Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Wow! Whoever said that newspapers were irrelevant in the digital age never had an article written about them. A huge number of people have written, both leaving comments on this blog, and via email. Many relate their own harrowing stories – it is a terrifying and sad thing to remember that I am not alone, that there are dozens and hundreds and thousands and millions of people whose lives are right now being touched by tragedy. The torrential outpouring of stories is amazing to me. Maybe it shouldn’t be, since I have obviously felt this same need to share mine. The urgency with which people have been sharing their experiences reminds me of something that we are taught in the first year of medical school, but which largely falls on deaf ears: how important it is that people feel that they are listened to and understood. The article may have been written about me, but this is not the reason that people have found it interesting. Its greatest value seems to have come from the fact that it provided a stimulus for others to express themselves.

As for me, I am relishing feeling better every day, though with the crisis averted, there is more space for rumination. A few entries ago I wrote about there being a clear path ahead. I am back in Palo Alto now, and in the calm of home I find that while there are fewer terrifying possibilities looming, there are many new and important variables that have sprung up, and that the path ahead is not at all clear. Will I be physically able to begin school again in the fall? Will I be emotionally stable enough? Is it more important for me to re-engage with school so that I can apply what I have learned to my studies and beyond, or should I take some time to reconsider my goals, and enjoy life?

(No need to weigh in all at once!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007


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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A HUGE sigh of relief

It is with great pleasure that I write this entry. I met with the doctor in charge of my care yesterday, and he announced with no delay that my CT scan was completely normal, and that there was absolutely no need for surgery of any kind!

Deep breaths all around. And then champagne!

I was shocked. Still am. It has been impossible not to be constantly cogitating around the infinite eventualities of all theoretical outcomes. To find myself lying awake at night, despite rather large doses of sleeping medication, working out contingencies for contingencies. And all of a sudden, there is an answer, a clear path, and not only that, the best possible one!

I have not yet made it into full-on celebration mode. For one, my body is nowhere near recovered. But more importantly, I am trepidatious about really letting go. At every turn for the past fifteen months, each time some doctor tells me that everything’s OK and I can get on with my life, the door has been slammed in my face shortly thereafter. Back to the hospital, and again in a gown, not a white coat. I want to believe that this time it’s true, that I can return to my carefully laid-out path, but I can’t help but be a little scared.

There is also a little matter of maintenance chemotherapy. In order to diminish even further the possibility of this crap ever coming back, I will be taking a low dose of etoposide for three months, starting in a month. Supposedly it will merely make me a little more tired than usual for a few days out of each month, but we’ll see about that.

Enough wet blankets! After the appointment, I immediately flew out to DC to celebrate. Washington, DC?!

I have tried in this blog to keep my personal life as private as I can, but to explain what the hell I am doing here, I am going to have to spill some beans. But only a few. Back in April, right in the middle of flying like mad around the country trying to decide where to get treatment, I attended the wedding of a dear friend in San Francisco. And we all know what can happen at weddings. There you are, hanging around for hours with a whole bunch of people, some of whom you know, and many of whom you don’t. But the ones you don’t know have been vetted already: they were invited to the wedding by either your friend, or your friend’s new committed partner. Everyone’s all dressed up and feeling terribly romantic. There’s a dancefloor. You find yourself wanting to throw a little kid through the window because he’s dancing with the girl you want to be dancing with. One thing leads to another, and... here I am in DC. Sarah has been with me more in the past three months than is easily explained, in California and Indiana. She has been stupifyingly supportive and loving, and brought light to what could have been a very dark few months. I am sitting in her Dupont Circle apartment feeling a little bit guilty for not being home to celebrate with many of you, but I hope you will forgive me. We are having a grand time.