Wednesday, January 21, 2009

GOOD NEWS ! ( Cancer )

Big Day at the doctor shop. No sign of Anemia at all. Should be some. Nada. Cancer is still there but... Lookit those numbers! Proteins used to track the Beast are there but... Lookit those numbers!!

Doctor is shaking my hand, looking at me, strong, right in my face. He is happy. He often isn't. Today he is. He's showing me the Numbers.

They've got computers all over the doc-shops nowadays. Paper too but not a lot. FAX, voice-mail your-computer-talking-to-my-computer sorta thing. Today he's got some paper and he's really happy about what's on it. 'No anemia at all,' and that's got him more excited than I've ever seen him. (Anemia is an excess of white blood cells. With Multiple Myeloma, the kinda cancer I've got, the physician likes to keep track of the white cells, which are usually elevated. If the count is not elevated, it's good news.) And I'm looking good, according to this physician, who I haven't seen in about a month, although I've seen a couple of his running-mates, including one who comes in just then. "Isn't he looking good?" and it stops him for an eye-blink. "Hey! You are really looking good," sez the second doctor, who I've seen just recently. The first doctor passes him the score-card from the blood-lab with a cheery: "Lookit this!" and he does the same song & dance routine. "Wow!" Now they're both shaking my hand. I mean, taking turns, but you get the idea.

My wife plays the beamish bride through all this, since my looking good is mostly her fault. She is the Commander-in-Chief of the pill bottle; she causes things to ring or blink or buzz, telling me it is time to... do something. If I need a pill, it is there, without failure or recourse. She is the one who makes the runs to the pharmacy. Her hand may rock the cradle but it also lights the lamp, leads the way and provides the accountancy that is the secret core of modern-day medicine.

Before you start ringing the bells, the cancer is still there; it's still generating the protein tags which tells the physicians it is not only there but what it is doing... getting better, getting worse, staying the same and so on.

Mine's getting better. And appears to be shrinking. And because of it, I'm looking good! (Okay, okay... but everyone else is saying it.)

Then we get into the Real Work, the four of us, adjusting the medication regime with regard not only to what I'm taking but how much. Most of this is aimed directly at the cancerous cells but there are other drugs needed to overcome my body's reaction to the anti-cancer drugs, a lot of which are toxic in the normal sense. But when you start looking good it means they can adjust the brew, leaving out Eye of Newt this week, mebbe jacking up Toe of Frog. How's my edima? Has the swelling gone down? The pain... dizziness... It's the pre-flight check-list for a 767 and they are its crew, ticking off the items one by one, stopping now and then for additional information; When did that start? How much? How long? Any of this? How are you sleeping? My weight (starting to come up), my exercises (still at it). But man, you are really looking good!

Bottom Line: I've turned a corner of some kind. There is no cure for Multiple Myeloma but they have managed to reduce it's impact on my system and the best proof of that is me, because... you guessed it: I am looking good!

Okay, so it sounds a little silly. Maybe it was. But it was a good kind of silliness. It isn't remission but neither is it the deadly stall-turn that I've been flying for the past six months. We've got it out of the spin. We are back in control.

A few small changes in the medication. New dates for future appointments, now safe to schedule them months in advance rather than days.

For the family and me the fight is still on a daily basis. There are no miracles but we are seeing real progress, the product of constant attention to a host of details.

When we are back home, the chores done, mail collected, there's a moment for reflection. Our team is working out. And I'm looking good! :-)