» Radiation tri-blade » Saw my radiation oncologist today .. to review the results of Friday's [ "most-important-test-of-your-life" ] PET scan. "How are you feeling?" he asked. "You tell me," I said. "What should I be feeling? What's the PET scan say?"

Butterfly Emerging from its CocoonThe Rad Butterfly Emerges from Treatment Cancer-Free


What a beautiful word. I love that word.

Both my arms shot straight up. Touchdown!

Cancer-free, baby!

Some folks might argue that I just passed the » biggest test of my life.

I have always been good at taking tests. Far back as I can recall. A chance to show my stuff .. to show what I know. To dazzle the professor. Math and physics is where I can do this best. Tho none of these merely academic tests came with consequences quite so dire.

» First Things First

First thing I did when I got out of there was to call my son .. cuz I wanted him to know that .. just because I havent seen very much of him lately ..

.. doesnt mean that he's not important to me.

"I wanted to call you first, Pun'kin, and let you know. Tell mom for me. Now I'm gonna call everybody else .. and tell them the good news."

But before leaving the exam room, I told my oncologist that it was difficult for me to adequately express my gratitude [ uh, cuz so much is involved. i mean, what do you say to a man who saves your life? ] but that I didnt wanna let that stop me from saying that I do indeed appreciate him and the entire Moores organization.

Dude, I *do* appreciate them. Very much so. You cannot imagine.

The Scream by Edvard Munch (1893)I mean, you walk into their life with cancer .. and walk out withOUT it.

That is a very cool skill set .. I dont care who you are. They are literally saving lives.

"Come back and see me in 4 months," he said, shaking my hand. "We'll do another scope exam."

I also left a brief message for my ENT surgeon, who was the one who called me and told me that the biopsy was positive and that I had cancer. My message » Four-month PET scan negative.

Back when I was first diagnosed .. and my ENT surgeon said » "Seven weeks of radiation & chemo. If it's still hot, it needs to come out."

The phrase "come out" there refers to » surgery. So today's "all clear" means » no surgery. No knife. No slash.

Perfect Timing to Celebrate » Cancer Survivor Week (Beginning June 1st)

And just in time for next week's Cancer Survivor Week, which begins Monday, June 1st.

UCSD Moores Cancer Survivor Week Begins June 1st

I am soo happy. So relieved. Downright elated.

Tho of part of me is now very tired. You cannot relax very well you are are fighting cancer and dealing with the effects of the (brutal) treatment regimen. That part of me feels like it could sleep for two weeks.

It was cool today, cuz, when I walked into the lobby of Moores, and this is BEFORE I saw my oncologist, before I knew what the results were .. and only steps from where my driver had dropped me off ..

.. I saw a big display right in front of me announcing this Monday, June 1st as the beginning of » National Cancer Survivor Week .. and highlighting the various planned celebrations.

Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla | Main Lobby

Such as the Suvivor Beach Stand-Up Paddle on Saturday, June 6 at the Catamaran Resort on Mission Bay in San Diego .. which is but a stone's throw from Seaworld. To benefit the Moores Cancer center.

Catamaran Resort on Mission Bay in San Diego near Seaworld

National Cancer Survivors Day is the very next day » Sunday, June 7th. What timing! What perfect timing.

That Day is » Today | How Sweet It Tis

I distinctly remember wanting so very badly to have the feeling .. to acquire the feeling .. to possess the feeling that cancer was a 'thing' that was » behind me.

National Cancer Survivors Day is Sunday, June 7And how far away, how impossibly far away that looked.

And today I can report that » that day is here, my friend. That day is today.

I mean, sure, my ass is still dragging .. to a degree. My blood is still anemic. My red & white blood counts are still well below the minimum readings considered in he normal range.

But that no longer seems to matter.

How sweet it is.

I can feel my face smiling .. more than it has in a long time. And it feels good.

Emotionally, I feel like I'm in love .. you know, smiling a lot, walking with a spring in your step, seeing the happy-side of everything. Relaxed. The world suddenly seems more beautiful.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I hear birds chirping more now and that they sound so happy.

Kinda like the image of the National Cancer Survivor Day central figure there .. celebrating life .. immersed in its ecstasy like a whirling dervish remembrance of God.

I can tell you right away .. that yes, you do indeed appreciate life more. There is a thankfulness that comes. Because not everybody who goes thru cancer treatment is as fortunate. I dont know how long it will last, but for now, it is strong.

I dont see how somebody could go thru something like this .. where your very existence is threatened .. by something that has already killed those most dear to you .. and NOT come out the other end feeling a sense of gratitude. For life. For another day of living.

I can see why you would want to celebrate cancer survivors. Because it is a difficult thing to survive. Because the treatment is brutal. [ Tho not as brutal as the lethal heat in India. ]

Radiation Scarring of Voice Box / Larynx » Sounding Like Patty & Selma (with Homer)

He sprayed the cocaine up my nose and scoped out my sinuses and my voice box and those areas. I heard him pointing out on the video screen to the med school student there some radiation scarring of my left ventricle.

Google map of San Diego areaThey spent a lot of time with the scope up my sinuses this time. I've never had the scope up there that long. It's not bad in the beginning, but after a while it becomes more challenging.

My voice sounds like the sisters of Homer Simpson's wife » Patty and Selma. It feels like I have to use more force to get the words to come out .. like it's talking loud or nothing. Or maybe I have to use more force to get the words to come out at a normal volume.

It feels like I'm talking from deeper in my throat.

There were about six weeks where I had no voice at all, beyond a whisper.

I mean, my neck still has a nice, dark tan .. like I just spent two weeks at a tropical island. Only I didnt. That's a lot of radiation to give your skin a permanent tan, like that.

Back during my second or third week of treatment .. the first thing that I could feel that was being affected by the radiation was something in the area of my voice box.

I couldnt tell you exactly what it was .. but I could definitely FEEL it. It felt like I frequently needed to take of sip of water .. because my throat was dry.

"Wow," I thought. "They must really be targeting my voice box with the radiation."

That was the first thing I noticed from the effects of the radiation .. and that was fairly early on in the treatment. I could do that math in my head and see that it wasnt going to be good by the end of treatment .. if things continue how they had been going.

But what are your alternatives? You have none. Well, you have one.

A week or two later, my voice started failing .. before it died completely.

» I Didnt Even Want to Know the Radiation Dose

Danger! High-Radiation Area | Run Away or Die!Now the doses of radiation that are used by the medical industry are so much fantastically higher ..

.. than those used by folks like myself in the nuclear power industry.

But I know enough to know that .. if you can actually FEEL the effects of the radiation, then you are getting a gigantic dose.

I did not even want to know the numbers that they were using to shoot me with. I mean, I could have easily converted the dose into a reasonable guess about its equivalent biological damage.

But i didnt want to know because I thought that knowing the number might scare me. You know how the mind likes to run away with you.

Beyond the searing voice box, I would wake beginning the third week feeling like somebody had punched me in the mouth ..

.. like the first thing you do upon waking is say, "Ouch," and grab your mouth.

The last two weeks it felt like they were kicking me in the teeth.

» Grandma See's Chocolate to Celebrate

On the ride home today, we had to drop off another lady first in Escondito. She needed to stop at the pharmacy for some Percosetts.

Viceroy butterfly fresh from its CocoonWhile she was inside, I spied a See's store a block away.

"Dude," I told the driver. "I'm gonna walk down to the See's store and get some chocolate."

So that is how I celebrated the news .. so far.

Oh, here's another thing to celebrate » Lauren is back at Yahoo Finance. She makes them look good.

I missed her when she was gone to CBS. I was not visiting YF as much since Lauren left. I've been spending more time at the New York Times.

And I also noticed that Aaron is no longer the Editor-in-Chief. WHAT's up with that? That does not seem right to me.

» Lee's Student Debt Revolution

I noticed that you picked up on the Lee Siegel story. I read his piece at the Times. Most provocative. Downright revolutionary. I was kinda surprised when I saw him sitting next to you .. that a swat team hadnt already swoopped by and bagged his ass.

Here's a passage that stood out:

Someone with character would have paid off those loans and let the chips fall where they may. But I have found, after some decades on this earth, that the road to character is often paved with family money and family connections, not to mention 14 percent effective tax rates on seven-figure incomes.

The graphic of burning the draft card was clever and provocative. I wonder who came up with that.

I like how you pressed him repeatedly about how they were fucking with him. The government is good at fucking with you and at making your life miserable. [ "True that," says Kafka. ] Especially when it's about the money.

Oh, I see the Times has followed up with a story titled » Taking On Student Debt, and Refusing to Repay, where they noted that Lee's piece was the most-read piece on the Times' web site. So it seems to have churned up interest beyond just you & me. (Doesnt that sound nice? .. you & me. I didnt plan it that way. It seems to come naturally.)

The piece also describes the trials and tribulations encountered by those who co-sign for these student loans. I recall my 89-year-old Walk-in-the-Park friend mentioning how he had co-signed for one of his granddaughters and how she had simply dropped out and quit going and how he was now stuck paying back her loans and how awkward that was for him.

Anyway, I am soo glad that you are back at YF. Let me tell you. (There I go, again.)

I was surprised to see that Lee went to Columbia.

Columbia University in the City of New York

I was wondering if all Columbia grads, who read the Core curriculum books (Denby's Great Books) .. I was wondering if all Columbia grads have that same (seemingly intuitive) sense of moral awareness that the Dog has .. or is he special?

My brother went to Yale & Tufts medical. He said he racked up a quarter mil in student debt. He said, "Bro, once you get accepted into medical school, they give you all the money you want .. cuz they know you're good for it. You just show them a copy of the acceptance letter and they say » 'How much would you like?'"

When he partnered with a sports medicine group, they paid off all his student loans and they took a chunk out of his paycheck until the balance was paid off.

If you need any orthopedic work, if you need new hips, for example, I can get you a good deal. Titanium, baby! They're designed to hold up to even the most intense forms of physical stress.

I never took out any student loans myself. Didnt need to. Had the GI Bill benefits after the military, and was working while taking a class here and a class there. It took me a decade to get the degree.

Sometimes I would save my money and take a layoff and go full-time for a semester or two. While collecting. Very nice. Easy to get jealous of kids who could do that for four years straight.

But when it is a rare thing .. living the life of the mind, which is the life of the student .. when doing that full-time is rare, I think you appreciate it more.

Kinda like great sex. When you have great sex every night .. it eventually becomes ordinary sex .. almost by definition of the word.

Sort of like the person » "who, being in a chronic state of wonder, is surprised at nothing."

I see you have some serious heels going on here at t=1:40 remaining, and the curves you sport at t=2:00 remaining made me so dizzy that I nearly fell of of my chair. I hardly heard a thing that Andy said.

Regarding your piece on the California drought .. my Jordanian driver (from Amman) says that every residence has two tanks on top, and that the government fills these tanks with water once a week .. and if you use your water before the week is up, and you want more, you must buy it, and it is not cheap. (He told me that Amman has 7 million souls, but Wikipedia says 4.) [ More 01, more 02. ]

Rick .. I dont know how yo do it. I would be lying if I said that listening to him is like nails on a chalkboard. He represents popular opinions, so I can see his value.

But .. if I had state secrets and was captured by the enemy and they put me in a dank, musty trailer at a black site somewhere near Poland with Rick .. and made me listen to him .. I would crack.

"Okay, I'll tell you. Whatever you want to know. Just dont make me listen to Rick any more."

Sure, I exaggerate. But not as much as you might think. I'm sure why I hear nails on a chalkboard, but I think it's because he reminds me of my former self .. which I have worked hard to eradicate.

» Chemo Doctor Tomorrow for Blood Work

Tomorrow I go and see my chemo doctor and get a big blood work-up done. I'll be looking to see if the anemia went away yet, and how my white blood cell count is doing. And the platelets.

I have felt a noticeable improvement this past week and even put on a pound or two. Weight is still around 145 or 146.

It was my chemo doctor who said » "If these types of cancer DO come back .. they usually come back within the first two years."

So they will continue to watch me .. with periodic follow-up exam visits .. about every 3 or 4 months. ■

» Radiation tri-blade » Earlier today I had what my surgeon said would be the » "the most important test of your life."

Existential No Man's Land - Part Three (Final Act?)

Next week I meet with my Radiation doctor one day, and my Chemo doctor the next .. to review the results of the test.

I can almost hear the theme song from Jeopardy playing in my head.

So this feels like » existential no-man's land - part three.

This could be it for me .. I could be dones-ville with this whole squamous cell carcinoma business.

PET/CT scannerTime will tell.

This was my second PET scan. My first was back in early October.

They give me lots of CT scans, but I noticed that they're stingy with the PETs.

So I asked the pretty girl who grabbed my hand and pulled me up off the scanner bed today, "Does a PET scan cost more than a CT scan?"

She said, "CT scans only cost about $400, but PET scans cost like $1,600."

"Four times as much?"

She also said that most machines are either CT or PET, but that the one I was on was a 'hybrid,' with capabilities for both.

"The front part is the CT and the back part is the PET, which was added on."

I also asked her if she found working with cancer patients to be depressing.

She said » "Sometimes. Sometimes we see a patient for a while and then they just stop coming. That can be sad."

» Lying Very Still Inside the Scanner Tunnel with the Radioactive Sugar Looking to Feed Cancer

You think about a lot of crazy shit during the 20 minutes that you are lying on the scanner bed in "the tunnel" .. in the tube .. with the donut whirling around you at fantastic speeds. And while you need to remain absolutely still.

I thought about what me Radiation doctor had said »

"Dont freak out if they find something on the PET scan .. because these PET doctors are reluctant to sign off on a scan if it has even the slightest thing wrong. And they arent the ones who have to deal with their own results. Many times we have gone in afterwards with surgery and found nothing."

I was actually a little disoriented .. because I had fallen asleep in the chair .. with the heating pad and the massaging vibrator for your lower back.

I was tired. Because I havent slept well the last few nights .. with the implications of the test upon me .. trying to fuck with my head. You know. I mean, it feels like everything .. all my treatment .. comes down to this one day. To this one meeting. Because, in a way » it does. I hope I will be able to get to sleep the night before the big meeting.

[ To give you an idea of my fatigue .. I woke in the morning and went out to the kitchen to turn on the electric teapot to heat the water for coffee. Since I was still tired, I laid back down for a few minutes while the water was heating .. and fell back asleep. For a few hours. ]

So when they opened the door to the private waiting room (for radioactive people) to come get me 45 minutes later .. after they had shot me with the radioactive sugar .. I was half asleep. More than half, actually.

They *do* use an I-V for the PET scan, but the I-V is only in your arm for a few minutes. They also prick your finger to check your blood for sugar. But I hardly felt that.

The heater in the recliner was nice, because they keep these medical places cold as a meat locker. (They brought me a warm blankie, too.)

Cancer cells splitting and rapidly reproducingAs the PET scanner whirled around me, I mostly tried to see if I could feel any cancer in my body. I mean you have twenty minutes to kill, so to speak.

And they want you fasted for the test. They want any cancer cells in your body to be craving sugar. Cancer loves sugar.

So I hadnt ate for 9 hours .. and was feeling light-headed. Spacy.

After the test I head straight for the caferteria at Thorton hospital cross campus and had a coffee and a scone. Then some briskett.

I never thought I would feel this way, but I actually missed the place .. the Moores Cancer center in La Jolla. I mean, it felt good to be back. Under arguably better circumstances than before.

I mean, you go there every day for a few months. So you get used to being there.

» The Man with Burkitts & the Oxygen Bottle

Speaking of going there every day .. I rode home today with another Moores patient. He has Burkitt's lymphoma. You've never heard of it .. because it is so rare.

This guy was 52 .. a grandpa. Twenty-five years ago, he had Hodgkin's lymphoma, and the doctors told him another form of lymphoma would return later in life. (They said definitely it would.)

Next week they are gonna cut out a part of one of his lungs and he is happy about that.

He died 6 times .. in one day. They used the electric paddles to bring him back (6 times). "Clear!"

I said, "Dude, I've never met anyone who died before. Did you see the white light at the end of the tunnel? Did a guy in a glowing white robe walk up to you?"

The driver (Danny) asked, "Did you float up to the ceiling and see yourself lying on the table below?"

He described the experience, but I did not really understand what he was trying to say. But no, he didnt see the white light at the end of the tunnel.

He goes to Moores everyday .. even on weekends and holidays. (He'll be there tomorrow, Saturday.)

He does not get radiation (.. like I did). He is not even getting chemo. Rather he said that a fungus is growing in his lungs, and that he gets this medicine daily that keeps the fungus from growing and spreading.

He said that BOTH his parents died of cancer, along with ALL FOUR of his grandparents.

He had a small, green bottle of oxygen with him and wore a white mask over his mouth and nose. He sat in the backseat of the van we were riding in.

He takes morphine for pain, but said that the I-V morphine works great, but that anything taken orally takes 3 to 4 hours to work because his body is in such a compromised condition.

I mean, this guy is basically a walking death sentence and he seems so cool about it .. so seemingly at ease.

As they drove away after dropping me off at the ranch .. a voice in my head seemed to say » "Shit could worse, dude .. shit could be a lot worse."

We even had to wait to pick this guy up, because he wasnt ready to go when we got there (.. at Moores, the driver picked me up at Thornton, right around the corner).

Anyway, he didnt know how long it would be, so the driver asked me how I felt about waiting .. and I was totally cool with it. Like a part of me wanted to talk to him. Like the universe was leading me in that direction.

Feynman's 1979 Lectures on QED » A Strange Theory of Light & Matter

Richard Feynman (Queens, NYC, 1918-1988)Anyway, this is gonna be a looong weekend .. in my existential no-man's land.

Maybe I will watch some of Feynman's series of 30 videos ..

.. based on 4 lectures originally given in 1979 in New Zealand and then again in 1983 at UCLA .. on » Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) .. to try to distract myself.

And perhaps even learn a little about a strange theory of light and matter.

I noticed that Feynman's book (1985) is ranked #1 in the Nuclear Engineering section of Amazon.com.

He was awarded the Nobel prize in 1965 for work he did on Quantum electrodynamics.

I noticed right away that Feynman uses the word "light" to refer to the ENTIRE electromagnetic spectrum.

The Thin Sliver of the Light Spectrum that is visible to humans

I have had people disagree with my use of the word "light" to describe the ENTIRE electromagnetic spectrum. They basically are saying » "Dude, you cant call it light if you cant see it."

But here Feynman does exactly the same thing. Tho he explicitly tells you what he is doing.

My point is » Just beause your (limited) human eye cannot see it (detect it), doesnt change its physical properties. (Other than the wave-length, either shorter or longer.)

Just because we cant see certain wave-lengths of the spectrum doesnt make the waves any different from those we CAN see. Except for the length of the wave, they are exactly the same thing.

Feynman died of abdominal cancer in 1988. He helped Oppenheimer build the bomb. Hall-of-fame gifted teacher.

One of the main ways in which I resonate with Feynman .. is that I also have a knack for breaking down complex concepts into something people can easily grasp. And I appreciate the opportunities for growth that come with difficult problems.

The quote of his which has stayed with me the longest is »

The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.

Especially in light of what Dostoevsky said. (It also reminds me of what Einstein said.)

Interesting how Feynman linked understanding, which we normally associate with academic learning .. with compassion, which we dont. It seems like a play on words, at first. But then you see its not. That's why I like it. One of the reasons, anyway.

That's a nice quote. It might even be Totally Rad Quote #10 .. after I make Pascal #9 » All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

[ Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) .. from his Pensées, which are a collection of fragments from an unfinished work (his life's work) and published in 1670 after his death. They are roughly 350 years old. The free Kindle version comes with an intro by TS Eliot. (Holy macaroni.) ]

I cant help but notice that Pascal is called a » proto-existentialist. I seem to resonate, naturally, with these existentialists.

To be continued...

» Radiation tri-blade » The clinical trials girl called yesterday .. to see how I was doing and to give me some important dates .. for both a PET scan and also for a CT scan. She said » "This is the time when we see if the treatment worked."

Cancer cells splitting and rapidly reproducingCancer is No Friend

"If the treatment worked?" I said. "I thought it *did* work the way we expected?"

I could feel the existential anxiety jump on me and crawling over me.

After a while, you just want to be done with the existential threat.

She said » "You did have an amazing response (to treatment), but these are the tests that confirm everything."

These scans are scheduled for a few weeks from now. I complained about the CT scan. "I just had a CT scan."

She said, "That was required at the time by the clinical trial .. 15 weeks from the day of your first vaccine. These tests are part of the 'Standard of Care'."

» Reflections on Agreeing to Participate in the Clinical Trial (as #23)

Back when they presented me with the option of participating in the clinical trial (.. "We wont think any less of you if you decline, but we encourage all patients to participate in any trials that they might qualify for.").

I qualified for this trial because they said my cancer was deemed » advanced. (An advanced stage of cancer is not a good thing.)

I remember thinking two things.

1. That I would like to do my part, if I am able, to help forward the medicine, the science, the technology, the biological response.

2. I aslo remember thinking that I didnt want to come to the end-of-my-treatment and discover that I was not cured .. and that I didnt do everything possible .. to kill that fucker. The mass of living-dead zombie cells, starting their own colony, their own community in your body. "More sugar! More blood."

Sorta like the point I am looking at here in just a few weeks. Which is why I have been thinking about this stuff. This existential stuff. Not a place frequented by very many.

But now that I am here .. we might as well have a look around.

The second-guessing mind would wreck havoc on your decision-making apparatus. I knew that I didnt want even the possibility of that. So I agreed to the trial .. right there on the spot. "Where do I sign?"

She says » "Feel free to take it home with you and look it over. You can call me if you have any questions. We still have time before treatment begins."

I pulled out a retractable pen from my shirt pocket » <-kuh-lick->

"Let's do this thing, momma .. this genetically-engineered thing. Bring it. Bring your bio-hazard."

Even if it meant I would experience a few hours worth of "very uncomfortable, very unpleasant flu-like symtoms, and feeling tired the rest of the day."

Actually, I found the 'discomfort' to be significantly worse than the flu. But it lasts only a hour or two (or three). Then you go home and sleep for 18 hours straight. Getting up only to change your soaking-wet t-shirt.

After a few days, you are pretty much back to normal, and actually feeling rested .. from all the hard, comatose, deep-dream sleep.

The dream that I had while the freshly I-V'ed (genetically-engineered smallpox virus) was coursing thru my veins .. wow. Bizarre. Surreal. Other-worldly. Far-far out there.

Perhaps I will describe them sometime in the future. But not now. [ Beyond the intro here. ]

Tho I admit that .. after a few treatments, and at a time when the chemo and radiation were also kicking in .. I was sorely tempted when she said » "You can drop out of the program at any time."

Sorely tempted, bro. Let me tell you.

And the clinical trials girl [ who is very cool » "Have you had a chance to see your son?" ] she asks about » how you are recovering from the (brutal) treatment.

And this causes you to ponder .. how you were before treatment began.

And I was under the impression (delusion?) that I would recover physically .. maybe not the whole 100% .. but something reasonably close, such as, say » 80 or 85% (.. of my pre-treatment jam).

I am right now about 3½ months out. And I am no where even close to the vim and vigor that I had before.

And this acknowleges that the doctor said, "You've probably been growing this thing for a year .. maybe 18 months."

And even then (while having cancer but not knowing it) .. even then I felt waay more energetic than I do right now. (At 3½ months out of treatment.)

And I catch myself thinking about things that I have done (in the past) .. and how some of these things I could not do now.

I am reluctant to partake in defeatist thinking, but I am merely trying to be honest with myself .. and work on improving things from there.

But it feels weird .. like there is nothing that you can do .. to prepare for what my ENT surgeon calls » "The most important test of your life."

She said, after this 4-month scan, they schedule recovering patients for a PET/CT scan "every 6 months."

Nothing [ you can do ] beyond eating as much as you can. And rest. And not worry or stress about shit. Which is easier said than done, sometimes.

Because my mouth is kinda dry .. I have to drink plenty of water (or orther liquids) with meals, which tends to dilute the digestive acids in your (chemo'ed) stomach.

I dont know if this is the reason why .. but I cannot eat like I did before. I get full much more quickly and almost never feel hungry. So I have to MAKE myself eat .. even when I'd rather not. Or when my stomach would rather not.

I know when I need to eat because I start getting spacy, lightheaded, sometimes even dizzy. After bending over to pick up something off the floor, I sometimes get the swirlies. Where I look for something sturdy to grab hold of until it passes.

Sorta like the feeling you might get on a roller coaster. Then I eat and soon after I am feeling less ditzy. More normal.

Now physical activity does indeed stimulate a degree of hunger, but anything more than a 10 or 15 minute walks wipes me out for a day or two (or three, sometimes).

So I try to thread the needle and exert physical energy, but not so much as to wipe me out .. at least not for more than a day. (One day is okay.)

And what if they find something on the PET scan? The clinical trials girl said » "Then we would have to come up with NEW PLAN."

Dude, I do not want any new plan. No, sir. I am so done with all this squamous-cell carcinoma stuff. Trust me.

» Telling on Myself

Another thing that I have noticed about cancer is that » it makes you depend on God, more.

Most healthy American males earning decent coin have little need for God. Maybe I am telling on myself, but I feel that my statement applies to an accurate generalization.

And I have been reading that booK » Christ the Healer (1925, like Gatsby), by FF Bosworth (1877-1958)

[ 1877 is when Tolstoy published Anna Karenina, perhaps the greatest novel written. In any language. Ever!

Tho, yes it's true .. that Dostoevsky called Tolstoy a mere "historian, not a novelist".

Who does not like a good historical novel? ]

Which is an aggregate grouping of sermons that Bosworth preached. He clearly takes pains to cultivate scriptural accuracy. To a remarkable degree.

It has my head spinning nicely. Thought-provoking ideas. Deep.

I cant read very much of it because it is so rich .. so much to think about, so thought-provoking. Sometimes one or two paragraphs keep me preoccupied from moving on ..

.. like I feel like I am just not grasping what is being said. Conceptually.

I somehow feel uncomfortable moving on before I feel comfotable that I have grasped the essence of the section I am reading. The average section is only a few pages, if that, so we're not talking about a lot a text, and I am no dummy, intellectually.

And sometimes, after reading a section a good number of times .. I will see something that I didnt see before. And I can hear myself talking to myself » "Dude, you read this section a bunch of times .. how could you not have seen this before?"

I dont know about you .. but for me, when I read something that strikes my consciousness .. in an illuminating sort of way .. in a Fourth of July sort of way .. I tend to miss what comes after that moment.

If you study up on mp3 encoding (.. or any audio encoding, for that matter) .. which is generally designed to produce (evoke, retain, preserve) the maximum audio quality while (at the same time) minimizing the amount of information (bits, bytes, kilobytes) used to describe that sound ..

.. uh, you will find that the encoders can safely discard the bits of a quiet part when it comes directly after the loud part. The loud part causes your ear to miss the quiet part.

So I am guessing that this is sorta-kinda the reason why I am missing some of these parts. Because yes, it does seem odd.

But this stuff is too personal for me to discuss, because it feels intimate. Not for public consumption.

I will say that I have gone beyond the verses that Bosworth highlights .. to include the verses before and after .. to get a sense of context.

I may return to list, perhaps, the top dozen verses, in chronological_order, or perhaps in order of importance. I could do that. Definitely must include the passage about the fiery serpents. Tho, if I start adding commentary, all bets would be off.

But the thought comes to you .. that the cancer was a good thing .. because it caused you to seek out things that you normally wouldnt have.

And that is where I got the title for today's entry .. when a voice in my head said » Cancer is no friend.

Your priorities also change. Rather dramtically. Things that used to be important are now » eh, not so much.

I mean from the very instant that you receive 'the call'. Truly a remarkable thing .. that you simply are in no position to appreciate at the time.

And I have been thinking about my life .. and where I have been .. and what I have done .. what I have accomplished.

Because of this 'advanced' perspective of where I am now, I can look back and see the things, the points, the events that proved consequential. Things which, at the time, did not seem very much out of the ordinary.

And I could easily identify one of these times. One of therse points. One of these events. To which I have assigned the code-name (and my provisional title, which always changes) » The Secret Lighthouse at Thousand Steps Beach in South Laguna.

And that would involve the Film school girl. So I may have to discuss her. I feel that we have safely passed the statute of emotional limitations. But she would not be the main focus of that piece .. like I have done with others.

An unexpected fork in the road. (You know how life will do ya, sometimes.)

Forks with turns so severe that you find yourself wondering » "How the fuck did I get here?"

It will definitely challenge me. And dropping little breadcrumbs like this is how I trick myself into doing it. Otherwise I will just do something easier.

But before I describe that .. I first want to mention a couple of things .. quickly, which we can return to later, because my exploration of key point #1 will no doubt take some time. Because I have been thinking about it, lately.

But first let me share this link about a (modern) Russian writing » How the Russians Lost the War. Because I see parallels with our own country today, which I may return to detail for you.

This one of Fitzgerald chillin' on the French Riviera is lots of fun. And if you like that, I bet you'll love this one.

And here is one about a constructive idea to address the inequality that currently exists in our dysfunctional criminal justice system.

I would also like to write a piece on » the thing that makes Dostoevsky Dostoevsky. But it seems like a tall order, so I want to be ready. So it probably wont happen until after these tests are done.

How and Why Dostoevsky » Sees So Clearly Across Class/Social Lines

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)But I can see now where Dostoevsky got his knack, his flair for seeing acutely into social differences ..

.. and the relationships that these differences ('inequalities'?) produce.

Because his dad (Dr. D. the physician) was originally not a part of new nobility that was instituted under Peter the Great (1672-1725) for exceptional civil service.

But then he does become nobility (for exceptional civil service as a doctor), which comes with the right to own land.

But you have to buy it. It isnt just given to you. (Like I thought.) But a few generations back, the family (on dad's side) WAS nobility .. in Lithuania. But along the way, one of the ancestors fell on hard times and lost everything.

And then, three years after becoming a nobleman, dad buys a small estate and (a year later) a whole freaking 'hamlet' .. which comes with serfs.

So the family (history) IS a member of the land-owning gentry, and then they're not. And then they are again, but not really, cuz, altho they are officially part of 'nobility' in early nineteenth century Russia, they are poor as shit and deeply in debt .. from purchasing the hamlet.

Doctors in nineteenth century Russia didnt get paid very much. More prestige than money.

So Dostoevsky, as a boy, is going to be exposed to this family history of criss-crossing back-n-forth across social class lines .. and also interacting with serfs, which are sorta like slaves. Plus, in prison and at the camp, he lived with peasants.

So I can see how all these foundational factors are going to influence him and train his eye to see the nuances of class differences.

He was sorta living in both worlds, yet neither one fully.

Anyway I am finding many more similarities between my life/family and his. I am starting to see why I am drawn to him. Why I understand him. Why we resonate.

Similarly, I can also see why he is so at ease in discussing religious themes .. and this is because religion played a much larger role in the life of the nineteenth century Russian .. than it does here in the United States in Third Millenium (Twenty-First Century).

While Dostoevsky still represents something of a mystery for me .. he no longer seems such the mystery.

» Dostoevsky's Dad Reminds Me of My Own Dad

I have finished the first chapter on family which finishes by getting rather deep into his love-hate relationship with his father.

Reading that part actually fucked me up .. fucked up my head .. had me feeling very agitated (.. even more agitated than dealing with cancer).

The way the father is described reminds me of my own father. I will get some quotes for you later.

But the essence of it .. is that the dad may be fucked up, but he really tried and he did a lot of good stuff, too. So you cant just be mad at him .. because there's a lot about him that you DO like (love).

But this doesnt mean that the fucked up parts of him didnt fuck you up .. but causing you to warp your own personality in order to adapt to your parent's (rather severe) dysfunction(s). And even their neuroses.

And the book captures this so well .. that it took me away .. to distant emotional plces that I didnt even know were there.

Like I said .. I was feeling very agitated.

In some ways Dostevsky's father was worse, and in others my father was worse.

There were parts where I found myself wishing that own dad were more like Dostoevsky's dad. And there were other parts where I thought that I simply couldnt handle some of the shit that his dad put him through.

Upsetting to even think about.

His mom died before his dad died .. which is the same thing that happened to me. Lots of little parallels like that.

Such as he also had a great mom. Makes it easy for me to relate. But especially his complex feelings toward his dad. At least, for right now.

This is not the passage that I was referring to earlier, but rather a telling excerpt that shines a light on where his talents and strengths lie and maybe even why. See here »

Hallmark of His Genius » Exploring Psychological Paradoxes

The ambivalence of Dostoevsky's emotions about his father was also, unquestionably, of the greatest significance for his future. No doubt it was the fluctuations of his own psyche between resentment and filial piety that he first glimpsed the psychological paradoxes ..

.. whose exploration became the » hallmark of his genius.

And anyone can locate the emotive roots of his Christian ideal in the evident desire of the young Dostoevsky to resolve this ambivalence by an act of self-transcendence, a sacrifice of the ego through identifiction with the other (in this case, his father).

I actually get that. Perhaps a little too clearly.

» Angelina Calls

Irvine avenue separates Newport Beach from Costa Mesa .. where I used to live, a few blocks away. On the Newport Beach side, sits my favorite coffee shop. Right across the street (in Costa Mesa) sits Al's New York Pizza ..

.. where I used to take my son & his girlfriend Angelina every week.

When you read this heading title, I know you were thinking that Angelina Jolie called. But actually it was an even-better Angelina.

Angelina's grampa called (who's in his 80's now, but still going strong) and said » "Hey. We're here at Al's Pizza. And Angie was wondering how you were doing."

I was so happy to hear from her. Such a sweetheart. And she has the cutest girl voice. I was floating .. the whole day.

It's amazing how therapeutic the genuine concern and affection from children can be. Especially when they are appreciated and treated that way.

"Are you getting a slice of pineapple pizza?" I asked. Cuz that is what she usually ordered. That, or the lasagna. (Everything at Al's is super yummy.) But her favorite was always Al's garlic bread.

It's just a little hole-in-the-wall with great Italian food. Always busy. And crazy-busy around the meal-times. Kinda cramped inside, but this part of its allure. Because the kids loved it. Dozens of times.

And they always had to get some Skittles from the 25-cent dispenser. They would gladly ditch the pizza for the Skittles .. if you let 'em.

I miss those guys .. maybe more than I realized.

Gramps was a pilot in the Air Force until he retired. Grew up on a farm in the mid-West.

So you can probably understand why he is the undisputed master of playing (the game) » Flight (at Armor Games). His record » 38 days.

Sometimes, if we wanted to get downright decadent, we would take them for frozen yogurt after pizza.

Many times, his mom picked him up there .. after going for a run on the beach.

Anyway, good memories. So I called my son and told him. He said that the next cool game that he wants is » Kerbel Space Program ($40).

Where you build your own space program (think: NASA), and (the coolest part ») design your own spaceships. And also » Five Nights at Freddy's.

And he got his own PC laptop, too. For homework and play. 17-inch, just like mine. But his is an Asus.

He said » "This is actually my second laptop. The first was even laggier than yours [my old one] when I tried to play Minecraft."

And his electric bike still runs fine.

But I must say .. this is freaking me out a little. I mean, it seems like I was just pushing him in the stroller and wiping his poopy butt. And now he has an Asus.

A part of me seems unable to deal with that. Or grasp it. Or wrap my head around it. Maybe it's the chemo.

But I felt the same way when I picked him up at Surf Camp. Surf camp on the Balboa peninsula in Newport Beach. Not very far from the pier.

Where you think » "This shit is moving way too fast."

"Can we go to Subway, dad? I'm starving. There's one right around the corner."

Anyway, speaking of my son and his new laptop .. I've been thinking about what this lady, Eva Moskowitz, who is the founder of Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City .. said near the end of this video » "We teach coding to every kindergartener. It's a language. A language they need to know."

They teach coding to kindergarteners. Wow. That definitely torqued my cranium a good turn or two.

It's a new world. (And I'm certainly feelin' good.)

To be continued...