Posted by: cg00n | December 14, 2011

Christmas Comfort

The lump is gone:  good news for Christmas.  Since my last posting a number of things have happened.

I had the stitches removed from the previous two excisions.  It’s a pity one cannot recycle the sutures:  they’re quite expensive and I’ve gone through a lot this year.  A couple of days later Dr. M called to give me the results of the pathology report:  both lumps were melanoma and both had clear margins.  On the whole I treat this as good news these days.  A week or so after that Dr. D called to talk a bit about the proposed chemotherapy.  Her take to this is to reserve systemic chemo (as opposed to locally injected or limb perfusion) for a last resort.  In general, start with the most local procedure one can manage (usually surgical), escalate to the next most local (usually radiation and only then reach for the shotgun.  Apparently the newer drugs are still only available on a compassionate trial basis and I may still be denied them if I’ve had something else.  So, today I went back to Dr. M to show off my newly healed wounds and to ask him to give me another one.  This task he delegated to the usual suspects, a lovely collection of doctors and nurses with such a great sense of humour that I always end up in stitches.

On January 3rd I get my next CT scan the results of which should be known by the time I see Dr. D again on January 11th.   At that point we can revisit the various chemo options and my new year will off to another great start :-^

Meanwhile I continue to meditate and study mindfulness techniques.  A couple of weeks ago saw a small but significant breakthrough when I learned to distinguish between

  1. the problem (having cancer)
  2. the mental state associated with the problem (anxiety)
  3. the worry that I won’t be able to cope with the mental state (panic)

It finally clicked after a day of feeling mildly anxious, a lot of reading and a long, learnéd discussion with P.  I have now been able to accept the anxiety.  What I mean by that is that I’m not just saying “I accept this” but I am also feeling that “It’s OK to be anxious”.  As a result I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach but it no longer bothers me much.  The first day I felt this way I was almost bouncing up and down on my chair with delight:  it was like “I feel cruddy but I don’t care!“.  It has been a wonderfully liberating experience.  Eventually I hope to be able to accept the cancer itself and then I’ll stop feeling anxious about it but I’m not holding my breath.  Lots more work to be done on my head before that happens, I suspect.

News Roundup

Finally, as a sort of Christmas present to the world, I’d like to draw your attention to:

Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells

It sounds terribly dry and dusty, doesn’t it?  You really should follow the link.

Have a wonderful 2011 – 2012 transition, whatever form it may take!




  1. Angela is quite the celebrity around here. The Cupertino school system has some fairly wealthy families, some really good development types for getting what they need or want from local firms, and some stellar teachers and programs.

    Your analysis of your state of mind is really good–sometimes I can do that sort of breakdown on why I’m panicking. I just can’t necessarily avoid the panicking part, even though I’m doing breathing exercises, and trying to shout down the voices that feed the panic. I have two specific repeating triggers, which I can mostly avoid, but I was a bit surprised in March of 2003 to find that I was having continuous panic attacks incited by the fact that we were going to war. I took xanax for about a week before I felt too stupid/fuzzy, and stopped.

    The gene in mice that is required for melanoma to metastasize–should be T-Rex-1 or Py-Rex-1.

    It’s possible that men have, overall, lower anti-oxidant levels, may be due to not eating enough veggies & fruit.

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