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Part II, Chapter 2: The Drug War




Sent: May 1, 2005

Subj: It Takes a Village to Beat a Tumor


My cup runneth over with the kind words, gifts, and help I have gotten from family and friends.  Thank you all!


Iím recovering from my first round of chemotherapy which took place a week and a half ago.  Now, Iím not saying this is fun.  If someone offers you cisplatin or doxorubicin on the street, just say no!  However, I only have to get cisplatin for three more weeks out of the 31 weeks of treatment versus the 24 months of the tough drugs I got in 1981-3, and they have much better anti-nausea medications now than they did twenty years ago.  Iíd better be careful.  If I let the word out, everyone will be dropping out of residency to have cancer.  Hey, they even let me sleep!


By the way, olanzepine is an anti-psychotic that is used at low doses to treat nausea.  As a side benefit, it stops the nasty voices.  Unfortunately, it stops the flattering voices as well, and who doesnít need those now and then?





Sent: May 15, 2005

Subj: Taste Sensation


Here I am on the fifth floor of the Ben and Jerryís starting week two of deeeelicious methotrexate followed by inpatient monitoring for most of the rest of the week.  It's like a vacation, really.  Except the cook is a sadist, and there is nothing to do.


On a similar note, what's the worst thing you ever tasted?  I have a new champion.  It's called sodium bicitrate.  It starts out kind of citrusy as a decoy, then it comes on strong like rabid skunk vomit.  Why was I downing the stuff this weekend?  Well, last week, I had to be prepared for my chemotherapy by IV, which took until 11pm Monday.  I was in the hospital until Thursday afternoon.  So this time, figuring I would speed things up, I took the skunk vomit to prepare in advance.  I tried various tricks to mask the stuff.  Nothing was all that effective.  Chocolate milk actually made it worse!  I suppose I could have cauterized my olfactory nerve.  I arrived promptly this morning good and ready.  Due to various snafus, including very poor communication between Wicked Famous and the Ben and Jerry's Hospital and a pharmacy that acts with all of the speed of Droopy on Valium, I sit here at 11pm, waiting for my methotrexate, which is expected to show up at around midnight.  Definitely not worth it.


Note to self: when rushing furiously to relieve the consequences of overhydration, ALWAYS remember to remove the urinal's lid.




PS: The reason I am hospitalized for days every time I get a single dose of methotrexate is that if I am not well-hydrated and/or my urine is too acidic, the methotrexate will crystalize in my kidneys and do serious damage.  It's a whole 'nother kind of crystal meth.



Sent: June 16, 2005

Subj: Tomís Tumoriffic Tale Continues


Did you know that if I were a Lakota Souix, my name would be "Sprouts Tumors Like Mushrooms"?

Anyway, here I am back in the big house/hospital for my methotrexate.  For the first few days, I feel fine.  I'm just attached to an IV pole.  Sometimes, I take in the Ben and Jerryís  noon conferences and pick up a free lunch (no drug companies involved).  Oddly, no one has ever asked me what I'm doing there.

I have some excitement in store.  On July 5, I'm going to 'Spamalot' on Broadway, (Thanks to Netta and Julia for a wonderful gift!).  That will be funny, but the real laugh riot comes on July 6 at F'in' Famous Cancer Hospital, when a tag team of supersurgeons--ENT, neuro, and plastics--will (hopefully) remove my tumor and rearrange my face.  Actually, I'm told that most patients show hardly any scars at all.  For a full-scale model of the anticipated result, check out this

After a few weeks of recovery, I will restart chemo and continue until November if all goes according to plan.  I think next year, I would like to find something better to do with my summer and fall. It was good for a few laughs, but this tumor stuff is getting old.

Wish me luck!




Sent: July 4, 2005

Subj: Here Goes Nothing!


This will be my last e-mail for a while.  Tomorrow, I head down to the Big Apple, and Wednesday is the big day.  And what a day it will be!  Last week, I saw all of my surgeons.  They were frank about worst case scenarios (which were scary), but confident and optimistic about my case.  So the gamut runs from something resembling a subtotal craniectomy (Not -otomy, -ectomy!), including my right eye and upper jaw to preserving these.


You know, it's times like this that I wonder whether it's worth it.  Maybe I never should have had this silly tumor in the first place.  Goes to show: never take a dare when you're drunk.


Meanwhile, in an act of selflessness, my father has offered me his kidney.  The Coach (the head surgeon) thanked him cordially, but said he could not think of any use for it at this time.  Good thought, though.


But seriously, folks, assuming surgery and chemo go well, tumor or no tumor, I am a very lucky man.  I have a wonderful family, amazingly generous and supportive friends, an exciting career, and, unless I play my cards terribly, I will never have serious material wants.  There are many who have none of these things.  I wouldn't trade.


So, here goes nothing. . .




Next, Chapter 3: The First Cut is the Deepest



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