August 15, Independence Day - Completed my twelfth and final cycle of maintenance chemo.
August 20, Test Day - Full battery of tests to determine the status of the Multiple Myeloma
August 26, Dr Appointment - Met with Dr. Zangari to review the test results and determine the way forward. The results were very good but not great. My progression seems to have stalled just short of complete remission. In Dr. Zangari's words I am "in a state of very, very good partial remission". The good news is that complete remission is just a line on on a graph and the fact that I am not quite there is not indicative of how quickly the cancer will return. Even in complete remission the cancer is not completely destroyed and if I live long enough will eventually return. This could be in six months or, as we hope, many years from now. In any case I am now chemo free and other than monthly lab work and semi-annual testing for signs of recurrence I am free to do anything, or at least anything that my 63 year old body will allow.
In the nearly eight weeks I have been chemo free there have been a number of changes in my general health. A lot of the symptoms that have been part of my life for the last twenty one months have cleared up as the chemo is cleansed from my body. The most notable and most appreciated is my return to a normal level of energy. I have been so tired for so long I forgot how good it feels to feel good.
In July as I was approaching chemo freedom I decided that it was time to try and get this old body into shape. As some of you know Lynn and I like to ride bikes. Actually, to be more accurate Lynn likes to ride her bike and I like Lynn so getting back on the bike seemed like a good way to get my exercise and spend time with her. So the first week in July I got back on my bike for the first time in almost two years. I rode all of three miles, my legs were aching, my lungs were burning and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Not an encouraging start. What I needed was a goal and a plan. As it turns out there was a cancer fund bike ride that Lynn wanted to ride in on the 25th of September. It is called the Heber Century and had ride options of 25, 50 or 100 miles. I knew the 50 and 100 were out of the question for this year but thought the 25 would be an achievable goal. To make an already long story short, I made it. It was a great day as I was supported by Lynn, daughter Jennifer, son-in-lay Gary and grandson Tanner. Lynn and I did the 25 and Jenn, Gary and Tanner did the 50.
This past weekend we were at Bear Lake on the Utah Idaho border with Jenn, Gary and family. The Friday before conference, we started what we hope will become a family tradition. That is the annual ride around Bear Lake (50 miles). This year it was Lynn, me, Jennifer, Gary and grand kids Tanner and Audrey. Audrey and I were only up to half way around the lake this year but have as a goal the full ride next year. Everyone else made the full ride. But as Paul Harvey would say you need to know the rest of the story. The day before the ride Lynn lost her footing and took a nasty fall down the front stairs. She was in such pain I was sure the ride was going to be out of the question for her. After 42 years together I should have known better. The next day she drug her bruised and battered body out of bed, got on her bike and rode the whole 50 miles. Never underestimate the toughness of a southern Idaho woman.
Kelly, Tyler and family are in Wisconsin and couldn't be with us this year but were certainly there in spirit. Kelly provided us a design for the t-shirts and Jennifer had them printed. We have posted some pictures so you can see the team and Kelly's great shirts.
The Heber Century