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About this blog

KennethLourie_t210_0.jpgThis column is my life as one of the fortunate few, a lung cancer anomaly: a stage IV lung cancer patient who has outlived his doctor’s original prognosis; and I’m glad to share it. It seems to help me cope writing about it. Perhaps it will help you relate reading about it.

Entries in this blog

I'll Think About That Tomorrow

What I'm thinking about - and being thankful for, today, is the disappearance of all the side effects I've been experiencing during the last four weeks or so since I began my pill regimen for my papillary thyroid cancer treatment. Too many to list but upwards of a dozen side effects which encompass all activities from those of daily living to others pertaining to just plain living. Let me reprint the warning that came with the pills: "People using this medication may have serious side effects. H

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"And Awaaay We Go!"

As Jackie Gleason would say as he segued from his monologue into the sketch comedy that followed on his Saturday night entertainment hour on CBS. So too does my entertainment - or lack thereof, continue. Six weeks or so after my treatment for thyroid cancer (three pills a day) began, per doctor's orders, we have put a halt to the proceedings. Due to increasing values in my bi-weekly lab work (monitored exactly for this purpose), specifically my kidney and liver functions, I am standing down and

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 o

And So It Continues

Two-plus weeks into my thyroid cancer treatment, all is as I anticipated. I'm still not in a comfort zone, routine-wise, nor side effect-wise, I am feeling some predicted discomfort. I won't self-indulge and list the difficulties that I'm having. I will say that even though I'm extremely thankful not to have experienced any of the more severe side effects (blood clots, arrhythmia), I have felt something. The 'something' I've felt has been made more complicated due to the synthroid pill I take da

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Canceritis

There are two generic types of cancer: the cancer that you have, and the cancer that has you. And the yin and yang is what defines 'canceritis.' The internal struggle between being defined by your disease versus living a life in spite of your disease. The former is easy; you're a victim of an insidious, in some cases, incurable disease that causes myriad problems, shall we say; physically, emotionally and psychologically. The latter is hard. Sometimes, overcoming the former in order to live the

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And So It Begins

Eleven years, six months and two weeks, approximately, after being diagnosed with "terminal" cancer (stage IV non-small cell lung cancer), I have begun my treatment for stage IV papillary thyroid cancer. I'll be taking three pills a day, all at once, same time every day. The list of possible side effects are as long and scary as it presumably gets (blood clots, arrhythmia, to highlight just a few). I doubt its bluster. Likely somewhere between it depends and probably. Every patient is different

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Cancer For Dummies: Me

As I was telling my long-time friend, Rita, over the phone on Saturday afternoon, as a cancer patient - and I know this is going to sound ridiculous, short-sighted and stupid - I am not always forthcoming and honest when it comes to sharing new symptoms with my doctors, particularly my oncologist. Aside from the obvious discomfort neglecting a new problem would cause, not telling my doctors everything, all the time, prevents me from learning - for a brief moment anyway, exactly what either of my

Not Exactly the "Canswer" I Was Hoping For

If this past week's test results (EKG, blood pressure and lab work) pass muster, then I will join the ranks, full-time, of the thyroid cancer community. At present, the medical plan is to pivot, completely, from any lung cancer treatment - which for the past 18 months has been immunotherapy bi-weekly, and focus instead, exclusively, on my stage IV, papillary thyroid cancer. If I can go forward, I'll be taking three pills a day, at home. No more visits to the Infusion Center and, of course, no mo

"Extensive Metastatic Disease"

Well, I certainly don't like the sound of that, and I especially didn't like reading it in the "impressions" part of the radiologist's report I received Friday summarizing the previous Wednesday's PET scan. Though hardly a surprise given a thoracic surgeon's description of my original PET scan 11 and 1/2 years ago: "You lit that thing up like a Christmas tree." Still, I would have rather read something a bit less ominous. But I don't suppose being diagnosed with two types of cancer (non-small ce

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Safeguarding My Future

Whether or not I'm certain about my attitude toward being a dual cancer threat (non-small cell lung and papillary thyroid, cancer), only my subconscious knows for sure. This was recently made clear to when I provided my supermarket shopping preferences to my wife, Dina, who for reasons she takes very seriously (my health) won't let me go into stores to buy anything. Ergo, my list. And I may add, there is much adieu about those preferences. It's like a negotiation. Though not exactly partisan, th

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Wait. What?

"Thyroid cancer." Again? I thought the point of last week's surgical biopsy was to genetically-sequence a lung cancer tumor. Now you tell me the radiologist/pathologist found more thyroid cancer. As it already has happened, my oncologist - in coordination with my endocrinologist, said that my most recent CT scan showed "excellent results" (from my previous thyroid cancer treatment - which ended with radioiodine therapy), and furthermore noted that the thyroid cancer was confined to my neck. Yet

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Growing Pains

After more than six months away from the infusion center, due to the treatment for my papillary thyroid cancer stage II, I make my return on Wednesday, July 22. My non-small cell lung cancer stage IV, for which I have been treated since early March 2009, once again becomes front and center after having been back-burnered since early January while we addressed my thyroid cancer. Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the risk of miscellaneous drug/treatment interactions, both cancers coul

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It's a Twofer

And not just Tuesday, either. All week in fact, I'll be waiting to hear the music. One day, I'll hear from my oncologist and on another day, I'll hear from my endocrinologist. What I'll hear first is the status of my underlying non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV (diagnosed Feb. 2009) and later in the week, I'll get results concerning my most recent party crasher: papillary thyroid cancer, stage II, diagnosed Jan. 2020. This will be the first time I will have been waiting for results simultaneo

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Questions and "Canswers"

"Very interesting," to quote Artie Johnson from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," that "crazy-kooky" comedy show from the 70s. What's interesting is what my oncologist will say concerning the July 6th CT scan of my upper torso (lungs), the first such scan I will have had in almost six months. That interval being twice the usual and customary three month schedule I've been on for years. The reason for this abnormally long interval? As you regular readers know, I was being treated for my second can

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Mourning, Afternoon, and Evening

We had to euthanize Biscuit, our oldest cat on Saturday, June 20th. He would have been 14 on September 20th. Biscuit is survived by his half-brother, Andrew and his two half sisters, Sloane and Twinkle. Biscuit's litter mate and brother, "Chino" preceded him in death in November, 2019, after succumbing to diabetes. Biscuit had likewise been diagnosed with diabetes around the same time as "Chino." However, as occasionally happens, according to Biscuit's veterinarian, some cats "spontaneously" ove

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Masking My True Feelings

For those of us living in states where mask-wearing is mostly mandatory (indoors: yes, outdoors: not nearly as much), it is very easy to hide one's emotions. If your mouth is undercover, and being that it is located under your nose and above your chin, it most definitely is, communicating with the public has become strictly verbal. Body language as personified by the expression on one's face has become non grata. All that remains above the mask are your eyes and - to a much lesser effect - your

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Taking the Results in Stride

Apparently, I'm back in the lung cancer business. According to the video visit I had June 8 with my endocrinologist, my thyroid cancer has not moved into my lungs where my oncologist thought it might have - given the results of a previous biopsy and some surprising tumor inactivity in my lungs. The 'surprising inactivity:' the tumors didn't kill me. Living, as they say, is the best reward. And it sure beats the alternative. Nevertheless, I can't say I'm thrilled with the outcome. All the tu

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The News of My Death ...

... is greatly exaggerated." So said Mark Twain. So said W.C. Fields. And so said Kenny Lourie. And the reason I am now saying it is because of what correspondence I received in my personal inbox accessed through my HMO's online site. What I received was a condolence letter (sort of a form letter, quite frankly), addressed to the Lourie family from my oncologist expressing his sadness at my "passing" and his "privilege to have participated in the care of Kenneth Blacker Lourie" (me). Then, a bit

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Night and Now Daze

That wasn't so bad. Approximately 29 hours in the hospital in a private room and all I had to do was drink as much water as possible and shower half a dozen times. The goal being to rid myself of the radioiodine I had been given at the beginning of my admission. This "therapy" is used to measure the iodine related to my papillary thyroid cancer and to determine presumably, whether in fact the tumors in my lungs are thyroid cancer which has moved, whether it's still lung cancer, or both. To

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Time Will Have Been Told

In two days I will have completed four weeks on my low iodine diet (no chocolate, no salt, no dairy, no bread) with four days remaining until my one-night hospital admission and subsequent seven-day medical quarantine at home. If I remember correctly, the substance of the hour-long phone conversation we had with a doctor from the Nuclear Medicine department previous to my beginning this thyroid cancer treatment process, on Friday--the day after my "radioiodine therapy"--my eating can return to i

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Time Will Tell

Nearly three weeks into my low iodine diet, in preparation for my hospital overnight on May 28 when I will get my radioactive iodine therapy to be followed immediately by a medical quarantine at home for a week, I wouldn't say I'm thriving. More like persevering. I can't really satiate eating "rabbit" food and what culinary pleasures I can enjoy, I can only have them in small quantities and infrequently at that. I won't give you a list, but just consider what any 10-year-old likes to eat. A

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What's Today?

After six weeks or so of isolating at home and working hardly at all, I believe it's time to invoke Violet Crawley (aka Maggie Smith), "the Dowager Countess of Grantham," and wonder aloud: "What's a weekend?" Every day feels like some other day or no day at all because the days in and of themselves are meaningless/indistinguishable. I mean, you can't go anywhere, you can't do anything; thankfully, you can use your phone and access your computer, but at the end of the same-old-day, you're basical

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Hair Today, Not Gone Tomorrow

Sheltering in place while isolating at home, like so many others are, in Maryland, where non-essential businesses remain closed, means life has mostly come to a screeching halt. And unlike Georgia and nearly 30 other common-sense offenders, salons - among many other trying-to-get-going concerns, are not open. Moreover, given the social-distancing guidelines and the stay-at-home mandate, it's unlikely I'll be receiving any service providers in my home either. And considering that I'm not running

And So It Begins

The six-week schedule/treatment for my stage II papillary thyroid cancer began on Thursday, April 23 with an hour-long telephone appointment with one of the doctors from the Nuclear Medicine department. He was confirming, clarifying, and preparing yours truly for the arduous task at hand: a commitment to a month-long, low iodine diet beginning April 27 (no salt, no sugar, no dairy, no normal-type bread and a bunch of other less impactful nos) and 15 on-site hospital-related visits (in lab, in do

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Wholesale Change

Since I'm not doing the food and pharmacy out-of-the-house shopping anymore, as I have for the last 40 years (as I may have mentioned in last week's column: "Money For What":),  I am no longer in control of what we buy and how much we spend. The pandemic and my upcoming thyroid cancer treatment have combined to empower my wife, Dina, to set fairly strict guidelines. Primarily that I am to stay put in the house ALL THE TIME and that during my isolation, she will fill the purchasing vacuum. The ef

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