Thursday, May 05, 2005

What are the odds?

My oldest nephews' aunt has leukemia, diagnosed last week. A friend, one of their neighbors who used to babysit them and who I know from the dog clubs, was just diagnosed with breast cancer.

This gives the kids a bilateral family history of cancer. Their aunt is at least 10 years younger than I am, early 40s at the oldest. Their mom's intestinal troubles continue, and she'll need regular colonoscopies for the the rest of her life--not just because of my disease, but because of her own illness. The family friend is my age. Why, suddenly, is cancer cropping up among us as frequently as the common cold?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

talking out loud...

My father has the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease.

He's not going to be one of those sweet older patients with dementia. He's difficult to manage, combative, argumentative--all the least attractive parts of his personality seem to be surfacing, and to the tenth power.

Tonight he called me just for someone to talk to. I have to work very hard to remember that he's operating from a diseased portion of his brain, that he's not responsible for the things he does or the choices he makes or the words he says.

But I don't know how to deal with his need to talk to someone, and my need to be in a quiet space, especially when those needs happen at the same time. He needs to talk out loud to someone. I need quiet space around me. I'm not comfortable making my needs come first all the time--but I can't be what he needs right now either.

And meanwhile, he just continues talking out loud...and tomorrow he won't remember what we said, or even that we had a conversation.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Cautious optimism...

The NYC oncologist ran CT scans last Tuesday before my latest treatment--and the scans show significant tumor reduction in my liver. It's maybe the first genuinely unreservedly positive thing that's happened since surgery in February. For a minute I feel like it's realistic to be hopeful, more realistic than its been since my diagnosis. For a minute I feel myself taking chances on planning, thinking about a future that may actually happen. For a minute...

A year ago Saturday I was sitting in Kirshner's office, listening to him tell me that I had a fatal disease, and that in my case, it likely *would* be fatal. A year ago yesterday I was in surgery for a mediport, so that I could start chemo on May 3--15 rounds of hand-to-hand combat with oxaliplatin, leucovorin, 5-FU and Avastin. The good news from the scans knocked the melancholy feelings I have about the anniversary of my diagnosis right out of the headlines in my head, made that anniversary just a footnote on the bottom of the back page for the day.

Maybe the good news can keep those headlines in 8point type on the bottom of the backpage for a couple more days. I'd really like to keep feeling this positive.