One year.

I guess I’m not really sure how you’re supposed to count this stuff, or what it means anyway, but my last dose of chemo was one year ago today.

Yesterday, a year ago, I looked like this.

Ain’t life funny?

For those keeping score:

  • Since finishing treatment I have had a petscan every three months.  Those have shown a trend towards resolution of a questionable area of uptake in the region of my whatsis..  That is, an active mass of tissue that isn’t behaving like cancer.  (In the most recent of those petscans, a small mass has appeared on my lung that shows no hyper-metabolic activity, but is too small to anyway.  We are keeping an eye on it).
  • Last summer, for a brief period, my CEA levels spiked.  They had never been up before, not even when I had an active tumor.  These levels went back down on their own, and have been down since.
  • There are have been no other indications that anything is wrong with me.

Collateral damage:

  • I have been notably depressed, but the clouds seem to be parting (I’m feeling very grateful for this early spring).
  • I have persistent radiculopathy of the sciatic nerve on the left side.  A recent MRI shows two clearly herniated disks, one impinging on the nerve root that corresponds directly to my symptoms.  In the fall I did a few sessions with a PT who concluded that I might have an incompetent annular wall, and that I might have to stick to baseline motions..   I am considering voodoo..
  • Fatigue.  Etc.
  • Mostly impotent.  (or perhaps, unpredictably potent?)
  • General fear of recurrence.

Practicalities:

  • I have parted ways with my doctor and looked elsewhere for care.  The new team feels that the ban on bicycle riding was largely superstitious and that I should knock myself out.  This has helped clear up my existential crisis around being a bike builder who doesn’t ride bikes.  It has not made bikes any more comfortable, however.  There is quite a lot of scar tissue down there that needs to learn to be more flexible..  I feel fairly confident that it will.
  • I have started to irrigate, and this has allowed me to regain continence!  Two days at a time.  I don’t poop like other people, but I also don’t poop in a bag.

To sum up, this thing has left me a little bruised and battered, feeling old!  But here I am a year later.  My cancer is currently stable.  I am starting to feel pretty excited again about the bikes I’m building.  My wife is doing incredibly interesting work in her program and I couldn’t be more proud.  And at least twice a day, I forget that I might very well get sick again.

30 Responses to “One year.”

  1. georges

    I can totally help with the voodoo- just give a shout and I will throw on my voodoo doctor outfit on and perform some ritualistic weirdness on your behalf.

  2. sam moore

    hang tough, my friend.
    you are an inspiration to us all. i pray for the whole world every day. heroes get special attention. thanks for letting us be witness to your courage.

  3. rhonda

    its crazy…. for over a year this stranger from the hoosier state has been logging on to read about your progress, ups and downs, i am inspired by your words and videos. keep on keepin on ezra!!

  4. Catherine

    I think in fact, you did teach cancer to cry. Good for you. :)

  5. Burnt Umber

    “I have been notably depressed,,”

    I can’t imagine why. Really, you are going to let a little case of ass cancer get you down? Go hug Putney. Dogs help make it all go away, even if for a little bit.

  6. alex bethell

    Hey Ezra,
    Good to see you looking well. As my (recently) late Dad used to say about his troubles with cancer, “I have good days and I have bad days, but mainly I have steady days.”
    Keep it steady Ez.
    Kindest
    Alex.
    (Thanks for your recent help with the steel blacking by the way…)

  7. lauren

    Well, you are amazing, and I’m so thankful for this update. You inspire us all, and I’m thankful for the place you’re in today.

  8. Tyler

    You’re badass. Very happy for your much deserved return to health. May you continue to build awesome bikes and live life to the fullest.

  9. kendall

    thank you for the update mon beau. here’s to sustained health and happiness! (for the moment!) love to hilary xx

  10. brigita

    Glad to hear you’ve been cleared for the saddle! Re: depression, as a fellow CRC vet, I’m a huge fan of Celexa. Better living through chemistry and all that. :)

  11. Chauncey Matthews

    Keep kickin ass brother man!

  12. Molly

    I was literally just thinking of you today. So happy to hear you have weathered this part of the storm. You are an inspiration. Keep fighting and give Hil a big kiss!

  13. derek

    Go Ezra. I’m impressed by your openness, fortitude, and persistence.

  14. ashley

    I was drawn to your writing because of your candor, and my absolute adoration of it and you has not waned one bit. Depression is not a lesser thing. Nothing to fuck around with – It’s so good to hear your spring is here.

    Also? Unpredictably potent sounds (newly?) awesome!! High five! Keep going with that:):) As ever, thanks for the update.

  15. Daniel

    I’ve been depressed for entirely different reasons (job, relationships, job) and your sharing this experience with me helps tremendously. Congratulations on your anniversary. I hope this becomes just another day for many years down the line.
    Thank you for this.

  16. Andrew

    Agreed with all above (except the voodoo bit, I have always sucked at that…) – hang in there brother – I know things will look up and the summer will be good to you.

  17. John C

    You are inspiring. Fuck cancer.

  18. kris

    Thanks for the update Ezra. I’ve been following your story for years now and I’m so glad you’re doing well and your spirits are better! You’ve been through alot!

  19. Jon Boy

    Looking forward to the “Ten years ago..” post. etc, etc, etc

  20. wendy

    I’ve witnessed your battle, mainly on flickr. You are an inspiration. I recently lost my brother-in-law to colon cancer, so I’m intimately aware of how much fight you’ve had to summon. A year without chemo is a terrific milestone. Keep on.

  21. Tressa in NC

    Ezra, you are a brave man! A good man! I am so inspired by the courage you’ve displayed throughout this cancer ordeal. You have more life in you, even now, than most people have throughout a long lifetime.

    I have no idea what it’s like to survive such mean cancer, but I’m awed that you have never given up the battle. Teacher, you definitely are that!

    Keep writing — good, bad, indifferent. Your readers need to know, whatever you’re going through. Congratulations on your 1-year anniversary.

    Good thoughts for a productive and happy summer!

    Tressa

  22. Stefanie

    I hope the best for you and your wife, and keep my fingers crossed that the cancer won’t interfere any more

  23. DeAnne

    I think you are pretty amazing!

  24. Uriel

    Hi Ezra.

    Glad to see you are doing well. I’m a Cancer Survivor myself. I was diagnosed in Dec 2007.

    Everything is in the right attitude towards the illness: You´re an inspiration just for letting everyone see your life. At first I was afraid to tell my friends about my illness, finally I did it when the treatment made me loose my hair.

    I just hope the best for you an your family.

    Uriel Urroz
    from Panamá

  25. Steph

    One year is the biggest milestone on the journey to 10 (which is when oncologists feel comfortable using the term cured). With the doc change up, make sure you are still on the right colonoscopy schedule. Jim’s was once a year for the first two. If no polyps at the second, then every two years till I don’t know yet. Haven’t made it that far.

    Re: your struggles with sciatica, depression, etc. Cancer rehabilitation has only within the past 10 years become a consideration for the medical community. Before that, people with advanced cancers (and therefore more debilitating treatments) just didn’t survive. It’s complex, uncharted territory that you’ll need to advocate for yourself to make sure you are seeing the right specialists to tackle each highjacked body part/function. Best of luck.

    P. s. If it makes you feel any better, your bowel control with the diverted plumbing and appliance is better than most with a resection.

  26. Jonathan

    Hi Ezra,

    My girlfriend, who has been following your blog for quite a while, introduced me to it recently. I was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma last September and have been going through the rounds of surgery and chemotherapy since then. Reading your blog has been very comforting and has really helped me get through this trying time. Please know that through your posting of the hardships, trials and tribulations of going through this, it has helped others out there relate, cope and be inspired to carry on with life, the good parts and the bad.

    So far, my cancer has not returned and I am halfway through my interferon treatments. I am looking forward to getting on the bike again soon, and will hopefully be doing so on a Fast Boy as a nod to you and your help in me getting through this scary event.

    Hang in there buddy!

  27. Scott

    you make us laugh, cry and think (and sometimes make our mouths water, too).
    You are amazing
    thank you

  28. Paul P

    Simply awesome.

  29. Laurie

    Voodoo as a healing practice is on par with a lot of the degreed medical practitioners that we suffered (and still curse regularly) when dealing with my mom’s cancer. I say go for it.

    Also, what about some kind of saddle that is more like a tractor seat? Less stretching of the arse-region, perhaps?

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