Tag Archives: LIVESTRONG

Oh, so much on my mind

But that’s not a very good excuse for keeping it all to myself. Time for an update!

Let’s see; it’s Sunday and I had my second round of chemo on Thursday after getting the okay from the allergist on Wednesday. Basically, the urticaria (hives) were yet such a problem, that it wasn’t possible to do a proper skin patch test—I was simply too reactive. So I was rechallenged orally with decadron (dexamethasone–the steroid) and watched for an hour. I felt my eyes getting a little puffier, but it wasn’t obvious to the allergist and certainly not concerning. And given my description of my symptoms post infusion, he felt I was at a very low risk of being hypersensitive to the carboplatin.

Before bedtime I took my second decadron, a Zyrtec and a Claritan (antihistamines); ditto in the morning. We dropped Peter at school and headed straight to the hospital. I had labs (they looked great) and then it was off to infusion where I was given the usual dose of Alimta but less than half the amount of carboplatin that I’d had four weeks ago, and delivered at half the rate. A nifty little shut off valve was attached to my IV and an extra bag of saline hung just in case. However, the whole event was issue free.

And, hallelujah, I still feel good. No nausea, no obvious additional neuropathy, no facial numbness. Pelvic floor seems to have settled down as well. So, aside from some fatigue, it’s an entirely different situation than it was after the first round. This likely means there will be continued dialogue as to whether it is appropriate to bump my dose of carboplatin up again, but as I have a scan in two weeks, we won’t just be shooting in the dark.

I’m highly encouraged about my physical state and now just have to keep focusing on the mental aspects of this battle. Again, I’m getting there; really working hard on staying positive and hopeful both. Of course, not feeling poorly is a real boon, and I am incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to skip right over the unpleasant side effects this cycle.

What else is on my mind?

We are just winding down with Peter’s applications to private school. Last spring, when I experienced my first liver toxicity, I started to get a little panicky about Peter’s future. Of great concern is the fact that David is often away on business; a situation that has been difficult for me to navigate but which is simply unimaginable if I were to pass away. After a bit of serendipity (being seated next to a bright young thing from Phillips Exeter on a plane ride), I began to research the private schools in the area and decided that this was an option worth exploring.

It’s been a big process and crunch time coincided with my switch-up in therapy. However, in a week and a half the window for admissions will close and we will sit back and see what happens. It is not merely acceptance that is needed; we would require a substantial financial aid package so there are lots of unknowns. However, imagining both the potential opportunities as well as the extensive support system that boarding school could provide for Peter, I am hopeful that this shall become an option.

Also on my mind, the Lance Armstrong confession. I watched both segments and derived no pleasure from the humiliating spectacle. I could, however, relate to at least one claim he made; how it was only after battling cancer that he became a fierce competitor and that this was due in large part to the survive at any cost mentality.

I get that, and the truth is, all sorts of ‘banned substances’ are part of the cancer arsenal. It is possible to see how a line could be crossed.

However, what I will never understand is his willingness to lie, cheat and to destroy the reputations of others. That pervasive flaw can only be attributed to a wanton lack of character and I doubt that he will ever be self aware enough to realize all of the damage that has been done. I will still wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet though and support the charitable aspect of the organization. It is not about the bike, and it is no longer about the man. Originally a slogan cooked up by NIKE in a clever marketing campaign (and co-opted by cancer survivors everywhere), live strong is now about believing in myself.

And one more thing. Please keep my dear friend Thao in your thoughts and prayers. She is at a tough place where options are few and yet she is not ready to stop fighting. What Thao wants is one more chance to get ahead of the cancer. May she get it.

May the circle be unbroken

LIVESTRONG bracelet by Kendra Scott

Soon after being diagnosed with lung cancer, I picked up a copy of Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s Not About The Bike. Reading it cover to cover, I found myself both inspired by and able to relate to Lance’s journey. As I worked to recover my strength after surgery, I’d drag myself over to the exercise bike and repeat these words: “I am Lance Armstrong”. When chemo kicked my butt, I took solace in the fact that it had kicked Lance Armstrong’s butt too.

Like so many others who have been touched by cancer, I began wearing the yellow silicone LIVESTRONG band. Or I did, until the day five years ago when I received a package from my sister Laura. Inside was a very special gift. Crafted of white gold with a yellow diamond set in the “O”, it was one of Austin jeweler Kendra Scott’s limited edition bracelets, created to commemorate the ten years that had passed since Lance’s diagnosis with testicular cancer and benefitting the LIVESTRONG foundation. I felt invincible the moment I placed it on my wrist.

Worn daily, my bracelet has taken on the quality of a personal talisman. Accustomed to its reassuring weight, I awakened one morning to find my wrist bare. Panicked, I tore the house apart and combed the yard, but my search was fruitless. Sick at heart, I placed calls to the only other places I had been in the past 24 hours. One was a cinema. And yes, someone had turned in a bracelet matching my description and they were holding it at the ticket office.

I couldn’t believe my good fortune but wanted to make certain that I never lost my precious bracelet again. Back to Kendra Scott it went, and a custom locking mechanism was fitted over the latch.

This morning, I read the news that Lance Armstrong would be stepping down from his role as chairman of the LIVESTRONG foundation. Despite his repeated and adamant denials, the evidence that he engaged in illegal blood doping would seem incontrovertible. I can’t deny that I am disappointed. I don’t like cheaters and I deplore dishonesty. It is always hard to see our heroes fall, and yes, Lance was my hero.

However, like so many others who have stood on a pedestal only to be knocked off by their own missteps, Lance deserves to be judged for more than a doping scandal. He didn’t just create a well regarded and highly profitable charitable foundation, he started a movement. The LIVESTRONG bracelet has become a signifier the world over that the wearer has a personal connection to a devastating disease, a bright yellow take that, cancer! In unity there is strength.

I will be among those who continue to wear the LIVESTRONG bracelet with pride. Disgraced as an athlete, Lance Armstrong will yet be celebrated as both a champion and a survivor. Because, to those of us with cancer, he is both.