Sunday, February 24, 2008

Week 16 and Future Updates.

The week didn't start that well, but ended on an up note.

My last infusion took 5 1/2 hours from time I showed up until I got out of there. In middle of infusion I barfed. That's the first time that has happened, likely because of anxiety I was feeling. (staff had waited for a couple of hours before giving me planned anti anxiety med).
Roberta Ando picked me up from this last appointment, just as she had the first, listened to me whine on the way home, and left me with some flowers and gluten free beer to celebrate once I was done with my pills later in the week.Thanks again, Roberta.

Good news is that Doc confirmed that, like PET scan done recently, the last CAT SCAN has shown that tumors had shrunk leaving only a non cancerous cyst on my my kidney. (Cyst is "nothing to worry about" according to my Doc).

BTW--Got bill for PETSCAN that I had done a few weeks ago--$2,100, my copay was $100. So the two PETSCANs alone cost (or were at least "billed' by) Kaiser i $4,000, OUCH, can only imagine what total cost of cancer treatment was, I would guess in excess of $30-40k.

Saturday has come and gone and I have NOW taken my LAST Prednisone tablet--150 of those over the last four months. They are nasty tasting--glad I figured out how to put them into gel caps . Got a good walk in the sunshine to celebrate end of chemo on Saturday. The weather the last week in Portland has been great, a very typical February week of "false spring" leading up to a few more months of clouds and rain, in my experience. But I will take it, it's been a good tonic for my last week of chemo.

Upcoming: Now it's an appointment with my Doc in another month and likely every month for next year. This form of cancer I understand has a high rate of return ('refraction") in first two years and important to monitor frequently.
I'm told that blood tests aren't the most important tool for diagnosis of whether cancer has come back. More important I am told is Docs hands on exam of lymph nodes and my reporting of my condition--especially , I think, night sweats, swelling , fatigue.

While I am sure cancer will always be in the back of my mind it's time to get on with my life. I have a few trips planned for this summer, and looking forward to those, dropping some more weight, getting back in shape, and growing my hair back sometime this summer.

Will discontinue weekly posts
to this blog but will post after exams , will likely do a "lessons learned" post at some point, and will post PET scans and pics of me with HAIR once that happens. So don't discontinue your email subscription just yet, there is more of this story to come.

Most importantly, thanks to many people who have taken time to call and write, and for those who have been drivers, and friends for many years.
The psychological burden of the treatment has been far more demanding than the physical impacts. All of your thoughts and concerns have meant a lot to me and have gotten me through these long winter months.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First Robin, First Flower Blossom.

Pics taken today. See, Spring Really is Coming....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Week 15 Update

Later this morning I go in for my last infusion, and the start of 21 day cycle 6.


The weather the last two days has hit 60 degrees with bright sunshine and I have gotten in a couple of walks and have sat in my car, opened the sunroof, and and let the sunshine warm my head as I blasted my IPOD through the car radio.

Last week I saw my first robin, and also saw the first daffodils starting to poke their way through the ground, with blossoming right around the corner.

I'm going to take all of the positive weather/ Spring related developments as a metaphor of improvements to come for me health wise with recognition that, even with the weather, it usually isn't until late June where we can rely on getting continuously decent weather. My recovery will likely take a bit longer than June, but I am looking forward to starting that process.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Week 14 Update

Healthwise, been feeling like a cold is coming on , but otherwise OK this week. [Feb 19th is my last chemotherapy].

Sadly, however, I learned that my former boss and HUD colleaque Dick Brinck passed away from lukemia last week.

Dick served as the Portland HUD Field Office Director for a longer time than anyone else in the nearly 75 year history of the office. He helped moved me along in my HUD career when he selected me as the Housing Development Division Director. Together we made a lot of improvements in both Single Family and Multifamily processing and customer service and had some fun in doing so.

Away from work Dick and I spent lots of lunchtimes and Saturday mornings running, with his nervous energy usually resulting in me struggling to keep up. We were part of a Hood to Coast team, "The running dogs", and we both fondly remember those times, and our fellow team members, whenever we got together.

More recently, Dick and his wife Julie have been especially helpful to me as I worked though my diagnosis, treatment options, and my chemotherapy over the last 6 months. Whether by email or phone I knew they were both pushing for me to help get through this and I am sad that Dick won't here for the completion of my chemotherapy at the end of February. I know I wouldn't have gotten to this point without their help , and the help of others.

Dick was a mentor, a committed public servant, and a good friend.

I will miss him forever