Monday, July 30, 2012

The Victoria Show

Got a little bit behind the last couple days, but it was for good 'living life' reasons. A very good friend of mine came into town all the way from Minnesota to visit. We ate lots of good food, got caught up on the superhero movies at the theater, had a quick trip to the beach along with hot dogs and milkshakes, chilled and caught up with great conversations, did tea time with friends, and even fit in a little dancing. It was a great weekend.

Of all the things we talked about over the weekend, cancer was at the bottom of the topic percentage. And that suited me just fine. At the beginning of this year I had to learn that it was okay for things to be 'all about me' for a while. I'm the type of person that doesn't do a lot just for me; I'm much happier doing for other people, especially those I care about. So shifting to taking a lot more than I was giving was a difficult transition to navigate. Although I've become more adept at this, it feels terribly good sometimes to be able to turn the tables back to others. To turn off the Victoria Show and place my attention outward. I have come to expect a certain amount of cancer talk to happen at the beginning of most conversations. Everyone wants to touch base and get an idea of how things are, and they deserve to know. Oftentimes I find myself ready to turn the conversation toward any other topic. Cancer talk has become a bit tiresome; I think, read or talk about it everyday, and have been for over six months. I'm bored of it and am often surprised that others are not. Instead I am truly interested in how your day went, about that little annoyance that tweaked you yesterday, and that silly thing that made you laugh this morning.

The thing is, I want to hear about your troubles. You may not feel that they are at the OMG! level of cancer, but they are still troublesome and frustrating and worthwhile. And I am very happy to hear about them. Cancer is not a stick by which I measure anything, especially not conversation topics. Yeah it sucks that I have a crappy disease, but that is not the only thing going on in the world. It shouldn't diminish any other topic. My loved ones are going through a lot of difficult things themselves (loss of friends/family/chickens, mystery pains, menopause) and I want to be there for them as much as they are there for me. Relationships are two-way streets and I am so happy to do my share of the driving. So ask away about me and I will be happy to cancer talk as long as you like... but let's also talk about you and that book, movie, news story, cat video, headline, everything that we used to talk about. I'm just happy to spend time and share with you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ante Up

I've built up a solid three pair of medical scans this year. The first game I can think of where you could even get three pair is seven card stud. Used to play that a lot with my grandfather and cousin back when I was a kid. That would be a moderately good hand to bet on, but I'm not so sure how much of a boon it is in this circumstance. To clarify: 2 CT scans, 2 PET scans, and 2 MRI's. Half a dozen, and four of the first five have been not so good news - bad hands. I won't get the results from yesterday's MRI for a couple of weeks. I'm not really nervous, the nerves don't kick in anymore like they did in the early days of this year. Back when we didn't know the full extent of my disease and there were still so many unanswered questions. Now it's just a waiting game, more texture added to an existing work in progress.

This latest MRI was for my back. I've had intermittent pain and/or spasms in my lower back since the surgery. My assumption is that they are sympathetic pains to belly cramps, constipation, or the general 'angriness' of my tousled guts. Last week when I went in for chemo my back was feeling pretty bad. My oncologist ordered up the MRI so we can find out if it is something more like a compressed disc or such. I'm pretty optimistic that the scan won't show much of anything. My one good hand out of the scan deals so far was my first MRI. I'm betting on this one as well.

Going through the scans has been an interesting venture. The least favorite award would have to go to the CT scans. You have to fast for a minimum of twelve hours beforehand, and then you have to drink up to two quarts of a barium contrast mixture in the last hour or so. The first round of contrast tasted like an Orange Julius that had been mixed up in an old rusty blender with some iron shavings added in for good measure. The scan itself is the shortest of them all. Though they do disturb you a third of the way through to inject you with another contrast which makes you feel all warm, and then like you peed your pants. It is fairly disconcerting. You also have a twelve hour fast for the PET scan, but you don't have to drink any metal smoothies. Instead, they run an IV and give you a dosage of radioactive glucose. You sit around for about an hour waiting for it to be absorbed, ideally reading escapist fiction. I went through most of the first Hunger Games book during my first PET. The scan itself is the same as the CT. They lay you down and you slowly move back and forth into a large tube with low clicking and motor noises. The PET scan is longer, about half an hour, and is perfect for a power nap. And at the end of the PET scan, they give you a piece of paper that explains why you are radioactive for the next 24 hours. The first time around I asked the tech when I could expect my superpowers to kick in; he didn't laugh.

The MRI's are probably the easiest, unless you are claustrophobic. No prep and possibly no contrast, though the contrast is just a simple injection with no consequent sensation. The tube is pretty tight though, and noisy (earplugs are provided). The first MRI was on my brain, so there was also a cage-like device around my head to make sure it was immovable. Again, pretty disconcerting. Then you're in this tight tube with all sorts of '60's sci-fi movie sound effects going off for about forty-five minutes. Way too loud and inconsistent for good napping purposes.

My favorite is definitely the PET scan. Not for anything about the process itself, but for the possibilities of anarchic mayhem afterwards. C'mon... you're radioactive for 24 hours! It makes me want to head to the nearest airport and see what kind of alarms I could set off. Or head to the Canadian border and really cause some chaos. How often do you get a signed pass for that sort of thing? Imagine, controlled bedlam by little ole me. "Why officer, I'm so sorry, here's my paperwork." Bwahaha!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poseur

Started working with my yoga DVD again yesterday. It's been over two months since the last time I've been on the mat, and I am so very out of shape. Yet I made it through the entire forty-five minute routine. Granted there were a LOT of modifications to poses, and I had to sit out in child pose several times. Tree pose is looking awfully stumpy at the moment and there is no gentle flowing. It's like the Elaine Benet dance in slow motion and a sports bra. My strength and flexibility will increase each day I practice. But it is rough and I was awfully sore today in my shoulders and legs while trying to get through it again. The sense of accomplishment at the end was worth the strain. It feels awfully good to be able to almost do something physical and normal again.

Clearly there have been strides in my range of motion since the final staple removal a couple of weeks ago. I almost move at normal people speed and I no longer generate grimaces of concern in the folks around me every time I gently plant my tush. I can even get up to half an hour of sitting in one position... now that's progress people! Saw my surgeon again today and he seemed very pleased with the healing progress since our last appointment. The time frame for initial recovery from this operation is about three months and I have to remind myself that it has only been two. There is still at least one "Dammit!" moment in each day where I can't believe that something so simple is actually hard or impossible at the moment. My body has somehow forgotten that I am a superwoman who can accomplish all. These daily ego dashes are probably good for my soul, but dammit are they annoying.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vienna waits for you

"Slow down you crazy child."
Opening lyrics to one of my favorite Billy Joel songs, Vienna. It's all about slowing down and taking time to enjoy the now because the world isn't going anywhere. This song has resonated with me since my early twenties, and was even recommended to me by a friend way back in the day. Of course I didn't slow down until just very recently. But I found myself humming this again yesterday on the way home. We had gone out to visit a friend who was celebrating a birthday and the anniversary of one year since getting rid of her breast cancer. She is back to work, doing her daily yoga, working on building up to a 5K run, and generally being amazing and inspiring. One year out of her life, for the sake of life. That's what I've heard several times now - cancer will take a full year of your life. One year to clear everything up and get to a tumor-free place. That's a long and a short time... it's all perspective.

"It's alright you can afford to lose a day or two."
Ideally I am close to the halfway mark. It has been just over six months since diagnosis, five months since I started treatments, four months since I left work for full-time healing mode, two months since surgery, just under one month on full chemo. That's a lot of landmarks, and a lot of time. Some days I sit at home and feel like I'm losing time; wasting beautiful summer days indoors which could be spent more productively, or at least with more fun. Some days I am glad for the opportunity to just read the day away, to catch up on embroidery projects, to organize the bookshelves. Some days I can't do much of anything, and then I am so thankful for the time I've taken off to take care of myself.

"You're so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need."
I need this year... this will be a banner year in the story of my life. I will have stories to tell of how cancer kicked me down and I kicked it back firmly in the 'nads. I'm learning exactly how strong I can be, and that there is also strength just on the other side of unhappiness. I'm gaining an ease with myself. I am becoming aware of my body in profound ways. I'm discovering the ability to be okay with anything (it is what it is). I am growing. This year will put me so much more ahead of myself than I ever was before.

"When will you realize... Vienna waits for you."
There is a sufficient proportion of good days. I try to take advantage of those and do what I can considering limitations. There is a lot I cannot do yet, and I know more limitations are coming. It's a balancing act between the good and the bad. But I choose... I choose to be positive. I can allow the waves of sadness to wash over me, cleansing and then receding. And though I may be left on a sunny beach only in my mind, the beaches are still out there, waiting. The world is not exploding or imploding or going anywhere (mostly). The seasons will come back around. I will have other years and so very many good days without limitations onward. All those places I want to see, the experiences I anticipate, they're waiting and it gives me so much to look forward to.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adventures in Chemotherapy - Take 2

This is a much better chemo week than last. Leading up to this I've been given lots of advice and warnings from various folks about what to expect out of the chemo experience. Of course everyone's response to the drugs are different, so my mileage may vary. I was told that the first week might not be so bad since my body was in good shape to handle and fight the poisons the first time around. Well, apparently my body didn't get that memo and decided to take the more extreme response of WTF? are you doing to us. Apparently full scale poisoning doesn't agree with my composition. I have still felt like a wrung out rag the last couple of days, but no issues with constipation or all the accompanying cramps and pains like last time. I did go into the cancer center with some back pain on Tuesday, and my oncologist ordered up some hard-core narcotic to help. They are determined to make you feel as good as they can at the center, got to give that to them. Between that and the Ativan I was a sleeping fiend. They had to wake me up every time they were ready for the next drug or push. Somehow Kate got me rolled into my house at the end of it and I slept away the rest of the afternoon as well.

The effects of the chemotherapy drugs are cumulative, so I'll be feeling worse as time goes by and the side effects build up each dosage. I've got a page each full of side effects for all three drugs, and there's no telling which I'll have the pleasure of experiencing until it happens. My hair seems to be the same so far, so that's nice. I bought a satin pillowcase so there's less dragging on it during the night. It's funny how in the midst of all this disease appearance still matters. That's a whole post on its own to come. But so far I've noticed the following: nausea, white blood cell counts are pretty low, mouth sores (only one so far), fatigue, loss of appetite, itching, and neuropathy. And there is that much plus more that could possibly crop up. Exciting, no? I find it very interesting to watch/feel my body react however. Guess it's my ex-chem major self interested in the science and mystery of the experience. Which brings us back over to the neuropathy. Not only does it have a cool name, but it's a very intriguing side effect. It is essentially an increased sensitivity to cold, most especially through the capillary veins. But it takes effect in weird ways. The strangest to me is in the neck and mouth. I cannot drink anything cold for the first week after chemo. It creates this strong pins and needles sensation in the back of my throat. Even just room temperature water produces a crackling feeling in the first day or so. The first couple bites of cool food makes my back molars twinge. If I am in front of a cool air source (fan or a/c) for too long, my breath shortens and my body feels tense. I have to use hot pads to get anything out of the fridge or freezer the first few days as my fingers are also very sensitive. I sense that I'll be pulling all my fingerless gloves out early this fall.

It feels rather queer that I should be so curious about how the side effects are and will continue to affect. But on the other hand, it is just like me to be so curious about something new. Even if the new isn't so shiny. Guess I'll just have to smile and be the shiny myself. Week two chemo almost down... off to get my pump taken off!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cancer Kills

The circle of life is a bitch. Living life 'in the moment,' which is one of my goals, makes it really easy to not think about the other side of life, death. I think it is something that is instinctively difficult for our species to really focus on for any length of time. And yet, we are all on our way to death's door... it's the only real path of which any of us can be certain. It is scary and difficult and sad. I was faced with another death yesterday, a friend who was the epitome of how to live life joyfully with a disease. I think about him and there are such good memories of conversation and laughter, but now those thoughts also come with this sense of void. Some blankness in my mind that tightens my throat and is impossible to describe. And yet I smile with those thoughts as well because he was always so good at bringing a smile to people, and because of the love that is also borne along.

I have a frightening medical condition and the reality is that we may not be able to control it, or there could be complications, or the cure itself could affect me poorly. But another side of this coin is that there are any number of things out there that could kill any of us. Lightning could strike, car crashes happen, and the gods know what other kinds of medical issues could occur. I've lost two people in as many weeks and I mourn them. But their deaths reconfirm my determination to live. This moment, and whatever is behind us, is all we are guaranteed. Each next moment is a surprise, a gift, a blessing. I cannot think of my great aunt or Deforest without seeing smiles on their faces. So I will smile, even if my eyes are watery. Because I feel that is the best I can do to honor them. I will live and I will spend my time with the ones I love, soaking in every this moment.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes...

Bowie really did say it best, "turn to face the strain." There's been a lot of that this year. It's been an emotional and psychological journey as much, actually more, than a physical one. Learning how to sit with unhappy emotions and thoughts; breathing through the difficult moments; allowing myself the space to be wherever I am at that time. These are the sorts of mental issues that a lot of us struggle with already. One of my first thoughts on the day of diagnosis was "thank god I already have a therapist I like." Her and I had already been working on helping me to slow down mentally and to allow myself space. Funny how some of my 'problems' kind of fixed themselves with my new cancer perspective. Not sweating the small stuff becomes awfully small potatoes when your first counter thought is "at least it's not cancer."

An early lesson learned was the power to say No. The fact is, I'm a pleaser. I didn't feel comfortable telling people No or not having the answer they were looking for. But those first weeks I had too many directions to go and knew that first priority had to be my health, or else. I created the 'Ass Pass,' an all-purpose sense that was 'get out of jail free' and 'I can do what I want' rolled into one. I'm too stressed out to take another phone call tonight - Ass Pass. I just want to eat dessert for dinner - Ass Pass. Your party invitation on top of the four doctors appointments and full time work this week - Ass Pass. So I cut things back, and I chose not to feel bad about it. And I did things that just flat out made me feel better for a moment, and chose not to feel guilty about it. It was rather liberating. There was a particular glint in my eye and positive energy every time I allowed for Ass Pass. It helped me to learn balance. Now I consider a question well before I answer yes or no, I take myself into the consideration, and my answer is the best one for me in that moment.

Leaving the work environment was a challenge to this first lesson. I struggled with guilt and concern over leaving a new employee in the lurch, as well as in the critical time before fund drive. The idea of missing a fund drive, in which I considered myself the ultimate conductor, was unthinkable. Looking back now, I don't know how I possibly handled it all. If you've gone through cancer or another major illness, you know that it is a full time job all on its own in the early weeks. And yet there I was putting in as close to forty hours as I could while juggling a break for daily radiation, 1-3 doctors appointments per week (sometimes in Ypsi), database training our new amazing employee, training my accounting replacement, preparing for fund drive mailings, making office hour personal phone calls for doctors and insurance... and all this with a chemo pump strapped to my hip for 5 days a week. It's exhausting just to read that, much less to have been doing it all somehow. I showed up early, I skipped lunch for an entire month, I stayed late, I came in on Saturday. I knew I was doing the best I could and that prepping to leave was the best decision. But that Working American part of my mind still didn't really believe it. After all, how would I feel any sense of accomplishment at the end of the day if I wasn't working my job and was just 'wasting' my time every day at home? Our culture prides itself on a strong work ethic; we define ourselves with our job titles. What was I to become outside of work, how to define myself now - cancer girl, lazy girl? I stopped working, and one week later my bloodwork showed a precipitous jump in my white blood cell count. That was what finally really convinced me that I had made the right decision. Clearly my body needed the rest, needed to focus on healing itself; recovery was my new full time job. When I made myself stop and think about it, it made sense. After all, five days out of the week my body was getting poisoned and radiated. Isn't just getting through that enough to ask? And I became okay with telling people I wasn't working a job, that I was working on healing. It is amazing sometimes what the rest of the world will perfectly accept that you yourself cannot. Everyone else was giving me my Ass Pass, so I took it.

One of my favorite exercises from my therapist is to stop and ask yourself "what can I do now," then quietly wait for the answer, do it, then stop and ask it again. Sometimes it will be "I can do the dishes," or "I can fill out this pile of paperwork," and sometimes it is "I can take a nap." The answer is always okay, this is the real lesson. Your Self knows what it needs. You just have to learn how to hear Her voice, and then accept what She has to say. Stop, listen, accept. The stopping part was tough for me. My speeds are typically GO!GO!GO! or Asleep. I was almost always on to the next thing before the door was even closed on the one before. That doesn't allow much space for a small voice to seep through and guide. That doesn't allow much space for enjoying the doing. There is a LOT more space in my life now. Part of that is that I'm not working, part of it is that I just physically can't do a lot right now, but the biggest part of it is that I've allowed for space. I give everything some breathing room. I no longer let myself jump up at every slight provocation. I make moments to enjoy whatever it is that is happening right now. I try to stay aware and mindful. This is its own job, and it brings a sincere sense of accomplishment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Homesteading

It's a quiet medical week mostly. I'm hoping this will be the case for all of my off-chemo weeks. These should be my 'good days' in theory. Life without staple is more comfortable. I have a lovely new memory foam cushion that 'does a butt good' supplied by a terrific friend. Still can't find comfortable positions for sleep, but the awake hours are doing much better.

Yesterday I baked bread. It felt very good and right to be doing something so homey and sustaining. We needed bread for sandwiches and I provided it all on my own. Self-sufficiency. Something that has been in low supply lately. Something in which I used to be an expert. As I've mentioned before, I'm a wee bit too independent minded for my own good. It's hard for me to ask for help, especially for the merest mundane things. And most especially for the things that I love doing, like cooking and keeping house. So it is very pleasing to be in a place where I can comfortably accomplish some things on my own. And bread, it's basic in the best ways: nourishing, comforting, tasty. Of course, that completed and I had five more ideas of things I could do right now. But I stopped my spinning mind, breathed, and decided that it was enough. That's a bit of a breakthrough. It's hard going from sixty miles a minute to six. And six is a good speed right now. A month ago my speed was limited to more like a sixth. Progress, slow but steady. I'll take it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heavy Metal

One little metal staple does a lot to weigh you down. Not as much as the dozen plus I started with, but it still kinda sucked. And today I am officially staple-free! Saw my butt doctor again today and he removed the final, damnable staple that was holding me back from taking over the world... err... from sitting on cushions with some semblance of comfort. Had me feeling particularly peppy this afternoon. He also suggested (after a month of using one), that a butt donut was not the best choice for good healing. Puts too much pressure in the region. Kind of wish he'd said something anytime in the last two visits so I wasn't running around with my red scarlet B (yes, the cushion is red) under my arm all the time. So here's hoping that just a regular cushion will work, and be less pain on my back since I'll be better able to properly lean back in seating.

Feeling better every day post first chemo session. But no real new news other than I GOT MY STAPLE OUT! That is all, and good night to you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bad Days

TMI Warning: There will be poop talk.

"Mama said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this my mama said." Figures that they'd eventually catch up to me. Yesterday it did. A long, long day full of belly cramps and aches in which I did little more than constantly move from the chair to the sofa to the bed, mostly the bed. With a tired numb expression of angst. One of the things I've been fighting with since surgery is constipation. When your guts get jostled around and some get removed, they're angry at you for a while. And though I believe we've moved past the 'angry guts' phase, I think we're still in the 'we don't trust you, keep a sideways eye on you' phase. Amoungst what I call all my new 'old lady' accessories (heating pad, butt donut, prescriptions) is a laxative that I take almost daily. The instructions say not to take it for more than a week at a time, but I think that sometimes the rules have to be broken. It seems every time I skip a day that I pay for it slightly a couple days later. I happened to skip two days early last week because it seemed like everything was moving along just fine. Three days without pooping later, on top of whatever chemo introduced to the picture, and I paid. Dearly.

I've learned a lot of new things about how poop works in the body over the last couple months. More than I think I wanted to know. Eating stimulates chemicals and hormones in the body to start moving the prior meal along. Water is very important to regular pooping. Heat also helps when you are bound up. So I spent a lot of a 100+ hot day (thankfully we do have some a/c) laying on a heating pad, drinking lukewarm water, and not eating. Oh yeah, the water. One of the lovely side effects of the Oxaliplatin is neuropathy, which is a sensitivity to cold. Drinking cold liquids feels like someone jabbing your throat with pins and needles. I haven't actually experienced it, but just trying some below room temperature water gave me a really strange crackling feeling in my throat. Enough to convince me not to test it. Now mind you, I did want to eat and I tried. But when your belly is cramping as bad as mine was and you can't sit straight due to consequent back pain, it ain't so easy. There was a lot of poop happening all day and night though. Hard little poops that had been sitting in my suspicious guts just waiting to say "I told you so."

Woke up feeling so much better today. However, the not eating for over 24 hours didn't go over so well. Actually, more like 30 hours since the last real meal I had eaten on Thursday didn't stay down. Many of you have likely heard me say that I'm always looking forward to new experiences when the opportunity presents itself. Passing out was not an experience on the list. My husband was here however, and he caught me before I upended into the cat litter box on my way to the bedroom. I find it funny now. After another nap (I'm turning into my cats with the constant sleeping!), I woke up hungry and craving fruit. It still amazes me how the body knows how to fix itself. I've eaten frequent small meals today, even helped make dinner, and am feeling right up to my perky old self again. Today was a better day and I am thankful.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Adventures in Chemotherapy

First week with the 'real' chemotherapy. And it is a very different ball game. This winter I was on a super low dosage of 5-FU, only enough to help sensitize my body to the radiation which was doing all the hard work. I knew the next chemo treatment was going to be the serious stuff with all the accompanying good times. My bum was getting a little complacent, good thing this showed up with a swift kick to remind me who's boss.

First thing they do is give you a good dose of Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication which they found out is also good for nausea. So you get to be mellow, which is especially great when the massage therapist comes to your chair to rub your hands and feet. They also bring you snacks and drinks... Greeks bearing gifts and all that. Come for the poison, stay for the perks! The Ativan experience was interesting. It was reminiscent of that tired, slowly sobering up feeling you get at the very end of a good night partying; but without the good time ahead of it. Then they load you up with two more anti-nausea medications, one of which stays in your system for three days. And don't forget the prescription for Compazine (more anti-nausea) which they'd already given me for home use. I asked the nurse if the nausea was really that bad that you needed four medications, and I got another we-don't-really-know answer of "for some people, yes." Then they hooked me up to the Oxaliplatin and Leucovorin. Two plus hours later and I get a huge syringe full of 5-FU and then they hook my pump full of more 5-FU. This is three times the dosage I was getting this past winter (pshew!). And home... where, as irony would have it, I threw up.

Day two finds me utterly exhausted. Though I haven't been sleeping well lately, and boy did I zonk out that first night. So the bright side is I can now sleep like the dead for several hours at a time. And believe me that does feel like a victory. The dark cloud inside that silver lining is that there is no way to get comfortable all day. After eight hours of thrilling excursions between the recliner and the bed I was absolutely stir crazy with cabin fever. We decided to brave the summer heat and try a short walk. Two blocks later and I made us head back home. It is so disconcerting to have such limited physical ability, especially when my mind is skipping and jogging ahead of me. But it will get better, I know it.

So day three and the pump is off! Still fatigued but it is better. No nausea since the first night and I've eaten a solid two meals today. Are muffins considered a solid meal? This is definitely an adventure (a wild and exciting undertaking), though perhaps minus a little of the exciting bit. I've always been the type to jump on the barely there side paths when traveling. I might not have had my good stomping boots with me when I first stepped on this path, but they've been brought out now and I will clomp over whatever lies in my way.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I don't know, it's a mystery

Cancer treatment and chemotherapy is at its core a bunch of hoodoo voodoo magic, thrown at an unknown entity that we humans don't have the ability to truly understand yet. Now... this is my completely expert-less opinion, reforming a little every day. I wouldn't expect agreement but I will attempt to explain why I'm thinking this today. This great explanation of the world of theater also seems to fit: "The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster... Strangely enough it all turns out well."

Other than in cases of genetic predisposition, doctors really don't know why people get cancer or why it acts so differently in various people. Live this way, eat that way, do this and not that, exercise, moderation, avoid nuclear bombs and DDT. However, you follow all those rules and you may still get cancer. They call those cases 'sporadic.' That's what mine is; 60% of colon-rectal cancers are sporadic. A bad toss of the dice, snake eyes. And when you go in to be diagnosed/staged, it takes a multiplicity of scans and tests to tell them the whole story. Techs, nurses and doctors have all told me that medicine is not an exact science, there's a lot they just can't know or understand. So they scan the heck out of you, measure six times to cut once, ironically expose you to long-standing dosages of radiation, and poison all of you hoping to kill the stubborn cancer bits. Logic does not reign. It is a case of 'this has worked in the past, so let's do it again.'

But then there are those pesky odds beaters. The Lance Armstrong's who should have died according to their charts and calculations, but continue ticking strong as ever because of... what? A better re-roll of the dice? Sheer stubbornness or determination? That just right magic combination of treatment that they just happened to react to in the special way needed? No one I've talked to or worked with in the last six months can answer those questions. Most health professionals don't want to have that conversation with a cancer patient. They know they don't have an answer, they know it's all 'throw it at the wall and see what sticks.' That's not a very professional or confidence-building answer. But they don't have anything better yet. The best they can tell me is 'you're young and healthy,' so I've got a better chance at beating the odds. My whole medical team is very positive and focused on an aggressive treatment that will cure this. But the truth of the matter is that none of us know anything.

This is why I cop the positive attitude. I see that there are two options available to me mentally/emotionally: 1) fight, or 2) give up. Since the latter really isn't in my DNA, I guess I'm fighting with all I've got. That includes keeping my chin up and looking to the positive. And living the hell out of every good moment I get. I'm following lots of old platitudes: don't sweat the small stuff, always look on the bright side of life, if it feels good do it. My biggest struggle is trying to maintain temperance too and make decisions that are best for recovery. That, and patience... my nemesis virtue.

First batch of the 'big' chemo today. And I'm hooked to a pump with more for another 2 days. I'll catch you up on this new adventure tomorrow. Until then, Ciao and Amore!