Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Embracing Ibrance

It has now been two months since I began Ibrance. My life has changed remarkably, mostly for the better. Some days are almost close to normal, and managing a side effects has been much easier on me. I no longer have UTIs. I do have some GI issues but on a different scale. I can manage these better, I think. I am optimistic about this drug.

However, it has one side effect I cannot overcome: It makes me neutropenic. That means my white blood count becomes quite low. I had to take a two-week break between cycles, because counts did not improve quickly. Ibarance is dosed on a 21 day cycle, then I take a seven day break, so that extra week was important. I couple the Ibrance with daily Letrozole, which prevents me from converting estrogen that feeds the cancer. I feel few effects from it.

But my break worked out for the best. I had a long-planned trip to see some friends in Savannah, Georgia. My host went out of her way to make sure I was comfortable, giving me my own bed and bathroom, and even finding a wheelchair to push me around in the more physically exhausting parts of our trip. Although I felt awkward, we were glad to have it -- all of us -- when we stood in long lines.

I was able to enjoy the trip in part because I was off the meds due to the neutropenia. I just had to protect myself from other people's germs, and monitor my energy and other levels to make sure I didn't overdo. 

I've already had to miss many events (I'm deeply sorry, SB and NB) because of treatment and the illness. It is very disappointing each time. It was nice to be able to enjoy this one a bit more.

And while I'm not perfect, I'm making the best of it all. I can't hike or run or do very physical activity in any way. I have to avoid lifting things because my spine and hips are getting a little iffy. I have to be absolutely germphobic because I assume my counts are low.

Fatigue is a huge part of this drug. It's a different sort of fatigue: not tiredness so much is the inability to be physical. I want to be energetic but I run out of steam quickly. And it's a little harder to restore my fatigue. Sleep interruption is another big side effect I deal with everyday, er, night. 

But there's lots I can still do. I can still ride in and drive cars and RVs, I can still enjoy food fairly normally but in lower quantities. I am doing ok. We are just crafting new adventures that are different from the old.

All of that is good, because we are traveling. We're planning to spend the entire summer here in Estes Park, Colorado. When the doctor changed my drugs, I did have to overcome lots of obstacles to follow through on this plan. I had to find a place to draw my blood here. I will have to travel back and forth more frequently than I wanted to or expected to when we first made them. And we are going to have to figure out how we can see beautiful things without expending huge amounts of energy

It's still worth it. It's still worth living my life as optimally as I can. And that seems a whole lot more optimal than before. 

I will not be scanned until September. And that is fine. I plan to enjoy my summer. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Moving on Up...to a New Med

I know it has been a while. I’ve been on something like an extended vacation from blogging, mostly because I’ve had so little to say that’s news, and partly because my energy wanes of late.

But I’m back with an update: I had a PET scan last month. My soft tissues remain clear but my bones are worsening. I may even be feeling it. So my bones were biopsied. That was fun; the fentanyl had me hunting coffee cups on a nonexistent black market. My doctor and his team were amused.

My bones have the same estrogen positive (ER+) breast cancer. Interestingly, it is no longer progesterone positive (PR) at all, and it remains Human Epithelial Growth Factor (HER) negative. 

Worse, my antigens -- the telltale measure of cancer markers in my blood -- are back in the 2700s (see the charts.) I also had a new set of symptoms: I was fatigued, sore like the flu and little feverish -about 99º to 100º. These last symptoms really slowed me down. 

The fevers may have been an infection; they seemed to disappear with antibiotics, but they would come back as soon as I completed them. My blood work mostly showed that I’m anemic, nothing more serious. But my symptoms might be a response to too many antigens in my blood. The last time I felt this way were the dates of the peaks on those charts. And they were up again. Sigh.

An historical chart of my 27.29 antigens, showing a peak at 7500 in 2017, falling to a few hundred, but more recently climbing to 2700s. Normal is 32.
My CA 27.29 antigen history. Normal is under 32 or so.
An historical chart of my 15-3 antigens, showing a peak at 7000 in 2017, falling to a few hundred, but more recently climbing to 2700s. Normal is 32.
My CA 15-3 antigen history; note how similar each are.

If you've been tracking, you know that I have been on Lynparza, for better and worse, for over a year. And it has been quite the mixed blessing. I cleared my soft tissue, but not my bones. And the side effects were not simple. I was not alone in my difficulties with Lynparza: the gas, the acid reflux that twists my tummy in knots, the fevers and even UTIs were all part of the picture for others. Well, my UTIs were extreme. I had sort of a handle on those, treating for UTIs with every dose. But it did do some good, and I wanted to keep trying. 

I began my doctor week with my primary care, and then the oncologist. I didn’t want to change my medications; but mentally and emotionally, I was prepared. I got bloodwork. Ok, maybe another UTI. More antibiotics. But no real answers.

The oncologist was ready as she walked in. We're moving on. As soon as insurance approved, I was to start Ibrance and Letrozole. Ibrance inhibits certain cancer amino acids by blocking their receptors on each cell. The Letrozole is an "aromatase inhibitor." It prevents my body from taking common androgens (a hormone) and converting them to estrogen to feed those greedy cancer cells. The one-two punch causes them to die.

Lots of women are on Ibrance/Letrozole. I'm reading lots of positive stories. I can expect a new round of side effects, among the two most common, fatigue and soreness. I may get low on white blood counts again, so I'll need to use precautions for infection.

Today is my first day. I handled it well, but I am experiencing the soreness. But my tummy is happier and I have no sense of those other issues. Stay tuned. With some luck, I'll have good news.

I sure hope so. I'd like to enjoy this summer. In my "feeling that I was doing OK" arrogance, I have planned a big summer, even though I always fear to plan, with good reason. I need to be ready to be happy just snapping photos from a tour bus; or from sitting outside listening to the Big Thompson River roll by, rather than doing anything remotely strenuous. My femoral head (top of my right leg) hurts like crazy. Let’s hope some of that comes back. 

Here's hoping the new med does the rest of the job for at least a long while. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Another New Year: A Gift and a Challenge

There is not a great deal of news on the health front. I continue to walk the Lynparza path. I continue to manage the side effects to a degree that makes a reasonable existence possible. I still manage lots of GI, some fatigue (but definitely less) and many, many emotional challenges. But I made it this far. Someone recently compared my physical appearance to last year as better “by far.” I am in a period of improvement, instead of decline. I have been given the gift of a temporary reprieve of sorts.

This October, I will beat the official odds, if I make it. It will be the three-year anniversary from diagnosis of metastasis. Cancer.gov records the average survival of my disease at about 36 months. Yet, I’m reminded that I had the mets long before. For months before, I had been sharing my concern over that rash in my skin. So, in many ways, I’m already beating the odds.

My life is so very different! We are mostly living out of the RV. We come to the four walled home for doctor visits and business. I know we’ll have to Swedish Death Clean that place — I’m not looking forward to it.

RV living is different than I expected: I imagined that we’d move frequently, but that’s not how it turned out. We’re needed, so we’ve chosen an extended stay location near family. We spend the winter south and this year, the summer will see us in new extended locations, if all is well. We will travel, if nothing changes. We will explore the Southwest a bit this winter, and even cruise the British Isles this summer, if I continue on this path. Cruising is an ideal travel mode for the less healthy. You can control your activity level. You can choose what to do and to some degree, when. You have control over your diet. But I also have the insurance, just in case. No sense in losing all that money.

There are small adjustments to the life I had before: I’m learning that I have to excuse myself and isolate myself following a meal. So I’ll be able to do that. I need to nap often, so I should be able to manage activities like that. I’m looking forward to sharing my adventure with hubby, as we visit locations we have hoped to see, all while someone takes care of us.
Bust of Marcus Aurelius from the Louvre, Antonine Roman Artwork
Marcus Aurelius

Emotionally, it’s odd. Note the number of “if’s” in this story, when talking about the future. I can’t depend on that future, but life solely in the present is impractical. You have to plan some things. And my mood improves with something to look forward to. So we imagine the worst and hope for the best. I even have another trip in mind, if I am so fortunate. But, eventually, this run will end. And we will need to make new choices and different, more focused plans.

But the idea that I don’t have that much time, probably, changes a person’s perspective so fundamentally. I recommend you try to imagine that you don’t know how long you have. Ok, that’s all of us, but we make some assumptions: we should have years, and often, decades, unless tragedy strikes. Well, tragedy struck me. So now, I think days, weeks, months — less confidently in years. And that is if I think about it at all. I really try not to. I just read a New York New York Times opinion about a fellow traveler who realized that cancer forces you into the Stoic ideal: life in the present.

Thing is, I’m definitely not a Stoic. Marcus Aurelius would be disdainful, truly. I’m still fighting and clawing for the rocks and branches on my slippery slope. I still remember life before mets, and I want that back, in some ways. At least, I want that gal back. I don’t mind the physical changes: the hair, nails, joint aches — these might have happened with age. I miss being engaged and lively. I miss not being focused on me all the time. I miss walking confidently in the world, not hearing every cough and sniffle, worried about catching my death — literally. I’m not smiling back at Death at all. I’m raging, quietly.

There’s a gift in all of this, I’m sure. Let’s hope I figure out what it is. I know, Marcus has an answer:
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. 
Yeah, yeah...ok. I do, mostly.

For those of you who’ve noticed, I’m not on Facebook often anymore: fear not. You can still reach me here, by gmail, or on Twitter (for now — they’re next) @josies. I also have a presence on counter.social — social media as it was intended to be. I may come back to Facebook in a reduced capacity; one that will deny them the opportunity to mine so much data; one that will make clear to advertisers that I’m boycotting. I do miss my mets sisters; their support was so vital. But I’m still here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Surviving Pinktober and Life

The starry rays of the sun against a blue, lightly clouded sky are reflected on a darker blue ocean

Surviving Pinktober

Here we are, some 30 days later. We survived Pinktober. 

In terms of awareness for metastatic breast cancer, I think we are making strides. Susan G. Komen upped their ante, giving more for Metastatic Breast Cancer research. I saw multiple fundraisers for my favorites, like METAvivor and others. I feel like my mets sisters and I are making strides in making the point: you will never conquer cancer until you conquer metastatic cancers. Stage IV needs more.

And more happy news: I did not get one single “Check your boobies” or “Put a heart on your timeline” message the entire month. Ok, the last one was September 28, but still! Good job, everyone! Thanks for showing your love for me and the sisters.

My Update: No Reuptake!

So, my own update: in a twist I have barely adjusted to, I’m doing…well. 

I know, right? No, I’m not cured, and I never will be. I’m not really even No Evidence of Disease (NED) or No Evidence of Active Disease (NEAD) for bones yet. But my PET scan showed some really amazing findings. 

I’ve become adept at reading findings. I can speak the speak decently well. Yet, the radiologist who wrote these seems to write especially obtuse findings. All findings are obtuse to lay people, but this one seems to contain double…positives. For instance:

There is interim significant decrease to normalization of the previously demonstrated diffuse hyper metabolism throughout the axial and proximal appendicular osseous structures, correlated with heterogenous osteoblastic disease consistent with diffuse osseous metastases. 
(The interpretation, as best I am able: the uptake to my bones is significantly decreased.) 

She goes on:

There has been interval resolution of hyper metabolic soft tissue nodules along the anterior chest wall in comparison to prior PET/CT. 
(Now this is really good, because I still feel areas of concern: my chest wall is resolved. Hooray for the radiation!)

The previously described hepatic lesions, best appreciated on the MRI dated January 22, 2018, are essentially inconspicuous relative to expected heterogeneity of background liver uptake. 
(The lesions on my liver are disappearing and nearly gone compared to the last one.)

So the report boils down to this: a really good response, with some remaining mets to my bones. It’s like a miracle, except it’s medical science.

To be clear: I’m not fully NED or NEAD yet. I can still see them in my bones. I can still see a few spots on my liver — boy, was that liver much worse than I realized. I once again dodged a bullet. I may have more time than the statistics would suggest.

I’m not used to this. I’m not used to being the one who gets good news. I’m used to being the one who weeps at home with hubby and then puts a brave face on for others. Since I began the path of recurrence, I have received one load of bad news after another. I’d think I was cancer free, only to learn I was metastatic. I would think I was getting better, only to find another structure that was affected. I have been through moments where I thought body systems were shutting down; I’ve been through tremendous pain, malaise, nausea and GI, a flu like you’ve never felt before — and even the pain from adjusting to this medication, which I still have to take cautiously. 

But dayum, it’s working! Thank God I didn’t quit as I thought I would.

To what do I owe this? Radiation gave me a boost, for sure. I’m taking the following: Lynparza 150s, twice a day (half the former dose), along with an over the counter drug called Pyridium to avoid that extra pain. I’m also taking a completely different formulation of my thyroid meds, with much more faster-acting T3 and much less T4 — a move which seems to have addressed that obstacle that I’ve written about: that the thyroid meds seem to encourage the cancer. I’m also taking a daily hemp-based CBD supplement when I’m in Michigan or wherever it’s legal. 

And the other thing: I feel well. Not perfect; I still nap nearly every day. I can’t manage a long walk. I still have to juggle, um, GI and urinary discomfort. I can, however, enjoy life again. It's been so long, I had forgotten how it feels. And, the hardest part to adjust to, I can stand down a bit. I feel like I can stop waiting for the other shoe to fall. 

So. Now What?

We in the community know that this good situation will eventually end. The cancer will overcome this defense. It could happen in a month, but the good news is that it could even be one, five or even 10 years. And they may not be 10 years of misery so much as impairment. And I will still have scans and pokes and big pills to swallow daily for the rest of whatever time I am permitted.

I can’t tell you how blessed and grateful I feel. Medical science is amazing. I've been given a gift.

Let me thank God and you all for your love and support. I wouldn't be here without it.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

It's Pinktober Again!

Oh, goodie, It's October. What a colorful month! I love the reds, oranges and yellows of this season, but I am wary of the pink.

The pink is for Breast Cancer Awareness. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I very much appreciate anyone who walked for me, raised funds, and who've given me a host of pink swag. It means you love me, and I feel exactly the same about you all.
A ribbon of lime green and teal is overlaid with a thin ribbon of pink
The pink ribbon is well-known for representing the fight against breast cancer, but many stage 4 breast cancer patients feel that pink does not encapsulate their experience. Metastatic breast cancer may start in the breast, but its spread to vital organs makes the disease fatal. To highlight the uniqueness of the disease and show its commonality with other stage 4 cancers, METAvivor designed a base ribbon of green and teal to represent metastasis. Green represents the triumph of spring over winter, life over death, and symbolizes renewal, hope, and immortality while teal symbolizes healing and spirituality. The thin pink ribbon overlay signifies that the metastatic cancer originated in the breast. -- https://www.metavivor.org/about-us/our-story/

But the pink is out of control! From its inception in 1992 to encourage early detection with mammograms, the infamous pink ribbon morphed into an avalanche of craziness. Pink latrines. Sexually suggestive high school football games (Save the Tatas.) Sexually suggestive Ts and active wear, endless parades of Messenger posts asking me to post a heart for the non-existent breast cancer prevention. Maybe worst of all: Corporations whose fundamental mission also causes deadly cancers, paint
their equipment pink -- the height of hypocrisy.

There's money in all of this. Some organizations raise and spend billions. There's a huge problem: until recently, most funds weren't spent for research on the killer: metastatic breast cancer. It has been spent instead on programs designed to get women to get their mammograms.

As my favorite organization, METAvivor rightly points out, cancer that never leaves the breast doesn't kill. Metastatic cancers of all types kill, by compromising vital systems. METAvivor notes:
113 Individuals die each day from metastatic breast cancer; only 2% to 5% of breast cancer research is focused on research for the already metastasized.
Sobering statistics from METAvivor.org

"...100% of breast cancer deaths occur because of metastasis, and almost 100% of people whose breast cancer has metastasized will die from it. In the United States alone, this means that more than 40,000 vibrant lives are lost each year.
Despite these realities, the popular breast cancer fundraising movements give on average only 2% of their research funds to researching metastasis. Instead, their primary focus is on prevention, which does nothing to help those already diagnosed, and early detection, which does not impact those facing the ultimate death sentence of stage 4 breast cancer. And while only 6% - 10% of initial breast cancer diagnoses are metastatic, 30% of patients diagnosed with earlier stage breast cancer will eventually develop stage 4 breast cancer and die."
However, the tide is turning. After receiving much criticism, the Susan G. Komen foundation is dedicating $26 million to metastatic research and support. It's a start. 

There are other worthy organizations:

The Metastatic Breast Cancer supports metastatics and caregivers. http://mbcn.org/
Living Beyond Breast Cancer https://www.lbbc.org/

If you support breast cancer this month, spend your money wisely and in a way that helps us most. 

Struggling with Her MBC Voice: Olivia Newton-John

It's funny how folks struggle to understand the unique dimensions of Metastatic Breast Cancer.  Recently, another breast cancer story marched across the world stage: Olivia Newton-John has returned to treatment for  breast cancer. But once again, poor reporting ranged on the edge of ethical reporting.  Here is what I have posted on social media:
For everyone offering thoughts and prayers for Olivia Newton-John based on the highly inaccurate US media reports, let me elucidate:
We can always hope for miracles but the way her announcement has been reported in the media is very, dangerously misleading. Those who have her disease are angry at the misinformation and poor reporting on this.
This isn't the third time she's "battling" cancer. She has Stage IV breast cancer and it has progressed again. She has chosen to limit treatment and concentrate on wellness.
...However, 30 to 40% of those who get breast cancer eventually move on to its metastatic form. No one yet knows who or why.  They don't even know how many of us there are, because there is a criminal lack of research in this area.
So, barring getting hit by a truck, those with metastatic cancer know that they are dying of cancer. Treatment isn't curative, it delays the inevitable.
ONJ has known this for years. Moreover she's been in treatment all of this time, and her treatment is probably as difficult as it is for all of us -- slow torture isn't inaccurate.
That Olivia has chosen not to pursue certain medical treatments, means that she is choosing to move on.
There is no miracle yet. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer.
Please pray for ease, peace and comfort. She knows very well what comes next as we all do....
Here are practical things that can put your thoughts and prayers in action.
1. Learn the facts about breast cancer at metavivor.org/awareness
2. Donate to one of the funds listed above.
3. Think about how you talk about metastatic cancer in general. The folks who are dealing with this have a road that you cannot imagine. Those treatments are often brutal. But they can extend life by years. Decades, even. They really have no hope  for recovery, they hope for time; for effective treatment and relative comfort. For lessening of pain, and for health care that they can rely upon.
4. Fight for healthcare justice.  Right now every one of my sisters is dealing with being denied pain meds (cannabis and opioids are vital) and worrying about their health insurance. The injustice chokes us. Today's political climate was literally the last thing they needed in many cases -- I even know people whose lives have ended too soon as a direct result of the current political situation.
5. Avoid donating money to the pinkwashing campaigns where most of the funds go into awareness programs that accomplish little....

These are the things you can do for us. Thank you.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Gift of Normal

This view into the valley below the Alpine Visitor's Center shows a cloudy sky, green peaks gracefully flowing into a glacial valley, with a tiny dirt road peeking out of trees far below, and a family of elk lounging near the center.
The view from the Alpine Visitor's Center at 11,500 feet, high up on US 34, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park. The dirt road I drove to get there is to the left, a family of elk sits below.

It is easy to lose perspective with this disease. I, for instance, have forgotten what it feels like to be normal. For me, that meant a dancing, singing, traveling, working-two-jobs-in-one type of hardworking gal — that’s who I used to be. My family called me the Energizer Bunny. But that gal got left behind almost two years ago, next month.

Since I began the Stage IV experience, one treatment after another has robbed me of that energy. Sometimes, I felt like I was moving through jello. Other times, I felt like I would never fully wake up again. In this current treatment, I feel great on the couch but unable to walk up the stairs without depleting the little store of energy left in my remaining blood cells. Throughout all, I have become the nap queen. My thyroid meds have me all over the map, too, greatly contributing to the malaise.

Because of the chronic anemia, my oncologist moved me off the Lynparza for a few weeks until I cleared a few scans and labs. My bloodwork gradually improved, and I could stand up without bracing myself again. I was cleared to start again.

Because our world has been so crazy, hubby and I decided to make a trip to see a place that is dear to us: Big Thompson Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park. In many ways, this area is our geographic center. We've come here since our youth. US 34 had had road work done, closing the whole beautiful canyon for months. It was recently reopened with new bridges and alignments. The announcement served as our call to return. So I took one more week off meds to drive out there and back. We flew the daughter in as well, just for a few days. The trip was a blessing in more than one way. 

It was great to see all of those sites. I certainly can’t hike the backcountry anymore, but I can drive the steep terrain with ease, using the same skill I honed as a young woman. And by the end of the week, I remembered what it was like to feel good. My spirit soared. I was with the family I loved; I felt wonderful. The feeling, so strange to me of late, grounded me. It was my gift: a week of normal. Normal eating, normal energy, normal joy in wonderful things. I began to plan my future with hope again. 

Meanwhile, Back on Earth

The week in the high country did my lungs some good: my groundglass opacities have cleared. My endoscopy showed inflammation but no infection. My CT scan for the lungs reconfirmed other findings; nothing new. Nothing new is good. 

But I am back on the Lynparza, at a lower dose. I do feel better on this dose, but I expect I’m going to return to anemia over time. I am still taking naps. I still have GI and U-tract issues, at a more manageable level. Importantly, my urologist and I have a plan to stay on top of developing issues, and I can treat them as they happen; I don’t have to wait.

I have an unexpected ally in my battle for the thyroid. As you recall, early studies suggest that one thyroid replacement hormone, known as T4 (Synthroid, Levoxyl) is encouraging my cancer cells to grow, and possibly blocking treatments by locking into the same receptors and giving those cells a boost instead of a kick in the rear. There is another version of the hormone that works similarly but doesn’t act that way with the cells. It’s called T3 (Cytomel, Liothyronine). However T3 alone has some risks, and it is usually prescribed only for brief periods when thyroids are scanned. But my endo is seeing more than one patient taking these “monoclonal antibody” therapies, and we are all struggling with our endocrine system. (Hey, we get to live long enough to struggle; that's something right there.) She believes that my wild thyroid status swings (from very hypothyroid to very hyperthyroid) will be improved by taking more T3 as well. We have crafted an entirely different combination that favors more T3 (a shorter acting agent) and less T4.

It is entirely possible that my system will be able to fight more cancer on the lower dose now. I’m excited at that possibility, even if I can’t find the energy to dance about it. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Balance Between Good and Evil

My CA 15-34 and CA 27-29 cancer antigens, which shows another drop by half, into the 400s.
The good news...the red circles shows
more reduction in my Antigens
I have had a few data points since the last update. First, we did more antigens. Antigens 15-34 and 27-29 measure breast cancer tumor proteins in my blood. I feel the charts say it all. They went down by half again! I think we can definitely hang that drop on the Lynparza. That’s great news.

Then I got the CT scan.

Well, it wasn’t bad news. The liver seems to be improving, for sure. Many tumors smaller, nothing bigger, nothing new. Ok, I’ll take that.

My chest looks much better post-radiation.

Bones, on the other hand...well, those bones.

There is diffuse sclerosis of the osseous structures which is worsened from prior examinations. Additionally, a few of the more focal appearing sclerotic metastases appear mildly increased in size and density from prior examination. This is a nonspecific finding by CT and could relate to treatment related changes/partial healing response. Osseous progression of disease is difficult to definitively exclude.

Translation: It looks like there are more numerous and more intense bone mets, but it's still hard for them to decide if they look active because they are coming or going.

The rest was unchanged or normal. But there was another troubling finding:

There is new subtle diffuse groundglass opacity throughout the lungs which may relate to a mild acute infectious/inflammatory process including possible drug reaction.

Translation: My lungs may be developing a bit of inflammation due
to the drug, most likely. And yes, I have had symptoms, including an odd spasmodic cough.

Well, that’s not great news. And it came just as I was ready to give up. I struggle so much with Lynparza. I had had yet another bout of painful cystitis -- I have one every other day -- and I have a version of chronic anemia that is odd and annoying. I was tired just walking up the stairs, which may be from the drug as well. There were other symptoms. I was a bit afraid to go out.

My onc completely understood. She knows that this is taking its toll. She's concerned about how I'm feeling. Not only that, but she floored me by telling me that Astra-Zeneca is calling to find out how I'm doing as well. Imagine that, so-called Big Pharma, taking a somewhat personal interest in my success. How can I not give it another go?

Near a road sign, on top of a roadside rock outcropping, someone has carefully balanced a series of rocks that mimic the shape of a man.
Life is a balance, like the
balancing rocks along
the roadsides of Northern Ontario.
The doctor wanted me to take a break for testing, and I was more than happy to. I’ve now been off for two weeks, and I am beginning to recover. (I still want to nap today!) I have seen my urologist: everything is as it should be, so we just have to manage the symptoms. We're trying some different strategies. In some respects, the drug is aggravating something I would deal with when I'm 80; it's making it all happen now due to hormone changes. I have to figure out what I would have done then, now.

I will see a lung specialist for the ground glass, and a gastro doctor, just to see if the chronic tightness in my tummy when I eat can be improved easily. I’m already breathing better, so I think we can attribute the appearance of my lungs to treatment. I admit I'm able to eat better, so it's still the drug. But let's see, just in case.

We weigh costs and benefits, the good with the bad. No treatment has made much progress in over a year. I think we can manage the bad of this treatment, at least I’m going to keep trying, on a doctor-approved lower dose. I'm also going to go easy on me, plan some fun things to do, some travel, and live the rest of my life. The last quarter wasn't great, and I want to catch up with life again.