Portless in Portland - December 4, 2012

Friends and Family,

Today we took another positive step. My oncologist had suggested last month that it was time to have my chemo port removed. The message was clear: He was telling us that another round of chemo isn't anywhere on the horizon. We pressed him. He said that there are other options, including the Tarceva, that put chemo off in the distance, if it is ever needed at all. It was a great message of hope.

This morning I had the port removed in a minor day surgery procedure. It was so routine that it felt like bringing my car in for a lube job. The nurses told me that they do a lot of port removals, which is heartening to think about. They referred to it as a “graduation.” It felt a lot like that. I am very happy to say that chemo is now in the rear view mirror.

After the procedure Genevieve and I stopped in the cafe in the clinic’s lobby to have a cup of coffee. As I was paying the cashier, it hit me what a life-changing event had just occurred. I was thankful that the cashier was too distracted to notice that I had started sobbing. As we sat down, I couldn’t stop. Finally Genevieve distracted me, and I was able to regain some composure. Then SHE started sobbing, which almost got me started again. It was an emotional, sweet moment to share.

And now completely shifting gears, I have another story that shows how my own hope has grown. It starts with new underwear.

Genevieve and I made a trip to Eastern Oregon over the Labor Day weekend, and somehow I "forgot" to bring my essentials. I had been thinking that I needed new underwear, but I kept putting it off. To put it bluntly, I didn't know if I was going to be around long enough for it to make any difference, not to mention that nobody else was going to notice.

This was right when we hit the one year mark with no growth in the cancer. So how better to celebrate? We went into Ross and I found every pair of underwear that were my size and in a style that, if I wore them in the men's locker room, wouldn't either get me unsolicited date offers, or have the guys thinking I had joined a conservative religious sect. Using this strict criteria, I was able to find just the number I needed, including one package where someone had inexplicably removed one pair.

I took these to the checkout line. When the cashier offered me a 15% discount on that package, I pointed out that one-third of the contents were missing. Math not being her strong suit, she stared back at me blankly. I suggested that there should be a better price adjustment. She held the underwear up over her head and yelled across the checkout line next to us (all women), the 30 foot wide entry, and the next checkout line (also all women) to her supervisor (yes, a woman). While a loud conversation ensued, to the interest of the two dozen women between Here and There, I was thinking to myself, "I better stick around a REALLY long time to make it worth going through this."

The following week we got more good news with the latest CT scan results. Encouraged by this, and not even consciously, I went out and bought a couple of new pairs of jeans. Next, I replaced all my socks. This mounting optimism reached a peak last week when Genevieve and I bought a big new flat screen TV. Now, I'm even more and more hopeful that I'll be around long enough to get a lot of use out of all of these new purchases.

Here's hoping that there's new underwear in your future too.