Monday, September 19, 2011


I returned from Houston last week, from my latest check-up. No evidence of disease (NED is my friend!) and tumor markers are all well below safe levels. My doctor is considering letting me go a full year without a scan, rather than 4 or 6 months. Which would be great, given the levels of radiation emitted by CT machines. So, now I can push this out of my mind for a while.... After a few more words, right?

Ivanna, Caroline (Randy's spouse), Randy, Val, and me.
I'll refer you to this post by Ivanna (click HERE) for details on the trip and an impromptu gathering of friends in Houston, an event she named "Appendilooza." Ivanna is a real writer--very thoughtful, and she managed to capture in writing the essence of two quick days we spent together. I don't think I could have explained all the feelings the way she did. I hereby adopt her post as my own.

It felt right to meet these people face-to-face. Randy and his lovely wife Caroline (Houston) are new friends, but I've known Ivanna (Austin) and Val (Kansas City) for a while, and it seems like we are old friends.

I've met a number of people with appendix cancer and/or their caregivers, in addition to these friends, and we follow our respective ups and downs closely. It can get quite emotional. It seems like a month does not go by without someone passing away. Maybe I did not know them well, but it is sad all the same. But, on the other hand, we all celebrate the annual check-up and "all clear" results, and I love to hear the stories of people years out from the surgery, living healthy lives.

So, what would a trip be without some random pictures?

And how could a guy like me NOT pull over when the sign says TEXAS PRISON MUSEUM. This is "Old Sparky":

Below is only part (!!) of my cousin John's Star Wars collection. John lives near Fort Worth with his lovely wife Tammy (an awesome cook!) and his 10 year old son Joseph--who paid me the ultimate compliment, saying I looked like either Han Solo or Indiana Jones.

I spent a night in Dallas at the house of my Uncle Terry and Aunt Nancy, who have been big supporters over the past few years. I am eternally indebted to them for their constant "checking in" on me when I was ill. 

And if you've been following my blog, you know that wherever I am, I like to eat like the locals...this was just off the interstate, somewhere between Dallas and Houston.  

chopped BBQ  beef,
beans, and a sweet tea

Change of topic, kind of: I'm a big fan of Roger Ebert. I read his movie reviews and his blog, and follow him on Twitter. Ebert is a cancer survivor too, and he has written very eloquently about the experience, and also wrote an incredible essay about being alone which I bookmarked and still occasionally read. 

One of his recent blog entries really grabbed me:  "Films that are not for the dying so much..." In it he comments on two recent films about falling in love when you have cancer. I had not heard of one of the films, but the other, titled "50/50," is getting a lot of buzz. I think I'll try to see it, I'm not sure. Watching shows or movies about cancer can be kind of tough (I am going to a funeral for a co-worker/friend tomorrow, and he died of cancer; we were going through our respective treatments at the same time--I don't know how I'll react). But I do like Seth Rogan. 

Anyhow, please read that essay by Ebert. In particular I enjoy that he mentions how the patients in these two films "have a great deal of time do so romantic things and occupy touching spaces and talk as if they had more time." He contrasts that movie world with the reality of what cancer patients and their loved ones actually go through, including a very touching tribute to his caregiver/wife....

Here's the trailer for one of those movies. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character's attractive, female therapist is like, what, 19 years old?)

Okay, time to go back to living my life.... I don't want this experience to outwardly define me. I know it is a part of me and always will be, and I'm strangely thankful for that, but there's more to life than just this.  


Cinnamon said...

It was great to meet you in person, Dan. You didn't exactly see me at my best, being 1-week post-op without a shower! Thanks for the visit. Cinnamon