Rasta “Papa” with Mad Scientist Madison on Halloween
Results from latest bone marrow biopsy show no detectable cancers. So, I’m Minimum Residual Disease Negative (MRD-). This means that not one in 10,000 cells shows any sign of disease. An excellent outcome. Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, the cells were sent for a deeper analysis to another lab that reports < 1 out of 1,000,000 cells are cancerous. These results were shared with me during my regular visit with my nurse practitioner who is unable to interpret them…specifically if <1 is equivalent to 0. My doctor is on vacation, so we’ll have to wait till he gets back for the definitive word. But it is certainly very encouraging. I’m guessing that it will be measured again in a few months and if it gets to 2 or more, that would require some sort of intervention. But that is just me guessing. I’ll see what the doc says when he gets back. Perhaps it is reflective that I’m on the road to cure. Fingers crossed.
I’m feeling quite good these days and getting back to my old self. I’ve been going to the gym regularly and lifting light weights. Riding a bike on flat ground. Hitting tennis balls with an instructor, although I don’t quite have the stamina yet to play a match. I’ve resumed my role with UCLA on an institutional review board, where I sit on a committee to review the ethical and safety aspects of clinical trials in oncology. I’m not experiencing any major symptoms or side effects. I’ve finally resolved a stubborn cold I caught several months ago. I do need to be extra careful in public gatherings as I’m rather susceptible to catching a cold or the flu when flu season gets into full swing. Getting on an airplane is still not a good idea, so we are limiting ourselves to local trips for the time being. For example, Susan and I drove up to Mammoth (about 5 hours by car) to see some fall leaves last month. For the most part, my days are filled up with daily exercise, reading clinical trials, watching impeachment hearings, and of course, watching Wisconsin football and basketball. I also spend time with my granddaughter, Madison. Hillary has a late class on Tuesday nights, so we have a weekly pajama party with her. She is equal parts fun and exhausting, but we love every second of having her around.
My hair is growing back (don’t take the above photo as an indication!). It’s wavier than my before but the color is about the same. Actually, fewer flecks of gray than before. I’m still pretty scrawny, about 25 pounds lighter than before this all started. I’m wearing 31-inch waist jeans. But I find it to be a comfortable weight and hope to stay right around here. People I run into, like the checker at the grocery store and friends from the gym, all say I look a lot healthier. Man, I must have looked pretty awful before!
People often ask me how I managed to get through all this. The only wisdom that comes to mind is to never assume the worst possible outcome. I’m not saying to ignore it. But just don’t assume it. Like when you hear all the possible side effects of a medication advertised on TV, don’t assume that you’ll get them. Gad…they sound like a Stephen King novel! You COULD get them, but don’t assume it. I was told a whole lot of scary things could happen to me. And I was even given odds that such as 1 in 3 people have such negative results. I just couldn’t bring myself to assume that I would. It’s like living in California. You can’t be blind to the risk of an earthquake. You should definitely prepare for it. But I refuse to assume the worst possible outcome. I don’t expect we will fall into the Pacific Ocean if it happens or my house will fall on top of my head. It will probably suck for a while, but we’ll be OK. That’s how my cancer fight has been so far. And if the worst possible outcome SHOULD happen, at least I won’t have wasted time worrying about it.