This cancer-free holiday weekend is coming to a close. It has been a weekend away from cancer care, clinics, hospitals, radiation, scans and therapy. I am immersed in cancer care, which I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving weekend. I am thankful for the doctors, nurses, therapists, and researchers who devote their minds, their talents and their energies to ridding me of this disease. I am so thankful for all of the support I am receiving from family and friends and I am thankful for the massive cancer industry that exists to make me better. I am, though, also very thankful to get away from it, to not spend all of my time in treatment, in transit, discussing cancer with doctors and specialists, sitting in my room listening to recordings of those meetings, reading and trying to understand research papers, explaining my progress to people, writing about cancer and living it. Thankful for a weekend away from cancer, thanks to my brother Mark.
We spent the weekend “away from cancer”. We weren’t actively avoiding it, and the subject did come up a few times, but really very seldom. We certainly weren’t “too busy” for it, we did very little; we just spent the weekend having a visit, not a cancer retreat. What we did, was walk and eat, and not much more. On Thanksgiving morning we walked through the city for hours, a city that was entirely shut down. While we had planned to take in a museum or attraction, or even go for coffee and were initially disappointed that everything was closed, it was very cool to see a large city completely shut down, actually take a holiday.
We had lunch at the SCCA House on Thursday. The staff and some volunteers put on a full Thanksgiving turkey meal for us. It was low-key, with great food and some good company. We did talk ‘cancer” a bit with other guests, many of whom had stayed for the holiday as a family member was either hospitalized or too sick to travel. After I had a nap, we walked again in the afternoon and watched the city “wake up” around 5pm as some retailers started getting ready for sales and bars got ready for the Seahawks game. We found a hotel bar open for the game and joined a crowd of tourists and locals to see the ‘hawks claim another victory and build some needed late season momentum. The rest of the weekend we walked and ate.
We spent a few hours at the Museum of History and Industry, we ate great seafood on one of the piers and good Italian food in a very strange restaurant in Wallingford and we walked. I napped in the afternoons and was in bed early. As we ate and walked we talked about Seattle, hockey, weather, restaurants, coffee, snowshoeing and skiing, why the door at the SCCA House opens so slowly and hasn’t been fixed, golf and REI, and a little about cancer. It was awesome to have real conversations that weren’t all about “me and my cancer”, that didn’t start with “how are you really doing”, that didn’t focus on symptoms and treatment plans. It was great to have a break.
I know this trip was costly for Mark, both in terms of expenses and time off at the end of the month during his busy sales time, and I am grateful that he made it. He left early this morning. I feel like I had a holiday, and I’m going to miss him.
Now I am back to cancer, back to eliminating it. I have a treatment booked every weekday in December other than the 25th. Twenty-two more radiation sessions and I am done. My last treatment is at 1245pm on the 31st followed by a “radiation graduation” ceremony at 3pm. It will be a great way to finish 2014 and finish with chordoma, with this cancer.
Tomorrow I get a new radiation plan and a new belly board. This board will allow my stomach and other organs to drop further, hopefully decreasing the amount of radiation to my bowels. I am confident it will work. If not, the only remaining option is a rectal balloon (do yourself a favour and don’t google that). Right now my side-effects seem minimal. I feel good, feel strong and am confident that the next month is going to be smooth and easy. I am going to trust all of the people who are working on my case, question less and surrender to them. I stayed up last night reading about the efficacy of combining photon and proton therapy in oncology and radiation journals. I have some questions, but I need to stop trying to understand so much and surrender to it. It is hubris on my part to think I can maintain an intelligent dialog on this with the experts. I need to trust them and be thankful that they are looking after me (while still being informed and engaged).
I can’t imagine how tiring, stressful and emotionally draining working in cancer care must be. I hope that the wonderful people looking after me got a break this weekend and are back tomorrow refreshed, recharged and ready to make me healthy.