Today, eleven days after brain surgery, I returned to Emory to discuss the surgery, my condition and next steps.
The wound is healing well so they removed the stitches. Dr. Olson explained the post-surgery MRI to us. My first craniotomy back in August 2011, resulted in removal of all of the tumor (except the microscopic bits). This time, they estimate that they removed about 90 percent of the newly grown tumor. There was some tumor attached to the middle cerebral artery which is one of the three major paired arteries that supply blood to the cerebrum. Specifically, the sylvian fissure was affected. Attempting to remove tumor attached here carried the risk of impairing the use of my left arm. Olson decided it would be best to fight that part of the tumor by other means. Unfortunately, we don’t know if anything will be effective. The standard chemotherapy, temozolomide, that I was taking has not proven to be very effective for me. Also, the immunology trial I was involved with doesn’t seem to have been very helpful either. This doesn’t leave us with anything very medically hopeful. But let’s not forget that I do feel good and don’t have any neurological deficits.
Reality Settles In
Since the beginning of my cancer ordeal, I’ve maintained a gut feeling that I’m fine; I’m going to be fine; and that there’s no need to tackle any bucket-list activities. My really good physical, mental, emotional and neurological health had made it easy to feel confident and enjoy life without real worry. But the tumor recurrence has dealt me a thought-provoking blow. This cancer is as aggressive and devastating as the statistics reveal. I could die — soonish. That’s quite a revelation to think about.
Keep Calm and Carry On
We don’t yet know what the plan moving forward is going to be. We did not meet with an oncologist today like we thought would happen. Here are our expected options:
- Choose another clinical trial — Not too exciting. These trial’s are all experimental and meant more for future research rather than saving me. Potentially better than doing nothing but nothing to pin hopes on.
- Reinvigorate our alternative treatments — In the beginning I was very diligent about meditation, acupuncture and supplements. As time went on with good MRI results, I let these activities slip a little. Tonight, Tina and I went to a therapeutic yoga class. It felt really great. I am strong and yoga is absolutely beneficial to my total health. I will look to enhance my meditation practice and go back to acupuncture, too.
- Maintain dietary control — With good MRI results to celebrate and our recent birthdays and wedding anniversary, we reintroduced alcohol to my system. We used to love celebrating with booze in all it’s amazing forms. I don’t think an occassional indulgence opened the door for the cancer to come back, but I am willing to sacrifice that luxury if there is a chance it helps. I’m going to get back into controlling the alkalinity of my body; oxygenating my blood; taking natural immunity supplements; eating organic. My former passion for cooking has returned too.
- Positivity flow — I was convinced that passionate intentions and thinking influence real outcomes. I devoted time to this concept but had also let it wane. I now aim to reincorporate this type of intention into my daily life. I’ll battle this cancer with every resource I can muster.
I’m still intent on having fun and exploring myself and relationships. I’m having a great time connecting with friends and neighbors. I have been painting and drawing, introspecting and writing — nothing worth a damn yet, but it’s an interesting, often frustrating, exercise in self-discovery.
The person most burdened by this life-situation is unquestionably my wife, Tina. That is the greatest tragedy for me.
I don’t have any fear of death impeding me. Rather, the desire to live and live well compels me. That’s why I titled this post “Hammer Down.” Time to live life full throttle.