The last time I posted was March 8, 2013. I’m sorry for that. That is one thing about cancer that no one can prepare you for — you are never really ever right in the head again. I know, “How can you tell?” I know many of you are asking that question right now. Because of my transparency (at least until March 8) my open-book life has left open for all to see that I am, on a good day, not that right.
He ain’t right.
I love that we live in a place where you can say that about someone (or yourself) and people know what you’re talking about. A hell of a lot of water has gone under our family’s collective bridge since March 8. We lost two dear members of our family animal pack. Our Golden Retriever, Dixie, was killed by a logging truck and I buried her badly ruined body. I cried a gallon of tears standing there with a bag of lime and a shovel. By myself, because I wanted no one else to have to see the carnage that was once a beloved member of our family. That same week, Azrael (Azzy), who lived on our farm for at least 15 years up and left. She likely want off to die. Cats will do that. They want to spare the ones they love the trauma of their departure.
If you’ve noticed a tender spot in our latest issue of Columbus and the Valley on our stance on rescuing animals, you’d be right. We have recently rescued a beautiful five-year-old Golden Retriever we named Izzy and a big orange male cat named Garth. These new guys have joined our other inside cat, Zoey, and our only remaining outside cat, Furry Football, and the pack is back whole again. I lost the battle of having indoor cats. I thought (I just thought) I didn’t want them living inside. Jill was of the other opinion. She won that battle, but oh, so did I! The delicious goodness of being able to hug a sweet cat and to have them purr and look at you just like you were the one who hung the moon is therapeutic beyond any possible measure. Physical pain can absolutely melt away and emotional pain is soothed as if real medicine just kicked in. There is real healing in the eyes of a pet. In case you didn’t know that, you know it now.
That animal has chosen you to be its human. They are all in. They’re job is to be your best cheerleader. They’re unfailingly in your corner. Well, at least the dog is that way. I’ve really confirmed over the past few months that we actually work for the cats. They used to rule the world and they’ve never forgotten it. But believe me, if you don’t want your heart invaded, if you don’t really want to fall completely in love with a purring pair of eyes (and the occasional claw) don’t give a cat an inch! They are incredible animals, easy to keep, and impossible not to love, if you get to know them. For those of you who either don’t like or don’t know cats, you’re not living to your full potential. I hope one day you’ll come around and know what the rest of us fully-evolved people know.
One more thing about rescue animals. During this sad time of loss and subsequent discovery, Jill and I had the opportunity to visit on several occasions our Columbus Animal Care and Control Center. Wow, is all I can say! The people there are dedicated, kind and attentive. The animals are well fed, well cared for, clean and loved. I can’t say enough good things about our experience in adopting Izzy. Please use them if you’re thinking about getting an animal. But be warned, sit on your hands for at least one trip out there on Milgen Road. There are some sweet faces out there and they’re all saying, “please take me home!”
Now, for what you came here for, here is my belated health update. My last post (March 8) I reported that the daily 800mg Votrient dose was working. The almost 4cm tumor on my left adrenal gland had shrunk by about 50%. And two small tumors in Strainer (my remaining right kidney) were less noticeable. During our visit with Dr. Andy Pippas at the John B. Amos Cancer Center, he let us know that my scans of last week showed continued, significant shrinkage of the lesions. The adrenal nodule is only about 5-10% of its original size and the two small spots on Strainer are almost entirely gone! So, the white hair, vomiting, lack of appetite, sensitivity to the sun, itchy skin and chronic diarrhea now seem to be a small price to pay for stabilizing this cancer, giving me more life to share with my family and friends and more time to make my mark on a place that I love.
I have lost a frightening amount of weight. About 70 pounds, representing over 26% of my body weight, has come off due to the lack of appetite and my inability to keep food down. I’m meeting with Beth Bussey, a wonderful nutritionist at the JBACC, and we’re plotting to find foods I can eat that I can properly digest. The big thing is my appetite. I would slap the smile off Jim Morpeth’s face for a Country’s barbecue sandwich! But, I wouldn’t be able to eat it without an almost immediate refund. Recently, we stopped by the new Meritage on First Avenue in UpTown for lunch. Chef Ashley Simmons Parsi-Graciani goes to great lengths to whip me up a vegetarian delight that hits my sweet spot (whatever that happens to be in that given moment). More often than not, when I finally sit down to eat, the nausea sets in and I just can’t bear the thought of putting something in my mouth. It is really frustrating, and the dramatic slide of my weight is becoming a concern to my caregivers.
It is a shame that marijuana is an illegal substance. I left my doctor’s office today with a prescription for Marinol (http://www.marinol.com/). This is a synthetic rendering of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It should banish nausea and also stimulate my appetite. We’ll see. It is shameful that there is a naturally growing herb that could bring relief to people who are suffering with cancer, aids, glaucoma and other serious chronic conditions, and that we can’t legally acquire it. Boy, I never thought I’d be putting myself out there to be an advocate for legalizing marijuana. But I’m there, folks. It just makes me angry that this good medicine is out there, but I can’t have it. I’m not expecting to see much public feedback on this one, but I’m curious about what people think about my comments here on this volatile subject.
I’m going to weigh in here on another volatile subject. At least, some of the local media and the nutbags — the regular 20 or so posters — who have tried and convicted MY DOCTOR, Dr. Andy Pippas for a alleged boatload of billing infractions. I know the media has a job to do. I do that same job every day. But, I really don’t like the tone that so many people have taken against a man who has lengthened lives and provided healing to thousands. I had him look me in the eye today and tell me exactly what I needed to hear to expend whatever personal energy I can to be a loud, proud member of Team Pippas. I am walking around today because of his great care and the care of the members of his John B. Amos Cancer Center team. I’ll be happy to talk to anyone about my experiences under his care. But if you want to engage me and just run him down, I’ll cut you off at the knees.
I hope to be able to keep a steady writing pace. There is much good going on in our lives and it makes me happy to be able to share it. I’ve said a lot in this post. There’s more where that came from.