Yet another 2 year anniversary

This past Friday was the 2 year anniversary of my diagnosis with Pancreatic Cancer. As I wrote shortly afterward, I found out the weekend before I was supposed to go to a 6-day (2 weekend) scout training for leaders. I remember not getting as much out of it as other scouters there, but I’m sure that was largely due to my circumstances (I recall one of the activities we did was “What are you afraid of.” You guessed it, my number one choice was death — can you guess what the #1 fear was? Leave a comment with your guess! And no fair playing if you’ve been through the Wood Badge course!!!)

For the second year in a row, I have served on the Wood Badge staff and this year it was sobering and yet exciting that I could say that it was 2 years since my diagnosis. When I was first diagnosed (and wondering if I would make it a month or two), my very good friend, Luis, told me confidently that I would make it for years and years. Of course, I didn’t believe him, but loved him for his support, prayers, and friendship. Luis and I served on staff during Wood Badge this year and, when I mentioned that it had been 2 years since my diagnosis, he reminded me that HE said I’d be around, but did I believe him? NOOOOOO!! :-)

I’m alive and kicking, having recovered completely from a weekend of staffing Wood Badge. May will be largely a happy month, though, my father’s birthday is May 13, which will be hard.

Thank you all for continuing to read and be supportive. Don’t forget about Tumorpalooza 2 — only 4 months away!

Cheers,

Merle

Unremarkable

MaryBeth and I were sitting in the exam room when the doctor walked in and asked how I was doing. I paused in my response (as I typically do when someone asks) and she jumped in with, “Your scans are fine!” In fact, according to the written report, various internal organs (pancreas, lungs, spleen, liver, etc.) are unremarkable. There was no change in the pancrease or the mass of cells left on my mesenteric artery from my last set of scans and my CA19-9 level was still in the single digits! All in all, a good report!

My next scans are scheduled for the middle of May (which is not really 3 months, but we wanted to have the scans and results before the big Doddridge (MaryBeth’s side) family reunion in Ohio. The doctor also agreed that 2 years IS a big date and that some time after August 14, I will get my chemo port removed and I will switch to a 6 month check-up schedule (like I have said previously, the 2-year mark is a biggie)!

Thanks for all the positive energy! It worked, yet again!

Merle

Returning

I have been invited to spend some time with some undergraduate students in a public health course at Georgia College & State University. It will be odd to once again be on the campus at GC&SU. In some ways, not having my contract renewed there was one of the best things for me. From Milledgeville, I was able to secure a job working at the CDC, which eventually led to my becoming a civil servant and (most recently) working in the Division of Violence Prevention on research topics that I was focusing on in graduate school. On the other hand, my time at GC&SU was generally good and my departure was under less than ideal conditions.

Tomorrow I will be talking about my journey with my cancer, including what the future holds. It’s ironic that I am going to have this talk tomorrow, as I will find out on Tuesday what my tests from last week indicate. While I remain hopeful and I can report that my nausea was less intense these last couple of days, I cannot help but feel as if the news I will receive on Tuesday will not be positive. I hope I’m wrong.

I will be sure to blog when I have the results.

Merle

Odds -n- Sods

Today’s post is a little bit of this and a little bit of that; no particularly cohesive theme, but instead a series of thoughts I’ve been having over the course of the last couple of days.

I am wearing my ‘No Rain – No Rainbows’ t-shirt at work today (what can I say, I’m a rebel — I’ve got my Birkenstocks on, too!  I know! CRAZY!).  For those of you who do not remember, that saying comes from a t-shirt I bought when MaryBeth and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in Hawaii (we try to forget the bought of diverticulitis that I had which led to my hospitalization for 3 days; do a Google search for “Kimo’s Rules” and you can find the whole list)!

I realized the other day that I have tried to live by this rule for a long time, but particularly over the past year.  MaryBeth and I try to have a night where we go out, ALONE, and have a quiet meal.  As we were driving home, I mentioned that I was pleased that we spent a lot of time this past year DOING things.  We went to Disney World; we visited Florida; we went to DC and visited with relatives up north; we visited my Mom and family twice (once in December and once in February — both times it snowed upwards of 2 feet); we’ve made a much more concerted effort to BE together (both as a family and MaryBeth and me as a couple).  MaryBeth than reminded me that I was not allowed to get sick again and that I still had to live until I was 104.

Another random thought: Barium Sulfate tastes yucky (though, not nearly as bad as phosphosoda).  As I mentioned earlier this week, I had my most recent scans on Tuesday, during which I had to drink about 32 oz. of barium (which helps provide contrast on the CT for the radiologist).  As I was finishing up, I asked the technician why I got to drink the lemonade-ish flavored drink last time, but barium this time.  He told me that they use the barium when they really want to show stuff in and around the pancreas.  Not that I have an overactive imagination, but I wonder if the CT did not show anything last time because I didn’t drink the stuff that really shows what’s going on in the pancreas.

As a friend of mine reminded me (again) though, the results I get on Tuesday will only tell me what has already happened.  It may be bad news;  I am expecting good news, but either way I will try to remember that without my diagnosis amost 2 years ago, I would not appreciate my life, my family, and the world around me quite as much as I do now.  It may sound superficial, but I have found that I did not appreciate what I had until I was faced with the possibility of dying prematurely.

Cheers,

Merle