Words with Deep Meaning
I was standing in the welcome center when one of the people who attend the noontime AA group walked in and said, “Pastor, you are looking good.” A compliment like that has always been nice to hear. Those words have taken on a deeper meaning since May. When people speak them today what they are saying is, “You look healthy and strong.” In the past when someone shared those words in my direction they were commenting on how I looked in the clothes Nancy had laid out for me to wear. Yes, Nancy picks out my clothes when I go out in public. For some reason I lost the right and freedom to pick out my own clothes years ago. Something about stripes and plaids not going together…who knew?
I appreciate the deeper meaning of those words today. They mean even more when I am actually feeling good when someone sends them my way. Today I am feeling pretty good. We pushed back one of my treatments by a week so I have two chemo free weeks back to back for the first time since May. It is amazing how much more energy and stamina I have. Last night I watched Thursday night football and did not fall asleep in the middle of the game! To fully appreciate what that means you have to understand I drove from Albany, NY to Kennett Square, PA earlier in the day. Normally a trip like that would have put me in my chair and out like a light in five minutes.
This morning I went to see my oncologist. We reviewed my latest scan. He seems to be very pleased with everything he sees. I raised some concerns over what I was reading in the report. He explained that different technicians share the results in lesser or greater detail. The previous technician who read my scans shared in less detail. The technician who read my latest scan felt the need to share everything he saw. As I compared the two it appeared as if we were finding lots of “new” things when in reality what was reported was extra “background noise” that was not extremely relevant to my Cancer treatment. The tumors continue to shrink. My doctor believes that some of what the scans show as lesions are actually dead cancer cells. He is led to that conclusion because my CEA number is down to 2.6, which signals limited active Cancer. There is no way to be sure if he is correct…but I like his line of thinking so we will run with it for now.
We talked about my neuropathy, that tingling in my hands and feet. It has steadily grown worse and is now a constant reality. With each step I take it feels like my feet are asleep. This is a common side effect of Oxaliplatin, one of the chemo drugs I am currently taking. As of my treatment on Monday we will no longer be using that drug. I am excited about that change. Oxaliplatin is also the drug which prevents me from drinking or touching anything cold. I am hoping that within a few weeks I will be able to drink my ice tea with ice.
We also talked about the transition to maintenance chemotherapy. I will have a decision to make in the coming weeks. I could take a break from chemo for a season. While taking the break we would monitor my numbers and look for signs that the cancer was starting to grow again. Once we saw signs of it returning I would immediately go back to full force chemo treatments. While the break would be nice there is no guarantee my body would respond as well as it has this time to a second round of chemo treatments. Option two would be to start maintenance chemo. This would look much like the chemo I know now. We would change a few drugs in the cocktail I receive but my treatment schedule would remain the same. I would have treatments every other week. The plus side of continuing with the maintenance model is that I have added time (no one can tell me how much time) to my life with this first round of treatment and the maintenance model would ensure those gains are not lost. I would welcome as season of life that is chemo free but I do not want to lose the benefits gained from this round of treatment.
MOM and DAD
On Wednesday Nancy and I traveled to get my parents from New Baltimore, NY and help them begin the transition to life in PA. We had a great day of packing suitcases and getting ready for the movers to come pack up the house. Thursday morning we visited the lawyers and pre-signed papers for the closing on their home. We went back to their home and had a nice lunch. It was good to have both my brothers there so the family was complete for one last meal in their home of 48 years. After lunch mom, dad, Nancy and I got into our cars and traveled down to PA. We arrived safe, got unpacked and enjoyed a nice dinner at Friendly’s.
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