February 28, 2002

Some of you were beginning to wonder.

No, things have not gotten worse since my last posting. But neither have they gotten particularly better.

I've just completed my first course of the oral chemotherapy Xeloda, which, all in all, was not too bad in terms of negative side effects (knock on wood). Tomorrow I go for another CT scan to see whether the treatment has made any difference. In addition, I've adopted a complementary course of Chinese herbs and acupressure treatments that have helped my overall well-being, even though they don't combat the cancer directly. Healthwise I've been up and down the last few weeks, some days feeling better than others, but I've still got plenty of fight left in me.

Strategically, my thinking has changed. Whereas before I pursued an aggressive course of treatment designed to position me for surgery (surgery offering the best chance for a cure), the plan now is to find some way to stop the cancer from growing, shrink it, or at least live comfortably with it for as long as possible in order to build a bridge toward some future point where a new treatment might come along and offer another chance at a cure.

A few people have expressed trepidation over the state of my health, not saying it aloud, but clearly concerned that I might be on that unalterable trajectory of death that patients with terminal illnesses can get on. I've tried to assure them that, given the way I feel and think about the coming months, I'm not. But that hasn't stopped a couple of friends from offering what amount to their eulogies in advance. One college friend even wrote me a letter saying, "I realize that these might be the last words I ever communicate with you, so I wanted you to know that . . . . "! I called him up immediately and said, "Would you lighten up?!I'm not going anywhere!" He says, "Well you're the one who says to make sure we speak our feelings before it's too late, so I'm just following your advice." We both laughed at the absurdity of it all.

I was reminded of the first time I visited my wife's paternal grandparents, who were both in their 90s at the time, still alert and living independently. Upon taking their picture, the grandfather says, "When you get those developed, make sure you write 'A.D.Y.' on the back."

"A.D.Y.?" I said.

He snickered, "'Ain't dead yet.'"

To all y'all concerned out there: Thanks for thinking of me.

A.D.Y., baby, A.D.Y.