“The Big C” Returns With a New 2nd Season!!

I resume chemo treatments this coming Thursday, December 12. WOW, have my emotions been stirring! But first, let’s catch up.

My partner has had a successful sinus surgery and is well on the way to recovery. We hope this opens an avenue for her to get her hip replaced well before the currently scheduled date of February 6. The pain is getting worse as what remains of her hip joint turns into “rubble”. It’s not great that both of us are having big treatments at the same time, but it is far from undoable. Chemo hasn’t flattened me in the past, so I can take care of her now and after the surgery. The idea of her out of pain and on the road to a solid recovery of function drives us.

On Thursday I had some weird, mild flu-like symptoms. No temperature but my energy was shot and my joints hurt like mad. I took it easy and the next day I was fine. That’s it so far. Upper back pain comes and goes, and is never severe. Really nothing much physically is different.

I visited my oncologist last Monday to follow up on the endoscopy. The new tumor isn’t inside what’s left of my pancreas. It’s located where my pancreas used to be. I guess there must have been a few cells that didn’t get excised or the conditions that initiated the original mutation were still active. Who knows? We could only get enough cells to determine whether the tumor was cancer, but not enough to let us run another genetic profile, so we won’t know how different this cancer is until we see how it reacts to the chemo.

This is the typical pancreatic cancer marker. See how high it was when I was first diagnosed? See how it dropped after I started chemo last year? Now see how it started climbing up as I was recovering from the surgery. This is what tipped us into getting the endoscope work again.

I’m not in that drug trial any more, but I am starting the chemo with gemabraxin, which is what I started with last year. If it’s the same kind of cancer I imagine that the chemo will impact the tumor pretty quickly and we’ll see some shrinkage in the next CT scan after a couple of months on the chemo. It the tumor doesn’t shrink or instead even grows, well I get to experience the joys of focused radiation therapy in addition to the chemo. That would impact me a lot more than the chemo has. We’ll just have to see what happens I guess.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about all this. I’ve been having all the feels, ranging from anger to elation. Last week I had a 2 day run of real fundamental sadness. Strangely I haven’t had much fear. The elation has to do with my knowing that I’m at the end of something. What, I don’t know. Certainly the end of working for a living is in sight, even if it is a couple of years away as I expect in my best case scenario. If the cancer runs away and gets worse then I’ll be dropping work sooner of course. Take some time to play since I won’t have to plan to have my retirement last so long. The other thing is with gemabraxin I’ll lose my hair again. Deodorant lasts a lot longer when there’s no hair under the arms.

I have absolutely no urge to go out and take pictures, which is a real void relative to the last 10 years. I’ve been shooting a bit here and there but it’s felt mechanical and most of the actual pictures have been mundane. I’ve been going through my photos, all 42,060 of them. Grateful that I have a desktop computer with gobs of RAM, since that let me create a new Lightroom catalog that tracks all of them, across my drives on the system. It runs very well, but of course it should since it has 32GB of space and 6 i7 cores to crunch the numbers. I noted that at its height the memory consumption has been running just over 20GB so there’s plenty of headroom to run Photoshop too, which I’ve been using to stitch together some earlier panoramas I hadn’t stitched before.

I wonder what will happen to them all once I’m gone? My daughters don’t seem to be interested in the hobby. I don’t see any relatives being interested. It would be sad if all those family photos going back to the turn of the previous century all get abandoned. There’s a huge market for abandoned snapshots nowadays, as long as they are obviously at least 50 years old, way pre-digital, and preferably with faded colors. Will this interest continue 20-30 years from now and with digital pictures? The colors never fade, and there are thousands of them now where in the film days there would only be one. We are awash with frozen images, and in most cases there is no context remaining either. Once abandoned and removed from their originators, each snapshot becomes an enigma, worth keeping only if it seems funky enough to resonate with whatever trend our culture is messing around with. My meager fix for this is to add comments and keywords. Pretty weak.

Fuggit, I should travel some more. My partner is interested in meeting my Mom back in New Jersey. I would really like to make that happen. I would like my whole family to meet and know her. I’m pretty sure they will love her and she them. I think we’ll do that once she can get around on her new hip joint. I need to make that happen.