Cancer for Dummies

ImageLike sharing stories, passing on advice/information is another tricky area.  We have all probably read something or heard something that could potentially be helpful.  Knowing when to share it or keep it to yourself is a challenge.  My friend, Nat, sent me a press release about a newly approved colon cancer drug.  I appreciated that the information was right from the FDA horse’s mouth.  We took the information to Dave’s oncologist who let us know that it wasn’t the drug for Dave at this time.  It sure didn’t hurt to ask though.  As far as drug trial or medical advice, I like having all the information in print from a reputable source.

Dave has a colleague at work who is a cancer survivor.  She believes strongly that the water that you drink should have a certain pH.  There is an expensive machine that she purchased that filters the water to the correct level.  Dave asked his doctor about this, and they had no objection to him trying it.  So this kind and generous person brings Dave gallon jugs of water each week.  She feels like it is something she can do to help.  I appreciate this because it is something that she tried, felt was effective, and thought Dave would benefit from too.  But she also took the financial risk out of it because she is using her machine and providing Dave with the water.  I would have to say that I would have been reluctant to spend thousands of dollars on something someone who was not an expert suggested.

My friend, May, was spot on when she shared her knowledge.  One afternoon, May stopped by to drop off an absolutely delicious dinner.  I happened to mention to her that Dave is experimenting with making various smoothies containing super foods like kale.  Turns out that May has a wealth of knowledge, but she waits until she knows someone is interested to share.  The next time she stopped by she brought us some things to try (while including the ingredients list so Dave can check with his doctor to make sure there is nothing objectionable).  I so appreciated all of her suggestions and advice and how she essentially waited until she was asked for it.

We have been very lucky to have friends thinking of us and sharing their experience and knowledge.



Why I Hate Driving

There is the usual list of grievances: gas prices, traffic, that blasted “check engine” light.  (Dave’s just came on again.  UGH.)  Those are all annoyances that can be stressful, but the real reason I hate driving is because I can’t escape from my thoughts when I am in the car.  I think and over think when I am driving.  I don’t even have to be alone.  The kids can be nattering all around me, but I am lost in my head.

Today’s thoughts centered around Dave’s appointment this morning.  True confession – I don’t attend all of his appointments with him.  I go to all the biggies but for the routine ones I tend to bow out.  Dave prefers it this way.  He worries that he is wasting my time by having me sit there with him and that makes him anxious.  So, to keep the peace, I go when I am needed.

This morning was a routine appointment.  His blood work was good.  There is a tumor marker (CEA) that can indicate when something is amiss.  This is the number that had elevated some and was the reason Dave had the scan in April which revealed new tumors.  Dr. Spira has told us that it is not a great test, but it is another way to keep an eye on things.  Today’s CEA was back to normal.  Great test of not, this news feels celebration worthy.

Dave told me that he asked how long this cycle of chemo would be.  He was told it could be indefinite.  My heart sank when he told me this because I had already figured that out but was trying to protect him.  Chemo is grueling no matter what, and I didn’t want Dave to have to think about it going on forever.  When we went to Hopkins they told us that stable disease would be a good thing.  That Dave’s cancer was aggressive.  So it makes sense that as long as the chemo is keeping the cancer under control that they are going to keep giving it to him.  I worry about how disheartening this kind of news can be.

Since I have been in the car a lot today, I’ve had plenty of time to refocus my thinking.  I hope that I can keep Dave in this mindset too – that as long as the chemo is working, the cancer is not growing or may even be shrinking.  There are new trials and ongoing trials which means more opportunities for him.

I know that I will be continuing to call on our village for help during those times when all of this seems frustrating or demoralizing.  Distractions are welcome!