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Hardly the Same Thing



It may not have been the miracle I was hoping for: shrinkage or tumor disappearance, from my most recent diagnostic scans but no growth and/or new metastases is nothing to be taken for granted. However, I did experience a miracle of sorts when the envelope I received at home from the "State of Maryland, Maryland SafeZones Automated Speed Enforcement" authority specifying and picturing yours truly exceeding the speed limit by 12 mph was for information purposes only. It was not an invoice. It was a warning. And the $40 fine associated with this kind of infraction was left on the cutting room floor. Perhaps this is the extent of the miracle that Solange was able to perform when she prayed for me and my burned feet - and thyroid cancer, on July 20 in the Houston airport. Though this outcome was not exactly the delusional outcome I was hoping for, when we consented to her extremely kind offer to pray for me. Nevertheless, a win is a win. And though a shrinking/disappearing cancer tumor would have been an amazing - albeit unlikely outcome, the tumors remained "stable" and I saved a $40 outlay. On balance, not a bad day's work.

For which I am extremely grateful. Soon after I entered the cancer-patient world, I learned that any not-automatically-bad news - whether internally or externally to that world, should be acknowledged and appreciated. Any port in a storm you might say. Moreover, I always sought to find the positive in this sea of negativity. Whatever I could see - through any rose-colored glasses I could find, served its purpose to emotionally support me for the many long and lonely nights that followed. Certainly, there's family and friends to help share the burden brought on by a "terminal" diagnosis, but at the end of the day, literally, it's sort of you and your thoughts. Finding a way to navigate this minefield of unpredictable results and anxiety is paramount. On the one hand, you can't take what the doctors and radiologists say as seriously as a cancer diagnosis obviously is, but neither can you pretend that you're not in the fight of your life. That being said, one must be open to new ideas and unexpected offers. Filtering and interpreting whether any of the suggestions made by your doctors and/or your well-meaning friends and family becomes your lot in life. And it's an awful lot at that.

Still, a cancer diagnosis is not nearly the death sentence as it used to be for the previous generation. Though it would be naïve to characterize a cancer diagnosis as an opportunity, nevertheless unceasing research in a variety of hospital/cancer centers, medical schools, clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies and the like have led to an evolution in the treatment in cancer, particularly non small cell lung cancer which is the type of cancer I was originally diagnosed with in late Feb., 2009. (Though I am now being treated for papillary thyroid cancer as you regular readers know. As to whether I ever had lung cancer, the jury is still out, not literally.)

And since I have an incurable form of thyroid cancer, as written about numerous times in this space, I am forever open to new experiences that might create a path forward for me. The underlying problem in my situation is the odd circumstances that ultimately led to my more recent diagnosis. Since I had years of heavy-duty chemotherapy while treating my presumptive lung cancer, I have suffered kidney damage which only manifests itself in lab work and in what medications/treatment I can be given. As such when I went to the hospital after my thyroidectomy for post-surgical eradication of the remaining thyroid cancer that the surgeon was unable to remove, the dose of nuclear isotopes I was given was only one-third  the dose it should have been had I not been so previously chemotherapy-damaged. As a result, I'm sort of stuck. I have a usually curable type of thyroid cancer which is now considered incurable. The solution? I need to find a clinical trial for patients who have been treated for lung cancer for nine years, perhaps mistakenly, suffered irreparable kidney damage from those years of toxicity, who now has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and who is now unable to process the medicine likely to cure him and thus is: incurable.

You bet I need a miracle, and sooner rather than later. Maybe I should fly back to Houston.


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