Category Archives: friends & family

Not Years

Hey its time for an update. you’ll have to forgive my misspellings ad other errors as i have some nasty papercut-like slices across 4 out of 5 fingers on my left (good) hand. so this might need to be a bit brief.

I’m feeling the effects of all this poison now, after for back to back chemo sessions again. Almost had more today but need a 4th week to get more energy back. I’m just not the spritely 45-year-old who could bounce back from it. I’m starting to get sick of this dirty dishwater and it’s starting to show. It’s to the point  where I’m not bouncing back like I used to…

So I’m now on short term disability. I just can’t be counted on to hold down any consistent hours, mornings take a long time to get up and get ready for the day, sometimes i’ll be so pooped and if i didn’t get enough sleep the night before, i’m going back to bed. wake me up for lunch please.

It used to be that I had a full-time job and I manage my cancer on the side; now those roles have reversed. I have to do so much maintenance on myself — especially in the mornings — that by the time I get ready to go to work it’s almost noon. So it’s like I have a part-time job along with my full-time cancer.

2 weeks ago I went to go see my oncologist and we talked about… well, frankly, the usual progression of my specific cancer, what I will heretoafter be calling the ‘endgame’… at one point I straight up asked him, “based on what you’ve seen in other cases and compare them against mine, how long are we talking?“

“Not years.“

I didn’t push the questioning any further than that. Seeing as how I was feeling 2 weeks after chemo I can understand where he’s coming from. There will come a time where I can’t stand the chemo anymore and it makes me question why exactly am i suffering like this? Or the chemo just plain won’t work on my tumors anymore… at that point, I’ll have to make that decision to stop treatment and start trying to heal as best I can on my own and fight this stupid thing with the gloves off and see how far it takes us. Until then I’m looking forward to bringing this question up again to him next Halloween.

In related news, I also got (yet another) CT scan on Monday to gauge progress, which we went over today. I’m copying/pasting this stuff as my fingers are goin south on me

Findings:
Chest:
The thyroid gland is unremarkable. Right chest wall port tip within the right atrium. No axillary adenopathy. Normal caliber thoracic aorta. No pericardial effusion. Coronary artery calcifications. Pulmonary arteries are unremarkable.No intrathoracic adenopathy.No pneumothorax. No pleural effusion. Left basilar volume loss. No focal consolidation or suspicious pulmonary nodule.Abdomen and pelvis:
Redemonstrated areas of heterogeneous low-attenuation throughout the liver, reflecting sequela of prior embolization. The previously described caudate lesion currently measures 1.4 x 0.5 cm series 2 image 105, previously 1.5 x 1.2 cm. The low-attenuation lesion in the left hepatic lobe measures approximately 1.2 x 1.8 cm series 2 image 100, previously 3.3 x 2.7 cm. No new hepatic lesion. Nodular liver contour with splenic and esophageal varices.

Suspected cholecystectomy clips. Mild splenomegaly. The pancreas and adrenal glands are unremarkable.

Symmetric renal parenchymal enhancement. No hydronephrosis or urolithiasis. The bladder is decompressed. Prostatic calcifications noted.

Scattered colonic diverticula without focal inflammatory change. The known colonic mass is not well identified by CT. Normal appendix. Right lower quadrant percutaneous drainage catheter tip terminating within the left lower pelvis.

Large volume ascites. No adenopathy. No free air.

No aggressive osseous lesion. No acute fracture.

Impression:

1. Improved hepatic metastatic disease.
2. Resolved enterocolitis.
3. Cirrhotic liver morphology with findings of portal hypertension, including large volume ascites.

About as good a scan as i could hope for, though the coronary artery calcification is not good — watch heart disease take me before the cancer does. I’ll admit, i’ve finally been following everyone’s suggestion to eat what i want, especially when my arm muscles have turned into chicken wings. I’ve been on a quest to replicate a long-gone favorite of mine from Taco Bell,  the chilito. I might have to make that recipe the guy has there…

Obviously the chemo is still working. Its just the side-effects i can do without. but i have 1 more week before i get more chemo — and after that scan on Monday, i might just get back up on that horse. i will not relent. i am driven.

And thank you for the continued support. the love i feel coming from all directions, it’s overwhelming sometimes… i can sense the energy from you and it keeps me going. I love you all.

Mom and Billy, my Soul Brother #1, thanks for the visit, it was just what i needed.

i need to get up and walk more…

A call to arms

So I’ve been enjoying just taking chemo pills in the hopes that they will do the same damage to the cancer as infusions; my recent CT scan, unfortunately, has shown otherwise. The cancer is advancing (slowly) but it’s taking a toll on my quality of life already, as I struggle with a bloated abdomen and severe edema in my legs, ankles and feet. I met with my oncologist today and he has a sense of urgency for finding an alternative procedure that will help me more than just reverting me back to what I’ve been doing since the beginning: several IV bags of chemo, with the pump, etc. It’s incredibly inconvenient and the results are expected to be less than before, since I’m a bit weaker and might not be able to handle full doses. Plus, it does nothing to the cancer but beat it back for a bit.

So to all who have offered help, I’m here to ask for it now. I need some help with searching for clinical trials that might help me.

I don’t have a lot of criteria to search with, other than describing what I have and looking for trials that address it: Stage 4 colorectal cancer with metastases in my liver. I’m willing to travel anywhere in the US or even canada i suppose, i don’t want geography to impact my search results too much. If i’m lucky I might land a trial where you live (and then you can enjoy my company in person, woo-hoo)!

If you do search, please feel free to send me anything that looks remotely interesting, I can forward to my oncologist and let him make the call whether it’s a viable study or not.

Here’s the catch: I only have about a week to look, and then I need to get back on IV chemo if I don’t come up with anything. Please feel free to email me directly at eschuttler at gmail.com with URLs.

Here’s a few resources where i need to search, but I’m open to other cancer centers you might know of that holds clinical trials:

https://www.mskcc.org/why-choose-msk

https://www.mdanderson.org/

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/clinical-trials/what-you-need-to-know/picking-a-clinical-trial.html

Time is of the essence — I love you and thank you for your continued support. Now’s your chance to help me kill this crap. Please help with a couple hours of your time, if you can, between now and July 21st or 22nd.

thank you, thank you, thank you…

Sleepover

Last week I was in a bad way –  feeling really bloated in my abdomen, swelling in my toes/feet/ankles/shins, all the way up to my trunk. So I called my oncologist last Thursday and he asked me to come in for an ultrasound to see whether this might be due to clots or something. Turns out I didn’t even get to the ultrasound, as the blood panel they took when I arrived showed I was low on hemoglobin levels, so they admitted me to the hospital for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I was there from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, as they kept hooking me up to units of B+ blood.

Once I got settled in, one of the doctors from the hospital came in and we talked about what meds I’m currently taking and what seems to be conflicting. She was excellent in helping me see what the hell is really going on, which turns out to be a number of imbalances that needed to be straightened out, not the least of which was the bleeding in my upper GI tract that accounted for the low hemoglobin levels. And I was taking anti-coagulants which didn’t help things at all. I don’t blame my regular oncologist because I realize he has to see a lot of patients in a day and he can’t really step back and look at ‘the big picture’ as someone coming in cold, looking at the facts. I’ll probably be holding regular meetings with the good doctor and get her input when things seem wonky. Just not so wonky that I have to be admitted again.

And to be honest, the hospital stay was fine; I felt good for the most part – though after they drained 900ml of abdominal fluid I felt even better – but I equate it to basically having a sleepover with blood and drugs. There was a cool TV channel I had never seen before that played all the cool retro shows (Cannon, Mannix, Twilight Zone, old westerns, etc) that I had on 24/7. The food was passable, you could order from a limited menu (their side Caesar salad was tasty), and the nurses………..

I cannot say enough about the quality of care I got. Each nurse assigned to me (both day / night shifts) was engaging, friendly, and sweet to me. After I came home I tried to design some sort of card for them, but had lost all of my work on it; I was despondent. Perhaps it’s because my mother is a retired nurse but I have a soft spot for them. A week later, I still can’t think of any of them who helped me last weekend without tearing up.  I have a tough time still feeling like I deserve help, I guess.

Anyhow, I was finally released on Monday, only to go across the street to get my next round of chemo before returning home. I’ve been put on a low maintenance chemo dose now, and mo more Xarelto for me. That stuff makes me bleed in the WRONG places. Right now, I’m okay, feeling the fatigue from the Neulasta injection (which is also on its way out soon) and generally pretending I have the flu, even though I got my shot in October. bleah.

Onward and Upward. FWIW, once they took me off of a couple conflicting drugs, my hair is starting to grow back. Like, in a hurry. I love it. Can’t wait for Spring to finally warm up. Much love to you with hopes that your Spring is good as well.

Impetus

Hi all! Long time no post, can’t believe how fast the holidays whiz by these days… I’ve been getting requests for updates on my health lately so it’s time to get back to it.

Earlier this month I took my 3rd annual skiing trip to Denver with my good friend Ken and a few other partners in crime… even with my best efforts to maximize my health – I moved a chemo infusion appointment out a bit so I could heal longer without a new round of side effects getting in the way – I still was struggling with getting enough oxygen from the thin air up there. Never got over it, was huffing and puffing every day.  I’m not certain I can make it back there for skiing next year, I’ll have to see how things look in about 9 months.

Before I was diagnosed in September 2015, I spent that summer kind of in a funk… I wasn’t making any art but and was struggling to find new avenues to interest me. I took up ceramics for a bit, screen printing, even some leatherwork. The lack of intensity I was experiencing with what should have been perfectly good avenues of creativity left me very frustrated and blue. Then came the cancer.

Since then, I’ve been stuck in healing/fighting-for-my-life mode and hoping there would come a time where I could feel the same obsession about something. The last time I went thru this was when I started homebrewing 14 years ago. I would lose sleep mentally going over all the details for making my own 10-gallon all-grain brewing system. Eventually I got all the resources together and enjoyed putting everything together almost as much as drinking the final product that came out of the beer tap. It was an altogether satisfying experience and I felt very proud to have created a brewing system – from crushing grains to converting a chest freezer to a refrigerated beer cooler – that is still functional.

Luckily for me, I happen to have been inspired by 2 completely different realms of creativity lately that I’ve been equally obsessive about, and that has given me new hope for my future mindset.

Christine and I have been watching the Great British Baking Show on Netflix lately and I started thinking about trying to start a batch of sourdough starter (again) to see whether I could be patient with it enough to crank out some homemade bread, in order to offset the amount of nasty GMO-filled store-bought bread in the house. I did research, went over the type of tasty baked goods I could make in my head at night, and the result is I have a nicely-functioning starter I’ve been cultivating for about 6 weeks now.

But that wasn’t it, apparently. On a visit to my brother-in-law’s auto/motorcycle workshop I noticed a stack of discarded iron leaf springs and suddenly had an urge to do something with all that metal. I’ve been watching people make some pretty decent chef’s knives out of old scrap metal using blacksmithing techniques – using anvils, quenching the metal, sanding and filing, making wooden handles, that sort of stuff.

And the light, the obsessive creative ball of energy I’ve been missing for 14 years came back. In my creative environment, I now have purpose again. I’ve spent plenty of nights awake mentally putting the components together and imagining what it will be like to begin the process. I’ve built my foundry already, I’ve created a stand for my anvil, all I have to do now is heat-test my foundry one more time and then I’m going to be hitting hot metal with my trusty hammer.

These events have given me and my mind something to get out of bed for, with more energy, more joy. I don’t know how many damned corners there are to this journey but I think I just turned another one. A great big one that took 14 years to get around. it is the impetus to the next phase of healing and I have the perfect song that plays in my head (very loud) now every time I think of blacksmithing…. which is quite a lot lately. Video below.

I love you all. Knives for everyone!

Justification, the means are the end
Doctrine and dogma, I will not relent
This world a garden in need of such weeding
This world a minefield in need of such sweeping
Impetus
This ministration without full consent
Fire and brimstone, I will not relent
Just as all good things must come to an end
I will administer as I see fit
I will not relent
I will not relent
I will not relent
I am driven
Impetus
I am driven

Larry

His name was Larry, not Lawrence or any other name where Larry would be a nickname. He was born to a Army Air Corps flight engineer and a hairdresser in ’46, to be followed by a sister a few years later. He was a senior in high school when Kennedy was shot, enlisted into the Army after high school and served his time in Vietnam as a lab technician in a MASH unit. He settled down quickly after returning to the states, marrying my mom and raising my brother and myself for a few years until my mother served him divorce papers.

He had another chance at married life and fatherhood, marrying my stepmother in ’80 and allowing both my brother and myself to live with them before deciding on having children of their own. He loved his kids and always found room for them in his house and his heart.

He could party — he could always eat more than me, and (until recently) could drink more as well. He taught me to always be punctual, that you can’t be a friend and a father to your kids at the same time, that pickled herring is delicious. He was fiercely proud to be a Vietnam veteran, something he felt he had to repress during my childhood. He had a quick wit and was able to sling out zingers as long as he could talk. He shared his passion for models with my brother and myself. He knew his way around complicated electronic circuits, despite not being able to tell the difference between red and green wires. He could build anything out of wood. He didn’t like email, he preferred to talk to you directly. He was NOT a fan of Obama. He loved to hunt quail and pheasant and fish with good friends. He was a Bud man.

Larry died quietly this morning, in his sleep with my stepmother by his side. He suffered from a lot of complications at the end, mostly originating from the fact that his liver wasn’t working the way it’s supposed to — it wasn’t working much at all, really. I repeatedly offered to give him mine but he always refused. My wish in these last few months was for him to not be in any pain or discomfort; knowing he is free from these earthly limitations is what keeps me upright today. I can now redirect energy and get my own self back to whatever normal is for me these days. I am about out of the woods as far as the effects of radiation therapy are concerned; my weight is up, I feel better with chemo started again. I keep my father’s spirit close as I work on my own health and get stronger again.

Please spare a second and give my father a thought – he’s half the reason I’m here today. I appreciate your energy and prayers more than ever now.

Catching up

 

I like to think I used to be a pretty smart kid, growing up and going off to Virginia Tech. However, I was hopelessly ignorant about who was paying my tuition and didn’t bother asking about it. Being a teenager, I naturally thought tuition payments grew on trees. It took my mother’s divorce from my step-father to make me realize that after my sophomore year, I was out of funds. So I started to take responsibility for my financial situation, took a year off from college while staying in Blacksburg, VA so I could research what it took to apply for financial aid. Meanwhile, I’d need a steady source of income to be able to live.

Luckily my buddy Ken had a lead on a short-order cook position at a local restaurant where he worked part-time, which sounded interesting. I like to cook, my maternal grandmother would let my brother and I make sugar cookies when I was in first grade so I’ve been comfortable around a kitchen from a young age. So I started working at Bogen’s (“Casual with Class” was its motto) and in the 3 years of my stint there, slinging waffle fries, I struck up friendships that I’ve maintained to this day.

Four of my friends from these days visited me this past weekend, and it was a wonderful experience… until Saturday night, when the weather suddenly went frigid, and I caught hold of a fever that has lingered for 3 days now (hopefully I’ll be better tomorrow). It’s a stark reminder to me that my health is compromised, and after a few months’ worth of chemo, I don’t bounce back like I used to. I went in for another scheduled round of chemo today and they had to turn me away because of the fever. Better luck next week, I guess.

Wait a minute, why am I still on chemo, you might be asking. My oncologist and I are working on a long-term plan where I get low doses of chemo on a fairly regular basis while we set up another radio embolization round, sometime probably in June. My hospital has started a new clinic for this, so I don’t have to constantly travel to Durham for this procedure now.  Of course my wife has to do most of the driving for those, because I’m usually pretty whacked out after the procedure that I can’t drive myself home anyhow, so this is mostly for her benefit; but having the Interventional Radiotherapy (IR) clinic literally in the same place as my oncologist is as convenient as it can get. So, there won’t be the same issue as I encountered last year: as you might recall my case was delayed because of miscommunications and delays with getting the proper approvals and all that time off of chemo (I had to be chemo-free so the doctors could perform the radioembolization) allowed the tumors to grow back a bit, which was quite discouraging. This time, I’ll be on chemo until I’m absolutely ready for the second round of radioactive beads, which will be confirmed with a quick walk across a corridor, instead of having to start an email thread or set an appointment with Big Duke. We’re not taking our foot off the gas this year.

I’m loaded up also with new supplements based on my recent findings from sending off my DNA to 23 and me.com. The results came back with a lot of cell mutations that I went over with my sister-in-law and we’ve determined which supplements would be most beneficial for my healing while I’m still working through the chemo and radiation therapy that’s coming up. One of the items in this report shows a genetic mutation I have that favors celiac disease, so she has me on a gluten-free diet so my body can focus on healing and not having to process gluten. So far it’s not been too bad but I find myself hungry more often.
So that’s the latest news from here — still keeping the pressure on the cancer with chemo, until they’re ready for my catheterization! Now if I can just shake this fever…

ugly boy

ugh. last infusion coming tomorrow. i need a blower. so many bleeding fingers…. toes…. nose….. face…

Marilyn Manson, Aphex Twin, Dita Von Teese, Jack Black, The ATL twins, Cara Delevingne, and Flea all make appearances here. see you on the next round.

this helps from my better half.  Anything you want, Christine, you got it…..
Ooh I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
Yes I just love him cause he’s so crazy
Just crazy about me
Ooh I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
Yes I just love him cause he’s so crazy
Just crazy about me
Aye, you and me make the whole world jealous
God knows I know my homegirl’s precious
Life is crazy I know god bless us
Chill the fuck out I got this you
Got nothing to worry about trust me
You trust in ninjie cause he don’t play
Everything’s going to be okay
I can make your problems go away
And I ain’t scared of shit
Whatever the fuck it is I take care of it
If you’re strapped for cash, heading straight for a crash
I can make cash rain on your ass
Anything you want (you got it)
Anything you need (you got it)
Anything at all (you got it)
Just keep it real with me (you got it)
Ooh I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
Yes I just love him cause he’s so crazy
Just crazy about me
Yes I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
And I just love him cause he’s so crazy
Just crazy about me
You fuckin’ mental, my crazy little girl
Maybe the most psycho chick in the world
You mystical shit just’s not physical
What you and me got’s unfuckwithable
Respect me receive my protection
I’m always right by your side like a weapon
Love me I grant you there will be love
Fuck with my girl there will be blood
All my bitches love me, aw man it’s tough
One crazy girl’s more than enough
This is not ordinary love
This thing you an’ me got girl (mm)
I believe it’s magic (magic)
I believe it’s magic (magic)
I believe it’s magic (magic)
Magic (magic)
Ooh I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
Yes I just love him cause he’s so crazy
Just crazy about me
Ooh I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
Yes I just love him cause he’s so crazy
Just crazy about me
Ugly on the skin
But you’re lovely from within
An angel kiss from me to you
Always there for me when I’m feelin’ blue
You say you’ll stick with me and I know you well
I just get so emotional
When I’m down and feeling weak
With tears streaming down my cheeks
You say the sweetest things
Like material stuff don’t mean a thing
But you take care of me to keep you safe
You so freaky babe
Yo
Anything you want (you got it)
Anything you need (you got it)
Anything at all (you got it)
Just keep it real with me (you got it)
Ooh I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
Yes I just love him cause he’s so crazy
Just crazy about me
Yes I love my ugly boy
So rough and tough
Don’t care about anything but me
And I just love him

Progress Report: Part 2

Got good energy coming in with my brother and family visiting since the weekend – here’s the hyena in his natural habitat with his siblings (Adam on the left, Billy about to grab my ear):

 

Got my scan results and my marching orders for the rest of this round of chemo. Generally there is good progress, and my oncologist will continue through the next infusion (2 weeks from today) and then work on scheduling yet another session of radioembolism — evidently he saw enough promise in the PET scan that going this route is the best way to go at this point. Hey, as long as I don’t have to pay for it… that bill is scary.

He’s also spoken to the powers that be, so I’m not having to wait several months this time just to have the treatment done, this is what took away so much of my progress from last year. While it was nice to be off of chemo and heal, I just didn’t have enough of an effective protocol (or healing energy) to continue the onslaught without meds as we’ve learned from the last CT scan. Because, let me tell you, if you wanna get rid of cancer, you sorta need some meds to do so. I’ve learned that hard nugget of truth the only way you can. But, I’m still hard at work researching what to do when the chemo goes away, and will be employing new tactics when the time comes where I’ll be told i’m all-clear from cancer. Looking at the results below, it’s quite easy for me to visualize that scenario, as it’s the only dream that’s been formed in this thick skull of mine for the last 18 months. I thought I was going to get there by my birthday last year, that was a most optimistic prediction.

But we’re winning here. We’re going to be winning so much you’re going to get sick of it. I’ve not gotten sick yet… a little icky maybe, but that’s to be expected from chemo.

I’ve bolded the phrases below that stand out to me. I admit I tend to look at only the positive stuff but in case someone decides I’m only looking at the good parts, I will point out that they also saw “scattered coronary calcifications”, which is the same plaque they warn you about in health class. While my oncologist doesn’t think it’s an issue, it’s time I ate a little better to get rid of those deposits in my blood vessels.

CT Chest with IV Contrast
CT Abdomen and Pelvis with IV Contrast

Comparison: CT chest abdomen pelvis dated January 3, 2017

Indication: f/u colon cancer, C19 Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction (CMS-HCC), C20 Malignant neoplasm of rectum (CMS-HCC), C78.7
Secondary malignant neoplasm of liver and intrahepatic bile duct (CMS-HCC)

Technique: CT imaging was performed of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis following the uncomplicated administration of intravenous contrast (Isovue-300, 150 mL at 2 mL/sec). Iodinated contrast was used due to the indications for the examination, to improve disease detection and to further define anatomy. The most recent serum creatinine is 0.7 mg/dL.
3-D maximal intensity projection (MIP) reconstructions of the chest were performed to potentially increase study sensitivity. Coronal images were also generated and reviewed.

Findings:
Chest:
There is a right chest port with tip terminating within the proximal right atrium. The visualized thyroid is unremarkable. There is a four vessel aortic arch with the left vertebral artery arising from the aortic arch.
The heart is normal in size without evidence of pericardial effusion. Scattered coronary calcifications, noted in the LAD. There is no evidence of mediastinal, hilar, or axillary lymphadenopathy.

The central airways are patent. Stable 2-3mm calcified nodule in the right lower lobe anterior segment. There are no suspicious pulmonary nodules visualized. There is no pleural effusion or pneumothorax.

Abdomen and pelvis:
The liver is normal in size. There is capsular retraction and nodular contours in the inferior and anterior right liver, which may be pseudocirrhosis due to treated metastases. Again seen are numerous hepatic metastases, some of which are calcified. There is interval decrease of ill-defined low density metastases within segment 2 (series 2, image 101). The majority of lesions are stable or slightly decreased in size compared to the prior examination. Representative partially calcified lesion in segment 6 measures 2.3 x 3.4 cm, previously measured 3.6 x 2.3 cm (series 2, image 137). Partially calcified lesion in segment 5 measures 2.1 x 2.1 cm, previously measured 2.3 x 2.3 cm (series 2, 2026). No new hepatic lesions identified. There is no evidence of intrahepatic or extrahepatic biliary duct dilatation. There is irregular thickening and nodular enhancement within the gallbladder which is stable and likely due to metastatic disease. The pancreas and bilateral adrenal glands are unremarkable. The spleen is large in size measuring up to 16 cm.

The kidneys enhance symmetrically without evidence of focal renal lesions or hydronephrosis. The urinary bladder is unremarkable. The prostate is large in size measuring up to 4.9 cm.

The small and large bowel are normal in caliber. Redemonstration of small gastric varices. Previously seen sigmoid mass is less prominent. There is interval long segment sigmoid colonic bowel thickening, some of which may be due to underdistention or to treatment effects. The appendix is normal.

The abdominal aorta is normal in caliber. There is interval decrease of lymph node near the gastric lesser curvature, which is subcentimeter  (series 2, image 115). No evidence of abdominal or pelvic lymphadenopathy. There is trace fluid in the pelvis.

There are no aggressive lytic or sclerotic lesions identified.

Impression:
1. Slight interval decrease in size of some of the left hepatic metastases. The remaining hepatic lesions are stable in size.

2. Previously seen sigmoid malignant mass is less conspicuous on the current examination. There is interval long segment sigmoid colonic bowel thickening, some of which may be due to underdistention or to treatment effects.

3. No significant change in a probable metastases involving the gallbladder. 

4. Interval decrease in gastrohepatic lymphadenopathy, compatible with treatment response.

5. Trace free fluid within the pelvis without definite nodularity.
Attention on follow-up.

Look, we’re beating up my cancer like a little bitch. It’s only going to claim me if I decide to quit fighting it altogether, which is not going to happen. The one-sided battle continues and we continue to use the Force. I feel like dancing.

I must believe
I can do anything
I can heal anyone
I must believe
I am the wind (yeah)
I am the sea
I am the wind
I am the sea
I am the sun
I can be anyone
Oh this world is mine (this world is mine)
For all of time (for all of time)
I can turn any stone
Call any place my home
I can do anything
I know I’m gonna get myself together (yeah)
Use the force
I know I’m gonna work it out
Use the force
I know I’m gonna get myself ahead (yeah)
Use the force
Use the force
I can go eagle high
Circling in the sky
Learn to live my life (no)
I don’t need no strife
I must believe (I must believe. I must believe)
I’m a rocket man (I must believe. I must believe)
I’m a superstar (I must believe. I must believe)
I can be anyone

Nashville

My company’s annual convention, Catalyst, was held in Nashville this past week and I was in attendance to… well, there’s not a lot a graphic designer does at these things, mostly help with running thumb drives loaded with PowerPoint presentations to the laptops in the seminar rooms. Because, dagnabbit, we’re good at it. Usually we have a big recognizable name show up for a keynote. This year Martha Stewart graced us with her presence and she was great. You might be wondering what she has to do with what my company does (help large companies get on e-commerce and track their sales on the platforms they sell on) but her brand is doing well enough selling online that she can participate in those discussions, because if there’s one thing Martha has always been good at, it’s knowing how things operate under the hood. Perhaps too much, after reviewing her rap sheet.

What’s notable about this year’s Catalyst, is that since I opened my big mouth and am now tasked with capturing corporate video more often, we had to locate a freelance graphic designer to take up the slack and process the ponderous mass of on-site graphics and booklets for Catalyst… enter my better half to knock out those graphics in a most satisfactory fashion. Christine had to scramble to get this Death Star image for our President’s keynote presentation, just as one example.

I had been in Nashville on 2 other occasions to review placement of the convention graphics at the venue and had barely enjoyed Broadway, the main street where multiple live bands play in every bar (no cover) because I was basically flying solo in the evenings. You know I’m not the gregarious type who can just stroll into a bar and make friends immediately — actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed anyone else achieve that who was sober enough to walk into a bar by himself — so I just strolled the streets and stayed away from the festivities in the past. Not so on this trip. Having my co-workers there this time for Catalyst opened up Broadway for me. I discovered a relatively new bar that had just opened called Nudie’s Honky Tonk, a bar dedicated to Nudie Cohn. I fell in love with it immediately, it’s my favorite bar in Nashville now.

During our official Catalyst party at the Wildhorse Saloon I developed a bit of hematuria; the next morning it got a bit worse, and after consulting with my oncologist I was told to go to the ER immediately, probably because of my already-low platelet count. So I dropped everything and hoofed it over to the closest hospital, anxious about making my flight home later that evening. I had to submit a urine sample and it looked like a blood sample. Four and a half hours and a CT scan later, the diagnosis was a simple bladder infection, treatable with antibiotics. They gave me the first dose right there with an IV and it cleared things up immediately. Whew. And I made it home with no issues.

The emergency on Wednesday, just as Catalyst was wrapping up, had plenty of my co-workers on alert. They didn’t want to leave me stranded in the event I had to stay overnight, and set up alternative plans in case I had to. I had brought plenty of gear with me to Nashville but all of my baggage was taken care of, as we had to vacate the venue while I was away. The constant requests for updates and support I received was as if my own family was involved – and in a sense it was: if you have the right people working with you, they are a part of your family and they genuinely care for your well-being. It is another blessing of mine to count my co-workers and the execs I report to as part of my support network. And because there is none of the normal employment-related stress that frequently exists with dealing with certain people at work, it increases my daily positive energy every time I go to the office. I doubt a lot of people can say that, and I’m glad I’m one of the lucky ones. But then, I’ve been pretty lucky so far.

Chemo is next week, the 4th infusion out of…. to be determined. I’m thinking of asking my oncologist to hit me with the full dose of that Vectibix, acne and thinning hair be damned. I believe another CT scan will be scheduled soon, so we can judge the progress of this new chemo regimen, stay tuned for that. Until then, spring is almost here — get out and walk if it’s nice out! I’m feeling a load of positive energy and it’s wonderful. Thank you once more for being here, I love you!

Hey, Pizza-face

One of the new medicines I’m taking for this round of chemo is Panitumumab, a lovely concoction that has the regular side-effects (fatigue, diarrhea, wreaking havoc with electrolytes) but it also comes with a nasty case of acne and rash. Which I discovered during the week I traveled to Colorado for what is starting to become an annual skiing clinic. I left on a Thursday, got 3 good days of skiing in at Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Breckenridge, and returned home just in time for another round of chemo.

A huge house was acquired to accommodate the large amount of friends gathered, most of whom are locals to the area, just out of college, and participate in white-water rafting together. So they’re very organized when it comes to partying and skiing: some of them got up early to secure a front-row parking spot at A-basin, which borders the bottom of several ski runs so that a skiier can just finish the run and ski right up to a waiting tailgate. Ours had a grill cooking some sort of meat product at all times while a keg of PBR made sure everyone was hydrated (har). As soon as it was time to move out, everyone knew what to do and did it – no bickering, no egos, just a well-oiled machine of logistics. it was a beautiful thing to behold. Gets you right in the feels… love to see a plan come together. And it didn’t stop there – back at the house someone was always working on the next meal. While I went on a couple grocery store runs (one of my favorite chores anyhow) I didn’t have to worry about cooking!

I made some definite headway in my skiing skills: last year, I skiied after 4 full months of chemo and I wasn’t as strong as I was this time, having only had one infusion before I went. I trusted my body a lot more, had more strength. I was able to ski most of the time on blue runs, which opens up the possibilities for more fun. I was faster and in more control. Instead of Ken having to ski down a slope and wait for me on a green run, I was almost able to keep up with him on blue runs. Big difference, for me anyways. My progress made me feel like I wasn’t the “beginner” anymore. Now, the steeper drops I have problems with. I’ll get there at some point.

Chemo tomorrow… let’s do this –