Deadlines

“I love deadlines. I especially like the sound they make as they go whooshing by.” – Douglas Adams

I had January 1st pegged as the date of my big comeback. Start my press tour. Cut a duet with Rihanna. Perhaps be the Grand Marshall at the Rose Bowl parade (damn you Captain Chesley Sullenberger III!).

But alas – I had to hold off another  couple of weeks into the new year.

The good news is: I’m cancer free. My latest PET scans confirmed that. There were some questions about a very, very faint hotspot but the doc’s think its nothing to be concerned about. We will follow up on the next PET scan.

My tumor never really reduced in size. I still have a 10cm lump of tissue in my chest that they think will eventually harden into scar tissue. Although it’s not affecting my heart, lungs or vitals, it was still creating the SVC syndrome that had been giving me problems for the past year and change. I still got dizzy when I bent over. Headaches. Pain behind my eyes. I still wasn’t able to work, exercise or perform any moderate activity. It’s one of the reason that I stopped writing on my blog – it was difficult to concentrate.

The other good news is: I got the stent that I needed.

This past Wednesday, I went into Santa Monica hospital and got my portacath removed and a stent put in in the same procedure. My doctor was fantastic and everything went very well. He was able to widen my Vena Cava from 2mm to 12mm. I now feel 6x better.

I won’t go into details about the procedure, but there was a good bit of me getting wheeled around the hospital (to the wrong places), a fair bit of shaving and I got to take my port home with me afterwards as a keepsake.

Cancer free. No more SVC syndrome.

Ta da.

Why so anti-climactic, Steve? Why no celebration or big announcement? Why do you kind of sound like (pardon the expression) a douche?

Well, first of all, I didn’t go on this journey alone. Because of this blog, I took a lot of you with me along for the ride. And there are certain people in my life now who have had their own share of ups and downs with cancer – Karin, JJ and others. I wish that everyone could have the same outcome as I’ve had. But cancer doesn’t work that way. And that brings me down.

Also, I was told recently that someone said of my clear scans and recent improvement – “It must feel like being re-born.” Although I appreciate the sentiment of this statement, I can’t say I agree with it.

The scars are too fresh. I’m not sure exactly what lesson I’ve learned through all this. I’ll always live with the fear of cancer coming back. Although I’m almost back to ‘normal’, I’m no longer sure exactly what normal is. And part of me feels guilty to be…dare I say it…cured.

I’m extremely grateful. To all of you. To my doctor’s and nurses. My wife and family. I’ve seen the best parts of people and learned a lot about myself and those around me. I’m grateful to not have those chemicals injected in me anymore. To not spend my weekends throwing up. To not have to smell the smell of the doctor’s office every week. I’m grateful for so so many things.

But ‘reborn’? I never died. I just…changed. And now, I’m changed back. But different.

So, I guess I’m learning who this new, changed version of me is right now.

For me, the challenge of being a cancer patient wasn’t only about being a healthier person. It is in some ways about being a better person. I’m not sure why that is. I feel, in some way, that this is also part of the process of being cured.

I’ll continue to keep you informed as to what secrets of life become revealed to me.

As always – thank you for the love and support. I couldn’t have done it without you.

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5 responses to “Deadlines

  1. Geoff and Candy

    Wonderful to turn on the computer (on a snow-free Sunday morning in England) and to read your hot-off-the press news!! We are very happy to hear things are going so well for you and, yes, it does make us think of others who haven’t been so fortunate – so sad to hear of your good friend’s valiant struggle against the disease. We loved seeing you and Jen just before Christmas and look forward to a ‘return match’ in England this summer! All our love to you both.

  2. I have followed your blog off and on since the beginning. I just touched base with you (it) again and I’m happy to read that you are cancer free – congrats big time – but truly your thoughts after hit me as being incredibly poignant. You are a better person for making this journey, hard as it is, you have done it and managed at the same time to help those around you – with or without cancer – we all benefit from you greatness. Mahalo (i’m in Hawaii) for sharing your talk-story. Life is good, even if just for a spark of a moment on the planet – it’s a reckoning to be grateful for. You are and you helped me to be too. Love to you and your family.

    • Ginger – thank you for for the kind words. If all that comes of my experience is touching a few people with my story – then that’s enough for me. I hope my story helps others find their way somehow. Now that I’m on the ‘other side’ of my treatments, I look back on a lot of the supportive words and advice that I got from other cancer survivors. Although it was difficult to believe at the time, there is a special kind of wisdom that comes from going through this experience. I hope my words can lift up others, the way their words lifted up me. Maholo to you, as well.

  3. I’m so happy for you, and your wife, Steve. I know it’s been a long, tough road and I’ve really appreciated your honesty and raw humor throughout it. Please keep writing as you discover “life’s secrets”. Your insight has meant so much to me and I know it will help get me through this next endeavor! All my best, always!

  4. Good Post, i would like to know about more updates.

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