My plane ticket was purchased, my hotel reservations made, I was set to depart for Salt Lake City on the redeye Monday evening to be screened for a clinical trial that just started enrollment. My appointment was scheduled for Tuesday and I was to meet the trial principal in person. I was so excited. This past week I drank the Kool-Ade, er, contrast, for new MRI and CT scans, got slid into the medical space ships once again, and realized that I was getting to know a lot of people at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua.
But, it is not to be and for that I am thankful.
Yesterday, while subbing world history for freshmen at Kaiser High School, I got a call (during recess) from a nurse at the Huntsman Cancer Center in Utah. She told me she had both good news and bad news for me:
The good news is that I didn’t have enough cancer to participate in the trial. The bad news is I didn’t have enough cancer to participate in the trial.
Yep. I am grateful. There is the stickler of having purchased a non-refundable plane ticket, and having to hustle to get new scans and a CD with the scans and my medical record faxed to Salt Lake City over the last week. And in the last month I’ve had a mammogram, a pap smear, and a fecal culture done, all with terrific cancer-free results.
Does this mean I am cancer free? No, I’m still Melanoma Stage 3a. The original melanoma is gone, the cancer in the sentinel lymph node was removed, but there is no guarantee that melanoma isn’t still lurking in my body. The plan is for me to begin the year of immunotherapy with interferon, and I will probably get started in January. I don’t really want to do it. I believe more that I am a cancer survivor than someone with cancer. Because there are more what ifs to this situation than not, I shall proceed.
My window of opportunity to participate in a clinical trial closes December 7, 98 days after my last surgery. I cannot wait for another trial that might be looking for someone like me. I was willing to be a trial participant, one of those people who help science and future generations as new treatments are tested and determined to be beneficial or not. Thank goodness for those who do. Where would we be without them?
Please hold my two Holy Cross High School ’76 classmates, John Taylor and Jimmy Lafond, in your hearts and prayers. John has Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and is a double-lung transplant recipient. He’s had a rough couple of months. And Jimmy just came to in the last few hours after surgery at the University of Pennsylvania for a stem cell transplant to treat his multiple myeloma. Both of these men are wonderful friends who know the value of every moment they are alive.
Be thankful for your health, your family, your responsibilities, and your freedoms.