Connor and I were chowing sandwiches at JJ’s the other day and I looked up to find this quote- cuz you know if you ever want sage advice you head to the temple of the #13 veggie with the extra hot peppers while living vicariously through your son’s roast beef sammy.
The words went something like, “When you don’t get what you expected its called an experience.”
Thank you for that Buddha, I mean JC, I mean JJ, you know Jimmy John, I think.
Anyways, this got me thinking about my most recent, significant, unexpected/unplanned ‘meal deal’ which arrived in the form of CT scan a month ago. Recall that the CT scan is where you drink the most disgusting beverage on the planet (likely brewed by Old B-bub himself in the bowls of H-E-double-L) and then doctors search your insides for old keys and razor blades, 4o year old chewing gum strangely shaped into the faces of Elvis and Barbara Walters (I don’t know why I wrote Barbara Walters there, I really don’t), gnarled nests of 300 foot parasites, undigested #13 sandwiches, and of course cancerous tumors (unless they are in your intestines in which case well, um, see one of my previous posts).
So we have all (like all ten of us here inside me) have been following a tumor in the hepatic or liver lymph node area for the last few years. It was shrinking since 2015 but as of this last scan had grown in size. The good news is that there was no other activity in the surrounding neighborhood and, according to some quality time with “The Google” when I got home, 40% of the time when someone is otherwise responding to immune therapy, growth in a single tumor is indicative of T-cell or good guy immune cell infiltration. Okay actually the stat was 39% if I recall, but I’m exercising my ‘constitutional’ right as an internet user to distort the facts. The bad news is that 60%, not-61%-people-try-to-pay-attention, it can be indicative of progressive disease.
I took all of this incredibly well! Like, Oh-my-gosh, of-course! Derp! I didn’t like lose my marbles for a little while over some drama surrounding one of my son’s hockey tryouts, fitting doctors visits around managing a $34M project and 60+ engineers, the possibility that this could be progressive disease etc etc…I didn’t like experience rage and despair and all that, cuz that wouldn’t be normal and I am as normal as a 3 dollar bill y’all.
The immediate option presented was one of waiting and seeing. As you many of you know I am not really cut from the waiting and seeing clothe of psychopaths. I mean I am thinking lets get all medieval on this thing’s ass, just in case we are in that 60% zone. Luckily my trusty oncologist buddy in LA (Omid Hamid) concurred with that idea and so we decided to go with the cyber knife which is a non-invasive robotic based surgery that delivers relatively low dose radiation to precise points in the body. The whole low dose and precise part is important since radiation and the liver are not friends; in fact I don’t even think they like each other.
Here’s where it gets kind of interesting on a few levels. For one, current research is showing that low dose radiation can be stimulating to the immune system. For two, sometimes immune therapy in combination with radiation treatment can be even more stimulating (in an immune system kind of way) and trigger what is called an ‘abscopal effect’ or tumor regression at distant sites from where the radiation occurred. There was after all this famous case: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1112824?rss=searchAndBrowse&#t=article.
17 doctors visits, one surgery to insert fiducial markers (gold tags that help the physicist and doctor calibrate the position of the node; btw I asked if he could remove and melt that down for my grill/teeth after we were done but doc didn’t laugh and simply said ‘no’), another visit to get fitted with a man girdle so that I couldn’t breath much during procedures (I should really have brought that home and wore it around the house), 5 procedures, and few more JJ found quote experiences, 40 days later and here I am looking quite blinged out with gold tags up in my hepatic region, at least when next viewed through computerized tomography.
Stay tuned on the potential immune responses as well as treatment outcomes. I will let you know.
In the meantime and just in time for All Hallows’ Eve, please enjoy what is quite possibly the greatest music video in the history of music videos.
All these unplanned experiences are, after all, thrilling.
PS. Not sure what the whole “Volga” word means and why @ half way through the video the “V” starts descending. I read Volga is a river in Russia and/or a girl’s name. Perhaps Volga is trying desperately to escape this video.
PSS. I am definitely going to start a new health club fitness craze, drawing serious inspiration from them there dance moves.