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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

Bedridden in Burtonsville

It all started innocently enough: on Crystal Beach in Galveston, Texas while enjoying a family vacation. Due to 11 years of chemotherapy, I have neuropathy in both feet. As a result, I never walk barefoot, especially on a beach, unless of course, I go into the water. Which on the Saturday before last, I did. When I returned to my beach chair, with my feet all sandy and wet, I elected not to put my sneakers and socks on for the 50-yard walk back to our accommodations. Oh (literally), how I wish I

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Time to Kill

(Again, not a cancer column. Given the title, it would be a pretty gruesome reference to my life in the cancer world if it were.) No. Not even close to a cancer column. But I am writing about a similar mind-numbing experience. However, this experience has nothing to do with disease/dying. Instead, it has to do with the effort, patience and excruciating lack of success in attempting to contact, meaning speaking to an actual person, at the Internal Revenue Service and/or at the Social Securit

I'm the Big Winner

(Not a cancer column.) For the past six months or so, I have been the email-recipient of $50 gift cards to numerous to count/tally. They have run the gamut from Ace Hardware to Zappos.com and everything in between like CVS, Kohls, Walmart; you name it. I have rarely clicked on any of these "giveaways" because the one time I did, the answers required on the site - to claim my winnings, seemed a bit intrusive, as in what they were asking was none of their business. If they truly want to incentiviz

And the "Scancer" Is ...

... stable, with a side of shrinkage, however modest. No jeopardy here, final or otherwise. Simply more of the same here, but hardly ho hum. A  status quo with which I am fond of writing: I can live. Promises and guarantees left the building on that fateful day in late February, 2009 when an oncologist who I had previously never met summarized my condition and identified it as stage IV, non small cell lung cancer. A "terminal" disease if there ever was one, and of course there are many. And alon

The Masks are Off ...

... and I suppose life is back on, especially for those of us who have been vaccinated. No more hiding your emotions and expressions behind your face-covering as you once again start interacting with the general public. They can see you and, of course, you can see them - and you can hear/understand them, too. Conversations will flow more evenly now that they won't be interrupted by an "Excuse me, I can't understand you," or a "Could you please repeat that?" Conversations that were previously aff

A False Sense of Security

As previously referred to in a recent column, even though I am hardly cancer-free; nonetheless, I am cancer interruptus for the next four weeks. That means I have no cancer-related activities: no lab work, no scans, no infusions, no injections, no appointments, no video visits, no interaction whatsoever. Other than taking my daily thyroid cancer pill (the side effects of which are marginal at worst), with which I ingest another 50-plus pills (supplements and so forth), I am, too quote my late fa

Wanna Take A Chance?

I'm sort of invoking Southwest Airlines here, but not exactly. What I am invoking are the incredible number of television and radio commercials for legal gambling sites and for car insurance. Both offer rewards while requiring payment upfront. In anecdotal fact, if it wasn't for these two entities advertising on television especially, and on radio to a lesser degree, the airwaves would be a lot less redundant. I'm so used to seeing Flo from Progrssive, LiMu Emu and Doug from Liberty Mutual and a

Hitting The Nail on the Head

What are all these "Toe Nail Clipper" emails I receive nearly every day? And how do these senders know that I'm actually the perfect recipient. Toe nail clippers and cuticle trimmers have been the bane of my existence going back as far as I can remember. And as recently as I care to mention, these two accessories have been front and center on my bedside table, in a drawer in my living room coffee table, in my car's console/glove box and in any suitcase/overnight bag I take with me out of town. T

A Shot in the Arm

Literally and figuratively. After a year or so living the pandemic life - staying at home/quarantining, wearing a mask, social distancing, washing my hands and watching the death toll from covid-19 top 500,000 in the United States alone - I recently became of the lucky ones to have been injected with a vaccine. I have to wait another two weeks to get my second shot. No worries. I have some protection now, but according to Dr. Fauci, the second/follow-up shot increases one's protection "tenfold."

Cancerversary

I realize I'm cancer-centric, especially in these columns, but for some reason that centricity didn't acknowledge my February 27th cancer anniversary. That date, in 2009, is when I was originally diagnosed with stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, the "terminal" kind. I remember it well. It was a Thursday. It was the initial Team Lourie meeting with my soon-to-be new best friend: my oncologist. A week or so prior, I had received the first indication - from my primary care physician, that my lif

Back to Abnormal

Well, those last two weeks were kind of fun (comparatively speaking) to the dozen or so previous weeks. 'Fun', when you're a cancer patient experiencing side effects from treatment, is a moderation, absence even of said effects. My recent two-week break from taking my thyroid cancer medication was due to those side effects. Mentioned in a previous column, I was having balance and dizziness issues. In short, I couldn't walk or drive - for that matter, in a straight line. After consulting with my

Not That I Don't Understand But...

...So this is what the process is like trying to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination. If you're lucky though, you receive an email reminder - since you've pre-registered, advising you that the time to strike is now. You click on the link, and as I'm witnessing, you wait your turn. The site says there's "High Traffic," and they'll be with you momentarily. There's no calling. There's barely any responding. There's simply sitting and staring - and waiting. There's no indication of how long you'll be wa

If Michael Corleone Had Lung Cancer

"Just when I thought I was out ... they pull me back in." And just when I thought I had a month off from cancer-related appointments, infusions, scans and lab work, et cetera, I experienced a new symptom the other day which warranted an unexpected brain MRI. Though I delayed a few days in sharing my new symptom, on Thursday I emailed my oncologist. Within the day (not nearly soon enough for my wife, Dina), I received a call from my doctor. After a brief conversation during which I described my s

"Clinical Correlation Suggested"

Means what exactly? That was the suggestion written by the pathologist after "non-small cell lung cancer" was written in the "diagnosis" section of the pathology report completed after my original surgical biopsy was performed at Holy Cross Hospital in early 2009. I had never seen this document until this past week, finally retrieving it after nearly 12 years, represents a kind of symmetry. Though 2009 is when my life as an officially-diagnosed-lung-cancer patient began, I am not at all prepared

Progress, I Guess?

I received in the mail today what, in the sales/marketing world, we'd call a "pre-approach" letter. It was a letter confirming that my healthcare provider is aware of me and my COVID needs. Moreover, it offered up the tantalizing notion that one day (although they didn't specify) when it is my turn, I will indeed get contacted/scheduled for my inoculation. Unfortunately, they couldn't be any more specific because their allotment of vaccines barely scratches the surface of the actual need. Nevert

Reoriented

Or to quote my high school baseball coach: "Reorientated." A cancer diagnosis, especially a "terminal" one, can cause that. However, what I'm addressing this week is money: what to do with what you have when you didn't expect you'd still have it. And by 'have it,' I mean you're still alive and you still have some control over what to do with it. What this previous paragraph questions is what to do with the money you've accumulated your whole life after you've outlived your original prognosi

Cancer and COVID-19...

...don't exactly go together like milk and cookies. Rather, they go together like snow and ice. One or the other is bad enough, but together they become even worse. And unfortunately I have one and am constantly worried/mindful of the other. Moreover, since COVID is kind of a pulmonary issue, those of us who have cancer in the lungs, where we're already compromised, need to contract a virus like this like Washington, DC needs a "wintry mix'' in the forecast. In the course of my ongoing papi

In Effect, a Trade

Incurable but treatable non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV for incurable but treatable papillary thyroid cancer stage IV. And though it may have taken a while to get re-diagnosed (nearly 11 years), the eagle, as they say, apparently has landed. Nevertheless, I'm glad to still be here. Let me amend that. After being given my first "terminal" diagnosis in late February, 2009, with an accompanying "13 month to two year" prognosis, I am glad to be anywhere. Still, it would have been preferred had

New Year, Old Problem: Cancer

As I sit and write here, with too much time on my hands, I can't help but consider my lot in life. In a little less than two months: Feb. 20, I will celebrate (if that's even the right word), the 12-year anniversary of my original cancer diagnosis. On that date, I received a phone call at work from my internal medicine doctor advising me that the previous week's surgical biopsy indicated a malignancy in my lungs. The following week, Team Lourie was sitting in an oncologist's office waiting for t

Trip, and Hopefully Not a Fall

Having recently returned from a driving sojourn through the south with stops and stays in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida visiting four sets of friends in those three states, I can say with certainty that wearing masks, social distancing and common sense consideration for your fellow citizen were not nearly so accepted as we had hoped. Though we didn't exactly mingle with the masses, we were, nonetheless, in unchartered territory. As such, my wife and I will be getting COVID tests aft

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Three Strikes ...

... and now I'm out - of the Handel's Messiah sweepstakes. The sweepstakes being to write in 50 words or less on "Why do you love Handel's Messiah?" All I can answer is one word: Hallelujah, and I don't mean the chorus either. 'Three strikes' refers to the number of times I have now been subjected to this "holiday tradition." The first time I was an attendee - with thousands of other Washingtonians. in a jam-packed National Cathedral one Christmas season. The second time, while visiting my fathe

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"Medican't" Take It Anymore

The non-stop - or, so it seems - television advertising letting all of us viewers know that the 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment window is about to slam shut is nearly over. For those of us age 65 or older, this is not an opportunity to ignore. And given the frequency and repetition (the commercials are repeated, rarely ever different), at least on the channels that I watch (maybe that's the problem?), I feel like Bill Murray reliving his previous 24 hours endlessly in the movie Groundhog Day. Howe

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A Bone to Pick

Not that I'm the most-stressed about it, but I am at least stressed about a bone scan I'm having this week. The reason being that thyroid cancer that's metastasized - which mine has, sometimes moves to the bones. And since I have some knee-hip discomfort, particularly when I get up from a seated position, my oncologist ordered this two-step diagnostic process: an injection of something followed a few hours later by the actual scan to assess the damage. Not that I want to look for trouble (since

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A Question of Time

Let us presume, for the sake of this column, that I only have papillary thyroid cancer stage IV, and that my years as a non-small cell lung cancer patient, also stage IV, are over. If true, it begs the question, which I have been asked twice since this recategorization has become - in my circle anyway, public knowledge: how does it make me feel (to no longer be one scan result away from having months to live to now having years to live)? As obvious an answer as it should be: I can't exactly get

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I'm Here to Report

As my brother, Richard, has often said: "If the oncologist is happy then I'm happy." Let me update that sentiment slightly: "If the endocrinologist is happy then I'm happy." And so we should all be happy. Yesterday, I had my post CT scan telephone appointment with my endocrinologist to discuss the previous day's lab work and the two days previous scan. She was "very encouraged." "News," as I told her, "with which I can live." And more than just the words she spoke, it's the manner in which she s

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