Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Chicken soup for the soul. It would be interesting to study the neural connections stimulated by family bonds. We flew to Atlanta on Thursday to spend Christmas with Greg and his family. It was all so fulfilling. Watching the little kids on Christmas morning is such a unique experience – seeing their excitement and joy in each present and listening to them talking about how they wished every day were Christmas. Suzanne is a terrific cook and seemed to always have something wonderful in the making infusing the house with taste-tempting smells. Then on Christmas Day Suzanne’s parents arrived and we all had a fun-filled evening being ever so careful to stay away from discussions of religion or politics on which we are worlds apart. Every now and then as we would stray onto those topics, Suzanne would tactfully interfere and terminate the conversation. All in all, it was a great celebration of love and family ties.

We even went to a Christmas Carol Service on Christmas eve, solidifying Bob’s and my concept that our “religion” is that of sacred choral music rather than any formal dogma or church rituals. Having been raised with church music in my blood (my Mom was the choir director for the church and my Dad was a bass soloist in the choir), it is the music that triggers good feelings, soothes me, and gives me solace. My neurons thrill to hymns, cantatas, anthems, and requiems. They are my “religion”.

The visit to Atlanta started rather shakily, preceded by my second bout in 3 weeks of intense intestinal pains and violent vomiting which my doctor guesses might be caused by partial intestinal obstruction due to adhesions. But the next morning I was singularly focused on getting on the plane and nothing could have stopped me. It took a day in Atlanta to get over the nausea, but I was so thrilled to be there. I just have to take one day at a time and get the most out of each one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Today I attended a seminar on immunotherapy of liver cancer. As I listened to the presentation I couldn’t help but think how my perspective has changed since I, myself, have become a cancer patient. In my previous role as a basic researcher I would have listened uninvolved to the description of the stages of the cancer, to the concept that stage IV patients are really not considered for trials since they typically are treated only with palliative measures, to the statements that “we all know that a lot of disease is not detected by CT scans”. Now, in my additional role as a cancer patient – a stage IV cancer patient – I am electrified by these statements and turn them inward to my own personal situation. And as I see the numbers that 1 out of 20 or 30 people in a trial responded to this or that therapy, I find myself not discouraged, but hopeful that maybe that 1 person could be me. Why not?

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