A Currently Incurable Summer Vacation
I just wanted to give a brief personal medical update and my related summer plans!
With the exception of my diagnosis summer (2012) when potentially curative chemo was given ASAP, I have always had the “goal” (when medically possible) to take summers off from treatment. Even though I am terminally optimistic, I am also realistic… part of Stage IV life is thinking through the memories you are generating for your kids – memories they will have for the rest of their lives – whether I am successful in my immunotherapy project or not.
What memories do I want my kids to have of me whether I die in 2017 or 2037 or hopefully even later? I want them to know I fought my hardest to be here for them. I want them to know that I tried hard to make the world a better place than it would have been without me. Those are my most important memory goals on the big level but important family memories are also based on the more simple day-to-day level.
When I think back to my childhood, my memories always congregate onto two areas: Christmas and summers. Carefree summer days, playing outside until sunset, swimming in a pool or at the beach almost daily, family vacations… These are the memories I cherish from my childhood. So on a simpler level, I want my kids to have the most carefree summer memories as possible. So I always take summer off from treatment whenever medically allowed (or at least medically “tolerated” as is sometimes the case – I am kind of a pain in the butt for my oncologist – but things have worked out OK for me so far and I think he likes me 🙂 )
I started a chemo break about 3 weeks ago but it was tentative break. I hoped to have the summer off but whether or not that would be possible would be based upon the incredible impact of the one little number I have written about before: my monthly CEA blood tumor marker test…
My CEA tumor marker blood test came back good this morning! This means a few things, all significant!
- My tumors remain sensitive to FOLFIRI chemotherapy
- I can remain off FOLFIRI chemo until at least mid-August maximizing summer fun with the kids (although we would have had fun no matter what)!
- It also means my white blood cells will be very healthy while we wrap up lab experiments this summer for my planned immunotherapy experimental therapy (things are looking really good so far by the way! “Hopefully” dosing will start in the Fall after a quick blast of chemo to get down to minimal disease!)
- I also had a melanoma 6-month checkup on Monday – all clear at the 1 1/2 year mark!
So not a bad week at all for me…
I have faith that no matter what my melanoma and CEA test results could have been… I would have generated good memories with the kids this summer regardless of doing chemo or not. I personally know hundreds of survivors doing this successfully as I type this post. That being said, it still feels good to have a summer vacation from FOLFIRI… FOLFIRI is rough on both me and the family and after 6 months on it, we were ready for a break…
And for that opportunity I am very thankful. No matter what your situation, enjoy making some good memories the next couple of months. That is what summers are for.
Dad, Amelie & Eleni celebrating the 2016 Father’s Day & start to summer