Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to the Chemo Room

Results of the PET scan came in yesterday, and the cancer is still with me, growing, unfortunately, but ensuring my membership in the Chemo Room.

What can you do? You have to keep fighting! A lot of people are dying in the world today: tornadoes, suicide bombs, soldiers, tsunamis. An associate in the media industry, Chris Power Bain, the former director of communications for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, died Monday. She was 57 and had been battling lung cancer, according to today's Denver Post.

Chris was at the chamber for a time while I was at the Post and we developed a professional relationship that now is a pleasant memory. But you don't expect to read about such professionals dying at such a young age. And yet the Chemo Room teaches you it is all too true.

That's why you don't have much choice but to fight your cancer. If you don't, it takes you away.

My oncologist, Dr. Thomas Kenney, working out of Porter Hospital, is going to touch base with friends at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to determine if any clinical trials conducted there might be appropriate for my further treatment.

Otherwise I'll probably be going back on a mix of chemo called FolFox, which I really don't like. It tears you down over the long haul -- it was part of my first six-month round of chemo -- and caused neuropathy in my feet and lower legs that still bothers me today when I'm cutting the lawn or playing croquet.

I'm 64. About to enter my fifth year of fighting colorectal cancer, which means I'm so far about average at besting the odds of survival since diagnosis. About half of us make it this far, and half don't. If I make it through the fifth year, I'll be doing better than most.

And I plan to make it. One thing you find out about yourself when you are recruited into a battle for your life is that while death may be around the corner, living feels pretty good. The time you spend fighting is the time you have still to accomplish something in this world, and you keep in mind what I once wrote at ColoradoBiz: dying puts a period at the end of the sentence that is your life, so you better try your best to make what you do a good story.

That's this writer's take on it. There are millions of good stories out there to tell, and I want mine to be one of them. In the meantime, I'll try to keep telling some of the others.

One of the last things Chris Power Bain worked with me on was a chamber white paper that suggested health care for the poor, usually dispensed in hospital emergency rooms, raised the cost of health insurance because hospitals charged insured patients enough to make up for the free care they were giving away to the uninsured.

A lot of snow melt has gone under the bridges of Colorado since Chris and my discussion about such issues, and yet this country still faces the same problem, and opponents of what is called Obamacare still are trying to dismantle the only attempt this country has ever mounted to solve it.

They say chemotherapy clouds the mind, but I think mine is still sharp enough to ask: What's up with that?

It's amazing how well you can feel when cancer is growing inside you and the doctors are still trying to keep it from taking over your body. The side effects of the medicine (poisons) they give you are what put the struggle in the battle when you fight cancer.

But whiskey makes you frisky, and I'm feeling just fine.

Living, writing stories, and solving problems has been what my life in America has always been about. Lord willing, and the creeks don't rise enough to wash us away, I'll be doing that still for some time to come.

And then you can put that period at the end of this sentence.


  1. Nice post, Uncle Bob. Looking forward to seeing you & the family in July!

  2. Well, the last comment didn't go any better than any of the rest. I am not giving up. I think this blog shows How much "guts" (I know that's a bad word) you have to keep fighting this X!XX%%#@& disease. I love you and keep fighting. Your Sister, Mary Barb

  3. Hi Bob,

    I admire your courage.

    As I understand it, what happens with this sort of thing is not cut and dry. that it make a lot of difference when the person being treated is a fighter, not ranting and raving, but fully engage in the treatment, and not just pulling into a shell.

    Based on that, your stock would seem to be a buy to me. :) And your calm, clear, open courage is an inspiration. I'm a better man for knowing you.

  4. The comment mentioned above was for the chemo room article and I didn't mean your comments, but my TRYING to get MY comment onto your blog!

    This comment is about the mayoral race. I liked the way you incorporated the whole nation (rather than just Colorado) in your comments. I think this will reach a greater audience and do more good. Thanks, Mary Barb