Friday, February 3, 2017

Holding pattern

I joke that ``the suspense is killing me'', but it's not all a joke. If the cancer is going to kill me, I almost wish it would just get on with it. Well not really, but it's a thought that occurs to me in darker moments. This continual state of limbo, experiencing no symptoms and yet being told a time-bomb is ticking away within, is starting to wear on me.

I had a phone consultation with the oncologist on Tuesday. It was singularly uninformative. He is very reluctant to make any recommendation; he just lays out the options, such as they are, and leaves it to me to choose. None of the options are appealing. My interpretation of his reluctance is that he himself is not enthusiastic about any of the treatments. Nor should he be. The atezo immunotherapy, as he pointed out once again, has only a 15 percent track record of so-called complete response---and even this term increasingly seems meaningless to me. After my first round of chemo, the result was considered a ``complete response''. So it doesn't mean much.

The atezo can have some very bad side-effects. His patients in particular have had bad luck with colitis, and by the way these toxicities don't necessarily go away after the treatment stops; they can continue indefinitely. The fact that Atezo is FDA approved is of little or no significance; even the doc seems to think it is overrated.

The ``research studies'' are a complete shot in the dark. No one knows if they work; it's research after all. Nor does anyone know what the side-effects will be. He is sending some information on the research studies, so that I can ``look them over at my leisure''. That surprised me, because I thought there was supposed to be some urgency about getting started. That's fine, though, because frankly I welcome any excuse to postpone a decision that I do not want to make.

So I'm in a holding pattern. When it is a beautiful day, and I feel fine, I cannot bring myself to deliberately destroy my health with treatments that probably won't work anyway. For today, I won't. Tomorrow, we'll see.

Well, enough of that. Just had dinner with the Brown family at the ``Little Mexican restaurant''. The name of the place is actually ``Plaza Garcia'', but decades ago we started calling it ``the little Mexican'' and the name stuck. Kaia and Finley were in fine form, and told us all about their latest skiing adventures. What a trip down nostalgia lane to hear of those two zooming down Brooks, Hogsback, Skyline and other runs at Stevens Pass. For some reason I have a particular nostalgia for Brooks, which was always a fun family run. Jessie thinks Kaia is almost ready to try a black diamond run.

Classes going great, apart from a horrible case of the flu that really set me back last week (Wendy had it too). Differential geometry is in a slow period, where we have to do some important but not very exciting background work. Soon, however, we are on to Gaussian curvature, and it doesn't get any more fun than that!

I've been at my wits' end with my Mathematical Reasoning students, many of whom seem incapable of thinking for themselves---and they are beginning math majors, no less. I wonder if it has something to do with the internet generation. It's the weakest class I've had. Yet they are so earnest and hard-working, and I really do want them to succeed. I just gave the easiest midterm in the history of midterms, fearing that they still might blow it. They did okay though; what a relief!

I belatedly tried to learn some Chinese pronunciation, just for the names. The Roman alphabet transliteration system is called Pinyin; its creator died just recently at the age of 105 or so. No wonder I've been confused all these years: Many of the letter combinations in Pinyin are pronounced in completely unintuitive (to an English speaker) ways. Moreover they come with five different ``accents'' that are actually tone markers, and these tone markers don't show up on my printed class list. It's incredibly difficult. Even my pathetic attempts, however, seem to be appreciated by the Chinese students. It's really too late for this year, but next September I'm even going to take a few lessons before Fall classes start. It's a challenge, and so different from any other language I've studied.

I keep moving forward, one day at a time.

No comments:

Post a Comment