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After The Storm

"It's pretty calm now, after the storm"
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The show went on. Billy Elliot the Musical had a run of six shows from February 24th through 27th, and March 3rd through 5th. We were sold out for all the performances. It was successful by anyone's measurement. And I completed the show. 

We have a population of around 92,000 people in our town. Not too small, but even so it can seem rather small. One of the oncologists at my cancer center had two children in the play. I see her often at auditions and performances. One of the nurses at the center was also in the play. It was his first time in a play around here, and he had a ball. And needless to say, lots of people from the hospital came to the play to see friends and acquaintances.

On March 7th I started my second round of chemotherapy for my renal cancer. The first round had been during November and December for a total of nine weeks. This second round would be a continuation for another nine weeks. I should have already done it if my oncologist had not stopped our regimen half way through because she thought it was killing me.

The way my chemo works is one receives infusions on the same day for two weeks in a row, and then one has one week off before starting the cycle once again. So after the first two sessions on the 7th and 14th of March, we had a nice little break. That would work out great. I was not feeling too poorly yet. And a super bloom of desert flowers was being predicted for that exact time in the West.

My wife and I decided to take a drive out west and check out the super bloom before the chemo became more stressful. My oncologist was all for it. She had lived in San Diego, only two hours away from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. That was our destination in southern California.

For some reason driving a car, even for hours on end, does not tire me out. Not even while doing this chemo stuff. However, walking in the hot sun was rather tiring for me. We had a wonderful time. And our Jack Russell terrier mix had a grand time, too. But we found he does not do well in the heat. We did get to see the super bloom. And loved it. But we only spent a few days there before getting back to resume the chemotherapy. Using my time wisely, of course.

These nine weeks did not kill me, but it surely was a chore for me and the people around me. On April 21st I had CT scans of my chest and thorax areas. They showed that the lymph nodes we were concerned with seemed to be shrinking. That was good news. The infusions continued. On May 2nd I completed chemotherapy. Then my oncologist scheduled another CT scan for May 24th and a PET scan for May 31st.

Even though the therapy was finished, my body was in no way back to normal. I continued to be weak, and I had lost over twenty pounds. Most of it seemed to be muscle mass. If it seemed necessary to have an operation to remove cancerous lymph nodes, I would have to be in much better shape to withstand major surgery. 

The CT scan this time showed the nodes were shrinking even more. However, the next week, the PET Scan seemed to show that there were new lymph nodes in the chest cavity, close to the lungs or heart, that might now be metastasized cancer. Another dilemma, to be sure. My oncologist called me later that week. She was scheduling me for an endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) which was a minimally invasive way to get images of that area, and also to take biopsies, if necessary. 

That procedure was performed on June 14th, and then I waited for results. The next week I called my oncologist. There were no results yet. Her nurse passed on the information that the hospital that had done the work said there might be results in two months. Needless to say, I was rather peeved. I made my feelings known. Within two hours a nurse practitioner from the hospital called to inform me that the biopsy had been negative. The doctor had seen no cancer in the chest cavity.

To this point, I had been ignoring, as much as it was possible, all the calls for auditions and new plays in town. I had promised to stop working in plays for the time being. It was getting hard to pass over the calls to tryout for shows. Now the chemo was over. If my body would just return to close to normal, perhaps I could try another play sometime soon.

My next PET scan is scheduled for the 30th of August. There are auditions for The Nutcracker: A Kansas Ballet on the 7th and 8th of September. Let's just wait and see what the scan shows us. Maybe, just maybe, I could tryout for Nutcracker and take part in the rehearsals from September through December until the play itself is performed for six shows in December. Maybe.

If I want to have surgery done, I suppose I could put it off until January of next year after I am back up to normal strength and energy.



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