Monday, December 31, 2012


I always wanted to use Scanners as a title for something. Did you ever see the movie? It stars Michael Ironside as a psychic power hungry madman who can "scan" people, which means he can make your head explode if he scans too hard. It's some classic 80s cinema.

Today is my scan day. I'm going in for a CT scan, which is supposed to show the doctors at the tumor board if the tumor has reduced in size and effectively shrunk back from some of my precious blood vessels, so the surgeons can remove this mutant mass of tissue.

Suffice it to say I'm envisioning a scan that shows some very clear margins, so the board gives me the green light for surgery. The radiation I did was supposed to kill the tumor, but there's a chance that there are still some live cells in there, and I want these fuckers out.

It's almost 2013, and we survived the Mayan apocalypse, so it seems fitting that the beginning of this new year also brings with it the end of this chapter of my life. I'm tired of having it be on hold. I want to grow my facial hair back. I want my neuropathy to fade away. I want to go back to work. I want to put all the peripheral side effects of chemo in the rearview mirror. I want to be able to finger the scar on my abdomen and smile knowing that this evil little bastard is out of my body. Sure I'm going to need to do some chemo after surgery, and in the long run it'll be a blink of an eye.

I want to thank everyone for all their emails, phone calls, conversations, hugs, prayers, texts, healing thoughts, and love over the course of the months. I want to especially thank my wife, who has been the most amazing, understanding, loving, and supportive partner I could have ever hoped to have throughout this experience. When we took our vows, the part that resonates the most is the "in sickness and in health" part. I never expected this to happen to me, to us, and she has shown me what real love is.

Ok. We are on the road and almost there. CT scan with pancreatic protocol here we come!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oddest day after Christmas ever

It involves chemotherapy. And, me having chemotherapy the day after Christmas. It started out relatively normal: watched kids play with their new toys, made a little breakfast, etc. Then it morphed into something Lovecraftian, and wherever I looked the geometry of the walls just wasn't quite right, and I soon found myself in a room with a needle stuck into a vascular port installed in my chest awaiting the injection of drugs designed to kill cancer and cause collateral damage to some of my other fast growing cells. Oh well, I thought. At least I'm out of the house.

I can't really convey the dissatisfaction I feel about being in this weird place of waiting. The good news is that on New Year's Eve I have the scan that will be used to see if the tumor is in a position that warrants surgery. The tumor board will then review the scan data about a week later, and I should get the results shortly after. That's all I can seem to think about these days, although I did get a couple of new PS3 games that look pretty sweet, and my platelet numbers are still climbing, so I'm looking forward to getting back to some bike riding assuming the sky doesn't open up for hours on end drenching everything. I'd like to go see Zero Dark Thirty, but it looks like that's only playing in select thuper thecret theaters still.

Ok, nurse just walked in and gave me my platelet count. It's up to 243 from 57. It jumped that much in the space of 4 days. Unbelievable. It's in the normal range now. What a nice delayed gift. Hopefully they'll stay strong for this next cycle, as I'm reasoning I'll need to be in the normal range before I can go to surgery.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rebuilding the empire

This week I'm off chemo, which is a double-edged sword because I like the fact that I'm actively doing something to kill the tumor and its brethren, but it was a rough ride because it decimated my platelet counts. It got so bad that when I asked if I could ride my bike or try a light jog the nurses furrowed their brows, and waggled their fingers at me indicating that any activity that increases my blood pressure could cause an internal bleed, which is extremely risky with my current counts.

Needless to say, I also caught a cold about 3 weeks ago, and it's been keeping me company thus far. In addition to having low platelets, my white blood cell counts have also been impacted, and my immune system is weaker. It's taking forever to kick this thing.

Another lovely side effect involves the return of the neuropathy in my toes. It's like walking on pins and needles. I keep feeling like the protagonist from a children's book of mine, "The Pobble Who Has No Toes". I won't spoil the ending for you in case you read it. The illustrated version was the one I had. Awesome.

There are other things going on too, but we don't need to delve into such topics. I don't mean for this to be a bitch session, rather I wanted to have some sort of record or journal of what was going on with me at this time when I look back.

I'm trying to use this week to kick this cold and get my platelets back up because it looks like I actually am going to resume chemo next week. I'll go in the day after Christmas to start my second cycle. Shortly after that I go back for the scan that will be used to determine if I'm good to go for the procedure that'll involve taking out the tumor and re-plumbing my innards.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, this shit has really put things into perspective. All I want for Christmas is a good scan and a green light for surgery. Let me make 2013 the year I beat this shit. Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2012


My platelet count went up yesterday, and I didn't need a transfusion. Very exciting news, I know.

I have to do blood work today as well, but after that I should be in the clear over the holidays. This means no chemo next week and I believe no chemo for the week of Christmas. I'll have a chance to rebound.

Then at the end of the month I do another scan. I hope to bring in the New Year with some good news.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bloodwork Orange

This week I'm walking around with my port accessed, which means that I have a needle stuck in my vascular port in my chest. I've got this IV line coming off of it, so it's easy to draw the blood, which this week needs to be done on a daily basis. Good times, people. Good times.

Right now I'm waiting at the doctor's office to get results back from today's blood work. My platelet count has been decimated from one of the chemo drugs, and even though I've been eating foods that are supposed to boost their count, the overall numbers are still dropping.

If they drop lower from today's blood work, then they are going to blood type and match me, then send me over to the hospital to get a transfusion of some tasty platelets.

I'm hoping that my counts go up, or at least remain stable, so I don't have to have a transfusion. One of the oncology nurses is also a healer, and she laid her hands on me before they took blood. I'm again hoping that the positive energy gives me that little boost I need to avoid the transfusion.

If I do need to get one, then so be it. At least I'll be reacquainted with my blood type, which I've since forgotten.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Death to mutant semi-me

I've always been a huge fan of horror films. Sci-fi, monster, alien abduction, you name it, I probably have seen it or would like to. One of my favorites is Alien, directed by Ridley Scott. I first saw it well after it came out - perhaps in the mid-80s. There was no Director's Cut, just the original chest-burster in all its glory. Even today the film has withstood the years, both with respect to effects, story, and resonating terror and intensity. I watched it again after seeing Prometheus in order to see if there was anything I could tie back to the recent foray back to the Space Jockey and xenomorphs.

Having said all this, I had the thought that this tumor is similar to the alien, although there's no symbolic male oral rape that's been so thoroughly discussed across the interwebs and dorkapedias. No, this alien is one that's a mutated part-me, and stupidly tries to thrive while simultaneously killing its host, as it has no where else to go. It's not like it can chew its way out of my abdominal cavity. If it did, I would choke that fucker with both hands and feel its dying breath on my skin before expiring.

Where was I? can't live without me. I, on the other hand, can do very well without said mutant semi-me coiling around my precious circulatory structures and impeding the sacrosanct functions of my beloved pancreas. My offensive actions are subjecting it to blasts of radioactive waves, and poisoning it with chemicals - both treatments designed to terminate or otherwise completely discombobulate its cellular functions right down to its DNA.

I think we're in the third, and final act of my own horror's the part where all the plays have been made, and the clock is ticking down to the moment of truth. I think it's going to end poorly for the tumor. I have too many sequels planned for myself.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Waiting game

When all this nonsense started there seemed to be a definite tempo to it all with the endgame being surgery. After the false start, and the need to go back to additional treatment in order to ideally get the tumor into a resectable state it felt like a huge pause button was hit, and I've been in a circling pattern waiting for another window of opportunity.

I was hoping to have this all done in 2012, and now it's going to extend into 2013. All I want for Christmas is to get this fucking tumor cut out of me. I am the kind of person that after having made a decision finds it very difficult to sit and wait on the execution of actions needed to actualize the resolution. Right now, I'm finding myself faced with a situation where I have limited control over the situation, and instead am sharing it with physicians and the cellular activity of a rather troublesome anti-me. If only I could Fight Club my tumor out of me I would. I hate this waiting.

Most of my adult life has been spent steadily focused on attaining goals that would be beneficial for me and my family, and in most cases I've been relatively and fortunately successful. The pace of the current state of affairs is certainly not one that I'm used to, and I'm completely out of my comfort zone. I'm not used to not going to work. I've been so acclimated to getting up when it's dark, cruising into work as the day breaks, settling into a long day of of romancing a keyboard with my fingers, while juggling concerns and expectations and coming up with solutions, and finally heading back home as the daylight ebbs from the skyline.

Now my days are punctuated with doctor's appointments and treatments, feeling crappy on some days, and long bouts of waiting in between. Again, it's these periods that I like the least. The positive take on all this is that I get to see more of my kids than I usually have in the past: I get to take them to school in the mornings, and pick them up afterwards, make dinner with them, and get them ready for bed. It certainly makes for a more interesting conversation with my youngest when I pick him up, and he feels the vascular port on my chest. "What's that bumpy thing, Daddy?" he asks. I sometimes get a little choked up, and caught off guard. "The doctors put it there for Daddy to get special medicine." I reply. I don't really feel like I've answered the question very well sometimes.

I'm looking forward to the coming holidays, and am looking forward to meeting my new nephew, who should be coming in the next few days. I'm really looking forward to a good CT scan, so I can hear the Stanford Tumor Board say that I'm good to go for surgery. Maybe I'll find a healthy pancreas pulsating in my stocking. Joy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Post Thanksgiving

Radiation is done, and I had the entire Thanksgiving week off. That means I didn't have chemo or radiation or alien experiments conducted on me. It was nice to be able to celebrate the holiday with family and friends and not have to worry about feeling crappy. For the actual turkey day we went to my uncle's place, where we celebrated with about 40 other family members. There were 2 birds, one of which I got to carve, one prime rib, and a cornucopia of tasty side dishes. We spent the night so as to avoid the drive home after the long day. It was a blast. I played a lot of pool, and found my inner hustler, having defeated three of my fabulous fellow poolsharks.

This week (it's Sunday today) I start chemo again on Tuesday and will continue for the following two Tuesdays. I'll have a week off after three weeks of chemo, then back on after the break. At the end of December I'll go in for another CT scan, which is going to be used for review at the tumor board, a group of doctors from various disciplines, which will determine if I'm a candidate for surgery. The board primarily consists of a couple surgeons, one or more vascular surgeon, medical oncologists, and representatives from radiation oncology. There are going to be about 30-40 people total attending the board, and the core group of doctors will be driving the conversation and making the decision.

My primary radiation oncologist, in an effort that was probably attuned to managing my expectations, mentioned that the treatment would effectively kill the tumor, however, there's the possibility that there'd be no shrinkage. I'm optimistic that the tumor will suffer a reduction in size, at the very least will move back from the blood vessels so that the board sees the minimized risk and gives me the green light to go with the surgery to remove it. I'm chomping at the bit to get this crap behind me, even if I have to do chemo after surgery (which I will), I'm happy to do it if it means that this little evil fucker has been removed from the equation, and my body. I want my temple clean.

I still am mighty hairless, which is real weird. I feel like what swimmers must be achieving prior to a meet. When speaking with me, you might hear me qualify it as being "high speed, low drag", an Army colloquial I learned from a buddy. My face feels a bit nekkid, after having a rather robust goatee present on its chin for longer than I can remember. I'm happy to experience a hairless exterior if it means I can get my interior squared away.

So what did I give thanks for?
  • My wife
  • My sons
  • My family
  • My friends
  • Chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and their continued advancement in treating and curing cancer
  • My fortune to spend more time with my kids, while I'm taking this time to cure my cancer
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and spent it with people that make you happy.

On we go.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Final Round

Today is the last day for SBRT treatment. My wife found a pretty sweet presentation of how radioactive treatment works in relation to pancreatic cancer. If you want to check it out, it's over here.

Yesterday I spoke with my radiation oncologist, Albert, who indicated that my case would be going up at the Stanford Tumor Board. Physicians, surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and others would review all the pretty pictures of my guttiwuts and determine whether or not I'd be a candidate for resection (i.e. cutting that little bastard out of me, and letting it pickle in a jar of formaldehyde on my nightstand). There's the possibility, of course, that the tumor will be in such a position as to make it unresectable, and I'd essentially go on with my life with a dead tumor and doing chemo periodically throughout the rest of my life.

I honestly have to say that I'm more inclined to prefer resection. There's something about leaving a necrotic mass in me that, while appealing to my inner horror movie fan, also disgusts me. We are going to talk with Albert and the coordinating nurse, Gillian, later today to cover these issues, as well as hearing their plan for moving ahead.

Having said all that, on the way over to the center saw an older gentleman driving a new Tesla Model S, their new sedan model. It looked downright sexy, and the dude was driving it respectably, which basically refuted the argument presented in Porno for Pyros "Cursed Male", please listen below.
In retrospect, I'm thinking, if this guy can mash a Model S, then I can get this stupid tumor to be resectable.
Then on the way home, we saw a driver who was texting and swerving, and I thought, maybe one of Toomie's relatives is eating away at her sensibilities, and it sure would be awesome to have that dumb mass of overactive flesh out of me before it crashes into something I really need, say another organ. I couldn't get a shot of her actually texting, as she switched to sipping her soda by the time I was in shooting range. Let these pictures be a warning that mobile devices are everywhere waiting to capture your sins and triumphs.
We're about to head out to drive down. I'm looking forward to wrapping up the treatment this week. Next week I have "off", meaning no radiation or chemo. The following weeks I'm back on chemo. Take that Toomie. I take great pleasure hurting you, and hastening your demise. I'm getting The Stars My Destination on that ass. Tumor, I kill you filthy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting Room

Not unlike the Fugazi song, I'm in the waiting room right now at Stanford's Radiation Treatment center. I'm actually more in an alcove, as I've already changed into the gown and am waiting for a machine.

They have a bunch of different machines down here. There's so much radiation in here. I can only imagine the lead content in the walls designed to shield non-treatment areas, like the nurses station. The doors to the treatment rooms are about 6 inches thick of solid lead. They remind me of the giant door that Kevin Flynn and son hack open in the Tron films.

It's amazing how many people are here. There's so much cancer! Why the fuck is there so much cancer? I'm doing my best to eat the "right" foods these days, as eating is one of the few things I can control. It boggles my mind they quality of food we put in our bodies over the course of our lives. I passed by a Chick-Fil-A that's opened up in my area and was shocked to see the interior eating section crammed with people and the drive-in had a line out to the street. All I could think of was colon cancer.

Ok. Time to get zapped.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Me and the device

Here are three pictures of me about to "receive treatment". The whole front end, which encases the emitter directly above me and the two panels on the sides, spin around 360 degrees twice and thoroughly blast the tumor.

During the procedure the techs had to...wait for it...reboot the computer. It looked like they were running XP, so I was actually surprised to see it hanging having first thought it was Vista. Regardless, they got it all squared away and were able to finish the treatment.

I treated myself to a tasty organic apricot scone my wife picked up for me, and we were on our way back home.

Round 3 tomorrow.

Round 2

I'm at Stanford now waiting for treatment. My father in law (FIL) and wife are with me. I suggested they get a scone and a coffee, none for for me, please. I'm fasting prior to blasting.

I got a little nauseous a couple hours after the treatment from yesterday. On the drive back, I thought there might be a reboot of my lunch in yet another Lululemon bag, however, I was able to hold it together. My FIL exited the freeway, and I was able to reclaim a stable stomach.

I'm hoping today goes as smooth as yesterday, barring any inflight vomit incidents. No Hulk powers yet, and no video yet. I'd like to get it on film because the apparatus that delivers the radiation is pretty impressive.

More later.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In the crosshairs

At the end of a long "dead" week, one that was marked by some great hangout sessions with some buddies, I'm finally starting back up on treatment.

Tomorrow I'm heading over to Stanford to start a five day run of doing some SBRT radiation treatment. I've got a body cast all set up, radiation tattoos in place, some gold fiducials in Toomie, and I'm ready to get dosed by some fancy device. I'm just as curious as most people how this is going to work, so I'll try to record the event and share it. I'll post a warning: I'll likely have my shirt off as a requirement for the treatment, so if male nipples bug you out, then you might want to forgo any video content I'm able to provide.

I'm not particularly anxious or nervous, and I'm ready to continue the cancer killing tactics that are planned. I'm still looking forward to making 2012 the year I beat this mindless amorphous blob of runaway cells into the ground.

Tomorrow during treatment I plan on practicing some keen visualizations that involve invisible radioactive beams carving into the tumor, making it ill, making it shrink, making it hurt, making it dead, and making me that much more prepared as a candidate for surgical resection.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Big Day

Don't forget to vote today. It's kind of a big deal, this election. It could only be the election that determines if we commit ourselves down the path towards the Zombie Apocalypse.

Yesterday I had a friend come into town. I went to university at Davis with Ben. We lived in the dorms together in the beginning and shared an apartment as we wrapped up our final year. There were meals of rice, and ramen noodle sandwiches. Sometimes condiments were appetizers. Boxed wine made us feel like aristocrats. We studied a lot, rode bikes to class; home; cafes; libraries; grocery stores; parties (one should check out the hardcore bike culture in Davis), visited and became close with our respective families, attended weddings of mutual friends, went to each other's weddings, and our kids play together when we all get together. I guess you could say Ben is a brother. He moved to SoCal while I maintained the NorCal flag. What does this guy do when his buddy isn't feeling well?

Well, if you're Ben you fly up on Sunday night, so you can hang out with J all day on Monday. He got a little bit more than he bargained for, as I had a last minute request from my oncologist to come in on Monday to do some blood work, as the chemo I'm on completely runs an all out offensive on my blood platelets. Their numbers were dropping, and I was apparently poised for a platelet transfusion if the numbers went too low. Ben and I got some breakfast at Chow (good, clean food for a decent fare), then head over to the cancer center to get my blood drawn. I took him into the inner cloister, where other cancer patients and their loved ones go for a variety of awesome cancer-killing or killing-related activities. I even drag him into the "big room", which has a number of chairs that patients sit in when they receive chemo, and we sit down while a nurse and I chat away while she accesses my port (i.e. sticks this two inch needle into a vascular integrated device that's hardwired into my blood supply) in order to draw blood. Apparently the lab was slammed, so we left while they spun up my precious bodily fluid in centrifuges or pulsed it through thaumaturgic contraptions to determine my p-funkiness density and went to the Apple Store.

***Apple Interlude***
The Apple iPad Mini is cool. It looks cool, then you notice that it has the same processor as the iPad 2, and lacks a Retina display. In short, wait 5 months if you're interested in one, as Apple is sure to be listening to Beyonce's "Upgrade", and will likely make some needed/desired hardware improvements.
***End Interlude***

We then head back and learn that my platelets have skyrocketed back up to a more normal level, and that I will not need a transfusion. Happy days. At that point, I told my nurse and several other wonderful staffers that I won't be back until after Thanksgiving, as I need to be off chemo this week since I'm doing a week of radiation, after which I need to remain off chemo for another week to avoid making myself extremely sick. Even though I'm pretty juiced about being off chemo, part of me will miss losing hair and being sick to my stomach because I know that while I'm feeling poor, Toomie must be feeling downright shitty. Oh, here's a picture of me with no goatee. I haven't been clean shaven for the better part of a decade, and had to endure it as my goat whiskers started falling out recently.
Hey, Toomie. Fuck you. Just thought you should know that. I hope your cells are dying, sloughing off, and exiting through the gift shop.

Me and Ben leave dust in our trail as we ride off onto a feeder street that guides us back to the great wide-mouthed creature we call the freeway. We then grab some lunch, and make plans to go for a bike ride. I got a chance to hang out a bit at his parent's house and catch up with his mom and dad. After knowing Ben, and meeting his parents, you know where this guy gets his heart of gold. His folks are amazing. We talked about my family, their family, and eventually talk about the road on which we'll be riding. The road is closed to cars during a certain point, and looks like this.
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures during our ride, however, the day was perfect, and the road nearly deserted. After wrapping up the bike ride we headed home, as the plan was to go out to dinner before he caught his flight back. We end up heading over to Pizza Antica (my favorite is the fennel sausage, portabello mushroom, and onion - oh, and don't skip on the warm brussel sprout salad if you go) with my wife, our youngest son, Ben's parent's, and my wife's parents. It was a blast. Thanks for coming up, Ben.
Personally, it was just downright wonderful to have a break in routine, to hang out with my friend of old, and just in general feel a bit more normal. Normal, for those who lament its unhipsterish normality, is quite nice. Cancer and facing your own mortality kind of put things in perspective, and I find normal has a lovely patina that I can find myself settling down with.

I'll use this week to mentally prep for radiation, as the doctors keep telling me to stop blathering on about "receiving special Hulk-like powers", as more than anything I'll likely feel tired and or nauseous. "Will I have X-Men like mutant powers of vomiting nuclear death on evildoers?" is my reply. The staff simply shake their collective well-educated head at me, waggle a clinical index finger in my direction, and tell me to shut up and drink the damn barium that's needed for the CT scan.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

According to schedule

Today is my last day of chemo before taking a week off to prep for the SBRT radiation treatment I'll be doing in order to both kill and shrink the tumor that's wrapped around some of my critical blood vessels. The plan is to get the tumor to move back from some of the vessels, so that surgeons (who I hope will study the scan results well before a couple days before a scheduled surgery) see less risk involved with the removal of the tumor and some surrounding tissue and organs (see Whipple Procedure), coupled with some vascular reconstruction.

I am indescribably impatient for some of this waiting and sitting to end. I am happy that the SBRT only takes 5 days (although I'm not looking forward to the daily drives to Stanford Hospital from my house), and logically comprehend that it's going to take 4 weeks to wait (while doing more chemo) and see the results of the treatment, but emotionally I'm fucking done with this waiting. I want to get back to my life.

I wish I could just duke it out with this little bastard, and rub its mindless little face in the dirt, and then walk away - keeping this entire experience in perspective, of course. When I think back to some of the things I used to stress about, I could slap myself. I'm looking forward to days where I get in a sticky situation, and say to myself, "If it's not cancer, then chill for moment, and we'll figure this bitch out. It's not that serious."

I never thought I'd need to deal with applying for short or long term disability, COBRA insurance, or worry about pre-existing conditions when considering future medical coverage, and now I find myself on the front lines of it all, coupled with the fact that I've got this little fucker in me, and things aren't moving fast enough for me to get it the hell out.

I am thankful for my family, friends, and relative strangers who have been unbelievably kind, supportive in ways that remind me that despite all the horror we're exposed to in the our daily lives, our humanity and compassion is uncompromising.

That being said, I plan on fighting the socio-political precursors of a potential zombie apocalypse (or in the worse case being able to fight off the infected ranks), and invite you all to join me.
For all my family/friends in the East, I love you guys. Stay safe and dry.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gut Bling

A couple days ago we went to Stanford to talk to their radiology team again, as the next step in this lovely kill cancer process will be to undergo some fancy Stereotactic Body Radiation Treatment (SBRT). This was one of the treatments we discussed with the team at Stanford some months ago, but opted not to do it then and instead do the aggressive chemo cycles of FOLFIRINOX, which precluded doing any radiation because of the toxicity level.

The radiation is supposed to 1) kill the tumor and 2) make it shrink. The idea is to get enough shrinkage back from the blood vessels that the tumor has wrapped itself around (little fucker), so that surgery is an option once again. One fascinating aspect of the process is that before I go in to receive this treatment I have to have another endoscopic procedure to implant several gold "seeds", called fiducials, into the tumor. They seeds are about the size of a grain of rice, and are used to help deliver the radiation in a more focused manner. One of the main benefits is the treatment is 5 days, so they can determine the effects of the radiation sooner. The more traditional delivery would take 5-6 weeks.

There's some prep work that has to be done before I can go in for the actual radiation. I get my gut bling fitted next week, after that I go in for a couple more scans, then the doctors map out how the radiation is going to be delivered. I then stop taking chemo for a period of time before and after they blast me with Hulk rays. The radiology oncologist indicated that they'd be able to rescan 4 weeks after I'm dosed and then the surgeons will re-evaluate the tumor and surrounding blood vessels.

I'm anxious to get this all started, so there are deliberate actions occurring designed to fuck Toomie up and get him ready to be expelled from my body. I'm back on chemo, which has been a bit more tolerable because I'm not doing the FOLFIRINOX, but I still feel like more could be happening. I am still disappointed about the last minute decision to not proceed with surgery, as I had mentally and emotionally prepared myself for the whole ordeal, only to have the rug pulled out a mere 2 days before. I feel like the surgeons could've done their homework a week or so sooner rather than wait until the last minute. The whole thing reminds me of a college student waiting until the night before to write an English paper. I do see the silver lining in the decision: that they didn't open me up only to find out they couldn't do it.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Plot Twist at the Ending

So I was supposed to go into surgery this Wednesday, and the surgeon from Stanford just called to say that after more review with other colleagues he's concerned that there's too much involvement with a critical artery and the vascular reconstruction would be too extensive and therefore too risky too perform. He's recommending I undergo CyberKnife radiation treatment first, which will potentially kill the tumor and cause it to shrink, after which I'd have the surgery.

It's a big shock to be sure. I am disappointed that this little fucker gets some free rent for a while longer, however, I'm glad that they caught this detail before going in and finding out only after they'd opened me up.

The plot twist is that it looks like I'll get to be Hulk after all. When I asked the surgeon when I'd go in for CyberKnife, and it sounds like it'd be this week. Fingers crossed.

This is just a quick update. I'm looking to have more soon.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Autumn of Toomie's Content

It's two days after my stent replacement, and everything is getting much better. I'm still a little itchy, but I can tell that there are less axe-wielding Keebler-esque itch-elves hewing my flesh into itchy chunks for me to scratch, which is nice. I really have to say that the teams at Stanford are really quite considerate. When talking to the doctor who was going to perform the procedure I mentioned my experience the first time about feeling like an inner tube, and he said they'd make an effort to deflate my gizzards the best they could. I also asked him about foods to eat (or to avoid) because of the stent, and was informed that I could eat anything I pleased, which was awesome news since I've been craving salads and vegetables, and not the smoothie-fied versions, mmm-kay.

True to his word I woke up feeling a little discombobulated from the anesthesia, and totally normal from an internal psi perspective! No one could mistake me for a summer inflatable toy and try to take me out on the lake for an afternoon float, and my darling sister (who drove me down and kept me company) and I proceeded to make our exit.

I did get sick from the anesthesia, but it was a minor inconvenience. Thankfully my sister drives an Element, and she basically told me to throw up as much as I wanted because they could just hose it out like an animal's zoo pen when she got home. I opted to spare her a major mess, and used a Lululemon Poser bag to catch my boot. I can speak with empirical assuredness that those bags (yoga hipster though they may be) are nowhere near liquid proof.

When I got home I was exhausted, and caught some serious Zs. The next day I was out on walk with my youngest son, and the doctor's office called to check in on my progress. I told them that symptoms were fading as expected, and I was feeling no ill-effects from the procedure. After my son picked out a bottle cap from the dirt, and proudly displayed it.
After looking at the photo I reflected on the fact that we are changing seasons, and that I spent the whole summer treating Toomie to poison, and here we were coming into fall, and further contemplated that this was the season where the year's growth is shed and renewed, and likened this tumor to floral detritus that ends up under a log and becomes food for the worms. I'm thrilled that this is all wrapping up in 2012. I want to make this year a package deal for cancer: diagnose, treat, cut open, recover, and burgeon in newfound health.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Adding to the fun

Everything was just going swimmingly along when all of the sudden my skin started itching like it was inhabited by itch-gnomes hatcheting away at my flesh with itch-poisoned blades. "Yay!" I thought, as I plowed my nails into my itch gashes. Needless to say, I contacted the the team at Stanford, and met with them to discuss, and the thought is that the biliary stent placed way back in June is somehow "clogged", and I'm developing jaundice symptoms, so I get to have an encore performance of this awesome little procedure called an ERCP, which I originally had when the stent was first installed.

The best part of the ERCP, aside from being completely out, is that when they put the endoscope into my gullet and start poking around my tender vittles in order to evaluate the condition of the common bile duct and stent is that they may inflate my stomach and other adjacent organs with air in order to move the scope around and do whatever they need to do. From my last ERCP, I can say that this air fills me up like a beer keg, but unfortunately there's no party. This should be an out-patient procedure, and I should be coming home the same day, albeit with a slightly higher psi rating than when I arrived.

I'm not looking forward to becoming a human keg, although I am looking forward in having these jaundice symptoms alleviated because the itching is maddening. Ironically, the stent and all the plumping it's involved in will be coming out with the surgery I'm having in about a week, but if I let this continue then I'll likely start looking like a block of cheddar cheese, and have other interesting side effects like sepsis and/or renal/liver failure.

Of course, it's possible that my first ERCP wasn't 100% indicative of what every one will be like. Here's to hoping that they only need to use the same amount of air to fill up a road cycling bicycle tire, and not the volume used on a mud and snow tire.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Green light the production

Friday was a long day. The traffic was expectantly gnarly.
We went to Stanford and met up with the surgeon, after he reviewed the most recent CT scan I had. Doctors wanted to see what the status of the tumor was with regards to positioning with some vascular tissue, as Toomie is nudged up against some major veins and arteries.

The surgeon had some wonderful things to say:
  1. We can operate in conjunction with a vascular surgeon as they need to reconstruct my veins and/or arteries during the procedure.
  2. It's excellent news that the tumor markers decreased another 30%.
  3. The Pylorus-Preserving Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple Procedure) wouldn't involve removing the entire pancreas, and he'll only need to remove a little bit of my stomach (at this point, these are good things given the fact that about only 15-20% of people diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma are eligible for surgery).
He also said some relatively spooky shit:
  • If the blood loss is too significant in the event there is significant vascular reconstruction during the surgery I could die.
This is the first time I've ever heard "you could die" from a doctor. I've never had any major health problems. Not even a broken bone. The extent of my surgical history prior to all this involves some stitches on some cut fingers.

During the meeting with the surgeon I indicated I wanted to proceed with surgery, so I then was told I need to do another CT + Angiogram study in order to provide the vascular surgeon some insight into my inner workings. My wife and I ended up staying around Stanford until the scan, which was scheduled for 4:30. We grabbed some lunch, where we had some fabulously presented jasmine tea.
We then popped by the Apple Store and charged our phones, browsed some nearby stores, and finally it was time to head over to the imaging center. While charging up the surgeon's office doing the Whipple called and scheduled my surgery. The folks at the imaging facility were downright lovely to work with, and my nurse was able to access my port as opposed to trying to stick me 5 times to get a peripheral IV going. I was truly thankful for this little nugget of goodness. I then ran through the scan without any hitches, and the wife and I foolishly hopped on the road at 5:20 leaving Stanford. It took us about 2 hours to get home. The trip reminded me of my former daily commute to eBay from home. Ah, glorious traffic. I love how you can take hours away from our life and ask for nothing in return but fatter guts, bigger asses, and more burned fuel. I digress.

I go back to Stanford next week to meet with the vascular surgeon, discuss the recent scan and the forthcoming surgery, and then I'll meet with some folks to "map my veins". I'll likely donate some during the reconstruction. Come mid-October I check in for operation. I'll likely be in the hospital for 7-10 days afterwards.

The date is set. It's going to be some brutal recovery, but this procedure is curative in nature. I'll need to do some chemo after I recover from going under the knife, too, so it'll be quite a journey. I'm very happy to be on this path.

Thanks to all our family and friends helping us out. We could not be going through this without your assistance and love.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Results of the CT scan were inconclusive. After walking into the doctor's office yesterday I was feeling pretty optimistic: I expected to hear that tumor markers dropped, and the tumor itself shrunk 50%. Tumor markers were good. They dropped another 30% from last time. The tumor apparently only experienced very minor shrinkage, and there doesn't seem to be the expected withdrawal of the tumor away from some critical circulatory tissue. It's hard to be definitive because the doctor reviewing the scan didn't really write it in a way that compared the size in a way conducive to being considered apples-to-apples. My oncologist and potential surgeon are discussing to see if they can get a clear picture of the state of the tumor in order to be able to determine a sound treatment plan and ultimately a surgery date.

It could have been worse: the tumor could've grown, and it didn't. There could've have been metastases, and there weren't. I am bummed that the tumor doesn't appear to have shrunk much, however. My oncologist posited that the scan looks at things from a top down perspective, so the tumor could've flattened, which would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

Next steps are to continue to meet with surgeons as planned. My oncologist is suggesting another procedure that would do a more definitive measurement, and I'm all for it. In the meantime though, I'm likely going to have to continue doing chemo in order to keep that little fucker Toomie bathing in poison. Lather up you little bastard. There's still a lot of ground left in this race, and I'm going to win. I might also do radiation, which is cool too. I'm still holding out on gaining Hulk powers should I end up going in to be irradiated.

There's likely to be some considerable changes in the days to come. I am not sure how this is all going to play out, and there's likely going to be some flux. We'll figure it out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I haven't gotten the scan results yet. I will have them later today. Yesterday I went in for blood work, which is always a larf. They plug this crazy looking needle into my heartplug, er, vascular port, and then use a syringe to draw out as much blood as needed, which in my case was 4 vials yesterday. A lovely 4-pack sampler of some boutiquely produced gluten/casein-free and transfat absent J-blood. Today should have two interesting data points: a new tumor marker and the shrinkage/orientation of the tumor. Both exciting tidbits are going to be huge. I anticipate both being good pieces of news.
On a sidenote, I recently had a really cool experience. Another pancreatic cancer affected citizen came across one of my postings. She left a comment indicating that her husband was on the same regiment as me and had a CT scan the same day as me. Hope all is going as well as it can for you both!

I'm aiming to get another post out today after I get the results.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Moment of Truth's more like a CT scan of truth. Tomorrow I'm going in for a CT scan, following a pancreatic protocol, which is supposed to a) indicate with greater accuracy than a PET scan how much the tumor has shrunk, and b) where exactly it's positioned with regards to some key veins.

I've met with surgeons from Stanford and UCSF, and we're going to meet up again to review the results this week and discuss next steps.

Obviously, this is a very important scan, or rather the results of the scan are going to be of paramount importance with regards to how I proceed with treatment. I've been planning on getting a date set for mid-October, CT scan results not withstanding. Apparently, these imaging systems are still not the most accurate tools to determine the growth/decimation of pancreatic tumors, and I'd likely still go in for the procedure regardless of the result (barring some highly deterministic results that would preclude surgery), and the doctors would be able to make a more informed decision once they open me up and are physically looking at this little fucker inside of me.

I'm both nervous and excited. I honestly feel that as a result of the aggressive chemo treatment I opted into will have seriously thrown a a wrench into the cancer's development, and we'll see good shrinkage, and pulling away from the veins, so the next round of meetings with the surgeons will be discussing the positive news, and scheduling a surgery date.

Regardless of the scan results, I remain optimistic that I will be a candidate for surgery, and I will go under the knife with the knowledge that I'm having the procedure for curative measures, and this will be yet another small (but significant) life obstacle to negotiate.

On another positive note, a friend forwarded me a piece on some pancreatic cancer research legislation that's being discussed in Congress right now:
The Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/HR 733) is currently before Congress. The bill requires the National Cancer Institute develop a long-term, comprehensive plan to address pancreatic cancer. More specifically, the legislation would help lead to the development of early detection methods and effective treatment options, which are currently lacking.  The bill has already garnered broad, bipartisan support in both houses of Congress: nearly 60 Senators and more than 280 Members of Congress have signed on.
Don't fumble the ball on this one, Congress. The purple shirted people are watching.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Time to roll

I've been neglecting updates because I haven't been feeling the best since my last update. I wrapped up my 4th cycle this past Monday, and feel pretty good about getting a break because it feels like there are some cumulative effects that get progressively worse as treatments go on. I've been consistently battling nausea, on top of some of the less severe side effects. It's finally getting better.

Apparently, one of the drugs (5FU....hahahaha! FU. 5 times. HA!) wreaks havoc on the GI tract, so whoop-dee-doo I get to contend with that awesome experience.

This week and next are doctor visits and scans to cover the next step: surgery. I'm looking forward to seeing what my cancer tumor markers are. I anticipate them to be lower, and the CT scan I'm doing I foresee a shrunken mass ready for plucking out of my body. I wonder if they'll let me keep Toomie. I might want him stuffed in a formaldehyde filled jar, so I can cast insults at him and gloat at the loser whenever I feel the need to do so.

Today I'm meeting with a surgeon from UCSF. Next week I'll confer with one from Stanford, so I'll likely go under the knife at one of these fine establishments.

OK. Time to roll.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Round 4

The past weekend was my wife's birthday, and thankfully I was feeling great. We all had a blast.

This past Monday was the fourth and last round of my chemo regiment, which is awesome. I'm determined to make this one a smooth ride out, and stay on top. Coming out of ER my doctor prescribed this anti-nausea patch that I'll wear on my arm. Apparently it's some wonderful new thing, and it's OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive. Fortunately my health insurance covers practically all of it, but $3k for four stickers? You could practically sell these things on the street and take the profits and buy a Vespa-like contraption.

Ironically, when I was feeling nauseas, I couldn't really eat anything, but if I was watching TV and came across the Travel Channel's food programming, "Man Vs Food", my gut was iron. Seriously. Didn't bother me at all. That's just weird.

Once this final round is done I'll be doing visits and scans in preparation for surgery. There's no definite date set yet, although from my perspective the sooner the better. I'd be happy with end of September, but it'll likely be in October.

I'm looking forward to getting some tumor markers, as well! I'm willing the chemo to scorch the earth for Toomie, so I have nice markers, and additional shrinkage of the mass.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Second Coming

I thought I was over the hump this past Friday, as Saturday was a good day. The wife and I had some QT, and I ate some heavier food that in retrospect I shouldn't have consumed, but when your neighbor rolls through with fresh lumpia, it's hard to say no.

Come Sunday, and I'm starting to feel like I've just put all of Chernobyl in my abdomen. I ended up having horrible GI issues, and went to the ER on Sunday. They watched me for 5-6 hours, put some fluids in me, gave me more drugs to counteract the nausea, and sent me home. I had a triple threat nurse on Sunday - she is an ER nurse/Oncology nurse/and healer, so I felt like I was getting the crazy advanced 360 degrees of treatment. Unfortunately, as soon as I got home and out of the car I threw up (nothing quite like barfing in your own back yard), then spent the next 12 hours trying to get over the continued GI havoc being wreaked in my guts. Sadly, there was no respite, so back we went to ER on Monday. I ended up being admitted so they could keep fluids in me, run tests, and try to get a hold on the nausea. I think I had just about every anti-nausea drugs known to western science.

Several IV bags later, some skin patches, an MRI, and a couple patchy nights of sleep I finally started to turn around and was discharged on Wednesday. We all think it was a case of the effects of the chemo I'm on, eating not so healthy food the day before, and catching a viral bug that apparently has been going round. For the time being, I'll unfortunately need to keep the kisses separated via dental dams. This was not fun at all. I still don't feel 100%, although I am definitely on the mend.
It's amazing to think that I'll have another round of this coming up this Monday, I'll certainly need to stay on top of nausea, as I don't want to have to spend more time in the hospital after round 4.

I want to thank my wonderful family for helping to take care of my children, while I was down and out, and for all the supportive messages from everyone. One more chemo-related obstacle successfully negotiated. Let's keep the progress moving!

Friday, August 31, 2012

What a week

It's been quite a week. Monday I did my third round (of four) of chemo, and for some reason it really took it out of me. I feel like I slept or wanted to sleep this entire week. I kept picturing Homer Simpson, when Doctor Hibbert says that he's going to be weak as kitten after his triple bypass. Here's the episode hosted on this smashing Russian site in case you're curious.

The steam was totally taken out of my sails. Seriously. I don't really remember doing anything noteworthy aside from planning where to take my next nap. I napped at home, at my sister in laws, at my in laws. I was trying to squeeze in a nap at the store, but I couldn't stay awake long enough to drive a car let alone push a cart.

Suffice it to say, Friday came along, and we're celebrating my wife's birthday! I had nothing but amazing, sweet, and heartstring-tugging things to say to this wonderful woman who has turned into my personal patient advocate, chemo treatment study buddy, calm in the storm, best friend ever. I mean, I knew she was awesome when I married her, but anyone who is going to get your back during times like this is worth more than a guaranteed ticket into Heaven AND Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Happy Birthday to wonderful wife. I'm looking forward to 50 more years with you.

I thankfully possessed enough juice to walk my oldest son to his first day of 2nd Grade. Man, he is getting big. Daddy is proud.

Additionally, my Askers shot me some SWEET Fickstrong shirt shots, as well as some from a recent event I was able to make. Thank you guys!! I'm feeling all the awesome good vibes. Erik planking no doubt was the nail in the coffin for Toomie.
Good times everyone. Next week I have off from therapy, so I can spend it rebuilding before the following Monday, and my last (?) round of chemo before the scans and eventually surgery. We're over the hump.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Magic shot

I was tucking in my oldest, and we were doing his daily journal. One of the items was "What are you looking forward to tomorrow?" Since I am going into do round 3 of my chemo tomorrow, I told him that he'd be going over to his aunt and uncle's house while mommy and I went to the doctor, and that he would likely get some Mario time in on the Wii. Mario always brings a smile.

My son says, "Dad, I wish you could hang out with me tomorrow."

I respond, "Me, too. I need to go to the doctor tomorrow. I have to take some medicine that'll help me get healthy."

"I wish I could make a super shot that I could give you that would make you all better, and the shot wouldn't even hurt!" He replies.

My eyes teared up like I was watching Old Yeller, and I tell him in an even voice, "Man, that would be awesome, buddy. Thanks for thinking of me. Maybe when you're older you can invent a shot like that."

"Yeah." He says.

"Goodnight, son."

"Goodnight, dad."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

What an awesome little man.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday best good times ever

Friday I had the fortune to catch up with the entire workforce during their summer party. I'd worked there for about 4 years, and stayed in touch with a bunch of friends. It's an awesome group of people. I've really not experienced a workplace like it since. Thanks for the invite guys!

The same day I also was able to squeeze in a visit to my UCD roommate's parents house, as the entire family was over for a dinner while they prepped for their annual harvest festival. If you like vino, are in the Bay Area, and don't want to trek too far, it's still going on tomorrow!

Lastly, I finally received the iPad case I'd gushed about previously. I immediately filmed a sub-optimal unboxing.

Note that my smart-ass remark about the instruction manual culminated in a less than exuberant reaction to the renowned sound channel because I ironically and incorrectly inserted the iPad into the case. Once I reoriented the device in the case a near celestial auditory experience was beholden to me. I recommend the Pad and Quill Contego. It says: I am into China MiƩville, and based on my Bob Cratchet-like ledger looking exterior I can do Captain Nemo's books.

This coming Monday is my third (of four) cycles of the chemo I'm doing. Based on the most recent bloodwork I am doing great. I don't always feel so good, but my body seems to be holding up very well. I'm eager to get through these last two rounds, scanned, lined up for surgery, and back on track with (relative) normal life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Variety and the silver linings

I'm about to go on a bike ride, and don't feel good, but dammit I'm going out.

I was talking with my wife about the variety of side effects I'm feeling, and none of them are particularly awesome. The positive aspect I am realizing is this: at least all of these crappy feelings aren't consistent throughout the entire cycle and are varied and spread out during the course of the treatment. By this I mean that at least the nausea isn't horrible all the time, and the fatigue gradually tapers off, and so on.

Thankfully, some of these side effects don't have me totally laid up, as it has other people, and I can get in a bike ride. It's the little things. You gotta rock the little things and find the silver lining.

For example, I started losing hair on my head, but I shave my head, so no big whoop. I'm also shedding body hair, but that just means that I'm now more aerodynamic on my bike rides.

Affirmations of the day: Hair grows back. I kill cancer.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I couldn't sleep and was not feeling so great, so ended up trolling around for reviews and unboxings of various iPad cases, and I finally decided on one. Depending on how I feel and how creative I can rig a camera to capture the process I might end up making a video unboxing of my own because...well...I've never done one, and I think I could do a decent job. Besides, it would likely benefit 4-7 detail and borderline obsessive bound gadget-dorks when considering the few stand-out design features why I ended up selecting this particular model. Without spoiling the surprise, it's one of those [waving Jedi fingers] "this isn't an iPad case" type of cases, while also exemplifying a comfortable midground for metrosexuals, steampunks, and papyrus-philes.

The real deal clincher was finding a valid online discount code, which knocked $15 off the price. When I went to order it on my iPad, however, I noticed that their site doesn't handle secure transactions on the iOS system. I do have my iPad browser settings to not accept cookies, and after testing the same experience on a Windows 7 box (and "Private Browsing" in Firefox) and verifying my hypothesis I thought it a bit ironic given that the site seems to have their core product line supporting iOS devices.

Anyways, I'll share more detail when it arrives.

Now, for a moment of reflection: so this is what a dude does who is on the tail end of the second cycle of a brutal chemo regiment - look online for iPad case video reviews late at night when he can't sleep, finds a model he likes, buys one, then attempts a perspicacious and QA cream-filled centered blog post about the sequence of events with a half-promise to YouTube it for posterity once said case arrives. BTW, speaking of posterity: note that these days I have to remember to shave my head more frequently because I'm starting to lose head hair and look like one of those cancer patients. Oh! Right! Never mind. That's alright. My hair will grow back. Toomie won't. I'm killing you Toomie. Killing you right this very second. I love killing you.

Good times, people. Good times. Here's a great Stevie Wonder song for you.




Friday, August 17, 2012


This is the third day out from getting the 5FU pump off, and I'm feeling the drag. Came back from my brother's birthday party, and am continuing the trend I've been riding where I just don't feel all that great and end up trying to find a decent movie to watch. I got The Core. You can't always get what you want, said the universe, but sometimes you get what you need.

Tomorrow is going to be better. The science in this movie will always be bad.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waking hours

I couldn't sleep well tonight, having woke up at 3. I've been assaulted by hiccups. What the hell? Going to drink some tea and try to get some zzzz's before I go back to the doctor's to have the IV removed and the pump turned in. Every cycle of this new treatment involves getting juiced for another 48 hours by a mobile pump following the 6 hour stretch on a given chemo Monday.

My stomach starts to get a bit unsettled during this time, and I'm wiped.

While waiting for my tea to steep I checked out some stills of the rover on Mars. It looks amazing. I think I might have to watch the original Total Recall today. You're in a Johnny Cab!

That reminds me: I was chatting it up with another dad at a nearby park a month or so ago. It was in the morning, and I'd ridden out with my two boys. Me and this other dad got talking about movies, and it turns out that he'd been at Pixar for the past 10 years. I gushed about my favs, and he mentioned we should all expect to see a Toy Story 4 in the coming years. We also talked about the Total Recall remake because I'd mentioned my fondness for Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-e) films, and I hadn't yet seen his direction in John Carter (based on Borroughs' source material, A Princess of Mars), for which Michael Chabon had penned the screenplay. I'd lamented the fact that the remake with Colin Ferrell takes place solely on Earth, which is actually more in line with the original Philip K Dick source material, We Can Remember it for You Wholesale. The other dad said not to expect many films in the next 5 or so years that take place on or involving scenes on Mars because the John Carter film spoiled the milk, so to speak, for Hollywood. Seriously? I eventually saw the flick, and thought it was entertaining. Mars is tight! Remember when Hollywood put out two near back to back Mars flicks in 2000: Red Planet and Mission to Mars? Fickle flicks.

Anyway. I'm still up. Finished my tea. Stomach feeling a little better. No hiccups. Will see if sleep will visit me again.

Monday, August 13, 2012

That's so punk rock

After spending 6 hours in treatment with my amazing wife, mom, and sister-in-law who are hands-down the most amazing support team slash patient advocates, I then spent some time decompressing after chemo over at my in-laws, who are undoubtedly the best in-laws in the universe, while some equally awesome neighbors watched our oldest, and was profoundly affected and felt extremely humbled and appreciative for all the love and support. If the world had more people like you, it'd be a better place for everyone. Thanks guys.

Not feeling super good now, but that means Toomie feels worse, so that's good. Watching The School of Rock. Haven't seen it? Total Jack Black Tenacious D-channeled performance meets Goonies meets Revenge of the Nerds feel good movie.

The history and theory scenes of the movie are choice and remind me of several other songs that really pump my nads:

Fugazi, Waiting Room

David Bowie, Space Oddity

Pink Floyd, Fearless

The Flaming Lips, Do You Realize?

Deltron, Virus

M.I.A., Paper Planes

The Raconteurs, Level

The Who, A Quick One While He's Away

Mos Def, Auditorium

I recommend listening to all for the strongest, best effect: loudly if possible. If youre feeling ambitious, look up some Girl Talk for some incredible unrelated mashup material.


Round 2!!

Starting round 2 of the tumor poison as I type. Gio and I squeezed in a bike ride early in the morning and it was lovely. We rode through a mountain in a tiny little tunnel. Gio found this really odd sign.

Then we came home, got a bite to eat, took my oldest to his first day of baseball camp, came back home had a shake (kale, watermelon, blueberries, almond milk, kefir, fish oil, flax seed, coconut oil, pineapple) my wife made me, and cruised over with my mom to get some cancer killing action started.

After coming into the oncology center my SIL came through with some paperwork that indicated my cancer markers went down by 45 points (approx 30% decrease) from when I first started chemo. That's good news.

Being a gamer, and someone who works in the business/audience intelligence space, I'm liking the numbers. It's as if I am able to cast +30% Chance to Slay Cancer Critical Strike. Here's hoping that my round of cocktails today wreak havoc on that little fucker inside of me.

Just wanted to let you know Toomie, it's never felt so good to hate anything as much as you. I'm sending lots of destructive thoughts your way, and visualizing that the poison coursing through my veins reaches you and traumatizes you in ways that are unforgiving and merciless, so that you have no choice but to shrink into Oblivion. Happy trails!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Birthday Bash and Benicia

The birthday dinner was a blast. We went to The Fig Tree and most folks went nuts and ordered from the impressive burger menu. It was quite tasty. The Patty Melt with grassfed beef was a big hit. There was also a wonderfully contrived dessert maneuver involving, yes, Scandishakes.

Folks chipped in and granted me the gift of a new iPad. It's hawt sexy. I already used it to take a flattering picture of myself.

The day after I went and caught up with some friends now working at Twitter. I didn't take any pics because last time I was there at their old location there were some strict rules about it, and I didn't want to have my account quietly terminated/suspended. The new location on Market is sweet. The "cafe" took up a hangar sized floor, which also boasted a gorgeous and sizable patio. It was a lovely day in SF, so after lunch we went outside to wait for another buddy. We managed the entire coordination through Twitter. Unfortunately, this blog app seems to have something odd going on with assigning a link to the text I want to hyperlink, so here's the unsexy raw URL:

Today the Four Horsemen (me and my three bros) went on a bike ride from scenic Martinez to bayside Benicia. It was a chilly and uphill start. Gio was on hand to provide germane and timely Olympic commentary. I participated.

We stopped at First Street Cafe in Bencia and had breakfast. I had the crab and artichoke heart open faced sandwich, and promptly gained 3 pounds.

Later we cruised downtown and checked out the water front. Gio snapped a picture of the four of us.

Good times.

Oh yeah. One thing on the whole cancer item: I had a meeting with my oncologist and she indicated that my case was recently discussed on the cancer board, where doctors from various hospitals come together to discuss cases and debate options, and the majority felt that my best chance at beating this was to get on a FOLFIRINOX regiment. Boom. Take that you stupid tumor. I am blasting you ten-fold with the most aggressive chemo possible. Enjoy the poison.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 38, I Might Need to Drop the Whole "Day #" Thing

This week has been pretty chill, for the most part. I won't go into gory details, because there aren't any, but it's all mostly been upset stomach action and such. My port is no longer bandaged up, and has healed nicely. It just looks like there's a button there, and I have to slap people's hands away from it when they try to push it. "Can't help it, I'm a born button-pusher!" they tell me. I hate it when people try to push my buttons.


So the running gag in my house and between my BIL, Gio, is that everything I'm doing or eating should involve a Scandishake. If you're anything like me pre-June 2012 slash pre-totally unaware that a stupid mass of evil tissue was skulking about in an organ that seems to never get much attention, then you've never heard of Scandishakes. They're designed to be sources of high caloric intake for individuals who need to keep weight on. This means people who likely have some medical condition that would require such a diet modification. Fortunately, I am not one such person, but there are a bunch in my house because some near and dear family thought they'd be good to have on hand.

I was drinking them early on, until I started seeing my oncology nutritionist who was all like "whoa, J, you TOTALLY don't need to be drinking those because you can eat all this other awesome food that will TOTALLY fuck up your tumor and aid in keeping your blood kosher during chemo - not to mention you're not having any issues with losing weight, and those Scandishakes require too much dairy for you, and we're going to minimize the amount of potentially inflammatory substances (like dairy)."

Meanwhile Gio, with whom I usually go on bike rides, is constantly dropping completely non-subtle Scandishakes remarks even when there's not an iota of shake-related content related to the context of the situation. Examples:
  1. [we're about to go on a bike ride and I'm filling up my Camelback] Hey J, you want me to fill that up with Scandishake for you?
  2. [talking about dinner] Hey J, I made you a Scandishake n' Bake breast of chicken. You wanna straw for that?
  3. [calling up to coordinate details on taking the kids to park] Don't worry J, I packed them all a Scandishake. They'll all have Type I Diabetes when they get home. Promise.
You get the idea. Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them. I have quite a few. Maybe I'll mix them with water and substitute them for the milk in a pound cake recipe. Maybe I'll keep them around for when the apes take over and Smithers and Mr. Burns are headjar cybernetics (queue 19:56).

Also, I'm turning 38 tomorrow. It's my 38 Special Day. Please do not mail me a revolver. I'm totally capable of purchasing firearms. Here's a notable historical fact about my birthday: Nixon resigned.

Unrelated, here are a couple awesome pictures from the recent trip to Tahoe.

When I got back from Tahoe, I started to feel a bit better, as I was pretty wrecked up there. I think it was the elevation. When back closer to sea level, I seemed to normalize a bit, and went on a bike ride with Gio. We passed a lake, and saw some awesome signs that should have read "Caution: Hot Lava! Entering Will Cause You to Raise Your Hands in the Air and Scream", which is how we re-enacted them, of course.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 34, I Have Become Brundle-Fly

It's been a rough few days, and hanging in there. We went to Tahoe on a trip with some other families with whom we'd gone to university. We'd planned on going well before the cancer, and kept the plans because "fuck you, cancer", that's why.

The chemo is gnarly. The biggest issue is an upset stomach now, and am managing it with family and friends.

We're wrapping up the Tahoe trip, and I'm getting a moment outside. It sounds and looks like a storm is blowing in.
I'm so used to being in Tahoe for snow season and boarding, but it's summer storms right now.

As for Brundlefly, the reference from Cronenberg's "The Fly", I was watching some TV this afternoon and rubbed my beard hair, and pulled some out, and that's the first thing that came into mind when I looked at those surprised hairs on my fingers: you're relics.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 30, 2nd day of FOLFIRINOX

Woof. This one was a doozy.

  1. I have experienced the peripheral neuropathy caused by one of the chemo drugs. Platinum-based ones are known for it. Essentially, cold things feel a bit painful, so I have to watch what I drink and eat or else it might feel like I'm gripping ice shards or swallowing them.
  2. I've a bit more stomach upset than before, but have loads of drugs and other drugs to counteract those drugs' side effects.
  3. One of the drugs is called 5FU, as in "I will fuck you up cancer, 5 times over because I'm better than you". In case you're wondering, here is an interactive pathway map that should take you about the same amount of time to understand as it would to fully acquire all achievements in Skyrim.
  4. Wearing the pump all the time is weird. Having the IV in my chest port is even weirder. Only click on that if you are not afraid of looking at an IV needle hooked into my chest port.
  5. I wore my shirt today on a walk today and it felt good.
  6. I'm drinking insane amounts of water to keep my body flushed.
  7. I'm still drinking all my crazy smoothies designed to boost platelet and white blood cell counts, rebuild good cytoplasmic structures, reduce/eliminate inflammatory substances, and taste a bit like what I would think cud might taste after it's been regurgitated up from the third stomach chamber. Ok, I kid. It's more like the first chamber.
  8. Me and my boys watched the end of Tron: Legacy, and every time the pump would peristaltically squirt some 5FuckYou into my IV, my youngest would turn his head at the sound. I'd ideally like to get all this behind me, so I don't have to explain too much of the intricacies of pancreatic cancer to my kids.  
Regardless of how crappy I am feeling I rest assured that Toomie and any of its progeny are feeling worse. Soak it up, you little bastards. Enjoy your crumbling empire.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 29, First day of FOLFIRINOX

I'm waiting out this morning before going in for the new juice. Took the bandage off my port install site, and boy does it look weird. It's part subcutaneous alien tissue, part third nipple, part nascent Evil Ash.
I also picked up some cream the doctor prescribed, and it's supposed to make the injection site above the port numb. After they get the needle in, all I need to do is sit there and get some cancer poison transmitted. I'm envisioning it as this huge inescapable cloud of utter destruction to any and all cancer cells floating around in me, and they have nothing to do but sit there and submit to cytocide. Enjoy you little bastards.

Yesterday we had dinner over at my SIL and BILs, and my aunt delivered the tshirts, which are awesome. They are very purple and regal. The logo, care of my BIL, turned out rather nice I think.
A few days before some friends brought over some dinner AND some wicked wristbands! They are Hulk green, of course, and have a very articulate and thoughtful statement laser engraved on the surface.
We are geared up and ready to go. I'm a little anxious, and ready to get the show on the road. This might be the start of a rough 2 months or so, and the endgame I'm working for is worth it.