27 November 2009


Oh fuck

I found out yesterday that there are new cancer tumours in the centre of my chest—several of them, each 2 to 3 cm in size, near where my lungs meet. They showed up on the CT scan I had Monday, and they were not there on the scan in September. That means they've grown quickly, which is fucking bad news.

After meeting with my doctors at the B.C. Cancer Agency yesterday, I've stopped using cediranib, the drug that had kept my existing lung tumours growing only very slowly over the past year. I'll likely return to more conventional and aggressive chemotherapy again sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Since I found out about my cancer almost three years ago, it has never been in remission. Some people who read this blog or know me in person have, mistakenly, thought otherwise, because I've often appeared in good health.

But my cancer has never shrunk, only slowed down. It started in my large intestine, then spread to my lungs from there. The bowel tumours came out with surgery in 2007—otherwise I would probably have died later that year. But the lung metastases can't really be tackled with surgery or radiation, because there are too many, too widely spread, and too deep in my body. Chemo is the best option.

This is serious. Faster-growing metastatic tumours near my lungs, my heart, my trachea, and my esophagus are dangerous and potentially lethal. In addition to attacking them with chemo, in a few months there may be some clinical trials of MEK inhibitor drugs available to me, but that's not certain. Those experimental medications operate on the kinase cascade metabolic pathway that helps cancer cells grow. So we'll see about those too.

New, fast-growing cancer is not what anyone wants in my body, but I can't say it's unexpected, or a genuine surprise. This is how cancer often goes. Treatments work, sometimes better, sometimes worse—and then sometimes they stop working. It's always a fight, and one I might lose.

My wife and children and parents and family and friends are sad. My head is swimming with thoughts of all sorts. Time to walk into the unknown future again.

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Sorry to hear that. Major Suckage. Will send good thoughts and prayers your way. Good luck with the treatments!
I've been following you all along through your comments on Twitter, and I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry to hear about this.
fuck is a really good word! my thoughts and prayers are with you and the family, keep up the good fight Derek! Sandra Weal
I haven't met you in person, but started following you on Twitter after sitting in front of you at Gnomedex this summer. I still get goosebumps when I recall you going on stage to give/get a hug from Drew. My thoughts/prayers/good energy are with you and your family right now.
Oh, man, Derek. Wish I could offer more than words.
This fucking sucks. Keep at the fight.
Very sorry to hear that news, Derek. There's nothing that can really be said to soften news like that, but if knowing that there are many people who know you both "in person" and online who are pulling for you and thinking of you helps, then know that.
I'm sorry to hear this Derek. My prayers are with you and your family.
Oh fuck indeed. I'm sorry to hear that Derek. Add me to the list of people keeping you in their thoughts. If there's anything I can do to help out in any way, let me know.
Very bad news indeed, Derek. So sorry to hear of it.

Thinking of you from NZ.
Sorry to hear this news, Derek. Be strong and fight hard.
Thinking about you and your family Derek.
Damn man. I hate to hear this. Stay strong and know our thoughts are with you.
My thoughts and prayers go with you and your family Derek.
Terrible news. Keep fighting Derek!
"Oh fuck" is right - this absolutely sucks to read. Kick this thing right in the backside! Best thoughts heading your way from the whole Toronto ex-Lab crew.
Wow. Sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you. Stay strong!
DAMMIT. I wish there was more I could do to help than just cuss on your blog. Stupid fucking cancer.
You've been incredibly strong through all of this all the while taking such joy in your life even with the cards you've been dealt. You're an example to your kids and to the rest of us.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! I'm so sorry.
In addition giving to my sympathy, is there anything else I can do to help?
NEVER give up!There is always hope,no-one is exactly like you, so previous cases are guidelines, not fact for you. Keep fighting!
Really sorry to hear this latest development.

Every day, is a battle waiting to be won. You have the love and support of your family and friends and also the support and best wishes from the on-line community, who have been following your story, with hope and optimism.

Stay strong and keep on fighting.
well god dammit. I am sorry to hear this. Pisses me off. Fuck cancer, fuck it right in the ear.
This is probably the most courageous blog post I've ever read. Fighting is probably not the best metaphor for what you are doing: growing, learning, accepting, and living for the moment seem to express better what you are doing. Please let me know if there's any research I can do for you down here about new treatments and research.

And give Airdre my love.
Derek, This is indeed horrible, shitty news. My heart goes out to you, to Airdrie, your girls and the rest of your family.
Fuck cancer dammitt, fuck it in the butt you can do it. I'm on your side!
what does one say?

team derek.

I came to your page via a mutual friend who talked about your cancer. I don't know you, but my heart goes out to you and your family. I've lost almost all my family members to cancer. The most recent was my only brother. Research any chemo they want to give you...that killed my brother...destroyed a section of his intestines creating a blockage...he died horribly within hours. My prayers and best wishes are with you as this is a journey you'll have make alone even though your loved ones will be with you. God bless you all.
What's there to say besides "Oh fuck" along with you? Sending you good health thoughts from California.

Dori (and Tom too, of course)
my money's on you. you're going to beat this.
Derek. I am so, so sorry to hear about your battle and having to endure what I call the "scans and results" hell cancer patients go through. I'm even more sorry to hear your latest result. Sometimes I think the waiting and wondering is more torturous than the treatments themselves. My mom has inoperable, incurable lung cancer and I'm very loudly and publicly yelling "WTF?" (Most people think you have to smoke to get lung cancer). Much like you, I am chronicling my mom's struggle and just launched a social media campaign called, "WTF"(Where's the Funding) for Lung Cancer? Yeah, double-entrendre. Cancer seriously effing sucks. You keep fighting the fight and keep that good sense of humor. If you wanna check out my new "WTF" home, feel free. (FB link is below). I have a new blog I'm launching this week, so I will be sure to link to yours. You are a fantastic writer, among many other things. Hang in there. Sincerely, Jen Windrum (the "WTF Chick"). https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wheres-the-Funding-for-Lung-Cancer/189797037749?v=wall
Derek, I started following you on Twitter around the same time my better 9/10 was diagnosed w/ METS nearly three years ago. Cancer sucks, no two ways about it. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. Keep strong, keep faith, keep fighting.
Sorry to hear this, Derek. Grateful again for your courage in sharing, and rooting for you from Berkeley...
I am so sorry Derek. This fucking sucks. Keep fighting. I will keep sending you good vibes.
Oh Derek, the title is more than appropriate for this news. All my warm and sunny wishes are heading your way ... especially useful with the weather we're having.

I've rarely used the word fuck, but it completely applies this time. I'm so sorry to hear, Derek.

Fuck cancer. My thoughts are with you and obviously as well with Air and the girls. Stay strong.
Oh Derek, I am so sad to read this news. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help.
Thank you for telling us. It's sad news but your attitude toward it is most admirable. Hugs to all of you. Fiona
Your strength and humor are awe inspiring. I've forwarded your posts to family, friends and colleagues. Our prayers are with you. Blessings
I work in a cancer hospital in Edmonton. Fast growing tumours are easier to kill, Derek. They are more metabolically active and take up the chemo (poison) at a much higher rate than other cells. Reframe your thinking.

You are an amazing man. From my observances, if you died today (and any one of us can), you would have lived the life of the average 110 year old!
That's a tiny bit of good news, Anonymous. Thanks for it.
i am so saddened to read this. thoughts are with you and your beautiful family. fuck cancer. keep holding onto that strength of yours, it is so inspiring and i want nothing more than for you to shit kick this.
I was told about you from gus greepr. I am also going thru my own journey with cancer right now. I wish you well.
Crappy news, indeed. But as you well know, cancer is all ups and downs, and another up may always be right around the bend. I'm currently in treatment for my third cancer (3 separate types). I beat the first 2, and fully intend to beat this one as well. Your blog gives me courage. The most powerful weapon/tool you have on your side is your obvious incredible zest for life. Keep on!
So incredibly sorry to hear this, Derek. I really hope there is a way that those suckers can be kept at bay. All the luck in the world and kudos to you for blogging about it no matter what.
Derek this is really shitty news.

Keep fighting and know we are all thinking of you, and wish you were back on the 9-5 with us at Navarik.

Kevin M
Derek ....I am more than sorry to hear about your latest news in your battle with cancer. You don't really know me although we have met. I am a close friend of your Aunt's and I know your parents very well.

I have kept up with your fight, various treatments and surgeries through your blog and aunt. You have always been in my thoughts as well as your family.

I know this is devastating news and I can't pretend to walk in your shoes because I can't even though I am a cancer survivor myself. Cancer is tough, but not impossible and if anyone has it in them to beat it, I would lay my odds on you.

You are as strong now as you were as a child, just as sweet, loving and kind. You above all can do this and when you do, I want to be first in line to shake your hand and give you a hug.

Take care Derek and know everyone who has gotten to know you even just a little bit are in your corner. You are definitely not alone.

My best of best wishes ....take care Derek.

Ah hell. :(

Keep fighting. Keep strong. My thoughts are with you.
From what I have read on message boards about advanced colon cancer people can live a long time asymptomatic even with numerous tumors in the abdomen. Initially they show up on the scan as being a few CMs but seldom keep growing at that rate. Perhaps they are cancerous, swollen lympnodes which would be better than tumors that are affixed to actual organs? Sorry to hear about this...
oh fuck indeed. I'm sorry to hear this and will be sending good thoughts your way.

now go kick this thing in the ass.
My thoughts are with you and your family. I too have been following your blog since early 2007 and you and your family are in my prayers.

Research, question, think positive and be strong. You are an inspiration.
Derek - I heard about you via your friends posting on a figure skating message board. I am also a colon cancer survivor - diagnosed in 2000, surgery and chemo - luckily been in remission since. I am very active in CC advocacy groups in the US - I invite you to join the ACOR Colon Cancer (COLON@listserv.ACOR.org) - many long term survivors still undergoing treatment for mets in the lungs & liver - you will find much hope & encouragement there.
Go get 'em, mate. Those little fuckers don't stand a chance against all the love you have in your life.
I just read this and I want to say my thoughts and prayers are with you and your lovely family.

Give Airdrie and the girls a big hug from me.
Man there isn't anything anyone can say or do right now to cheer you up. I abstractly know what you’re going through. My chronic illness isn't life threatening but it is painful and being 25 my friends and family tend not to understand my illness. I was diagnosed with arthritis at 23 and was in pain for years till they finally did real test to determine what was wrong. It's in my entire body and I understand the pain you’re in. My illness has not yet been in remission either and I have to live with the pain daily. My heart goes out to you. My wife started a blog dealing with my chronic illness it has been a great help to her being able to share with others whom have gone through similar problems and it has also helped my friends and family come to a realization of what I'm going through. If you’re interested it's https://youngwifestale.com/blog/. Please don’t think I’m trying to spam your blog after you’ve read this message remove it I don’t care I just hope it helps in some way.
Oh crap. So sorry to hear this - just got back to some reading and cried to see this one. Hang in there - lots of positive energy seems to be flowing your way from friends and fans alike... well deserved good thoughts. You are so very brave. Good luck with the treatments.
Sending all my good vibes to you and your family from Toronto.

Team Derek. Livestrong!
A good headline for such rotten news - I'm so sorry that your fight just got so much harder. We're all pulling for you.
Wow sorry to hear that... I can't imagine what you and your family must be going through. I hope you the best and stay strong!!
I'm so sorry to hear this, Derek. Your battle with cancer has been an inspiration. Keep fighting!
You said it. FUCK. I'm am very sorry. In my prayers and my thoughts. Keep fighting and healing. - Shane
I'm very sorry to hear that. Thoughts and prayers are with you.
I came across your internet articles and works. I read your article on fighting CA. You're a good writer, very! I like it. I feel sorry to hear what's happening to you. Please be strong and fight it from inside as well. I'm not an expert, but I heard a lot that meditation is also helpful. It might strengthen your own body system to do their jobs (kill cancer cells) more efficiently. Cheering-up's also good for your immunity.
Hope you're getting better soon. I'll pray for you. God and all greatest things in the universe bless you.
You are amazing Derek. I have so much admiration for you and your dedication to your family!
I haven't really known what to say sometimes, Derek, and OH FUCK! seems appropriate, but not enough. My meditations, best thoughts, or whatever we want to call them continue with you and your family. What I can say is that you have been an incredible inspiration and example of courage for all of us, and that may be annoying to hear, when you would rather just be able to live a "normal" life. Although we have not met in person yet, I do feel like a friend, and I will always care about you that way. Sending love and hugs, hoping that helps even a little bit. Know that you are truly respected and loved by all you've touched IRL or online. You have made a real, lasting contribution and impact on this earth. It is woven into the lives of those of us who know about you.
Thanks CH. In the end, I think making that sort of contribution is all any of us can hope to do.
Thinking of you Derek - sending love your way...