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Round 55 and Deep Thoughts

I actually had to look up my last few blog entries to make sure this was Round 55 and not 56 or something. You know you’ve been in treatment for a looong time when you start to lose track of these kinds of things.

It’s true. I have been in treatment for a long time. I was diagnosed on September 19, 2010, and started chemo in mid-October of 2010. Almost three years of cancer fighting. I won’t lie – there have been some challenging times. Not really so much in the beginning – the exhilaration of fighting such a potent cancer and showing it who is actually in charge carried me through my first several rounds of chemo and even through the wild and crazy Sugarbaker surgery (also fondly referred to by yours truly as the “pick it out, pour it in” procedure). I guess I’d say recovery from the Sugarbaker surgery was hard – waking up with 13 tubes in my body and then having them all pulled out with varying degrees of pain (from “wow, that was pretty easy” to excruciating) wasn’t exactly easy. But really, the toughest and most challenging part of this cancer battle royale of mine is running the marathon that is extended treatment.

Some people – not the well informed – often ask me: “So, when will it be over?” or “How many rounds do you have left?” I usually say, "When cancer gives up...because I'm certainly not."

The truth is: it’s not going to be over for a while. Potentially for a really long time. It may never be over.

I believe that there are drugs – drugs that are being developed, will be developed, or are actually in the pipeline – that can cure me. I believe that there are combinations of drugs that can cure me. I mean, that’s the whole point of The Wunder Project, right? I don’t believe that this Stage IV colon cancer diagnosis is a death sentence. I never have. But it is, for now, a chronic disease. It is, for now, a disease that is trying its best to kill me. And because of those facts, aggressive treatment is a must. Aggressive treatment is a constant. Because I’d rather be alive than anything else. I don’t care what it takes or what I need to endure. I want to be in this world, with all of you. I know that I have an army of supporters – family, friends, colleagues, fellow cancer warriors, doctors, blog readers, and people who are cheering me on even though they’ve never emailed me to tell me about it. I know you guys are there…and in droves. And I promise you that I will not leave your side. I will fight, I will live, and I will endure. There’s no question about that in my mind and in my heart.

These blood clots in my lungs have not been cool. The fact that I can’t play full court basketball right now makes me crazy. And when I eat a reasonable amount, I can feel the blood draining away from my brain into my belly and that makes me tired and not in the mood to eat. So – and maybe you could have already seen it in my pictures – I’m losing weight. I am doing my best to eat enough healthy and nutrient-rich foods to maintain my weight, but I’ve been dropping pounds. I really believe my blood thinner medication (I switched from Lovenox to some fancy new and improved version) is working and will resolve these clots, but it’s a slow creep toward 100%. And being patient and at peace with that slow creep is part of the marathon…it’s part of dealing with this disease and its complications in a tough, focused, and positive way. I am comfortable in this newly-sleek (honestly, I look pretty damn good) body of mine that huffs and puffs after a flight of stairs. I am comfortable with the fact that I need to take a break after walking up the inclined street to my front door with a heavy backpack on my back. I am comfortable with the fact that I can lift weights and shoot hoops and that’s about it for the moment.

I am comfortable with running this marathon. And I know I’ll complete it.

So Round 55 is just a little part of the bigger picture. It was a solid round – infusion was easy, my headache wore off by Tuesday, and I was back in business by the end of the week. This week, as all off-chemo weeks, is packed with activity – both work and fun. These are just a couple of legs of the grand marathon, and I cruised through them.

More importantly, I am primed and ready for Round 56. And Round 57. And Rounds 150 and 200.

I don’t care how long it takes or what it takes. I will beat this disease. I will survive. And I’ll do it with all of you, my army, behind me.

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