Funny how we go hot and cold on the Colon Club. Sometimes, usually when I'm facing some medical crisis or question, I take a lot of comfort in our little group. Other times--generally when I want to forget about cancer for awhile--I stay away.
Anyway, I have been staying away lately, not because I'm trying not to think about cancer, but because I've been preoccupied with a variety of things, including two weeks of much needed vacation on the family tree farm in Wisconsin. I really needed to get away from it all, rekindle some relationships and try to repair others. Got a lot of necessary work done (it is a farm, after all), and generally had a great and very relaxing time. Returned home to find my garden still intact, though it was just in the nick of time. One more hot, dry day would have killed off most of my smaller plants. But it's all good; they're all off to a good start. I'm going to have a killer garden this year, and you all will be subjected to numerous photos of the progress.
If anyone is interested, here's an aerial video of part of the tree farm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vNyphyqSLs
I had a rough winter and spring, beginning last November when I went to NYC to get an RFA at Sloan-Kettering. The procedure went well, but I developed a pneumothorax that caused air bubbles to get under my skin. It's called subcutaneous emphysema, I believe, and I had a spectacular case of it. Not painful or otherwise uncomfortable, but really, really weird. Anyway, this developed after I got home, so I headed back down to the city (a 5-hour drive) a few days after the RFA. They inserted a tube (kind of like a PICC line, but not) that stayed in for a week and cleared up the air bubbles. Had to go back to the city yet again to get it removed. Then I get a letter from my ins. co. saying they don't want to shell out $24K to pay for the RFA. I'm like, WTF? They paid for the last one...and the one before that. Turns out (after a month of anxiety) that they were wrong--they would pay it after all. Well, hell, I didn't have $24 grand sitting around anyway.
Must have been late March I headed down to North Jersey to get scanned at the Sloan clinic in Basking Ridge. I'm halfway home, just south of Albany, when the phone rings. It's Dr. Kemeny! She seemed concerned about my well being and said that a tumor showed up in my bronchial cavity (this is just 2 hours after the scan was done), and she wanted me to return to NYC the next day to meet with my thoracic surgeon, Dr. Huang. Which I did. Huang wanted to cut it out the next morning, so my wife and I got a hotel room and spent the night. The procedure the next morning went great. Could have checked out the same day, but decided to spend a night in the hospital for a variety of reasons. The next morning, Dr. Kemeny showed up and said that she wanted me to switch from Irinotecan in my biweekly cocktail, to Oxi. I'm thinking, Yuk! Plus, now I need a port (after 115 rounds of chemo without one). So, I traveled down to NYC again a week later to get a power port installed. That went well and I was back on the street the same afternoon. (I like the port, BTW).
I started taking the Xelox/Erbitux blend in early April, and it's been going well. I had my 5th round last Friday, and I feel fine. I don't get constipated like I did on Irinotecan, which is, after 3 years, a real blessing. No sign of the bronchial tumor returning, and my other lung stuff is all stable. So, could be worse. My only complaint is fatigue, which I gather is caused by my low RBC count. I'm working on getting that back up. Fortunately, I'm also blessed with two children who (suddenly) enjoy working with their dad, so I got them to do much of the heavy lifting in the garden and on the logging job. Don't get me wrong--I did what I could--but it was less than I wanted to do. I told my son, "You don't have to be smart because you're strong. Me, I need to be smart to get anything done" He confirmed my observation by taking it as a compliment (just kidding; he's a smart 35 year old 'kid.')
So, I think I continue to do remarkably well, despite the minor setbacks. However, I'm well aware that I can't keep taking Oxi indefinitely, and at some point in the near future, Dr. Kemeny is going to have to come up with an alternative strategy. I'll leave that to her, but I reserve the right to worry that we're entering the end game, time to fish or cut bait, shit or get off the pot--whatever. Hopefully (as always) she can buy me enough time to get me into some early-stage immunotherapy treatments or trials. I read somewhere that in five years, all cancer treatments will be immunotherapy-based. Hope I'm still around to benefit from that.
As my good friend and fellow moderator, CRGuy pointed out in another post, most of my (our) old friends here have departed the planet. Of course, there are always new faces to replace them (sadly) and most of you don't know me, but I thought I'd update anyone who's interested in my case. I will say, sincerely, that other than being plagued with a deadly disease, everything else in my life is going just great, contrary to what you might expect. I'd like to keep that ball rolling, if I can. As I like to say, any day that I can get up and have a normal day, I consider it a win.
Here's a couple happy pics:This is what I did with my daughter's help over Memorial Day weekend here in Central NYS. Please excuse the clutter, but it's a working garden.
This is what my son helped me do the following week in Wisconsin. We each cut about half the wood. These logs will be milled into lumber and pressure treated. You might buy some at your local big box store later this summer or fall. The smaller pile on the right is pulpwood for paper.