I've been working as an advertising representative for Connection Newspapers since February 1997. I responded to an ad in the newspaper, of course. The edition for which I am primarily responsible is the Potomac Almanac, although I can place ads in any of our other 14 newspapers. In addition, I have written a weekly, award-winning, column going on nearly 14 years, as of December 2011.
"Thoughtful humor and insightful commentary" and "Everything in general about nothing in particular" are two characterizations with which I am most comfortable.
Born in Brookline, Mass., I remain a loyal Boston sports fan, committed (or rather should be) and loyal member of Red Sox Nation. To set foot on the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park would be an experience I'd spend the rest of my life cherishing. I remember exactly where I was when Carlton Fisk hit his game-winning home run in game six of the 1975 World Series.
One of my greatest fears (or regrets, if I am in fact the cause of my own decline) is that my own stubbornness, stupidity, “male blockheadedness” and/or refusal to believe/pay attention to signs, symptoms, indications and instructions/health advisories from my oncologist about my health will lead to my premature death.
As much as I don’t want to be cognizant of date, time and place, relative to February 27, 2009 when Team Lourie first received the stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis on yours truly, I am (a terminal diagnosis will do that to you). Moreover, as often as I write about the need to live forward, rather than die backward (if you know what I mean), I still struggle with the application.
…for ice cream; from Brigham’s in Boston, the local New England establishment of my youth where I spent dollars – although it was likely cents back in those days – many afternoons, evenings and weekends.
Not only did last week’s CT Scan indicate shrinkage, where necessary – and stability, where hoped for – it also accomplished these hoped-for goals after only two months of chemotherapy (still infused every three weeks) rather than the normal three months of chemotherapy. So depending on how the calendar/treatment schedule actually fell, I probably received two fewer infusions than usual, yet all the radiological indications – and interpretations – continue to be encouraging; after five and a half years, no less. I think I’m entitled to use the word amazing – and lucky, too.
And so it goes, every three months or so; a CT Scan, a week or so of waiting, and then a face-to-face appointment with my oncologist to learn/discuss the results. Thankfully, the results continue to be amazing. My doctor has told me that I’m his third miracle; stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer patients generally don’t live beyond two years. I’m in year six.
The biggest writing problem that I have, other than the ones you regular readers generally know about, is writing a current column on the weekend immediately preceding the next Wednesday’s publication date, when I am still waiting on results from my most recent CT Scan. This isn’t like putting the cart before the horse, this is more like putting the horse in the cart and pulling it.
Not that I’ve felt that my attitude toward being diagnosed with stage IV (“terminal”) non-small cell lung cancer at age 54-and-one-half was ever to be considered as model behavior, but I do believe, after the initial shock wore off, eventually I assimilated its effects into my routine reasonably well. Not without a million bumps and bruises along the way, however, both physically and emotionally; nevertheless, though time has not healed all that has preceded this column, I’ve managed to find and maintain an extremely delicate balance between “joie de vivre” and “c’est la vie.”
When it comes to being a cancer patient, even more so a multi-year cancer survivor, I have always erred on the side of caution. And by caution, I mean being respectful to the disease, courteous of its comings and goings, mindful of its potential damage and afraid of its intangibles. And by intangibles, I mean the unexplained and the inexplicable, and most fearfully, its power and unpredictability. Therefore, my behavior toward it has been intended to be as polite as possible; never to be perceived – in any way imaginable – as arrogant, presumptuous, in control, all-knowing and most especially, victorious.
At present, July 12th, I’m halfway, approximately, between my last CT Scan which showed a previously unseen silver-dollar sized growth in my lower left lung and my next CT Scan scheduled for August 6th, one month earlier than my usual three-month interval in order to make an evaluation sooner rather than later; to determine if this is new growth or nothing more than old growth that is now visible due to the combination of shrinking tumors and dissipating fluid opening up the viewing area, so to speak. Apparently, the chemotherapy drug, Alimta, with which I’ve been infused every three weeks since last September appears to be doing its hoped-for job: shrinkage.
“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” Although this quote is from Michael Corleone from “The Godfather: Part III,” it very much characterizes my daily struggle being a terminal cancer patient; non small cell lung cancer, NSCLC, is like that, almost always. Even though I don’t want to think about the fact that I have cancer, or not let it affect my judgment on life – or perspective; or let it impede my path to a happier existence, more often than not, it does.