Posted by: cg00n | May 25, 2008

Where I’m coming from

In the absence of any more substantive information I’m going to lay out my current thinking regarding my melanoma.  Most of this material has already come up in this blog so think of this as a kind of summary.  As always your comments and observations will be most welcome.

Let me start by saying that right now I feel incurably optimistic about the future.  This may come as a total shock to those of you who know how high my anxiety level typically hovers.  It comes as something of a surprise to me and I really suspect I owe most of it to the double-Prozac dosage I started feeding myself a couple of days after the original diagnosis.  When the dust settles a bit and after I’ve talked to the new shrink I may try to cut down a bit and see if I start falling apart.  In the long run, though, if keeping myself anxiety-free means popping an extra pill I am just going to do that and be thankful it works.  The only side effect is that I tend towards total inertia, which probably comes as a total non-shock to those of you who know me well.

My current state of health, other than this mangled foot that should be fixed fairly soon, is as good as it has ever been.  I can find no symptoms of mysterious ailments, shortness of breath, blood where there shouldn’t be, pain or anything like that.  This leads me to be optimistic that the CAT scan will come back clear or very nearly so.  Anything that is going to eat me from the inside is up against a body that is in pretty fair shape and which doesn’t get abused a whole lot.  It should take a while before this thing can write me off even in a worst-case scenario.

There is still hope that they can get rid of the melanoma by surgical means:  I might have to lose some more lymph nodes.  Of course that doesn’t guarantee that it won’t sneak through to nest in some other place, but there’s no guarantee I won’t be hit by a falling helicopter either.  Anyway, if they reckon they can “get it all” surgically I probably have a moderately long life ahead of me.

If the CAT scan shows signs of cancer elsewhere in my system then, as I understand it, the only real treatment at present is chemotherapy using interferon.  This doesn’t sound like fun but other people survive it and indeed thrive on it.  The major side effect seems to be extreme fatigue.  Fortunately I have no commitments that would prevent me from resting when I need to and getting on with my life  in between treatments.  I can cope with one more chronic condition that requires treatment.

Of course the longer I survive the greater the likelihood that someone will come up with a new and much more effective treatment for melanoma.  It is, after all, one of the few cancers that is actually becoming more common so I expect there will be a flurry of research in this area.

So either I get well and (in the absence of falling helicopters) live on until something else claims me, or I remain under treatment and face the prospect of a reduced life span.  How short can it be?  This is a total unknown but in light of my general health etc. it seems likely to be a minimum of a few years.   Anything less than about 18 months and I think I will feel cheated but anything much more than that I think I can come to terms with.  There isn’t anything very meaningful I was planning to do with the rest of my life anyway and although I quite enjoy life on the whole I think it is rather overrated.  The up side of dying relatively early is that I avoid all that getting old and senile.   I didn’t envy my father his Parkinson’s Disease which was slowly robbing him of everything in life that he valued.  I would rather quit while I’m ahead.

I still need assurances that I will be comfortable and well-cared for when I can no longer take care of myself, but that applies whether I die now or in 30 years time. The classic advice for any problem of this kind is “live life one day at a time” with the emphasis on live.  I think I can do that regardless of what happens next.  For the moment, I’m not going to die this month and probably not next either.  Life is still very livable.



  1. Let’s here it for anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs!! 🙂

    Helicopters falling out of the sky hitting the unsuspecting seems unique to a mountian community. Perhaps on the East coast it would be something more originally Maritime … a flying boat perhaps?

  2. […] explained why I am reluctant to go for the full course one year treatment in the Interferon and Where I’m Coming From postings. However, I have heard that there is a short course treatment (basically just the one […]

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