surprise either.

These past two weeks have been incredibly packed with stuff. From the Breath of Hope Walk two weeks ago, to a Rotary volunteer gig at the Humane Society last Saturday, to the Moores Cancer Center fund raising gala later that same night, finding time to update my blog has been a challenge. Right now I am 37,000 feet in the air, probably somewhere over Missouri, en route to the the Lungevity Hope Summit in DC. I figured this would be the only chance I have in the next couple of days to update everyone on my latest scans. But, as before, don’t expect a lot of cutesy graphics as I am writing this on my iPad and I was not about to spring for $19.95 for airplane wifi access. This will have to wait until I check into my hotel and I can can tweak and upload it.

As you know, last Monday morning I had my every-six-weeks double-your-pleasure set of scans: a quiet, hot-flash-accompanied CT scan of my lungs, which only took about 10 minutes, and a clanging brain MRI, that, unfortunately lasted about 30. But the good news is that it only took them two sticks to get an IV in me this time. That’s a 100% improvement over my last four-jab visit.

The next day I e-mailed my onc-doc to get the results. Surprisingly I got an email fairly quickly in reply from his nurse who indicated that he was out of town that day. However, she was very accommodating in faxing me the write-ups from both scans. Felt kinda weird reading my own results without going over them with my doc.

We have good news, and not-so-good news. The MRI on my brain came back with no change. No growth, no shrinkage, still there (whatever it is – more on that later), but not gobbling any further real estate. So no treatment plan at the moment for that puppy, er, fuzzy. I’ll take that.

However, the CT indicated continued slow growth in several fuzzies, in and around my lungs, just as the last test showed. And this time a new area of “suspicion” popped up: a spot on my kidney. OK, that was not the nougat I was expecting. But it is what it is, whatever that is.

Tuesday afternoon I met with my radio-doc to go over the MRI results. Although he likes to give me the news himself, he has finally accepted the fact that I find ways of getting my results before he can inform me. He was a bit bent out of shape because he had ordered a hi-rez version, and my regular onc-doc had ordered a standard one in direct contradiction. Of course, the scan-docs ran the basic one and the image was not as good as they wanted. Advice to other survivors: question everything. This occurred once before and I should have double checked before the scan to be sure they were doing the right kind. You have to stay on top of the details in your treatment. Do not make assumptions (as I did this time) because, well, as you know, ass-u-me.

Bottom line, he agrees that not zapping that bad boy makes sense now since it hasn’t changed. I think he regrets not convincing me to nail it the last time when he was certain it was an active fuzzy that needed blasting. So no need for that second $550 opinion right now. I’ll save that for if/when there is doubt about my treatment.

On Wednesday, I met with my lung-onc specialist at Moores who went over the results of the kitty-scan. Yes, things are still progressing (still hate that word) but at a reasonably slow pace. Slow enough to keep me in the trial for at least the short, perhaps longer, term. The kidney spot was a surprise as she hadn’t picked up on that in the write-up which she only had done a quick scan herself. Apparently that spot has been there, disappeared, and then come back over the last 9 months. But it was never pointed out previously. Although she is not overly concerned about that newbie, since she is not a kidney specialist, she was going to present it to the “tumor board” at Moores that meets weekly to get another opinion.

Bottom line #2: I am staying the course with no change in treatment for another six week increment. Nice to at least not have that hanging over my head for a few weeks despite the obvious concern about the direction things are going.

But as many of you are aware, there are a bunch of new treatment options out there coming to a city near you. Preferably to one near me. I asked my long-onc how long I might be able to continue the treatment plan I’m on before having to switch to something else assuming the same rate of progression. I was expecting maybe July or August. She said January. Really? Now that was very encouraging.

Obviously things can change and that estimate might go up in smoke, but I felt a little better after hearing that. Plus my A-Team drug, AZD9291, very likely will hit the market before the end of the year because it has shown to be so effective and is getting fast tracked. Once that happens, they can take me off the trial and prescribe the drug. That will be handy because they can then add other treatments in combination that they cannot do now because of the strict clinical trial guidelines. And if that kidney spot really is a fuzzy, they can zap it then. Right now that would get me kicked out of the trial.

In a directly conflicting opinion versus my radio-doc, my lung-onc is 95% certain that spot in my head is the result of tissue necrosis. Now that is a word that sounds just like it means – dead tissue. Otherwise it would imagenot have remained stable. Amazing how two different docs can have wildly conflicting opinions. Advice #2: question everything. Oops, that’s the same piece of advice. Just goes to show how important it is. Nobody knows everything and certainly different docs do not always agree. Obviously you have to be be your own advocate.

OK, now the fun stuff. Last Saturday my wife and I were invited as guests to the Moores Cancer Center fundraising gala. They raised imagealmost $2mil in one night! Now I know some of that was prearranged but it was still amazing. Proceeds will be going to additional immunotherapy research, perhaps one of my options in the future. Here is a picture of me and Kim, obviously enjoying ourselves.

Finishing this up from my hotel room in Arlington, getting ready to head up and meet a bunch of other lung cancer peeps. My heart’s a fluttering.

Business as usual. Day at time.