I had my 13th round of chemo on 3/10. It was relatively uneventful besides the usual awfulness that is the essence of chemo. The most significant thing about this round was that it was my 4th round since starting back up after surgery. Which meant a CT scan to look at the tumors on my liver.
I had my CT scan yesterday, 3/16, with 2 follow-ups scheduled for today with my surgeon and then oncologist. So last night, I’m at home, trying to relax on the couch with my wife, when at 8:30pm, my phone rings and caller ID shows “Kaiser Oncology”. My mind starts racing about why my doctor is calling at night when we’re scheduled to meet the next day already.
So I answer the phone, my doctor identifies himself and awkwardly apologizes for the late call. He had just gotten around to looking at my scan from the morning and while he was still planning to discuss the state of the cancer in our scheduled appointment he did want to let me know that they found a blood clot in my lung. His main concern was to see if I had noticed anything like trouble breathing, in which case he would have told me to go to the ER. Since I hadn’t noticed any ill effects, he wasn’t very concerned. He let me know he’d start me on blood thinners today that should dissolve the clot. We briefly discussed the scan and cancer situation but would get into more depth and planning at our scheduled appointment.
I showed up this morning to meet with my surgeon. He again reiterated that we’ve taken surgery on my liver as far as we can. My lesions reduced over the last 4 rounds of chemo, but only about 10-20%. Not enough to warrant any radiation or intervention yet. We agreed to follow up again after my next scan, which I’d coordinate as part of my care plan with the oncologist.
I arrived this afternoon to meet with the oncologist. Again, I’ll mention that I really like my doctor. He’s smart and has a very scientific mind and point of view, but always thanks me for sharing the personal, human side of this journey with him. I gave him some criticism about how I felt he didn’t quite adequately prepare me for the possible extreme skin reaction that occurred from the Panutumamab. He was super receptive and let me know that he learned a lot about his views on that drug from my experience.
Next, as is pretty standard in the oncology and the patient care planning world, he took out the Kaiser oncology groundhog from its pen and unfortunately for me, it saw its shadow – so 6 more rounds of chemo for me. Yay.
So here we are. My doctor is looking at my treatments in 6 month intervals. I’m all over the place in my head but focusing on a combination of treatment, intervention and whatever else to try and get 2 more years of living in, hopefully some of that time not receiving intense medications with harsh side effects. While I’d sure love to live to be 70 years old or maybe a little more, I’m focusing on 45 which is 3 years away since my 42nd birthday passed earlier this month.
I received my 2nd dose of the Covid vaccine and will begin traveling shortly. I want to say that I don’t believe I’m afraid of death. Of course I won’t really know the true answer to that question until I’m on its doorstep, but as of now, that’s my perspective. I’ve led a life I’m pretty proud of. I feel I’ve spread a lot of good in this world, given and received bounds upon bounds of love and I’ve seen a good deal of places and events, of which I’ve shared with so many people near and dear to me. I don’t really have any regrets, nothing haunts my thoughts in that sort of way.
Don’t get me wrong – the idea of dying young does for sure make me sad. I’m terrible at goodbyes and am usually the last to leave or last awake at a party. I don’t like good times to end. Whenever I do go, I will leave behind an incredible tapestry of personal human experience and companions who’ve shared it all with me, which is what has made this whole cancer experience especially hard. I’ve always fought depressive thoughts and tendencies, so the irony of being at such a great spot in my life and knowing it will most likely end way too soon is what I grapple with.
Thank you all again, from the bottom of my heart for your continued support. I’m so happy and relieved that with travel and that by working closely with my care team I should have enough good time left to get in some more unique experiences and see many of you at least once more before my time expires.
In love and gratitude,