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Monday
Jan212013

Change is the Only Constant

Before I begin, please take a deep breath. Yes, this post is health-related. I remain the tough, strong, fit, and great-feeling WunderGlo. So don’t freak out, alright? Freaking out is not helpful and it’s also not necessary.

Ok, here we go.

Last Thursday, I had a CT scan. All went fine in terms of getting the scan itself – the tech found my vein immediately, the barium drink was chilled and as delicious as it could ever be, and I was in and out quickly and efficiently.

Dr. Lenz got the results on Friday, and I found about them on Saturday (I found out on Saturday only because we were already planning on hanging out, not because things were that pressing and/or serious - don’t let your mind wander, ok?). All in all, it was a good scan -- the disease in my belly is more or less stable, there aren’t any tumors on any organs or anything like that, there is no spread of disease to the bones, and there’s no new primary cancer like breast or liver cancer or something like that. So that's all good news.

And now, for the bad news (and, for the record, I don't consider any of this bad news). Despite my current chemo cocktail working very well for 15 months (which is a very long and successful run for a second line of treatment), a few cancer cells escaped from chemo's control and latched on to a lymph node that had not previously been diseased. Generally, we don't really freak out about a few diseased lymph nodes here and there (this is fairly small potatoes considering the circumstances of a Stage IV patient), but this lymph node is in an unfortunate location. It's right near a major blood vessel in my chest. Its location, combined with the fact that I'm on blood thinner medication (because I have some blood clots that we're monitoring) could lead to a bad result if the lymph node were to grow and damage or erode that vessel. If that happened, I could bleed to death. And nobody wants me to bleed to death.

So here’s the plan. On or around the 28th, I will begin a very short-term, very focused stint of radiation to burn out that lymph node in my chest. I will get these radiation treatments every day for 10 days in a row (minus the weekends) and then, that'll be it. That lymph node will be a distant memory and the most pressing of my health issues will have been handled. At the same time (as in, on the 28th), I'll start a new chemo regimen that isn't actually that new -- I'll be back on FOLFOX, which was my first chemo drug (our testing shows conclusively that my tumors are still sensitive to FOLFOX). Word on the street is radiation and chemo at the same time makes chemo that much more effective, so we're really throwing both barrels at this disease. I've been assured that the radiation won't really make me sick and I’ll keep my hair, so that's all pretty cool. Chemo will continue to be bi-weekly, and I'm confident that we will get this sucker disease back under control so I can go about business as usual. If this chemo cocktail doesn't work as well as we'd like, I have another back-up option. If that back-up doesn't work, we have another back-up. And I'm sure that, if we were hard pressed, we could find some more back-ups.

Please trust and believe that I am in the best hands possible with my beloved Dr. Lenz, and that he wants to save my life just as much as all of you want me to live. Together, we’ve got this.

Bottom line: I'm not worried. I'm excited for this new treatment regimen, and I feel that this is going to not only keep my disease stable, but kill what little there is left of it in my body.

My work with The WunderGlo Foundation and on The Wunder Project will not stop and none of my scheduled activities will change. I know now, more than ever, that I need to do this work. And I will do this work, no matter what challenges -- physical or otherwise -- I have to overcome to do it.

Before I knew exactly what my scans said, I emailed Lenz and said "FYI, whatever this is, it's not going to stop me or our work with The Wunder Project." He agreed completely, saying that it only makes what we're doing more important. That couldn't be truer.

So take heart, WunderGlo supporters, we are still on track and we are still beating the hell out of cancer. Dr. Lenz will do it with his brilliant mind, I will do it with my tough body and tougher mind, and you will all help me with your strength, support, and positivity.

I almost feel bad for this lymph node. Almost.

Oh, and instead of chemo today (since we're pushing it to the 28th), I'm going to Disneyland.

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