Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Longer You Go, The Longer You Go

No, the title of this post has nothing to do with a "male enhancement" product. It's something my doctor said to me earlier this month during my bi-monthly brain check-up at the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Center.

But first, the good brain looks "outstanding." In December, there was still a very visible ring around the area where the tumor used to be. That now appears to be collapsing in on itself and getting much smaller. Yes, there is shrinkage. But it's the good kind. The other word I recall the doctor using to describe the difference was "remarkable."

The good doctor then asked how I was doing, how I was feeling, etc. I told him that I tended to get anxious as the routine check-ups approached wondering what the MRI would show. He told me that while that was normal, that the longer one goes without showing any signs of progression, the longer one...goes. Now, granted, it has been only seven months - to the day - since my brain exploded, but this little actuarial factoid was new and welcome information to me.

I have yet to figure out how to block from my mind that I had a high-grade, malignant brain tumor and focus only on the moment. I'm not sure how anyone in similar circumstances can. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't ask how I'm feeling; I take drugs every day; and I have only to look in the mirror each morning and see that although my hair is finally starting to fill in, it is still very thin and white in the area that took the most direct hits of radiation. With the scar, it kind of looks like a little crop circle. That I don't dwell on it all day, every day is the important thing methinks.

I am just now finishing up my fifth cycle of chemotherapy (for some reason, I cannot stand the more popular, truncated word, "chemo"). I will take my fifth and final dose of this cycle tomorrow morning and then board an airplane for a 7,899 mile trip to Taipei.

I am traveling with a group of nine other SPJ members as part of a professional and cultural exchange to the island also known as Formosa. Not counting layovers in Detroit and Osaka, we're scheduled to be in the air for just under 19 hours. We'll return to these United States of America on Monday, March 3.

Until next time...

Author's Note: The date on the post reads February 14 because that's when I began drafting it. It was mostly written on Sunday, February 24, 2008.