Saturday, December 20, 2008

Paging Marlon Brando's Stunt Double!

"The horror! The horror!"

Fat and bald once again am I. Luckily for me, a local improv company has announced it is developing "Col. Kurtz: The Musical," a laugh-a-minute production based on Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. I think I have real shot at the lead.

And I have been going through a bit of a creative dry spell which explains the lengthy drought since my last posting in mid-November (not counting the anniversary tribute to Ma and Pa Harper).

The new chemotherapy treatment I started on November 12 had my hair starting to fall out by Thanksgiving. I first noticed it in the shower when I was stunned to see one of my paws covered in hair while I was shampooing. After two more weeks of shedding, I decided to go ahead and shave my pate rather than continue to pull it out in clumps and risk a drain clog.

The first two Camptosar/Avastin treatments proceeded without incident until the third day following when I was completely knocked on my arse by fatigue. It was particularly frustrating at Thanksgiving because I had to miss an entire day of the long-anticipated Harper family reunion. My oldest brother, Tim, is finally home from his Army assignment in Germany and it marked the first time EVER that our entire branch of the Harper family tree was together.

Sitting: Ed (the patriarch), Dale, Jace, Hayden, Hallie, Dionne, Dave and Tim Standing: Terry, Lee Ann, Meghan, Kaitlin, Joan (the matriarch) and Nicole

Quickly...Ed and Joan made Tim, Dave and Terry. Tim made Meghan and Kaitlin and is married to Nicole (that's Dr. Nicole now, by the way). Dave and Dionne made Hallie and Hayden. Terry and Lee Ann made Dale and Jace.

And I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge and thank my Uncle Mike and Aunt Marian Harper who host the great Thanksgiving feast each year at their home in Dayton. This year's headcount totaled nearly 50. For some mysterious reason, only Jace Harper is absent from the photo below...It truly is one of the highlights of our year. The feast, that is, not Jace missing from the picture.

As for me, my next chemotherapy session takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 23. My doctor has been tinkering with some of the other medications I am taking which had the pleasant result of sparing me from any debilitating fatigue after Round 3. With Jesus' birthday this week, I am hopeful for the same result this time as we are planning to spend time with Lee Ann's family in the days following Christmas.

Getting back to being fat and exhibiting some nice elephant man like features, my doctor is finally, FINALLY, tapering me off the steroids. By early January, I should be off them completely and am looking forward to the strength in my legs returning and my giant gut to start melting away. I actually have not gained that much weight since the second surgery, it is just that I have lost some pretty significant muscle mass which has turned to chub and been redistributed elsewhere. The disfiguring lump/humps that have developed in my neck-u-lar region should start to dissipate, too, but I am told that could take weeks or even months to get back to "normal."

As for the new treatment itself, it's too soon to know if it is working although my most recent MRI, taken on Dec. 9, was much-improved from the post-op, pre-chemotherapy MRI. So as long as things keep heading in that direction, maybe we're on the right track.

A number of you have inquired as to my prognosis. The only answer I have - which is what my doctor told me - is "I don't know." Since every patient and every tumor is different, I am told that all the medical community has to go on is averages. All of those indicators that were in my favor to start are still there...relatively young, otherwise good health, no neurological deficits...all good. Tumor recurring in less than a year...bad.

I continue to try to maintain a positive outlook and not dwell on the negative stuff. Some times are more difficult than others, but what else can a boy do?

As REO Speedwagon admonished us: Live Every Moment, Love Every Day.

Or maybe it was Kid Rock who said: Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy.

Either way, words to live by...


Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Ed and Joan Harper on their wedding day - Dec. 19, 1959 - in Columbus, Ohio

Hats off to Ma and Pa Harper on the occasion of their 49th wedding anniversary! Although separated by great distance, my brothers and I treated our parents to a lavish dinner last night at one of Oklahoma City's finest eateries. All the red meat they could handle! Thanks for modeling the way for nearly half a century!