Get on with it, Lawler

Yesterday was another noncommittal visit with Dr. Arbaje — which is to say that while I have been waiting for months for the moment a doctor, any doctor, would say to me: “You’re done, the cancer is gone, go home,” it has yet to happen. We expected the urologist to say that after he removed the tumor (and testicle), because we had been led to believe this would be the case. Instead, we were shown pictures of tumors. We expected the oncologist to say it once chemotherapy had finally ended, because, again, we had been led to believe this would be the case. Instead we were met with words like “concern,” and “unclear.”

At this latest visit we looked at very cool 3D images of my body, provided by the PET scan, cross referenced with sections of my thorax, provided by CT scans. The rotating image of my body, from head to nearly toe was so cool that I asked the doc if I could get a copy to use as my screensaver. I don’t think he realized I was serious — perhaps because Dawn told him not to listen to me. The PET scan shows that the tumors that once had dug in in my right lung had been wiped out by the chemo, but there is another indication of something else, also in my right lung that Arbaje cannot identify. Is it cancerous? Yes, it could be, but it isn’t as clear as the tumors detected in earlier PET and CT scans.

My tumor markers are also being rather unhelpful. The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) marker, which was elevated above normal in my last test, has now come down slightly — though still not to normal. The Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) marker, which was below normal levels last time, has now spiked a bit, and made itself once again abnormal. The good news is that Arbaje and the testicular cancer experts at Indiana University do not think my tumor markers (as they are now) are a sign of trouble in and of themselves. Just a warning to keep a close eye on.

So, where does this leave me? Do I still have cancer? Sort of, I guess. But I have realized recently that the question is futile. I have to move forward, and I can’t rely on the doctors to make my life normal again. I must take charge and do what I can in my own life to keep the cancer at bay. There are several things to concentrate on. Namely, diet, exercise, and my emotional, psychological well-being.

Dawn and I have already agreed to focus together on our diet, which, I have to say, was not so bad in the first place. We’re going to make it even better. Several of you have already given us valuable tips for doing so, and we welcome them. Keep them coming.

Another friend turned us on to an area of cancer research that believes there is a link between heat and cancer cells. That is, cancer cells don’t like heat — it kills them. So, heat treatment ideas have begun to pop up, including saunas and even nanotechnology. But, why not just try the Lance Armstrong way of creating heat? Exercise. I haven’t really started yet, but plan on beginning a real exercise routine.

Lastly (but not leastly) is my mind. This I have decided to heal and condition through meditation and yoga. Yoga is something that I have practiced on and off in my life for many years, but I have never really tried to meditate as a regular practice. I am now reading a fantastic book called Mindfulness in Plain English that focuses on the Buddhist practice of “insight meditation.” It has helped me enormously already, though I have yet to take the step into practicing meditation.

So, yes, I’ve decided that regardless of what the doctors can or cannot tell me, I must get on with my life. And not just get on with it. But improve it in the process.


4 Responses to “Get on with it, Lawler”

  1. Jamie Marks Says:

    96 six days not smoking for me. Although I can’t say that I have your determination, Michael, I also never hiked across Mexico. but 96 days is a big deal for me. January 1st is the beginning of my 19th year of staying clean and sober. So, I guess some choices we make do become a part of who we are. Is it a zen thing that states that the harder we fight something the stronger it becomes? I can’t believe the answer is to let what ever it is wash over you. So what is the answer? Stop the fighting, send the troops home and have a party?

    Got me thinking about how many books I have on meditation

    1. sitting: A guide to Buddhist Meditation, Diana St. Ruth
    2. How to Meditate: A step by step guide to the art and science of meditation, John Novak
    3. Zen for Beginners, Judith Blackstone & Zoran Josipovic
    4. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice, Shunryu Suzuki
    5. Teach Yourself Books: Zen a way of life, Christmas Humphreys
    6. Kensho The Heart of Zen, Thomas Cleary

    Have I read any of them all the way through? No… couldn’t tell you why not.

    Several old paperbacks on yoga too. Nobody likes to do yoga on mat next to a smoker.

    Anyway Happy Holidays to you and Dawn!

    Don’t wait for permission to live.

    Love ya!


  2. More than one person has claimed that all traces of their cancerous tumors were wiped out by macrobiotics, which is a style of eating I did for about a year. It was way too disciplined for me to maintain, and I was not committed to it for any real reason. Still, I got into it because of Dirk Benedict’s (Starbuck on the original Battlestar Gallactica) book, which was fascinating. Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy, it’s called. His second book, about fatherhood, is good, too.

    But there are a ton of books about macrobiotics as an approach to treating cancer. It was sure a healthy damn diet.

  3. Thanks for your card and holiday thoughts. Hope you are doing well!

    Husband and I joined the gym for our Christmas present, birthday and probably everything else. We picked that as an investment in our health over any “stuff” I could get.

    Try a Lifetime Fitness if you have one in your area. You mentioned heat- – -they have steamrooms, pools, hot tubs, etc. I can get through a workout if I know I have a “goodie” coming. Shannon

  4. […] go every two month these days. My tumor markers (if you don’t recall what those are, look here) both went up this time, which I think is a first. They have never gone below normal levels, and […]

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