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.