There is an old Chinese curse you may be familiar with:
“May you always live in interesting times.”
Haha! That pretty well covers it for me, except for the curse part. This journey may be crazy, and is certainly interesting (see #3 above), but I will never see it as a curse. You may need to remind me of that tomorrow, though, ok?
With that said, here is an update on my crazy, interesting, but curse-free journey. Fasten your seat belts, folks:
Of the 4 drugs I thought would be fighting my prostate cancer by now, two of them have left the building. As you know from last week, I washed out of the Xofigo extended-use trial and, as of last Friday, my oncologist has taken me off of Xtandi.
While I got 6 months out of Xtandi (thank you, God), my numbers have been consistently going up of late. Not good. This, coupled with the side effects (extreme fatigue, increasing cognitive disability, and, ahem, continued loss of my masculinity), has brought me to the place of saying adieu – on the best of terms, I am quick to add.
If you think I’m kidding about the loss of my masculinity, I received this notice in the mail from my health insurance company a couple days ago (I kid you not):
I simply have no words. Or perhaps I do and they can’t be printed. And you can just “request” a gender change? I thought you had to . . . well, never mind. I guess with these crazy “anti-man” drugs I’ve been on, I should have seen this coming, though. The good news is the “changes” are all chemically induced and can be reversed (except that they are still injecting me with Lupron every 3 months – for some reason that is now lost to the ages).
My testosterone is already coming up, though, and the pitch of my voice is coming down again. Except for my cancer having something to feast on, maybe my masculinity will come back for an encore. Right now, it never even calls or writes. It would be great to see it again. But, dear God, would this mean I would have to go through puberty a second time?
Now for the silver lining in all this cloudiness. New Orleans. “What?” you say. “Wasn’t that a wasted trip?” Nothing is ever wasted, I believe. Remember when I said last week there was still a glimmer of hope? Well, let’s call it a flame. By the grace of God, the doctor I met there has taken an interest in my case and has agreed to work on some alternative treatments with me.
Let me give you context: this is like saying Tim Cook wants to help me with my supply chain or Bubba Watson wants to coach me on my golf swing (no offense, John Hill). It’s kind of a big deal. When he called me, I wept. Don’t misunderstand. My oncologist here is awesome. It’s just that throughout all of this, I have been so very well taken care of by so many. And now there is another.
This just popped into my head (warning – you may not want to continue reading): last week was my birthday and a number of kind people went together to get me another “bacon of the month” club membership. Bless them.
Perhaps one of my new treatments could involve wrapping my prostate in bacon or something of the sort? Bear with me. I’m just thinking out loud, outside the box, for a moment. This may be how you cure a disease, folks. You do something crazy!
So here we are rafting through this life together. I don’t have any drug to tie my hopes and life to right now. My raft is being swept downstream and I can hear a distant roar. But I am still in God’s hands. My life is not my own, nor has it ever been. He will either rescue me or I will go over the falls only to end up in His arms. So what to do? Live, love, trust, hope, and, with anticipation, row around this bend to see what awaits me there.
West Wind #2 – by Mary Oliver
You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me.
There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life toward it.