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Posts tagged ‘cancer’

Thank you for not giving up

I feel somewhat guilty writing too often about my prostate cancer because, compared with the heartbreaking stories we hear about from some of our friends or via online articles, my cancer is–as of now–rather low key. We lost one of our best friends to cancer a few months ago. Her cancer was thought to have been cured, but it came back and there was nothing for it–other than hospice care. She stayed strong as long as she could.

When I mentioned on Facebook a week ago that my 40 days of radiation therapy had begun, one of my long-time online friends wrote, “Thank you for not giving up.” She’s a feisty New Yorker and deals with issues and events that are quite foreign to me–as I’m sure my Georgia farm life is to her–so we don’t communicate often. But this comment was almost too much for me to take in and to process.

It never occurred to me to give up even though my age is getting up there and I keep reading about people who are younger than I am passing away after having “long and happy lives.” If I were in a worst-case scenario in a hospital bed, I might say this kind of life just doesn’t cut it. But I’m not, thank the good Lord. Sure, the daily radiation treatments are a bit tedious and, like almost all medications and protocols, they include a hideous list of potential side effects.

One of the doctors at the radiation oncology center said I might start feeling a lot of fatigue in several weeks. I mentioned that when I was checking diets, etc. online, I read that while alcohol was okay, I might be too sleepy and tired to care about it. When I told the doctor this, her response was “one’s never too tired for a glass of wine.” I’m glad we saw eye to eye about that.

I wonder how many cancer patients do give up. How many of them think that no matter what they do, cancer will ultimately win. Maybe not today or tomorrow but–like our recently departed friend–sooner than one expects. According to the statistics, all men will eventually get prostate cancer if they live long enough. That sounds like bad software to me. So, I suppose I should feel honored to have lived long enough to get it. I don’t. I’m pissed off because it’s a lot of trouble and it costs a lot of money to treat. Also, radiation is a one-time thing. If the cancer were to come back, we couldn’t use radiation again.

I don’t see the logic of putting my family $100000000000000 in dept for treatments that would prolong my life at a low ebb for another six months. But that’s not where I am with this. Nonetheless, when Lynne wrote, “Thank you for not giving up,” I felt that living out my life mattered to somebody–in addition to my family–and that gave me a strong dose of positive vibrations, the kind we should feel for all who are in need since they are stronger than most cures.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the recently released “Special Investigative Report” that’s available in hardback, paperback and e-book editions.-

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My new home away from home

Okay, I didn’t pick this place out on the House Hunters TV show, so you won’t see me in an upcoming episode looking at ensuite bathrooms, kitchen appliances, or backyard pools. Actually, this is Rome, Georgia’s radiation oncology center:

Since I’ll be going there daily for radiation treatments starting August 15th, I feel like it would be easier if I had a penthouse apartment upstairs. Two days of CT scans have been completed, so now they (the doctors) have a template for where they’re going to beam the radiation for 40 business days. I suggested that walking into a nuclear power plant would be faster, but apparently, that has unpleasant side effects.

The waiting room has large black & white photographs of people who went there and were cured. Each has a positive blurb next to it. There’s also a bell you can ring on the day you’re cancer-free. Since the prognosis is good so, I might right that bell, even though nobody’s promising to but a poster-sized photo of me in the waiting room with links to where people can buy my books.

The whole thing is expensive, but Medicare pays most of it. I’m not especially stressed out about this, just kind of ticked off that I’ll be driving over there every day (except weekends). On Facebook, a lot of people who’ve gone through this before, have spoken of their experiences and the fact that they’re doing fine now. That’s nice to hear!

In other news, we haven’t released Special Investigative Reporter yet because we’re waiting for a proof copy of the hardcover edition. I’m still working on another Florida novel but set it aside temporarily because this prostate cancer stuff was making it difficult to return to the world of Eulalie and Lena.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Malcolm

 

Rain, Wimbledon, and other sorrows.

When I was a kid, I hated rainy Friday nights because they usually ended up lasting throughout the weekend and then ending just in time for school Monday morning.

Sure, the yard needs to be mowed, but the rain is more than welcome. The smaller trees have had a bad summer. And, there’s something about rain that shields us from the world’s slings and arrows. That is, it’s cozy staying in the house when the rain has taken over the fields on all sides. The horse and bull across the road are seemingly oblivious to the rain and the cattle I can see out past the back yard don’t seem to notice it either.

While rain usually improves my mood, I’m still not ready to talk about the Williams/Halep Wimbledon final. Serena’s game was lackluster, especially her serve, and Halep had enough speed to return a lot of shots that many other opponents could never have gotten to. But, I’ll admit that Halep played a fine game.

Coming Soon

My publisher and I are still getting rid of the formatting errors that occurred when the PDF manuscript for Special Investigative Reporter was converted into a DOCX file. This is delaying the release date. Meanwhile, I’m happy to see that Conjure Woman’s Cat and Lena are getting a lot of positive reviews on Audible.  Oddly enough, there are more reviews of Audible than Amazon.

I do plan to return to the Florida Panhandle world of my Florida Folk Magic Series once Special Investigative Reporter is released. I needed a change of pace. And I needed something completely different.  There’s definitely more to say about North Florida and the KKK in the 1950s. My Pollyanna character has a very different approach to the Klan than the main characters in the folk magic series. So, I look forward to exploring that.

My wife is still fighting off those twenty-three bee stings that happened when she mowed through a hidden nest in high grass. The ER helped a lot. But now, there’s a lot of itching to contend with. And, it’s odd that “new stings” keep appearing on her arms and hands that didn’t initially show up.  We keep thinking that some of the bees did a half-assed job of stinging her at the time and now are just showing up.

My radiation treatment for cancer begins on August 1, just in time for my birthday. It will be a daily thing, excluding weekends. and will last about forty days. That seems really tedious and is supposed to make me tired. I’ll be glad to get all that out of the way and emerge cancer free. If all goes as planned, this will be my second time as a cancer survivor.  At my age, I guess one has to expect all kinds of problems like this.

I hope you’re having a great weekend, rain or shine.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potpourri – June 2019

Notice: If this post contained any real potpourri, you’d be sneezing by now.  Come to think of it, I don’t know why well-meaning people thrust potpourri on innocent people who walk into a bathroom, living room, bookstore, Wicca supply shop, or auto supply store and then start sneezing their asses off.

Moving to Juneau?

If so, there’s work. I’d take this job in a New York minute (whatever that is) if I lived there:

The Sun Singer

If you’re one of the wonderful people who downloaded a free Kindle copy of The Sun Singer during the recent giveaway, thank you! If you like it, you may also like its gritty sequel Sarabande:

 

The Strand Bookstore

Since I have worked in historic preservation, I’m a fan of the National Register because it draws attention to a historic site or object and imposes no restrictions on the owner’s use of the property. Not so, the government overreach in forcing landmark status on New York City’s famous Strand Bookstore. The bookstore fought against the designation because it comes with rules that impact how the slim-profit-margin store can use the building it owns. I signed the petition against this kind of nonsense.

Medical Update

I posted this medical update on Facebook and since I’m too lazy to write a fresh medical update, I’ll just paste it into the blog:

Darn it, rain

I was planning to mow the yard after supper until I noticed that it’s getting a bit dark outside (at 2 p.m.). The weather RADAR indicates that I might not be cutting grass even though we just got one of our riding mowers back from the shop and it’s ready to go.

 

Fried chicken for dinner tonight, but there’s not enough for you, so don’t stop by unless you stop at the KFC on hightay 27 before you get here.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

because people shouldn’t have to journey alone

Cancer Navigators is a northwest Georgia organization that provides a variety of support, direct help, and other resources to patients with cancer. Their tagline is “because people shouldn’t have to journey alone.” In addition to the American Cancer Society, CancerCare, and groups designated for specific kinds of cancers, perhaps your area has a state or regional organization that provides help. Our local group provides a weekly support group where people can share, learn, and get ideas.

In addition to support groups and retreats, there’s counselling, information about community resources, financial issues (including lack of insurance), and transportation problems. Many types of cancer include long periods of treatment, extended hospital time, and treatment costs that only a rich person could pay for. My prostate cancer is generally assumed to be usually survivable, but the daily radiation treatments over several months cost about $25,000 not including the hormone treatments. Fortunately, Medicare takes care of 80% of that.

There’s a strong likelihood, I’ll be cancer free by Thanksgiving. Many families and individuals see costs astronomically higher than that, often with little or no hope that the patient will ever be cancer free. Most of us have heard that certain things increase our likelihood of getting cancer. So, we have an option not to do those things. Things get muddled when the most dutiful people get cancer anyway and the most careless people do not.

I have a feeling a lot of people think that God, or perhaps fate in the form of a big wheel of fortune, determine who will be included in the next round of the National Cancer Center statistics that say, “The Burden of Cancer in the United States. In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.”

In spite of the advances in medical technology, I suspect many people (perhaps most) are fatalistic about improvements coming from research. Too many people are dying and the treatments cost more money than the living have. Perhaps such feelings keep most people from donating money to research and support groups unless a close friend or family member is affected.

Personally, I’m not overly worried about the prognosis for my treatment. I’m more aggravated about the hassle after having one easy ride (except for the last three years) most of my life with little to no interactions with doctors and hospitals. Yes, the words, “you have cancer” tend to get one’s attention. S/he wants to ask, “How long do I have?” or “How much pain is involved?” or “What percentage of the rest of my life will be spent in a hospital bed?”

Such things cross my mind, of course. How could they not? I like the phrase “because people shouldn’t have to journey alone” because I think a lot of people do face cancer alone. Friends don’t stop by because they’re superstitious like they might get cancer by saying the word or being in the same room with a person who has cancer. Treatment and the effects of the treatment curtail many activities, so some of a person’s natural interaction with others comes to a halt. When my parents and then my wife’s parents were old and ill (not with cancer), people said they’d stop by and check on them, but mostly they didn’t.

I guess those people feel like there’s nothing they can really say or do that will change the circumstances of a terminal patient. Plus, what they see tends to scare them into thinking “what if I’m next?” Better to run and hide, right?

I play with magic, write books about magic, and am generally a very superstitious person. But the whole idea of God or fate deciding who gets cancer (or anything else) makes no sense to me whatsoever. I believe in destiny, though not a destiny decreed by the gods, but a destiny we (perhaps) chose before we were born and that we control (consciously and subconsciously) that speaks to what we want to accomplish in this lifetime. That said, I suspect this entire prostate cancer hassle is something that I chose one way or another and that I’m supposed to learn or otherwise get something out of it. But that view is just my view. It doesn’t change the care people need or the help others can provide personally or via support groups.

The main thing, I think, is finding a way to “be there” for others who might need your help. They won’t tell you they need it because, well, who wants to say such things? As for me, please don’t stop by the house with a casserole, especially one of those with beans and onion rings and mushroom soup.  Look to the people next door and at the company where you work and the PTA where your kids go to school. They’re not lepers and they won’t infect you if you stop by to say “hello.”

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, Cancer, my old associate

Okay, here’s an update, and then I’ll get off the personal stuff and look again at books (including my own, of course), writing, and a bit of magic.

The news and our neighborhoods are constantly filled the talk of cancer as though it’s a shadow that follows all of us or, at the very least, hovers nearby as friends, neighbors, and widely known people either die from it or become survivors.

I’m already a survivor–from kidney cancer and successful surgery–two years ago. It was caught by coincidence when I suddenly came down with appendicitis and the CT scan and MRI found the tumor. Fortunately, it was on the outside of the kidney and could be removed before it invaded the kidney. I ended up with a six-inch scar that took a long time to fade away, but I feel hesitant to mention that I’m a survivor because I didn’t undergo the long and painful journeys that many survivors face.

You notice that in the title of this post, I didn’t say, “my old friend.” Yes, I suffer from depression, but not the fatalistic kind that would put cancer on my Christmas card or Facebook friends list. Suffice it to say, we’ve met before. I read somewhere that 80% of the men who reach 80* have cancer cells in their prostates. Sometimes it’s treated, sometimes it’s simply monitored. However, the older a man gets, the more his doctors insist upon a PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) blood tes several times a year. The higher the number, the worse the result is. So, you want to see nothing higher than, say, a “3” in the results. As you get older, that acceptable number gets a bit higher. My number has bounced up and down, partly because I had BHP (Benign prostatic hyperplasia) which can impact the results.

So, when the number shot up to 22, it was “what the hell is this?” The doctor put me under sedation and did a biopsy. A relatively small number of cancer cells were found. Fortunately, the follow-up CT scans showed that the cancer had not spread, the worst case being into one’s bones. When my wife an I talked the urologist yesterday about the results and prognosis, we were actually relieved because we already knew it was cancer and were more concerned about how bad it might be.

The treatment will probably be radiation since the cancer cells are scattered–rather than comprising a tumor–along with hormone therapy. We won’t know how this will be set up until June 10th when I have an appointment with the oncology department. The prognosis at this point is that the treatment will make me cancer free again by this fall. The radiation treatments [External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)] are a five-days-a-week protocol, and that’s way more doctor’s visits than I want. The treatments are painless and the side effects impact a very low percentage of those being treated.

So there it is, more cancer details than either you or I want to read in a post or anywhere else.

As for today, Lesa and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary. We’re having homemade mousaka for dinner along with some wine or Coke and maybe something amusing on TV.

Malcolm

* P.S. No, I am not in my 80s.

Rainy days and/or Mondays

Very heavy rain all day today, starting our week off with a flash flood watch. This “lake” in the pasture below the house is normally a narrow creek. Now it’s probably up over the road. I already got wet doing grocery shopping this morning, so I’m not going to walk down there and see what the road looks like.

Lena

Thank you to the 800+ entrants in my GoodReads giveaway for the third novel in my Florida Folk Magic series. I wish I could afford to send all of you a copy. Alas, only one copy is available and it will go out in tomorrow morning’s mail to the winner who lives in Kansas.

Cancer Scare #2

Those of you who’ve read this blog for a while, know that I had successful surgery for kidney cancer several years ago. The cancer was caught by a fluke, an ultrasound taken when I went into the hospital or an appendectomy. It was caught early enough for the surgery to work. The scary thing about kidney cancer is that there are no symptoms until it’s too late to do anything about it. My surgeron told me that the inflamed appendix was the bellyache that saved my life.

Several weeks ago, one of the seemingly endless tests I keep having suggested that I might have cancer again–or, an inflammation. I was optimistic–with random periods of worry and depression–because this cancer has early symptoms. Fortunately, the antibiotic is working and the test numbers are looking better. I’m one of these people who doesn’t get along with antibiotics, but they beat the alternative.

Upcoming Ghost Story Collection

In finished another story for my upcoming collection of ghost stories–coming soon from Thomas-Jacob Publishing. This one takes place in an old opera house that was about twenty miles away from where I grew up in the Florida Panhandle. I drove by it many times and, since it was closed down, always thought it was an abandoned factory. The people in the state’s ghost hunter business claimed the old theater was haunted.

Fortunately, it was saved from the wrecking ball by a string of preservation grants and is now being used to stage regional theater productions. What a perfect place for a story on a dark and stormy night. The story helped distract me from Cancer Scare #2. My wife’s going to proofread the story before I send the collection off to the publisher. There are one or two books in the queue ahead of this one, so I have no idea when it will be released. (I’ll let you know.)

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m looking forward to seeing my daughter and her family, including my two granddaughters next week. We’re all doing a little sightseeing as well. The last time we went to their house, we were all snowed in and did well to walk as far as the sledding hill. We’re going earlier in the winter months this time!

Malcolm

 

 

as usual, it only hurts when I laugh

Seriously, do we really need so much hospital paperwork? Every few minutes or so, somebody handed my a form to sign. What’s this one for? This one is your acknowledgement that you have seen all 5,000 forms so far.

redmondOkay, now what’s this one for? This one, which as you can see is being handed to you in the middle of your surgery, is your acknowledgement that the anesthesia is doing a damn good job so far.

You gotta laugh. But if you do, it hurts.

Praise the Lord for narcotics.

The surgery was scheduled for Monday morning. Since the anesthesia was high quality, late Monday afternoon I was able to sit in a chair and eat supper. The nurse threatened me with the news that if I couldn’t climb out of bed, I wasn’t going to eat.

Don’t make me laugh.

Then she told me that I would be walking down the hall three times a day. I only walked down the hall twice because things were going so well, they gave me some more paperwork and sent me home where I promptly took a pain pill and got into bed.

The surgery went very well. The cancerous tumor was removed from my left kidney without messing up the kidney, or anything else, for that matter. The scar is probably larger than the kidney, held together with bailing wire and duct tape. It’s no laughing matter, and I’ve signed paperwork that says I’m going to keep it that way.

I do appreciate all of you who asked me–actually, my wife and/or my Facebook page–how I’m doing. That depends when you ask. If you ask 23.5 minutes after the latest pain pill, I’m doing pretty good. If more time has gone by since the latest pain pill, I staying away from anything that might remotely be funny.

Now, I think it’s time for another nap. Fortunately, I don’t laugh while dreaming.

–Malcolm