9/26/06 The Current State of Affairs

Friends and Family,

I have now made it through 1 full round of chemotherapy, and we are making our way through the second and temporarily final lap. I had the second day of IV chemo last Thursday, but it's a three week recovery cycle, so I definitely don't consider chemo to be over yet. More on that in a minute.

On Thursday, October 5th Genevieve and I will meet with the surgeon (Dr. Handy) to plan a surgery date and to finalize a plan for which form of surgery I will have. There are advantages to the less invasive VATS surgery (shorter recovery time being #1), but there may be less likelihood of chronic pain after surgery with the more traditional surgery due to the location of the nerves that are cut. Gen is strongly leaning toward the VATS, and I'm becoming more convinced, but in my usual analytical way I'll do more research before coming to what is probably the same conclusion. I think it's the illusion of control that makes it worth the extra effort.

The surgery will likely take place 2-6 weeks after we meet with the surgeon, so between late October and late-November is Dr. Handy's target. Gen and I are targeting the earlier end of this, and I am doing everything I can to prepare for an earlier date. For example, I'm still lifting weights 3x/wk, doing yoga 2x/wk, golfing 1x/wk, and walking the other day. I take a few days off immediately after a chemo infusion but otherwise consider my body to be in training for surgery and for post-surgery quick recovery. With Gen's encouragement I have also added acupuncture with a naturopath as well as massage therapy, both of which are part of Providence's Integrated Medicine program.

We will meet with the oncologist a few days after meeting with Dr. Handy. She has already recommended that I do a couple more rounds of chemotherapy after the surgery because the biopsy showed that the tumor was growing at a faster rate than anticipated. This will be one more way of ensuring that no stray cancer cells are left to wander around my body looking for a home. It increases my survival odds once again and is very reassuring, at least when I'm not thinking about the chemo side effects.

Many of you have asked how chemo is going. The "big picture" answer is fantastic, because it is happening, and that cuts my chances of a recurrence in HALF. The "day to day" answer goes like this:

Day 1: Chemo infusion with steroids x 5 hours. Ho hum, read a few carefully selected magazines, work on laptop, chat with
new chemo buddies.
Day 2: Back to work. (It's Friday.) Energy good almost all day,
food tastes a little funny.
Day 3: Golf (Par 3 course): First 9 - Great, Back 9 - Semi-
horrible (same pattern both chemo cycles!). Tired.... bed
early... The steroids have worn off.
Day 4: Food tastes like a rusty spoon left in the yard all
winter, then used to scrape the gunk in the bottom of a
planter. Nausea gratefully dispelled by meds and sleeping
most of the day.
Day 5: Back to work and gym, hanging on at work for 3 hours,
then sleeping most of the next 18 hours. Less nausea, but
the rusty spoon lives.
Day 6: Giddy optimism returns, selective foods taste great. Use
spatula to get the last of the Fettuccini Alfredo sauce
out of the bowl. Lick the bowl. And the spatula.
Days 7-14: Decreasing fatigue, increasingly normal taste buds.
Day 14: Hair starts falling out!!!!!!!!! False sense of
security dashed!!!!! Embarrassment at the gym!!!!!
Day 15-20: Piles of hair floating down the drain at the gym. White (naturally) towels are then filled with black
hair and discretely chucked in the bin. Vacuum the
pillows and sofa every night to avoid dreams of
sleeping with Big Foot.
Day 21: New cycle. Repeat from Day 1 UNTIL....
Day 26: Get "Bald Power Solidarity" right arm salute from 3 bald guys and two thinning hair guys at work. 3 women at work
(and two men) tell me I have a shapely head. I'm trying
not to let it go... to.... my.... (for those of you who
know me too well, forgive me going for the way-too- obvious punch line.)

Actually, being bald is more fun, at least as a novelty, than I had imagined. Placing my hand on my head is like being stuck to Velcro, so I can entertain myself. It is also a much stronger look than a wispy massive comb-over, so I'm wearing it with pride. A great benefit is that it makes it easier for me to choose whom I tell that I'm having chemo, which helps prevent the dreaded pathetic "I'm so sorry" looks. (I LOVE the people who can see how lucky I am to catch it early, rather than focusing on a victim's outlook.) I can also lie and tell people my Olympic team is all doing this to show team unity.

I'm on Day 6 (licking spatula) today. As you can tell by the length of this email, my stamina is returning. I won't test yours any further today by writing more. Although I haven't responded to each email you have sent due to fatigue, emotional overload or both, every word means so much to both Genevieve and me. Thank you, and Love to you all.


Dann and Genevieve