November 6, 2014 (Thurs) – Hey Baby, What’s Your Sign?

sketching-people-barIf that is not the worst pickup line ever uttered, I’m not sure what is. OK, maybe “I forgot my phone number, can I have yours?” might come close. But tonight’s post is not about how to pick up girls in a bar. However, if you want to know how to pick up someone at the beach, just ask my wife. She did a damn good job of it 36 years ago. And you won’t hear me complaining since I was the pickup-ee.

In an earlier post, I compared my journey to various amusement park offerings. Roller coaster ride? You betcha. Wheel of Chance? Oh yeah. But in thinking about it some more, there are also lots of connections between everyday traffic signs and the directions my travels have taken me in the past 20 months. Each of the signs below will refer back to one or more of my earlier blogs, so feel free to click on the sign graphic to refresh, or if you are a recent reader, fresh, your memory. Thusly:

Buckle upExactly. Little did I know when my fam-doc called me back in the afternoon on that fateful day that this would epitomize my journey. His diagnosis bombshell caught everyone by surprise and it has been nothing if not a wild ride ever since. And you know me, I always wear my seat-belt. Good thing too; otherwise I might have been thrown off this roller coaster with results I don’t want to think about. I must admit, it does feel like it’s been at least a half million miles.

YieldInitially I had to yield to the truth that my life would be permanently altered by this surprise diagnosis. I also had to yield to the radiation zapping to my lungs and brain. And later my hip. Lots of yieldin’ going on. Kinda like the Charger’s defense…

Up DirectionNo lookin’ back. Fergitaboutit. Only one way to go and that is forward. Longing for the days BC (before cancer) does not help me cope as I wind my way around this crazy journey. Sure, I’d love to have never heard of Tarceva or AZD9291. But I know more about those two life saving/extending drugs than most. And I’m very glad to have made their acquaintance. Very glad indeed. El gusto es mio.

speed-limit-70Initially, with the success of Tarceva, it was full steam ahead. Max out on the speed limit. For 9 months it was a pretty straight line, zig-zagging only to deal with side effects that cropped up. Zits, big-D, dry skin, ants crawling in my scalp, and all of the other little presents that Tarceva donated, were but potholes on the freeway. Enough to make my head go up and down like a bobble-head doll in the car’s rear window, but not enough to flatten any tires.

end freewayBut a little less than a year ago, I ran out of road. And I did not see the “freeway ends in 1/2 mile” sign like you would normally get. My initially diagnosed “arthritic” hip turned out to be a resurgence of fuzzies in that locale, along with, careful now, my sacrum. As you know, not to be confused with scrotum. Fuzzies in a scrotum brings to mind a whole different image. OK, now I know I have you chuckling.

caution-detourSo yes, I had to slow down my speed and make a detour and pull over into a rest stop. While there, I gave up the last remaining vestiges of my modesty with the hip radiation. But my treatment ended on New Year’s rest areaEve so I was starting 2014 off fresh, yet knowing that Tarceva was a tire that was slowly losing air.

speed bumpsDon’t these drive you crazy? Moving along at a nice little clip and whoop, you bottom out on one of those speed bumps they forgot to mark. I was rolling along, maybe not at 70mph roadblocklike before, but more cautiously, while looking over my shoulder for potential obstacles and looking ahead for any additional detours. Well, looky here, a Tarceva dead end was approaching. Getting the phone call that multiple mets (no, not the New York sad variety) had reared up was pretty hardΒ  to swallow. Kinda like that whack-a-mole game I described earlier. Only this time multiple heads popped up at the same time making it difficult to nail them.

circular-intersection-sign-clip-artFor a long time the course to take was not very clear. Not clear at all. Maybe this clinical trail up in L.A. Maybe the one in Irvine. Maybe none at all, instead diving right into some chemo cocktail. All the while the road grime was eating into my undercarriage. OK, maybe that was not the best, or most appropriate, analogy. But it was very difficult knowing Tarceva was no longer my hero and I was doing nothing else to stem the fuzzy tide.Soft Shoulder

In the meantime, my wife was a rock. Maybe not on the inside but she never really let on. So this was one highway sign that provided some comfort. I needed all the soft shoulders I could get. While she provided the real one, all of you provided a virtual electronic one with your constant words of encouragement. Thank you.

SpeedodometerSo, as you know, things have worked out and I am back on track with the A-team (AZD9291) doing its thing. And a good thing it is I might add. So the speedometer has crept back up. But I am also watching for potholes, detour signs, debris in the road, etc. To aid in that endeavor, I will be having my next set of combo (brain MRI and below the neck CT) scans on the 19th. Hopefully they will see a nicely paved road with no fuzzy rocks strewn about. It will be good to get clarity after that last MRI that maybe, perhaps, possibly, per chance, showed something. Or maybe it didn’t. We shall see.

Business as usual. Day at a time.


18 thoughts on “November 6, 2014 (Thurs) – Hey Baby, What’s Your Sign?

  1. Nicely written Craig. Your introspections always make me think about the twists and turns in my own life. We are praying for good results on the 15th. Take care,

  2. Your blogs are so descriptive of the lung cancer journey – thank you. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good results from your scan. And in the meantime, I’m still on the roller coaster.

  3. Like your style……keep it going! Always keeping good thought and prayers for you. Positive thoughts for the 15th!

  4. Craig,you amaze me! I just finished reading your last post,full of humor and positive thoughts. Thanks for your insight, intelligence and humor! You and Kim are in my thoughts and prayers! Get Fuzzy!

  5. Hi Craig, glad to see you are navigating (ha, see what I did there) this with humor and grace, though I know it’s hard. Check my blog when you get a chance. I’ve been a lung cancer advocate for a couple of years now. Are you on Twitter?? If so, you know about our lung cancer community at the hashtag #LCSM. Look for me at @louisianagirl91. Sending good thoughts your way!!

    • RoniLynn, thanks for the note. I’m not a Twitter kind of guy but it is something to consider under the circumstances. I just signed up for your blog updates. Thanks again.

  6. Nice story, Craig. Keep your eye on the road, and enjoy the ride!

    A belated thank you for nominating me for the Lovely Blogger Award. Now I have a job to do: Find nine other blogs besides yours that I like.

  7. So the 19th has now come and gone. Keeping positive thoughts that the next road sign will say smooth sailing ahead. Hope you get the results SOON. By the way, your writing creativity continues to astound me. Don’t use up all your cool ideas yet as there is still Ye Ole Dreaded!!!!!!

  8. Hello Craig,
    Your old friend Sharon in Riverside forwarded your blog post to me when she heard about what I have been doing lately. I had my NSCLC adenocarcinoma with bone mets diagnosed in April 2014 and with an Exon 19 deletion I started Tarceva in June. I have just gone off of it due to diminishing returns (tumor shrinkage) and increasing returns (CEA levels). Now with a T790M mutation I am launched in the TIGER-2 study for CO1686. I’m still in my first week and checking my blood for high blood sugar at this point.
    My whole experience has been rather out-of-body in that it feels like it is happening to someone else. Being an old science teacher, I watch every test and exam with curiosity. One metaphor that occurred to me was that I am in a play but I am only being given one page of the script at a time. I do what I am told and try to stay abreast of reality but I (and my UCLA oncologist) am/are not allowed to know what the future holds for me.
    Glad to have made your virtual acquaintance.

    • Molly, yes, Sharon and our family go back to the very beginning about 65+ years ago or so. I like your one-page-at-a-time script description. It is so true. Almost like a box of chocolates as Forest Gump says. Although not quite as tasty, even if I liked chocolate. You definitely have to be your own advocate because no doctor knows about what is going on with you better than you do. And I’ve almost had two separate prescriptions prescribed that would been in conflict with my AZD9291 study if I hadn’t first checked them out. The growth in treatments is getting exponential with all of the genetics and designer drugs. We just have to stay ahead of the wave. I’m not a surfer but I think that is a good analogy. No wipeouts allowed. Take care and check in to let me know how you are doing.



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