Not all that much different, the latest update on cancer treatement. I'm going for the local record, people.

This one is not typical in reaction. By far the worst round was the first one, and it was the reaction to the Zeloda. This was the third, and I tried to take it easy over the weekend. Amazingly, it worked, and I had a fairly easy day yesterday, in spite of the fact that I did ballet in the morning, went to work, and ran errands. I also took an hour of down time between ballet and heading to my office, which I don't usually do. I am almost getting the hang of this after almost six years - sitting still has never been my long suit.

So I'm now half way through this chemotherapy. I'll have another PET/CT scan in the next week or so. If I'm responding, we finish this chemo, which will go until May 3. If there's not much change, I'll switch to a different chemo, probably Xometa, which is an oral chemo drug. If it looks nasty, and the cancer has progressed, I'll go on two - Xometa and Gemzar. More likely to get a response, but more side effects. Let's hope the PET scan looks good.

The most recent PET scan had one anomaly - the bone stuff was pretty consistent in uptake, except for one, in my left hip socket, which was much higher than all the others. My wonderful family practice doc asked the right questions, and we realized that I had taken a really hard fall the week before the scan, and landed on my left elbow and knee. (And tore a hole in the elbow of my favorite cashmere sweater, dammit.) But the hip socket, I hope, was just a bruise from the fall, rather than another bone metastasis. From what I understand from the Metastatic Breast Cancer Babes, hips tend to be the place where you feel pain, because of the weight bearing. So I'm curious to see if the numbers go down, particularly that one.

I also saw my neurosurgeon yesterday, and that is mostly good news. Biggest one is that I can wean off of the damned steroid! Hurrah! He and I talked about it, and apparently when I get down to half a mg (I'm at two) I'll switch to hydrocortisone, or something similar. "A titratable substitute" - I need to look that one up. As was pointed out last summer by another doctor friend, my pituitary has apparently forgotten how to work. It needs to be reminded to start working again before I go completely off of the steroid. Amongst other things, I remember back in December when I was decreasing the dose, and there's definitely elements of withdrawal, much as I hate the side effects. The neuro said if I decrease too fast, I'll feel like hell. His words, which was pretty funny.

Why do you suppose cancer docs get more human as they treat you? I thought this guy was a pretty cold fish the first few times I met him - young, handsome, a neurosurgeon (no ego there) and gay as a tree full of monkeys. He didn't seem to have the vaguest interest in me, although apparently, like everyone else on the world, he liked Kevin's accent.

But I managed to break through the facade on this visit. I made a wild guess, and asked him if he was the one in the practice interested in architecture and design. He lit up, and said yes, I've been remodeling my house here in Sac for years. I laughed, and said that Metropolis magazine was not the most common doctor's office waiting room reading. I also got to have the vitals taken by Sergio (unprouncable last name), from Russia, whose accent I want to steal. I guess I spend so much time in waiting rooms that I have to take my fun where I find it. It also turns out the neurosurgeon is mostly unavailable because he is only in clinic two half days - all the rest of the time he's doing surgery. Can you imagine spending four days a week cutting people's heads open? I can't.


I've been reviewing some of my old nodes over the past few months. Several of them have been waiting for updates and conclusions, including Go West Young Woman, of which this is part.

Everything in italics is a recent addition beginning in April 2014, three years after my cross-country trip west from Virginia.

This is where it begins.

After spending three years on night shift in the armpit of the Northern Virginia suburbs building what would be later called part of the Cloud, I applied for and received a transfer to the Oregon desert. Here I would spend two months living in a series of carpet-walled hotel rooms in a town where the largest business was the truck stop and the next-largest was the prison.

Prior to that, however, it was time to start coming off the addiction to Penguin Mints. It was time to pack the networking laboratory into the dumpster, and to pack my belongings into a four foot by eight foot storage locker in Alexandria, Virginia.

I've been in suspended animation, and it's suddenly over. Everything was dulled, blunted at night. Colors were faded, the light was weak, and people were tired, quiet, far away. I myself was weak, tired, and far away. Now, having had two nights where I've slept, I've woken up.

You take so much for granted, really. I took so much for granted. Having been denied daylight for so long, I find myself appreciating things like afternoon sunlight against buildings, how beautiful trees are in the spring, how coffee tastes, how restaurants look filled with people. Guys, there are flowers starting to bloom out of formerly cold dirt, and the sky is incredibly blue and pretty with clouds in it. It's been raining, too, and the ground is muddy and wet and glorious.

It's a wonderful world, it really is.

My bedroom is scraped bare back to generic white walls, the nondescript beige carpet has been vacuumed and washed. My belongings are packed into individual containers with labels and barcodes and rubbermaid lids. This morning, I've had a latte, one of many cups of coffee over the last several months, and it tasted like the first, and the best, cup I've ever had.

In five days I drive west, and my life begins again.

In a lot of ways, I went searching for and rediscovered what it was to hope. This was the first life change I chose to make without taking it for purely financial or survival reasons. While leaving Minnesota in the winter of 2006 was a decision I made rather than live out the rest of my life in bad data entry jobs, this would be a choice not for financial reasons, but for the sake of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing.

This meant actually figuring out who I am and what I'm doing. That took a while longer. Somewhere in the middle was Chris. Somewhere out there in the middle was Brazil, and Oakland and Seattle and a year where I spent a major percentage of my time on planes.

Life is pretty incredible. Wish you were here. I'd buy you some tea or coffee and show you where the crocuses are opening or the trees are budding.

I see waves breaking forms on my horizon...

As it turns out, I did get to buy a lot of you tea and coffee. I got to meet and experience a whole pile of wonderful people. I lived in three states and two countries. I'm in my third residence in a year of living. Save for a current stabilization in Portland, I have been a blur of activity.

It never did slow down or get less incredible. I came out of Northern Virginia and never went back. I don't believe I ever will.

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