Thursday, February 4, 2016

Well, that's not exactly what I wanted to hear

My cancer is back.

Actually, since it's incurable, I guess it was never really gone. But it was not actively making my life difficult. And now it is... again.

I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was when my doctor told me my proteins were elevated, which indicated the remission was over. I mean, I've written here any number of times that on one of these Fridays when I went in for my blood work, he was going to tell me my cancer was back.

And this last Friday was it.

Here's the thing, though. Yes, I knew it was going to back some day, I just didn't expect it to be that day. It's not as if my blood work had been just OK over the last few months. Not at all. My doctor was beyond delighted with what he was seeing, and kept raving about how terrific things looked.

Well, I must admit, after a few months of that, I let my guard down. Maybe I figured my multiple myeloma would sneak back, a little at a time, and I could be ready. But, it was no one's fault that I was surprised by the news. The doctor even said, at one point, that that was why we refer to it as incurable, with no guarantees that remission would be forever.

On top of all that, I have the chromosome 17p deletion issue that I was told would affect any remission. The deleted piece is designed to manage things like my cancer treatment, and, without it there, stuff happens.

So, here we are again. As I was driving home from the clinic, with the news still a secret between my doctor and me, I realized there was a heavy sense of deja vu all over again.

I would have to find a way to break the news to Sheri. There were our kids to be told and a number of friends who needed to be told personally... just like the first time. It wasn't necessarily easier for having done it before, it was... well... different is all. We all know so much more than we did the first time around that it is easier to talk about, somewhat, and easier to separate the words and medical terms we need from those we don't.

So, everyone is as OK with it as we could expect them to be. I mean, what are you supposed to say when someone tells you their cancer is back? The teller has the advantage of knowing what is coming. The tellee can only take the hit and respond as best they can. Everyone feels bad, of course, and I wish they didn't. Even more than the first time, I know what Sheri and I are up against and I know many of the things we need to do to come out on top in this deal.

The majority of bits remain as they were: having cancer still sucks, the feeling of powerlessness remains strong, there's still no point in asking why me, there's still a fight to be fought.

One of the things I had (mercifully) forgotten was the busy-ness of cancer. The biggest part of that so far is, how are we going to attack it this time? We quickly decided it would be, at least at first, with the oral chemotherapy I had been taking before. It made me nauseous, so we're starting with the smallest dose.

Once that was decided, we had to figure out how to pay for it. It's very expensive and the co-pays we were going to be responsible for were considerable. We immediately made some phone calls and arranged for the financial assists we would need.

Then there's the re-certification process to be endured. Because I hadn't taken this medicine in quite a while, I had to be re-educated on how dangerous it was and the conditions under which I had take it.

And on, and on, and on. We'd forgotten how much went into fighting cancer, and how much of it had to be done on the phone. Oy.

So, after 135 posts about looking for the pony, there is a sense of being back at the beginning. But, we aren't, of course. We're stronger and much more aware of what it is we are up against. We are also very aware of the tools we have to use in the fight, including the hundreds of prayers we get from you. Thanks for sticking with us. We knew you were going to be back to the fore. And here you are!

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere