How I feel
I’m currently resting comfortably in my single, spacious, and very pleasant hospital room in what is really a very nice hospital. My one major activity today was a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) in order to determine whether there is cancer in the cerebrospinal fluid. If the test is negative we will probably proceed—even as early as Friday—with the outpatient radiation theory I described earlier. It does not sound as though it is terribly debilitating; there may be some loss of short-term memory, though not of long-term memory. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells and shrinks the tumors but does not, for the most part, kill healthy cells. Here is the reason. The radiation breaks in two the DNA in the cancer cell and thus kills the cell but, but the radiation, while somewhat damaging healthy cells, allows them to recover and does not break the DNA in two. At least that is the way one of the oncologists described to me this morning. My understanding is that surgery cannot be used in my case because there are at least three metastases in the brain.
A remarkable irony is that just before this new cancer was found I had largely recovered from the terrible intestinal pain and discomfort and non-movement that had made my existence a hell for many weeks. If those problems were still going on now, along with this new, more serious problem, my situation would have been much more terrible. So I feel very lucky. My existence is not at present a misery, as it had been from mid December until about 11 days ago when I had the nerve block procudure and we also worked out anti-pain regime and an intestinal regime that worked.
The way I feel now is somewhat lightheaded, tired, and fragile, and it’s hard for me to read much because of the double vision, and I need to be careful when getting out of bed (in fact I am not supposed to get out of bed without assistance at all) because of the risk of falling, but I’m not suffering or seriously uncomfortable or even uncomfortable at all—and that, as long as it lasts, compared to the way I was up to a week and a half ago, is a great deliverance. I also seem to have come into a hospital and among doctors that are very well suited to care for me. And I have a friend at my side who is helping me through every step of this. I am extremely lucky.
Thank you for the many encouraging and loving e-mails I’ve received (I’m sorry I won’t be able to reply to them personally).
It may seem strange that a man who has just learned he has brain cancer speaks of how fortunate he is, but, as I’ve said, I always call it the way I see it, if I feel it is legitimate and appropriate.