Cancer is Such a Mystery

» I have been trading emails recently with the sister of clinical trials patient #24. (I was #23, like Michael Jordan.) Her brother is three weeks behind me in treatment. Today is his final chemo and he has one week of radiation left.

Cancer cells dividingMost interesting of all the things she wrote is this »

» "Cancer is such a mystery. My brother was the epitome of health before treatment. A marathon runner, a tri-athlete and an elite cyclist.

He never smoked, he didn't drink and he ate a very healthy diet. He is only 39. So who knows?"

I read her statement multiple times. I could feel myself trying to wrap my head around the implications.

If nothing else, it doesnt seem fair, does it?

[ Here is a similarly-themed article about young, healthy, athletic people who have strokes. ]

As a cancer patient, you cant help but try to figure out this shit.

During my many rides down to Moores, I would talk to the drivers. I recall one saying »

» "I smoked two packs a day for 25 years before I quit." [ And he never got cancer. ]

Myself, I smoked a little as a teenager, but never really enjoyed it very much. Rather, I was just trying to be cool.

My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer after not having smoked for 20 years. [ "Honey, we didnt know cigarettes were bad for you. When we found out, we quit." ]

I've never been much of a smoker or a drinker. Go figure.

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••• today's entry continues here below •••

With me, the oncologists say it is caused by HPV-16, which a biopsy of my swollen lymph node tested positive for. "The virus somehow gets into your DNA."

» Being a Friend in Deed

On a different topic, I found that, as a cancer patient, this article resonates, titled » How to Be a Friend in Deed.

In particular, note the following three statements:

But what if you want to do more? What if you don't want to succumb to the drive-by badges of contemporary friendship -- a "like," an emoji, a hashtag (#JeSuisThinkingofYou). What if you don't believe all those platitudes: "Love ya! You'll get through it! Everything happens for a reason!"

Our instinct is often to say to a friend who's suffering, "Let me know if there's anything you need." While well meaning, this gesture unintentionally shifts the obligation to the aggrieved.

Everyone seems to agree that there's a list of hackneyed phrases we should avoid. Some things don't get better, everything's not always for the best, there isn't always a bright side.

Frankenstein» The Brutal Effects of Cancer Treatment

I will update you on my status, but my ass has been sucking serious wind since treatment ended.

I did not want to believe the chemo doctor when she said » "These next few weeks will be among the toughest, physically .. because of a building up of effects."

True that. I am all fucked up. Today is two weeks since the end of radiation / chemo. Obviously not long enough.

I have felt so horribly bad for so long that I am so eager for the day when I feel like I have started to mend.

I have been so tired that, some days, I sleep for 12 hours .. get up for a few .. and fall back asleep for 3 or 4 more.

My platelets are pretty low at 22K, where 150K is low end of the normal band (up to 370K). The chemo doctor said that the chemo does that and that I shouldnt freak out if I started bleeding.

If my platelets drop to 10K, she said they would give me an infusion. Low platelets make you feel cold. Remember what the dying cowboy always says, lying there in the arms of his love-interest after losing the gunfight » "I feel cold."

She actually seemed more concerned about my sodium. So I guess sodium is pretty important. She said the chemo strips out your sodium, too.

She told me to stop drinking so much water, because that dilutes your sodium, and to start sipping more chicken broth, which is loaded with sodium.

She wants me to come back in a few days for another blood test, and if my sodium hasnt improved, she said that she would put me in the hospital. Oh, joy. Low sodium makes you feel ditzy, stupid, unable to focus, mentally.

I continue to lose weight .. down to 154. That means I've dropped nearly 30 lbs. When I put on my pants, they are very loose. Nausea, no appetite, dry heaves. Wake-n-puke every morning. [ print: 'Hello world, cancer patient'; ]

Purple NepalSo bad have I been feeling, so nauseous, so shitty ..

.. that I stopped by this place that sells legal medical cannabis.

I heard that you can purchase some for as little as $10.

But you cannot, I learned, just walk into a place and buy cannabis. No, sir.

Not even if you are being treated for cancer and you have all the paperwork to prove it.

Rather you must first go see a doctor and get an official license. (A medical 'recommendation,' I think they are called.) Which, they tell me, is no problem if you are being treated for cancer.

So I have not yet bought any. Because I first need to go see a doctor who writes these recommendations. Plenty of patients have said it does indeed bring a degree of relief to the nausea and even promotes an appetite.

It certainly cant make me feel any worse. Medical cannabis has been legal here in California since 1996.

The Dog was the first one to recommend it. He has friends who it has helped.

Rad note » the subject in this section about purchasing legal medical cannabis .. has drifted far enough away from the original theme .. that it warrants getting its own separate page ..

.. see here Purchasing Legal Medical Cannabis in California As a Cancer Patient.

At the end of that page, I have provided a link that will return you here (to this page you are now reading) .. to the exact spot from where that page was lifted.

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)» The Day Dostoevsky Stopped Suffering

By the way .. it has nothing to do with today's entry, but today (Feb 9th) is the day that Dostoevsky died (in 1881).

134 years ago.

When you are suffering, Dostoevsky feels like he is right there with you ..

.. like he has boldly gone beyond anything you can possibly imagine.

February in St. Petersburg is probably pretty cold and nasty.

Pushkin himself (1799-1837) also died in early February (on the 10th, tomorrow) in St. Petersburg.

Of all the superlatives that I have read about Dostoevsky ..

.. probably the most impressive praise is found on the inside flap of the hardback version of the Brother Karamazov ..

.. words which come from the beginning of a sentence which reads » "Beyond Dostoevsky's towering reputation as one of a handful of thinkers who forged the modern sensibility..."

Think about that. Think about what is required for someone to even make such a statement about you.

Rad note » the subject in this section on Dostoevsky has drifted far enough to warrant its own, separate entry, see here » The Day Dostoevsky Stopped Suffering.

At the end of that page you will find a link that will return you to the exact spot (on this page that you are now reading) from where this text was lifted.

» The Art of Choosing a Title

I like the title of that new entry. Two 'D's and two 'S's.

I have been creating titles for a long time. And I feel that there is definitely an art to it.

My approach now is just to let the title present itself.

I sometimes enjoy looking back over the list of crazy-sounding titles of the things I have written about.

Tho yes, I do try to challenge and expand my reach to topics beyond what I might be comfortable with. I call that the 'lunar landscape effect'.

I have always felt that Fitzgerald's titles were best .. word-for-word.

My most difficult title was » this.

More unrelated stuff .. here is another article that I found interesting, titled » What Would Jesus Do About Measles?

The end. ■

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rad published on February 9, 2015 2:09 AM.

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