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.