Posted by: cg00n | July 9, 2012

The Man with the Golden Syringe

The big news since the last update is that I am now 3 weeks into my Interleukin-2 treatments.  They take place approximately every 2 weeks during a short clinic visit featuring Dr. G and his golden hypodermic syringe.  There is the usual frightening list of possible side effects but the only thing that is really noticeable in my case is that a few hours later I feel very tired with some general aches.  Hardly surprising since my immune system is in high-caffeine mode and looking for trouble.  For a few days after the lumps might itch a bit but (and this is the important bit) they do seem to be shrinking.  The process appears to be quite slow and there is still no guarantee that it will prolong my life but I’m 95% convinced that the treatment is working which is a great comfort.  I probably won’t need a lot more minor surgeries.

Having said that I may, in fact, take a trip to Toronto in order to have a lump or two cut out.  For some time I have been in touch with a Dr. Ohashi who will be starting a clinical trial of a melanoma treatment involving cultured T-cells.  Although I am not in need of any systemic treatment at this time we agreed that it would be helpful if I could provide some melanoma tumour material in advance.  It gives her team something to play with and may come back to benefit me if more drastic measures are needed.  Dr. D (my oncologist) has now contacted the people in Toronto and I believe there is a mechanism more or less in place to allow me to have them acquire said tumour material.  The timing of such a trip is, as yet, completely undetermined.  We’ll have more news as it becomes available.

What with one thing and another I haven’t actually asked any of my doctors for the results of the recent PET scan but no news is almost certainly good news, in this case.  I’m sure Dr. G (who ordered the scan) would have told me if there was anything wrong.

From a state of mind perspective I am doing very well.  My anxiety is currently down into the noise level and I’m getting on with my hectic retirement.  Part of this is, of course, the ongoing effort to keep my mind in a good state.  I meditate at least an hour a day (on average), read a lot of stuff on the web (e.g. Tiny Buddha, Raptitude), spend time discussing the practices with friends (thank you Beth, Scott, Richard, Anna, & David!), and I chat to my psychiatrist about once a month.  I am essentially trying to learn new habits of mind (living in the present, dwelling more on the positive than on the negative, etc.) and this is not something that comes easily to me.  If any of you have thoughts on how to do this more efficiently please let me know.

My next big push on the mental health front will probably involve digging into The Healing Journey.  A group of people centred around the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto have developed a series of courses that appear to bring together much of the material I have found scattered all over the place.  The courses are offered by the PMH and also across the Canada at Wellspring Cancer Centres but all the material, workbooks etc. is available online.  There is an amazing amount of self-help material available now that I just could not find four years ago.  Always something new to try.  My thanks to Ms. M.W of Nova Scotia for introducing me to this program.

As a final salvo in my “you really should try this meditation stuff” campaign, here is a lovely little Tiny Buddha posting that you might find persuasive.  Namaste.

News Roundup

In skin cancer news we have:

There were a couple of interesting New Scientist articles recently:

  • Retune your Immune System talks about the many things that help you to fight off illness before resorting to drastic measures.
  • There is an experimental cancer drug (Chlorotoxin) made with radioactive scorpion venom.  Sounds like something out of  Spiderman.

In other news:

That’s it for today.  I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer.



  1. The “Eleven Things you should never say to someone who is depressed” post is interesting and useful. Are there an equivalent eleven things which one can say which are actually helpful?

  2. All interesting and so much better news than any other time in history. And the even more exciting prospect is that there is more discovery to behold on the horizon. I am so glad your treatments are working and that there are more options out there for the future. What an ordeal you have been through !
    It seems that the “cut it out” option is the best course of action from what I have read on “Chaotically Precise”. Good luck and keep up the good work !!


  3. Rick J, I might ask if they’re interested in clinical studies (I was, still am: helps me learn more about brains, without being a zombie), recommend a clearinghouse for more information, a therapist, support group, national organization, or psychiatrist about whom you’ve heard good things; offer to listen, perhaps offer a hug, depending on the degree of closeness you have.

    There are similar lists (ok, should be) for migraineurs, insomniacs, pregnant women, women trying to get pregnant, and most likely cancer patients! It’s amazing how many stupid, tactless, rude, and just plain mean things people will say.

    I have a blessing I give women who are obviously pregnant, in order to help counter all the horror stories and rudeness they’ve encountered.

  4. I hope the Interleukin-2 keeps being useful for you! Even if you aren’t going to need it, the study by Dr. Ohashi sounds interesting, and your being able to have your biomass included in the study will be helpful, too.
    PS Pkg finally on its way.

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