Saturday, October 29, 2011

Feeling Cared For

On Friday morning at 5:30am, Mike & I arrived at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The woman at the desk asked for my name and date of birth as they always do. Then she asked what I was here for. I didn't want to answer. I didn't want to have to say it, to give it life. And, what else was there to do. I told her, "I'm here for a liver resect and the installation of a pump." She nodded agreement, gave me a bracelet and directed me to the waiting room. Every patient in the building is here for one diagnosis: Cancer. The Emperor of All Maladies. Tears started to well up in my eyes. And moments later I was brought in to be prepped for surgery. Standard procedure. On the bed was the gown, the hair net, the anti-slip not-socks and a couple extra blankets. Another feeling of sadness showed up. This again. I'm kind of tired of changing into the surgery clothes. Well, I got changed, joked around shootin' the breeze with Mike, and within 45-minutes, an epidural was implanted in my spine and I was ready to rock-n-roll.

I was in and out of consciousness all afternoon and evening on Friday, nodding in and out of game seven of the World Series. This morning when I woke up (on the 16th floor - exciting for  small town guy like me), I felt the tightness & soreness within my abdomen & chest and I thought to myself, "I really did have liver surgery yesterday. Liver surgery. Damn." I looked at the incisions and felt the hockey puck-size pump

almost exactly parallel to my stoma. No, I would not have guessed I would ever have returned for another cancer surgery. And here I am.

After being awake for an hour or so, I couldn't take more than a shallow breath without having serious pain. It was definitely a bit scary. The only thing keeping me from getting truly scared was that the staff were so calm and cool about it. They changed my medications and soon I could take a descent size breath.

Mike was here with me Thursday and Friday. And my folks arrived on Friday and will stay through Sunday morning. Having loving friends and family available to spend time with me is such a privilege. I get a bit anxious now and again, but for the most part, I feel completely cared for.

Please keep in mind the streaming of this blog onto facebook has about a 24-hour delay. If you don't want to wait an extra day for my blog updates, you can go directly to the link:

Love Bert
Surgery went well. Feeling pretty wiped out. xo

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Surgery has been scheduled for 7:30am on Friday. The sooner the better...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Surgery Five Days Away

I just read my last entry/update and noticed I did not provide the specifics as I promised...

Well, I'm going to get that...later. What I will say now is that surgery is still scheduled for Friday October 28th, time to be determined. In the mean time, I have been doing a lot of different types of energy work with a variety of practitioners. I am in an extraordinary space as a result.

Just like the first time I was diagnosed, I am clear this recent diagnosis is a gift as much as the last one was. In case you're unclear what I mean, I'm clear that all in life is the gift, not just what I like. And all the joy, pain, fear, sadness, happiness, etc., are all part of the package. I believe we are provided every experience we have as an opportunity to live life with love & gratitude, and sometimes it just seems like that 's not even an option. It's mind blowing managing circumstances such as this and yet actually easier (at least currently) than dealing with my wife leaving me. It's easier to have a positive attitude about the cancer diagnosis because it does no good to argue with cancer. It doesn't listen. You can't change it's mind, so you accept it - at least I do.

I was speaking with my friend, Christina, while I was at Sloan Kettering last time and she articulated it quite well. These experiences I am having, i.e., cancer diagnosis, don't keep me from living the life I've been given. They are part of the life I've been given, the experience I have been provided. Part my journey, not a delay or distraction from it.

And at the moment, I am still resisting the thought of surgery and chemotherapy.  Not like I won't do it, I'm just noticing my thought process and the resistance that's present. And I'm also quite anxious, which I notice most when I find myself being annoyed & judgmental about whatever I'm dealing with. I've noticed a lot lately the circumstance I'm annoyed with is often not why I am actually annoyed. But sometimes I'd rather be annoyed with something surface than actually deal with my sadness and frustration with how my life has gone in the last year. There are aspects of "the gift" for which I am currently not experiencing gratitude, to say the least. And yet, I am grateful for my life. Funny thing how that all seems to show up all at once...

Like the fella in this photo. Just because he has snakes squirming through his skull doesn't mean doesn't mean he's not grateful for his life.......

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I just added a feature to this blog. There's a spot on the top left corner where you can now subscribe to this blog and have email posts emailed directly to you. Very cool. Very convenient.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thank You

I have made my decision. I will have my surgery and post-surgery chemotherapy done at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The surgery date is Friday October 28th. I will provide the specifics in the next day or two.

I also need to share that I am overwhelmed with joy & tears by the enormous generosity of the people in my life. I agreed to have surgery at Sloan Kettering, letting go of my fears about whether the logistics of it would be manageable. And today as I confirmed nearly all of my lodging accommodations for treatments in New York, I was suddenly in tears and present to immense gratitude. I realized how concerned and worried I really was about it all working out. I'm constantly present to how I do not have the support of my spouse like I did last time, and I won't pretend it doesn't concern me at times. Yet I feel completely taken care of right now as a result of all who have made themselves available to me, family & friends, by simply offering their time, love & energy to me. It's not just the actual accomodations and physical presence of others that has me feeling supported, but the offers all of you have made to be available to me however & whenever I may need you.

I also have the possibility of an apartment 5 minutes from downtown Ithaca in the works. If you know of any possible apartments available in Ithaca, please let me know.

Thank you for being such extraordinary people.
Love Bert

Friday, October 7, 2011

3rd Opinion at Sloan Kettering Monday October 10th

On Monday October 10th, I have an appointment at Sloan Kettering with a liver surgeon. I will receive his recommended treatment for conventional oncology as well as his recommendation about a clinical trial called Hepatic Arterial Infusion, where chemotherapy is injected directly into the hepatic artery and thus directly into the liver. This would be in lieu of surgery. What immediately comes to mind is that I will only participate in a clinical trial if it's in the final stages and very safe. And I am going there to listen and ask questions. I will make a decision after all my questions have been answered.

The odd thing about Sloan Kettering is that they scheduled my appointment with an oncologist on November 2nd because the demand for oncology appointments are far greater than the request for surgical appointments. I don't know if I want to wait until November 2nd to speak with an oncologist. And we'll see, based on how Monday's appointment goes.