Opinion: Column: An Update About Some Down Time

Opinion: Column: An Update About Some Down Time

Not that I want to give you a blow-by-blow concerning my treatment switch over to thyroid cancer from lung cancer, but the last two columns were written four weeks ago in the same week in expectation of a weekend away, so these observations will be new-ish in that they will be hot off the press, so to speak. Away with the kind of friends who are empathetic, sympathetic and who never make me feel pathetic in any of my struggles. In short, the best kind of friends. This is important because when one in the group goes above and beyond in the wrong direction, like heading from one's present cancer direction to a yet altogether new less desirable cancer direction: stable non small cell lung cancer stage 4 being treated with immunotherapy to stage 4 papillary thyroid cancer being treated with chemotherapy, is hardly a conversation that makes for fun even if I now have my own sort of "BOGO." And though the shopping “buy” may be familiar, the cancer “buy” is not nearly so familiar. Generally speaking a "BOBO offer is of interest, a cancer one not so much. In fact, it's not much of a bargain at all.

The worst of now being treated for papillary thyroid cancer is the array of side effects which are manifesting. They're not exactly debilitating, they're just one big nuisance broken into about eight different nuisances - and I will spare you the details. The net effect of all these side effects is that for the first time in approximately two years, and I feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to say this, once again I feel like I have cancer. And though it's unlikely it's simply side effects which are doing all the talking, rather than the cancer metastasizing, which it already has anyway since the thyroid cancer is now in the lungs, it's impossible not to consider the consequences. I mean cancer doesn't just travel around to make new friends and influence people. It sort of has a task: to damage and destroy. And I have to admit: feeling as if I didn't have cancer is much more preferred than how I feel now.

Nevertheless, it's not as if I feel at death's door (well, not the front door anyway). It's more a feeling of death being at the back door. Not a direct assault, mind you, more of an indirect one. And I'm sure they still count as much as all the others. Unfortunately, I fear an accumulation of these indirect assaults can cause as much cumulative damage as a direct hit. Ergo, I'm wondering if this rear-type assault/indirect-type hit is an indication of future/perhaps even present trouble? Moreover, I wonder if having to defend myself on two fronts (primary and secondary) will weaken the resistance. Because as many World War II movies as I've seen, the resistance rarely seemed to have enough supplies to carry out their mission.

Being in a new battle, even it involves familiar elements: blood pressure readings, EKGs, CT scans, lab and face-to-face appointments, doesn't totally regularize the experience. The reason being that this familiarity is breeding contempt because I have been there and done that. Yet, here here I am having to do it all over again and I find myself quoting Shakespeare or the Three Stooges: "something is rotten in Denmark."

Being a cancer patient is like being unable to send your legs out for a walk as Lt. Com. Henry Blake wanted to after a long period of surgery during a particularly high-casualty episode on the television series, M•A•S•H. And as a previously diagnosed as "terminal" cancer patient, neither can I disconnect from my mortality thoughts any more than Henry could exercise his legs. So what I'm left with is either bucking up or venting to friends and family. I'm lucky to have an outlet. I imagine it is much more difficult for those who don't.