Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

There's been some changes with regards to how I'm going to be undergoing my treatment. Initially I was going to be doing chemo and radiation with the radiation done in conjunction with the chemo. After a consultation at Stanford I'll be working with doctors there and at John Muir following the same chemo regiment (initially formulated by my oncologist prior to any involvement from Stanford), and doing radiation in between chemo cycles. The SBRT treatment will only last 5 days as opposed to doing 5.5 weeks Monday-Friday of the aforementioned "old school" radiation.

The benefit of the new radiation, is that it's highly concentrated, much more accurate, and veritably blasts the tumor in ways that I liken to the wasteland outside of New Chicago portrayed in the seminal 80s series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I will be doing another endoscopic sonogram procedure which will involve implanting 3 gold "seeds" in the tumor. These will be used to map out each plane and closely target the mass in order to localize the dosage. After doing the first round of chemo then the radiation I'll do another round of chemo and we'll see if the tumor is in a position to be resected.

I'm finally starting chemo tomorrow, and I feel a mix of conflicting emotions: hope, anxiety, anger, excitement, loneliness, and love. For those who know me well, you'll know I'm a big fan of science fiction. There's a litany in Frank Herbert's Dune that keeps popping in my head when I start freaking out:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
I also had a good friend make a remark inspired by another exceptional book, The Stars My Destination, where the protagonist, Gully Foyle, vows to exact revenge on the ship, Vorga, that leaves him stranded in a non-functional ship adrift in space. He says, "I kill you, Vorga. I kill you filthy." I like the revenge theme, especially now. I plan on taking revenge on this little tumor, which has so effectively thrown my life into upheaval. As the days and doctor's appointments go by, the realization of the impact of this thing is that it's not just my life: it's my wife's, my children, my family, and my friends. We're not done yet. My wife has as close friend who was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, went through chemo and and a double mastectomy, and is still going strong, and has been a huge inspiration to me, now more than ever.

Tomorrow I go in and start chemo, and begin this journey. Things of value often require significant effort and sacrifice, and I'm ready for the challenge. For all of you who've sent emails and words of support, we cannot thank you enough, and I apologize if I haven't been able to respond to all of them. This definitely feels like a shared experience and we are going to collectively beat this little bastard into submission. I've always been curious about chemo, and ironically now I'll have firsthand knowledge of it. I'll try to capture the highlights and share them because, hey, who doesn't want to get a visceral, anecdotal recount of a chemo treatment?

Regarding the Ficken Fo' Life shirts: nothing's been locked down yet, but when we do, I'll figure out a way to message it out to people about procuring one. It's definitely going to be purple, so start listening to some 80s Prince and get ready.


Rachel said...

Hi, its Rachel. I just got a head's up on this from our common former head honcho. Now I am ready for my Purple Team Ficken shirt! There are no words but know that I am thinking about you and your's and sending positive energy and love your way. Go kick that sucker out of your system! The Hulk ain't got nothing on you :) Huge hugs from me to you.

Judy said...

Re: Deep breath before the plunge...
Hi Jeremy, aka, the Hulk, aka, Ficken Strong -- with the awesome love and support of your family & friends, you're going to Ficken kick the shit outta that cancer and surface strong, resilient, and even more of a hulk! In the meantime, we'll all be wearing purple, listening to Prince, breathing with you every step of the way and sending love, hugs, energy, magic, healing. --Judy

Mike Teeling said...

Continuing the sci-fi theme:
One of my favorite superhero as a kid was Green Lantern. OK, it made a lame movie, but it didn't have to!

I believe it was a GL who said "Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the ability to control your fear and not let it control you."

Here's to you Hal Jordan. Or if you are more of a Marvel guy - Daredevil, the man without fear!

Kick it!

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Mary. Am standing by to go postal on that cancer of yours with you and TEAM Ficken! Sending tons and tons of positive energy to you and yours dude! Kick ass and take no prisoners!

Gryphin62 said...

Sending all the positive energy and love to you and yours.

LucyCunningham said...

Best of Luck Jeremy, thinking of you and mentally bitchslapping that little bugger all over the place :)