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May 22, 2010

Turning the corner

Posted by Mick

I was IM-ing with Dr Pat, Lizard Man, the other day and frankly admitted that I felt like I was trending toward the positive. I was a little shocked at my admission because I have become accustomed to the same old line "can't talk, feel like shit". Well the "can't talk" bit is still there, but the "feel like shit" is now fleeting. There are days I feel more like gum on the sidewalk or a cigarette butt, which is far better than feeling like shit IMHO.

I am feeling even better today, like I have turned a corner. The treatment for what I had (head and neck cancer, occult tumor) is so brutal, maybe the worst treatment say my Drs, that recovery is often very slow, painful, and depressing. It has been all that for me, but today I feel pretty good.

Yesterday I met with the radiation Dr and he wanted to look down my throat with his scope which is really not very nice but I had to oblige him. He was looking for a few things: general condition of the mucosa, quality of the secretions, amount and quality of sores, constriction, and lastly but not least-ly any evidence of disease, also known as recurrence.

He couldn't quite get it down far enough to see much other than secretions, so he gave up but added, rather nonchalantly I would add, "well, you're not going to have a recurrence anyway".

"What?" I managed. It was a shock to hear that in that moment. The utterance was so unexpected, yet as the words and meaning settled into my being, I was relieved - an odd feeling these days.

He swiftly added the common caveat, "you never really know about these things" but then said again, with confidence and certainty, "you're not going to have a recurrence". I think time stopped for a few moments as that sunk in. Oh, yeah, this could come back!

Extrapolating the data, there is about a 20% recurrence rate for head and neck cancer so for him to say that with so much confidence, I don't know, maybe gave me confidence? Turning it around, it means there is an 80% chance I will not have a recurrence and those are pretty good odds. So I continue to trend toward the positive.

The Dodgers in first doesn't hurt either.

Some thank yous:

There are scores of people to thank with all earnestness and humility. From Massachusetts to West Cork to London to Hong Kong to Petaluma my life has been filled with the most loving thoughts for my well being. While being the sort of non-believing kind, I nonetheless feel blessed far beyond what I deserve and incapable of communicating what it means to me to have so many care so much. All of you have touched me deeply, in the best place in my heart and I do not rightly know how to thank you all for your continued wishes.

Thank you so very much to (in no particular order) Liam "a card a week" Casey, Joe Park, Eleanor Welham, Paul Gribben (justwrite.us London), Declan, Suzy and all the McCarthy's, Tess my wonderful mother-in-law, Noah the gift that keeps on giving, Mark "activate the Omega 13" Doolittle, Diana Drips, PJ the eternal light of lights, Esin, Tricia Burt, Susan Hazy, Mike V, Mike D, Kaleena, Scott H, Chris Arteberry, Heidi F, Claire's staff from the Americas, Tony Mac (how's the craic?), cousin Julie, Amber, Angela Garvin, Tom and Claudine merci boucoup!, Julia and Martin, the Thursday morning supervision group Lisa and Judy (first with flowers!) and Myra, Drs Hill and Shulman, my brother Ron and Sue, my sister Sherry Fisher and all the Ohio gang, Brain and Paula, Kevin and Zoe, the amazing Holly Hamm, Betty and Bette, Nina and Brian, my brother Dr Pat Lizard Man and Brenda, Mom, Dr Low at Capella University, my brother Yrag "I drove from Hollister to see you for 2 hours and it was worth it because I beat you at cribbage" and Patty, Candy from Gualala and her dog, my brother Bob and Colleen, Joel and Courtney, Rose Kruger, Meaghan, Dona Shine, my best buddy Jeanine and all the Beets, Mary Alice and Maribeth, Nathanial and Jeanette, Stephanie and Eric, Allison, Finghín and Hannah, Dean Tyler Morris the brilliant one, chef Caroline, Maayan, Shugri, Bobbie, Jody and Phil, SOS Willits and SOS Santa Rosa, Diana Harris, Tamara Lemesh, Michelle, Marisa, Lori, Martine Lappe, Patrick and Michael, The Freemans, Rachel and Adam, Adriel, the much loved and missed Kelly McCarthy, cousins Andy and Becky, Carolynn, my sweetheart niece Donna (hang in there kid) and Chad, Heidi and Nick and Gabby, Mark and Holly, John Downs, Jude, Karen and Randy, Robo, the Hopes, Linda Martel (I hope you feel better soon), the beautiful Lori Annoreno, Paul and Linda Conneally, the talented Robin E, my 510A buds, Mary and Vanessa ...

UPDATED: I cannot forget the people at the Cancer Survivors network, who help my virtual hand through all this. Thanks to you all.

I know there are more and please don't be offended if I left you off because you are in my heart if not in my chemo brain.

It's not like I'm forgetting the #1 person. Claire Maria McCarthy has been stalwart and unconditional in her care of me. This goes far beyond what marriage means in my book. Her tolerance is mighty, her skill unparalleled, her strength awesome, and her love bottomless. I love her dearly and look forward to rebuilding our life together.

UPDATE: Claire threw out her back. I'm trying to do more, but am failing. Her back is sore and she's doing Advil and bed rest and knitting.

Posted by Michael at May 22, 2010 11:11 AM