Monday, February 1, 2010

The Right Direction

I had a bone scan on Friday since my last tests were done three months ago, and it was a good time to see how much progress has been made over the last seven rounds of chemo. With only two scheduled rounds remaining, the doctors want to make a plan of attack from here on out. In order to do that, they need a point of reference; an illustration of where we stand right now.

I was really nervous about the scan, since it pretty much dictates the rest of my treatment. The options appear to be radiation, which is only really an option if there isn't much tumor left, and the remains are located in few enough places on my body. If the tumor shows up in too many places, the option would likely be to continue with lower dosage chemo for however long it takes to be rid of the tumor completely. Either way, I'll be going back to Bethesda for the vaccinations, but the other question that arises is whether or not to undergo a stem cell transplant. It could be helpful, but it would require putting my body through hell (that's not to say that chemo hasn't been hell all along, but this would mean extra miserable, possibly dangerous hell). People actually die from those procedures, and I'm in a really difficult position having to make the final decision regarding whether or not to do it.

Fortunately, the results of the bone scan were good. The tumor is gone from my spine and shoulders, and it only persists in my arms, sternum, pelvis, and skull. It was less intense in all of these places than it was three months ago, so it's reasonable to conclude that the chemo is working. The doctor also told me that bone scans show the abnormal things going on in the bones, like a tumor, as well as bone restructuring, or healing. It could be that the tumor is even smaller than the scan showed, but that my bones are healing in those places so they showed up as abnormal. I want to believe that this is the case in my pelvis, at least somewhat, considering how many pieces of bone have been broken off during Bone Marrow Biopsies. There's just no way that the bone isn't still recovering from that.

So the good news is that I'm heading in the right direction. The scary part is that we have to make some decisions about what to do next, since I can't keep going to chemo forever. (I actually consider that a good thing; I don't know how much longer I could take it, but the bottom line is that it appears to be working.) The reality remains that this type of tumor usually returns, so not only do we have to eliminate it, but we have to do what it takes to give me the best shot at keeping it from coming back.

It would be easy, and reasonable, for that matter, to constantly be in fear. I have to decide whether or not to undergo a procedure that could save me just as soon as kill me, and said procedure, among other treatments, would be performed in order to help me survive a tumor which most people who get it don't survive. If they manage to survive it the first time, it usually comes back to finish the job. Yes, I would say I have defensible reason to be afraid.

My doctor told me today that she would never bet against me, and it really meant a lot to me. She says she's never seen anyone go through chemo at the pace I've (for the most part) been able to maintain. I pride myself in my ability to bounce back. I just think that's the way you have to be if you're going to beat something like this. You just have to believe that nothing can keep you from winning, and nothing can stand in the way of you attaining the things you want. You obviously need to factor in some luck (like the treatment actually working, without which I wouldn't have a prayer) but so much of it depends on you. And it's not just cancer, or chemo, or whatever, I'm pretty sure it's true of anything. You're not going to get where you want to go if you don't truly believe you're going to be there in the end.

Fear can do nothing but stand in my way. I'll beat this thing before it kills me, and if it comes back, I'll beat it again. It's comforting to know that my doctor is behind me and that she believes in me, but I wouldn't bet against me either, and I think that's important, too. There's always a chance that I'm wrong; that truth has been there all along, and I'm aware of it. In actuality, it's a reality that exists. Not to me, though. In my mind, there has only ever been one option.


  1. we're all behind you and we all believe in you too!

  2. congratulations on moving in the right direction!

  3. Fear is a robber and does us no good. Your conceptualization of this is stellar and inspiring as usual. I bet on you too!

    It's interesting and I've heard this with a friend - that tumors and bone re-growth are difficult to tell apart on scans. Hmmm, tumor? ...healing? I'll take "visualize healing." Can't hurt and very likely helps it come true.

  4. Jonathan -
    Your writing is inspiring to anyone. If we could all deal with life thinking as positively we'd all be a whole lot happier.

    I heard your cd yesterday ... very nice ... clean and complicated ... City Lights is my fav. Who is you vocalist?

    Meg .... (I work with your dad)

  5. I'm glad you like the music, yep I'm a vocalist