November 19th, 2008: This was a day when a lot got accomplished. I started the morning by talking with Jocelyn Dubin, a nutritionist in Santa Cruz recommended by my friends, Wendy Ostrow and Shoshannah Orzek. Jocelyn has focused her practice around helping people with cancer fine tune their diets. She had great ideas about more sources of non-meat protein as well as fish, fish, fish (healthy fish, not mercury-drenched fish). We reviewed my meals of the past three days and her critiques were helpful and easy to implement. I am very grateful for her advice because a big issue for chemo patients is loss of muscle mass. She had excellent strategies about keeping my body as healthy as possible during and after chemo.
A couple of hours later, I visited my therapist Susan Wachob who led the Gay Male Incest Survivor group that I participated in for five years during the last half of the 90’s. When I left group, it was with the understanding that I had found my deepest wound—my fear of my father—and that I had grown up and no longer feared him. If he went off for some reason, I had many tricks up my sleeve all of which worked. I could yell back at him, leave the room, kick his shin, demand that he cool it, etc. Although some of those responses are effective than others, the point was that I no longer felt in thrall to my Dad’s rage. It was only that: his rage. In the past few weeks, however, culminating in my healing center episode with the masked shaman who held my tumor aloft as it cried out against my Dad’s violence to me, I realized that it was time to return to therapy for another round of work. I would guess that this time, I need to work on the impact of growing up in a family where I was abused but could not complain. Or cry out. Or escape. It’s clear to me that I was taught not to ask for help. That I learned very skewed attitudes about pain and when I was in pain. In short, more work to do. It was great to see Susan again, and I am eager to get started.
Later in the afternoon, Eileen and I visited with Natalie Olsen, Nurse Practitioner, and Dr. Jahan. Natalie reviewed all of my current discomforts which are blissfully few. Then, Dr. Jahan came in and exclaimed, “You’re not bald!” Indeed I am not. He was very complimentary about my body’s tolerance for the chemo drugs and said that the next five day session would start at the beginning of December. His gift to me was Thanksgiving holiday out of the hospital. Go, eat, celebrate, relax. Of course it isn’t abnormal to have a visit with your oncologist be a fest of appreciation when things are going well, but this had never happened to me before. I am used to presenting myself as a multi-metastasized guy with a tumor that is difficult to diagnose. No one gets happy during that sort of visit. So now I am heading in new directions with new rewards. Dr. Jahan and I backed off from making mid-to-long range projections. The short-term plan is to go through the next round of chemo in a week and a half, do all the scans that will measure the changes in all sizes of all tumors and then make decisions from there. Ongoing good news: the main pelvic tumor continues to feel smaller and denser. It doesn’t hurt to the touch, but there is definitely something there. But then, that’s one of the main points of this blog: there is something there.