April 16, 2008 1.5

Family and Friends,

Every three months brings another CT scan followed by another trip to the oncologist to get the results. The buildup to each meeting is not as overwhelming as it was the time before, though for big life-or-death thrills it's still hard to beat. Last time we enjoyed life like civilians for 10 weeks, then went into a state of near-panic for two weeks before getting the Word. This time we progressed to 11 good weeks, followed by a state of mere high anxiety while trying to ignore it for a little more than a week. A few random bedtimes of palpitations with our brains working overtime to find every rational reason why it would be impossible to have a recurrence of cancer seems like progress.

These intense live-or-die moments help me understand why people jump out of airplanes for fun, but I find zero appeal in doing it myself. Been there, done that. Still falling while waiting to see if the chute will open. But there will never be that sudden moment of relief where the wind fills the chute and gravity is placed on hold. Instead, there will(hopefully) just be periodic meetings with the doctor telling us, "Not this time."

Now for the facts! It has now been 1.5 years since my surgery, and it brings me great joy to tell you that the news is again the best it could be. No signs of cancer! Odds keep getting better! Every new report feels like another victory lap in the "I Beat Cancer" race, and I'm loving it. At times it's even exhilarating.

Except I didn't beat cancer. I have found that the further I get from cancer, the more I have been thinking of it as my own personal success. The reality is far different. When I was going through chemotherapy and asking you to "think prunes", when I was going through surgery, and when I was in the early stages of recovery, it felt like every breath I took was because of your support. I counted on your words, thoughts and prayers to see me through. I drew on every email, phone call, and visit to keep me going, much more than I think you can understand. I often re-lived those supportive interactions to find the strength to keep fighting. I know that WE are now beating cancer because you have been there for me. This is the absolute truth, and for this I will always be grateful to you.

We received other good news today from the oncologist. He said that after two years, the odds of a recurrence drop by 75%. We are now at 1.5 years and going strong. I am still counting on your words, thoughts, and prayers to help me through this.

Thank you for being there.