Column: Level Best

Column: Level Best


Kenneth B. Lourie

If I wanted to rationalize the benefit of delaying my heretofore every-three-week chemotherapy infusion from three weeks to four and now on to five, possibly six – and that’s dependent on improved results from a second/maybe even third retest upcoming (this retest a bit more involved than drawing blood) – I would say it’s only fitting that I should have a break/brake; after all, it is the holiday season when all good things; yada, yada, yada. If only it were that simple.

But simple is the last thing that a cancer patient’s life can be characterized as being; whether they have been “prognosed” as “terminal” as I was, or are at the beginning (diagnosis), middle (under treatment and surviving under circumstances too numerous and varied to list) or end of their cancer-affected life. And so for me to expect smooth sailing at any time during this process is totally and entirely unreasonable – and mostly, I haven’t. I’m just lucky to be in a boat with a few provisions still left in it. Ergo, this column is not a complaint, just an update, as the previous few columns had sort of led you regular readers on a bit of a walk in my shoes, although one likely without the neuropathy nearly six years of non-stop chemotherapy can exact. Still, I am mostly upright, up and about and able to handle any and all activities, especially those relating to daily living. However, right now I worry that after two consecutive three-week-interval, pre-chemotherapy lab results specifically measuring my cretanine levels (which reflects kidney function), and a second retest as well, all indicated too high/abnormal (a first-time occurrence), thereby preventing my regularly scheduled Alimta infusions – twice – if I have indeed crossed the Rubicon, so to speak. Obviously, it serves no particular purpose for me to invoke history, especially history with which I have very little familiarity. However, if some of what I’ve read concerning this historical event is true – the event’s significance notwithstanding, it has partially led to the creation-and-then-acceptance of a word’s/phrase’s figurative meaning – then I sure hope my die has not been cast.

But who knows, really? And even though this cancer stuff is all very personal – and my circumstances are unique to me as a cancer patient – I try not to take it personally, if that makes any sense? Somehow, I try to minimize the negative effect of any of it, mentally, that is. As concerns me and my treatments (starts, stops and fits), it has always been about what happens next. Until there’s no more next, there’s always what’s next. Now I have a third round of lab work next week and a 24-hour creatinine clearance collection in the interim to measure my levels as accurately as possible to help determine what happens next. Hopefully, levels will reduce, and more of the same treatment which has resulted in my unexpectedly long life expectancy and most recent “shrinkage,” can continue. But of course, there are no guarantees either. Oh, there is one: this process is excruciating.

Nevertheless, somehow the patient (or at least this patient) has to be patient and life has to be lived. Otherwise the cancer wins. And to quote Brian Dennehy, a/k/a Sheriff Cobb, from the movie “Silverado,” completely out of context: “We can’t be having any of that now, can we?”

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