Kicking the Bucket (List) and a Big Milestone

Dear Friends and Family,

It doesn’t get much better than this! Everything I have to tell you is more than I could hope for!

Let’s keep priorities straight and start with the biggie. Genevieve and I went to San Diego last week, and got the results of my latest CT scan. My cancer is still stable! It’s now been on Tagrisso for an incredible 47 months! While Genevieve and I get more and more excited every time, my oncologist and the clinical trial coordinator are looking increasingly bored by my visits. I count that as a major victory. If there were interesting things to see after this much time, it wouldn’t be the kind that we are looking for. I’m hoping that I’ll win the race to see whether my oncologist will die of boredom before I die of old age.

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Next, my big milestone. You probably already know how important I believe that exercise is to staying healthy. Along with going to the gym six days a week, I climb the seven flights of stairs to my office twice a day. When my company moved to the top floor of our building over seven years ago, one of the guys started the Flight Club as a motivator. In this club, we track how many (flights of) stairs we climb. I am proud to say that since that time, I have now climbed more than a third of a million steps. Yes, more than 333,333 steps! (I’m so excited that I had to repeat it.) 


I know a large number of people from all over the world with lung cancer. Some I only know from online forums, but I have gotten to know quite a few in person between conferences, lobbying, and a local support group. Out of all the people that I know, there isn’t a single one that seems to consider exercise as important to beating cancer as I do.

So why do I consider exercise so important? Here are my top reasons:

·         It’s almost impossible not to feel better. Maybe if you haven’t exercised in years, and you overdo it the first time out, it won’t feel great. But regular exercise helps your mood and your general sense of well-being.

·         It’s not complicated. There aren’t certain things that you need to do. You just need to do SOMETHING that gets your heart going for at least 15-20 minutes, as often as you can.

·         It bolsters your immune system.

·         Some research even indicates that exercise may make chemo more effective.

·         You will recover from any illness, surgery, or treatment a lot faster if you are in shape, and most likely even more so if you exercise appropriately during your recovery.

·         I believe that a lot of people with cancer die because they aren’t in good enough shape to handle the next treatment. Exercise puts you in a better position to fight the next battle.

·         While having cancer can feel very out-of-control, this is something that you have control over. For control freaks like me, this is a biggie!

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Did you notice that most of what I said above applies, whether you have cancer or not? And if you are already exercising and you THEN you get a disease or need surgery, you’re in a much better position to handle it. So what do you think? Is this a good time to get started?

The next thing I wanted to share with you is my Bucket List. For the past several years, I have had just one item on my bucket list. I decided that the next car I would buy would be all-electric. Two and a half years ago, I went from what was more of a wish list, to taking an action step. On the first day of a Hawaiian vacation, Genevieve and I got up at 4:30 in the morning to drive across Oahu to get at the front of the Tesla Model 3 waiting list. At the time, Tesla hadn’t even released a picture of the car. Still, we plunked down our deposit and waited. And, of course, saved our pennies. Three weeks ago, we got our car! I’m still like a ten year-old at Christmas! It’s beautiful, it’s powerful, and it has so much technology that I’m still learning about it. It’s the best toy I’ve ever had!

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But why was this car so important to me? I’m not even a car guy. While most of the commercial real estate brokers in the city have BMW’s, luxury SUV’s, or similar, I have been driving a Prius for 13 years. A bucket list with a car on it, and nothing else, hardly makes sense, does it?

I’ll explain. It’s all about values for me. Electric cars are far more fuel-efficient (rated as equivalent to 120 miles per gallon), and burn cleaner fuel, which will help reduce pollution. This is the first electric car with mass-market pricing and appeal, with a waiting list of 400,000. I feel like we are doing our part for the environment, and leading the way for others to do the same. Indirectly, this is going to make it easier on people’s lungs, among other things.

So that’s my news for now. Everything good!

Hoping everything is going well for you, too.



Two Presents, and a Tiny Lump of Coal

Friends and Family,

I got a couple of early Christmas healthcare presents this year! My efforts to decrease unnecessary medical care got rewarded. First, both my oncologists agreed that I had gotten all the benefit that I would get out of my monthly bone-strengthening injections, since I’ve been taking them for two years longer than has been proven to give maximum benefit. That’s the injection that put me at risk of the Zombie Apocalypse (necrosis of the bone). Now, there will be no more monthly injections. Woohoo! Not only that, but these injections cost roughly five grand a pop. Yowza! This is the odd part: Insurance companies will deny care at times, yet they let me have $120K of overkill treatment without so much as a “Treatment Denied” rubber stamp anywhere in sight. Maybe I should be asking them for a Christmas present next year for stopping this wasted expense. Like, maybe, waive my deductibles? Ha! I’d have a better chance of seeing Santa.

The next great present was that my clinical trial sponsor agreed to reduce my CT scans from once every six weeks, down to once every twelve weeks, which is more standard. I have been concerned about getting all that extra radiation, since each CT scan exposes me to the radiation equivalent of 100-200 X-rays. Yes, you read that correctly. That means that I’ve been getting the equivalent of an unbelievable TWO-AND-A-HALF TO FIVE X-RAYS A DAY FOR OVER TWO YEARS. All that radiation can’t be good! I’m thankful that I’m down to a more “normal” daily toxic average of half that amount. Did anyone ever tell you that cancer treatment can be hazardous to your health?

That brings me to the tiny lump of coal. I was concerned about a spot on my skin, so I went in to see my dermatologist. The suspicious critter was a spot the size and shape of a nickel, if Salvador Dali had painted it. Do you have Salvador Dali edges on your moles? Time to get them checked.

That spot turned out to be skin cancer. I have to wonder about this one: Docs are always saying that skin cancer is caused by too much sun exposure, but this one is under my arm, where the sun never shines. Even in Hawaii, I never go shirtless. The CT scan radiation does shine there, however. Could all those scans have caused this??? Fortunately, it’s the slow-growing basal cell variety, so I’ll have it removed on Friday the 13th, and hope no black cats cross my path on the way to the doctor’s. 

There is one more bit of good news. Although there are no scan results from this last trip to San Diego, Dr. Patel says my lungs sound good, and all other signs are pointing in the right direction.

So that’s it for now. Lumps of coal and Friday the 13th aside, all is going fantastic.

Wishing you joy through the holidays, without any lumps of coal in sight.