15 August 2011

A Difficult Friday

Oh, I realize it really hasn't even started yet. This is going to be one long, long dance, and we are just starting to cue up the music. I sit here, alone at home for the first time since Friday morning.

At 9:48 a.m. Friday, August 12, 2011 I was given the big prize. No, that isn't the day I got to mail off my application for my Super Randonneur Medal. I can't do that until the 25th. No, this was when the phone rang and Dr. Sanford awarded me the news that the biopsies had come back positive for cancer. He was totally professional, totally detached and about as matter of fact as anybody could be. I accept his news, thinking how much I appreciate his frankness and at the same time, am glad he's not my 'real' doc.

10:12 a.m. I am on the bike. I ride off towards Doc Schuster's office where I will meet Mimi. 11 miles with almost 1,000' of vertical. Pounding my way up every hill I can find. I'm angry. I'm sad. I knew this was going to be the result, but it doesn't make it any easier.

11:45 a.m. I meet Mimi at the doctor. She's waiting in the lobby when I arrive. She's eaten, I've just picked up a sandwich. I force down what I can, but eating just doesn't feel fun anymore. I love to eat. I love to cook. Food has been a huge part of my existence, having grown up in restaurants and worked in them for a long time. Our family gatherings are food-centric. I love the smell of baking bread, baking pie, making a batch of fresh strawberry jam. Of course, I love to ride past the bakery and feast my eyes and my stomach on fresh maple bars. As I sit with my turkey and provolone sandwich and orange soda, though, something just seems wrong. I know I have to eat, I just don't want to. I force down about 2/3 of it and angrily, but silently throw the remains in the trash. Now, I'm really pissed. If I can't enjoy food, what the hell is the point? I keep my dark thoughts to myself for now.

We finally get put into an examining room and Doc Schuster is out in the hallway pulling some samples. We nod and exchange pleasantries. "It isn't the news I wanted to hear, but it's fixable," he says to me from across the room. A few minutes later he comes in and we talk. He talks. I cry. He hugs me. We ask questions. He has already talked to Dr. Henry Kaplan and Dr. Brian Louie and informs me they're going to be my team, filling me in on what great docs they are in their respective fields. He wants me in their office soon.

I question the need for surgery. Can't we just do chemo? Nope. Won't work. Need to cut this out, and do it quickly. OK. So what's the recovery time? 4-6 months, but that's "non-athletic" recovery. Because of my conditioning, I might be a lot faster.

Well, of course I will!

As we leave Schuster, we're on the phone to Kaplan's office while walking to Minor and James to pick up the DVD from my tests which we will walk over to Dr. Louie's office. First, we're told Kaplan can't see me until the 26th - until Mimi says Gary wants me in there quickly. Suddenly, we have an appointment for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday the 16th. Louie's office is pretty much the same; first they can't see me until next week sometime, until some shameless name dropping gets me an appointment on Tuesday at noon. In a whirlwind of activity lasting about 3 hours, my entire next week is thrown into a series of appointments with men I never wanted to meet.

Once it is all done, it is time for a little sanity; a trip for coffee with Elena and Igor. We sit in the back yard, sipping sweet hot coffee, munching cookies and chatting, with the birds singing overhead, the sweet smell of the garden surrounding us and talking about life plans for the next month (and next few years). It all seems so normal, and in my mind it all seems so artificial. It is like I am watching a movie, not really a part of it all, but simply observing.

Ken comes for dinner. Lots of laughter, but lots of seriousness, too. Then when he is gone, it is time to get ready for tomorrow's 100k bike ride.

10:10 p.m. I crawl into bed. Mimi turns her light off. I lay there with mine on. I'm a little bit afraid of the dark tonight. Can't explain it. Don't really feel like I need to. Just am not ready to have the lights turned out quite yet.

As my sponsor might tell me, "more will be revealed."


Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors said...

I am here for you

gw_12 said...

You will kick its ass. No doubt in my mind. Best wishes.

-Glenn (gw_12)

Maureen said...

Sorry to hear the news... Good luck with the 100K!

Grateful G. said...


My STRONGEST and most heartfelt wish for your "GREATEST GOOD".

"Happiness" is YOUR greatest asset and ally. BE yourself and you'll be fine.

Remember that OTHER great cyclist who beat worse than you have and then went on to win 7 Tours? I just KNOW that you're gonna be OK.

Dr. Grateful G., PhT :-)

jobob said...

Jobob sends a really big hug your way. Go tell 'em what for and what how.

Mari Whitmer said...

Kick butt and take names. Oh wait you already that the little bastards names. Then just kick their butts!

Amy said...

Sorry to hear - but good to hear it was caught "early" and that you will recover to give us all hell for years to come - Your life will be changed by this experience and you have already become such a better person through out all that you and Mimi have endured - This will draw you even closer but remember to draw on the strength of your family and friends and let us help out with anything that can be done - even minor things can nag and you don't need that right now.

carmentosca's blog said...

We love you -- we need you and we know you'll fight a good fight and lick this monster -- we are rooting and praying for you.

Hugs are always available!

Jean said...

Don since my father has prostate cancer, my siblings, particularily my doctor-sister has been carefully querying the urologist and oncologist:

At his age, (82) for his mid-stage development of the cancer, is and continues to be his choice about chemotherapy. He has not yet requested it yet. If he gets it, it will be 8 wks. daily of chemotherapy. That alone will sap his strength.

Chemotherapy does inevitably weaken a person's immune system, particularily if it's a higher dosage and administered often.

At this time, he's just holding steady..which is surreal because he sounds so normal, cheerful and appears to normal in many other ways. The only exception at this time, is his tendency to catch colds and taking longer to recover from a cold.

I can only say that most likely my father's good health and healthy lifetime diet (no cardio, no respiratory problems at all) has at this time, kept him afloat. This alone, is enormous inspiration for us in the family.

May your surgery be successful and may you with Mimi's support, make the best decision for quality of your life.

And every effort to have cycled and keep healthy for last awhile is worth it because it only enhances time spent well.

Jack and I still have great memories of your pie and Mimi's pasta that we had at your home when we cycled from Vancouver a few yrs. ago.