Saturday, March 26, 2005

I am so excited these days that I can hardly keep my feet on the ground. Ever since my diagnosis last March I have been hoping that I would make it to the Keystone Symposium that I am chairing this coming week. Now, unbelieveably, the time has actually arrived, and I’m healthy enough to go. I have so many scientific friends attending that it will almost be like a family reunion. Dr. Marshall gave me 2 units of blood last week after my chemotherapy and that has boosted my energy level considerably. He wanted to make sure that I could breathe at 9000’ – the base elevation of Keystone. My hematocrit went from 27 to 42! That’s good oxygen carrying capacity! I think that I will also be able to realize my dream of skiing again – after all it’s downhill!
Bob and I have been conscientiously doing the nautilus circuit at the YMCA every other day and walking at least 3 miles per day. In my lunchtime walks at the NIH I’m now walking up the hill and then jogging down. Everyday I try to do a little more to tell my body that I’m in control. I’m also on a mild diruretic that, together with the chemotherapy, seems to have the ascites under control. It’s now been 9 weeks since I was last “tapped”, so that is a good sign. Most of my clothes still fit because the loss of nearly 20 pounds seems to have compensated for the “Buddha” belly of the ascites.
So Monday starts 2 blissful weeks of vacation from chemotherapy. Bob will join me at Keystone on Thursday and hopefully we can do a little skiing together. Then on Saturday afternoon we fly to San Diego where I will give my Excellence in Science Award lecture on Tuesday. Wednesday we fly home and the next morning head to our beach house to spend 4 days with Greg and Karl’s families. Heaven. Then it’s back to another round of Avastin and leucovorin/ 5-FU on Tuesday, but I’m tolerating it well and think that it’s having good effects. So life is VERY good.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I made it! Against all odds I am alive and enjoying life immensely one year after that life-changing day in Suburban hospital when I was told that I had advanced gastric cancer. As proof of my optimistic outlook, I have dirt under my fingernails from planting pansies yesterday. Just seeing these colorful blooms brings me joy and excitement about the coming of springtime.
I have no idea why I am still alive except that I have had the good fortune that my cells have responded well to the various chemotherapy and immunotherapy regimens I have been treated with. And I have two exceptional doctors who are very innovative in their approach to this disease and always have new ideas about what to try next. Also I did not anticipate the importance of the support I have received from my family, my lab members, and scientific friends around the world. When I have occasionally been discouraged, the strong support and encouragement I have received has always helped me to get back on track and see the bright side of life. I realize too, that keeping on top of this cancer requires a continuous effort from me to keep myself fit both mentally and physically – a Nike “just do it” attitude. If only in my mind, I feel that by doing so I’m telling the cancer that I am not giving up the battle. So in some ways, having this disease has enriched my life, making each day more meaningful to me, since I can no longer take for granted that my life will go on for an indeterminate time.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Living the life…. As I get nearer to my one year anniversary, I find myself on a real high. Every morning in the car on my way to the lab I now play Tim McGraw’s "Live like you were dying"

"I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
and I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.....
Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying”

That's me - today is the NEW Day and tomorrow is another!

I’m psyched up about living my life to the fullest.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The best laid plans…. I was so psyched up for what would have been my last chemo before the Keystone meeting on March 28, giving me one chemo-free week to “recover”. Now the plan is off because my neutrophil counts were too low today to go with the chemo. So I will be rescheduled for next week and just hope that, for once, I have an easy time of it and will be ready for a great week at Keystone. I’m beginning to realize that it is impossible to plan anything in this business. I will also get 2 units of blood next week to boost my oxygen-carrying capacity for the 9000’ elevation. So my spirits are high, I’m feeling good, eating very well and exercising. So I will take life as it comes and be content.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

No more weeping and wailing….. March 1, 2005 marks the re-engineering of my mind. No more lamenting about wanting to feel like “me”. “Me” is the here and now. “Me” is not what it was a year ago and probably not what it will be tomorrow. I’ve got to get back to my mental state last year when just being alive was a joy and when I dismissed any discomfort because I still had two feet on the ground and could laugh and love. My state of “remission” last summer during the PanVac trial was an unexpectedly wonderful gift that I shall treasure forever. But I can’t be unhappy today because I’m not feeling like I was then. Maybe I will never feel like that again, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take pleasure in the ‘new day”, love my family, and derive great satisfaction out of my work. So what has brought about my change in attitude? For one – just walking into the lab on Monday and immersing myself in science again was a powerful medicine. But more significantly, I have been blessed with an email relationship with a very unique and strong woman who is now a 5 year survivor of late stage ovarian cancer. She too is a scientist running a lab and she has been reading my blogs. Lately, as I have been overwhelmed with anger and frustration over some of the side effects of the chemotherapy regimens, I’ve asked her how she has dealt with them. She told me that in the past 5 years she has never had any respite from the nausea and fatigue of the chemo, but that after a while she considered it “normal” and just got on with her life. She said there was no alternative. So I’m getting there. There’s no looking back. I will try to take life on whatever terms it is given to me. And I will also do my best to make sure that I give myself the best possible chance of keeping this disease at bay. I started today by consciously eating the entire day long – even drinking a Boost which I despise. Bob and I went to the YMCA after work to keep the muscles working, and even resumed our 2 mile after-dinner walk. I’m up mentally and I’m going to stay there, come whatever may. I’m convinced that these positive brain waves will help.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?