Monday, February 1, 2010

Long awaited day

Sorry about the lack of theme in the past few posts. I've been trying to decide whether I should keep the blog cycling, cancer, or just a general journal.

It has been a struggle the last 2 weeks waiting to hear from my endocrinologist at Hopkins. Today however, we finally spoke and there's now a plan. I'm scheduled for an MRI later this week with the intention of taking a closer look at the newly discovered nodule. We're still not 100% sure where it is and what it is doing. We know it is cancer, of the papillary thyroid variety but the radiologists think it is in my bone and the endocrinologist isn't so sure.

Otherwise, the plan is to wait. Wait to see how this recent radiation treatment affects things. We'll have some idea in 6 months but the real test will be 1 year from now. We are hoping for a reduction in tumor burden, not a complete cure. As I've said in other posts, I will probably never truly be in remission at the level of cells. But that doesn't really matter, since my quality of life is high and I can still be healthy, so the process now is to find some degree of psychological or holistic (that ones for you Matt James) remission. If the results of the test are not what we hope, then I'll either get another radiation treatment or we'll wait and see longer (maybe years or decades), then I'll get some other kind of treatment such as a tyrosine-kinase-inhibitor or maybe a VEGF inhibitor or maybe even solid tumor chemo.

Things are looking up at work. I've decided to continue with medical school but that won't begin again until August. Until then, I will have some cool research projects:

Multiple kallikrein (KLK 5, 7, 8, and 10) expression in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. Pettus JR et al. Histol Histopathol. 2009 Feb;24(2):197-207.

Urinary-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and its receptor (uPAR) in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. Biochem J. 2007 Oct 15;407(2):153-9. Review.

Exciting stuff. Basically, I'll look at the expression of specific genes in really nasty cancers versus not so nasty cancers. I'll do that by using prior research to select some genes, then cut up some tumors really thin, put them on slides, stain them with specific antibodies that turn different colors, and finally look and see if they're present in either the really ugly tumors or the not-so-bad ones.

For the last few weeks I've been all worked up about doing something with bikes and cancer. Livestrong and were the obvious choices. At this point, I haven't gotten very far pursuing either of those resources.

The LiveStrong thing has always eluded me a bit. I've never been sure if it was just a Nike Ploy or an actual non-for-profit that did good things. After reading everything I can get my hands on over the past few weeks, I am quite convinced that the latter is true.

Grants for physical activity and nutrition programs for cancer survivors
Money to underserved folks with cancer
Funding high quality basic science research

Then of course, there's the symbolism behind the black and yellow. The lance story. Love him or hate him, he is still an inspiration to millions of people. I'm not afraid to admit that he's an inspiration to me as well. Cancer made him more focused, stronger, compassionate, and more connected to people. I hope that it continues to do the same for me.

You may see me wearing some LiveStrong stuff this season. I'm down for talking more about it if you'd like. The leader of the 'TeamLivestrong' told me this today about their stuff: "Our brand is built on people being open and honest about their cancer experience. The more we can encourage these simple conversations the less we’ll have to combat stigma. As a grassroots movement, we really rely on storytelling to help us raise awareness and spread our mission." Sounds good to me.


Rory King said...


reading your last few posts reminded me of a quote i jotted down a couple of semesters ago. In short, there was an American Frontier mentality that went

"Do your work as it would last 1000 years and you would die tomorrow"

hearing your situation reminded me of that (in the motivational sense) and really gives it some tangible substance.

PooBah said...

I cannot think of a better ambassador to champion a movement...don't underestimate the power of your ARE doing something for cancer awareness and cycling by kicking over those pedals and telling us about it. Selfishly, I hope you choose to continue to write.