Well, they were low two years ago. This poor boat was left high and dry on the shore line of Lake Tekapo two years ago when Hannah and I went for a visit. I took this photo on my iphone, but have recently given it a bit of attention (of the tilt shift variety). It was taken on the shore of the Church of the Good Shepherd, looking back across the inlet.
Can you believe it… 8 CT scans in less than 12 months. Each scan ironically gives you enough radiation for a 1 in 800 chance of developing cancer over a lifetime. Of course, since I’m already there, that statistic is a little incidental.
This scan only had one round of chemotherapy from the last one, which means that it was unlikely to show anything too exciting. It basically showed that one of the nodes is 1mm bigger.
This is effectively within the margin of error, and even if it is actually accurate, given the lack of treatment that I had between scans, there is nothing that can be reliably concluded from it. So the consensus, after the onc’s, the surgeons, and the radiologists mulled over it, is that it continues to be ‘stable’ disease. Which, all things considered is actually pretty good. When you consider the fact that in October of last year they found the recurrence, and there has been very little change in effectively one year, I’m doing pretty well so far.
It’s looking like I’m gonna make my 30th birthday in November, and even Christmas too! I’m really hoping I survive long enough for the Rugby World Cup next year, and we should probably start taking bets on Christmas 2011 and 2012. 🙂
Till next time…
Round 17 is now done and dusted.
After 17 rounds, there is a real challenge to maintain perspective and perseverance, particularly when there is no firm end to the treatment. The oncologist tells me that I am already her longest lasting patient on this particular regime at 17 rounds. I told her I’m aiming for 30.
If anything, round 17 was a little more tolerable than the previous one, I needed less anti-emetics to control the nausea, and the fatigue was as expected. There is a lingering fatigue now that goes past the first few days that never used to be there, and that can be frustrating. Round 16 left me tired for at least a week before I felt normal again.
Till the next round…
Yesterday, to escape my chemo haze and to face the stormy weather, I went for a walk along Tamaki Drive. This shot is taken looking back at Auckland City from the wharf at Okahu Bay. To say it was windy is an understatement. I actually feared the wind would blow the camera into the water. The day was also very hazy, which results in low contrast conditions, not the best for photography.
I went to a wedding in Christchurch at the weekend. It was interesting to see the destruction first hand. The city actually got off remarkably light given the size of the quake, there are a few spots around town that get a lot of the coverage, but most places survived very well.
There were a LOT of broken chimneys and holes in roofs though.
I couldn’t choose which photo to put up, so you got all three :-).
The rounds of chemotherapy are beginning to pile on top of each other. Each is blurring with the next and the previous. My body is showing the signs of wear and tear, and my mental stamina is at points near breaking.
Welcome to round 16.
It has come and gone, and this time, without a 5 week reprieve prior, it is arguably less tolerable. The nausea was ever present, the fatigue is something that really has to be experienced to be understood, and the diarrhoea makes for conversation inappropriate for the dinner table.
There is nothing particularly new to report on this round, apart from what I suspect is the slow but relentless wearing down of my body and my mind with each subsequent round. I am often exhausted, and when I prepare to return to work on day 6 post chemo, there is a sense that I never really had a break. Work however continues to keep me motivated, and continues to fuel my passion for medicine. It is a welcome distraction from my slow physical and mental decline.
I wonder if I can make it to round 30….
Till next time…
As we grow up in New Zealand, nicely tucked away in one corner of the globe, we are somewhat protected from the atrocities that go on at other latitudes and longitudes. We live comfortably in our first world economy, with first world medicine keeping our selves happy and healthy. We have a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in our second largest city, but no loss of life, and damage that can be easily controlled and repaired relative to that of Haiti or Pakistan.
We are comfortable, we are wealthy, and very rarely need to entertain the notion of death in our lives.
Yet when death comes along knocking, we are very quick to cry foul, call for an injustice, and argue that death does not belong there. Having spent significant amounts of time in the developing world where death is an ever present reality, it is a stark contrast to the absence, and almost ignorant bliss of death that we live with here in NZ.
When death does confront us, there is a painful process of avoiding and ignoring that goes on, which I think is ultimately more destructive than death itself. I am in a place where death is very much a part of my life. I live with the imminent threat of death, the fact that unless God himself intervenes, death is very much a part of my not-to-distant future. This fact makes people uncomfortable. People often chide in with remarks such as ‘but you are gonna live for a long time yet’ or often out right rebukes, telling me not to talk in such a way.
Well I’m sorry if the reality I live with offends people.
I have two options available to me. Firstly I either respond with a resolute hope, ignoring the facts, and the reality of cancer I live with, and blissfully continue my life as though nothing has happened. This on the surface sounds like a great idea, but what it actually does is breed ignorance. Ignorance in the process of death, ignorance in the fact that we all die eventually, ignorance in how to actually deal with death when it comes along knocking, as it inevitably will.
The second option, the one I have chosen is to openly embrace the fact that I am dying. I recognise it as a part of life that we all have to deal with at some stage, some sooner than others. This is not some dark and sadistic embrace of death, but rather an healthy acknowledgement of the facts as they are, and an engagement of life with this in mind. It demystifies the inevitable, as well as creates a hope in the present.
It is in view of death that my reality becomes all the more real…
It is in view of death that I am able to celebrate life to a much greater degree…
It is in view of death that priorities change, and the true meaning of my life, the one God has blessed me with becomes so much more apparent…
I find meaning in life by knowing that I am dying.
Through all of this, I ask, please don’t tell me to stop talking about the fact that I am dying. If it is a reality you cannot face, please at the very least give me the permission to face it myself.
I am after all the one who is actually dying… and I have found a peace in this all that supersedes the natural, and can arguably be called the supernatural.
I don’t like the fact that I am dying, but through the grace of God, I am okay with it, and I am at peace about it…
.. and that is more valuable than anything.
Thanks for listening…