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April 20, 2005

Popping Cancer Update (under the influence of chemo drugs, so hold on)

Maybe it's more of a reflection.

My struggle is that I'm not sure what I'm hoping for right now. Chemotherapy (which is not quite over yet, but I feel a little functional and this is in my head and I want to get it out) was its typical horrific self today, with two special additions.

One was sudden nausea, like running into a wall unexpectedly. It's like when you cough suddenly and didn't feel it coming on, except that it's the most horribly productive cough in your life. Worse, if you haven't kept nibbling all day, it might be non-productive.

The other was that, unexpectedly, everything got loud. It was as if you were listening to headphones at level 3 and someone turned them up to 10 (or 11 for Spinal Tap fans). My dog was three rooms away, and her squeaky toy sounded like a megaphone going off INSIDE MY HEAD. Then it would just go away. I would have asked Roxy (the dog, name short for Rock Star, which is in turn short for Punk Rock Star) to stop squeaking, but I doubt she would have understood. What could I expect from someone who has worms in her poop? (NOTE: yes, Mrs. Popping Culture is taking her to the vet tomorrow. We thought the chemotherapy ranked higher on the priorities list today.)

Tomorrow, I get the shot that increases white cell production and causes about three days of constant, debilitating joint agony.

I say all that to say this. My life sucks on chemo days and the days after, and I don't mean that in a hum-de-dum having-a-bad-day sense. I mean that in the "how much more of this can I take before I give up" sense.

Granted, this is coming on the day of the pain, and with a week, my spirits will rise as my health rises.

Still, I look ahead to the scans and there are three possibilities:

1 - No change and we go back to the previous type of chemo,

2 - No change and we are done. I feel better for a few months, then start the dying process.

3 - The chemo works and the tumors have started to shrink.

Option One is not good. That chemo tore me up in what I believe are permanent ways. There was clear evidence of direct damage to my bladder or kidneys. I don't want to do it and I might not have a choice.

Option two sounds nice on painful days (A few to several months of feeling strong and good sound wonderful. I don't remember the last time I woke up and felt GOOD.) but then there's the slow painful death thing.

Option three sounds wonderful. The chemo is working! Huzzah! It's naive and silly to expect that it cured me in just two treatments, but I'm allowed, as a Baptist Pastor, to expect a miracle. The problem is that likely this option means more days like today. Today sucks. Cancer is a jerk. Given the option today, I would go to Hawaii with my wife, make love on the beach and eat lobster for a few months and see what happens. This is why we don't make decisions anywhere near chemo days.

Still, tonight I will say my prayers. I don't know what I'm rooting for here, other than "Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done."

Keyword: fear.

Theme of the message: not even pastors have answers sometimes.

Closing: We all have work to do. This is the work I must do and if it continues, I will do it no matter how much it hurts, even unto death. This is the work I must do right now, and fear is just fine and natural as long as I don't let it keep me from my work, yes?

Homework: Get the hell out of bed tomorrow. Don't worry about the next day. Do whatever it takes to live in the day you're in.

Posted by Dan at April 20, 2005 07:56 PM

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You hang in there, Dan.

Posted by: red at April 20, 2005 09:05 PM

Dan, Dan, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts right now. Sending you lots of love.

Posted by: Stevie at April 20, 2005 09:23 PM

Dan-You're in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for sharing and being so candid about your struggles. I wish there was something more I could say to give you strength and comfort but I haven't been where you are now and can't offer any wisdom beyond that I'm sure you already know.
Peace and Love, Pastor.

Posted by: Dave E at April 21, 2005 12:35 AM

Every day is an absolute, precious miracle.

Posted by: Ara at April 21, 2005 06:30 AM

I can't tell you what a gift your blog is.

My family and I are praying for you. And for what it's worth, I'm pulling hard for Option 3.

Posted by: mitch at April 21, 2005 09:40 AM

Just so you know, you have touched my life in a way words cannot express. Persistantly praying for you...

Posted by: Julie at April 21, 2005 09:51 AM

Dan, you hang in there, man. Don't think of it as 'How much of it can you take before you give up'. Be as tenacious about staying here as the squeaky hinge is about never going away, no matter how many times you oil it. As that loud stranger on the street is about uselessly sharing their thoughts and feelings with everyone whether they like it or not. As annoying as a fly is about trying to go in your ear all the damned time.

Outdo the pain, Dan. Outthink it. Option 3 is what WILL happen. You'll be eating lobster soon enough.

Just hang in there, my friend.

Oh, and play this game. You hit for distance, kinda like home run derby.


Posted by: Wutzizname at April 21, 2005 10:09 AM

Dan, if misery likes company I am here with you. I just happened across this and found I have something in common with you. I too have cancer. I have a very rare form of cancer that attacks the adrenal glands. These are called Pheo's. Most Pheo's aren't malignant but 1 out of a thousand are and guess what? Mine are. I have been undergoing chemo for over a year. I had radiation several times but it wasn't successful.
I promise you that you CAN get through this.
I live each day to the fullest and I let my faith control my thoughts.
I don't know how anyone can endure chemo without faith.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.
We have to remember that to kill cancer other organs might suffer but that's okay.
Lean on the Everlasting Arms.
We are never alone!
God bless you and keep you strong.

Posted by: Lynn at April 22, 2005 12:37 PM

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