Despite going to and having fun at a couple of big parties this past weekend, I wasn't feeling good. Saturday night in particular was unpleasant. I had an ache on the left side of my back reminiscent of a similar pain I felt last year, which by all accounts was probably a relatively minor intestinal problem. Unlike a year ago, however, sitting up in bed didn't help, and I slept very little. By Sunday morning, when I took some Advil and ate some food, the pain subsided and I was able to nap in our hammock for an hour and a half, which kept me going for the rest of the day. And last night was better, though I still have a bit of an upset stomach this morning.
These are complaints, part of the territory of having cancer and getting a bit older. But I know that eventually I'll develop one of those pains and it won't go away, because it won't be something simple or minor. It's strange to say, but I've been relatively lucky because, since my major cancer surgery in 2007, the pain and discomfort and nausea and other symptoms I've suffered have been mostly from my treatments, not from my disease.
However, I'll be heading into yet another round of throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks chemotherapy in September. That's happening because my previous chemo wasn't working anymore, just like the treatment before that wasn't, and the one before that, and so on. (There have now been so many I've lost track of them.) Even if this new regimen is effective, given my experience over the past three and a half years, it's not likely to stay that way in the long term. And as far as I know, there aren't many other options beyond it.
The cancer I have, spread through both of my lungs, doesn't tend to go away. It's too widespread for surgery or radiation, and chemotherapy and other systemic treatments have merely slowed it down or shrunk the tumours temporarily. It's possible, though rather unlikely, that some upcoming treatment will really beat my cancer back. But success in a case like mine is almost always measured in extra years of life, not extra decades.
So I've been packing in the fun this summer: Disneyland, Whistler, the beach, weddings, parties, geek conferences, and more. That's because someday—likely not especially far off—I'll develop symptoms that are from the cancer, that won't subside, and that will need management. For at least a couple of years now, whenever I feel pain of any kind (unless it's from something obvious like whacking my shin on a table), I wonder if it will be that one, the one telling me something in my body is failing. I wondered that on Saturday night, but the pain went away, so perhaps it wasn't one to worry about that way, not yet.
Am I okay with this situation? No, I'm not. It's fucking stressful. It sucks for me, for my wife, for my daughters, for the rest of my family, and for my friends. But I think I have come to accept it. More accurately, I have had to come to accept it.
So today, I can still walk the dog and buy some groceries, enjoy some food and the hot summer weather. I can move, and laugh, and appreciate the day. It's enough for now.
No a simple thing to comment on this post, because really it will come across a saccharine sweet. will say this, you are doing the right thing, engaging in all things fun or things that you just want to do plain and simple. Be as childlike as you can muster and I being one who enjoys a certain level of juvenile behavior will gladly help you in any of these endeavors. Have some fun you earned it and not just because of the cancer, but for being a good father and husband.
Derek, you and your family are never far from my thoughts. I wish you all the best in your life.
My thoughts are with you Derek. There's not much else to do than what you're doing. While I haven't had cancer, when I was in my 20's I looked likely to die (the doctors thought so, though I didn't know that till I read their notes later).
I got lucky. I hope you do. And I hope you enjoy as much of whatever time you have as possible.
Me, I'm glad you've written about it all this time. And I'm praying that something comes up.
Have you tried the non-medical energy/light workers? May be crass of me to ask. Consider it rhetorical.
You're more dad and husband than my family's ever had yet.
I too am glad you write about this. It keeps me fistpumping for your health. You're ridiculously optimistic in the face of such shit. Cos cancer is shit, there's no two ways around it. Regardless of what happens, I'll be reading along - you're a talented photographer, a great dad and someone that has thoughts I want to read. That's good enough. Good luck sir!
Given my views on the supernatural, I suspect the energy/light worker stuff isn't really up my alley.
And I guess you could call me optimistic, but I try to be realistic in a positive way instead, if that distinction makes sense. For a natural optimist like me, it's sometimes hard to fight denial, but I think it's best to hope for the best—while making sure the "best" I'm hoping for is a realistic one.
Let's face it: stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer is a deadly disease. I have it. It's almost certainly going to be what kills me. I'm 41 now, and unless something amazing happens, chances are I'll be dead before I reach my fifties. If I'm not going to fool myself, "hoping for the best" should lie within those boundaries.
This isn't a just a comment to yesterday's "Enough for Now" post. This is something I've been meaning to post here for some time.
Yours is one of the few blogs that I have been following steadily for the past five years through half of my marriage, multiple jobs, births and deaths and weddings and separations and divorces and first loves and plenty of other significant events among family and friends. I've considered the little sliver of your life that you put into your blog to also be a part of my life.
I don't always agree with you, but I respect your well-thought-out opinions and enjoy reading about the things that you enjoy; your passion for the things that you love shows in your writing.
For you, for your family and friends, and for all sufferers of cancer, I do hope that medical science discovers a fundamental new way to look at cancer and see how to stop it cold and prevent it from happening again.
There's a lot of people you've never met who are routing for you. While we'll always hope for a cure (right along with world peace) we understand that it is unlikely so we are hoping that your cancer can be held back enough, and your treatment not be too debilitating, so you can generally enjoy life for a long time to come.
Good luck with absolutely everything, Derek.
I can't remember how I found your blog some years ago but I've been erratically reading along for years [and your dad's blog too] and always appreciate your level-headed outlook. (I know you must have many less than level-headed moments as you go through this illness, but it doesn't show.)
Good luck to you in hanging on to life. Although I too am an atheist, I think 'positive energy' type therapies can be beneficial, if only in terms of 'quality of life' - depends on the practitioner. Anyway, you know what suits you.