Column: Down and Not Out, Yet

Column: Down and Not Out, Yet


Kenneth B. Lourie

Thankfully (so far as I know, which isn’t very far), after a five-week interval between infusions, which included two additional weeks of pre-chemotherapy lab work and an out-of-the-ordinary 24-hour urine collection (“creatinine clearance”) to boot – to more accurately measure my kidney function in hopes of meeting a 1.6 threshold – muster was finally passed, and I was subsequently infused without any further adieu. Planning forward, Ron, my oncology nurse, said that we should return to our usual-and-customary three-week interval for chemotherapy as well as the normal pre-chemotherapy lab work – with no “creatinine clearance.” And given that I’m alive and reasonably well six years post-diagnosis by following a similar protocol, I’d be hesitant to get off the horse I’ve been riding so successfully – mostly – since early 2009, so I’m prepared to saddle up once again.

However, I do wonder if this five-week interval, which ultimately showed my creatinine level/kidney function returning to normal, might suggest that a rest-for-the-chemotherapy-weary might not be all bad. My Certified Holistic Health and Fitness Coach, Rebecca, feels that after six years of nearly non-stop chemotherapy, its toxicity has probably caused enough internal organ damage; “shrinkage” and all notwithstanding. Chemotherapy is hardly a non-corrosive additive. It does what it does, but there are consequences/side effects to be sure, many of which are not pretty and hardly worth waiting for. The question is: Is stopping and/or delaying any kind of conventional treatment, with which I have become most familiar during my six years of treatment, a new beginning or a tragic end? Generally speaking, I feel fine. Still, I’m not Alfred E. Neuman from Mad Magazine, so “What, Me Worry?” Yes. Cancer is not for the faint of heart, so challenges persist, whether the circumstances are good, bad or indifferent. It is impossible to leave well enough alone – for me, anyway.

As a result, I have a present that in the past was a future not promised. Initially I was told by my oncologist that he could treat me but that he couldn’t cure me. Oddly, at the time, I didn’t really grasp the obviousness of his statement, nor I imagine, did team Lourie. They were words with which we were familiar certainly, but their meaning sort of escaped us. Soon thereafter however, we learned what it all meant, and over the proceeding years, have become a little bit better at comprehending what the medical staff has been telling us. Now, our regular and seemingly recurring conversation is about creatinine and kidney function. It’s likely my body is indeed under stress – after six years of chemotherapy. Nevertheless, given my most recent CT Scan result, as well as my eventually-reducing-to-normal creatinine level, I am going to continue to roll the dice. Perhaps I’m being penny-wise/pound foolish or just plain foolish and not too wise. Unfortunately, nobody really knows for sure, and besides, when you’re life hangs in the balance, it’s seems whatever decisions are to be made, should be made by the patient. So I will continue to employ Rebecca’s advice in hopes that the supplements and all that she has advised I take over the last six years continue to strengthen my immune system enough to offset the likely damage the chemotherapy is causing along its cancer-cell-killing way. I realize it’s not perfect, but it’s a living. THANK GOD.

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