Luckiest man on the face of this earth
I’m still resting a lot at home, but I’ve been waking up each day feeling stronger. I went to see the neurosurgeon yesterday (Thurs 6/10) and he said I was healing really well from my June 2 surgery. He took all the sutures out and told me I really didn’t need to even wear a bandage on it anymore. I’m cleared to drive again. Maybe I’ll even get back on the motorcycle next week. My headaches are also gone. He showed me the post-op MRI of my brain and it looked really clean — no “areas of enhancement” whatsoever. That means they were able to cut out everything they were going in after. They also didn’t have to touch any areas of my brain that would affect short-term memory or any other functionality. So I guess I can kiss those “luxury side effects” goodbye.
The tissue analysis showed that much or most of what was removed was scar tissue or “treatment effects” (ie., dead cells) left over from previous radiation and chemotherapy treatments. But there were indeed some live cells of recurring tumor among those that were removed. So surgery was definitely the right call at this time. Now I’m in a phase where I must wait until my oncologists recommend a new chemo maintenance regime. As was the case before, the goal now will be to keep killing off the microscopic GBM cancer cells that are probably still swimming around in there somewhere but which do not show up on MRI. I’m ready and eager to rejoin that battle. At this point, it doesn’t look like my follow-up will involve further radiation treatments because, as my doctor put it, “There’s not really anything we can see to shoot at right now.” I like the sound of that. I also like the tone of his voice when he assures me that everything I’ve gone through in the past week has definitely kept me on the track for long-term survival — meaning 5 years, and perhaps more beyond that. Who knows what the college football conference lineups will look like by that time?
Speaking of sports, I told my brother Tim yesterday that the best way I can sum up my medical situation, my gratitude for all the support I’ve received from family and friends and my personal feelings about the whole experience right now is by channeling the famous Lou Gehrig “appreciation day” speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939. The signature audio effect of the speech is the echo of certain key words over the loudspeaker. I first heard this speech when I was a little kid, and it’s been echoing a lot in my head these past few days. Here’s what Gehrig said (I added the echoed words in italics):
“Fans-fans-fans-fans-fans, for the past two weeks-weeks-weeks-weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got-got-got-got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest-luckiest-luckiest man on the face of this earth-earth-earth-earth.”
Call it corny, but after everything I’ve been through that’s really how I feel right now, too. Lucky? You bet. But unlike Gehrig, I’m not saying goodbye to anyone. I can’t wait to get back to work and life. Thanks to all of you who have helped me with each step along that journey.