Kenneth B. Lourie | Stories

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Kenneth B. Lourie

Stories by Kenneth B.

Column: 'Bulky Boy'

Although this title invokes the nickname of one of my three male cats – Andrew, to be specific – he is in fact not the point of th is column.

Column: Accommodate or Exacerbate

As a diagnosed-as-“terminal” cancer patient (is that better, Rebecca?), I feel I am due some accommodations. However, when offered or given, I am hesitant to accept (not always, though; I’ll be honest).

Column: B.D. Versus A.D.

If my experiences as a cancer patient/ “terminal” “diagnosee” are at all typical, then the following generalization might in fact be true: certain situations and/or feelings that were once tolerated before diagnosis are nearly impossible to tolerate after diagnosis: traffic, waiting in lines, rudeness, compromise, sacrifice, delayed/deferred gratification, to list just a few. Life becomes so much more precious, that wasting some of it – or the perception of wasting some of it – on unpleasant, unrewarding, aggravating, stressful, menial tasks, obligations, duties, etc. becomes almost too much to bear; on a consistent basis, anyway.

Column: Back on Track

Having reread last week’s column a time or two now, I’ve realized that I neglected to update you regular readers – especially those of you who read my most recent pre- and post-scan columns: “Abyssful” Ignorance and Scant Know For Sure Anymore – on the previous week’s scan results. Once again, I have defied the odds – maybe statistics would be a better word?

Column: On A Tangent

Not that I live day-to-day or even month-to-month, but I do live – in my head anyway – quarter-to-quarter; that interval representing the usual and customary time between my recurring diagnostic scans. The time when the rubber hits my road.

Column: 'Abyssful' Ignorance

Hopefully not. But you never know – per last week’s column, until you know. And the preferred pattern seems to be that waiting to be spoken to in person, a week or so post-scan, is the best the process can be; or at least, that’s the process that suits the doctor/HMO.

Column: 'Scant' Know For Sure Anymore

After six years, four months and two weeks since being diagnosed with stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer (the “terminal” kind), I can say with certainty that I have no sense of what my next CT scan, scheduled for July 15th, will indicate. Previously (multiple scans over multiple years), I’ve felt something in my upper chest/lungs where the largest tumors are located and the subsequent scan showed nothing of consequence.

Column: My Manifesto, Sort Of

Being diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer (no, they’re not all “terminal”) is “a heck of a thing,” to extrapolate a bit from Jim Valvano’s memorable 1993 ESPY Awards speech given a few months before he succumbed to his cancer.

Column: Quality of Life

Throughout my nearly six and a half years of cancer treatment, starting at the initial Team Lourie meeting on February 27, 2009, when my oncologist suggested I take that vacation I’ve always dreamed of (to which I exclaimed “WHAT!?”), my quality of life has always been important to him.

Column: Gone But Always Remembered

As Father’s Day approaches, (written Thursday, June 18th) I am reminded of one of my father’s standard lines which characterize his positive attitude on life, for which I am eternally grateful – because I inherited it.

Column: Philosophically Speaking

Recently I attended a “Celebration of Life” event, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, created to bring attention to, and educate the public on, cancer. As a long-time cancer survivor, nearly six and a half years now – and one treated by doctors at Kaiser, I was asked, along with a cervical cancer survivor, to sit on a “survivor panel”; to share our cancer experiences, and offer, along with two oncologists and a pulmonologist, our respective insights as “treater” and “treatee.”

Column: Weight For It; Wait

Given some post-chemotherapy eating challenges I’ve experienced during the past few months, and the subsequent weight loss which has occurred, my oncologist has prescribed Dronabinol, common brand name: Marinol.

Column: Mad Man

Really, Matthew Weiner; on the penultimate episode of “Mad Men,” Betty Draper/Francis had to be diagnosed with lung cancer with her life expectancy said to be “nine months,” with nothing more than “palliative care” available?

Column: Up and Down and All Around

Commentary

No. That’s not my stomach talking.

Column: In Contrast

Commentary

Even though my previous CT Scan “looked good,” nonetheless I am already, two months out, thinking about my next scan, scheduled for July 15. I am not nervous or anxious about it yet. But I am something.

Column: Why Fi?

Commentary

“That’s the dream; to have Wi-Fi in the car.” So says one of the focus group participants (“real people, not actors”) in a recent television commercial from Chevrolet. The answer is to a question asked of five adults to identify which car brand: Mercedes, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota, includes “Built-in Wi-Fi” in their product line.

Column: “CT Looked Good”

Commentary

Cryptic? Hardly. Words I can live with the for the next three months until my next CT Scan? Absolutely.

Column: Deep Space Mind

Commentary

A few years back (OKAY, more than a few years back; I’ll blame the cancer for my time lapse), there was a spin-off from the original Star Trek: Star Trek: The Next Generation captained by Jean-Luc Picard (a.k.a. Patrick Stewart) which itself spawned two other spin-offs: Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine (commanded by Avery Brooks, a.k.a. Captain Sisko).

Column: Pins and Needles

Commentary

This column isn’t about acupuncture or knitting, any more than last week’s column was about nausea.

Column: Up and Down and All Around

Commentary

No. That’s not my stomach talking.

Column: The Fact Is Not Yet The Matter

I don’t know which is worse: the extra-special, extra-expensive, dental cleaning (the kind that requires Novocain and involves the actual dentist, not merely the hygienist) that I have scheduled for April 8th – or my next hopefully-not-do-or-die CT Scan, moved up a month from my usual three-month interval because of a suspicious formation seen on my most recent scan back in mid-February.

Column: Manifest Destiny

I wouldn’t say I have symptoms (why would I say that? If I said that, I’d have to admit that cancer is having an effect on me.

Column: Health Matters More

I realize money doesn’t buy happiness, although I wouldn’t mind renting it.

Column: Money Matters

It always does, and there always are; especially if you have to work for a living and cancer is a part of that living.

Column: How Lucky Am I

You’ll note there’s no question mark after the “I.”

Column: Sole-Searching

There’s no denying the emotional fact that the CT Scan results I received and wrote about last week were a bit of a disappointment.

Column: Not So Late This Time

But real-time once again: February 20, 11 hours, approximately, after our regularly-scheduled, post-scan meeting with the oncologist at 10:00 this morning.

Column: Real-Time, Really Late

I’m not a night owl. More of an early bird, worms notwithstanding. But given the contents of last week’s column, “Scantsy,” I find it difficult to write about anything else while waiting for the results of my CT Scan.

Column: ‘Scantsy’

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to characterize the feelings I regularly experience during the final few weeks leading up to my every-three-month CT Scan, and even more so the feelings I experience waiting the following week or so to see my oncologist to discuss the results.

Column: The Past Future is Now Present

Presumably, maybe even obviously, nearly six years into a “terminal” diagnosis, arrangements for a smooth transition of power should have been made already.

Column: Traffic Caught

If I were writing this column in Massachusetts – where I was born and mostly educated (K-12), and had a thick Boston accent, that’s how court would likely be pronounced; changing a noun into a verb.

Column: Seasonal Seven Dwarfs

Sneezy, Coughy, Phlegmy, Stuffy, Achy. No-Sleepy and Post-Nasal Drippy; and no Doc, which is possibly what led to this column being written.

Column: $32.99 Plus Shipping

For one box of 54 petite Belgian waffle cookies in three delicious flavors: milk chocolate, dark chocolate and vanilla; an extravagance to be sure, available during the holidays; this recipient (actually, my wife, Dina, was the recipient) very happy to oblige and indulge.

Column: Down and Not Out, Yet

Thankfully (so far as I know, which isn’t very far), after a five-week interval between infusions, which included two additional weeks of pre-chemotherapy lab work and an out-of-the-ordinary 24-hour urine collection (“creatinine clearance”) to boot – to more accurately measure my kidney function in hopes of meeting a 1.6 threshold – muster was finally passed, and I was subsequently infused without any further adieu.

Column: Level Best

If I wanted to rationalize the benefit of delaying my heretofore every-three-week chemotherapy infusion from three weeks to four and now on to five, possibly six – and that’s dependent on improved results from a second/maybe even third retest upcoming (this retest a bit more involved than drawing blood) – I would say it’s only fitting that I should have a break/brake; after all, it is the holiday season when all good things; yada, yada, yada. If only it were that simple.

Column: The New Normal

Loosey goosey, I suppose. As much as one might prefer some predictability in their life (certainly a cancer patient would – I know I would), I may be entering a cycle of permanent unpredictability.

Column: A Level That’s Anything But

This is not a home improvement reference, but this is most definitely a do-it-yourself column.

Column: ‘Quality of Life’

If I’ve heard it once – from my oncologist – I’ve probably heard it a dozen times over the last nearly-six years.

Column: Since It Ain’t Broken...

Apparently, at least in the near term, we’re (meaning my oncologist) not going to fix it. And by fix it, I am referring to my chemotherapy infusion, which will continue to be every three weeks, as it has been for almost six years; save for a year or so when I was able to take pills at home, and on-site infusions were not necessary.

Column: ‘Shrinkage’

Not exactly “like a frightened turtle” as “similed” on a long-ago Seinfeld episode by Jerry himself; this shrinkage is the good kind, the kind you hope a radiological oncologist characterizes when viewing your CT Scan (computed tomography).

And The “Scancer” Is…

Unknown at this date – Saturday, November 15. In fact, it will be six days from now until we’ll know the results. As it is always scheduled, a week or so after my quarterly CT Scan, we will have our usual follow-up, face-to-face appointment with my oncologist. At this meeting, I am examined, and of course, the radiologist’s report of the most recent scan is discussed, and plans for the future – stay the course and/or adjust or switch altogether – are considered.

“Shrinkage”

Not exactly “like a frightened turtle” as “similed” on a long-ago Seinfeld episode by Jerry himself; this shrinkage is the good kind, the kind you hope a radiological oncologist characterizes when viewing your CT Scan (computed tomography). Specifically, the exact kind of scan I get every three months to assess and evaluate the tumors, and fluid, in my stage IV, non-small cell cancer-affected lungs.

Column: And The “Scancer” Is…

Unknown at this date – Saturday, November 15. In fact, it will be six days from now until we’ll know the results. As it is always scheduled, a week or so after my quarterly CT Scan, we will have our usual follow-up, face-to-face appointment with my oncologist.

Excuse Me

Early on during my indoctrination/assimilation into the cancer-patient world in which I now reside, I remember asking a fellow cancer patient/friend if I could use cancer as an excuse for whatever it was needed excusing (directly or indirectly related), and she said: absolutely, “blame the cancer.” Years later, after a chemotherapy infusion, I saw my oncologist walking through the Infusion Center and asked him if my thinning hair might be a result of this most recent chemotherapy drug (not all chemotherapy results in hair loss). His response was similar to what my friend had advised me in 2009. He said: “You can blame me,” (which of course, I understood to mean, cancer/the treatment of cancer) “for anything.”

Dos, Don’ts and What-Ifs

Instinctively, I am not the most open-to-new-ideas/new-things kind of person. However, an unexpected diagnosis of stage IV, non small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at age 54 and a half – along with its equally unexpected “13-month to two-year prognosis,” changes a few things. And thanks to a great friend, Rebecca Nenner, whom I have written about previously, I have/have had to become more open, and consequently, have assimilated into my life many non-Western, non-traditional alternatives (pills, supplements, super foods, activities/behaviors, etc.) with which I was totally unfamiliar (I’m a sports and chocolate kind of person), in an attempt to outlive my prognosis.

Column: Excuse Me

Early on during my indoctrination/assimilation into the cancer-patient world in which I now reside, I remember asking a fellow cancer patient/friend if I could use cancer as an excuse for whatever it was needed excusing (directly or indirectly related), and she said: absolutely, “blame the cancer.”

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