Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Winning, duh!

I am in Houston to start the second part of the clinical trial.  This is exactly like the last week of the the first part - high-dose InterLeukin II.  I won't have the side effects of the TIL (tumor infiltrating lymphocytes) treatment that kicked off my last stay in the hospital so my infant immune system should not keep me in the hospital any prolonged period of time this stay, and I hope to head home by the middle of next week.  Interestingly enough, the doctors say that the the IL2 this time is actually worse without the TIL.
Today I met with the head of the MD Anderson melanoma department, Dr. Hwu, who is also the head of the clinical trial I am going through.  I asked him what else I can do to help the t-cells kick cancer's ass after I get home from the hospital.  He said that anything helping my immune system recover and grow is a help.  I've already addressed that with a plant-based ph-level diet and excercise, as well as avoiding snotty-nosed kids (except mine).  He mentioned a blind study that compared the success rates of patients who participated in creative writing and those who did not.  The conclusions were that patients involved in actively expressing themselves had higher response rates.  He suggested any process of removing stress from meditation to yoga to writing.  Maybe I'm not writing a blog, maybe I'm actually healing myself!
     Of course, this all seems a little bit obvious to me.  I firmly believe that what we think translates directly into what we are.  An important part of that is what we choose to focus on.  Our mind, like a camera lens, can make things sharp or fuzzy; big or small.  And we have our fingers on the lens controls, no one else does.  So when the doctor suggested trying to not take it all in too much, to not be too burdened too much by all of this, it resonated with me.  Indeed I see this as the source of my strength through this struggle.  Fighting cancer can seem overwhelming and all intrusive.  It can seem that all of my life is involved with cancer and nothing of my old life is left, that it occupies every last corner.  But instead I choose to see the battle against cancer in fragments.  There are doctor visits here and there, occaisional pin pricks and IVs, random and unexplained pains that come and go like the winds.  Certainly there have been alot of them, but I choose to see them as interuptions along the walk of a wonderful life.
     And it works the other way, too.  What I do choose to see as overwhelming and pervasive is the amount of care, love and warmth that has come my way as I have gone to fight this battle.  Every day brings another surprise, another level of unselfish caring.  Aquaintences, not familiar enough to even call friends, reaching out beyond their comfort zones to be sure that I am OK and offer any assistance they can.  Family members, long since considered close, have flown back in to support their own.  Medical professionals, to whom I should only be a medical ID number, have grown fond of the stories of my children and express an investment in my recovery that belies sincere concern.  This is everywhere in my life, it is entirely inescapable.
     One caring group, not only caring for me but also for my baby steps I've made in getting a message out about the misconceptions of skin cancer amongst the young and healthy, is zMotion.  They have allowed me to participate in their promotion of the LiveLong LiveStrong even this October and offer continued support.  As a matter of fact, Zimmerman advertising agency which sponsors zMotion cycling, just finished a video promoting the event that shares my story (you can see it here).  Ann is still raising funds for LiveStrong and this event.  I have a new batch of my special cancer fighting bracelets in and I'll send you one if you donate to LiveStrong at her site (here).
     So maybe I'm a little crazy to think that it seems obvious.  Maybe I'm delusional to think the recomendations of doctors seem straightforward enough to be simplistic.  Maybe I'm a little nuts to expect to kick cancer's ass.  It's not that I'm taking anything for granted, believe me I am not, I'm appreciating the great magnitude of all the forces being brought to this battle.  That support becomes the troops, the reinforcements, the logistical bases, the high-tech weaponry.  From friends to medical experts to anonymous supporters, the forces aligned against cancer in this war are awesome to behold.  Cancer has picked the wrong fight this time, chosen the wrong body.  Cancer is going to pay for that mistake, and not just in my body now.  The message going out just may prevent cancer from forming a beach-hold somewhere else.  Winning.


  1. Awesome job. Keep up the fight. Best of luck to you and your family.

  2. I was told about your blog through a friend. I am also a Stage 4 melanoma survivor/warrior/ass kicker. Your story resonates with me because we have the same mind set. I am also a cyclist like you! That is awesome that you got to do a video for the LiveStrong campaign. One of my many dreams someday is to start a Livestrong race where I live in Boise...So cool!

    Your attitude and fighting spirit is going to get you through this and help you win this fight. I have no doubt! Your treatment plan is sound (that is the treatment that I have in my back pocket if it comes back), you have a team, no make that army, behind you, and you are doing everything you can do to bring this bad boy down. Way to go!!! I will continue to follow you, cheer you on, and pray for you...Please check out my story/blog too!

  3. Love the Blog. We are looking forward to seeing you at the Livestrong event.