Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What's Up With the Doc 21? - Living Life


Since my last update the deaths of two cancer victims have touched me. First, on July 25th, Randy Pausch died of pancreatic cancer just under two years from his diagnosis. I had actually viewed his Last Lecture before I was diagnosed and, while it didn't cause any major change in my already sunny and positive disposition, it certainly helped me turn to that as my most powerful weapon in this little war I'm waging. Last Saturday a colleague of mine, also a never-smoking woman physician just a year older than I, died of stage IV non-small cell lung cancer that was diagnosed in April. She had daughters who are 12 and 18.

I certainly don't know why my tumor is responding to chemotherapy when hers didn't. I believe that it's all pretty much luck and biology and I am exceedingly grateful that I wound up on the good side of that coin flip. The upshot of these two sad deaths is that I feel more compelled than ever to live every moment of every day to the fullest and to appreciate every bit of joy and beauty resident in each of those days.

So it's a week until chemo cycle #8. I took Hannah to Washington, DC on Friday. We had dinner with my stepsister Tanis and her children and then crashed on her couch. Saturday we did Hannah's first college visit at George Washington University. Then we checked her in for volleyball camp at GWU. I met some invisible friends for Indian food and then stayed up way too late making up for all the years it's been since Tanis and I got to just chew the fat together. My drive home Sunday was fairly uneventful, although I do so hate the George Washington Bridge. I knew I'd pay some price for all the walking and talking on Saturday and so I'm dealing with a sore throat, stuffy head, runny nose and headache that I always have to greater or lesser degree after each cycle - just a little worse this time than the last couple of cycles because I diverted some of my energy away from fighting that to my DC activities. Totally worth it on all fronts.

My energy level is good, my toes are just the tiniest bit tingly, and I am alive and able to enjoy it. There are lots of fun things coming up in the next few weeks and months. Next up Robert is going to Texas to meet Ian and Isaac and their families. Ian has medical school interviews (I keep telling him he's going to get into medical school but I don't think he really thought it was a possibility until those first interview invitations came in) and Robert is looking forward to showing him as much of Texas as they can squeeze in in a week. Philip and I will be spending a weekend on Long Island with my aunt and uncle. I plan to be waited on hand and foot and Philip is looking forward to learning to play pool from the old shark. Hannah and Philip start school on August 28th. The Alaska cruise is August 31 - September 7. Anyone with recommendations about shore excursions PLEASE email me with them.

My crazy employer gave me a new contract and a raise and they are still being wonderful about flexible scheduling. The patients are still crazy but that comes with the territory. We have a new occ doc and so I am not having to do all of the drug screen medical reviews any more. Incrementally less entertainment (Cocaine?!? Shit! Someone must have laced my joint.) but infinitely less hassle, especially on my days off.

I am starting a secret project very near and dear to my heart, enjoying Robert's wonderful cooking, nearing the end of Henry James' Portrait of a Lady on my commute and raising money for the National Lung Cancer Partnership by walking in their Free to Breathe Walk in Glastonbury on September 21st. The hospital I work for is doing a story on me for the employee paper and hopefully for the newsletter that goes out to the community. The Rachael Ray piece airs on September 5th, the same day that the three major networks launch their Stand Up To Cancer program with a one hour on air fundraising special at 8 pm EDT. Life is good.


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