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.