Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Measure in Time

• Sunday, April 26, 2009 10:31 AM, PDT
Time can be measured in many ways. We learn quite early how to mark the time of day by minutes and hours. We also mark time by months and seasons. Some of us become so busy, or tell ourselves how busy we are, that we carry our Blackberries on our hip to make good use of our time. How many times have we said that we needed more time in our day to accomplish all that we want? How often have we told ourselves that we will have plenty of time “later” to do things that are important to us?

Some say that “time” is not always on our side. If our time becomes limited, then how should we spend it? How should we measure it? I’d like to think we can measure time in the relationships we create. We can mark time by how we nurture these relationships. Our relationships then become our legacies. They are proof of our existence, and the impact that we had during our lifetime.

This past month has provided Mike several opportunities to nurture, and be nurtured by, those who he has impacted throughout his life. He started out the month with a week planned for just him and his mother. Mike’s mother worked very hard to provide for he and his brother growing up, and she continues to do the same for her grandchildren. It pleases me to see both of them setting time aside to enjoy each others company. Next Mike and I were fortunate enough to spend a weekend reuniting with the friends he made while serving in the Peace Corps. These are all wonderful and loving people who have so much joy to share. It was such a fun time, with laughter, dance, remembrances and good food.

Last week I was on the receiving end of a surprise trip to Sedona, Arizona. It was the marking of my 50th birthday, and Mike planned out every detail. He brought together our friends and family to care for and supervise the kids at home. He arranged a week of relaxation and celebration for us the two of us within the majesty of this red-rocked canyon. Then to further mark this occasion, bestowed upon me an engraved pocket watch.

I can say that my life has been greatly impacted by the love of Mike. This week we celebrated the three year anniversary of our meeting. At times people will ask how long we have known each other, and we have felt the temptation to embellish our response. Why is this? I think perhaps it is because all of us can get caught up measuring time in quantity of years rather than the quality of our experiences. As a couple, as a family, we have certainly had our challenges. Yet these challenges have brought me to look at time very differently than in the past. I now try to focus on the now, making time now for each other, appreciating time now rather than later. In this way our time together can be as great as we make it. We can end each day being thankful for the time we had. We can start each day eager for that time to continue.

Yesterday Mike had a new MRI to evaluate how effective the most recent chemotherapy has been. To our dismay it was revealed that there is more growth. Mike’s doctor provided us with the information needed to make an informed decision about what to try next. I know it must seem that Mike has been on every imaginable chemotherapy available. Yet it the field of brain tumors, and perhaps cancer in general, there is always another form of chemo that might be the one that stops the tumor in its tracks. This time it will be CPT-11. This is a medication that is currently used in clinical trials at the major brain tumor centers such as UCSF and Duke. It has been found to be very effective in prolonging survival time for many people. Kaiser has CPT-11 available for treatment without the need to enroll in a new trial. I think this is a good direction for Mike’s treatment, as we will have the potential option to move his treatment to UCSF should we decide that is best for him. He will receive the CPT-11 intravenously along with his Avastin every two weeks. He will be scheduled for his next MRI after three cycles of the chemotherapy.

Keep Mike in your prayers, and keep him always present in your heart. Remember that his time is now. Our time with him is now. For this time I am grateful.

2009 Brain Tumor Walk

Please help us support the National Brain Tumor Society. Here is a link to our team page...A Hike with Mike. You may make a donation on either of our personal pages.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lovely and Amazing

• Friday, April 10, 2009 1:38 AM, PDT
I realize that I am quite behind with many things these days, one of them being this journal. Mike received his new chemotherapy last Thursday. He was a bit anxious about the new chemo, as it was through the I.V., rather than a pill. It turns out his worries were unwarranted, as he sailed right through the treatment with no significant side effects. This was a great blessing, as Mike had several small trips planned around this time.

For the past 5 days he has been on a trip with his mother, Barbara. I anticipate that they are having some quality time together. Next we spend a couple of days at Mike's Peace Corp reunion up in Inverness, the Point Reyes area. After that is a short surprise trip to celebrate my turning 50. Each of these outings should be relaxing, as too much activity can be kind of taxing on Mike.

Mike continues to be somewhat of an anomaly, as while at each MRI there is evidence of tumor growth, you wouldn't know it looking at Mike. He continues to amaze me with his functioning level being stable. His tumor growth was last seen in the upper frontal lobe, where there could be changes in one's personality. Mike and I were trying to make light of his situation, and trying to anticipate what changes could be ahead of us. What if the changes were a good thing? What if they changed some of his character flaws? Just kidding, I love Michael just the way he is....

I wish all of you many blessings.

Love. Dan

P.S. Mike and I have made a late decision to participate in the Brain Tumor Walk again this year. Anyone interested in making a donation may do so on our team page. You can donate by way of either one of our names. The money all goes to the same place.