Thursday, October 21, 2010

All is well, lots to talk about

Howdy, all. Wow, it's been a long time (over a month!) since I've last posted something. Not sure why I fell out of the blogging  habit but here I am, back with an update of stuff that's happened in the last month. This will be kind of stream of consciousness so apologies if things are kind of disjoint.

First big health milestone. Had another PET/CT scan in September and there are no signs of any cancer. Yeah, and double yeah! Here's a pic from the scan:
The good news is that there's no sign of rapid cell growth in my neck or chest. However, there was a nasty spot on the t7 vertebrae in my back (circled in red). That was kind of scary. Metastatic cancer? Nope, turns out that I have a compression fracture in my t7 vertebrae. Not sure how or when it happened. Sometime since July, since it wasn't there in that PET scan. The suspicion is that the prednisone reduced my bone density and I hurt it lifting something heavy. So hey, yeah, I broke a bone in my back. But not to worry, you've got lots of vertebrae. What's a small crack in one of them? I'm going to a neurologist next week to get an expert opinion but I don't think we'll do anything about it.

After the good news on the PET scan, we had a party to celebrate fall and a return to something like a normal life. Lots of people showed up and it was really a special night for me.

Here's a pic of my wing-woman slaving away in the kitchen pre-party:
And a random picture of the kitchen, always the center of any party:

One of my friends kindly consented to demonstrate that even after chemo, you can have more hair than some folks:

And speaking of hair, mine continues to come back; here's a picture of me from fairly recently, showing the new bone dome look:

After the party, a week of work (what? work? Doesn't everyone know that I'm a cancer survivor? Doesn't that entitle me to just hang out and not work? Answer - nope. Sigh).

After the party, I had a PFT (pulmonary function test) and a visit with my pulmonologist. My lungs are doing really well from a functional perspective - I'm back to having about 120% of the projected lung function for someone my size. I still cough a bit more than I think is usual and some days the lungs don't feel quite perfect. The PET scan did show some residual signs of the bleo poisoning so they're not completely better yet (or they weren't in mid-September when I had the PFT). The oncologist is pretty confident that that stuff will eventually go away. So good news on the lung front...

Then, a most awesome week on Kauai with Susan. Way too much to talk about in one post, but the quick summary: awesome, fantastic, great weather, great scenery, great company, a most delicious 7 days in paradise. Just to get a quick sense of the week. A picture of us enjoying a nice dinner at a restaurant near our condo:

and one of the dolphins showing off on our zodiac tour of the Na' Pali coast:

and a picture of the ocean from the beach in front of our condo:

After that trip, we've settled back into the work grind. We've  had some beautiful fall weather here in Colorado these last two weeks so we've both gotten in some nice bike rides.

I would say that the only significant medical problem I'm still battling is some thrombosis (blood clotting) in my left arm. It's gotten bad enough that I've had some swelling in my whole arm and have started some treatment on blood thinners  (fragmin and warfarin) to keep my arm from getting too messed up while my body works on removing the clots. It's not painful but it's kind of a pain in the ass. I'll probably have to go into the doctor every week for the next three months to get my clotting factor checked to make sure it's not too high or too low. Luckily the cancer center is only about 5 minutes from work so I should be able to do this without any significant impact on my daily schedule. But I sure was looking forward to getting all the medical stuff in my rear view mirror and not having that be such a significant part of my daily routine. Oh, well. You do what you have to and just keep moving forward, I guess!

On the fitness front, the trip to Hawaii seemed to really help. I came back feeling refreshed and started putting out significantly better numbers in my running and biking workouts. I've still got a ways to go in terms of fitness but I can definitely see progress which is super encouraging.

On the mental  health front, I think we're both doing well and again, the Hawaii trip was very therapeutic. I do have some moments where I worry about the future - will the cancer come back, how will it be to go through another round of chemo, will my body ever be like it was before. So those dark thoughts are definitely around. But in general I'd say that life is looking pretty good. I've got love in my life, great family and friends, my health continues to improve, I get to ride my bike and I get to write a bit of software now and again. Not too shabby a lifestyle!

Well, that's the quick update. I suspect the frequency of posts going forward will continue to be pretty spotty since our lives are starting to be pretty mundane - which is a good thing!

Thx again to all of you for your support on this journey. It's been a huge boost to my physical and mental health to have so much support. You guys rock!

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