As the month of May was swept away with the last of the network-season's original programming, those of us still in lockdown and quarantining had our own reality to embrace: there was nothing new on network television.
(Again, not a cancer column. Given the title, it would be a pretty gruesome reference to my life in the cancer world if it were.)
(Not a cancer column.)
And the "Scancer" Is... ...stable, with a side of shrinkage, however modest.
After each individual appointment with my oncologist, either virtual or in person, all my prescription needs and my next round of appointments are scheduled while I wait.
(All these times are approximate – or they're not.
...and I suppose life is back on, especially for those of us who have been vaccinated.
Recently, I made the mistake of clicking on an email from an unfamiliar sender.
As I discussed a few weeks back, having all this time off/apart from cancer-related activities is unsettling in a peculiar way.
From the moment you hear the word cancer spoken in your direction – from your new best friend, an oncologist with whom you've had zero previous interaction, you are transported to a new reality.
As previously referred to in a recent column, even though I am hardly cancer-free, nonetheless I am cancer interruptus for the next four weeks.
Have I mentioned in print lately that we, resident owners of "Belly Acres" in Burtonsville, are back to being a five-indoor-cat household?
You know the expression: "Can't walk and chew gum at the same time,” a disparaging characterization of a person, company or municipality unable to multi-task or even task at all?
I'm sort of invoking Southwest Airlines here, but not exactly.
What are all these "Toe Nail Clipper" emails I receive nearly every day?
So this is what it's like to be out of the house and driving around: mask on, surgical gloves in the console, hand sanitizer in the glove box; not so different than before my two Covid-19 vaccinations.
Sure enough, the email from my oncologist didn't arrive in my inbox before we left for the weekend away on Friday.
Ordinarily, I'd be writing this column this weekend – after this week's events.
Literally and figuratively.
I realize I'm cancer-centric, especially in these columns, but for some reason that centricity didn't acknowledge my February 27th cancer anniversary.
Well, those last two weeks were kind of fun, (comparatively speaking) to the dozen or so previous weeks.
...So this is what the process is like trying to schedule a Covid-19 vaccination.
"Just when I thought I was out ... they pull me back in."
Means what exactly?
I received in the mail today what, in the sales/marketing world, we'd call a "pre-approach" letter.
Or to quote my high school baseball coach: "Reorientated."
…don't exactly go together like milk and cookies.
Incurable but treatable non small cell lung cancer, stage IV for incurable but treatable papillary thyroid cancer stage IV.
As I sit and write here, with too much time on my hands, I can't help but consider my lot in life.
Having recently returned from a driving sojourn through the South, with stops and stays in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, visiting four sets of friends in those three states, I can say with certainty that wearing masks, social distancing and common sense consideration for your fellow citizen were not nearly so accepted as we had hoped.
...and now I'm out – of the Handel's Messiah sweepstakes.
The non-stop – or so it seems, television advertising letting all of us viewers know that the 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment window is about to slam shut is nearly over.
Not that I'm the most-stressed about it, but I am at least stressed about a bone scan I'm having this week.
Let us presume, for the sake of this column, that I only have papillary thyroid cancer stage IV, and that my years as a non small cell lung cancer patient, also stage IV, are over.
As my brother, Richard, has often said: "If the oncologist is happy, then I'm happy."
...it was first rate.
...to get a second opinion about one's first cancer; especially if there's now a second cancer to consider.
What I'm thinking about – and being thankful for, today, is the disappearance of all the side effects I've been experiencing during the last four weeks or so since I began my pill regimen for my papillary thyroid cancer treatment.
As Jackie Gleason would say as he segued from his monologue into the sketch comedy that followed on his Saturday night entertainment hour on CBS.
Not that I want to give you a blow-by-blow concerning my treatment switch over to thyroid cancer from lung cancer, but the last two columns were written four weeks ago in the same week in expectation of a weekend away, so these observations will be new-ish in that they will be hot off the press, so to speak.
Two-plus weeks into my thyroid cancer treatment, all is as I anticipated.
There are two generic types of cancer: the cancer that you have, and the cancer that has you.
Eleven years, six months and two weeks, approximately, after being diagnosed with "terminal" cancer: stage IV non small cell lung cancer, I have begun my treatment for stage IV papillary thyroid cancer.
As I was telling my long-time friend, Rita, over the phone on Saturday afternoon, as a cancer patient – and I know this is going to sound ridiculous, short-sighted and stupid, I am not always forthcoming and honest when it comes to sharing new symptoms with my doctors, particularly my oncologist.
I don't remember much substance from my freshman-level psychology 100 class at the University of Maryland in 1972 except that the lecture hall sat approximately 600 students, tests were graded on a bell curve (with which I was totally unfamiliar), the professor always wore black leather pants, and he brought his dog to every lecture.
After 11 years and almost exactly six months since being diagnosed with stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, the party is apparently over.
Whether or not I'm certain about my attitude toward being a dual cancer threat (non small cell lung and papillary thyroid, cancer), only my subconscious knows for sure.
After more than six months away from the infusion center, due to the treatment for my papillary thyroid cancer stage II, I make my return on Wednesday, July 22.
And not just Tuesday, either. All week in fact, I'll be waiting to hear the music.
"Very interesting," to quote Artie Johnson from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," that "crazy-kooky" comedy show from the 70s.