Well, round 2 done. OK, I may not have been doing pushups in the corner but I made it through the entire decrescendo course of biochemo without missing any of the drugs (last time they pulled me short of the last vinplastin and Interferon doses because of low blood counts). I insisted on every drop this time. It was rough but I think I came out of it in better shape than last round. I’m weak, my skin is peeling like an Ohio tourist on their first spring break to Panama City, but I’m overall in good shape. I had my PICC line removed, so no cyborg plugs. I have two weeks at home to enjoy being a husband and father. Thanks for all the good wishes during my hospital stay; I wish I could respond to all of you but for some I don’t have e-mails. But remember that each and every message means so very much to me.
So, the good news. My t-cells grew in sufficient quantities to enter the TIL study (detailed below, link on the right), yeah! They have been frozen and await further instructions. On June 30th Ann and I return to MD Anderson for imaging, CT scans of the whole body, to see if we’ve made any progress against the cancer or if cancer has made any progress against me. If the biochemo shows progress we may stick to it, starting a third round on July 8th. If no progress, or negative progress, than we’ll likely plan to enter the TIL study at about the same time. Either way, cancer gets some more ass kicking but this could be the beginning of the end or just the end of the beginning. July 1st will tell, and boy is that going to be an ominous meeting with Dr. Patel.
Today is Father’s Day and the topic has been weighing on me the past weeks. As I lay in the hospital the duties of fatherhood went on untended except by my overburdened wife. The pool pump broke, the insurance check was not right, the kids toy castle needed rebuilding. Cancer has taken away much of my functionality of what the role of father and provider means to me, at least temporarily. Any guy will tell you how this cuts deep, how the inadequacy weighs down on you like a ton of soft bricks. Husband is bad but falling down on father duties seems all the more difficult to swallow. All I can do is contribute where I can, support those supporting me, and vow to come back as a better father and provider when this battle is finally drawn to a close. I relish this bit of shame, and use it as fuel for the fight when I ever lack some spark. But today, on father’s day, when I see the unbridled joy in Gwen and Sabrina’s eyes when they play with me, I remember that what I may temporarily lack in being a father is not the entirety of the role. Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a Dad, and cancer cannot take that away from me.