November 23, 2014 (Sun) – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Actually I’m more of a Star Trek nerd than I am an aficionado of old westerns. Although I never missed an episode of Gunsmoke when I was a kid. But only the Dennis Weaver as Chester version. Just call me a purist. However, I’m not as much of a Trekkie as my wife thought when, years ago, she bought me a Star Trek Murder Mystery party kit where all of the attendees were supposed to dress up in in full Shatner-like regalia. Uh, I wasn’t ready to come out of the beam-me-up-Scotty closet to that degree. My wife thought for sure this would be the ultimate gift and was sorely disappointed when I rejected it.

So why I am using an old spaghetti western movie title for my blog? And how the heck did the word spaghetti get mixed in with a macho western with Clint Eastwood? You might as well have a rigatoni SciFi flick. But all these questions and more will be answered in due time below.

ClintThe Good: I’m not sure anyone that talks to an empty chair should be the icon of this section. But Clint played the part in the movie so I need to remain true to the craft.

Friday I got back the results of my CT and MRI scans I had this past Wednesday. In short, neither scan showed any change from the prior ones done 6 weeks ago. I especially like terms used like unremarkable, normal, no evidence, unchanged and stable. All of these phrases were used in the written synopsis I got. In my world that means no progression, which is 2nd in favorable results only to “additional shrinkage” which unfortunately was not a term used. But I’ll take it. That keeps me in the trial.

TheBadThe Bad: Note the italicized phrase above where the results indicated no change from the prior ones done 6 weeks ago. Therein lies the rub. Remember there was some disagreement on whether my last brain MRI showed anything or not. Well, the latest higher def version did verify that there is something there. Exactly in the same place it was a year and a half ago when I had radiationBrain MRI Nov 2014 zapping to nail the sucker. In fact the write-up calls it worrisome. Worrisome for who?! Certainly not the guy writing up the report. My radio-doc is certain that it is a fuzzy bugger coming back since it did not appear on the scans until recently. Fuzzy bugger? Sorry, hope you weren’t eating. But he gave me two options: reprise my role as a zapee and don the silence of the lambs mask again and blast the bad guy. Or wait until my next scheduled scan at the end of December (New Year’s Eve to be exact) and see where it stands then since it did not appear to grow since the last scan.

Ah, but there is a catch. Since this would be radiating the exact same spot as before, there is the risk of permanently damaging already battered tissue in that area. Supposedly, if memory serves (which it hasn’t lately), that part of my brain controls various motor skills. Which one(s) though I’m not entirely suretsdgvklrewjk. Oops.

Door3So I chose door #2. While thinking that this little fuzzy might be spreading its wings for the next 6 weeks is a little disconcerting, since it hasn’t apparently grown for the past 6 weeks, the chance of it becoming ginormous in that short period of time is not really a concern. Wait a minute. Fuzzies have wings? Hmm. But there still is the slim chance that this little bit of nastiness could be an artifact from the first radiation that is now dying off and showing up. My wife, concerned about waiting while some alien was growing in me, asked me to call back the radio-doc and ask him what he would recommend if it was his brother who had to make a choice. He concurred with my decision. In any case, I may be getting a 2nd opinion from USCD.

CraigFrizzThe Ugly? That would be me. Not sure if the A-Team (my trial drug AZD9291) causes any hair issues or whether my follicle challenges are left over from Tarceva. But I have to essentially glue down my hair in the morning in order for it to have any semblance of control the rest of the day. That usually lasts to about noon and then it goes all Don King/Lyle Lovett on me. I know some of you are going “yeah, at least you have your hair.” Point taken. But I will be having the last laugh on Wednesday when it hits the chopping block. Take that gray boys. The picture to the right is obviously not real since it has the wrong hair color…

As for the trial, I am now in the next phase of my treatment where I only have to go in every 6 weeks. At my next checkup at the end of December I will also have all of my scans, and, wait for it, another knuckle-noogie echocardiogram. Can’t wait. Not.

CorksNo, these are not all Rombauer corks. Don’t I wish. Actually this is just a collection since I had my scan results last week. OK, more Wine Coolerlikely since my diagnosis 20 months ago. Alcohol is a disinfectant, right? Kills germs? But we (OK, my wife) just invested in a new toy that should help us populate this giant glass vial even quicker than we already are. Holds 21 bottles. Notice the blue caps on the end of the three bottles near the top? Yup. Rombauer. You know, I should send my blog off to Rombauer Vineyards. Maybe they’d send me a case for all of the free advertising I’ve given them in the past year and a half. Hmmm.

Syringe PenIf you’ve been following along, you know that I appreciate fun humor when it comes to my situation. So recently I received this unique writing implement from someone at work. With my 2x daily Love-shots and regular blood tests, this device is way too familiar. Haven’t brought myself to drain any of its liquid yet. Seems a little perverse. But I’ll get there.

I know I’m supposed to be trying to reduce my overall stress level. Yet, if anything, it is going up. Lots going on at work right now and I still maintain my weekly volunteer trips to Rady Children’s Hospital and a south-bay elementary school for my first grade science experiments asPaperwork part of my Rotary involvement. Those second two items actually work to reduce the stress tho. And I’m on the board of two non-profits. In fact, I haven’t really had any time to catch up on my own pile of paperwork at home. So dialing it back is not much of an option at the moment although I do see some light sneaking over the horizon. And perhaps I artificially ensure I am kept very busy so that it takes my mind off possible fuzzies and self-convinces me that is truly is business as usual. Only Freud knows. Nobody said I was a brain trust.





Live long and prosper. Yup, that’s the game-plan.

Business as usual. Day at a time.


9 thoughts on “November 23, 2014 (Sun) – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

  1. Craig and Kim – I am Thankful for you and for sharing your journey! Wishing you both a very Blessed Thanksgiving Season! My Prayers remain. Love, Claudia

  2. Hey Craigers…..just read your blog to Cliff and you continue to amaze and inspire us both with your positive attitude and business as usual methods. Wish I had a Rombauer connection for you as you should be drinking nothing less than that EVER! As I drank a cheap(er) red wine last night I had to question if my brain was fried…..what a waste of calories!!!!
    Thanksgiving will no doubt be a time of continued contemplation for you but you do have a lot to be thankful for and no doubt your wife is at the top of that list.
    Hang in there Craig and don’t stress too much about Ye Ole’ Dreaded …..yeah right!

  3. Craig, this looks like a Mexican Standoff. You’re not gonna zap the brain fuzzies, and they’re not gonna dare grow and get shot at. (Sorry it’s not Clint Eastwood, but it’s all I got.)

    I like your plan. I just can’t see the A-Team holding back the fuzzies in your lungs but not in your brain. The A-Team has your back, and so do we.

    I still say there’s a lot to be thankful for here. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Thanks for the reasonably detailed report Craig. I think you have made the correct decision although i fully understand Kim’s concerns. I enjoyed your Don King hair day references. As one who hasn’t had to worry about that for a few years now, I can assure you there is life after your hair is gone. Practical benefits too; you don’t have to pack a blowdryer in your suitcase anymore! Take care and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We will be thinking of you this week.


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