Thursday, January 21, 2010

Information to process

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was hoping to get a little more information on how this will be affecting my life before I post. I spent my first day back in Columbia talking to various people at work about the findings, crying a bunch, feeling helpless, getting Maggie out of class and going out for a Thai-food lunch (mmm, curry), and of course a road ride with someone who's turning into a great friend.

I'm reluctantly, posting some images of the radio-iodine scan. I say reluctant b/c they're hard to interpret and are normally correlated with a CT-scan. In other words, to figure out some of the anatomy, you look at these images and know that not all of the black is cancer. You can't really tell how much cancer is in there based on these images, the important data these images portray is the location of cancer cells in my body, minus the salivary glands, which normally take up the radiation.

1. Salivary gland tissue (not cancer, it is normal for this tissue to uptake the radiation)

The following dark areas, all represent cancer but I'll say it again: The purpose of these images is to show that they take up radiation, NOT TO DEFINE HOW BIG THEY ARE or HOW MUCH DISEASE IS THERE
2. Place where my thyroid used to be (removed March 2005, the black represents residual, microscopic disease)
3. Tumor in 5th thoracic vertebrae
4. Right Lung w/ tumor
5. Left Lung w/ tumor

Disclaimer: I read the following in a peer reviewed article published in 2008 and more knowledgeable people would probably have a number of caveats so don't take this as written in stone. I'm only sharing the information because it is having a large emotional challenge to me right now. Right now, the only thing that I have learned about how the finding of the bone (vertebrae) metastasis changes things is this: Before the finding of the bone nodule, 85-95% of people with my condition are alive in 10 years. After the finding of the bone nodule, ~40% of people with my condition are alive in 10 years.

Now, statistics when you have cancer, especially ones involving prognosis are very complicated both from an epidemiological view-point and ESPECIALLY a psychological view-point from the perspective of the patient. Ultimately, they are mental hurdles that easily tie the mind into knots and make one feel doomed or not. To an individual, they do mean something, but shouldn't dictate everything. I've really thought quite a bit about statistics like these and would like to take some time to better articulate my perspective on them but right now, my purpose is to help friends and family understand that first, I'm not doomed. And second, I feel a bit doomed and am having a hard time not planning my life around that sort of statistic. Beginning with the process of hearing that statistic and leading up to where I am now, writing, represents a dynamic process; a mental and emotional journey of sorts. I need to feel it. Cry about it. And think about it, but not too much.

The process will continue to evolve in the coming days, weeks, and years. The goal, is to be able to still live my life, truly, from who I am, and just put one foot in front of the other each day. Right now, I'm focusing on the words of Mr Henley and in my reality, hope is not yet here. Right now, I'm in the process of accepting.


Brian said...

Your statistics are based on old technology. As a person with a degree in history, I can tell you that nothing will happen like that again in the human experience. When people say "history repeats itself" it's a bunch of bullshit. It never repeats itself in the same way. Lewis and Clark aren't going to "discover" the western half of the country anytime soon (since we already know it's there). Statistics can be updated daily.

Cancer is caused for a lot of different reasons. Just because some forms of it are terminal, it doesn't mean that the form you have is going to take you out. I'm not a doctor, but I am pretty uncomfortable with a bunch of different diseases being categorized as "Cancer."

You've got a clean slate for survival. Faith and belief are a big part of what pulled the 40% of survivors in your survey through their ordeal. Positive mental attitude has kept many people alive. Your fate is worse than death. You're going to have be positive and embrace life. That kind of sucks. But it's also pretty awesome.

In my humble opinion, your vitality and physical ability is 99th percentile. You're not an average person. As long as you believe in yourself, you'll be fine.

Doctor said...

Hang in there man, Mrs. Doctor and myself are thinking about you. Whatever plans you make, include coming out here for some rides.

Sandbox/Gino said...

What I have to say is something said many times over in the comments section of your blog already. Many of those things said even before the latest news. Most of them said better than I ever could.

You are one of the strongest people I know. You, Maggie, Cassidy and the rest of your family are all in our thoughts and hearts. Any of us will do whatever we can to help you when you need it.

Shoemaker said it very well. Statistics are ultimately about what happened, not what will happen. You are an above average strength individual, physically and mentally.

You don't always have to feel strong, just always remember that you are.

Casey Ryback said...

Dan, I'm at a loss for words. I wish I were like you.

Scott said...

I am trying so hard to say something to you. I will probably have to say it in a email..... Untill then, Dan. You are amaizing. You have know idea.


Lucas said...

Ariel and I are in shock and, yes, majorly scared and angry too. We have to allow ourselves all those feelings, especially you, of course.

But I love the comments here and think there's some real wisdom, especially "You don't always have to feel strong, just always remember that you are." Brilliant. And when you're not feeling strong, you have us to remind you and be your strength.

We love you, believe in you and count ourselves lucky to be inspired by you. And know that you inspired me, at least, well before you were diagnosed with cancer.

Anything we can do, we will. I'm not always great at negotiating emotional territory but please know that I love you and will do anything in my power to help.

James Nelson said...

Win Dan. Win.

Mitch the Masher said...

I like to think of myself as a pretty tough dude, right now I'm a pile of goo. You have no idea of the strength you truely posess. Or maybe you do, and that's why you are who you are and I'll always be looking up to you.

You have a huge pool of friends in a widespread community thinking about you right now and that's a very powerful thing.

Hold tight, we're with you.


Mike said...

Dan, I'm sorry to hear the news. Whether you are writing about cancer, or racing or everyday life your perspective is inspiring. I hope you get the breaks you deserve in your ongoing battle with cancer.

Ty said...

Though these findings found out that you got cancer, it still is possible that you can survive this illness. There are lots of reasons why cancer has occurred to you and there may be terminal cases but there still is hope. Most of the survivors I know have survived plainly by faith. Definitely, a positive outlook in life will really result to something good. So don’t fret, just believe that you can survive this trial.