2017 May 29

How I Spent My Birthday

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Candles on a birthday cake

Joey Gannon from Pittsburgh, PA. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Since turning 21, I generally haven't paid much attention to birthdays. My attitude has basically been “every day is one day older”.

That changes with a cancer diagnosis, and Thursday May 25 was my first birthday since getting said opinion. So I was certainly more aware of the passage of time than usual.

How did I celebrate this milestone? By visiting my oncologist, of course! Which means it's time once again for another fun round of “Good News, Bad News”…

Good News
The latest CT scans show no sign of cancer spread or growth of the liver spots.
Bad News
The latest CT scans show some signs of growth in the area of the original tumor.
Good News
That might just be the result of radiation treatment irritating local tissues.
Bad News
CA-19 blood level (which marks the presence of cancer) spiked to its highest ever.
Good News
This also could just be the result of radiation killing off cancer cells, which then leak into the bloodstream.
Bad News
Not much to be done about the ongoing treatment symptoms (fatigue, numbness, nausea).
Good News
It's typical for patients to feel worst a few weeks after treatment, so with any luck I'll be feeling better soon.
Bad News
Also no explanation/course of action yet for the persistent stomachache.
Good News
No need to return to heavy drugs until we see how I'm doing after a month of no chemo or radiation. So my treatment holiday continues.

Seeing the doctor wasn't my only birthday event. As usual on Thursday, Jacob and I took on other members of the Washington Bridge League in a duplicate contract bridge competition.

Bad News
We finished well below average, with a 44% score.
Good News
We were only one place lower than world champion Steve Robinson. It was just that kind of night.

I also got lots of phone calls, emails, texts, and well-wishes from family and friends around the world. (One of the calls was from Russia!) Thanks, everyone—I love you all.

The awesome infusion center staff even offered to sing to me when I dropped by for bloodwork. But since I just happen to have written lyrics for a keen birthday song, I sang it for them instead. The words are more appropriate than ever.