Also, laser beams
Dear Friends —
There is a small tree just outside my house that has leaves now the color of cranberries. The kind of deep red that can hold a patient gaze. My guess is it will be showing off its gorgeous hues for just a handful of weeks more, which somehow makes it all the more glorious.
Ok when we last checked in I was nearing Moxie’s end zone — 12 cycles of full blown chemo to wipe out the itty bitties remaining in my lung. Did it all go as planned? Sort of!
Here’s the latest. My October scan revealed broadly good news, but with a few complexities tucked in just to keep this mountain trek spicy. My abdomen remains lovely and drama free. But the itty bitties in my lung are still there — about eight or so. Two got a smidge smaller (now 2mm, so tiny we’re not going to worry about them), four have stayed the same (about 4mm, more on those in a minute), and two are a smidge bigger (about 7mm).
I get it. This is the part where you’re wondering — hold up, is this really good news? If you ask Dr K, he would say yes. As it turns out, lots of mountain climbers like me begin with an inferno of cancer in their gut, which often moves to the lung, where it sometimes becomes a bit lazy. And it can stay lazy for a good long time. So after reviewing my scan, Dr K was clear: for the love of all thing holy, pause Moxie and go spend your fall gazing at red leaves, and other marvels.
You know we all love Dr. K. As my dear friend Jacquelline said, “If I were in a wild ocean storm, Dr. K is the one I’d want in my lifeboat.” He’s equal parts calm and wise.
But what about those itty bitties? Well there’s reason to believe the 4mm little guys might have been rendered obsolete by Moxie’s good work. It’s curious they’ve stayed the same since May, which could be a clue they no longer pose a threat.
And our two little 7mm guys who seem to still be awake? One route is to simply exhale and see what they’re up to in January. But another route is to see if we can get at them a bit more aggressively in the meantime.
Faithful readers might remember my Jedi Warrior Thoracic Surgeon — Dr K(2) — from UCSF from back in May 2020, when I had a little guy removed at what I called the Met Gala. I had that surgery on a Friday and I was back to work on a Monday. Easy peasy.
So last week I had a chat with Dr K(2) to see if he’d be willing to go after these little mets since they seem to be the only firecrackers still crackling. He was game in theory, but unfortunately one of my itty bitty firecrackers is tucked in quite deep, so deep that he’d have to take out lots of lung for something basically the size of a raspberry. Could he get it? Yes. Should he? Not really.
Is there another way, I asked? What about SBRT radiation? Sidebar — I have zero idea what SBRT stands for, and haven’t had the energy to google it, but I know enough to know it involves laser beams, and I’m a little enchanted about bringing in laser beams into this story.
Anyhow, Dr K(2) was equally enchanted about this possible route. “Hmm, he said. That could work. It’s aggressive, but not really reckless. Let’s get you to a radiation oncologist and see if this is feasible.”
So in coming days, a new character will enter the stage, who happens to be all about sharp shooting laser beams.
And while it’s easy to get distracted by all the medical drama and the possibilities of Han Solo sharp laser beam shooting my two little firecracker guys into oblivion, a far more fabulous story continues to unfold.
Like the tree outside my door, this is a golden hour on my trek. I wake up every day feeling so very well. In recent weeks, I’ve seen brilliance on Broadway, celebrated a new bride who was married in Napa with misty clouds hugging grapevines circling her sacred vows, hiked ever higher up with Bonnie in stride, switched out my hiking boots for heels and attended the symphony, helped create new avenues for good progress for these remarkable Dial Fellows, smiled through my mask hearing James Taylor sing in concert while sitting next to Lucy (who rightly noted we were the youngest fans there), and had my heart break and become ever bigger through compassionate and riveting prose penned by my friend Andrea, who has written Invisible Child (the most important story of all).
I made a new friend, and discovered more about a friend I’ve known for decades.
I’ve paid attention. I’ve drifted down rabbit holes.
I’ve dreamed of laser beams and a trip to Italy.
I’ve given and received fully vaccinated hugs.
I’ve taken up jump roping.
I’ve given thanks for it all. Especially for each of you.