Saturday, July 31, 2010

A month of "firsts"

Last weekend I finally got to take my first backpacking trip since "the diagnosis". My freighbor, Drainage, and I all headed off to one of my favorite spots in the Sierra - Emigrant Wilderness Area. It was also the first trip to Emigrant without Bobsey, and without Chana. I suspect there will be many "firsts" in all of those categories. At least for the upcoming year, as I hope to move through it with some semblance of normalcy.

Speaking of which, the latest MRI looked unchanged! The two disappearing dots did NOT reappear, and the remaining dot might actually just be a blood vessel. Though I'd like to still see it disappear sometime soon. The generalized grey blob is still there, but hasn't increased its size or contrast. So, in conclusion, things really couldn't be much better!

I just completed cycle 11 (which happens to be my lucky number - as much as I believe in lucky numbers....) That means that my next cycle marks a complete year of chemo. This didn't mean that much to me until my oncologist told me that I might want to start considering whether I want to stay on the chemo or stop it. There wasn't a lot of clear information on what to do, but it was exciting just to hear that I have a choice in this. The chemo has been frustrating my life in ways I never expected. The idea of letting it go sends chills down my spine. I will be talking with several doctors and experienced survivors to get their opinions, but I am willing to accept other research information anyone might find regarding the efficacy of long term treatment by Temodar for grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme. My family will act as a buffer to keep me informed without being overwhelmed by the typically negative and useless statistics.

Meanwhile, it's time for bed. I'm wiped out from having just finished bringing my first niece/nephew visitor on my first Cache Creek trip since the first, and hopefully last, diagnosis of a brain tumor.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

One year ago today...

...I was diagnosed. If you go by the "day" and not the "date".

Let's review the past year:
  • Leaving work early on Tuesday, July 7th, I was dragged to the ER by my friend "H-Lo" who had a feeling something wasn't right
  • My "weird feeling" was confirmed by a CAT scan showing a huge tumor
  • I had surgery the next day as my family was flying out to see me
  • My family and friends took care of me as I recovered from surgery
  • I began a 6 week daily radiation/chemo treatment while still trying to work part time
  • I still managed to visit my family over Thanksgiving and a trip to Yosemite over New Years
  • My friends pulled together an ultimate frisbee tournament to raise money to fight cancer (and raised over $45,000!)
  • I watched many of my friends make significant moves in their lives - starting relationships, getting engaged, having kids, changing jobs, moving to a new town - while I fought to bring myself close to where I was prior to the cancer
  • I learned what it's like to have a pre-menstrual cycle through my monthly chemo treatment (though I never had to deal with the tampon side of things)
  • I lost a dear friend who took his own life, and in the following week, lost my dog Chana who was a beloved family member for over a decade
  • That same month, another friend at work was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a complete mastectomy
  • Soon after that, my apartment building was converted into the "Dorland Medical Clinic," with my fabulous "freighbor" acting as the chief of staff, taking care of me, her father, her step-mother, and her brother, who had a terrible fall that could've taken his life
  • I finally learned to kayak (again)
  • My MRIs continued to improve giving me hope and optimism looking forward
  • And today, I went to work, and then headed off to play ultimate - just like I was supposed to do one full year ago. And yes, we did win.
I have to say, overall it's a little bit odd. I feel like I should be having a momentous occasion right now. I think back to this day one year ago, and how I felt and what I was going through. It's hard to believe it's been a year already, and yet that year took a really long time while I was passing through it. Next week I have my next MRI, and in a way, that feels more momentous than the anniversary. But in the meantime, I still feel incredibly lucky, and I'm really looking forward to a much better "year two"!