First, I want to acknowledge and say “Thank You” for all of the kind messages and thoughts- public and private- I simply can’t express how life affirming and sustaining they are.
I have to call a few of you out…
Laila, one of my NYC treatment buddies (actually the wife and supporter of my friend Sam), checks on me most every day. To paraphrase one of her last messages, she told me to get off my behind and start writing- even if it isn’t perfect (read “any good”).
Lisa, my therapist and an active runner, suggested I get off my behind and start moving, no matter how far or fast or how much- just get going and get out of my head.
Stuart, my close friend and a competitive Cross-Fit athlete, sent a copy of the well-known poem:
-William Ernest Henley – 1849-1903
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
The poem suggests too much credit for my efforts, but the message is consistent with the others- time to let go of my fears and apathy, get up and take control of what I am able.
I may not determine my fate, but I will captain my journey.
Where I’ve been…
For me to write, my emotions must be stirred to a high level. Love, laughter and feelings that evoke tears motivate me. Lately, I have been mired in apathy, anger and maybe depression. Not sure what depression looks like in me but not leaving the house, sleeping all the time and isolating myself from my friends certainly isn’t the healthiest approach.
My fear of this type of chemo (IV- taxane based therapy) and its side effects have come to fruition, perhaps of my own making, but the physical and mental toll is real. My memory, critical thinking ability and attention span are decimated for all but a few days of each 21-day cycle.
I’ve been whining and it’s time to stop.
I’ve lost friends to this disease and encountered many people fighting this disease and, to a person, they endure more than me by miles and miles. I admire our service men and women who have fought back from horrific injuries to reclaim control of their fate- I am grateful for their service, inspiration and example.
To underscore my point, I have a friend who has been fighting bravely for many years in surgery this morning who took time to message me encouragement from pre-op early this morning.
My dear, my prayers are with you! You have certainly been a role model for me.
Where I am….
I am currently undergoing an established taxane based (Docetaxel/Taxotere) intravenous chemotherapy designed to extend my life. Initially the plan was for 6 treatment cycles spaced 21 days apart. We have a tentative modified plan to extend it to 10 cycles.
As I have stated before, no two cancers are alike- so my treatment plan and results are unique to me.
My marker/progress indicator is my PSA (a simple blood test). The initial goal of this chemo was to knock it down by at least 50%. I exceeded the goal with my first two treatments. The third treatment yielded a very minor reduction and I am waiting on test results from yesterday (4th treatment).
Where I’m going…..
I have discussed and agreed with my Oncologist that if my PSA has plateaued, I will complete the 6 cycles as originally planned and decline to extend to 10 cycles. If my PSA is significantly lower, I will find the strength and courage to extend to 10 cycles. To extend with no apparent benefit has too much negative impact on my quality of life.
Fortunately, I am not out of options for disease management or out of the game for some of the emerging immunotherapies which are showing promise for metastatic prostate cancers which have shown resistance to standard protocols.
I’m ready to be done with this treatment phase, see my friends again, and plan my next adventures.