The scan results are in from the North Pole — er, I mean, Holy Cross. I am still stable – very minor tumor shrinkage since the last scan (6%). The turnaround was quick this time; if these scan results got dragged on, our friend Kal was going unleash hell over here. It looks like the PD-1 is still going strong; the two biggest tumors (in liver and spleen) continue to show the most reduction. These are measuring at 3.2 and 4.1 cm, still plenty big by tumor standard, but way off their highs of 7.8 and 10.0 cm, respectively. The three other targeted lesions are all 1 cm or below and are holding steady. Santa dropped off one present a little early this year.
This is also infusion #13 – ironic because the house my parents just sold had a 1313 address (no wonder crazy stuff happens, what did you expect from that place?) so maybe there's a little bit of cosmic karma at work here. Being a week until Christmas, I tried to bring some holiday cheer into the infusion center, although my piecemeal Santa outfit was pretty pathetic (nothing like my awesome Easter Bunny costume). I am glad there are no kids here to see this, but the hospital staff got a kick out of Santa hooked up to an IV. Hey, it's the Yuletide, and if any place could use a bit of seasonal spirit, it's a cancer infusion center. Plus, where else can I wear Santa pajama pants?
Speaking of early Christmas presents… after the last blog, I swapped emails with a fellow melanoma survivor, who wrote about struggling with anxiety and fear. I responded with a tangent that was more a pseudo-blog post. I thought back to last year, and how the very real fear of "Is this the last Christmas?" kind of permeated the holiday mindset, despite all our efforts to be positive. The change from one year to the next has been nothing short of staggering.
One thing I focused on this year is not thinking about if I will "be here" for Christmas 2014. Other than a few conversations/emails like the one I had with Jeff, I really haven't let those thoughts enter my mind. Christmas 2013 has arrived, and I am healthy (well, healthier) and feeling better than I have in over a year. After my recent mortality post and some more ensuing untimely deaths (including the passing of the singer I mentioned), dwelling on death would be understandable. It's the opposite of what Christmas is all about, though; the celebration of everlasting life's birth, and the more secular giving of cheer and joy.
One day there will be a "last Christmas" for me; it might be this year, or it might be Christmas 2053. But I have this year, and have stayed in the present. It's been a fun, busy, and exciting holiday season. I am looking forward to seeing kids opening presents, adults enjoying good food and wine (and the modified Florida Fishes dinner), and all of us sharing in the Christmas experience together. So no matter what Santa brings down the chimney at the Sharpe house (like a Frozen castle and a Mickey Mouse train set from the jolly old elf), I know the time we had, and have, in 2013 is the best gift of all. Saint Nick may receive credit for the former, but birthday baby Jesus gets the thanks for the latter.
T.J. Sharpe shares his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma in the Patient #1 blog. Read more »