Monthly Archives: January 2013

Day 182 – Steady Improvement

My name is Rick and my cancer status is unknown.

I have now run the full gauntlet of follow up visits; dermatology, surgery, oncology and radiation oncology.  In each case, the doctors have been enthusiastically positive about my progress.  I must admit that it feels great to not only get a clean bill of health but to impress the doctors with my current condition.  I would not classify my state of health as “back to normal” but it is nice to know that I am “doing well” as far as the doctor’s are concerned, whatever that really means.  The only lingering medical issue is my enlarged pituitary gland with more blood tests on tap to learn more.  Stay tuned on that.  Hopefully there are no more steroids on my plate anytime soon.

The various maladies from the many months of treatment continue to subside.  My appetite is back for sure, as is my digestive system for the most part.  The pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulder are certainly manageable and I continue to work at it each morning.   The sores in my mouth are less painful and my mouth is considerably less dry.  My teeth still hurt but I continue to see improvement there as well.  I have about 50% or more of my taste back.  I am not quite sure how to know if it is all back.  Salt continues to lag many other tastes.  My energy level is good but I still tire easily.  Again, all these effects from treatment are present but they all seem to get better each day.

My energy level is preventing me from strenuous exercise for the most part.  I stretch, preform some limited yoga positions, and do crunches and push-ups every morning.  It feels great to get my body moving.  At the same time, I am hesitant to work up a serious sweat for fear that I will be detracting from my overall energy reserve.  I want to have energy for healing as well as continue to put on weight.  The freezing temperatures are also a serious deterrent.  I think I am going to start riding the exercise bicycle.

I think more and more about mortality.  Not in a worry sort of way but as in wonder; I wonder how long I will live?  Will the melanoma get me, will the treatment get me or will it be something different?  I think about the huge amount of radiation I have been exposed to.  Not only have I received a ton of radiation during the oncology treatment but I have also had many x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans and PET scans.  I wonder what the downstream effect will be from all of those?  Will they cause cancer?  And, how many scans will I be subjected to in the future?

I have a strong desire to volunteer at the hospital in the cancer area.  I know this sounds nuts but I really feel the need to give back to those who have it much worse than me.  There is a formal volunteer program at Penn and I just finished filling out the application.  They ask for a commitment of 100 hours in 12 months which is a significant amount but I think it is worth it.