In the week of the prescription I earned my degree in Google Medicine. I read enough that I was positive that this was cancer. And it scared the shit out of me. In my research I learned that the doctors could not biopsy it, because if they poked a hole in the side a single cell could get out, and land somewhere and start growing. Nope, the only solution was removal. Along with about 6 inches of associated body parts, that I had grown quite attached to. (Rimshot!) Since when TC spreads, it follows a predictable path, this surgery would allow the doctors to get ahead of it, SHOULD it start to spread.
When I met with the doctor he told me what I already knew: the pills had done nothing, and the monster was clearly increasing in size. I had an ultrasound, and a blood test which tested for a particular kind of protein emitted by this type of cancer. The blood test showed a level of 144 to which I said ‘That’s terrible,’. The doctor said ‘No, 5,000 is terrible. However, this is evidence that this is cancer’. The ultrasound also provided further evidence. However, it would be able to be tested until it was removed. A surgery was scheduled and out it came. A biopsy confirmed that it was cancer, pure seminoma. Supposedly a rare type of cancer that doesn’t spread. Ha, more on that in six months. I was told I was essentially cured, and was put on a six month survellience. Which means I was given blood tests, x-rays and CT-scans to set markers against and every six months I would have them again and comparisons would be made.
Now, nearly a year later I’m talking about this like it was easy. Fuck no, it wasn’t easy. The emotional and psychological damage was intense. Of course I assumed I would die, or at the least my quality of life would suffer to some degree. I’ve never been sick or spend any time in the hospital. In my movie work, which I enjoy immensely, a lot of it is based on me being able to run, climb stairs, jump from vehicles and throw people around. The doctor told me it would be 4-6 week before I was back to normal.
When I woke up I was in pain, but nothing some good pain killers couldn’t fix. Good stuff, by the way. I had shut down my online stores, and wasn’t booking myself on any movie parts until I knew I’d be back up to semi-normal. I was out of bed the next day, but really had NO idea that having the energy sucked out of my via surgery was possible. I dropped 15 lbs, and mostly ate smoothies for awhile just because I knew I had to eat something. Took it easy for a few days and opened my stores back up and started working again. First time I tried to walk up the stairs was a mistake. I was moving like an old man. Took the dogs on a walk with the wife, and slowly was able to get that rolling as normal, but with some breaks. Wife handled EVERYTHING while I was down, and completely took care of life while I was down. I made a real effort to get my ass back up and back in the saddle. It took about two weeks.
I went ahead with a trip to Dallas, TX which was planned long before any of this other bullshit was. I started off walking slowly, but forcing myself to get up and move I was pretty much at 100% at the end. I’m glad I went.
Soon after I was contacted by casting to see if I was ready to do some movie work. I agree to do ONE DAY, if I could be guaranteed I wouldn’t be doing anything physical. They agreed, and told me I could cancel if I just didn’t feel up to it. I felt fine, but didn’t want to push it. It was an easy, 4 hour day on ‘Get Hard‘, a Kevin Hart/Will Ferrell comedy. About a week after that, I worked on another movie called The Best of Me, and part of my scenes included a raid on a meth lab (see, I always play a cop). I was asked if I was down with jumping out of an on the move DEA van and I said HELL NO. But, I was fine with flying out of a cop car that wasn’t moving as fast, and was lower to the ground, and carrying a revolver as opposed to a shotgun. Aside from the face plant I took on the first take it went fine. It was encouraging, and I felt back to normal physically.
I give full credit to my wife getting me through this, and the physical ‘therapy’ I forced myself to go through to back to normal a heckuva lot sooner than anticipated. Life was pretty much back to normal. For the most part, I didn’t share any of this with anyone, save for my immediate family and my closest pals. Not that I was ashamed, it was just a private matter and I thought it was quick and over with. Still, I wanted to do something, and coincidentally about this time I was contacted by a casting director who asked me to come in and audition for a Blue Cross commercial. I felt really good about it, and seemed like a good way to help out Blue Cross who was FUCKING AWESOME in taking care of me in this situation. They took care of EVERYTHING and were quick and pleasant to deal with. Doing the commercial was a great experience from a professional perspective, but more from a therapeutic point of view. It got EVERYTHING off my chest. Here is that commercial:
Life was looking pretty damned good. Family life was good, I had some of my best movie work experiences ever over this past summer, and this was all behind me. I knew my six month appointment was coming up. And when it finally arrived, my urologist said “Let’s do the CT-scan, but I really don’t expect to find anything,”. Well, he was wrong. Several lymph nodes were enlarged, in the predictable path that this cancer would take. He figured radiation would solve the issue, but he isn’t an oncologist. So, off to the oncologist we went. The oncologist told us that the radiation would only get what we could see. That the initial CT-scan six months earlier had missed this, it’s because it was not detectable then, and there was surely more now that was also undetectable. No, the only way to get it ALL: Chemotherapy:
There’s two types of chemo that I can go with. One, is a four cycle and the other a three cycle. Both are equally effective. The difference is that the three cycle, BEP, is more statically capable of causing lung damage.
The reason I chose the BEP is because my lungs are healthy. I dont smoke, and there are no issues. There is no guarantee of lung damage, and my perhaps foolish thinking is that if there is I’ll have a long life to build them back. And, being healthy to begin with minimizes the chances for damage. Also, one less cycle to go through, with all those potential risks. No matter which choice, there are risks. That’s what sucks about the whole thing.
We scheduled a meeting for next Wednesday to have a ‘port put in my chest.
I had a choice between having this port put in, or take the chemo drugs via IV. The port should save me about 75-100 needles to the veins. The same veins that will begin to get sore and collapse over time. No thanks. The port should be a much easier way to deal with everything, but that’s still not saying a lot. Outpatient procedure, and everyone I’ve spoken to who had or has had one said it wasn’t a big deal. And I don’t want to gimp up my arm and hand veins, or deal with dozens of needles for weeks on end.
I’ve already done a lot of mental and physical preparation and I’ll elaborate more on that in the days to come. In the meantime, I’m going to go have my mouth cleaned out at the dentist, get a flu shot to minimize risk of that happening during treatment and get some work done around here. Todays meeting with the doctor was more reassuring than scary. He showed us the lounge where everything is done, and gave us a solid, realistic explanation of what to expect. He sounds very supportive, and doesn’t think I’ll even lose my hair, and should be fine to travel.
But, we’ll take it day by day, event by event.
So, today was just a small update. Just another step in getting this all resolved. I was asked today by a pal how I felt, that he didn’t know. Honest answer is I feel totally fine. I get a little angry and upset at the situation when I think about it, but for the far majority of the time, I’m in pretty normal spirits. What annoys me about it is the UNCERTAINTY. I like to plan things in advance, and day to day isn’t really my style.
So, to answer the question of ‘How are you?’, the answer is : Annoyed by this. Scared and sad at times, but overall it’s annoying. And dumb. I’m as prepared as possible to proceed, and have no plan to take this sitting down. I’ll get through this and come out fine on the other side. Any issues that may arise, I will work through.
Oh yeah, one last thought. I typically keep my head buzzed, and have since 2002. No attachments on the clippers, just totally buzzed. My wife does it like every 3 weeks for me. And I generally keep myself clean shaven. Decided to grow everything out, until (A) this is over, or (B) it falls out, and I’m forced to take it all off. I’m not why I feel the need to do this, but I think it’s some subconscious form of ‘keeping control’. IE, I’m not giving it to you, and you aren’t taking it away.
I tried to make a dentist appointment today to get my teeth cleaned out in preparation for the chemotherapy, but I forgot it was New Years Eve, and they were closed. I left a message to call me back, but I’ll call them first thing Friday and try to get that done as soon as possible.
Scott ‘Bruiser’ Schwartz gave me a call today to offer his support as well. He has a foundation for helping kids with cancer( http://scottlschwartzchildrensfoundation.wordpress.com/). I only HOPE I can do something like that one day to help people out with their cancer situation. I appreciate him reaching out, and we’re gonna get together for lunch on Friday. He’s a good guy and I’m looking forward to it.
After that I went to the post office, and they had closed early so I headed over to Walgreens and got a flu shot, which is also recommended to reduce the chance of getting sick, while doing chemo, during the flu season. We’ll be doing some fireworks in a bit, and that should be it for a rather uneventful day, cancer wise. And that’s perfectly fine with this guy, but tomorrow I DO need to head back to the hospital and take a fresh protein blood test for the doctor, and head over to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled for anti-nausea medicines. I’ll get that stuff ready now and be prepared and proactive rather than REactive. I hope!
That’s all for today. Thanks for checkin’ in, and more coming tomorrow. I feel fine, and all is well. Next week my brother, sister and niece are coming in to visit with 3 great-grand kids to introduce to my mom. Looking forward to that as well.