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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

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

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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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As Second Opinions Go ...

... it was first-rate. A confirmation (of sorts) that I have (and have had in all likelihood) thyroid cancer and not non-small cell lung cancer. And I say 'sorts' because the medical records transferred did not include the original pathologist's report on the tissue sample taken in 2009 and not all the scans from the nearly 12 years of treatment either. Nevertheless, this second oncologist summarized my cancer as being thyroid, partially because I'm still alive. Generally speaking, lung cancer p

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Better Late Than Never ...

... to get a second opinion about one's first cancer, especially if there's now a second cancer to consider. For most of the nearly 12 years during which I've been a cancer patient, my diagnosis has been non-small cell lung cancer stage IV. Within the past 10 months or so, it has become apparent and subsequently confirmed by a surgical biopsy of a tumor located in my lungs that I have papillary thyroid cancer. The big question remains - and has not been agreed to by my endocrinologist and oncolo

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Missive or Dismissive

For the last few months, I have been receiving unsolicited emails from Tommy Chug; he being the other half of the 70's era comedy duo, "Cheech and Chong," with whom I spent countless hours in college laughing at their recorded routines, but beyond that I don't remember much. There were a few follow-up movies, which I never saw, and more recently, I have found somewhat belatedly a early 2000s cop show starring Cheech Marin alongside Don Johnson: "Nash Bridges." Nothing at all from Tommy Chong unt

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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

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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

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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

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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

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"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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