Status report

Last Friday and this Monday I had a two-part MRI study, totaling two and a half hours, of the entire spine. My oncologist gave me the results today. There is apparent “caking”—meaning gross tumors, not just isolated cancer cells—in one spot in the cervical part of the spine, the neck. So the radiation treatment will be expanded to include that spot in addition to the brain. It doesn’t change anything dramatic in my treatment, which will just be a minute or two longer each day. As is now, in each session I am under the radiation machine for no longer than ten minutes, and the radiation itself is just for a few seconds. The expanded treatment will be aimed at shrinking both the tumors in the brain and those in the spine; it’s even possible that it will eliminate both. However, said the doctor, even if the latter happens, the tumors will keep returning elsewhere. As I’ve reported before, according to my doctors, the spread of the cancer to the spine makes death likely in a few months; if it had been in the brain only, the prognosis would be significantly better.

At the same time, I continue feeling astonishingly good. Yes, I have difficulty walking, I have poor balance, I see double, my right eye is a little closed, a few times a day for a minute or two my right eye shuts completely and the right side of my mouth screws right like Quasimodo, and I am always weak, and most days at some point I am extremely weak, but each time I snap out of the extreme weakness and am able to function and be productive and enjoy life.

And here is another amazing thing. Alhough, for various reasons, most recently the radiotherapy, the chemotherapy aimed at the main metastasized pancreatic cancer in the abdomen has been virtually suspended for over two months, there are, incredibly, no signs that that cancer has gotten worse. I am sitting on top of a volcano which, by ordinary and expected processes, should have blown up, but it has not blown up.

I cannot help but regard my present, happy state as a miracle sustained by God and the prayers of so many people.

- end of initial entry -

February 28

Richard B. writes:

Your treatment reminds me of Saint Lawrence the martyr. The story goes:

The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. The Saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: “This is the Church’s treasure!”

In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The Saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked. “Turn me over,” he said to the judge. “I’m done on this side!”

You must be thinking of him during radiation treatments?

LA replies:

I don’t see what my situation has to do with St. Lawrence or his martrydrom. Let’s not overdramatize.

Richard B. replies:

You both are enduring end of life experiences.

You both find strength and joy in God.

He is tested with fire, you with radiation.

You both are unwavering in your faith and beliefs.

You both have touched the lives of many people and they are better for it.

LA replies:

The radiation treatment does not produce any sensations. I just lie there for a couple of minutes then get up. The process is smooth, quick, and pleasant. The female nurses/technicians who administer it are very nice, and the outpatient cancer center where it is done is pleasant and smoothly operating. Also, so far, the radiation has produced no side effects. I haven’t even lost my hair, which, they told me at the beginning, would probably happen at the beginning of the second week. We’re approaching the end of the second week.

LA writes:

God—or drugs? As I said in the initial entry, I cannot help but believe that the non-worsening of the cancer in the abdomen even though it has not been treated in a long time is miraculous. At the same time, another aspect of the situation may not be. The surprising amount of productive energy I’ve been enjoying despite this serious illness may simply be due to the steroids I’ve been taking to reduce the swelling in the brain.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 27, 2013 09:39 PM | Send

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