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Votes

Column: Now This is What

Do nothing (no more treatment) and live life to the fullest (for as long as I’m able, and right now, I’m extremely able); start another chemotherapy protocol – with an I.V. chemotherapy drug which, according to my oncologist, has not been proven in any clinical setting to be better than the patient doing nothing; or, try to get into a study (Phase 1, 2 or 3) at either N.I.H. (National Institutes of Health) or Johns Hopkins (in Baltimore) and let the treatment chips fall wherever experimental/research medicine takes them. This is what my oncologist discussed with Team Lourie at my most recent appointment, my first appointment with him since my hospitalization and subsequent release.

It was my decision, of course. My oncologist, as he has opted to do so in the past when similar treatment options have been considered, tried to remain neutral, yet informative and responsive to our questions. He did offer up some personal opinions/assessments when we pressed him which turned out, oddly enough, to be contrary to mine. His feeling was, if he was the patient (and feeling as good I do), that he’d forgo any additional treatment – conventional or otherwise, and “take as many vacations as possible.” As compelling as his extremely honest answer was, I/we decided not to give up quite yet and instead I authorized him to make inquiries about getting me into a study at one of the preeminent research facilities in the world: National Institutes of Health, especially considering they’re located approximately 30 minutes by car from my home.

In conjunction with this decision, I am also going to recommit myself to a more non-traditional, immune system-boosting/heal-thyself-type dietary pursuit that for the past four-and-a-half years has not – in total – been a part of my anti-cancer lifestyle: juicing organic fruits and vegetables, very specifically to include wheat grass and carrots; ingesting a drop or two of hemp oil per day and Berry Green (another super food/super healer: nutrient-rich and loaded with antioxidants); none of which is of course FDA-approved. Nevertheless, if my life is to go on (and I feel as if it should – duh!), it feels like now is the time to ramp up, especially considering the admission by my oncologist that he has no more anti-cancer drugs that he feels offer any real hope in stabilizing/shrinking my tumors and/or reducing/preventing the inevitable fluid build-up common with my diagnosis. Unsettling, sort of, after 54 months, but after assimilating and digesting his news/medical opinions, I view this more as an opportunity. The doctors have done what they can do – responsibly, ethically; now it’s time for me to do what I can do.

Certainly I’ll have lots of questions – and anxiety – moving forward, but if I indeed want to move forward and live, repeating the past seems unlikely to be the answer (and quite frankly, after enduring multiple lines of chemotherapy already, the protocols actually don’t allow it). I think I’m ready for the change, though (what choice do I have, really?); scared of course, but eager for the challenge. I’ve lived this long – post-diagnosis, against all odds (or so I was told originally); I’d like to think (hope certainly) that I can live a little bit longer.