Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Too Soon

In celebration of my decision to just say no to poop pills, I made myself a giant latte this morning, my usual—split quad grande with whole milk—after days and days of being careful about the caffeine/lactose ratio (the combo can be quite the roto rooter).  I had been having a mere 1 shot americano or some such thing, just enough to stave off withdrawal headaches on top of everything else.

Um, yeah.  Guts not ready for the big time.

I maybe made that choice incorrectly (okay, there’s no “maybe” about it), but at least I made another choice correctly: I moved my paper med hemp “cards” from the bentwood box where I normally set my coffee, and put them on the floor behind the big comfy chair in our living room.  I haven’t been able to train myself to not leave my coffee unattended on that box, and Hoover, contrary to somehow learning on his own that I’d rather he didn’t sample beverages that I leave around at dog level, has become quite the sneaky fiend when it comes to helping himself to drinkables.

Anyway, I had realized that I needed to abandon my drink but had not yet dumped it out, and was down at the other end of the house availing myself of the facilities, when I heard a terrific CRASH.  “HOOVER!” I yelled and, as soon as possible, raced into the living room. 

Oops.  Little Dog (as we sometimes call him, since he was little when he came into the house) had made an error in judgment, and shattered glass (from one of our Bodum vacuum insulated double-walled mugs) and latte were splattered lavishly over the papers on the bentwood box, the computer power cord on the floor, and one or both shoes of several pairs that seem to migrate here to recline under the ottoman.  

Hoover was nowhere to be seen.

My pot cards were dry as a bone.

I did a quick search for Hoover, found him cowering guiltily on the dim landing of the basement stairs, and tossed him outside. I didn’t even toss him particularly meanly—after all, I had placed temptation, yet again, well within his reach—but still, some recognition of his badness was necessary . . . but also, I didn’t want him to get glass in his paws until I had cleaned up.

I had to call Taya and postpone an appointment I’d been very much looking forward to, because the drive to Lake Stevens seemed like a bad idea, and so I’m disappointed about that.  On the other hand, Hoover, who is a big chickenshit about loud, unexpected crashing noises that he has caused, may think twice before helping himself to my morning latte again.

N.B. While composing this post, I received a call from Eliza at the SCCA, saying, with great joy in her voice, that my three-drug mash-up of Herceptin, Lapatinib, and Navelbine had been, at long last, APPROVED!  And so now I will, in fact, still have to tell Dr Specht, tomorrow in clinic, that I am NOT, NO WAY, NO HOW, going to take Lapatinib in ANY dose, for ANY amount of time, EVER AGAIN.  Sigh.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Stand

This afternoon I called up Deb, Dr Specht’s nurse, so that I could tell her to pass on that I was NOT going to be resuming Tykerb/Lapatinib/Shits Unlimited after my two-day doctor-prescribed reprieve.  My taste of poop-free liberty has been so sweet, so restful, and was so immediate, that I have no doubt that the drug was not the right one for me.

This morning I got a call back (!) from my case manager at GEHA, my insurance company, explaining why they were loath to pay for both Navelbine and Lapatinib.  She said that, according to GEHA standards, if a combination of medicines has been approved by the FDA then they pay for it; if a particular combination has not been approved by the FDA (which is the case with Herceptin, Lapatinib, and Navelbine all together; Herceptin with either of the others is fine), then GEHA considers any use of the combination to be a “study”, and they don’t pay for studies.  The very nice lady on the phone said that this was because they didn’t want to accidently pay for toxic combinations for people.  She also told me that my doctors had 6 months and 3 chances to appeal . . . but I had to wonder . . . at least for me, maybe the combination of Herceptin, Navelbine and Lapatinib WAS toxic.  It certainly felt that way.  

I know that denying—me personally, not my insurance company—a drug that could potentially reduce my cancer load (bone-based at the moment) is theoretically risky.  But unlike Spring of 2007 when I was just done, not willing to play cancer games anymore, and actively gave up all treatment, I am not done.  I know that, for the time being, I need to be treating this cancer.  I also know that there’s no point in a cancer treatment if it’s going to kill me before the cancer can.  

Anyway, I do have a couple things coming down the pike (turnpike, I assume?), including Healer and Hemp, and without Lapatinib gumming up the works (the insurance works, obviously, not my works), Navelbine is an easy in.  And while I’ve been writing this, Deb called back and said that of course I could quit Lapatinib—it was entirely my choice—and she’d see to it that everyone knew and Dr Specht and I will talk about the future at my Thursday visit.  

My throat is back to normal today, and my hands feel less dry, my face looks better, and although my guts have continued quite loquacious, I’ve been able to pass gas and only gas (I think . . .).  

I am so relieved.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Well . . . the desensitization that Witch Doctor Dan did for me last week over my Lapatinib, after my first horrendous morning of 5 diarrheas and almost as many Imodium pills, gradually wore off over the week.  It sustained well enough and long enough for me to have quite an enjoyable riding lesson on Friday afternoon (although I was a tiny bit weaker than usual due to lack of proper food/liquid processing), but by Saturday morning my body was fully re-sensitized to the noxious pills, and by this afternoon, today, right now, my sensitivity is so over the top that pretty much all I can do is flop around on my bed, the last dregs of liquid (not already deposited in one of my tri-hourly trips to the toilet) leaving my body in thickly salted, exhausted tears (oh, well, and I can muster the strength to complain about the experience).  

Seriously, this drug is THE WORST THING EVER.  I would MUCH rather be bald.  Again.

I met with a nutritionist at the SCCA this morning and explained my predicament which was bad, yes, but not as bad (I was led to believe) as some:  I, at least, experienced some respite (I am not, for instance, typing this from the privy), and I had not had to use the extra pants/panties (trousers/pants to you non-American Anglophones) that I’ve been carrying around with me.  Oh yes, I have been carryng extras.  

I took only ¾  of my dose last night, hoping to calm things a bit, but no luck.  Lapatinib, and Lapatinib-induced diarrhea, will not be calmed.  Yesterday I had at least 5 Imodiums and 2 Zofrans; today I’ve had 1 Zofran but 6 Imodiums—the crap isn’t even slowed.  Or rather, IF it is and what I'm experiencing is an improvement, I would be dead by now without the pills.  Or living in the tub.

Every time I have to pee, I do number 2 too.  And number 2 frequently calls upon me in the absence of having to pee.  My hands are dry.  My face looks dry.  My voice is lower and scratchy, and the back of my throat has that long-forgotten I’m-camping-on-the-equator-for-two-weeks-and-water-is-precious achy feeling.  A bit tight, a bit sore.  I haven’t felt very hungry, because my guts are discombobulated, but I have been weak and dopey . . . so, I’m guessing I need some food, as well as some fluids.  

But every single thing that passes through my mouth races, burbling and chortling with evil glee, through my stomach and around the twists and turns of my small and large intestines, to come shooting flamboyantly out into the splash pool, like under-demons cavorting at Hades’s water park.  Seriously, they make so much noise that several times Ian has asked, with decreasing incredulity as the days go by, if that noise is in my belly.  

As I was already at the clinic this morning for the nutritionist (at 8:00am!), I spoke with my nurse (well, her Monday fill-in), and Dr Specht told me (via the nurse) to take two nights off from pills (OH THE RELIEF), and she let me get my blood drawn.  This way, when I have my meeting with her on Thursday to talk about how the Lapatinib is going (“Not so well,” I might say, or “somewhat poorly,” or maybe even “THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER.”), we’ll also have access to my new (and hopefully improved) tumor marker scores.  

Okay, folks, I’ve just finished a supper of Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup (the full-salt kind—nectar of the gods!) and toast, and I am, as is my wont this past week, exhausted, so I’m off to bed.  

I will keep you posted.  Never fear.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


In my ongoing quest for understanding of, reasons for, and therefore relief about (and maybe even from), my cancer, I do my best to ask myself, and occasionally other good thinkers around me, “interesting questions.”  In fine Liberal Arts fashion, my college, Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon, required all incoming freshman to take a class called Basic Inquiry (BI).  I don’t remember much about BI except that the entire freshman class read Beloved by Toni Morrison, which was definitely a book unlike others I had read.  Did it teach me the basics of questioning?  I don’t know for sure, but I think college ultimately did—at least, for the physical, human world.  Cancer, on the other hand, is increasingly teaching me how to imagine the right questions to ask to gain information and understanding about the much more nebulous energetic and spiritual worlds.  Starting with: is there such a thing?  Yes.

A couple nights ago my friend Chiara (visiting from Wellington, where she now lives) and I were sitting up late, discussing relationships of all kinds, and I said “what if I think about my cancer as a bad boyfriend?  My relationship with it has certainly been long—over twelve years—and has definitely had its ups and downs.”  

“Girl,” said Chiara, or something like it, “this is one dysfunctional relationship, but yeah, I can totally see that.”  

So, okay, Bad Boyfriend, but I stick with the relationship because 1) there is some benefit to me and 2) it’s known, the cancer, and there’s comfort even in that--the unknown is scary--and 3) maybe, also, there's even a little bit of inertia?

I have recently been led toward various forms, or maybe just shown directions, for spiritual healing as well as physical healing, and I’ve been experiencing an untenable amount of distress, angst, yearning, desire, frustration, sorrow, and almost debilitating indecision about what I am supposed to do with these options.  

The one which has triggered the most frantic cogitation is an energetic/spiritual healer who is also a medium, and who can, I am led to understand, talk with Guides and Guardian Angels, clear “predatory” energy from people, and explain to them the whys and wherefores of their diseases/ailments/purposes here on earth (once he’s cleared the energy and given you some information, it’s up to you to make the necessary changes in your life for the clearances to stick).  He wrote a book, primarily dictated by his Guides, that I’ve read since hearing about him, and much of what he shares in the book are ideas that I’ve either heard elsewhere over the last few years, or that I’ve discovered for myself in my own personal soul searches via the I Ching and Tarot.   

This sounds crazy to some of you.

So what?

Anyway, one of the things that came up in my conversation with Chiara was the idea of a cheat code. She used it in reference to several men she’s spoken to through the years who have found it difficult to partner with women, and who would really like to skip all the Levels 1-7 challenges and get right into a stable relationship.  What, Chiara asks them, does this mean for the value of the relationship, though?  Will it be so meaningful if you don’t have to go through all the steps?  Can you gain a true Nirvana without the discomfort, unknowing, and (perhaps, at least in my case here) self-flagellation?  

“Exactly!” I said. “I am wondering if this spiritual healer is the next step on my path, or a cheat code offered to tempt me OFF my path!  Maybe I need to learn healing energy myself for it to be effective!  Maybe if I call this guy, I won’t be able to achieve that!  But then again, maybe he’s supposed to be my teacher!”

“Your problem, Calin, from what I can see,” said Chiara, “is that you really don’t think enough.  Maybe you should do some work on some big questions.”

I mean, the promise—even the suggestion of a promise—that I could, truly, be done with this relationship/job/stretch of Life’s Journey, and move on to something else, is mouthwateringly tantalizing.  And yet, something has been holding me back, cautioning me to wait, to think, to feel, to take my time.  I have—more than once—consulted the I Ching and the Tarot about contacting this healer and they have been unignorably clear: your ego is in the way of you making the right decision.  

There’s a lot about Ego—capital E—in the literature about Enlightenment (capital E).  Or rather, there is one repeating theme:  Ego is necessary for the survival of the finite, fragile, flesh-and-blood human body; but it can easily grow out of control.  An out-of-control Ego cuts off access from the Universal/Divine/Absolute energy that is needed to feed, foster and facilitate the education of the Infinite Soul.  I.e., if I allow myself to grasp madly after any fluttering wisp of potential cure, or wallow in sorrow for myself and my troubles, then all I am doing is feeding the ravening beast of my Ego, and I’m unable to hear or see or accept the true healing available to me all the time.

I have, consciously, for several years now, been doing work to recognize when Ego has wrested too much control from the Whole Self.  I try to be aware of and disarm judgment against others and, much more difficult, against myself.  I try to remember to be grateful for the truly glorious gifts of my life, rather than feel that I deserve them, or have somehow earned them by having the challenges that I have had.  We all have challenges and we all have gifts and to a large extent, how happy and fulfilled we feel is not at all based on the specifics of those things, but merely how we interpret them.    

Something more subtle from the Ego, though, than judgment or entitlement, appeared sharply in my consciousness when I recently reconsidered my cancer relationship and what it has done for me lately.  

Cancer has given me a crutch to lean on and bandy about in people’s faces.  It has given me an excuse—easy to legitimize, but nevertheless an excuse—for not following through with any of the more lengthy or complicated side roads that I really might like to travel but am somewhat afraid of (note: my recent admission into the editing program at the UW is a first step along one of those roads).  In other words, believe it or not, it has allowed me to be lazy. Or, if you don’t buy lazy per se, it has allowed me to be distractible. This same excuse keeps me from having to step out into the unknown—for all its frustrations and difficulties, cancer is, for the most part by now, also mind-dullingly familiar.

Cancer has also given my Ego pretty much endless rich, plummy, treacly shovels full of flattering sustenance:   

“You’re so strong,” people will say to me.  Or “you’re my miracle patient!” Or “how do you do this?  Since WHEN?  REALLY???” or “You,” from my mother, “are an ANGEL.” 

I’m not an angel, I’m not a miracle, I may be strong but so are most people, and I’ve been doing this because it’s been in front of me, demanding my attention.

And along the way, I may have gotten into a bit of a relationship rut.

I did a visualization of my Ego yesterday afternoon, after a horrendous morning where all my worst fears about Lapatinib came true, barring the actual need (it had only been one dose so I wasn’t entirely desiccated) to go to the clinic for IV fluids. I went to an already-scheduled appointment with Witch Doctor Dan, who was able to desensitize my body to the drug somewhat (today has been much more comfortable).  Back at home, after lunch and an electrolyte drink, I did a Tarot reading (Outcome: Confusion) and an I Ching reading (Acceptance of trouble, laying aside of Ego) and then, exhausted from my day, my week, my month(s), lay back on the couch to have a nap.  Before I let myself drift into sleep, though, I pictured my Ego, so that I could get an idea of how to clear it out a bit.

The immediate image: a small, coal-black demon-like cat in the middle of my brain, claws and sharp, pointy fangs clinging to the top of my Kundalini (the energetic cord that, when uncoiled from the base of the spine, connects all the chakras to Universal energy through the Crown chakra at the top of the head), blocking most of the sacred energy that was attempting to filter down through my body.  Okay, well, I’ve done lots of nail trimmings around here with these two dogs, and so in my mind I got out my clippers and I snipped each of the toenails on all four of the feet until the demon-cat was swinging in the increased flow of golden light, still clinging, but more desperately, by the teeth.  I then procured a really rough emery board of sorts and proceeded to sand off the teeth, one by one, until the little black thing had nothing left with which to cling and was flushed in the roar of light down through my body and out into the ground to be cleansed. I slept, and when I awoke, curled in my brain, napping in a gentle glow, was a little, gray stripy kitten, and I felt refreshed, rested, and calm.

I called the healer.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Not-So-Traditional 10th Anniversary Gift

Today is Ian’s and my tenth anniversary.  We have been in the habit, over the last decade, of buying a joint gift together, following (loosely, based on mutually agreed upon interpretation) the “traditional” anniversary gifts, as set out in my Graphic Image paper calendar. We derailed a bit at the fifth (Wood or Clocks), because we decided we wanted a handmade wood music stand, made by this man, who is only in Coeur d’Alene, so you’d think we could’ve found our way up there to see his work (which we’d like to do, because Ian is a novice woodworker himself), but we haven’t.  And it’s been five years, or HALF of our marriage.  Three (Leather) was the biggest stretch . . . we were in Greece, and saw a glass and bronze fish in an art gallery . . . a gallery and fish that I’d seen twice before on other visits . . . and we decided that fish had skin, and skin sometimes became leather, and this was a fish (and we wanted it), so, why not?  For the oh-so-traditional Electrical Appliances (eighth—the stretch here being the reach of tradition, not how we interpreted it), we upgraded our stick blender from a corded to a cordless, and in the winter, I do enjoy crafting the occasional pureed soup.    

This year’s Tin or Aluminum was actually pretty easy for us to justify—we gave airline miles to our dear friends in Austin since who would want to visit there in August—and they’re arriving this evening (winter clothes in their checked luggage), on an AIRPLANE, which is mostly ALUMINUM.  I think pretty much everyone can get on board with that.  

This morning, however, I did get, as a non-traditional celebratory toast, my second new dose of Navelbine, which meant I was in the clinic from 10:15 to 1:15 (it’s still not clear that my insurance company is going to pay for these doses, let alone future ones, but there’s now an almost-two-week window to work that out before I’m next due in).  I also received my latest tumor marker score . . . 81.  

The volatile cancers are supposed to be volatile both directions (up they race, and SMASH!!! they’re brought down), and I know I can feel the drug pumping through my body, into and out of my affected bones.  Also, that score was from BEFORE I began the Navelbine last week, so it’s probably already lower. And even if the insurance company doesn’t pay for these last two weeks (+/- $1000, I’m guessing), it seems to be worth it for us to carry the cost.  Still, this is turning out to be a day pretty representational of my life—and Ian’s life—throughout our marriage.  Deep and soaring joys, intertwined with gnawing fear and keening heartache.

This last weekend on Orcas Island (we managed to get the siding boards up, but not the battens, and certainly no paint, but we worked virtually NON-STOP), Sunday afternoon came around and I had to lie down.  I went into the dacha and lay on our sleeping mats (stacked together for extra cushiness), gazed out at the brilliant sun and cotton-ball clouds, and felt sorry for myself, for needing a rest, for having to take these drugs, for inflicting this on my husband.  He did not sign up for this, I thought to myself, winking aside tears.  And then my practical self broke in and stopped the melodramatic reverie.  

He DID sign up for this.  He knew about my cancer past before he asked me to marry him.  The summer of our wedding, I had a recurrence and was undergoing chemotherapy treatments EVERY WEEK.  Ian would come to the clinic with me, and lie on my bed next to me, and nap while I planned our wedding.  Ian is DEEPLY involved in this, and has been from the start.  My mom is right; he IS an angel.  

In the car on the way home from Orcas, I told Ian about my musings while I was lying flat, and he said “Yes, that IS what I signed up for—you taking a break occasionally so that we can relax!” 

He’s a good man.  Happy Anniversary to me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cover Letter

Certificate Program in Editing                                         
UW Professional & Continuing Education
Seattle, Washington                                                                                   

To the Director of Admissions:

I was six when I first chose a chapter book for myself.  I picked Emily’s Runaway Imagination, by Beverly Cleary, and I have been reading voraciously—and unstintingly criticizing writing—ever since.  

Although I studied Sociology and Anthropology in college to avoid being Just Like My English Teacher Mother, the A’s I earned were in my English classes, and in the post-graduation-now-what-do-I-do-with-myself phase, I continued studying language arts in the mornings as I worked retail in the afternoons.  

I found a good fit as a master’s student in Linguistics: language, but deconstructed, described, discussed.  My thesis on ostensible compliments was in the Discourse Analysis sub-field, which views words, contexts and shared perceptions as a whole to explain how meaning is created—valuable knowledge for an editor.

While acquiring my MA I also acquired, 12 years ago at age 26, breast cancer, and the ongoing challenges of living with a serious disease have yielded rich fodder for my blog, I Thought I Was Done With This.  

My cancer requires particular attention and management, so traditional work has been difficult to pursue.  My part-time internship at Seattle Magazine, though, and my later memoir editing projects, offered me a taste of an attainable fulfilling and flexible professional pursuit.

I am ready to hone and legitimize my latent skills and long-term editorial interests, and hope to do so in your program.  

Thank you,

Calin Taylor 

Hey all y'all readers--I'm gonna have a career to go along with my fine living-with-cancer job!  I've been kicking around the idea of editing for a long, long time.  I notice language, and revel in using it, and am particular about the prose I'm willing to spend my time reading.  I enjoyed the editorial internship I had at Seattle Magazine lo these many years ago, and really got a kick out of telling my mother where to get off with her memoirs.  Even digging through Ian's ponderous academic/scientific articles yields nuggets of smug satisfaction, because even with his brilliant mind, he occasionally misplaces his clauses (mostly when he's been cutting and pasting a lot).

I know my own writing isn't perfect either (I occasionally publish a blog post 3 or 4 times in a row because I've had to fix something once I've read it in situ), and this certificate program at the UW will help me with that as well.

At any rate, last week I decided to apply, and this morning I was accepted and I paid for my first quarter!  Classes are Wednesday evenings starting in October.


Friday, August 12, 2011

In the Thick of it Again

The good news is that my PET scan showed no cancer activity in soft tissues—my lungs were fine, my liver was fine, my heart (well, hearts never get cancer—isn’t that interesting?) was fine, my kidneys were fine, my guts were fine.  So, all the organs that will help me process the new regimen designed to clear my skeleton of multiple new metastatic lesions are in good working order.  Yes, hidden in that ponderous sentence was the new diagnosis from the PET/CT:  my bones are exceedingly cancer-attractive right now.  

I have not noticed any bone pain myself, so that’s good, but I have measurable activity in many of my vertebrae, both scapulae, some ribs, and particularly in the top of my left femur, right where old people often break their hips.  So, don’t beat on me—I’m fragile.  And also, I’ll kick your office-dwelling ass.

Dr Specht reported a small part of her conversation with Dr Jason about me, after the PET scan came in:  “She’s not going to stop riding YOUR horses,” she said accusingly to him.  Yep, that’s right, I’m not.  In fact, I have a jump lesson today, and I’m very excited about it—it’s the first jump lesson since June!  Besides that, or presumably because of that, my legs and, particularly, all the small muscles around my hips, are exceedingly strong right now.  My body has spent the last several months priming itself to protect a porous skeletal system until it can be healed.  Again.

But back to the other—well, another—side of me.  My insurance company has, of course, been slowly learning—no, that’s not right—has been hit over the head with a brick of knowledge (otherwise known as my two-foot-tall-stack of medical charts)—that I am an expensive keeper.  Their attempts to mitigate my costs have been unsuccessful so far, and I have confidence that my doctors and I will continue to prevail.  We’re definitely having to work for it, however, and while I understand that I should have to spend some hours managing my care and cajoling recalcitrant benefactors, I find it maddening that Dr Specht, who has many more lives to save than mine, has had to spend her own precious time in Byzantium.  

And at the moment, the drug they are hesitating on is the cheapest one—Navelbine—an infusible chemotherapy that takes a mere 20 minutes and costs about $300.  The drawback for me is that it’s a two-week-on, one-week-off sort of drug, so I’ll have to double my clinic visits for the time being . . . but for 20 minutes (read, in reality 40) . . . I can sit in a chair on those weeks. Anyway, I went ahead and started the Navelbine last night (Ian and I can pay for that one once if they don’t cover it retroactively), and I could SWEAR that I felt it getting into some of the larger bone patches.  And the Lapatinib is creeping its slow way through the back office of the mail order pharmacy and will, at some point, arrive on my doorstep.  More about it when it makes its appearance.

This weekend: back to Orcas, to side and paint (we’re optimists) the Dacha!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Roller Coaster Ride

I’m back in town for a few weeks, just in time to catch what appears, finally, to be a real Northwest Summer, complete with sun and warmth and lots of really, really bad drivers on the roads—i.e. plenty of opportunity for me to redirect the continuing flow of frustration and anger and disappointment that comes along with this cancer carnival ride I’m still on.

If you’ve been following along in Dilettante Traveler, you will have noticed that I’ve been very busy living and not spending so much time in clinics these days . . . well, that’s been true—the living part—but during the 19 days that I have been in Seattle since 13 June, 11 of those have included some form of medical treatment/preparation/test/infusion, varying in intensity from racing home to retrieve expensive ($50k/year) medication from the front porch, to walking around for several hours with one eye dilated, to Witch Doctory, to crawling out of bed at 6:00am after four days of no exercise (the last two enforced by a new PET/CT prep protocol) and 12 hours of fasting, to go be injected with radioactive glucose and drink down a liter and a half of barium sulfate, berry flavored.  I asked if they had a simple “no flavor” one, but no.  If I were just getting a CT, “water flavored” is possible, but since the CT part of the PET/CT happens a couple hours after I’ve imbibed the contrast, it has to be barium, which sticks around longer, and it has to be Berry.  I cross my fingers and hope that my friend L never has to have a PET/CT.  She is not a big fan of berry flavoring.  My guts are growling and squeaking at me as I type this.

From the above rant, you can probably guess what I was doing this morning.  Yep, PET/CT.

During the three days in July that I was home between Idaho and the San Juans, I had medical stuff every day, and it was all more proof that I need to have those medical stuff days, that, in fact, they are still necessary to allow me to have the glorious, feral days in Idaho, or the beautiful, reminiscent ones in the San Juans. 

My MRI on 20 July showed a tiny new spot off in a new place in my brain, not big enough to notice from the inside by me, or, indeed, from the scan by the radiologists who read it and declared it stable. Eagle-eyed Dr Jason, however, did notice it, and went back to May’s scan and saw the faint shadow of its beginning there, and decided that now—with three, maybe four teeny spots visible—might be a good time to talk about my next Gamma Knife procedure, to happen sometime this fall, working around my travel schedule (see, it’s good to catch these things early enough to work the cancer around the travel schedule, instead of vice versa).  Nurse Sarah brought in my latest tumor marker scores to get as much evidence as possible about the below-the-neck disease, and my score had jumped from 39 (slightly high) to 52 (slightly higher).  Huh. 

On 21 July I saw Dr Specht (she had chatted with Dr Jason the afternoon before) and she told me of my proposed regimen change, which would begin after the San Juans trip, and after the next PET/CT.  No more Xeloda, the hyper-expensive drug I take at home; instead, back to Navelbine for a bit, which is an infused chemotherapy (low side-effects to the body; higher side-effects to the schedule); and, finally, the dreaded and much put off Lapatinib. Lapatinib is somewhat like Herceptin, from what I understand, working with the body to form antibodies against HER2Neu-receptive cancers, and it’s something I take at home, but it’s also very expensive and, the clincher for me, has pretty extreme gastrointestinal side-effects, occasionally causing a patient to need infused fluids to make up for all the water lost through violent diarrhea.  Doesn’t that sound like a fun affliction to take horseback riding. 

I won’t get any results from the PET/CT until next Thursday’s appointment with Dr Specht, and on that day I’ll probably resume Navelbine with my Herceptin infusion, and probably begin taking Lapatinib as soon as the insurance company can be wheedled into sending it on to me. 

It was better, in July, easier, getting the MRI results and the blood test results after having such an experience of freedom in Jerome Creek; but I still want, desperately want, to be done with all this.  This job, it sucks.  I’d like to change careers, please.  Maybe be a veterinarian, or a park ranger.  Saw down trees legitimately, blaze trails others will use—literally, not figuratively anymore.  Now that would be fun.