Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Results Are In

And it is the best possible outcome under the circumstances. "No evidence for active lung cancer." "No evidence of recurrent disease." Anywhere. Good blood work, physical exam normal. I was elated and thrilled, hugging and screaming (Neil tried to stop me but he couldn't). We celebrated with martinis and wine, a nice dinner, and coconut ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.

But in between screaming in delight and the celebratory dinner I remained sober and attentive in my meeting with Dr. Herbst. I am not cured. Presently, there is no cure for lung cancer beyond surgery. The Tarceva will stop working. It is not a matter of if, but when. Could be three months, could be eight years. Unfortunately, not only is there no Tarceva II, there is no standard protocol to follow when Tarceva fails.

The plan going forward is to be scanned every 3 months, alternating between Houston and Atlanta. Dr. Herbst also suggested having a chest x-ray every six weeks. I have information on other physicians around the country working with lung cancer patients, active clinical trials and the latest research projects; I have met the people driving the Lung Cancer Alliance, Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Foundation and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. They will not let me down, not without a big, fat fight.

I still have a difficult road ahead of me but I am going to take some time to revel in this good fortune. I am going to finish my rehab program, continue my never-ending doctor visits, and soak up some (metaphorical) sun.

According to Scheinberg, Tarceva + prayer is a perfect cocktail. Thank you all for providing such a great mixer.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Plan for Neutral News

I have been tested, inspected, injected, scanned, crammed, and stuck. I have been covered in warm blankets and greeted with sweet smiles. I have been hugged, kissed, wished well and prayed for. The results are in. I just don't know what they are. It reminds me of the first day, May 27, as I stood in my closet and wondered, "what do you wear to the appointment when you know you are going to be diagnosed with cancer?" I have decided that the best approach for me is to take the advice of a Stage IV and plan for neutral news.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Little Help Please

On Sunday I head to Houston for a visit to MD Anderson. I will have several scans and other diagnostic tests and will then meet with an oncologist. I believe that the Tarceva is working, but the tests will show how well.

I am covering all my bases so I am asking for your good luck wishes and prayers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Covered in Dachshund

Consciousness comes, slowly.
I take stock of who I am, where I am, and that something is not quite right.
Then I remember. Lung cancer.

Before I open my eyes, I realize that there is something cold near my ear. It is Dash. I remember him burrowing under the blankets as I drifted off to sleep last night. Now this wiener dog, a bratwurst, really, has his nose by my face and the rest of him nestled on John's pillow as if tucked inside a bun. His copper red color surrounded by the beige sheet remind me of a naked dog that walked from the Varsity. He is peaceful in slumber and I know that this serenity will remain with him when he wakes. He is the Gandhi, the Buddha of the dog world, bringing peace to the Alpharetta Greenway and to wherever he goes. He is the oldest and wisest of the pack but is a benevolent leader. There is not an Alpha Male bone in his body.

My legs feel like they are glued to the bed. That spot belongs to Dewey. Dew-eyed, handsome boy. The middle child who is jealous of but loving to his older and younger siblings alike. And playful, smart, polite and wanting always to please. But big dogs, watch out. He announces himself and wants you to know he is ready to rumble.

At the corner of the bed in a spot he has claimed as his own is Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. This is not a typo. He is named for the officious if deranged seeing eye bitch in the movie Everything is Illuminated. Floppity, dumb as dirt, living for the moment and loving every minute. Irresistible to all who do not have to clean up his mistakes or pay for the ruined books. White with dark spots, he looks like an elongated beagle and howls like one. Eats like he may have the potential to challenge Dash for being the Fat Boy in Town. He completes the pack of boys, who can often be found on the bed, sofa, or comfy chair intertwined and in repose.

Suddenly, the quiet of the morning is pierced by fierce barking. That would be Dot a/k/a Dorothy a/k/a Dotalicious a/k/a Ninja. Small, stealth, 6 1/2 pounds of vigilance. The deer, the cats, the other creatures that lurk in and around our yard are never safe as long as Dot is around. Afraid of nothing, she is the bravest of the bunch. For the year before she became one of the Aussenberg/Denys pack she lived in an apartment and never went outside. Now she stays out in all but the coldest, wettest conditions. We almost lost her to a bird of prey last year. She was bloodied and scared, but she endured stitches and swiftly recovered. Dot Denys. One loud, tough cookie who now snuggles sweetly nearby.

I close my eyes for a few more minutes to enjoy the moment.
Covered in dachshund.
Covered in love.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Upcoming Events

On February 21, the Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Foundation is sponsoring the 2nd annual Dancing for Joan gala event. Like me, Joan Gaeta was a non-smoker. She was diagnosed in early 2004 and succumbed to the cancer in July 2007. The Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Foundation was created by her husband and children to raise awareness of the disease, to educate the public, and to be an advocate for research. I am sure it will be a wonderful evening for a very worthwhile cause. John and I will be partying along with friends and we hope you will join us. You can find more information at

On May 2nd, the folks who brought you Team Dream (Amy, Amy and Amy), in conjunction with the City of Roswell (Jere and Co.), have organized The "Lung Cancer Needs a Paddling" River Trip. Be part of a fleet of canoes and kayaks paddling down the Chattahoochee River to help raise awareness and find a cure for lung cancer. All proceeds from the event will benefit the National Lung Cancer Partnership though Team Dream. I will publish the link with more information and to register at the beginning of March. Don't even THINK of not participating.