Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Busy thinking 'bout today...

Hi everyone--Jason here. Jim's been pretty busy with work, but we got some promising news recently: After his last PET/CT scan, the doctors only found traces of the tumors that were originally all over Jim's liver. We got a little "preview" of this good news from our GP/PCP several weeks ago but wanted to wait for the official word from the oncologist, who we saw last week.

Jim will continue chemo for another six to 12 months, and then get scanned again to see how well the treatments are going, but for now they're reducing one of the drugs and will scan him again, probably around June.

So that's the (mostly) good news! It's had us thinking about the future and planning trips, so hopefully we'll see more friends and family this year.

Okay, that's it for now. More soon!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Merry and Bright

Hey everyone, just wanted to post an update since it's been a while (and Jim's been really busy.) The past few months have been good--just getting into our routine of work (Jim's been working almost this entire time!) and chemo sessions every other week.

Since his last CT scan in September was really good (the cancer has shrunk considerably), Jim got a little reprieve for Thanksgiving so he could enjoy turkey and stuffing with friends. We're hoping that in 2016 Jim can go down to once a month maintenance chemo. He'll get another scan in January, so we'll see how much more progress we've made.

There's still no end in sight, but this chemo has been targeted and focused, so other than some fatigue and taste bud changes, Jim's looking pretty normal and feeling pretty good! (No hair loss--a major plus!)

We're counting our blessings this holiday season and are looking forward to some downtime at the end of the year. There might be a big change happening soon, so stayed tuned for any announcements!

Hope you all have a good holiday season :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Good news

A couple of weeks ago I had a follow-up CT scan to check the progress of my treatments, and the news was good. Very good. In fact, my doctor was pretty much amazed that they've been so effective so quickly. The tumors had all shrunk considerably...even the primary tumor.

And he gave me permission to indulge in a drink or two each week. Trust me, I really relished the glass of beer that I had a few days later. It was first beer in months.

So things are good indeed. Thank you to all of you who've been checking in, sending words of support, and in some cases, sending me gifts. I appreciate all of it, though no need to send me stuff. Kind words and prayers are more than enough.

More soon!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Chemo, shmeemo..

Well, I had my fifth round of chemo this past week, and it really took me down more than a few notches in terms of fatigue. For the first time in a long time, getting up in the morning, and working through the day, was a challenge. I tried to rationalize my way out of admitting that it was chemo related. Maybe I just didn't get enough sleep, I told myself. But when I went in to get my portable chemo pump disconnected, the nurse reminded me that the side effects are usually cumulative. They will likely get more pronounced as I progress through the regimen. It's not quite "the medicine is worse than the disease," but it is a hard to face up to the fact that it might become the new normal.

But all that aside, the treatments are still proving to be amazingly helpful.

Thank you all for the kind words and good wishes. I recently heard from some of my old friends from Providian days, and it really helped to read their words of support.

I'll just keep taking it one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Hi Folks! It's been a while since the last post, so I wanted to give a quick update, and to thank all of you who have been offering support, even if it's just a quick check in to say hi. Also, a warm welcome to those who are new to Cancer Fashion.

The treatments have been going well. Chemo every two weeks. Very minimal side effects. So far, so good. I'm getting another CT scan next week, so after that I'll know a lot more about my progress -- keeping my fingers crossed for some good news!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

It's about time.

One of the "gifts" of cancer -- and yes, as terrible as it is, cancer does come with certain gifts -- is that it forces you to reconsider your notions about time, in particular, your place in time, in the world, in the universe. Sounds like heady stuff, I know, but my first reaction to the news that I not only had cancer, but stage 4 cancer, with (statistically speaking) the likelihood of a much more abbreviated lifespan, well, let's just say, to borrow that old saying, it focuses the mind very effectively.

I will never forget the quaking feeling I felt when, sitting across from my oncologist during our first consultation, and after reviewing the facts of my case, and the extent to which my cancer had spread, he said, ", at least this won't kill you right away." Just what "right away" means remains to be seen. We keep telling ourselves that statistics are statistics, and people are people, and every case is different.

But still, that question, how much time? Will there be a point of no return, when the horizon shrinks and the hard choices step forward and demand to be reckoned with? I guess that point will come, and we'll know when we get there.

So over the last two months I've thought a lot about what time now means to me. I can't not think about it. It means a huge shift in values. It means making choices and meditating on things I never had to consider before.

A few days ago I had the honor of meeting former President Jimmy Carter. He was in town signing copies of his new book, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety. (Okay, "meet" might be too generous a word; he looked up at me, flashed that famous smile, and said, as he did to everyone else in line, "Thank you for coming" as he quickly inscribed the title page and turned to face his next admirer.) Carter has always been a hero of mine. But now I find myself envious of him too: Nine decades of what has indeed been a very full life.

And there are more mundane considerations. Friends have been recommending movies and shows I just must see, trips we should make, etc. I've never watched an episode of Mad MenThe Wire, House of Cards, or Game of Thrones. I've never read a Harry Potter book or Hunger Games. It's not snobbery on my part; I'm sure I'd enjoy most of those recommendations. But I can barely get through the pile of The New York Review of Books and other magazines that have been stacking up.

There are shelves of books I want to read, many of which I had always put off for later, since they seem so daunting. But now "later"might get here sooner than I think. So what to do about Montaigne's Essays, Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Boswell's Life of Johnson? Each one of those is a doorstop of a book. And then there's Proust, the Shakespeare plays I haven't read...and on. Lately people are urging me to dive into Knausgaard's My Struggle, a multi-volume monument to the details of daily life. I'm sure reading it would be transcendent experience, but, sorry Karl, I just can't give you that much time. There are others in line ahead of you. If I can get to them in time.

Much as I love having my nose in a book, there's life to be lived. And I want to do it right. That means saying no to a lot of things I'd rather not give up. But being forced into this corner has made the experience of each day so much richer, and so much more precious. It's a gift I wouldn't have been given otherwise.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Yesterday we went back to the doctor's office to have my chemo pump removed, bringing my third round of chemo to an end and setting me free for another week or so. The procedure takes less than five minutes; we had to wait an hour and half for that less than five minutes. I can't blame them -- the nurses and staff there are wonderful people, and they were short-staffed and working very hard.

What can you do? Sometimes you have to just wait it out, and I guess I'll be doing a lot of that as we go forward with this crazy adventure called cancer.

One good thing is that I've had a lot more time to read, but yesterday, thinking that things would be humming along at the oncologist's office, I decided to not bring a the book I'd been reading, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

Once I realized we were in for a wait, I get a little testy (with myself). Why didn't I just grab the book on my way out the door? It wouldn't have killed me. I tried looking at my iPhone (emails, news, etc.) but that got old fast. And the assortment of magazines in the waiting room (some People, Entertainment Weekly, along with assorted, more specialized ones like Cancer Today, etc.) seemed  pawed over and uninspiring.

I happened to glance over at an older gentleman sitting across from me, who was happily occupied with a small yellowed paperback. I was envious. But I was also curious about what he was reading. Whenever I see someone engrossed in a book at a cafe, or on the train, or wherever, I always try to see what they're reading, and, of course, make judgements about them based on their book of choice.

At one point the man got up to get a drink from the water cooler and left his book cover-up on his chair. I glanced over at the title: To Kill a Mockingbird. Somehow that made it all better. I resisted the urge to get his attention and tell him I was reading it too - I mean, it would probably have come across as a little dorky. I suppose the lesson is, we have more in common with each other than we realize. "We're in this together" has become a very consoling thought for me lately.

Before I sign off, a huge thank you to Jason's cousin Shirley L., who stopped over yesterday to visit, bearing the gift of sushi, and an amazingly pretty card with a painting of two owls, a quote from Emerson ("Our strength grows out of our weaknesses.") and a list of cancer support groups that she took the time to research, copy out by hand, and share with me and Jason. Thank you Shirley!