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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.

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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

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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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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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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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