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"Sing a song with a friend, change the shape that I'm in, and get back in the game"

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

(Blaze Foley reference)

Today I visited Chemo Palace, where OncoMan resides along with his bevy of needle stabbers and chemo pushers. I was, for whatever reason, not worried. I honestly do not know why. There were moments of trepidation, to be sure, especially while waiting in the exam room, but nothing major like I've felt in the past.

I've tried to explain this to people in here, particularly in the CSN Chat Room. I don't know exactly why, but I'm going with the idea that I've been through quite a bit over the last five years such that I am ready for anything and, more important, I think, I know that worrying isn't going to make a damned bit of difference.

Still, again, the closer you get, the more intense it gets.

Honestly, I look at these experiences, these trips to the Chemo Palace, as lengthy periods of WAIT before receiving either good or bad news. Sort of like Christmas as a kid: you wait and you wait and you wait and you either get the latest video game or the awkwardly knitted sweater, or something like that.

The WAIT is the hard part, but surprisingly I got through this fairly rapidly. I arrived a few minutes early, because my wife called me from her location to suggest that I might want to get after it, even though I knew exactly how long it would take, barring complications like traffic, accidents, road work, that sort of thing.

Going to the counter to sign in, I was pleased that one of the young ladies recognized me, even though it has been eight months and she has seen probably thousands since last I passed through those doors, and she even smiled. I am sure they are glad to see the living, the survivors. Five years passing through those doors, and I'm still doing it.

Of course, she MAY have been laughing at my leather jacket and earring...that is a possibility. But she smiled, AND when the lady handling my stuff was fumbling, she took over and got me out of THAT line pronto. (Sigh!)

I found a place to sit and wasn't there long before my wife walked by on the way to somewhere or other. I shouted to her, but she didn't hear me, or needed to go really badly, or didn't recognize the stylish guy in the button-down shirt, knit sweater, and leather bomber jacket; make your own call, but people around me were smiling and shrugging, as in: "What can you do?"

I did not chase her, but bumped into her as I was headed to the lab for the blood work. She went out into the second lobby and I headed to the lab.

Turns out I am rather dehydrated, and it took a couple of 'sticks' to find veins that would pump that Virginia Tech maroon oil that the lab needs, that is, blood. She, the sticker, was apologetic, but it was really not her fault. I was clearly bone dry, and she did a great job of finding sources of at least minimal blood.

It turns out they have been taking samples for tumor markers from the beginning, but I never knew that until this time, when I finally asked what some of these acronyms mean. They, of course, check my white and red blood cell counts. And they check organ function, I guess liver and kidney specifically.

All of that is good news to me. I want to know ahead of time when my organs are failing. Maybe.

I left that room with a bunch of gauze on my right arm, along with that damned tape I do not look forward to removing. I DID talk to my fellow blood-letters, the ones on either side of me, and they talked back, and we had a jolly time.

I had no longer put the legendary 'sheet' into OncoMan's basket than his nurse grabbed it and asked if I was ready for a weigh in. Oh, hell yeah! Fast food service moves to the Chemo Palace! She weighed me in, and I had lost, I guess, 18 pounds since April, when I last saw these wonderful folks.

This raised concern later with OncoMan, but the truth is, it was just about that time (April) that I lost my last tube and began the journey to eating.

In any event, my wife and I were immediately ushered into an exam room, and you tend to be worried when you get the five-star treatment, but, inexplicably, I still wasn't worried. My wife was. I could tell. She tends to talk about other stuff. Today, it was about a party at work, and how the management had to serve the staff, and how funny that was.

Alrighty then!

I understand, I do. I suppose she is trying to misdirect one of us away from what might be a very bad diagnosis. So I listen and respond appropriately, asking who this is, who that is, that sort of thing.

The nurse gives me a thumbs up on all vital counts: I am probably healthier in that regard than most people in the country, and it is largely due, to be honest, to cancer reducing my weight and dropping my blood pressure. Not that I recommend that as the optimal choice for regaining your health.

And then OncoMan's PA (Physician's Assistant) knocked on the door (what? why?) so I shouted, "Wait, we're getting dressed!", but she came in anyway, so it is rather fortunate that my wife and I decided NOT to use the exam table for our personal, sea level version of the five-mile club, or whatever they call it. I really just wanted to see what they would do when they knocked and got that response. It was not good. Let that be a warning to you, unless you are exhibitionist by nature.

PA proceeded to ask me about my health in general, as she always does, and I went into my new theory about micro-aspiration (in case my scan was not so good :)), and she said would take that up with OncoMan, and she wondered where I had been and I sheepishly but brutally honestly replied, "I sort of gave it up for awhile there."

To make a long story even longer (and all of this time, although this has no significance, everyone whose hand I shake, or whose skin I touch, remarks on how cold my hands are), OncoMan comes in. I AM on the five-star plan!

I ask him immediately: "Am I going to die?" (Why beat around the bush?) He chuckles (a good sign, a very good sign) and says, "No, your CT scan looks really good."

So all of my micro-aspiration stuff was unnecessary, and even cost me extra time with OncoMan, as he now was considering a new swallow test. I advised him that I was merely protecting myself against a bad scan result, and that the cough was not an annoyance, and that I had had probably five swallow tests in the past and they all came out good.

Here is what my copy of the report says: "Stable exam No evidence of malignancy in the chest."

As he reminded me, five years now for head/neck; a month away from three years for lung...Neither the wife nor I had realized that, since the surgery for lung was in Jan of 08... but yes, 2010 is ending, and less than two months from now, I will be three years out of lung cancer too.

Another six months.

Take care.

congoody
Posts: 74
Joined: Jan 2010

All the best to you - this is great - now we can count on another exciting oyster recipe to come at Christmas - time to celebrate for us both - about a year ago you welcomed me to this "club" and I recall your reassuring words and your kindness at that time - my one year scan yesterday was clear but unlike you Mr. cool, calm and collected, I was a wreck waiting for the scan and reviewing the results - am happy to hear that with time this anxiety might diminish - all the best to you and yours for a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year - connie.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Congratulations, connie! That is excellent news as well and I could not be happier for you. As for the anxiety diminishing, I think it does to some degree, but there is always at least a modicum of hand-wringing inside the exam room, at least. I was frankly surprised by how well I handled it this time.

As for the oysters, um, I think I am going to skip them at Christmas and go with clams :).

Thanks for the kind words and the excellent news, my friend.

Take care,

Joe

mamacita5's picture
mamacita5
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

Good Job
Get 'em up way high
Gimme gimme that high five
Good time
Get 'em way down low
Gimme gimme that low dough
Good God
Bring 'em back again
Gimme gimme that high ten

Jason Mraz via Mamacita!

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Coincidentally, I was listening to Mraz yesterday for the first time, as part of a Jack Johnson mix on YouTube. Really enjoyed the stuff I heard.

Thanks for the thoughts mamacita (along with the musical reference :)).

Take care,

Joe

mom_of_2
Posts: 30
Joined: Nov 2010

I'm so happy to hear the GREAT news! Best wishes to you and your family for the upcoming holiday season!

catcon49's picture
catcon49
Posts: 388
Joined: Aug 2008

I just read your entry with the same wrenching feeling I get with my own Dr. visits after a scan. I am estatic that you will be with us all quite a while longer. Great News and Best of luck to you and your family.. Better luck eating christmas dinner. Maybe try clam chowder instead of the oysters. lol may be easier to get down

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Yeah, Glenna said she had to skip to the end to get the news before reading the post :). Not intended.

Funny you should mention clam chowder...I am intending a garlic immersed clam thing, an attempt to recreate something from a local Italian restaurant. THAT should be good :).

Take care, my friend, and have a wonderful holiday season,

Joe

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

And best wishes to you and yours as well.

Take care,

Joe

havinghope
Posts: 9
Joined: Nov 2010

Good Job, I am so happy to hear so much postive things here.

Happy Holidays :)

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

That's been my motto all along, havinghope, and so far it has done me well. I hope that it works as well for you.

Best wishes to you and yours for a joyful holiday season as well.

Take care,

Joe

JohnBinDC's picture
JohnBinDC
Posts: 91
Joined: Nov 2010

I am happy to read the news in your post and, moreover, gleaned some tips to use when I make my first visit to OncoMan next week. You are an inspiration and I love your humor as you progress through treatment. I plan to follow your postings for a LONG time!

Last week, I was notified that my lobectomy was camncelled because cancver has spread to my lympoh nodes. I let the doctor know I was really disappointed. Why? Because I had just bought new underwear in anticipation of going to the hospital! After all, mom always said to wear clean underwear just in case you ever were sent to the emergancy room! :)

Keep having fun!

John

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Thanks for the kind words, John.

I am sorry to hear of the development with respect to your lymph nodes, as I have, from the start, been an advocate of 'if it's in there take it out'. Good luck with that, John, and keep us advised of your progress.

As for the clean underwear, I would go one step further and buy DARK underwear as, in the hospital, accidents DO happen.

Take care, John,

Joe

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1580
Joined: May 2009

This is the best news I've read this morning :) I was anxious to hear your scan results so I had to scroll to the bottom first and then read your post. Kind of like reading the last chapter of a book first - lol.

Loved your response when they knocked on the exam room door, I was going to mention it to my husband but realized he is as "sick" as you and would probably pull something like that when I go for my next scan. I thought it best not to give him any ideas so I didn't tell him.

Enjoy your holidays!!

Glenna

cobra1122's picture
cobra1122
Posts: 245
Joined: Jul 2009

Not only the fact you say it like it is, you live it. I was glad I got to read your post again and it got my goals back in line and got me back into reality.
I just hope other people will take a good look at what you and stayingcalm have been thro, and realize that like you both others have become long time survivors. Just dont gove up, keep going,cancer is a battle that you have to fight. but you have to realize that it is going to be hard, thats why most of us are here to help each other through it. there is a wealth of info on this site, you just need to ask and you will recieve.
I just wish you all well, and glenna,stayingcalm,and soccerfreaks, keep up the good work God bless you all, and am happy to be back.

Dan(cobra1122) and Margi Harmon..

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Dan, you are the inspiration, and not just for me, but for many. I only hope that if and as I am faced with it again I have the courage and commitment that you have shown to fight the good fight.

I wish you and your lovely wife the very best, Dan, and am hopeful that you have a fantastic holiday season!

Great to see you back on the boards, by the way. As you know, you have been missed by many, and with good reason.

Take care, my friend,

Joe

nanaof7
Posts: 121
Joined: Feb 2009

It is because of you I have been able to make it with a positive attitude this far, after lung surgery given a clean bill of health just to find out 12 months later brain mets. but I knew thats nothing to worry about I got a 3-6 months to live. I just think what would soccerfreaks do. face it head on with a sense of humor and keep going wasn't it you that said that the embarrassing time is when you tell people your dying and don't " please let us know when you are doing well and when your not so well we all care about you and want to be there every step of the way good and bad.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Yes, nana, that was me....I am really laughing right now, that you remembered that :). (But it IS true!:))

You hang in there sweetness, and let us know how YOU are doing!

Take care, and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season, my friend,

Joe

catcon49's picture
catcon49
Posts: 388
Joined: Aug 2008

My mom makes an awesome White Clam sauce over pasta if you're interested. She is an excellent cook also.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Just to be safe, connie, I'm gonna sneak down to the local Il Ristorante and buy them there...maybe I'll even manage, that way, to stay awake for Christmas :).

(But if you want to email it to me, I will not turn it down :).

In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season, my friend.

Take care,

Joe

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Thanks for the great news! Enjoy the holidays!

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

You be sure to do the same, my friend.

Take care,

Joe

Dapsterd's picture
Dapsterd
Posts: 291
Joined: Jun 2010

It is very inspiring to see the all the good news from this site, I do not concentrate on the bad news, as it is all OK, it really is. Whatever the news is, it is all OK.

That is Great News Soccerfreaks, you will be writing a similar note next year this time I am sure !!!!!

Dave-DapsterD

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

Soccerfreaks, your news is wonderful, you are such a hero to many of us! What a great start to the Christmas/New Year season ;-)
Deb

3Mana
Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Gosh I thought I commented on this, but guess not. Anyhow that's great news and I'm so happy for you. I sure hope 2011 is a better year for you and all the other cancer patients as well as us who have lost someone we love. Have a Merry Christmas & a Happy Healthy New Year.
"Carole"

groundhog
Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2010

This is great news again from you! I'm glad to hear it and wish you all the more. Your posts (and rants) are always a joy to read and a new insight to wonder about. Like kids around the Christmas tree, we will search the website looking for a box from soccerfreaks.

Thanks again and best wishes to all.

gh

groundhog
Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2010

Oh yeah, who was Blaze Foley???

gh

hope0310's picture
hope0310
Posts: 324
Joined: May 2010

You are an inspiration Joe!!! Great news, and the story that went along with it was pretty cool to!!!

Take care!
Elysia

3Mana
Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Hey Joe,
I'm so happy to hear the good news. Bet it was that oyster stuff you made. Whatever it was, you're doing good and can now celebrate Christmas!!! Keep writing those great posts, especially with good news, okay? Merry Christmas! "Carole"

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