Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2nd - Bald Heads and Cleavage

Stuart and I got to see Dr. Frenette today and talk a bit about what to expect from the coming weeks as I complete my treatment.  I will share some detail with you on that topic, but first I want to say thank you to a few people and share a few of my more notable recent experiences.

Thank you to the Freemans for bringing us a wonderful Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce.  For those of you who know the Freemans, this is their signature dish and it did not disappoint.  Thank you to Bridget Ruller, for watching Cooper this afternoon.  You should all know Bridget by now, as I thank her just about every time I write, which might explain the toy she sent home with Cooper today.   Picture our four year-old sitting in the kitchen playing the loudest portable Spiderman pinball machine you can imagine.  Bridget, it is coming back soon!  Lastly, thank you to the Clarkes and to my parents for visiting and helping around the house, it helps more than you know.

Since I have last written, one of my favorite pasttimes has been watching college basketball.  My alma mater, Virginia Tech, has a slightly above-average basketball program.  Watching them is great fun, although it is an emotional roller-coaster.  As a case-in-point, these underdog Hokies beat the #1 team in America (Duke) on Saturday night and then quickly followed it up by being soundly whipped by Boston College last night.  I do love them anyway and will watch anxiously as they play in the annual season ending tournaments.

Watching those college athletes has kept me motivated to continue my endless walking loops around the neighborhood trying to stay in shape and keep my heart beating.  Going for speed is really no longer an option, so I tend to breath in fresh air and appreciate my surroundings more than anything else.  This past weekend was particularly nice, and I found myself appreciating the landscape and thinking of the coming Spring.  There is a certain parallel between the arrival of Spring and my completion of treatment that lifts my spirits.  As I was walking, I saw quite a few planes overhead, which made me think of traveling and returning to work.  I have missed my extended family at Bank of America quite a bit while I have been "grounded," and I am certainly looking forward to reconnecting with everyone very soon.

The last notable experience that I have to share came in a normal conversation with a woman.  She could not help herself from taking in the beauty of my now completely bald head.  Her eyes met mine during the conversation, then they went to the head, my eyes, the head again and so on.  It dawned on me (as I ignored whatever it was she was saying) that this is what a woman who shows too much cleavage feels like when talking to some men.

Are bald heads like too much cleavage?

So, on the appointment with Dr. Frenette today.  The biggest question on my mind was what the odds of a recurrence are and what the course of action would be if it happened.  The short answer is that the odds are relatively low, and in that unlikely event, the next step is to have one huge shot of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant.  Dr. Frenette and I both feel very good about my prognosis, so this will be the last you hear me talk about recurrence. 

We also spent some time discussing what the next steps are after my final treatment on March 17th.  There are a few items scheduled to wrap-up the treatment, including a final PET & CT scan on April 11th, an appointment with Dr. Frenette to get the results on April 13th and a small surgery to remove the port-catheter in my chest shortly thereafter.  For those that may be reading this to understand "the Hodgkin's experience", I finally did post a picture of the port-catheter in an old posting (click here).  After my April 13th appointment, I will see Dr. Frenette for a follow-up CT scan every 4 months for the next couple years and then slightly less frequently for another few years.  At that point, the likelihood of recurrence is so small, that you begin to use the word "cure".

Treatment #11 is tomorrow morning, wish me luck.