Stepping stones

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on January 12, 2010


I saw Dr. George Bobustuc, my oncologist, on Monday afternoon to go over the results of my Jan. 5 MRI scan, and everything looks great. The brain scan even shows improvement from my excellent Oct. 19 MRI — the tumor cavity is shrinking even more, and around the cavity there is a reduction in the contrasting enhancement that might point to a possible recurring tumor, lingering dead cells or scar tissue. The absence of such enhancement is a positive sign of healing. And as with the Oct. 19 scan, there are no indications of lesions anywhere else in the brain. My blood work also continues to be very good. All of this is great news. 

Dr. Bobustuc told me these results mean that the Temodar chemotherapy pills are having the desired effect of keeping the cancer in check and preventing it from producing another tumor. He expects to keep me on the monthly Temodar program for another 12-18 months, and expects similarly good results when I get MRI scans done every two months. His exact words were: “I don’t expect anything to happen in the next year, or even in the next two years.” He said it may even be “many more than two years before there is a problem” (meaning recurrence of a tumor). The way he put it, we cannot say the cancer is gone…but it has effectively been “put to sleep.”

I went into today’s appointment mentally prepared to deal with any outcome. It is natural and easy to let these bi-monthly, follow-up MRIs become focal points for anxiety, and I allowed myself to slip into that mode for the first two. But going forward, I will try to resist that tendency. From now on, the MRI will be my friend. I will see it for what it is — an incredible diagnostic tool. Dr. Bobustuc emphasized that I (and by extension the people who care about me) should not worry about a time bomb going off every time I go in for an MRI. He said the frequency of these scans will give us all plenty of time to react and adapt the treatment approach if signals change anytime down the road. But the bottom line is that anything that does come up will be detected very early — so there are likely to be no huge surprises with any single MRI.

“Nothing bad is going to happen overnight,” Dr. Bobustuc said.

So I’m not looking at my future MRIs as dreadful dates with destiny. They merely will be stepping stones on what now looks like a blessedly long walk. And the stream they cross is not the dark river of death. It is the rushing current of life.

NOTE: The image with this post is by an architectural stained-glass artist from Indiana named Charlotte Ann Paul. It is just one detail from her beautiful installation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lampham Hall Science Building. The round shapes represent living cells, which I think look sort of like stepping stones. I don’t know Charlotte, but she made a nice comment on my last post so I checked out her website. You can find more of her beautiful work here:


24 Responses

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  1. elaine Kramer said, on January 12, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Well, here’s a toast to long walks.

    Thanks for your recent updates, Sean.


  2. fish said, on January 12, 2010 at 11:01 am

    congrats! this is good to hear! actually doing the MRI is what i find stressful/annoying. hard to be still for that long!
    this weekend, i’ll be trying to convince Lisanne, Cindy and Mary Beth to get on Facebook…. we’re getting together (with Nancy too) in NYC for Lisanne’s bday (last weekend)

  3. Pat & Becky said, on January 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    We were hoping that your next update would contain good news, sean. Such results are proof to us that a positive attitude will take you far.

    sending our love…

    P & B

  4. Molly BB said, on January 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Well, what can I say – I find myself sincerely happy and pleased for you, Sean! Thinking positively is a great way to live ones life – I use it EVERY day! God Bless us everyone!

  5. Nancy Pate said, on January 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Great news. I like the stepping stones analogy perhaps because, like Merlin, I often
    think of time as a river. l

    Go well.

  6. claudine hellmuth said, on January 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    yay! super wonderful news!!!

  7. Lisa said, on January 12, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Fantastic News!

  8. Carolyn said, on January 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Yippee skippee, Sean! I am so happy. Let’s celebrate next time I’m in FL, weekend of Jan. 29. Heck, i might just have a celebratory drink tonight, in your honor. You know, you’re in better situation than the rest of us. You’re having regular checks on your brain. No telling what’s going on in ours.

  9. Ann Hellmuth said, on January 12, 2010 at 7:07 pm


    What wonderful news. Now I have faith that 2010 will be a truly better year. How happy Kaley and Chopper would be if they could only understand their beloved Dad is going to be around for a long time.


  10. Charlotte said, on January 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I came home from teaching today, thinking, “This was an incredibly good day.” Took a fine walk in the snow with Malea, fixed a fun dinner with her, played cards, then opened your message, filled with great news on your home front! Sitting here with a smile on my face, that radiates out into your realm. Such powerfully moving news from your MRI. Moved very deeply by the inclusion of my art, thank you dear sir. Go forth with lightness in your step.

  11. lois grebowski said, on January 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    wonderful news!

  12. Vicki said, on January 12, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I am so freaking happy for you. Death is slinking away on little cat’s feet.

  13. Kathryn Quigley said, on January 12, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    I like your oncologist’s name. It is fun to say.
    I am glad your brain is better!!

  14. Ivy Green said, on January 14, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Good news…

  15. rebeany said, on January 14, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    really good news. i know how hard it is not to feel anxiety when you go for a scan. my oncologist told me to go out and live a normal life but i was allowed to be nervous for 24 hours before my scan. i also have decided that the procedures allow me to be watched carefully. you sound lke you have a very wise doctor.
    wishing you continued good results. glad to come here and find a post.

  16. RebelliousRenee said, on January 15, 2010 at 9:06 am

    ALRIGHTTTTTTT! You’re way too tough a bird to leave this planet yet, my friend. Besides… this place could use a little bit more of your type of humor.

    stay strong…. take care… and thanks so much for the update…

  17. patd said, on January 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    thanks for the update, lard. we miss you on the trail. how’re copter and friend?

  18. David Blank said, on January 16, 2010 at 11:19 am


    I fell behind on blogs this week, but had heard the great news from Craig. Waking up on Saturday AM and reading this really made my day!

  19. Geri said, on January 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I have been facebook-less, blog-less for weeks. What a delight to go online tonight and read your good news. I like your onc’s positive attitude, and yours. MRIs are our friends!

  20. Marlene Toms said, on January 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Good for you! This is such great news!
    It’s that Irish determination! I remember hearing many time as I was growing up, “There’s no such word as can’t”.
    You’re doing it!

  21. Patty Noland said, on January 30, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Great news, Seany-Sean!

  22. Pat & Becky said, on January 31, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    We would love to really talk to you sometime off line. Send us a phone # or address to do old facsion stuff like a card!
    Love ya, Becky

  23. Keith said, on February 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Sean, this truly is great news. And great news is hard to come by lately. I’ll keep praying for continued success. Your docs sure sound like they’re on top of things. So here’s to another couple of years of inactivity by your tumor and we’ll hope for many more years after that.

  24. Becky Hall said, on February 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Sean – thought I’d check back in on you and saw the wonderful news! So very happy for you!

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