Friday, October 30, 2009

Everything Went Well on Thursday. (Except the World Series.)

Bill had his blood test Thursday morning, and his body had heroically recovered to a completely normal blood count.

So he got to have a little blue doo-dad stuck in his left arm and taped in place, and they squirted a variety of beverages into it. He got saline solution, anti-nausea stuff, steroids, some other stuff, and then some other stuff, and finally the Gemzar (gemcitabine). That's the chemical that is the gentle one that doesn't bother him.

Though his hair is thinning. And that's SAYING something.

I was looking at the wig collection they have, and I found a David Bowie one that I thought would look good on him. Brown and blonde, short (brown) around the bottom, and on top, sticking up 5 inches, real thick and blonde and punk rock looking.

I dared him to tell the nurse he wanted to try it on, and then to wear it all during chemo and see if she would keep a straight face. He told me those nurses are probably trained never to laugh at the wig selections people make. I said I wanted a job that involved training nurses not to laugh at bad wig choices. Dude. If there really is a job like that, I actually do want it.

Then I told him that maybe it would be easier to just take 5 barbie doll heads--the kind with long blonde hair--and glue them onto the top of his head in a line from front to back, creating a blonde mohawk effect. This suggestion he seriously did consider.

Yesterday, he had such a hilarious character getting chemo and sitting next to him. It was an older fellow, around 80, in jeans and work boots and a checkered flannel shirt. He said he's lived up in the mountains all his life--calls himself a true hillbilly. The accents on the locals here are just fabulous.

This guy had everyone on our side of the Chemo room laughing so hard telling stories in that gorgeous and rarely heard accent. One of the things he said was that he was proud to say that in his entire life, he had never once hit a woman.

The nurse replied, "That's because you're a smart man."

He said, "Wail, truth ee-uhz, ah awlmos dee-id hit a womun wuntzt. Ah was a-standin in a parkin lot, and this-yer womun was a-fahtin' [fighting] wiff her boyfreeund, and she got maddern da dickens at 'im, and 'stedda hittin' HEE-UM, for sum reezun, she decided she'd juss take it out on me an walked up 'n slapped the livin' far [fire] outta me. I dun took off runnin after that womun, an iffn I'da cawt her, I'm sure I'da hit her. Heck, if I'da founda rock, I'da frowed it. Good thang for me, there warnt no rocks, and she was fastern I was."


The night before, I was reading this novel in which an old man says to a young man: "Here's the secret of life, and I'm going to tell you, but you're not going to understand it for a long, long time, till you're much older. Ready? Here it is: Everybody is Christ. And everybody is crucified."

If that's true, and I'm not saying it is, but if it's even KIND of true, then that might explain why something deep and mysterious and strangely beautiful always seems to be visible when Bill is at chemo and when all the fellow sufferers there are having conversations with each other. While they are each in some degree facing the danger of death, nonetheless, at a time like that, they want to make some kind of contact with the co-sufferers beside them.

Was there a little of that going on between the thief on the cross and Jesus?

I don't know, but maybe it was something like that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bill's prayers--WRONG kinda prayers--answered!

Apparently, every bladder has a silver lining.

In this case, the silver lining for Billy Bob is called "The Neutropenic Diet"--and Bill just can't stop snickering with delight about what it requires him to eat.

I'm, well, having difficulty believing there is a diet like this for sick people.

Brief informatory digression:
A neutropenic diet (nu-tro-PEE-nik) is for people with weak immune systems, like Bill's. The diet protects them from bacteria and other harmful organisms found in food and drinks. An immunity-compromised body, like Bill's, can't protect itself from bacteria, so on the days he is neutropenic, he needs a special diet to keep him from being exposed to the many, many things that can get into your body through food.

When he first printed the diet out and started reading it, I could hear him laughing his head off in the back room.

"What in the WORLD is so funny?" I asked him.

"This diet. It's the greatest diet ever known to humankind. There really is a God."

Then he proceeded to read me his favorite sections from the diet. I had to look at it myself to make sure he wasn't tricking me, to get me to stop feeding him all the extreme-health foods I was shoving his way: things like organic, triple virgin, hydroponic, vegan prunes and yogurt and korean cabbage. Grown by contemplative monks in Asia. Well, that's a slight exaggeration, but not much.

He starts off reading me THIS from his neutropenic diet:

"Avoid all fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose donuts, sweet rolls, waffles, French toast, potato chips."

"WHAT?" I howled. "It couldn't possibly SAY that! Gimme that!"

He reads on:

"Avoid salad bars, fruit bars, raw nuts, and all yogurt. Choose chocolate milk, Velveeta cheese, cakes, pies, cookies, commercial ice cream, butter, mayonnaise, jelly, syrup, hot dogs, bacon, sausage..."

"NO! WAY!"

"Way!" he yells back. "I can't eat any foods that might arrive in our kitchen with bacteria on them. I can only eat processed foods, frozen foods, pre-packaged foods. No more raw broccoli! No more raw carrots! No more Jerusalem artichokes!"

Oh. My. Gosh. I looked at the diet and he was right.


I am still trying to bend my mind around this, but it does make a bizarre kind of sense. Although, WHAT!? He is now eating exactly the kinds of foods I have scolded him for, for lo these many years, and he is doing so with an oncological nutritionist's imprimatur.

There is no justice in this world.

Well, in mine, anyway.

There's plenty in his.

And his tastes like Jimmy Dean frozen egg-cheese-sausage biscuits with jelly toast and donuts for breakfast.

Mine tastes like prunes and yogurt and korean cabbage.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big scare: Sunday night, Oct. 20-something

Remembering that the oncologist had told us that if Bill were to get a fever of 100.4, he was to take a mega-antibiotic and go immediately to the ER, you can imagine my panic when, last night (Sunday evening), Bill suddenly started to feel extra bad, and his fever started to rise.

Up it went from the 98s into the 99s...99.2...99.3...99.4...99.6 (Those little dots represent me shoving our new electronic thermometer into Bill's mouth every few minutes in a non-calm fashion.)

Normally, who would even CARE if someone's temperature were that minor?

No one.

Unless they were Beth, who had suddenly begun googling the subject at warp speed, reading every scientific journal article on why the magic number 100.4 is such a big dangerous deal for people who have compromised immune systems.

Okay, now here's what I learned and why I freaked out and started shaking for an entire hour while his fever rose--well, actually THREE things were happening during that dramatic hour: (1) his fever was rising; (2) I was googling "100.4 + chemotherapy" at the speed of light; and (3) when my left hand wasn't typing, it was shoving that thermometer into Bill's protesting face.

So here are some of the phrases that were showing up in every article I was finding:

o LIFE-THREATENING EMERGENCY! (Exclamation point was included)(!)


Okay, that word wasn't in the medical journals.

Now the dilemma was this: Bill, who has chosen the Path of the Golden Ostrich (head-in-sand approach to cancer), did not KNOW that once the fever hits 100.4, it becomes life-threatening for persons who have very low blood counts. I'm sure his count of "one" was especially dangerous.

So there I was, freaking out with my hands shaking, watching that thermometer, and HE couldn't understand why I wouldn't just relax, turn off the computer, let his fever play itself out, and let him watch his TV show about a serial killer who kills serial killers.

Maybe there's some irony in there, but I can't find it.

So I felt really isolated, having all this information, not able to tell him, and being so scared. So I emailed Sarah and JP (two of my kids who are in NYC together, playing concerts).

Here's the cool part:

Unknown to me, Sarah, having read my email about the emergency, immediately texted her most devout Christian friends, JW on the east coast, and EB on the west coast, and her brother, my son JP, who was at a concert. JW then texted his dad, who's a pastor, and emergency-texted a group of prayer warriors through his church. EB texted his family and his dad who, himself, is going through chemo. This entire group started praying a sudden emergency type prayer.

Remember now, we didn't know about that prayer thing.

At that moment, Bill's fever, just before hitting 100, reversed.

It started going down, down, down--for no reason that we could see.

It stopped when it hit 98.6. EXACTLY 98.6. And the crisis was over.


I mean.

KINDA looks like the Big Guy did us quite the favor.


You tell me.

I'm just sayin...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Uh-oh: They had to stop chemotherapy for Bill

Bill got his blood tested before starting chemo today, and the results were so bad that chemo had to be stopped!

The doctor told him that his blood count was only "one."


You can have a blood count of just ONE?


One white cell?


I'm trying to find this out. So far, I think his condition is called "leukopenia" or "neutropenia." It's a fairly common side effect of chemo, although I suspect that a count of "one" doesn't happen every day.

For the next 4 days, he will be extremely subject to infections--both bacterial and viral. He has to wear a mask everywhere he goes, and cannot go in public places or anywhere there are children. He isn't even allowed to receive the H1N1 vaccine because his immune system is so shamwowed that he would GET H1N1 if they gave him the vaccine! YIKES!

We have to take special care in the house to make sure he doesn't get infected. He cannot get scratched, and I have to overcook his eggs and meats, and make sure vegetables are super-clean (I do that, anyway. Lord. I'm so obsessive that I wash the OUTSIDE of BANANAS before I eat them, so no new practices required there.)

As long as I don't have to vacuum.

WHAT? I have to VACUUM?

Meanwhile, the other bad news is that this means he cannot receive any more chemo until that blood situation corrects itself, and the next time he gets cisplatin, he can't have a full dose.

And they never make up the dose he missed today. He just never gets that dose.

Next Thursday, we'll try again.

[Note to self: Mark off the to-do list of Life Experiences: Getting kicked out of a chemotherapy center. Done.]

Team-O-Therapy: Phillies go to the World Series

Better than Gemcitabine and Cisplatin: Bill's lifetime favorite team made it to the World Series in last night's game. Happy place, here. No illness, either. Just tiredness.

Bill even TAUGHT yesterday! Sitting down, yes, but still. I hope at least some of his students realized that was fairly heroic, in the classic sense of the word.

Getting Gemcitabine in the hand this morning at 9:45. Not expecting bad effects from that, either.

By the way, Gemcitabine's other name is "Gemzar."

Doesn't Obama have one of those?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, and the boy is pretty darned good!

It's Tuesday afternoon, and this brief little post is just to cheer up the team.

Bill is MUCH better. No nausea, no specific pain, good mood. Quite hungry, in fact!

He just feels very tired and has to get a lot of sleep and a few naps.

As I write this, he's grading papers on the sun porch and plans to go back to teaching tomorrow afternoon. His next chemo is the day after that (this Thursday).

Here is how big our thanks are for your caring and praying and thinking and beaming and wishing good things for him: (I had to google "biggest thing in the universe" to find this.)Our thanks are as big as a massive black hole, which, according to scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the European Southern Observatory, Chile, is "equal to fifty billion suns; that's 100 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kg, otherwise known as 'ridiculously stupidly big.' "

[The website actually said, "ridiculously stupidly big" even though you might've thought I said it, because it sounds like something I would say. AND it was the website that missed the comma between "ridiculously" and "stupidly" -- not moi.]

Ridiculous and stupid amounts of love and thanks to all,

Monday, October 19, 2009

P.S. Did I say he wasn't nauseated?



Now that, too.

Right about here, I'd insert a painting by Edvard Munch.

Uh-oh. (Monday morning update...)

[Sound of other shoe falling...]

Well, of course the bliss couldn't last. Not that it won't come back, but it was definitely waving bye-bye by the end of the weekend.

They prepared us to expect that days 2 through 4 would be a wild ride. But Bill and I were counting wrong. We counted from Thursday, the Gemcitabine/Gemzar day. We SHOULD have counted from Friday, the Cisplatin day. And Saturday was then day number 1.

Okay, so day 2 was Sunday, and some troubles began.

Bill started feeling bad all over. He had some abdominal pain and other things going wrong in various areas. He never DID get nauseated, which was his main fear, so thank heaven for that!

But by the end of the early evening, he had a fever and body aches and couldn't even lie on the sofa and watch his beloved Phillies play baseball.

So you KNOW he felt bad.

I piled up 5 quilts on his bed (he would tell me that I should have spelled out the number "5" because it takes fewer than [not LESS than] two words to write out, but I'm cheating on the grammar, cuz he ain't lookin.)

After the 5/five quilts were piled up, he STILL felt shivery and needed to wear his sweatshirt with the hood on.

He DID laugh when Midas Mulligan, our Boston Terrier, got excited by all the covers and pounced onto the bed, dug a big crater shape into the covers and plopped down for a warm night beside Bill.

By 4 am, Bill's fever broke, and he felt better, but still like a medium-sized Godzilla had knocked the starch out of him.

He's sleeping right now.

Well, I guess it's going to be like the weather--not whole DAYS of good or bad, but rather TIMES of good and bad.

"To everything, turn, turn, turn...."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Prayer + prayer + prayer = Little Miracle?

It's Saturday night, and Bill has NO side effects!

I can hardly believe this!

He had a brief problem, from 4 am until about noon. He was nauseated and felt like he was run over by a bus. But he took some special medication from the cancer center people, and suddenly--nothing!

He drank lots of ginger ale today and ate a nice supper and even had a little ice cream for dessert. He feels completely fine. Cheerful and talkative.


I am elated beyond all description.

Maybe tomorrow won't be so great. Maybe it will. But I'm so completely happy JUST for today!

Honestly. It seems like an actual miracle. This is NOT what we were told to expect!


Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for the prayers and thoughts and light and love and energy that you sent to Bill.

At least for today, it worked.

Friday, October 16, 2009

An inside look at the comical emails Bill is getting...

In case you wonder why we tend toward silliness in writing some of these blog entries, I wish to point out that it's not entirely our fault. We receive some really funny emails from nutball friends of ours, and that reality has a sort of ineluctable influence.

Here's an example to cheer you up. This is an email Bill read as he sat in Club Chemo on his first day. His reply follows.

A somber attitude, you will note, is not one of our strengths.

"These cheese curds are whey far out, man..."

Oct 15 (2 days ago)

J.W. to William, me

Dear Bill:

Sorry for the subject line...I couldn't think of anything more lucid to write...

I know today is the big day; the beginning of the oh so wonderful chemo phase. I just wanted to drop in and say hello and/or howdy, and let you both know that we (M--, myself, our devotional/prayer group here at the office, my parents, my sister and bro-in law, our church, my stuffed Capt. Caveman action figure, my imaginary friend Zoozle the albino outlaw Sherpa, the GOP, the Daughters of the Confederacy, the 1996 Ashe Central graduating class MADD chapter, etc.) are praying for, and thinking about you ceaselessly.

I hope everything goes well today, and trust that you'll soldier through this just fine. If you need anything, I'm just down the road. I'm not much of a butcher, baker or candlestick maker, but I can stop by the store with the best of them. I'm about to give my yard a final mowing for this year before all the leaves get down. Do you guys need any mowing/trimming done before cold weather?

As we say in the "hood", holla atcha boy!

Hugs, moonwalks and the occasional pop n' lock,


Dear J----,

I'm actually receiving chemo RIGHT NOW as I (briefly) respond; they have wi-fi at the cancer clinic. Cool.

So far, I haven't developed elongated canine teeth or rampant facial and body hair, which I was kinda counting on; Halloween's coming. Oh, well.

Thanks so much for your own prayers and those you have solicited from your posse.

Glad to see that the local MADD group is involved. Beth's substance-use-prone ex-husband once formed a group in Florida called DAMM -- "Drunks Against Mad Mothers." Don't know if it caught on.

I know what you mean by small-town NC "hoods." I hang out with one in Blowing Rock; basically old white guys like me; we do stuff like tag the dumpster back behind the Scotchman convenience store, mostly with AARP slogans... I may need you to send me some spray paint from Ashe County; the local fuzz is getting suspicious.

Hug M-- for both of us. And seriously, thanks for the prayers!

All love to you and yours,

After chemical number two: Bill is still feeling fine...

I, personally, am waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop, but until it does, I can say that, to our unspeakable joy, Bill is feeling absolutely perfect, still.

And it's already almost 9 pm, Friday night!

We were at the chemo clinic (receiving the Cluster Bomb, Cisplatin) until about 3 pm today, and Bill endured receiving more liquids through his arm than Katrina gave New Orleans, or so it seemed.

And now, we keep waiting for a Bill-as-Sigourney-Weaver scene (they actually told us that, this weekend, Bill could feel so bad that he will think for sure that "an alien is about to bust out of his chest.")

Lordie! I could've maybe done without THAT particular image!

But so far, nothing.

And yet, we gloateth NOT.

It can all come upon us like a Stealth bomber.

Any time this weekend.



This is why I don't watch horror movies.

But mixing metaphors doesn't really bother me much, as you can see.

I'll write again tomorrow.

Unless the alien pops out of Bill's chest, bites me, and I suddenly can't type because I morph into a hairy eel with fangs.

All kidding aside, our God is an awesome God, and, wow, He shows up in the most unpredictable ways.

Love to you all, and unspeakable thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and love to us.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

First chemo: Check that off our life experiences list.

Bill is sleeping right now, so I might have to cut this short, but wanted to report that the first experience of having chemotherapy is now officially over!

So far, the side effects have not kicked in, but we were warned that those could happen any time from now until a couple of days from now, so we are waiting.

He only had ONE of his chemicals today: Gemcitabine--the gentler of the two.

He has to go back tomorrow for most of the day (about 11 am until about 4 pm) and will receive BOTH chemicals at once--Gemcitabine and Cisplatin. The Cisplatin is the sledgehammer drug, and he has to be ready for ANYTHING once that is pumped into his arm.

They gave him 3 different medicines to prevent nausea. He takes them every 6 hours. So far, no nausea at all.

[At this point, he woke up and was hungry for tuna casserole, so I made that for him, and he has now eaten it with no ill effects. Yay! He is lying on the sofa in the living room, watching baseball. Life still seems normal.]

Tomorrow, I'll write more about what it's like to actually have chemotherapy put into yourself.

So far, it's pretty much indistinguishable from sitting in an airport waiting for your plane, except that you're not anywhere near an airport, and you're not waiting for a plane, and you're not in an airport chair, but rather in a big blue recliner chair and you have a tube running out of the back of your hand, and that tube is connected to a metal pole that has bags of cold, colorless, clear stuff hanging from them, which is dripping down the tube into your hand, exterminating cancer cells in your body, left and right, and there are nurses everywhere being really sweet to you, and you're in a hospital, and there are lots of other people with cancer near you, of all ages, and they are also connected to tubes and poles, and at the end of the day, you don't get on a plane.

But in every other way, yeah, it's EXACTLY like sitting in an airport waiting for a plane.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tomorrow: chemo? YIKES!

Theoretically, tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 15th, Bill will get his first chemo injection.


I've read everything in English on the subject (specific to his chemicals--gemcitabine and cisplatin), and it turns out that the most comforting page was from a website in Wales, which pretty much says that he will have NO side effects. The least comforting was from a website in Pennsylvania, which made it sound pretty much like one part Armageddon, one part Apocalypse, served over ice with a lemon twist.


Either way, I will be posting a big report tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, THANK YOU beyond all measure for your emails, thoughts, prayers, and CARDS! And in some cases, wickedly decadent chocolate treats: you know who you are.

I wanted to write back thank you notes for each card, because each one is so precious, but Bill said I shouldn't. Well...just KNOW you are thanked with all our hearts! YOU know who YOU are, too. :)

For tonight, I just wanted to post a clip from an email Bill sent to H.F., in San Francisco, his dear friend from childhood.

Naturally, I have failed to get Bill's permission to post this clip, but... I'll go with the theory that it's easier to get forgiveness than permission, so I'm posting it without his OK.

Oh, he WOULD have okayed it, I'm pretty sure.

It's just so beautiful, and so very, very Bill. If this doesn't remind you of why Bill is the most spectacular person in the world, then my name Lear.

Here is what he wrote. [When he refers to "the book", he means the book he wrote, which is now on Amazon's Kindle, and also being read on Wisconsin Public Radio every day in their chapter-a-day program, of which Bill is understandably very proud]:

"Turns out, alas, that the book is doing better than I am just now. Long story short, I was diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer in August. Already had one operation at Duke; I start four months of chemo tomorrow in Boone (the Jack Nicholson character in _The Bucket List_ has a great line as he goes through chemo: "Somewhere, some lucky guy is having a heart attack.") Then an eight-hour (?!) operation at Duke next spring or thereabouts. Followed, if need be, by more chemo.

"So a certain pall has been cast on the household, as you might guess...

"The plan long-term is to remain vertical for years to come. We'll see. Meanwhile, old friendships have taken on an enhanced, even immeasurable, value. Kind of a stimulus package, I guess.

"Blessings on you and yours, Bill"

Friday, October 9, 2009

It's Friday, Oct. 9th, and Bill's chemo got moved up!

The really nice people at the Seby Jones Cancer Center in Boone kept track of our wish that chemo could start sooner, and--voila!--an opening occurred for Oct. 15th--this coming Thursday, so they let us have the slot. Therefore, our Willy will meet with the oncologist there on the 15th and, theoretically, start the whole shebang just six days from now.

Found out that the second of his chemo-juices (cisplatin) is made of platinum--hence the "platin" part of the name. Nice to live in the 21st century when meds are made with the finest gold. I imagine that a few hundred years ago, the only chemotherapy people could get was cissilver, and before that, maybe only ciscopper or cisiron. And in the 14th century, shoot, it was probably ciswood or cisgravel or you were on your own.

I guess it's kind of weird to be happy about getting chemo--happy about something that might make Bill feel miserable. Maybe with cancer, there are concentric circles of happiness/unhappiness, like rings around Jupiter. If so, ours is the ring of HAPPINESS that's inside the ring of UNhappiness that results from knowing he needs chemo at all. UNhappy about needing chemo, while HAPPY to get it, while UNhappy about its short-term effects, while HAPPY about its long-term effects.

Um, what?

Bill's mood is the best it's been since the whole safari began. He's feeling much better as he recovers from the bladder scraping event, and he's delighted at getting emails and cards and wonderful attentions from you guys.

His only down side right now is that he is having some weird pains in his bladder AND in an area NEAR his bladder--and of course, I'm freaking out at every little thing that's NEW--hypochondriac (major understatement) that I am.

He's even trying to eat healthy, immune-boosting foods. Our dear friend, D., passed on some tips for chemotherapy health, including suggestions from some Russian scientists we know, involving drinking something called "nettle tea" during chemo. And...all kidding aside... eating beets. (If you remember the beet humor from a couple of weeks ago.)

He's also currently in love with eating grilled talapia with cheese grits. Okay, at least there is fish involved, instead of mushroom-swiss 1/3-pound Angus Burgers.

I'm also dosing him with green tea, bacteria-laden yogurt, probiotic capsules, vegetables, honey, lemons, garlic, beans, soups, and--his most detested item: fruit. And vitamins like D and folic acid. We had to stop taking selenium. Did you know selenium is a NEUROTOXIN? His urologist told us that. Kwap!

That's it for today. I think there will be a lot more posting once the chemo begins and we see how he does with it. (He got a cookbook today, with recipes organized by side effects. Oh, what a long, strange trip it shall be.)


Thank you for your prayers and wishes. God is making His presence known every day.


Love, Beth

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When the BLIP is Bill's chemo gonna start????

Wow, the wheels of medical care grind slowly.

After a convoluted lift-off into the world of setting up chemotherapy, we learn that the soonest we can start chemo is OCTOBER 20TH! What the HEY!????????

I am shaking my head.

It seems to ME like if someone had UBER-INVASIVE, UBER-AGGRESSIVE, UBER-ADVANCED cancer--that's C-A-N-C-E-R!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!--the chemotherapy would have started LAST WEEK!

But nooooooooooooooo.

Everyone is very laid back about this.

Everyone except ME, and Mister J.G., Bill's friend from 8th grade, who, along with me, is approaching SHOCK levels that Bill's treatment is STILL not happening!

At the opposite end of the A.S. (Anxiety Spectrum), Bill, Mister Ostrich Incarnate, is thrilled about this.

He can pretend like everything is normal for another--what?--two weeks??????--and teach his beloved college classes, and avoid those side effects, and silly nausea, and silly fatigue, and silly immune issues, and silly et cetera, et cetera.

Well, there you go.

And we're not even in the Canadian or British health care system, where, if you need emergency life-saving now-or-never treatment, you are lucky if it happens sometime before the next Ice Age strikes Hell!


Well, just for the record, I'd have driven to Duke and got this mother started about 15 minutes after we found out we needed it. But Young William gets to make the final calls on these things.

So October 20th.

Till then, you can believe I am fattening the boy up, and shoving green tea, probiotics, vegetables, yogurt, and chicken soup down his throat. We even ordered a cookbook: How to Cook for Your Chemo Patient. Oy.

Thank you with all our hearts for reading this and caring about Lil William, despite his Ostrichian tendencies.

BTW, I thought this blog would be best if I didn't update very often, but I've gotten some comments that people would like updates more often. I could EASILY write a little something every day about what's going on, but was afraid of boring you. If you have a preference, let us know. We accommodate! :)

Love and light and kisses to all!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bill: On His Medical Condition

Bill, after initially pondering all the bad news he suddenly got from his urologist:

"Wow! What just happened?!?! Last thing I knew, I was enjoying the play with Mrs. Lincoln, and then BAM!"

(this little humor break brought to you by Conan O'Brien, author of the above quote.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oct 1, 2009: Bill's treatment plan

Again, thank you with all our hearts for caring enough to check here! We are so touched that you care.

We got home this afternoon from the big meeting with our Urological Oncologist Dr. Walther at Duke University. We got the results from the transurethral bladder tumor resection and the pathology report, from last weeks' surgery. We are very happy with the speed at which Dr. Walthers has kept things moving.

Okay, so...

Bill has the most invasive and the most aggressive form of transitional cell carcinoma and carcinoma in situ--all highly aggressive/invasive, and many of them all over his bladder. "Life threatening, high potential of having spread as micrometastasis (metastasis which doesn't show up right away on x-ray), not a trivial situation," said Dr. Walther, according to my notes.

He will have to have FOUR MONTHS of chemotherapy in Boone before they will even do the surgery to take out his bladder. Click this different-colored text if you want to see a page that carefully explains what his chemo will be like.

The schedule is tentatively something like this: starting as soon as humanly possible, like next week, Bill begins 4 one-month chemotherapy sessions. Between each session, they test him until his blood returns to normal, then begin the next session. This could cause delays.

After the four-or-so months, he gets one month of rest, to strengthen his body for surgery.

Then sometime in March or thereafter, whenever his body is ready, he gets the whole shebang's worth of tests again to see if any cancer is still in there, then he goes into surgery for a "radical cystectomy."

That surgery takes EIGHT HOURS, [Hep me, Jeeeesus!]and comes with many potential complications. He will be in the hospital at Duke about 2 weeks, and cannot return to normal activity for two to three MONTHS! OMG!

That surgery will occur at Duke in the hands of Dr. Walther, next spring.

If, during that surgery, they find any new pop-ups of cancer, he will have MORE chemotherapy, after he recovers from surgery, and that chemo will occur, presumably, in Boone.

He will not be having radiation. Dr. Walther feels that radiation has such drastic effects on that part of the body that it renders surgery extremely difficult.

For those of you who google or follow chemo drugs, Bill will be getting Gemcitabane and Cisplatin.

Bill's number one thought is that he so desperately wants to continue teaching at Appalachian. He loves it so much, he said. He is trying to work out a chemo schedule that will allow him to finish this semester normally at Appalachian, while getting his chemo on Thursdays, allowing recovery time until his Monday classes. He knows that the spring semester of 2010 is impossible, but hopes to return, completely cured, in the fall of 2010.

That's pretty much the summary. If any of you want details, do feel free to email me! At this point, I'm pretty much not doing anything but taking care of Bill, and making all this stuff happen, with him.

Bill's attitude is pretty good. He was kind of stunned today, as was I. Neither of us expected to hear about chemo. We thought he would almost certainly get a cystectomy next week (bladder out), so this is all kind of a stunner.

I didn't know to be googling about chemotherapy, so I only made myself an armchair expert on bladder cancer, alone. But by this time, next week, I'm going to know a lot more about the chemo--God willing and the creek don't rise, as they say down here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your love and prayers and light and thoughts and good wishes. Hugest, most profound gratitude.

God is good.


The post about the Oct. 1 meeting is being written!

Thank you for caring enough about Bill to check the blog just now!

I wanted to assure you that I am immediately composing the post with the results of the Oct. 1 meeting.

It should be up no later than 5:30 pm eastern time.

We had very unexpected results, but blessings too.