Saturday, June 02, 2007


Yes, ouch, is my response to the news yesterday--IGGs have jumped to 2650, a rise of more than 700 points. The nonchemo period has come to an end. Before I commence treatment I have to undergo extensive testing to "restage" my disease, including the not very comfortable (to say the least) bone marrow biopsy, and the skeletal survey to see if I have any bone involvement, plus much more blood work. Even though we had kind of decided upon a chemo cocktail last visit, new data has brought more options into the picture. Rifkin is making yet another presentation on multiple myeloma to some cancer society in mid June and he said that when he sees me again (on July 2) he will have all the latest data from all the clinical trials around the world at his fingertips. So who knows what they'll put in me come July.

Although the news comes as no surprise, I find I'm struggling to deal with it. Over the years, life has taught me that difficult times can be dealt with and that eventually the difficulties subside and life returns to some form of what it used to be. Not so with this disease. There is no going back, no return to that easier time. No, it seems we must just move forward and accept a life with a very different, much more coarse texture. The struggle these days, as with most days since the diagnosis, is mental, working against old notions and habits and accepting the new pattern.

And for a lighter note: I had a great time back in Dickinson last week. My mother and her husband, Bob, are doing well. My sister Kathy and her husband, John, came down from Minot and spent a few days there as well. I think the average life expectancy for people in Dickinson is markedly higher than the rest of the country, as you can feel the pace of life slow down when you drive into town. They just take things slower there. So we took it pretty easy, leisurely coffee in the morning, walks around town, and going out for steak at the Elks club.

We also had the chance to see my uncle, Woody Gagnon, who is now 93 years old and doing remarkably well. We spent many holidays with the Gagnons over the years and it was nice to spend some time with Woody and his son, Ed, whom I haven't seen in many years. Ed's brother, George, is responsible for bringing me to Colorado way back in the mid-70s, when I taught at the Open Living School in Evergreen, Colorado, where George was the principal. I fell in love with Colorado and determined this was where I wanted to live. George, on the other hand, has fled the state--to teach at Berkely. (just kidding George, no you didn't flee the least not that I know of!)

Susan, Catherine and Julia had a more glamorous Memorial Day getaway in Palm Springs, with cousine Eileen. They, too, took it easy sunning at the pool or going out to eat at more elegant restaurants than the Elks club. They arrived back fully bronzed, rested, and grateful, once again, for the generosity of cousin Eileen.

So with a slight adjustment of my mental state, which I know will come in a few days, I will once again know that life is good. We continue to give thanks every day for all the friends who support us through this very different life. I'll check in after the July 2 visit with Rifkin. Until then, we send all our gratitude for your being in our lives.