UPDATE 8/27: Chemo for life … a lifelong battle begins

Yesterday was a long day. Met with doctors from the John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed Hospital.They presented me with the Cancer Board’s findings and recommendations.

It was good news and bad news, but overall not new news. BSCC cancer always comes back.

Back in 2011 they felt positive that they had removed all of my cancer. There was no treatment other than surgery. This time around I am advised that I will need to take chemotherapy for life in what will be a lifelong battle for my life. Murtha doctors recommended that I replace the word ‘cure’ with ‘fun’ — as in I should focus on enjoying life and being with family.

So what will chemo for life get me? They do not know. It is a gamble. Two or 20 or 30 years are possible.

The ugly chemo will last about 12 weeks, starting in early September. There are major side effects, or as noted in my counseling: there are some less common but possible side effects. Just under ten percent of chemo patients taking this cocktail have heart attacks and experience strokes.

What comes next will then be a new form of chemo that has relatively mild side effects — and since I am otherwise in very good health then that is when I should be able to resume life. The stipulation is that we must assume that there is no defeating this cancer. My treatment plan will focus on constantly seeking out cancer cells and trying to keep them under control either through majority eradication or slowing their growth.

If all goes well … life is what it is. I am an optimist. I am giving myself no other choice.


Movie Review – Pacific Rim (2013)

Pacific Rim

When you go to see this movie be sure to get the big bag of popcorn. That usually gets you a free refill. This is a 1 and 1/2 bag of popcorn movie.

Pacific Rim is very, very good — a modern update on the Godzilla theme but with an Independence Day plot.

It is worth seeing probably two or three times.

Some folks may want to compare Pacific Rim with the Transformers movies. There are indeed some similarities but I know plenty of folks that dislike Transformers and really, really like this movie. I like them both but believe that with time that Pacific Rim will become a classic.

UPDATE 8/24: Cancer, Coffee and Cookies

Life is good.

I find it bothersome that I cannot drive when I want. It makes me feel like a 15 year old teen: life is awaiting me if only there was a ride to where life is.

On the other hand, riding in cars currently unhinges me. The left side of my chest and left shoulder blade remain scratched up from the surgery. Basic healing of that should take another few weeks. So far I have left home twice, once to go to church at the Reverend Al’s place and once to the movies … and to go to the doctor’s office for followup health checks.

This coming week starts consultation with the hematology-oncology folks. Will start chemo in September. There is no known effective chemo therapy for BSCC cancer — but since the cancer has shown that it will return, and is mobile in where it returns, then chemo will be one approach to battling or slowing my next battle with it.

Perhaps the more significant fight against cancer’s return will be to eat a some strict anti-cancer diet. I started such a diet in mid-2011 but admit to having strayed. I did eat all the things that I should … but I also ate (often after the first year of recovery) many of the things that I should not: beef, dairy, bread and simple carbs — all of the blessed tasty stuff in life. There will be the occasional chili dog and beer in my life but only on holidays; have considered moving to Germany where they have 22 official holidays annually.

Life is good. I have no complaints. With diligence and proactive advocation for appropriate health care with the doctors then I expect to have decades of good quality life ahead.

Stay curious. Ask questions. Not all answers to your questions are correct. Be your own advocate. Eat chili dogs if the chance presents itself … just not too often.

Cancer, Coffee and Cookies

Luckily I am an optimist.

Gotten a checkup lately?

This has been a challenging summer for both my business and for my health.

I can fix my business but will have to trust Lady Luck and some professional advice when it comes to my health.

In late July I received a call from my doctors that I needed to come in immediately.  My scans indicated that I probably had cancer in my left lung. When I met with the consulting thoracic surgeon he was polite, calm and very businesslike. My wife was with me as he kept it simple: “Mr. Golden, you have cancer in the lung. We do not know what kind it is and it doesn’t really matter. We will take it out next week and come up with a treatment plan afterwards.”

Luckily I am an optimist.

My lung surgery was on August 7th and I really do not remember much about it other than being prepared for surgery and then waking up in the intensive care unit. For four days I lived life with a hose stuck in my stomach running up to my chest to keep things in order. The surgery did not hurt but that damned chest hose certainly did.

A long story made short: In May 2011 I underwent surgery for BSCC cancer, which is a very, very rare cancer. Doctors told me that I was incredibly lucky after the surgery.  They had removed it all with clean margins to make sure that they got it all, said my doctor who was and is a very caring surgeon. Two years of almost monthly check ups said that the cancer was indeed gone.

Research says different. The BSCC cancer always, always returns. It has almost no symptoms and there is not really a treatment protocol known to work. Eventually it comes again for you … and your only defense is to stay constantly aware of possible symptoms for almost any kind of cancer and to get constant checkups. I was just completing my two year checkup for the 2011 cancer when they found a new recurrence in my lung. It is a migratory cancer. You never know where it will appear next.

Luckily I am an optimist.

Doctors felt good about having gotten all of my cancer removed in 2011 and did not recommend chemo. Radiation treatment is out of the question as it is believed that the cancer was caused by overexposure to radiation to begin with. Radiation aggravates and just increases the recurrence rate. Chemo is on the menu this time.

This time we are taking no chances. I will begin chemo in early September. Doctors are still debating what kind might work best for me. None are known to work effectively. The idea with taking chemo this time:  it may not help but what can it hurt when combating a cancer that is relentless. Maybe we can slow its return or slow its growth when it does return.

As for cookies and caffeine: cancer loves sugar. I had altered my eating habits before but this time around I am doubling down on the cancer prevention diet. As for coffee, it is important for cancer survivors to keep their Ph in balance. Coffee can alter your Ph — for now I have these cool little Ph strips that keep me aware of my body’s chemical balance, or imbalance. I can give up cookies but coffee is staying on the menu. It is a way of life for me.

Luckily I am an optimist. For a second time I have overcome cancer in the shortterm and should be able to return to a full and active life … with a cup of coffee in one hand and a checkup scheduler in the other.

Smile. Life happens. I have no complaints. It has been good to me so far. I only see good yet to come.

Gotten a checkup lately?