Realization

Several realizations hit me over the last couple of days, but I have to warn you, this may be a very “stream of consciousness” type post.

Last week, I got an Email from the woman in charge of organizing a blood drive where I work.  Before April 2008, I prided myself in giving blood at least 4 times a year.  I checked last week and found out that I am still not eligible to donate (because it’s been less than a year since I stopped my treatment) and may never be an acceptable candidate.  That makes me sad.

I mentioned on my Facebook account that the family and I went down to Florida this past weekend to celebrate Rosh Hashahnah (Jewish New Year) with my step mom.  Actually, we took the opportunity to visit with MaryBeth’s grandmother (Peggy) who lives (relatively) near my step mom.  Peggy was not doing so well a month ago, but she seems to have perked up more recently.  It was a good visit.  As an added bonus, MaryBeth’s mother and aunts were down for their regulalry scheduled “Sister’s weekend.”  So the kids got to visit with their great grandmother and their grandmother.  In fact, we were able to take a pictures of 4 generations of Doddridge women (the picture will be posted as soon as it gets Emailed to me).

I am not sure how I got on the topic, but I came to the realization this weekend that I had never really considered the possibility of making it to age 45.  I can’t say that I’m ready to plan a trip 2 years in the future, but I think I had a passing thought that I could be here in 2011.

Lastly, I was moved by a comment I received from a woman named Jeane.  It appears that Jeanne’s husband, Roger Wagowitz has put together a celebrity golf tournament and auction to raise awareness for pancreas cancer.  They have a website set up, so please go check it out.  Last year, Roger was able to raise $400k for the cause and they are hoping to top that number this year.

Apparently, Jeanne did a search for pancreas and star trek and found my blog (remember my post about Randy’s on-screen presence in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.  Anywho, apparently Jai, Randy’s wife, has donated to the auction the actual uniform Randy wore in the movie.  Jeanne asked if I had any good idea how to advertise this great donation to the widest audience (essentially to get the largest donations possible).  Let me know if you have any ideas that I can share with Jeanne and Roger.

I just finished up with a really hectic couple of weeks at work and there is some other stuff that I’m dealing with outside of work.  If you are so inclined, happy thoughts and prayers directed toward MaryBeth and Me would be appreciated.

Until next time….

Cheers,

Merle

Reality rears it’s ugly head…

Amidst my feel good, optimistic ruminations of the last couple of days, I found out today that Patrick Swayze died today due to complications associated with metastatic pancreatic cancer.  The 57 year old actor was diagnosed with PC in January, 2008 with Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm (IPMN) a form of pancreatic cancer in which tumors grown in the pancreatic ducts.

While I was critical that Patrick (for those of you who don’t know, we PC survivors are all on a first name basis with one another), didn’t use his celebrity to raise more awareness of pancreatic cancer.  According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, “This year over 42,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease and over 35,000 will die.”  Yet, pancreatic cancer is the most under-funded among leading cancer killers, receiving less than 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual research budget.  Everyone applauded Patrick’s participation in the “Stand Up to Cancer” to try and get public donations for cancer research, but I would have preferred that he use his celebrity to generate more focus on PC.

Patrick’s death, however, merely serves as a reminder of my own situation.  I am currently in Chicago on a site visit for work and I was talking with a colleague about how I deal with the possibility of my own mortality.  My answer (as I have reported here) is that I am able to be much more upbeat about the possibility of not “making it” when that possibility is abstract; that is, right now, I feel healthy…I’m told I look healthy…and my latest scan has indicated that there is no measurable cancer in my body.  Under those circumstances, it’s easy to be upbeat.

Patrick’s death, however, just serves as a reminder that not everyone is as lucky as I have been.  I am happy to report that I do not feel any more or less optimistic about my condition as a result of this news.  Unlike with my father, I did not link my battle with cancer to the Swayze’s battle (we can also call each other by last name, if the mood strikes us).  In fact, there is a part of me that does not mourn his passing — anyone who has followed his story knows that he continued to smoke even after his diagnosis (he even went so far as to admit that it was probably a less than optimal decision to keep smoking after his diagnosis).  I do not celebrate his death, but I find it hard to muster emotions for someone who was willing to continue to engage in behaviors they KNEW were associated with poorer treatment outcomes.  You might not agree with this sentiment, but – hey – it’s my blog, so I get to say what I want.

In the end, regardless of how I feel about what he did (or did not) do to participate in his treatment for, and/or raise awareness of,  pancreatic cancer, I will simply say that I am sorry that another one of “us” has fallen to this disease.  My condolences to Patrick’s wife Lisa and the rest of his family.

Merle

Never said I was the…

…sharpest tool in the shed. I was speaking with MaryBeth the other day and I said, “You know, I guess what I have done is pretty impressive.” By that, I was referring to the fact that I had gone through the chemo and radiation, and the surgery, and more chemo and yet, here I am, generally healthy and feeling okay.

It is possible that at the end of October, I may find out that the cancer has returned, but then again, maybe I will not. Perhaps, though, I am beginning to see what folks have (said they have) seen since the beginning: what I have done in response to my diagnosis is remarkable.

Merle

Glimmers

Although fairly busy, yesterday was a very good day. Sunday started off with an early trip to church to meet yet another parent of a prospective OWL participant. Church was, well, church (in which I spent the majority of time explaining to my almost 6-year-old daughter what was and was not appropriate behavior in church. Keep in mind that we go to a Unitarian Church, so the bounds of acceptable are pretty darn wide! :-)

After church, however, the family loaded into the van and trucked off to Turner Field to watch the Atlanta Braves (as it turns out) lose to the Cincinnati Reds in 12 innings. While there was some dissension in the ranks as the sun beat down on us and there were lulls in the action, overall everyone had a great time. Even better, there was a free concert after the game, so we got to enjoy that as well.

Once home and having gotten everyone in bed, MaryBeth and I talked a bit and I came to the realization that, for the first time, I had a glimmer of hope that perhaps I would beat this disease.

I have always maintained that I remain cautiously optimistic, but I have done so with the full realization that my chances of long-term survival are less than ideal. Yesterday, I was able to give voice to the notion that perhaps I may be one of the lucky ones.

As MaryBeth so accurately explained, last year at this time, we were not really willing to plan activities more than a couple of months into the future. Today, we are considering the possibility of what we might do for a 2010 summer vacation. There remains concern about whether those plans will come to fruition, but the big news is that we ARE thinking about it.

I continue to deal with the feelings surrounding my father’s death. On Friday, my brother Sid texted me to inquire about the results of my scans on Wednesday (he and my other brother Isaac were visiting with my step-mother Arlene in Sarasota). I told him the results (that they were unchanged and I remain cancer-free for at least another 2 months). Sid texted me back to say that they were currently at my Dad’s grave and that they would tell Dad my good news. I nearly broke into tears when I read that. Not that I’m overly analytical or anything, but I found myself wondering why I would have that reaction. (Okay, I get that it will take a while, but I have never had someone this close to me die and I’m still learning how one reacts to this kind of loss — cut me some slack.)

Thank you for your continued support.

Merle

Stress levels normalizing

As with previous times having to wait for the results for scans, this week has been fairly stressful for me and the my family. Certainly, after receiving the good news on Wednesday, that particular source of stress has been addressed. Of course, as has been true in the past, it typically takes about a week for the stress from worrying about my scans to dissipate, so we’re still working through it.

I appreciate all of you who have been asking about my wellbeing. Know that even as I deal with additional issues, I draw strength from those who continue to support me and my family. I guess I’m just saying that if you got some extra positive energy mojo, feel free to direct it our way.

Merle

Doing a happy dance!

Just a quick update to let you know that I have once again past the test. The scans came back unchanged from June. So, I continue to be cancer free for the moment. Thank you to all who have continued to support me and my family through this health challenge. We can all let out a collective sigh of relief.

Merle

Da da da DUN…

…and thus we come again to the moment of truth.  What will the results of my scans tell us?  Currently, I feel physically okay (except for a bit of a nervous stomach, which I think is to be expected).  The popular opinion seems to be that the scans will not show anything new, and that’s what we’re banking on.  If the scan are unchanged then we will enjoy two more months relatively free of cancer-related stress.  Here’s hoping.

If the alternative occurs, well then my family and I will deal with it.  I have to remember that the scans are only going to tell us what has already happened inside my body.  (You know sometimes this whole rationalization thing is for the birds — it’s gonna suck if they come back with evidence of new cancer…and it WILL be the scans fault!)

Either way, I will post the results here as soon as I can (though, it may be later this afternoon).  Good or bad, you all will hear it quickest.

Okay, now everyone grab the computer screen, squeeze your eyes shut, and send those happy thoughts / prayers / positive energy / $20 donations (okay maybe not the cash) to us.  I don’t know if it will help, but I’m not above hedging my bets in the event that they do!  :-)

Thanks for the support.

Merle

(Sorry for the odd title, but I wanted to involve your musical intelligence and transcribe the openning notes to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony)