Three weeks later...


I lost three weeks? I had three weeks. I know they were there. I know I did things, saw people, had fun, laughed, ate, slept, finished treatments, wrapped presents, worked... worked... worked... worked... worked... worked.... worked... (aha! I see a trend).

Somehow along the line I lost track of time and space and who knows what else. It's nice to be back.

Christmas at the Canyon was amazing. Awakening. A virtual winter wonderland. So much needed after burning myself into the ground the weeks prior. It was too much. Too much at a time when too much was going on. And, it's nice to be back. It's more than nice. It's essential.

For my body, for my mind, for my healing, for my world.

I'm starting to believe that the Canyon heals me. Maybe I just want to believe that the Canyon heals me.

Perhaps the magic that seems to enter my body, fill my mind and my soul and my heart and reminds me, even though it's not that I forget - exactly where I am and why I am and who I wake up with each and every day. It's pretty amazing.

I know I am such a skeptic about spirituality and a higher being at times, but out there I felt some kind of something. Some kind of energy. There was something watching over me. I know there are a lot of people watching over me - or perhaps I choose to believe.

It's going to be a good 2009. I'm going to be strong and healthy and vibrant and better.
Stage IV and Stable...
all else is sub-bullets.
There is so much to look forward to.

Still moving...

Still shaking. Still kicking ass and taking names.
Still a bit surrounded in the surreal, and ready to put it all behind us.

Five round downs as of yesterday - halfway home. Today should have been the sixth, but we got the call on the way over that the machine was down. How dare the machine be down. Doesn't it know I have healing to do? Life to live? Things to get on with?

I felt good today - better than yesterday, even though I felt fine yesterday too. I don't love the effects of the steroids and the antibiotics, and the slight feeling of being a bit muted that comes with it. The feeling that I'll miss something, that something will pass me by while I am feeling unaware.

We met with Dr. Rads yesterday - and it was a good visit. Seems that everything is moving right along. I need a haircut. I need to take care of this small bit of nonsense before it sneaks up on me in the middle of the night and my seasonal migratory hair ends up on my pillow in the morning.

I fluctuate between seeing the same person in the mirror I always have, or at least the one I saw a couple of weeks ago - and this person that is looking back at me through eyes that have seen too many things change too quickly. What I realize though, is that I'm certain much of it is in my head. It's only to be expected.

It's surreal - as though I am in an alternate existence at times - while at the same time, things aren't really changing. The strange thing is, I haven't really struggled to make sense of it all, I'm just doing what I know how to do. Be. Live.

I felt very optimistic for the future this morning. Optimistic for the next step - as though I won't be mired in this space forever. Herceptin treatment tomorrow, one more round of radiation. Moving on towards the Canyon...

How I can't wait for the respite of the Canyon...

Four down...

Six more to go.
Kicking ass and taking names so far...
I'm feeling strong, feeling good... feeling like I can take on the world.
Not feeling anything too unusual, safe for the annoying goiter that is now molting and probably causing me more strife than the damn radiation.

I've decided that it's a stylish time of year for neck wraps (whatever works).
Food tastes like food, my body feels mostly like my body, and aside from a bit of jittery-ness that I might be occassionally experiencing from these steroids, all seems to be going along smoothly.

The temperature in my office feels good right now - I am loving the new soft blanket on the bed, even though the dog has apparently taken quite a liking to it, too - and the crisp air feels great in the morning on our walks. There was another shooting star this morning...

Today, behind the mask, I was on the Mogollon Rim with Greg and the puppies... swaying in his arms as the campfire crackled, listening to music, feeling the wind on our faces and the heat from the fire. Willing the radiation beams to work their magic and healing.

And now, for a weekend off, and life to look forward to.

Three down... seven to go

And thankfully, not much more to tell...

It's an interesting experience, this whirlwind of zaps and antibiotics and steroids and work and life and holidays approaching and I tell you, it's not all that unusual.

I keep trying to get a feel for things, to gauge what I might react to, or how my reactions might be different than the norm, but save for a momentary lapse of disorientation yesterday which might have been due to the fact that I was hungry, thirsty, or just a little off kilter - all has been seeming remarkably stable.

I love remarkably stable. Now, let's get these damn scans back to remarkably stable in a few weeks time...

The radiation itself is a breeze - we enter our super secret patient pass code (which I'm sure all of Banner Desert knows of), I scan my card into the reader in the waiting room, and a few minutes later I am unceremoniously announced to come down the hall. They give me the squishy ring to hold onto whilst I am laying on the table, strap on my most beauteous honeycomb mask, and apparently leave the room. I hear whatever song is playing in the background, attempt to insert my own soundtrack, and escape to someplace in my mind, which today happened to be swimming through the water at Havasupai Falls to the place behind the waterfall.

I hear the buzzing, I see the flashes of light changing behind my eyes. I will the radiation to work with every ounce of my being. I smell a faintly foreign smell that I can't identify, and before I know it, the noises stop, the people enter the room, my mask is being unsnapped, someone tells me that I did great and that they'll see me tomorrow, and I head back out the door for re-entry into the world...

We were walking yesterday morning and I was feeling very optimistic about my ability to sail through these treatments and put them behind me once again. And then a falling star shot across the sky. I didn't see it, but Greg did - perhaps it was an omen...

So long as I can walk, and feel the wind on my face... so long as I can laugh and hear my voice ringing in my ears... so long as I can smile and feel the muscles of my face stretch into a long as I can can love, and have the love beside me of the one I've been waiting for this whole time... one way or another, it will be just fine.

And... we're off...

One zap down, nine more to go...

Yesterday should have been the first round, but wouldn't you know it, I ended up with some weird-ass bite or blemish or something that I aggravated on the side of my neck and long story short... cellulitis. So, by the time we went in to see Dr. Rads, he felt that it was more important to get me on immediate antibiotics to treat the goiter (not really) on my neck before starting the radiation. So, after forming the face mask for the radiation, which consisted of something that leaves honeycomb-like marks on my face and keeps me attached the the table during treatment, he sent me off with a prescription for Keflex that could treat a horse and explicit instructions that if the infection gets worse, more swollen, or if I have a change in body temperature, to admit myself to the ER.

After an uneventful night, five antibiotic pills, and about half a dozen temperature takings later, I found myself alive, well, having avoided the ER, and back in Dr. Rads' office where he seemed to be pleased with the progress of the infection. (Not without the explicit instruction to make sure and keep an eye on it or else.)

So, to treatment I went. They let Greg come back and observe this time - which I have to believe was a bit reassuring as he'd have an image in his mind of exactly what I'd be receiving on a daily basis. They hooked me up to the table, did some simulations to make sure I was lined up correctly, and a few minutes, a handful of beeps and buzzes and flashes later, they told me I was free to go. Apparently, from Greg's vantage point, it looked like something out of a science fiction movie. It felt a bit like something from a science fiction movie, but as I heard the noises and the subtle changes in shading from behind my closed eyes, I willed with all my being those rays to zap me. To heal me. To kill whatever was inside. To wipe out the lesions and let me continue our dance.

I was off the table in about 15 minutes, and have been told that subsequent treatments will be even shorter, since they had to do the simulation this time. So far, compared to chemo, this is a walk in the park...

As Greg said, I've never been a very good host to things of this nature that aren't supposed to be there... it's time to continue with annihilating this beast. It's got nowhere to hide now...

Gloves laced tightly... love in my life... holidays approaching... I've got too much living to do.

Play ball.

Here we go again..

The short version...I went for that follow up PET scan on November 13 - the day before we left to do the 3-Day in Arizona (I still have to finish chronicling the experiences...)

We knew I was coming back to results on Wednesday and I hoped to have the same 'miracle patient' reaction from my oncologist this time around. Not quite yet. While there were absolutely no areas of hypermetabolic uptake, there were two small 'attenuated' areas in the brain that the scan report interpreted as 'can not rule out metastases'. So, my oncologist sent me for a brain MRI to rule out the mets. At the same time, something showed up that has been showing up on the last couple of PETs. A few spots in the bone that looked to be 'evident of treated metastatic bone disease'. My oncologist has never been convinced that there were bone mets, and in any case, the treated disease was never a cause for concern. However, he ordered a total body bone scan anyhow. I've been doing pretty good... I know this whole disease charts an uncertain course, and that just because I have been fortunate enough to be NED for a while, doesn't mean that it will stay that way... one can only dream.

So, I finally got in with the oncologist last Wednesday. The good news is that the bone scan came out clean. The brain MRI did not. Apparently there is a smattering of sub-centimeter foci on the brain...

Ironic that the chemo worked so well on the rest of the disease that there is nothing left, but that damn blood-brain barrier worked, too...He got me immediately into a radiation oncologist, who we like very much, and I start today with 10 rounds of whole brain radiation (WBR).

First came trying to breathe. Then we cried. Miracle patient, or normal human being, this weekend we did what we do best... continue to live our lives.

I am comforted by many facts... by the fact that I was asymptomatic when they caught it. By the fact that the rest of the scans are completely clean. By the fact that the original mets responded very well to the treatments. This is what I have to depend on. It sucks. It simply sucks. But I will fight and scream and kick and live with every ounce of my being for as long as I have.

This is two weeks - and a little more baldness - and then we go on with the business of living, whether or not the scenery has changed.We have no choice in what we are dealt, but we have a choice in how we deal with it. And although Greg and I have, and will continue to have, the hard, scary times...I will never give up the fight.

So, I lace them up again, and continue to fight. I'm trusting what they tell me, and I'm going to battle through. I'm strangely comforted at the fact that it doesn't involve chemo and compromise to my immune system, my strength, or my daily activities. Perhaps I am misguided, but until I know otherwise, this is how I choose to approach it. I hope to dance with NED once again - but first I hope that this is simply controlled and stabilized. And I'm still counting on the rest of those 50 happy years.

Time to take the first step towards conquering the world... again.