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!