Nov 23, 2014: The Plot Thickens

The past number of days have been another extremely intense period of time.  In fact, they have been among the most intense of my cancer journey so far.  The plot has really thickened with my health situation, although there are also some important, and hopeful, silver linings in the midst of what is happening.

The headaches I’d been having, which I mentioned in my last blog post on November 18th, unfortunately, persisted.  In response, my medical oncologist (Dr. John Fleagle) ordered another MRI scan of the brain, which I’d been hoping to avoid.  We already knew that there was small — but abnormal, and worrisome — lesion involving the thick membrane (called the “dura”) which surrounds the brain beneath the skull.  Much to our dismay, the repeat MRI scan this week showed that the dura lesion has increased significantly in size compared with the last MRI on October 2nd.  This is a very scary development because of the risk that it could penetrate through the dura and into the brain.  If so, this would be an incredibly serious — even life-threatening — development.  On the positive side, there does not appear to be any evidence of actual brain involvement at this time.

After an intense schedule of additional scans and treatment planning activities over the past few days, the lesion was deemed to be treatable with high-dose stereotactic (focused) radiation.  I’m scheduled to receive three radiation treatments, one per day, beginning on Monday, November 24th.  It took a lot of hard work on the part of my radiation oncologist (Dr. Marie Klish), her terrific team, and my medical oncologist as well, to get everything organized so quickly.  I am very grateful for their amazing help and efforts on my behalf.

In advance of the radiation treatments, on the evening of November 21st, I also underwent a follow up MRI scan of my cervical and thoracic spine.  This was to assess what is happening with the numerous spine lesions we’ve been treating for the past many months.  I was able to review the MRI images with the radiologist and was relieved to see that, compared with the last spine MRI scan (also on October 2nd), the vast majority of the spine lesions appear to be stable in size.  One very worrisome lesion in particular, involving the T3 vertebral body — which was noted to be pressing on my spinal canal on October 2nd — has shrunk significantly and is no longer pressing on the spinal canal.  This was a huge relief.

These findings suggest that the spine lesions have responded well to the 2 cycles of Doxil chemotherapy I have already received.  I feel strongly that the numerous other healing modalities I’ve been pursuing have had a very important and positive impact as well, even though, of course, I have no proof for this.

I am looking forward very much to having the upcoming radiation treatments completed.  I’ve already received similar radiation treatments to six separate bone lesions since September 2013. These treatments are not easy to go through, and can be physically as well as emotionally exhausting.  When radiating a spine lesion that encroaches within millimeters of the actual spinal cord — or, in this case, when radiating the skull and underlying dura — the treatments require patients to be tightly immobilized on the radiation table with a hard, moulded plastic mask that covers the face and neck.  It is a surreal experience that I call “Start Trek Meets the Game of Thrones,” because of its application of some of the most sophisticated technology available in all of medicine … while being strapped to a hard, cold table, in an almost barbaric, medieval way, unable to move, while the whole procedure is carried out.

I am praying hard that this set of treatments will go smoothly, and will be successful.

After the radiation treatments are completed, I will have a two-week period of time to recover before most likely continuing on with more chemotherapy.

Confronting this enlarging intracranial lesion this past week was very traumatic — especially as someone who understands how dangerous and threatening intracranial tumors in particular can be.  There are also potentially very serious risks involved with the radiation itself.  I never imagined I would develop an intracranial lesion, let alone need to undergo radiation to my head.  This lesion has definitely increased the seriousness of what I am facing, and forced me into an even deeper confrontation with mortality … and the ongoing reality of living in the unknown each day.  There are parts of me that are quite worried and scared by this whole turn of events.

At the same time, I continue to feel a deep hope and conviction that I will respond well to these upcoming treatments, and be able to continue to receive, and tolerate, additional systemic treatment … and continue to live.  My heart is filled with love and appreciation for the absolute beauty and preciousness of this life — even with its enormous sorrows, mysteries, paradoxes, insanities, and injustices.  I remain deeply inspired by so many things I hope to be able to experience and contribute in this life.

Throughout it all, Kristina has continued to be such an amazing beloved support, ally, and love.  I am so blessed by her presence in my life.  I hope to share a special blog about her soon.

Meanwhile, I want to say “Thank You” again to so many of you who have reached out and sent me such incredibly beautiful, warm, and heartfelt expressions of love — especially in your comments and replies on this blog.  I am very grateful and touched.

16 thoughts on “Nov 23, 2014: The Plot Thickens

  1. Omkar Naga Jaya

    Sending love always, including what we shared with KK the past two days at Kashi. You would have loved the kirtan and bhajan.

    Reply
  2. Mary Lee

    Hi Ramy,

    I am Mary (Steve Cohen’s friend) we met when we were in Boulder years ago. But most importantly you were there for me and my family answering questions for us, when my mom was fighting her colin cancer. Your encouragement and the chemo treatment modifications you suggested worked and she remained in remission until she died last year of old age. My heart breaks to hear you being faced with a fight for your life and I had to write and send you my love and encouragement on behalf of myself and my entire family. I know my mom and dad on the other side rooting for your success to live a long and healthy life. We are ALL with you! Much love forever!

    Reply
  3. Mirabai

    How scary, Kabir. Interesting how the words “sacred” & “scared” so closely resemble each other. Holding you close in a sacred field of love & hope. I am not afraid. Your sister, Mirabai

    Reply
  4. Paul Bass

    Jeremy, please know that you are in my prayers, and will be until your healing is complete. I think of you often, and would love to speak with you at your convenience. My cell # is (931)- 588-1828. I strongly believe that God will heal you, and that you have so much more to contribute!! You are MAGNIFICENT !

    Reply
  5. Rudrani

    I am holding you in source light & seeing you healed & cancer free.focus on that image as well .

    Have you seen the movie the theory of everything? Stephen Hawkins was given 2 years to live when he was at Oxford and he is still a light on the planet at age 72! It’s a beautiful movie re hope&possibilities in the face of hopelessness & fear.
    Much love & healing prayers

    Reply
  6. Nazak

    Dearest Jeremy, thank you so much for sharing your journey through cancer.

    In the midst of all the intensity of what you are going through to have the willingness and openness to share with us, your treatments, your feelings, and your insights on all levels (mind, body and soul ) is an act of courage and selfless devotion. Reading your blog is an invaluable source on all levels dear one. I am so grateful to you.

    May God continue to give you courage, strenght and above all full recovery so that you may continue to share your journey through cancer and personal healing.

    My love and prayers to both you and Kristina.

    Nazak

    Reply
  7. Jill

    Your work in life has been such a great inspiration (and continues to inspire) so many people living with cancer, and I know that what you’ve taught to so many may feel more true to you, now, in a deeper way than ever. Thank-you for sharing your continued journey in this blog. I wish you healing and respite from suffering and to be able to continue sharing your gifts with the world for a long time to come. Please know my thoughts and warm wishes are with you and Kristina.

    Reply
  8. Ray Brejcha

    Jeremy,

    My dear brother,

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredible post. I really appreciate your optomism and strength. Please know that I’m here for you 24×7 my dear friend. You mean the world to me and I’m encouraged by the capable team you have assembled. I look forward to our conversation. Love, ray

    Reply
  9. Parvati

    Kabir,
    It really does help to know you’ve got such a wonderful community supporting you, sending prayers for your healing and well-being. I know that when I was going through breast cancer–a much much milder cancer than the one you’re facing–it was so helpful to write my blog and feel the love flowing in my direction. Always remember you are under Baba’s blanket, even (or especially) when life and death hang in the balance. I picture you playing the guitar, singing to the heart of it all.
    much love,
    Parvati

    Reply
  10. Kathryn

    Dear Jeremy, So grateful for the gift of your spirit and friendship in my life today, I feel so blessed by knowing you. Sending you much peace and healing. I love you my dear friend. Kathryn

    Reply
  11. jennifer jacobs

    So grateful to you Jeremy for sharing such an intimate and your personal profound journey through cancer. You are walking your walk more than anyone might have imagined. I send you love, prayers and healing light as you continue to step each foot upon the path that rises to meet you.

    In grace …
    Jen

    Reply
  12. Varanasi

    Namaste
    Dr Jeremy
    Kabir
    Curious,have you received a native American Name?
    You are held dearly in my heart for your caring of my family members
    Kamal, Jack Ruane and cousin Paul.

    Very pleased with your new year spiritual bibliography.
    I am sure there is so much more to tell.
    Especially those persons you shared with along the journey.

    Native american spiritual traditions are so very powerful and healing..love.
    I feel a book written, dictated, composed by you would be a wonderful addition for our young
    people on a quest for personal growth.
    you are so very blessed to be experiencing all the good stuff while on this healing journey.
    you will be welcomed with healing arms when you travel .follow the breath back to kashi.
    The weather is delightful here, this time of year.
    hope to see you soon.
    ……and your strength and wisdom is empowering to many of us and others.
    please continue to write your spiritual journey.
    much love
    varanasi

    Reply

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