I’m not sure why I wasn’t confident this time. Completely baseless, as I told Patrick. But going in to this CT scan, I was fully expecting the tumors to have grown. Part of the reason may be that I looked over the http://www.clinicaltrials.gov page recently, and I read that the goal for my trial was to have stable disease for three months. I am now at month eight. I wasn’t worried about the prospect of the trial ending for me, but I was starting to think about what might be next.
On CT scan visits, I go in a day early to get labs. I ran the back stairs around Room 5N, just like usual before getting my blood drawn. I still don’t get why that makes my WBC count go up. Then I went down for my scan and waited. I waited two and a half hours to get in this time. Something about several cardio cases ahead of me slowing things down. And my tech wanted to wait for the scanner that uses less radiation, which I appreciated. (Of course, I won’t remember which one that is next time so I won’t be able to ask for it. Not that I would.)
The next morning, I went back to Georgetown to see Dr G. First off, my WBC count is low again. It consistently measures .9, and I need a 1.0. I asked Dr G if the drug company might just let me slide as this low number is what’s normal for me. Surprisingly (to me), he said ok. Then, he gave me the good news. I can go right in to treatment number 17. Still stable disease. Still no tumor growth. I am clear for another six weeks!
I flew directly from DC to Columbus, because hard to believe, but it’s http://www.pelotonia.org weekend again. I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while. Just as Livestrong weekends could recharge my soul with unity, strength, and warrior attitude, my new Pelotonia family does the same. My Livestrong friend, Alex, was in Columbus for his first Pelotonia, and I was excited to be able to share my highlights with him. We toured the amazing James Cancer Center, which never gets old for me. I learn progressive and thoughtful new ways they are instituting patient-centered care every time I visit. This time it was the iPads that patients get to use to check on their charts, appointments, drugs, even Facebook pages while they stay at the hospital. (As Kara told us, if they feel the need to get caught up on People.com, no one is judging!) I also saw the new really cool smartphone charging stations for families in the waiting rooms.. There are even little compartments with combinations to hold the phones. Darn it, I should have taken a photo. We took Alex to the North Market, too, so I could visit my favorite Lan Viet again. Yum
There was also an emergency trip to the Apple Store. I was SUPing with Patrick right before I left Park City and dropped my phone into the reservoir in Park City not 90 seconds after this conversation:
Me: I just want to take a picture of the board.
Patrick: You are so going to drop your phone in the water.
Me: No, I’m not.
Anyway, the touchscreen on the replacement phone ($79, Yea AppleCare!) didn’t work. Now, I know this is SUCH a first world problem, but try to imagine getting a call you’ve been waiting for and you can’t answer it because YOU CAN’T ANSWER IT. I thought the top of my head was going to blow off. Luckily, Alex chauffeured me out to the store and I got yet another replacement phone. I’m in the process of seeing what didn’t transfer over (a lot) and entering my passwords into the apps (a lot) I have. Still, the working touchscreen makes me happy. I truly don’t mind being in the First World.
Opening ceremonies for Pelotonia were powerful and motivating. A woman told a story about how side effects from 16 years of cancer treatment had just about beaten her down. Then she got a new drug that not only worked for her, but didn’t make her sick. You guessed it, the drug was developed at the James. And former NFL player Chris Draft told the story of how he fell in love with a woman who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer not long after they were able to be together full-time. They moved up their wedding date, but she ran out of time just five weeks after they got married. Now, he dedicates his life to fighting this beast of a disease. There were 8,000 other stories this weekend, different from these, but all the same. One Goal.
It was about a jillion degrees on the Commons that night, but ride morning was actually cool(ish). My assignment from my incredible friend, the CEO of Pelotonia, Doug Ulman, was to get Chris Draft and his bike across the 50-mile finish line. Chris is not a small guy (duh). And he’s not ridden bikes much, never 50 miles. In fact, he showed up without a bike. Or a helmet. Or a bottle cage. And I had a 4pm flight out of Columbus, so I had a little concern that we might not make it to the finish in time for me to make my flight (at which point I would have ditched Chris. Sorry Chris, that was my plan before I actually spent a couple of hours solving the world’s problems with you.)
It turned out to be one of the best rides EVER. Flat and fun and we stopped at every rest stop and Chris talked to about a third of the nearly 8,000 riders on the road and we rolled in to New Albany in plenty of time for both of us to get out early. Chris told me how he’s working to engage new NFL players to really make a difference in their communities. Right up my alley. The miles flew by. Oh, and we had solved at least all the problems in this hemisphere by the second rest stop and the third Zone bar.
The ride has raised nearly $14 million so far this year, with millions more expected to come in. Every dollar goes to cancer research and trials at the James because the event has so much corporate support. I don’t know that there’s another organization out there that can say that. This weekend, it’s easy to get swept away by the excitement and the new funding with its possibilities and the celebration of it all. But tomorrow morning, the doctors and the researchers go back to work finding cures, treatments, new drugs and drug combinations that will extend the lives of people like me. It’s empowering and humbling to be even a small part of that team. It’s not too late to get on board:
And then, I got a call from Patrick. My sweet big orange Charlie Brown Christmas Tree cat, Teddy Brosevelt, couldn’t stand up. His back legs weren’t working. This of course happens on Friday night, just after the regular vet closes, because that’s how my cats have always rolled. Patrick drove him up to the emergency vet in Salt Lake and waited with him. But it wasn’t looking good. The vet couldn’t figure out why his legs weren’t working. The Xray didn’t tell them anything. They talked about an MRI and surgery, but really, they didn’t know what they were looking for, and even if they found something, weren’t sure they could help sweet Teddy. He stayed there getting fluids and pain meds for a couple of days. Then Patrick went to visit him, and said he just looked old and tired and sad and didn’t recognize him at first.
It was almost impossible to believe that after having him for only a couple of months that we’d have to let him go. I mean, we just went through this with Emmitt Smith, and the sharp edges of that sadness have only just started to soften. We knew this might happen. The shelter said Teddy was 12, but I always suspected he was closer to 14 or more. Our only solace, as small as it is, is that he didn’t spend his last few weeks in a shelter. He was loved. A lot. And he loved being loved and brushed and held. He loved sleeping on my head and spontaneously beginning to purr in the middle of the night. And he loved his cracknip. This won’t keep me from adopting yet another old cat when the time is right. I have much more than a soft spot for geriatric kitties (and white-faced dogs). I’d like to have them all. So, see ya later, darling Teddy. I know you and Emmitt Smith will be friends. You can talk about football.