Had an MRI this morning— the first one I’ve had since my 3rd(!) brain surgery, on June 24th. I like to try really hard not to worry too much or nervously anticipate these eight-week brain parole hearings, since they come at a relatively frequent clip, and will very likely go on for the rest of my life. I would rather spend the 59 days between MRIs working and writing and doing things I enjoy (like going down the shore with my family for a few days, which I just did, and enjoyed very, very much) rather than worrying about something that’s for the most part entirely out of my control. But this was the first one since that recent surgery, so I was “anticipating” this one… looking forward to seeing how well the tumor removal “took.”
Turns out it took pretty damn well. Doctor C.P. the Brain Surgeon (no relation, despite the identical initials) did a nice little number on me brains, and so in addition to feeling and looking relatively healthy at the moment, it appears that I am relatively healthy at the moment. So that’s good. That’s something to hang your hat on. For at least two more months, at least.
So to celebrate, I’m going to spare you my typical existential meanderings this time in favor of a regular old-fashioned medical update post, which is what this blog was supposed to be for in the first place, before my head started to get all (figuratively, artistically) swollen. So here goes:
• The MRI results looked good! Dr. Hu actually used the word “wonderful” to describe them. Which I found to be a bit highfalutin’, but hey it’s my brains he’s talking about, so I should take a “wonderful” and go home happy. Which is what I did.
• The area where the tumor had reappeared a few months ago looks nice and clean now, nothing more than a black hole (filled with cerebralspinal fluid, as opposed to infinitely dense matter). This is all completely safe, in case you were wondering. All the useful brains are still there, just a little compressed and smooshed off to the side. They’ll be able to stretch back out into the hole if they want to, but there’s no harm if they decide to stay as-is. Strange, but true.
• Here is a picture of the MRI scan itself. On the right you can see the image that was taken today, compared with the image (on the left) of my brain pre-surgery, back in June…
• The angle of the two scans is a little different, but generally speaking what you’re looking for is the area in the center left side of the head. On the left (June) MRI, you can see a little white nose-shaped blob. That was Cancer! And now, on the right, you just see a clean black hole in me brains where the Cancer! no longer is.
• So that’s great. But keep in mind (as I must, both literally and figuratively) that the cancer was there the whole time– even during the last year when my scans were looking great– because it DID grow back. So there was something there. So there could still be some stuff there now. Or maybe not. There’s no way to know, other than the wait-and-see approach. Which I’ve gotten good at. The important point to focus on is this: “so far so good.” And that’s very, very important. That makes me happy. That allows me to enjoy everything else around me that has nothing to do with cancer, which is a lot.
• As for TREATMENT, here’s the deal: No more chemo, no more radiation. For now at least. No reason to mess with a good thing (other than cracking my skull open for a fourth time if it grows back again in the same relatively accessible place). But this 3rd surgery did a nice little number on the re-growing tumor cells, and who knows, maybe they won’t grow back at all now. Or maybe they will. This is what I’m living with. But I’m living. Well. That’s what matters.
• THE CLINICAL TRIAL: The only treatment I am doing now, is another clinical trial. This is called “Neurosphere,” (talk about high-falutin’), and is basically very similar to the clinical trail I did before. It’s a vaccine therapy, intended to train my own immune system to recognize and destroy any remaining brain cancer cells. This particular trial is brand new, and is being developed at my hospital (Cedars Sinai– a quick 4 mile jog from my house). I am phenomenally lucky to be able to be a part of it. Even if it does nothing. It’s an option– and options are in short supply when you have this type of brain cancer. So hooray for the Neurosphere! Oh and this trial is a Phase 1 trial, which means (among other things) that there are no placebos. I’m definitely getting something. And hopefully it does something. Either way, it has no adverse side effects, so again…. lucky. Lucky lucky lucky. All I get is a few shots in the armpit (yes, they kinda suck) and boom, that’s it. I get to (maybe) live longer. Maybe a couple months. Maybe years. Who knows. We’ll find out.
• HOW AM I FEELING? I am feeling relatively well. Quite Cancerful, thank you very much. I’m mostly recovered from the surgery, and the chemo brain seems to still be steadily (if slowly) improving. I am still slightly less than I was before all of this happened, but probably mostly in ways that only I notice. My memory is soft, I lose my words more often than I’d like to, and I get randomly tired and have learned to pace myself and take naps. All of this is frustrating for me at times, but I don’t have to remind myself that things could be much, much worse. This much is obvious to me. Hence me usually smiling when you see me. (Unless it’s in the morning. I still like being grumpy in the morning. That hasn’t changed.)
• GOING FORWARD: I will get a few more armpit shots, and I will continue with the bi-monthly MRI scans. Things are calm for now. Which is great, because I’ve got a lot of work to do. Such as…
• I’ve been invited to speak at a Brain Tumor Conference at Cedars Sinai next weekend, which is exciting. I’m not sure what I’m going to talk about yet, but I’ll almost definitely be cracking jokes of questionable taste, handing out Brain Cancer Cards, and trying to raise money to create a Cancer! Foundation, and to make this movie I wrote, both of which I believe very well might have the power to cure cancer.
• So that’s it! For now. Thanks to everyone for your continued support, here in LA and in PA and all over the damned place. I’m lucky to have a lot of really nice people in my life, and even luckier to have learned to be a nicer person to (at least most of) them.
And thanks for reading.
See, having brain cancer ain’t all that bad.
Well how d’ya like that!