Monday, December 24, 2007

Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!

I visited the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health last week (Dec. 18-19) for my bi-monthly MRI and visit with Dr. Howard Fine, the neuro-oncology branch chief. For the first time since all this nonsense started back in June, I got to see my brain up close and personal. I was shown the MRI from October, as well as the most recent images, for purposes of comparison. They both looked pretty much the same to me.

To the trained eyes of Dr. Teri Kreisl, the staff clinician I met with on this trip, they looked the same to her, too. So that's good. No "disease progression", as they like to call it. I guess that sounds more high falutin than a simple "all clear for now."

When I asked if I would be seeing Dr. Fine on this trip, I was told that I certainly could if I wanted to wait a couple more hours (he's a popular dude). I opted to grab the shuttle to the airport and an earlier flight home. I'll be back in February so maybe I'll see Dr. Fine then. Either way, they all seem like pretty smart people there so it's not that big a deal to me.

I visited my local neuro-oncologist on Friday and his interpretation of the MRIs was pretty much the same as the good folks at the NIH. All good, continue on the present course of treatment, see you in two months unless something bad happens between now and then.

And now I am caught up on my blogging. We'll see how long that lasts...

Happy holidays to all!

Vitamin D and Vitamin T

Just like Doc Holliday traveled to Glenwood Springs, Colo. to seek relief from his tuberculosis so we went in search of sun, the Vitamin D from which is supposed to hold some healing properties for those with cancer-related fatigue.

By now, the fatigue thing is all but gone, but we made these plans back in October so figured "what the hell?"

And so, on Thursday, Dec. 6, Lee Ann and I, and our bestest good friends Jace and CeCe Wieser, traveled to the southern-most tip of the Baja Peninsula and found beautiful and sunny Cabo San Lucas waiting for us. A fraternity brother of mine has a house on the beach about 18 km north of Cabo San Lucas and he graciously offered up some space for me and my friends. It could not have been more perfect.

On the recommendation of a professional surfer I sat next to on the flight to Cabo, we drove up the Pacific coast to Cerritos Beach where the swells were 20-30 feet high. The surfers were having a field day. We watched from the comfort and safety of our beach chairs and toasted their successful rides with frosty Pacifico beers.

On the way home, we had to make a stop at the enigmatic and tiny outpost called "Art and Beer" which is the only place I know where you are handed a free beer for the road after you have already been drinking. On a previous trip to Art and Beer in 2006, the Harper family spotted Lance Bass from 'N Sync with his lover, Reichen Lehmkuhl...BEFORE he was out of the closet. It was only after Lance's announcement about four months later that we put two and two together and cursed ourselves for not invading his privacy and taking pictures to sell to the tabloids. But I digress...

You may be axing yourself, "What is Vitamin T?" Vitamin T is how the Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar, lovingly refers to tequila. Hagar is a Cabo resident and owner of the Cabo Wabo Cantina in downtown Cabo San Lucas. In fact, Sammy lives only about 200 yards up the beach from where we were staying. Sadly, no sightings of the Red Rocker on this trip.

We sampled our share of premium tequilas, especially on Saturday night when we found ourselves at the Tequila Boutique in downtown San Jose. The proprietor was just getting ready to close when we arrived, but invited us in to sample and enjoy. The shop owner also had a tiny bar right next door so we spent the rest of the evening there, making friends with a small, but hearty band of Canadians. We also learned they were tone deaf when I launched into a rousing chorus of "O Canada."

A freak thunderstorm occurred on our last night...almost hurricane-like in its intensity. In 13 years of visiting Cabo San Lucas, it was the first time we have ever witnessed rain. Pretty spectacular.

With our sun and tequila therapy completed (for now), we returned to the United States of America on Monday, Dec. 10.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cycle Two Passes Without Incident

Editor's Note: I wrote this on December 5, but then promptly forgot to post it. Plus it's a pretty boring entry and I feel like the people expect tremendous prose and wit in each entry. After all, I was voted "Wittiest Male" in my senior class at Yukon High School in 1982. Try living up to that responsibility every day of your life for the past 25 years. No wonder my brain exploded. On to the entry...

I finished my second cycle of post-radiation chemotherapy on Monday, December 3, and things went swimmingly. Unlike round one, which occurred in the jet wash of radiation therapy and pummeled me unmercifully, I felt mostly up to snuff this time around.

I took the fine Dr. Fine's advice this time around and took the drugs in the a.m. rather than the evening. I don't think it really made a difference medicine-wise, but it was better schedule-wise.

The stuff has to be taken on an empty stomach so that means 2-3 hours after a meal. The rationale for taking it in the evening at bedtime is that if you experience any nausea is that you will sleep through it. But it also means that can't eat or drink anything after about 8 p.m. For the morning routine, I just set my alarm a little early, take the preemptive anti-nausea pill, lie in the dark for about 15 minutes and then scarf down the chemotherapy drugs. I go back to sleep for an hour or so and then I am ready to start my day with a hearty plantation breakfast or whatever happens to be in stock.

Cycle 3 begins on Thursday, December 27. Hopefully, it won't interfere with any New Year's Eve plans we have yet to make because people won't invite us because they still think I'm still sickly and will ruin their party, but I'm really not so I won't. Or maybe it's just because I'm an ass.