Category Archives: video

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

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

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!”

On the books

We’re finally making forward progress again: looks like Duke finally got their PC running and scheduled me for my first treatment next month. I’ve had enough time to rest and heal, let’s see what radioactive glass beads can do to wreak havoc on my little rogue cells.

I’ll be back after the procedure to report how things look and feel. Until then, have some Lettuce!

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!

TGIF

Been a long week, the side effects are lingering longer this time. I blame not having the rush of energy provided my the 5th Floor Shanks crew that I had around Thanksgiving. Oh well, what are you gonna do.  Still quite strong, but my mood has softened against my affliction since the new CT scan, I’m finding that I tire easily having to get angry at something that is already going away. So I’m a lot more quiet against it, gently suffocating it and telling the cancer ssssh, it’s all right. Time to go now. A little morbid I know, but it beats having to constantly nuke it psionically.

Not much else to talk about until next Tuesday, which is my 6th and last scheduled infusion. No updates on when my surgery will occur either, sorta stuck in limbo for the moment. So I’ll throw yet another song out here from my favorite Australian band, the Drones. Enjoy and we’ll see if we can’t post some news next week.

PS: Hey, if I don’t have your address, please contact me (thru email or Facebook, etc) and shoot it over so I can send a Christmas Card! You got only the weekend to do so before I mail them, don’t delay!

we don’t write letters any more
there ain’t the time or place
but a friend of mine wrote something like
a letter yesterday

it was smuggled through my inbox
just this morning, 3am
more impotent than important
but let me read it now, verbatim

he says i got that same old feeling
the one that turns the birds to brutes
the sky is like a bad dream
and the Earth is in cahoots

i don’t believe no one no more
i don’t care what no one says
i just wanna make the world
a much less painful place

we look fonder on the good old days
as they drift further away
but why if everyone feels so homesick
are they always setting sail?

’cause it’s all bad news up there on deck
and each headland masks the next
i’d just as soon dive in the ocean
and forego the blood and sweat

forego all aspirations
they just put everyone at odds
if idle hands are the devil’s work
then where’s the time for God’s?

and why write a letter that you’ll never send away

why won’t you stay with me, wait and see
all you need know
nobody’s perfect and their needs are always stark
stay with me, wait you’ll see
all you need know
everybody’s hurting and their needs are always stark

and who cares about wars of choice in lands
where states indulge their passions
and all the new shoots just jackbootscoot
all dissent out of fashion

like Fred Astaires at a film premier
that is all about them
it’s stirring stuff, transformative
they don’t care where they’re sent

they’re all kiss chasing childish
dreams of privileged masculinity
’till they’re spent by shock and discharged
home to small town and big city

the rest are the type left dying or dead
from trying to be useful
they’ve been handy in the years gone by
and they’ll be handy in the future

and who cares for their survival
and who cares about the Yanks
who cares if they get overrun
by Chinese nukes and tanks

who cares about the holocaust
man we didn’t learn nothing there
and all it’s memory does is
keep the History Channel on air

who cares about the Vatican
man everybody knows
and who’s surprised they went and
chose a nazi for a pope?

who cares about fakes like anarchists
man they never want to dance
let’s mambo Mogadishu
give anarchy a chance

i’m saying life is cruel, you know it’s true
but all sides still try and recruit you
for shangri-las as practical
as doing the karma sutra

why write a letter that you’ll never send away

why won’t you stay with me, wait and see
all you need know
nobody’s perfect and their needs are always stark
stay with me, wait you’ll see
all you need know
everybody skirts the fact their needs are always stark

and who cares if the starving millions
know if it’s christmas or your birthday
or what movie stars in Africa
or the guy from U2 says

or all the statesmen never telling
lies as truth or gospel
who cares what’s true or false
the truth’s the world won’t go to hospital

but who needs to live forever
who needs the extra miles
we won’t need bees or seed banks
in the Arctic for a while

we play the game to start again
not to better life for all
it’s the appropriate opiate
when a better way’s impossible

some honesty now wouldn’t go astray
if not, then what’s the use?
we’re animals, we can’t help doing
what all animals do

so goodbye my friend, i’m hitting send
forgive me talking straight
i’m only trying to make the world
a much less painful place

and why write a letter that you’ll never send away?

“This One Goes to 11”

Been feeling very good this week overall, the best I’ve felt in a long time. Probably maxing out at 10 out of 10. Today I went to 11.

twitter1

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so we get another music video because of this, sorry. This is just one of Flying Lotus’ works I employ audially to maximize assimilation of well wishes, prayers and thoughts tuned towards my way. I feel all of the energy coming from loved ones this way, and it’s become a daily thing. It’s almost too much to handle, some days.

To clarify: the video is okay but it’s Flying Lotus’ music I’m highlighting here. Just turn it up and sit back and relax, it’ll be over soon enough.

The Prophet is on the Air

DETAILS FROM LAST ROUND: White blood cell counts are back up, no Neulasta shot for me this time. Generally my numbers are either holding steady or increasing, with the exception of my CEA, which is still trending downward, almost 7 from 9.4 two weeks ago.

Had my best post-infusion weekend ever – apart from the usual cold sensitivity, there’s been no other issues like cramping etc. I attribute this to the incredible healing energy provided by the usual suspects (Blake family at Thanksgiving) combined with college friends who visited Raleigh, some of whom I haven’t seen in over 20 years. I figured I’d be feeling worse and worse after multiple rounds of chemo, but the 5th Floor Shanks Hall Crew has dispelled that notion. Thank you brothers and sisters for your timely visit. Safe travels, and we’ll see you next time. Go Hokies!

There was a cat in Nashville during the 70s who called himself the Prophet Omega and held radio programs out of his apartment; his programs were taped and distributed among touring musicians where he gained a cult following. Normally I’m not a religious guy but the old-school kitschiness and sponsored ads combined with his overall message (I am what I am) closely aligns with my belief system… probably Popeye’s as well. I’m both inspired and entertained by his programs, I wish he was still around today – perfect excuse to visit Nashville IMO.

Please to enjoy what I’m listening to this week, as I gain even more strength and prepare for upcoming CT scans to see my journey’s progress (scheduled for 12/8), after which time we’ll start thinking about scheduling surgery. Woot!