Big news! Huge news!

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on September 1, 2009


 I had a major-big-HUGE doctor’s appointment Monday, and as is patently obvious from the chart above I am in awesome condition. My P21 tumor-suppressor gene turns out to be positive in 100 percent of cells. And the all-important P53 gatekeeper gene is positive in 50 percent of cells. There’s a bit of concern because my EGFR WT seems a tad high, but we won’t worry about that right now, because as I reported in an earlier post my MGMT count is very, very low. Don’t believe me? Well I have the printout with all the numbers to prove it.

Any questions? Having trouble keeping up with this cavalcade of good news? Please refer back to the chart above, which was put together by the fine folks at Sesame Street in conjunction with retired football coach and broadcaster John Madden, who has generously offered my oncologists the use of his famous Telestrator to help them treat my brain cancer.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: I have brain cancer. Unfortunately, no updates on that front.

I’m actually kind of disappointed, because I was hoping to have a bunch of news to report after this big appointment with Dr. George Bobustuc, my neuro-oncologist. But as I suspected going in, that’s not how cancer-treatment works. Having brain cancer and trying to keep your friends and loved ones updated on your condition is like being a newspaper reporter with a really boring, obscure beat that produces mostly mind-numbing, incremental news of very little interest to a general reading audience.  The doctor’s appointment is like the big news conference that you go to with high hopes that you’ll come back with some blockbuster story that your editors won’t be able to resist splashing across the top of the front page. But more often than not, you just trudge back to the office with a notebook full of gobbledygook and no story.

I had this experience many times as a reporter covering NASA in Washington. There would be these really important hearings in some tiny, ornate inner-sanctum on Capitol Hill where fat, white-haired men would belly up to a conference table to make multi-billion dollar decisions about the space agency’s budget for the upcoming year. As a reporter, you’d often have to scratch and claw just to get past the rope line and squeeze your way into one of these hearings. Once inside, you felt like you were witnessing something big simply by virtue of all the trouble you had to go through to get access to it. Then by the way all the pompous senators or congressmen would bloviate and carry on about the internal machinations of the NASA budget and the federal appropriations process, it really did seem important by golly. But I vividly  remember the sensation of leaving such meetings so often and heading back toward the subway thinking I had a great story locked and loaded, only to forget exactly what that exciting story was by the time I reached the Metro station. Then, by the time I arrived at my news office and sat down at my desk to write, I’d scour my notes over and over again to find…nothing really worth reporting. It dawned on me that I might as well have spent my day picking up random scraps of paper from the gutter and trying to base a newspaper story on that. Still, I had to justify to my editors  why I’d spent all that time at the hearing. The solution? Pull a story out of my ass. That’s why God created journalism schools — to create a corps of professionals trained to survive, evade, recover and escape in exactly these kinds of emergency situations. One time I made my story about how dumb it seemed that multi-billion dollar deliberations involving taxpayer money would be made in shoebox-sized rooms that, while theoretically open to the public, might as well have been sealed, underground vaults. If NASA’s $15 billion budget really required no more than a couple hundred square feet to discuss, I reasoned, then the entire federal government should be able to fit itself neatly inside a single office building with no more square footage than a typical K-Mart store.  On another occasion after covering a non-news-producing news conference on the Capitol steps in sweltering summer heat, I wrote a story proposing that congressmen organizing such events be required to attend them entirely naked. That way, I thought,  they’d really have to have something genuinely important to say before going on camera. Neither of those two stories made Page One, but they got me through the slow news days.

Updating everyone today on my latest appointment kind of reminded me of those times. That diagram up there? I just ripped it off Google Images after punching in a couple of the key genetic terms (P21 and P53). I have no idea what that chart shows. I don’t even think John Madden could explain it. But it looks vaguely like a draw play setting up a couple of crossing post patterns. I still can’t figure out why there needs to be a pulling right tackle involved in the play.

On a more serious note, I did get a full printout of all my “immunohistochemistry” results from Dr. Bobustuc, which show that my current chemotherapy drug Temodar should have positive effects in the effort to whip my cancer into submission. But I won’t have any concrete results showing those actual effects until Oct. 19. That’s when Dr. B scheduled my next appointment along with a follow-up MRI to see how the six-week chemotherapy and radiation regimen has worked. That date will be almost three weeks after I wrap this treatment up on Sept. 30. After that, I’ll get a one-month break and then probably be on some sort of maintenance program with monthly doses of chemotherapy (without radiation) on an indefinite basis. Dr. B told me I could expect to be reporting in for MRIs about once every two months to make sure another tumor has not returned. Another one of these little bastards could recur either in the site where the previous one was removed or in some other locale in my brain.

If that happens, hold the presses. We’ll have some real news then.

If it doesn’t, well allrighty then. I’ll just find something else to write about.


12 Responses

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  1. Flatus said, on September 1, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Well, Lard, as the town punster who was given a reprieve from a most dire sentence said, “Ah, no noose is good noose!”

    In any case, to my eyes the chart looks pretty good, especially as the 100% active P21 kicks in after the 50% active P53. But, then, I know next to nothing about football.

    I looked at your post from yesterday. You have at least one Buddhist guy in your corner, too. Hang tough.

  2. fish said, on September 1, 2009 at 9:44 am

    well, then, here’s hoping for no earthshattering news on the technical front (from one who often referred to the pathology report instead as the toxicology report)

  3. claudine hellmuth said, on September 1, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I’m hoping you’ll have to find something else to write about for a LONG long long time!!

  4. Julie Holton said, on September 1, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Hello my little brother. Just wait until your next appointment when you discover that cancer ran for the hills. Cancer never met Sean Holton!


  5. Jamie said, on September 1, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I’ve seen that organization chart before. It usually means, you get to work and the person who drew it doesn’t. This time I hope it means you get to keep writing hilarious missives about telestrators

  6. Maxtrue said, on September 1, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Hi Lard.
    You’re lucky. Covering NASA meetings now would make you cry. I wonder what percentage of our national debt NASA runs up. I think NASA’s budget is less than 1 percent of GDP. I recently watched Apollo 13 again and we sure had the right stuff. Now. I not so sure.

    Of course you jest about your knowledge of P53. For others, here is a simple link: Your news is actually encouraging as there seem to be ways to boost active P53 which can then stomp out those fleeing Cancerban. You usually need the gene is start with. The actual transcription of the gene and suppresive deployment of it must be some amazing dance. I’m hearing the Flight of the Valkyriesake as the P53 signal fire making the egomanical mutants self-destruct.

    Evolution definately opted for layered defenses. I do note that DOD is rushing to build at least ten super bunker busters by next July. I fear however, some things require more than just a less-than-silver bullet.

    Grace and pressure do not go well together. You are an exception. Thank you for that Sean. I don’t think Madden would be betting against you. Now get your clone army of P53s into action so we can argue about those MOABs come next July.


  7. Maxtrue said, on September 1, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Puts “sending the right signal” in perspective.

  8. paul lester said, on September 2, 2009 at 12:07 am

    This looks like one of those Sentinel re-organization flow charts we would get every two months.

  9. Chantal said, on June 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

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    W tej chwili! Łozy skończyły się błyskawicznie, sir Roger wypełznął na łąkę.

    Chociażby w ciemnościach cze.

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