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Column: Trip Without a Fall

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Kenneth B. Lourie

Recently, for the first time in nearly two years, I took a trip without having my car. Significant to me in that not “having my car” meant not being able to transport/have all my cancer things. And by “things” I mean all the not-prescribed-by-my-oncologist supplements I have assimilated into my treatment regimen. “Things” that are not particularly well-suited or even allowed on an airplane; impractical, but allowed on most other public conveyances, however. Specifically, I refer to gallon containers of my alkaline water (100 oz. per day), pureed asparagus which I refrigerate and “tablespoon” eight portions of a day, organic apple cider (32 oz. bottle) from which I mix a tablespoon in with my alkaline water twice a day, Green Tea extract – another liquid from which I “drop” 4 mL per day, and baking soda (I don’t want to bring white powder onto a plane) which I mix with my alkaline water once a day, typically washing down my 10 raw almonds and pancreatic enzyme pill. All part of a routine I have maintained rather assiduously ever since I was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer back in late February, 2009.

Given the fact that I am alive and still writing three and a half years after receiving a “13-month to two-year prognosis,” it is a routine which presumably has contributed something (along with the standard “lines” of chemotherapy with which I have been infused and now on to an oral medication) to my amazing survivability (median life expectancy for my type of cancer is eight months; 10 percent survive beyond 5 years). And so, any time the opportunity or even suggestion has been made for me to travel away from home, where the logistics of getting to and from would have prevented me from being able to have my cancer “things,” it has been met with very little enthusiasm – by yours truly. I don’t know which I’ve feared the most: starting chemotherapy in early March 2009 or stopping any of the routine I described in the previous paragraph, a routine I truly believe has contributed positively to my overall health. (And there will be no backsliding, either. Perhaps a few modifications. I do remain open to suggestions.)

Nevertheless, a unique set of circumstances presented themselves in July (an invite, actually) and so I decided to fly with my wife, Dina, to Bozeman, Mt. to spend a weekend with a family – the Knightons (former teachers from her high school, along with their three sons,) and a close friend, Jeff (from Pensacola, Fl. who was traveling with his wife, Sherril), all of whom (save for Sherril) have been major influences in Dina’s life, but due to time and distance had rarely been seen over the years. I certainly didn’t anticipate dying on the trip simply because I wouldn’t be able to drink my normal 100 oz. of alkaline water, with or without all my magic ingredients. However, breaking my routine does give me pause.

And this was the first ‘pause’ in a long time. And I was anxious, and afraid. But no, I wasn’t second-guessing myself. However, I was looking forward to returning home afterward and resuming my drinking (you know what I mean). But given what the reunion (of sorts) meant to Dina, and knowing – from previous first-hand experience, the quality of the individuals involved, we bought the tickets and away we went.

To say that the trip exceeded my expectations would be disparaging to any and all “expectations.” I had a great time. My wife, Dina, had a great time. And most importantly, Kenny-with-cancer (one of my handles, unfortunately) had a great time, one I will remember for years to come. The Knightons were beyond gracious and hospitable. Jeff, Dina’s friend from high school and his wife were super cool. Montana was magnificent and my routine wasn’t so routine. I survived just fine. I suppose now I’ll have to live with the consequences of my actions. In fact, I’m counting on it.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers