Tag Archives: Cancer

Dusticular Can—Dusticular FORTITUDE!!!, Wednesday Afternoon, April 26

Here’s a fact that everyone knows and is still weird: there is no cure for cancer. But, maybe, I’m going to be cancer free one day. Maybe I am right now.  Doctors will tell you that ATRA and arsenic are not a cure. It’s a classic observation from the other side, one million is a statistic, but one is a tragedy. Here’s my take on cancer numbers, if you care, but this is not that. This is an examination of the cure.

Zac Glover is a guy I went to college with. I’ve only seen him a couple times since we graduated, but there are some people you click with, a kind of inexplicable tether that you can feel but not know. I’ve told the story of him as a northern Montana local news anchor a hundred times to random people. Long story short, it was cold and cheap and hilarious. He sent me the shirt in the picture, and despite my pensive visage, I LOVED IT!

No one on the planet is capable of telling me how I got cancer. It just happened. I won’t defy the science behind my treatment because, well why would I? But I’m convinced, with every passing day and every passing gift, that getting well is in the thing that science hasn’t named yet. Why does a nurse smile when she sees a new sick person come in the door? Does a hug relieve headaches? Did that doctor research his thesis with compassion?

My favorite part of The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield (yeah, I had one) was this:

“Put it on. Put the mask on. It’ll make you strong.”

It’s not real, right? It’s an obfuscation, a trick. Maybe faith and friendship and prayer and family and everything that makes you think you’re so happy to be getting better is just a construct, a made up fix for a dire experience. But it seems to me that it’s better than anything science can tell me. And this t-shirt isn’t made up.  It’s real. And whatever made it is real too. Thanks, Zac. It’s Glovely.

Have a great Wednesday. I love you guys.
Dust

Dusticular Cancer – April 7th, Friday Morning

A couple of people recently mentioned that they have trouble reading the CarePages posts. While I’m suspicious of their laziness and technical acumen (you know who you are), I’ll also copy them here from now on. I mean, I have the time. These posts are partially therapeutic for me, partially informative for you, and hopefully helpful for whoever cares to read them. If you’re into more cancer-related reading (WHO ISN’T!?), all prior posts can be found here.

Dust Bunny here,

KT joined me today for my infusion, which is a big win for the nursing staff. They’ve heard all my takes on marriage, home building, and most recently, the hypocrisy of amateur athletes in the Final Four. Having KT’s bright eyed sincerity is a plus in any situation, but if you’ve been on a steady diet of my company, she’s a palate cleanser.

What’s the most noble profession in America? Teachers have to be considered. Soldiers and first responders are probably the most brave. But after spending over a thousand hours in a cancer hospital, I’d give my vote to nurses. It takes a certain kind of courage to run into a flaming building, and it takes another kind to befriend and treat the sick and dying. I have friends who are nurses. I thought I understood their jobs, and maybe I did, from a technical standpoint. But now I believe that at least half of their job is emotional support. Their daily shift involves shining a light through someone’s nightmare. And for American professions, consider the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” She’s literally holding a light to guide the beaten. So yeah, nurses are amazing, and my nurse today is one of my favorites. Her thing is being super mean as a joke. She said she hated it when I got my port because sticking me with needles got her out of bed in the morning. She’s awesome.

If nurse is a noble profession, then volunteer is the most impressive hobby. An old man who only volunteers for Fridays was in today. I’ve mentioned him before. He volunteers ever since he lost his wife to AML, which is also leukemia. He heard we were getting married and started a conversation. He married his wife in 1964, and they lived in Raleigh for a few years. Most of you reading this know that KT and I are building a house, and while waiting for that to be happen, we’ve been spending time in an old apartment community that we affectionately (and spitefully) call The Poorhouse. This old volunteer is telling us about he and his wife’s first apartment in Raleigh, a hot new neighborhood off of Oberlin Road that everyone wanted to live in. He struggled for the name before it came to him, Country Club Homes, aka The Poorhouse. It’s definitely the most excited that KT and I have ever been to tell someone that we live there. You never know what volunteering your time can mean. Sometimes it’s the little things.

I’m feeling good and my numbers are strong. Thanks for the support and have a great weekend!

Love,
Dust

Dusticular Cancer – March 29th, Wednesday Afternoon

A couple of people recently mentioned that they have trouble reading the CarePages posts. While I’m suspicious of their laziness and technical acumen (you know who you are), I’ll also copy them here from now on. I mean, I have the time. These posts are partially therapeutic for me, partially informative for you, and hopefully helpful for whoever cares to read them. If you’re into more cancer-related reading (WHO ISN’T!?), all prior posts can be found here.

Dust Mite here,

We got some big news on something very small yesterday. My oncologist tested my PML/RARA. That’s the fusion gene caused by the mutual translocation of chromosomes 15 and 17, and it’s the cause of my leukemia. So, this genetic test came back negative, which means there’s a 99.x% chance that I’m cancer free!

[High fiving interrupted by phone call. Insurance company wondering if we can stop treatment. We cannot.]

I’ve been symptom free from the cancer since I left the hospital, and protocol is that I’ll still have to stay on my treatment through August. At that time, they’ll give me another bone marrow biopsy, which is the purest test they can perform. So this doesn’t change anything about my day or plans, but it is still huge news. My oncologist actually called her mentor to confirm that we even needed to do the bone marrow biopsy because the chances of the test on the marrow being any different than the test on my blood are so slim. My take: we’ve come this far, so just check the marrow.

And so we will.

In other news, KT and I are less than 40 days away from our wedding. Predicting with a high degree of certainty that we get it done this time. We’re also less than three months from our house.The degree of certainty here is less so, but there’s actual parts of house on the lot, so that counts for something….we’re actually the little foundation on the right.

Some good things happening today,
Dust

Dusticular Cancer – March 20, Monday Morning


A couple of people recently mentioned that they have trouble reading the CarePages posts. While I’m suspicious of their laziness and technical acumen (you know who you are), I’ll also copy them here from now on. I mean, I have the time. These posts are partially therapeutic for me, partially informative for you, and hopefully helpful for whoever cares to read them. If you’re into more cancer-related reading (WHO ISN’T!?), all prior posts can be found here.

Dusty here,

KT and I are back at UNC Hospital as another month of injections begins today. Weirdly, it’s kind of a relief.

Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer not being in the hospital (If your disease-free options are to not be getting injections at the hospital or to be getting injections at the hospital, I highly recommend the former). But there’s something super frustrating about feeling like life is normal while knowing that it’s not. It makes sitting on your couch feel like being in line at the DMV. It’s not relaxing. It’s waiting.

But while I’m in the hospital, it’s less abstract. The needle pokes. The blood flows. The medicine medicates. And it’s these days where you can feel the calendar flip. That feels like progress. I get up in the morning, and instead of sitting on a couch, I sit in my car. I’m going somewhere.

Based on experience, the next couple of days will probably suck. My body has to acclimate to the medicine again after being off of it, but knowing how that goes makes it less of a big deal. For now, it’s nice to see the nurses again. They were happy that Kansas advanced in the tournament so that I could join in on making fun of their Duke-fan coworker. “I mean, you work for UNC. How good do you feel about cashing those paychecks?”

Speaking of March Madness (and because I have some time on my hands), I’m sure you all saw the news about the fire in downtown Raleigh. KT and I have a couple of friends who live in the apartment building directly next to it, and they’re completely safe staying with some family for the time being. It’s not publicly known how that happened yet, but that seems to be the next step in the way humans process this stuff. What happened? Who’d it happen to? Are they okay? How did it happen? And this is where we’re currently stuck. Maybe there’s a grand arsonist on the loose. Maybe wood construction isn’t the way of the future. I hope the “how” is discovered so everyone can answer the next part. Why. The “why” informs us of where to direct our resources. An arsonist requires human resources, educational and ethical, as another event reminds us of the holes in the human psyche. If materials are to blame, then political resources need to change regulations. Either way, the “why” is a critical part of healing the cause, not just putting out the flames.

The weirdest part about my leukemia is that they don’t know how it happens. There is no “why” to be solved. I know several of you have donated to cancer research with me in mind. It means a lot. There’s a million problems that need fixing in the world, and I’m not going to say trying to solve the unknown has more value than tackling something known like the water crisis (*sidenote below*). But it’s an honor to know that my problem has helped inspire some good. Example: our friend Natalee Jarrett raised a bunch of money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for a half marathon she ran in a blazing 1:43:00. Sure, she’d probably have raised money for something else good, but I’m taking like, 2% of the credit. Thanks a ton, Natalee. It was truly, greatly appreciated. Life deals some bad beats, from fires to cancer and everything else. If you’re doing anything to help the what’s, who’, how’s and why’s of any of those beats, thank you to you too. It is appreciated.

Give someone a great week,
Dust

**Sidenote: Watching these NCCA tournament games, I keep seeing the Matt Damon commercial where he’s promoting the partnership between Stella Artois and Water.org to help fight the global water crisis. It’s noble, and I’m not denigrating their efforts in any way. This is just a point that is related. It takes roughly 20 gallons of water to brew a pint of beer (Teetotalers shouldn’t be uppity. It takes up to 132 gallons of water to make a 2-liter of soda). Do what you will with this knowledge.