Category Archives: cancer

Round three

Everyone has a spirit animal, a creature that each one of us identifies with for whatever reason. Mine happens to be the hyena. I realize that seems a little odd but, as with most of us, there are quite different sides to my tastes. I can really get into its reputation as a laughing, scavenging beast. I identify with its unglamorous determination, its ability to survive despite having to rely living on what other larger animals leave behind. They’re frequently underestimated and reviled based on their looks and behavior,  and that suits me fine. They get things done one way or another, laughing all the way.

If I had to translate this raw, dirty, disturbing anarchistic energy to a musical choice, I submit Die Antwoord as the embodiment of such energy. The South African-based rap group has been around for several years, and as with most of my current musical tastes, my brother-in-law Kevin got me hooked on them. (so he’s to blame LOL) I can’t explain what I find irresistible about them, their energy and choice of imagery speaks to the inner hyena in me and fires me up, makes me ready to tackle my third block of chemotherapy sessions that commence early tomorrow morning.

I understand if you cannot watch the video below, it’s disturbing and profane. But that’s where my mind is at the moment, and I have to express this side of me, as it’s as important as the more pleasant, public-facing side. For better or worse, I’m back on the poison protocol, out for widespread destruction; with a bloody grin from ear to ear, waiting for the unwanted side effects to creep in, to try to sap my boundless energy, and laughing like a damned hyena all the way — raging… raging…

“C’MON, GODDAMMIT!
JUMP MOTHERF—ER,
JUMP MOTHERF—ER,
JUMP!”

PET Scan notes

OK, a bit of an update: I had a consult with another liver surgeon at another hospital (UNC in Chapel Hill) and a PET scan was recommended, preferably before my chemo started. Evidently there was a chance that some of the lesions found might not actually be living or active, and a PET scan would help determine the extent of my disease by showing the active tumors.

So I went in 2 days ago for the scan and below are the notes from the findings. As with most of you I don’t speak doctor, but I’ve bolded a few phrases below that lift my spirits and confirm why I’ve been feeling as good as I have. I do find it interesting that in referring to where these lesions are being found, the caudate is mentioned but the right lobe of my liver isn’t. Does this mean there’s no living tumors in the right side of my liver?

I’ll post next week to relay what this all means, as I want to discuss these results with my oncologist before I get my hopes too far up. My third round of chemo officially starts this coming Monday, and suddenly I’m ready for it now.

Have an awesome weekend, and thank you for your continued energy…. glancing at these results, I believe it appears to be working.

Narrative
Procedure: F-18 FDG PET/CT scan from the skull base to the mid thighs.

Indication: Male, 46 years old. C20 Malignant neoplasm of rectum (HCC), C78.7 Secondary malignant neoplasm of liver and intrahepatic bile duct (HCC), Restaging CT- rectal cancer Subsequent treatment strategy.

Radiopharmaceutical: 13.41 mCi of F-18 FDG, intravenously.
Blood Glucose level prior to FDG injection: 77 mg/dL.
Time from injection to imaging: 58 minutes.

Technique: PET/CT imaging was performed from the skull base to the mid thighs using routine PET acquisition following evaluation of serum glucose level and intravenous administration of F-18 FDG, per standard protocol. A CT scan was performed for localization and attenuation correction purposes only and is not intended for diagnosis separate from the PET scan.

Complications: None.

Prior Imaging studies: CT CAP 1/3/2017

Findings:

Head/Neck: Physiologic FDG activity is identified in the pharyngeal musculature, tonsils, and salivary glands. Small cervical lymph nodes are noted without abnormal FDG accumulation. No abnormal FDG activity within the neck. No metabolically active cervical masses.

Chest: No metabolically active mediastinal, hilar, or axillary lymphadenopathy. No metabolically active pulmonary masses or nodules. No abnormal FDG activity within the chest. Tiny right lower lobe nodule (image 156).

Abdomen / Pelvis: There are multiple abnormal foci of FDG activity in the caudate and left liver, as described on recent CT. SUV max of the caudate lesion is 8.4. SUV max of the subcapsular left lateral hepatic lobe (image 176) is 7.7. Multiple calcified lesions do not demonstrate abnormal metabolic activity. There is a small focus of increased activity near the gallbladder fossa (image 195). Borderline enlarged gastrohepatic lymph nodes have mildly increased activity, SUV max 3.7 in image 183. Focal uptake in the sigmoid colon (image 303) has SUV max 28.8.

Osseous: No aggressive lesions. No abnormal osseous FDG activity.

Impression:

1. Low-attenuation lesions in the left hepatic lobe and caudate have focally increased and abnormal metabolic activity. These are suggestive of hepatic metastases. Densely calcified hepatic lesions do not demonstrate significantly increased activity.

2. Mildly increased activity in borderline enlarged gastrohepatic lymph nodes are nonspecific, although concerning for metastatic involvement.

3. Focal uptake in a sigmoid colon mass, in keeping with known primary neoplasm.

4. Focal uptake in the region of the gallbladder fossa may represent misregistered FDG uptake in a gallbladder metastasis (as was described on recent contrast enhanced CT scan), though exact localization is difficult. This could also represent a small adjacent hepatic lesion. Attention on followup.

January ’17 Update

Greetings and Happy New Year! I hope this year brings us all many happy times! I know most people would rather not have to remember how awful last year was, but I thought I had a pretty good year personally. Being off chemo since March and letting myself heal made for a pleasant year, one where I could see myself announcing now that “last year I quietly made great progress on my illness on my own terms, without conventional treatment”…

Unfortunately I have no such announcements; the cancer has not shrunk, I’ve lost some progress gained from chemo. Old lesions have grown, and new ones have formed — I might have one on my gallbladder as well. The time spent off of chemo was nice  – and the radioembolization was fun – but these things didn’t help me as I wished it would. My body can’t kill the cancer on its own yet.

The silver lining in all of this is that I continue to be in good physical health, my spirits continue to stay up and the cancer is still contained in my liver (though they’ve taken up residence in the surrounding lymph nodes).

How do we feel? I took the news with cold stoicism (like a good Midwesterner) and I’m understandably frustrated with this development but refuse to let it depress me or alter what I’m doing – indeed, my liver surgeon’s only directive was to “keep doing what you’re doing.” Because I still look and feel fine, and this attitude I’ve taken on — knowing with all my heart my loved ones are in my corner and continue to share my own conviction that ERIC is STRONG — is what’s keeping me up and living my life normally. Even the doctors are starting to notice: how I look isn’t lining up with what the scans show. Evidently, when most patients get this far, they don’t look so hot. Me, I look better than when I first showed up. And it’s because I’m not worse than when we started, it’s not a total regression – more like “2 steps forward, one step back”.

So I shall have to turn back to chemo to knock down the new stuff and regain the stranglehold I had early last year. We grit our teeth and buckle down a little tighter because I go back on the attack. Chemotherapy starts on the 11th.

I’m a lucky, lucky man to have you here with me, and I will continue to do my very best in everything. My success depends on the support, love and energy coming from you.

I love you! Here’s to a better 2017 for all of us!

A Quote:

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.

But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”

Winston Churchill, 1940

And a Note: Doctor’s CT summary straight from my records, for those who can speak Doctor…

CT CAP on 01/03/2017-
1. Interval increase in size of eccentric wall thickening within the sigmoid colon concerning for increase in size of the patient’s primary tumor.
2. Multiple new low-attenuation lesions within the liver compared to prior MRI concerning for worsened metastatic disease. There is a likely metastasis to the gallbladder.
3. New gastrohepatic ligament lymphadenopathy concerning for metastatic disease.

State of dominance

So I’ve had a couple of ‘maintenance appointments’ since my radioembolization finished: another checkup with my primary physician and my annual follow-up colonoscopy. Tests from my physical came back mostly normal with the exception of my alkaline phosphatase levels being abnormally elevated. I’d usually be concerned about the high levels, but then again there IS something wrong with my liver so I’m not that bent out of shape about it.

And my colonoscopy last week went well: no new polyps to remove, and the tumor that started this all has shrunk 20% and is a lot less angry-looking than when we first discovered it. All this shrinkage and without chemo for the last 7 months… not bad. My proctologist has recommended a surgeon to investigate the possibility of removing the stuff in my colon soon; now would be a perfect time to explore this option before I see my oncologist again and potentially have to be put back on chemotherapy. If I can get the tumor in the colon removed, then the source of the cancer will be eliminated and this becomes a battle fought only in my liver.

My doctor recommended I read Radical Remissions and I pulled a lot of insight from it; most notably the concept of changing the environment to affect the disease. The author likens having cancer to having mold in your basement: if a doctor discovers cancer when operating on someone, the first (and usually only) line of defense is to attack the cancer outright and try to eradicate it from the body with chemo or radiation therapy, much like one uses bleach to get rid of mold in a basement. But if the environment hasn’t changed then there’s an outstanding chance that the mold (or cancer) will come back, because the environment is mold- (or cancer-) friendly. So additional work is required to change the environment: as one would use a dehumidifier in a basement to make it less hospitable for mold growth, my task is to adjust my body chemistry so it helps my own immune system fight the cancer from within, and will continue to fight it like other healthy people do.

To that end, I’ve been adding more supplements to my daily diet, and am working towards eating better. Most of you know I cook the majority of the dinners for my family so this part is a little more of a challenge for me, as I’d be putting myself on a culinary island if I strictly stuck to the guidelines suggested (i.e., no meat, no dairy, no pasta or breads, no sweets, etc). I’m not willing to put my 2 teenage children through this, as they require a much different diet than I do. But I’m working on it slowly, making small changes that are less temporary and more apt to be assimilated into my cooking habits. I’m introducing at least one meatless dinner a week, trying to add more tasty recipes as I find them.

One of the 9 factors highlighted in the book discusses increasing positive emotions, which I felt I had nailed but realized I had been shooting a lot of negativity directly at my illness. I’m quickly finding that this activity is not helping me overall – I can’t consider myself a positive person if I’m being negative towards an unwanted part of myself. Plus, it’s exhausting to keep up such negativity when I’m not used to it. So I’m changing my attitude to one of love – not hate – towards my cancer. Letting go while continuing to control and modify my environment, and trusting my own cancer killer cells to do their job. The goal hasn’t changed, just my ideas on how I get there. I’m sure they could change again at some point. I still have a lot of work to do, and if I’m not satisfied with how my next CT scan looks in early January, I know what I need to do to improve things.

Thanks as always for being here with me. I’m addicted to the energy I get through well wishes and prayers, and it keeps me well. Please to enjoy some Stereolab! I love the pace of this song, great to walk to.

When two people have a project
They begin a competition
In which there will be a winner and a loser
State of dominance over one or the other
This dominance is integral
To all human’s ways and actions
The necessity to keep at disposition
An object or being desired by another
Knowing through training that if he wants to keep it
Learning everyday, he will have to dominate

Our brain makes us act
Behave and react
Compulsion that drives us to stay alive
Need to satisfy our fundamental needs
The nervous system enables that drive
Through consumerism, escape and struggle
As well as inhibition
All these mechanisms that preserve balance
Biological well being
Seems that until now we have used our brain
Just to dominate, just to dominate

Knowing through training that if he wants to keep it
Learning everyday, he will have to dominate
When two people have a project
They begin a competition

We’ve to widen the knowledge of
How our brain works to understand
Or nothing will, will ever change
With to what end, to end right now

Give birth without seizing
Act and expect nothing
They flower let them free
Unite with the dust and be.

Post-op Status

Just a quick note to follow up on my last radioembolization treatment on Monday. As I should have expected, each time I go in for these, things gets easier and easier. While the procedure itself went a little longer (2 hrs on the table), the overall process went very smoothly and I almost would say I enjoyed it this time… too bad I’m done with the treatment.

Tuesday and Wednesday I worked from home, expecting to get those flu-like symptoms and fatigue. On Tuesday my co-workers surprised me by sending me 8 bags of groceries from the supermarket.

Because of my naturally unassuming personality, combined with how I feel about my own health and staying positive about it, I usually feel undeserving of such gifts and when it happens, I get broadsided with a feeling of gratitude that overwhelms me. It happened when Deanna, my sister-in-law, produced ERIC STRONG bracelets to show support for me. I have a hard time processing such things and it moves me every time I think about it. Don’t get me wrong: I know my own strength and there’s no lack of self-confidence in my heart. But one of my long-standing credos is to live without expectation of others (it frees me from most disappointments). So to get gifts like these are totally unexpected to me and it hits me hard — I have to be alone, I use a bunch of tissues, I’m a mess, etc.

At any rate, after I received the groceries the same phenomenon happened to my side effects as when my college friends came to visit me around Thanksgiving: they never showed up. No fatigue, no flu-like symptoms, nothing. I had to check my doctor’s notes to make sure they actually recorded inserting the Theraspheres into the left lobe of my liver. My body handled the radioactive sand they injected into me and kept moving without slowing down. It takes a lot more to stop me… like 8 bags of groceries or plastic wristbands.

So now we wait and enjoy the fall weather while the microscopic beads do their work, and the tumors shrink before I get scanned again to gauge progress. I’ll be back when I hear more. Until then, no more treatments for the time being, and no more sweating like a pig during my walks. I love Autumn!

Monthly Update

These posts have become sort of a monthly thing but I imagine I’ll be posting more frequently as the seasons change, mostly because I’ll be finishing up the current treatment and seeing what’s in store soon. My second and final radioembolization treatment is scheduled for a week from today (26 Sept) and it couldn’t come at a worse time, as I’m quite busy at work with several projects that are to be completed within the month. Oh well. I have a sneaky feeling that the work will still be there when I feel well enough to go back to the office.

I mention that this procedure next week is the final one, because I was told the surgeon is going to split up the dose for the left half of my liver and go in 2 different ways, to account for my wacky blood vessels. So I’m looking forward to not having to do this again after next week. Those 2 hours sobering up in post-op is a real drag, man.

After the procedure, it’s a lot like last time: glow in the dark for a couple weeks, then go in for a check-up to make sure I’m okay,  then wait a few more weeks before doing another scan – evidently the tumors tend to swell up after being nuked and can show up larger than expected temporarily – to gauge how successful the treatment was. I’ve said this before: if I could go on just how I felt to determine my overall health, I’d say I’m making a full recovery. That might be a false hope, however, and I can’t assume anything just because I feel good. My fingers are feeling better too, just a little hint of numbness at the tips. I’d put myself at a solid 95 – 98%, based on how I feel at this point.

Which is why I’m not going to get down on myself if the scans come back and little progress had been made with the radioembolization; if my oncologist recommends I go back on chemo for a while, I’m sure I can easily handle it, for 2 reasons: (1) I’m much stronger than I was a year ago, and (2) I won’t be put on such an aggressive chemo treatment like I had to go through last year and the beginning of this year. I won’t be taking Avastin, the chemo that causes neuropathy. So I’m prepared to do whatever it takes as far as next steps are concerned.

I just got the letter in the mail from my proctologist that it’s time for my annual colonoscopy, yay! I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we’ve taken this journey. I’m not sure if it’s been a quick 12 months… parts of it have been fast, other parts (the first 6 months of chemo) seemed to take forever. If there are positive aspects from the last year, one of them would be that I’ve discovered I am much loved, several times more than I initially thought I deserved. And that my wife’s decision to marry me 21 years ago probably saved my life. I can’t do this without her love and your support. Right now I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, and (apart from the ickiness awaiting me next Tuesday and Wednesday) I have no intention of backing off this stuff. I can only hope the scans from this treatment confirm how much better I’ve been feeling. I’ll share the results as soon as I hear them!

Thank you once more for being here with me, hopefully you can tell how much good it’s doing me. Keep walking, the weather will cool off soon!

I’m radioactive

Wanted to wait till I got far enough into the treatment so I can report on how this ‘Fatigue’ (with a capital F) side effect is presenting itself…

Friday I went with Christine to Durham for my first Therasphere insertion, and I believe it went well. Got a pillow for my lower back and was permitted to listen to my music while the docs did their thing. 90 minutes later and I’m wheeled into a space about the size of my walk-in closet to chill out for the next 2 hours while the sedation wore off and the glass beads had a chance to settle into position. And then another 20-minute scan session, and then I was free to go.

Post-procedure definitely is worse – and longer – than the procedure itself. Coming down from mild sedation is a lot like trying to wake up after being hung over, not a pleasant experience but it does make the 2 hours go by faster as I alternate between being totally awake and dozing off. Sigh… one down, two more visits to go.

While getting this done on a Friday makes a lot of sense as far as recuperating goes, it does sort of trash the weekend, as I’ve been experiencing the ‘flu-like symptoms’ that I was told are part of the side effects, and it’s slowing me down during the 2 days when i want to get things done. It’s not so much Fatigue as much as a general achiness across my body, like when you exert yourself too much the day before and you can feel it the next day. I don’t think it’ll be a factor in deciding whether I should work from home tomorrow. Tylenol seems to knock out the pain if only temporarily. Like other side effects related to cancer treatments, I’m certain it would be a lot worse if I wasn’t so young and in (relative) good health.

What I like about this whole radioembolization concept is that it’s not wrecking the rest of my body, just the parts that need wrecking. So now I’m keeping my distance from the other family members and pets, lest they get unwanted radioactivity from my liver, for the next 2 weeks or so. After that, the Yttrium-90 will have finally wore out and the glass beads become inert. Then we get ready for another round. After experiencing the minimal side-effects, I’m up for the rest of it. I’m ready to go; let’s do this.

Pain in the back

thumbs-upFinally had my first procedure yesterday, the process of mapping my liver is complete. I will be using the FAQ format along with citations to relay details, just to change things up a bit.

Q: What happened?
A: I went to Big Duke1 for preliminary mapping of the blood vessels that support my liver. Got in around 10:30, left after 5.

Q: 5pm? Why so long?
A: Because evidently I have ‘angular’ blood vessels that don’t branch out nicely like a Y, but more like a T, which makes it difficult to push the instrument via catheter around to where it needs to go. Chuck2  told me that the procedure should take between 45 mins and 2.5 hrs. I was on that table for almost 4. And then I went to get scanned for another 45 mins. So by the time I was done with everything – including the wait to ensure my femoral artery was healed enough to move – it was past 5, just in time to return home at rush hour.

Q: Did it hurt?
A: The overall procedure didn’t hurt much at all: getting poked in the groin with the lidocaine needle was probably the worst of it. Pain management was very good and I’m just a little sore at the point where they inserted the catheter. I’d give it a 1 or a 2 on a scale from 1 to 10. The real issues were in my lower back.3

Q: What’s next?
A: We wait for the head nurse to coordinate with the manufacturers of these Yttrium-90-impregnated beads to establish when these beads will be created, because that dictates when the beads will be ready for insertion. As the radioactive material starts to lose its potency immediately, I’ll need to catch them at the right time for inserting into my liver. So no last-minute change of plans for me, once the time has been determined. I expect the first insertion to be in a couple of weeks.4

Q: How do you feel?
A: I’m just dandy, thanks for asking. Thinking about how I felt last summer I can definitely say I haven’t felt this good since before then. If it weren’t for my neuropathy in my fingers and toes, I’d be 100%. I’ve had a hard time remembering I have cancer this summer. Getting back into pharmaceutical-related therapies will remind me where I’m at in the coming months, but as long as I can keep the tumors at bay and I feel the same as I do now,5 I expect to continue to feel good in the future.

The better I feel, the less inclined I am to devote the same healing energy to myself as I did back last fall. And I can’t be the only one who finds it difficult to keep praying and sending good thoughts to those who look like they’re getting better, but still need the support. I enjoy the comments immensely, but also appreciate those who would come here to check on me, and be quietly satisfied with my progress. That’s what I would do, I think.  Most of you know I’m not one who makes a big deal about my situation6 and rather downplay it, if only to make people not worry too much. I really do feel good now, and I need to remember how this feels, and cherish it in the months ahead when I’m dealing with chemo’s side effects again.

Thanks as always for your thoughts and enjoying this stretch of good health with me; now’s the time when we buckle down again and see what Duke can do with these pesky tumors.

 

  1. The main hospital in Durham, as opposed to Duke-Raleigh where my oncologist works and where I usually go for labs, chemo, etc.
  2. Chuck’s the anesthesiologist; if i see him again he might get punched in the mouth for his prediction and getting my hopes up.
  3. I don’t sleep on my back, I prefer to sleep in my sides. So being in the same position on my back for that long put my lumbar area in agony for most of my visit. I’m hoping I can get someone to support my back with a rolled-up blanket or something next time.
  4. Because my hepatic blood vessels are wacky I will need to have 2 appointments to treat just the left half of my liver, putting my total number of surgeries up to three, not 2. Safety is the main reason for this, they don’t want beads to end up in my colon.
  5. Not too certain about this one. The main complaint with the radioactive beads is Fatigue (yes, with a capital F), and pain, nausea, etc etc etc. We’ll see about all that. And I’ve made my oncologist promise that he’ll keep the main culprit of my neuropathy – Avastin, I think – off of my chemo menu if I need to go back on it after my procedures are done.
  6. Apart from creating and maintaining a blog, that is.

On vacation

You know when you go on vacation and at some point near the end of it you start to inevitably think about the amount of work piling up, the emails you’ll have to wade through when you come back to reality? That’s how I’ve sort of been regarding this breather since my last round of chemo. And my MRI scan done last Friday would show me the status of how I’d left things: would tumors grow out of control like unattended projects, or would the cancer magically shrink and go away on its own?

The answer to this is: something in between the 2 scenarios. Depending on how you see things, the results from the scan is either a disappointment or a relief: the good news is that my body has been able to keep all of the current cancer in check for the last 11 weeks I’ve been off all chemo. Luckily I got the equivalent of “no one realized I was even on vacation” over the past 11 weeks.

The not-so-good news is that a new “tiny” (my oncologist’s word, not mine) tumor has emerged in my liver that’s about 6mm in diameter, the size of a small pea. So while it’s mostly good, and my oncologist is happy with the status, it’s not much progress in my eyes — but then most of you know I’m my own harshest critic. No matter; I’ll take the mostly unchanged status quo over opportunistic rampant cancer invading my body while the defenses are down. I’ll take that every time, and I hope I get at least that in the future.

What this scan also shows me is that my cancer isn’t aggressive, so I have time to make decisions about next steps without having to worry about this crap overtaking me while I’m waiting to begin next treatments.

Since I’m cleared for embolization, I’m waiting to be scheduled for my first procedure, which is expected to happen probably later this month. The other 2 will occur in short order after that, and I should be done with those operations by… the end of July? Not sure, with the way things seem to be going; who knows when I’ll be treated? All I know is that I’m in much less of a hurry to get back to radiation / chemo than I was 3 months ago. I’m probably looking at more low-grade chemo in the fall to maintain control over whatever cancer is left after I complete nuclear testing within my liver.

So now I wait for the appointment that begins the next course of treatment. Thank you for your continued support, thoughts and prayers. It’s tough to keep up support for loved ones with cancer, as the journey ahead seems to get longer and longer every time I think about it, and it’s a lot of energy to maintain. Much love to all of you who visit here, I cherish the energy I get from you; it keeps me strong and I doubt this past scan would have been as positive without your help.

I’ve accepted that I might be having to live with this for quite some time… an attitude that requires less emotional intensity extended over many months ahead. It’s a realization over which I’m not beating myself up anymore. I’m not being defeatist, as I’m still committed to fighting this to the end… but I need to continue to pace myself. I need to ‘put away’ thoughts of my affliction sometimes and keep enjoying each day as it comes, because that’s all I really need to do. It’s all that any of us can do.

Time to hit the beach next week, something I haven’t been able to do since Easter 2014. I’m so excited — I’ll see you when I get back!

Greenlighted, finally

Hey there!  Long time no post, I know – I’ve been healing and waiting for approval on my radioembolization procedure, which came today. This means my healthcare provider knows I’m about to incur quite a bit of cost by allowing a doctor to insert a handful of radioactive glass beads into my liver. Hey, this is why they make us pay insurance premiums, right? It’s time to settle up, BCBS of NC, have fun with this bar tab.

For those who don’t know what this procedure entails or are too lazy to Google it, allow me to explain: there will be 3 total out-patient operations. The first one will be devoted to mapping out the blood supply to the liver. The docs insert a catheter in my groin and travel up the main artery to scope out the network of veins and arteries and find out which ones go to the tumors. For the second and third procedures, each half (separately) of my liver will have glass beads inserted where the tumors are hiding out. These tiny beads are filled with Yttrium-90 – a material with an effective radioactivity of about 1cm in diameter. The expectation is that the localized radioactivity will nuke the little buggers from within, and minimize the damage done to the surrounding, healthy liver.

After about 12 days or so, the Yttrium-90 isotope will be spent, and the inert beads stay within me for the rest of my life. And that’s that for the time being, and we’ll see how things look after this treatment is complete. Personally I’m looking forward to extending the amount of time without full-body chemotherapy, and I’m already researching alternative treatment options in the hopes I can get my body to fight these cancer cells on their own without having to resort going back to chemo.

One of my good college friends sent me a very interesting video 60 Minutes did on using the polio virus for brain cancer, which might be an option since this research took place at Duke, the same medical network that is taking care of me. It’s not 100% effective – and infecting patients with polio is some scary shit – but it’s a compelling idea.

Generally I’m feeling quite well, apart from the damned neuropathy which hasn’t gone away at all; but I’ve started acupuncture treatment for that, and after the first session I can already start to feel the pinching sensation in my fingertips lessen. it’s a welcome change of sensation.

As far as timing goes, I imagine they’re going to want to get the first procedure in the books pretty soon. I have another MRI scan scheduled already for June 3, with a follow-up appointment with my oncologist to go over the results the following Monday; the docs will definitely want to have a fresh scan to help them figure out where to go to deliver these nasty little presents to my unwelcome visitors.

So, stay tuned for a post about how my body has decided to spend the past 2 months of Spring vacation. Frankly I’ll be surprised if it’s not positive news, as I can’t imagine feeling this good and still have any cancer growing.  We shall see in less than 2 weeks.

Keep strong –and thank you so much for being here with me!