Rest in Peace, Dave

December 13, 2006

Dave Ross

This blog was originally started anonymously. I think it’s OK to tell you now, the author’s name was Dave Ross. My name is Paul, and I’m writing this final entry in Dave’s absence.

On November 15th, 2006, Dave lost his battle with cancer. He went into the hospital for the surgery that he described here, in earlier posts, but he never recovered. He died due to complications during recovery.

Dave was a good person, and a dear friend. His loss will be felt by all who knew him.

The links below are for audio, video, and pictures from Dave’s life. I hope they bring back fond memories for all who knew him.

Dave’s Memorial Celebration:
(December 10th, 2006, at the Alumni House)

Related Links:

Joe Starkey tribute to Dave
(Recorded during the Cal vs. u$c game on Nov 18, 2006. Clip courtesy of Carrie Requist)

The Davelist Archives
(This is a mailing list created to discuss Dave Ross’s status, trade Dave stories, etc.)

Dave, the Savage?
(A photo of Dave Ross with Clive Reese, autumn 1980, Barrington Hall, first (?) floor hallway, ready for “Savage Wine Dinner”, by Allysyn Kiplinger.)

Wayne Lee – “Be a Hero to Somebody”
(University of California Graduates Convocation, 9 December 2006.)

“Farewell, Dave Ross”
(A nice farewell blog post by Dave’s friend, Richard Guion)

Dave’s Animations:
These were originally posted on my blog. For more information, and to read previous comments, visit my original post.

Rest in peace, Dave. You will be missed.

Go Bears!


I was very dissapointed and disturbed to learn that Alta Bates only gets local channels, which means no ESPN or Fox Sports Net. Supposedly they can wheel in a VCR or something. So I’ll most likely completely miss the Cal – Washington game; I’m hoping someone tapes it and brings it by after the game.

I asked if I could set up a spare DirecTV dish and bring my own TV and receiver, but they said no, it might interfere with someone’s cardiac equipment. Sheesh. Some priorities, huh!

As for the rest of it, I’m getting nervous and a bit irritable before the surgery. I guess that’s understandable. Friends have been calling and wishing me well, but I just don’t know the answer to virtually any question, from “how long will you be in the hospital” to “how long will the recovery take” to “what will you feel like after the operation”. I just don’t know!

I do know the drugs for chemo sickness were pretty darn good, and I was out of it. I imagine the drugs for major surgery would be better, right? So expect an incoherent person if you do manage to get ahold of me!

Call my cell to get my brother’s cell number — he’ll have all the info. Just leave a message on his cell voicemail and he’ll get back to you. If I answer my cell, you’re in luck! You might be able to ask me anything, because on the drugs they’ll probably give me, I’ll be likely to simply make something up.

For those curious, what they’re going to do on Monday is have me lay on my right side, and make a vertical inscision up the length of the torso. They’ll spread ribs apart to get to the good stuff.

The cancer was at the espohagus – stomach junction, and lymph nodes. So Dr Stallone will remove the bottom of the esophagus and the top of the stomach. I’ve told the Doc he can take out lots of the stomach — might as well get a weight-loss benefit out of all this! Not sure how much of the esophagus gets taken out, but the lymph nodes that showed up positive in that first PET scan, plus the puffy ones that got biopsied last week get removed as well.

After removing the damaged tissue, he’ll sew up the top of the stomach, and will cut a new hole in the stomach to reconnect the esophagus. However, this assembly has to be above the diaphram now, so the stomach has to get pulled through the diaphram (or he’ll cut the diapram to make this happen). Then he’ll connect the remaining esophagus into the new hole in the stomach.

All of this is supposed to happen in about 3 hours, maybe 3 1/2 — the length of a college football game. Wow. I need to be there at 6:30am on Monday; the procedure is scheduled for 7:30am. Oscar, my awesome neighbor, has offered to give me a lift over there.

Needless to say, I’m a bit freaked out. Today I have a couple of pre-op appointments and will learn more, like if I get a private room or if the hospital gets Fox Sports Net. Oh, boy.

Tomorrow I have the pre-op meetings / appointments. It’s very odd, it seems that I’m one of the few people that haven’t had surgery before. I don’t know quite what to expect, except a lot of pain, and pain medication.

Great. While logically I know this is great, somehow I can’t get horribly excited about having Dr Stallone the surgeon re-arrange my digestive tract. It took a million years of evolution to give us what we got, and Stallone can change all of it in the duration of a college football game. Yow.

I’ll find out more about what this all means tomorrow.

Well, I now understand what’s going on a lot more than before.

After a weekend call with the incredible Dr Cecchi, I now understand that surgery is what one does with this cancer. If at all possible, you cut the thing out of the body. This cancer tends to return to the scene of the crime. Unless it’s spread to a surgically difficult place, they treat esophageal cancer by removing it. It’s not true of all cancer, but that’s what they do with adenocarcinoma, if at all possible.

So, all this “surgery is only an option” was only if the outcome of all these tests were bad — that is, inoperable. Yikes.

The “complete response” is still awesome — but it means I’m on the road to surgery. Which is a great thing, I’m told. Funny, I don’t feel that way — I’m really not looking forward to having my digestive tract re-arranged.

But that’s all small potatoes compared to the big bug-a-boo — the cancer in the lymph nodes. That’s bad, and that’s what spreads to other organs. The super-sonic trans-siberian fancy ultrasound endoscopy that I had last week was done to perform another test to check the state of the cancer. More good news just came back from that test — the biopsy’s (biopsies?) were all negative. So, is more than one biopsy called biopsies? I keep reading that as “boopsies”, but that’s probably because my brain is wired all funny.

Anyway, I meet with Dr Stallone (pronounced stah-lone-eeee, not like Sylvester), the surgeon, on Tuesday. He’s tentatively scheduled a surgery date for Monday, October 16. I hope to be able to watch the Cal-Washington game from home the following Saturday, if not, boy I hope the hospital gets Fox Sports Net!

I guess there’s always Tivo.

So, I meet with Dr Stallone tomorrow morning… and discuss all sorts of stuff. During our initial consultation he said total recovery time is six to eight weeks before being able to work. I sure hope I can spend a couple of hours at a football game. Or at least watching on TV.

Probably because I can imagine what surgery is (versus having no idea about what chemo and radiation would be like), I’m a heck of a lot more freaked out about surgery than the other stuff. I have this horrible feeling that there will be lots of pain and all sorts of gross fluids involved. I guess I’ll find out more when I visit the doctor tomorrow.

The more I think about it… the more I think “yikes”. Either that, or “bring on the morphine”. No, it’s just “yikes”.

Well, the endoscopy was done last Wednesday. It all went well, or as well as could be expected.

It wasn’t at Alta Bates, I had to go into San Francisco since my GI guy doesn’t have the fancy equipment needed with this ultrasonic test. And what fancy equipment it is, indeed! It was very cool, there were 5HD panels in this one procedure room, one dedicated PC, and probably at least 3 other medical imaging systems as well. The frustrating thing was with all these HDTV monitors… why couldn’t ANY of them could get the A’s playoff game! Sheesh. Oh, that an the delay caused by an absurd insurance snafu.

The procedure went fine, although I had this weird dream I was gagging on something… which probably happened, and the drugs made it seem like a dream. They used the endoscopy to see where the problem lymph nodes were, and see if any others cropped up. As I found out later, they were able to use this device to poke a needle through the esophagus wall and do a biopsy on the lymph nodes nearby, yet outside the esophagus. All from putting a tube down my throat. Amazing!

After the procedure, I was pretty loopy. My friend Paul was great, picked me up and took me home. We stopped at Wendy’s for lunch (I was really hungry, not having eaten all day), and met a brother or cousin of Cal running backMarshawn Lynch at the burger joint. They saw my Cal hat, and asked me some questions — seeing if I was a real fan or just liked the hat. I vaguely remember this (endoscopy drugs are good), but Paul says I talked these poor kids’ collective ear off. After a few minutes, Paul says they had this expression of “why did we have to ask *this* guy about Cal?”… you know me, once I found out I was talking to a member of the Lynch family… well… GO BEARS !!!

After Paul dropped me off I logged on, did some work, watched some TV… and promptly fell asleep. Endoscopy drugs good… :^)

So here’s the real scoop. While the “complete response” is great, it’s not, well, complete. While some of the radiation equipment was really star trekian, the PET scan is not at the level of sci-fi movies. I was dissapointed to learn that the PET scan can only “see” objects about a sesame seed or bigger. Something the size of a poppy seed — no way. So, in the proverbial question “how many cancer cells fit on the head of a pin”, the same can be said for the size of a poppy seed. The answer is lots.

So, while there’s no cancer bigger than a poppy seed left in my body, Dr Cecchi, my awesome oncologist, wants one more check — the trans-esophageal ultrasound endoscopy. I misheard this and thought it was some ultrasonic trans-siberian thing, but I think that may have been a movie starring Christopher Lee.

So, stay tuned. That’s the next test. They’re looking for the presence of cancer in the lymph nodes, and seeing if they can tell if any cancer is still alive in the esohpagus. After they answer those questions, we’ll make the hard decision on surgery (which is deserving of it’s own post).

Back to the scope…

September 25, 2006

Well, after meeting with Dr Cecchi, things are still up in the air.

Apparently the PET scan doesn’t necessarily show up everything, like what’s actually in the esophagus. So… it’ll be back to Dr Berjis for another endoscopy, and probable biopsy.

I get the feeling that this “complete response” thing is like I’ve taken an early lead in the first quarter — running back the opening kickoff, forcing a three-and-out, and then getting a quick score to go up 14-0 with still 10 minutes to go in the first quarter. It’s an early lead — the best possible early result — but it’s a long, 5-year game.

No celebrations yet, until this surgery issue gets resolved one way or the other.

I’ll post once I find out when I’m supposed to have that endoscopy.

I did the scan thing on Thursday… and on Friday, Robin (Dr Cecchi’s lead nurse) called me with some good news. I called her back and she said she had the PET scan results with her, and that I had a “complete response” ! Okay, now, if you’re thinking like I am, you think “what, I filled out a survey?”… that’s a complete response, right? No, this complete response is far better when it comes to cancer. It means that, as of Thursday September 21, there’s no sign of cancer. The implication is that the cancer had a complete response to the treatment — it responded exactly as the doctors’ intended it. There’s more scans, probably every 6 to 12 weeks, but for now things are good.

This doesn’t rule our surgery… and now I’ll really have to do research to figure out what’s next with my doctors. I meet with Dr Cecchi on Monday, and Dr Swift (the radiation oncologist) on Wednesday. But this is by far the best possible outcome.

I was even cleared to have a beer or two. I tried this really good Pilsner (Truman?) out of a micro brewery in Berkeley…

What a great way to start the New Year (Saturday was Rosh Hashona). This, and of course the Cal Bears performance against ASU. But now that I know what it means, “complete response” are the two best words you can possibly hear!

Xanax is good…

September 22, 2006

Ah, Xanax. It’s a fine medication. The last scan I had my usual needle in the arm phobia thing, plus this radioactive dye felt really uncomfortable. Not if you take a Xanax well before the appointment! I took one about 5 minutes before my neighbor Chris gave me a lift to the lab. Once I got there I said I took 0.5 mg… should I, could I, take another? They want you to be really relaxed during the PET scan, apparently being relaxed means the dye doesn’t get absorbed in the muscles… so they said sure!

Bottom line: bring a copy of The Onion (very funny political parody paper) to any of these things, and take a Xanax ahead of time. Even the marginally funny will crack you up. No phobia (I was too relaxed), no mess, no fuss. I dozed off, and even slept through the scan itself.

Now, I wait for Monday, when I meet with Dr Cecchi. Oh, that and the Cal-ASU game. Go Bears!

Well, I realized I haven’t posted much lately. Mainly because there’s not much to post about. I’m feeling better, eat with my same ol’ appetite, gaining weight back (which isn’t that great), that sort of thing. I’ve done experiments and can get food to “stick”, but I’m really going out of my way to do so.

Some foods still turn my stomach (fried ones, mainly) and I’ve lost some of my sweet tooth (desert is okay, but no longer amazing). I can resist peanut butter now, and avacado seems green and mushy with an odd taste. Then again, many people feel that way about avacado.

I guess I’ve been reluctant to post because I did some research on the possible surgery I might have. First, the surgery is nasty, and has all sorts of risks (maybe that’s what google hits return, a bunch of papers outlining all the risks). The other bad news is that it’s hard not to read about the general mortality rates of adenocarcinoma in the esophagus. It’s fairly depressing, with most of the older conventional wisdom saying it’s about a 20% survival rate within 5 years. That’s not great. I wanted to link to something about the surgery for the blog, but don’t want to link to these research articles — I need to stay positive, that I’m in that 20% because of age and relative overall health (and the fact that Cal isn’t likely to go to the Rose Bowl this year).

With Governor Ann Richards passing recently due to esophageal cancer (she was 73), there’s some more up to date articles that are a bit more optimistic. I found a bunch of stuff which should provide some interesting reading; this article shows the survial rates with my exact treatment to be quite a bit higher (35% over 5 years cancer free). Heck, a .350 hitter is a superstar, while a .200 hitter goes to the minors.

I also found this cancer blog pretty interesting, and even has a “if you have these symptoms” checklist for adenocarcinoma (it’s generally the readers digest version, the diet coke of information, but if you have the symptoms listed here, see your doctor).

So, here on the eve of me getting scanned, I’ve found some better news. I meet with my hero, Dr Cecchi, on Monday, September 25 to discuss the results. Stay tuned…

Unscientific testing…

September 9, 2006

Well gang, because I’m a bit of a geek, I’ve been doing some random food swallowing tests from time to time. Water and liquids in general are no problem, unless really hot or really cold. Just about everything goes down now with little pain, although I do get the occasional “wolf the food” pangs and need to wash the mess down with water.

But in general, I think there’s less of a blockage in there than there was before all of this happend. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m strangely looking forward to the scans on the 21st to validate what I’m hoping.

I’m totally into the visualization thing and the “power of positive thinking” — whether it be called prayer, thoughts, or good wishes. Thanks everyone for sending those my way — I think its all really helped break apart all those cancer DNA strands so they can’t go through any more cell division. I think there’s less blockage down there during my very  unscientific testing!

So a colleague of mine at work pointed me to his friend Tom, who actually had the same surgery that the doctors talked briefly about with me — where you remove half the esophagus and half the stomach. Tom’s doctors saw redness and said it was pre-malignant. He had really bad heartburn for years, so he went ahead with the procedure.

The bottom line is that two years later, he went on all the rollercoasters at DisneyWorld with his kids, and is totally fine.

It’s a nasty procedure that involves all sorts of tubes going in and out of the body. Blech. I’ll have to confirm some of the details with my own doctors. I think it varies a bit on how they can do it, but for Tom, it sounded pretty gross, and 10 days in the hospital would drive me nuts. The recovery was 6-8 weeks.

The big plus side is that after surgery, it’s done.

I don’t even know if I need the surgery — I know I will if there’s still some cancer left in there, but Dr Cecchi keeps calling it “an option”. We’ll see on the 25th, but it sounds like it’s pretty gross if I need to go through it.

Scan scheduling

September 7, 2006

Well, I believe I’m now set to be scanned on September 21st, and then see Dr Cecchi on September 25th. Then we’ll see what the next steps are. While the medical care has been fantastic, scheduling things has been, uh, non-optimal. For example, the scheduling went something like this:

“Hello, we have you scheduled on September 20th”

“No, that day won’t work… how’s September 21st?”

“That should work fine… you’re confirmed at 855 Telegraph”

” Didn’t the doctors want me to be scanned at Pacific Imaging?”

<three days later>

“Hello, you’re confirmed at Pacific Imaging on September 20th”.

“Didn’t I mention before that I the 20th didn’t work, and I need this on the 21st?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t write it down”.

I’m still waiting for confirmation, but there ya go. I found this strangely comical.

Back from Tennessee…

September 5, 2006

Gradually, over this last week, my taste buds have righted themselves. Food tastes good again! Some of it burns and hurts going down, but that seems not to be food specific, but almost random, as simple things like water still sometimes hurt. But I was able to sample some fine southern BBQ, and actually eat meat, so that’s all returning to normal. Not 100%, but enough to enjoy food.

All of this was just in time, as I’ve been waiting for this Cal – Tennessee game since it was originally scheduled back in 2003. Similar to the Holiday Bowl two years ago, virtually everything has been great — except for the game itself.

The pregame festivities were really impressive. A random Tennessee fan, “RockinGrannyVol”, invited all Cal fans to her tailgate via cyberbears, the Cal football message board. It was great — awesome bbq sauce, and delicious smoked brisket, pulled pork, chicken, potato salad, and banana pudding. All tasted YUM!

The atmosphere at Neyland Stadium certainly got me goosebumps, especially when their band march down the street and stopped to play in front of what must have been 30,000 people sitting “on the hill”. We followed the band down into stadium, which at 107,000, is HUGE. The stadium was bigger, the fan support was louder, and the whole experience just that much larger than any other game I’ve been to. The size and universal “sea of orange” at Neyland stadium was impressive. I had no idea that much orange clothing was actually made, let alone worn, let alone all worn by 100,000 people on the same day.

We went to Chattanooga the day after the game and had a great time at a Civil War battlefield, and topped it off with another BBQ meal — dry-rub, Memphis style rib and wings combo, and pecan pie for dessert. The ribs and wings tasted great!! Yum! The pie was mediocre, probably because the pie was actually… mediocre. Ribs and wings good! I can eat meat again! Hurrah!

The game, on the other hand, was a disaster. We have a QB quarterback controversy, the controversy being “do we have a good one?”. Apparently there are some freshmen waiting in the wings. Bring ’em on. Our secondary looked completely pathetic — any good passing team will shred us apart. So much for the national championship run. At this point, an 8-4 season looks great, with losses to Tennessee, USC, Oregon, and one other road game. The upcoming Minnesota game now becomes HUGE.

The best thing about the game was sitting next to Pete Sharbarum and Ed Bartlett, both Pappy’s Boys. Pete was responsible for getting that cool statue of Pappy Waldorf installed across from Faculty Glade. It was great to talk football with these Cal legends, and really fun to join them in their chants of “get that ball”, “block that kick”, and “break his arm” as Cal finally got some points on the board in the 4th quarter and we pretended the game wasn’t out of reach.

So, expectations get reset. The good news here, is that both Brian and I will definitely beat this cancer thing because we have to see Cal play in the Rose Bowl in our lifetimes, and the way they looked in Knoxville, that certainly won’t be for awhile.

Hey gang…

On the plane ride back from Tennessee I wrote up and edited some blog entries. I know there’s some way to make links for these things, but I can’t figure it out on wordpress.

So, check out new way more detailed posts below, entitled something like:

Brian’s party

Endoscopy day

Blur of doctor’s visits

Wakey Wakey Saturday

DNA breaks apart

The port goes in

Hopefully you’ll find these new (backdated and updated) posts interesting…

So things seem to improve on a daily basis. I’m heading back in the office, going to lunch with colleagues, able to eat Pho (yummy Vietnamese soup). But I still have this bizarre symptom, like some weird witches (or warlocks) curse: may you feel constantly hungry, yet most food will turn your stomach. You know, that sounds more like the Pirates of Caribbean movie (the first one, I’m told the second one sucked): Arrgh, aye be cursed, I feel hunger, yet food is unappetising! Arrrgh, indeed!

It’s weird. So I continue to eat lox and bagels and eggs. I’m slowly adding food to the mix, but for the last week or so I make something to eat, take two bites, think blech, and have to throw it out… only to still be hungry, and try the next thing. I’ve now added cold cereal (with bananas) to the mix, and there’s still cinnamon bread with peanut butter, but anything with a lot of fat or grease is gross. Last night steam green beans worked with white rice. Oh joy, how tasty. I can add a little BBQ sauce, which thankfully tastes good.

Doctor Cecchi says this weird taste thing is normal with chemo… and could last 6 to 8 weeks. So arrrgh, aye be cursed!!!

Finally feeling better…

August 25, 2006

Well friends, I’m finally feeling better. It’s been a really, really crappy two weeks. I’ll try and return phone calls and start seeing people this weekend, but I’ll need to take it easy. I plan to return to the office on Tuesday… and fly to Tennessee in a week!!

It still hurts to swallow water, but there’s this “Cecchi cocktail” I drink that numbs the mouth and esophagus so I can eat. Lox and bagels are still my staple, but now I’m adding eggs over easy to the mix. Peanut butter is finally tasting good again, and putting it on toasted semifreddi’s cinnamon challah also tastes good again. How it ever tasted badly… I have no idea. I’m told it may take up to 8 weeks for all of my tastes and smells to return to normal.

So, thanks for all the emails and calls… I’ll try and eventually get back to everyone who’s left nice messages. I really appreaciate all the support and all…

In the meantime, I’m enjoying just relaxing watching HDTV, which is really, really amazing.

I next see Dr Cecchi on Monday; I’ll find out more about schedules and scans then, and will let everyone know via the blog. Until then… GO BEARS!

So now I’m done with all the poison going into my body. Man, has this been a fast 8 weeks or so, from diagnosis to treatment to recovery.

Unfortunately, Dr Cecchi was right, and this second dose of Chemo, after the radiation, is far, far worse.

By this time last time (Wednesday after treatment) I bounced back and was in the office already. This week I’m in the cancer clinic every day getting IV hydration. I’m still able to work ’cause it gets boring sitting there with IV hydration every day, and laptops are good. So I’m keeping my mind active, at least. And there’s wireless in the cancer center. Technology is GOOD… :^)

But my mouth is all messed up. The radiation concentrated right on the junction of the esophagus and the stomach, where the tumor is. But the esophagus is just one big tube, and the mouth is at one end. So the inside of my mouth is all messed up, it’s all swollen, like how your fingers swell up when you’ve spent too much time in a swimming pool.

Swallowing is hard, not on the throat end, but on the stomach end, where they’ve been nuking the cancer. Water hurts to swallow if not in careful, little sips. This unfortunately hasn’t gotten much better since they stopped dumping the Chemo poisons into my body last week.

Then add to that everything smells weird. Last time I could identify it as “metallic”; this time, it’s just “off”. Very, very few foods taste as they should. Anything with grease or fat is gross, so meat is out. The soy ice cream stuff is gross (but then again, it actually might be gross). Sorbet is good, and Trader Joes popsicles are divine. Smoked salmon remains the one thing that tastes great.

So I’m kinda just feeling grouchy, and sleep a bunch, and can’t really swallow anything so food is kinda out of the question. I get IV hydration and eat applesauce, jello and trader joe’s popsicles.

I’ve been getting lots of calls and emails from friends and I really appreciate the concern and offers to help. I really can’t eat much — tried some Chinese food last night that didn’t work too well — and what I can is pretty specific.

I’m really looking forward to going to the Tennessee game — I’m supposed to get on a plane on September 1, a week from Friday. I want to conserve as much as my energy as I can so I can go to the game. I’m incredibly psyched to visit one of the hallowed grounds of College Football…and now really lucky that my brother took a teaching position at Penn St this year. I’m hoping for a trip to Happy Valley sometime soon to watch the Nittny Lions play! But it’ll be nothing like going to see Cal play a big time program… and if we win… watch out!!

So, that’s the current state of affairs.

Chemo II (the bleching)

August 15, 2006

I don’t wish this crap on anyone.

I’m not writing much this week, but it is nasty the second time. Blech, blech, blech.

Keep breaking apart, you frickin’ DNA cells. Wormer – DEAD! Neidermierer – DEAD! Adenocarcinoma – DEAD!!!

The day before…

August 13, 2006

Okay, so I know Chemo II starts tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to this, ’cause the doctors are all saying it’s gonna be nasty.

Up until now, things aren’t so horrific. I see the older folks in the cancer center really hurting and really sick from the treatment. I feel kinda guilty as I bound down the stairs to my daily radiation, with  my “usual high energy” and wanting to get a move on.

I’m still working through all of this, but will have to take time off for the Chemo week, August 14-19, since I’ll be hooked up to IVs and getting drugs.

So until now, it hasn’t been too bad. Chemo started on July 10th, along with Radiation. The first week of Chemo was just that — and by Wedndesday of the following week, I was fully back into the office, making a mess over a broken process here or there.

The daily radiation wasn’t a hardship — the center is in Berkeley, 10 minutes from my house. It takes about a half hour, there’s wireless in the waiting room, and most of the radiation technologists are cute young women working with high-tech machines. What’s not to like? :^)

My last day of radiation will be the first day of this next round of Chemo. So after Monday the 14th, I’m done with the radiation treatment. It’s only really started to burn this week — a strange sensation, like a sunburn on the inside. It’s not too bad, really, but I’m getting a bit fatigued.

Still, nothing compared to what I’ve seen with others. I feel like I’m getting off lucky so far… but Dr Cecchi is warning me “not to get cocky”. This next Chemo is supposed to be far, far worse.

My brother arrives tonight… got the sofa turned into a bed for him, and I look forward to his arrival so I can show off the new HD TV. We’ll see how things go…

Brian’s Party

August 12, 2006

I didn’t know if I could go to a friend’s 50th birthday party or not. It was very odd when I finally RSVP’d via email and let them know I was fighting cancer and that would be at the end of radiation. I got a call right back from Brian – and to my surprise, he too was fighting cancer. He pointed me to his really extensive blog (which is a HUGE reason and inspiration that I started this one).

I really wanted to go to two events: Brian’s party, and the Cal – Tennessee game. Brian also wanted to go to Knoxville, but couldn’t. We both went to the Citrus bowl in ’92 (Cal blew out Clemson), and had a great time with his whole family and mutual other friends watching Cal beat UW in Seattle last year. To urge me on to be well for the Tennessee game, they sent me this year’s Cal game day T-shirt — the blue shirt fans wear to the games. It was really cool encouragement and inspiration. Cal fans will understand. Thanks, Anna!

As the party day approached. I started to feel a little nauseous starting on Wednesday of the last full week of radiation. By Saturday I didn’t feel great, but well enough to go.  The party was awesome — the outpouring of support for Brian, the positive energy of everyone there, the whole notion that cancer is beatable and that Brian will beat it. When I left the party, Brian said “we’ll both beat this thing”.

The second round of Chemo would start just two days later on Monday, and I left with increased optimism that this last round would finish off the tumor. Brian, you’re right — we’ll both beat this thing.

The Tickets Arrive!

August 8, 2006

Well, the tickets came in the mail. And Payton Manning, one of my favorite NFL players, is on the Ticket! This UT alum came back for his senior season to win a championship and graduate with his buddies. Or so the story goes. What a class act. I am SO PSYCHED to go to Tennessee!!

(This was originally entitled “Last Train to Knoxville” until I realized that the Monkey’s song was “Last Train to Clarksville”, not “Knoxville”. I also thought about REM’s “Don’t go back to Rockville”, but that’s not Knoxville, either. Too many villes, too little time.)

Anyway, the Knoxville trip is locked and loaded. I’m so psyched! I’ve been posting on the Cal message site (, not .com, the .com is some porn site, see avenue q’s “the internet is for porn” for a musical description on that one). Anyway, I’m meeting Dave and as it turns out Garth in Knoxville, along with Dave’s new Cal friend Rick who ended up going to undergrad at Berkeley with my brother. So it should be big fun!

The key is here for me is to have some goal outside of the nasty treatment. Now I can focus on getting to Tennessee. I now don’t hope I’ll be well enough; I’ll will myself well enough. Out of all the SEC teams, I’ve always liked Tennessee. One thing I do hope for is the ability to try the BBQ. Haven’t been eating too well, don’t know about food.

One thing at a time…

The T-Shirt

August 3, 2006

Go Bears t-shirt arrives! How cool is THAT??? There’s a whole bunch of posts here involving my friends Brian and Anna that I still need to write about, and also a bit about going to the Cal – Tennessee game in Knoxville (which I’ve written more about).

It’s not complete, but more on that later…


August 1, 2006

So as I wait for Chemo II to begin, there’s a limited amount of knowledge anyone has based on three pretty big outcomes of a decision tree. After the Chemo on the week of August 14, then we wait for the cancer cells to die off.

About 4 weeks later (probably a week or two after Labor Day), I go in for another full set of scans — PET scans, CAT scans, DOG scans. Three macro outcomes can results (and I’m betting on a version of #1):

#1: The cancer is receding, and dying off.

#2: The cancer is showing no effects, or some shrinkage but not a lot, or maybe some other thing icky has happend.

#3: The cancer continues to grow and has spread further.

The problem here is that within each of these scenarios are hundreds of shades of grey. Once all the scan are done, Dr Cecchi will do all sorts of research and figure out options. Surgery is probably in the mix, somewhere.

Bottom line is we know nothing until after the scans. Now it’s wait for this next round of Chemo….