Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Today is Christmas. My sister, Martita, came up last week. Mom and Dad drove up yesterday. We had a big family dinner last night and I woke up this morning ready to open presents. Only I couldn't open any presents because it wasn't really Christmas.

My doctor's visit today was supposed to be the big day. Finally after nine weeks of chemo and weeks of "recovery" I was supposed to find out how I was really doing. Only I didn't get the answers I was expecting. It was a very disapointing day (and not in a "I wanted toys but all I got were clothes" sort of way) I feel like I'm still waiting. Yes, the tumor has shrunk --- a disappointingly slight 2.3 cm (it went from about 10 cm to 7.7 cm. We wanted it to be closer to 3 cm) though it's still shrinking. And, no I'm probably not going to have surgery but not because of the reasons I expected. The tumor surrounds my aorta making removal via surgery very difficult if not impossible. While the urologist will still make the final call on surgery my doctor doubts the urologist will want to risk it. So, we'll probably just watch and wait. This isn't an unusual plan for a smaller tumor but is unusual for something this size. So, the big question of the day is: What's causing this pain? This is a concern for all of us. I want this tumor gone but it looks like I'll have to live with it for a long time.

Monday, January 23, 2006

... and one more thing!

With all this hair growing back ... I itch!

Okay, I'm done complaining ... for now.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Waiting ... (and a little TMI)

My balls hurt! My stomach aches! I've taken enough painkillers to eventually put me in Betty Ford. I'm in pain. I'm tired and I can't sleep. I'm so tense I have to remind myself to breath. And all I can do is wait.

I went through nine weeks of chemo. On December 14th my doctor told me that I was "essentially cured" --- great news but I haven't let it sink in and won't until I get the results of the CT scan and ultrasound on Wednesday. I've lost my optimism that the news will be good. I only felt "good" for about two weeks until I started feeling pain in my testicles again. The scans were moved up a week and .... nothing.

The scans went well I guess. The technicians didn't tell me anything (not that I expected them to) though I got the sense that the news isn't going to be good by the way the nurse avoided looking me in the eyes afterwards (though, admittedly, she probably didn't realize that I knew some of the tumor would still be there.) Now, I gotta say - and I'll digress for a moment - that the male technician giving me an ultrasound (which, by the way, is the same as a sonogram) was a lot gentler than the woman who gave me one right after my biopsy in October. She squirted jelly all over me, rubbed her wand all over the place ( I was almost worried I was going to get an erection) and was in the room as I cleaned myself off. He was much more ... respectful - only placing the wand on each side of my testicles and not moving it around much. Then he left the room as I wiped the jelly off. Finally, a little privacy and a chance to regain some sense of modesty.

I felt that if I heard from Hutson Thursday or Friday morning I'd be in for bad news. If I didn't hear from him ... well, no news is good news. But I can only take so much waiting. I called his office Friday afternoon to see if he had seen the results. He had been in the hospital calling on patients all day and probably hadn't seen them but his nurse had. So, his nurse proceeds to say that he doesn't see anything remarkable in the scans except for some blockage in some tube in one of my testicles. Most men have this kind of thing for years and it's not a big deal but is something to watch. Have I noticed any swelling? There is the expected scar tissue in the CT scan. Otherwise it looks fine and is unremarkable but we really won't be able to evaluate anything until we compare it with the scans that were done in October (which I have). But the focus of the conversation (for him) is on referring me to the urologist at Southwestern (which I've already discussed with Hutson) and not on the pain I'm having and I get the feeling that he doesn't really know what he's talking about and probably shouldn't be discussing the results with me over the phone anyway. So, I hung up more frustrated and pissed off than I was to begin with and start waiting for my appointment on Wednesday.

Did I mention that I turn 40 tomorrow? What a way to celebrate a birthday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

To Organic or Not To Organic

I don't know what's caused my cancer --- according to the TCR page, no one knows what causes tescticular cancer. But I can't help but think that the amount of pesticides and hormones we ingest has to affect us somehow. And, of course, stress probably plays a big roll too. All that has gotten me to start thinking more seriously about what I put in my body and how I handle stress. Call it a New Years Resolution (hopefully one that will stick around awhile) if you want but I'm going to make a more concerted effort to not only eat healthier foods but eat more organic foods.

There's a good article about organic foods in the February issue of Consumer Reports. The article discusses the organics worth buying (beef, milk and apples) and the ones that aren't worth the additional cost (asparagus, broccoli and cosmetics). It's a good (and, I think, fairly balanced) article and worth checking out.

Also, there's an interesting article about Wendy Gordon, executive director of the Green Guide Institute (, in the Jan 15th issue of the New York Times. The Green Guide Institute encourages people to live a more "green" lifestyle --- they're fairly pragmatic about it (Gordon says drinking bottled water is a waste of money and offers no reduced risk --- most tap water is fine).

I've taken up yoga and, as silly as it may sound, am "learning" to breath. The hospital gave me a copy of a Dr Andrew Weil article on stress reduction --- it was essentially a yoga-like deep breathing exercise. He says that if done regularly there is no need for anti-anxiety or anti-depression drugs. Hey, it seems to be working so far.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Day One Hundred and Nine

I've been having pain in my testicles again lately. I really don't like thinking what that could mean.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Puberty Pt 2

One of the best things about going through chemo (if there really is a best thing) is not having to shave. Having to shave and go through chemo at the same time would be worse than Hell (yeah, okay --- you could grow a beard but that wouldn't be real comfortable). Well, my days of not shaving are numbered. I've started growing peach fuzz around my mouth --- just like I did when I went through puberty. I had to shave the fuzz off this morning before I went to a meeting (who wants to look like a twelve year old during a meeting?). I haven't really noticed much hair growth anyplace else though some friends of mine have commented that my hair looks like it's coming back. My doctor said it would be two to three months. And, from what everyone has told me it's supposed to come back very curly. We'll see. So long as it comes back I don't care how it looks. Then again I may just keep it shaved.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Chemo Casualties

Anything Ginger (except for the slices that come with sushi)
Honey Mustard
Crest Clean Mint toothpaste
Gatorade Frost (what flavor is that supposed to be?!)
Fruit flavored popsicles
Pseudo sushi
Store bought spring rolls

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Key West and the Attack of the Black Floaters

I was at Hartsfield Airport last week on my way to a much needed vacation. During my hour layover I stopped for a snack at TCBY. As I'm ordering my frozen yogurt I notice a moth out of the corner of my right eye. How hygienic can this shop be with a moth flying around? Do I really want to buy yogurt from a store that has failed the health inspection? And, why was the moth moving with my eye? Then I realized that the moth was actually in my eye! It was a floater --- one of those amoeba-like things that float in your eye. Usually mine are grey or transparent but this one was black. Over the next twenty four hours this "moth" grew into a sinister "snake" and camped out in my eye along with smaller black floaters and bits of black sand. According to my doctor, this was all a result of my vascular system going through some changes after chemotherapy. Okay, but it doesn't help when I can't tell the real black ants apart from the fake, floater black "ants" in the cheap plastic cup I'm using while brushing my teeth and swallow some in the process of rinsing my mouth out! Yuck!

Other than sharing my vacation with a bunch of evil-looking subterranean amoeba, Key West was great! (If you ever head that way and need restaurant recommendations give me a shout or check out Jon's blog). It was great getting away from the sick bay of the couch, HGTV and my bed. It was sunny and warm. I was out wearing shorts and t-shirts everyday. And, I started getting my energy and appetite back. It was a nice break from cancer --- though as much as I thought I was getting away from it cancer was never far from the back of my mind. Friday Myron, Jon and I sailed to Woman Island on the Blu Q. It was a great day --- it was warm and the sailing was smooth. When we arrived at Woman Island (next to Man Island, natch) the boat anchored off the beach, we jumped into the water (okay, maybe that's stretching it --- the water was freezing and it took me a couple of times to make it all the way in!) and swam ashore. We wandered the island looking for sea biscuits, discovering a sand shark (it was five feet long - I swear!) and admiring the aquatic life (like Steve Zassou). I was swimming back to the boat alongside Dennis, who was also staying at our hotel, whose head was a tomato! "If you want some sun block I have some SPF 50 on the boat --- you're welcome to it" I told him. He said he was fine then gave me a concerned look and asked "And how are you?". "Oh, I'm fine. I have to have a bunch of scans when I get back and we'll see how much the tumor shrunk but testicular cancer is really curable." It was at about the same time he asked "What are you talking about?!" that I realized he had asked me about the sun on my head and not the cancer! I felt like an idiot though I was only being one of Pavlov's dogs.