Tag Archives: cancer

November of this Long Fucking Year

I write a hostile headline like that and you think I’m just going to be ranting like a madman.  I won’t be.  It’s actually been, for the most part, a very good month.

First, I Turned 42

Eh, maybe that’s not all that exciting or great, but it was time spent with friends and I can’t complain too much about where things are.  Knock on wood.

Larry made birthday cupcakes for me – I am definitely on board with that.  I think he may have been even more motivated because of the cake caddy that we bought when bringing a cake over for my mom’s birthday!

On the night of my birthday, a few of my bestest friends went over to the French restaurant in Highland Park called Cote Est.   The same people who run this also run Barbrix and All’acqua, so you know it’s good.  And this was no exception – we ended up spending like 3-4 hours there just eating, drinking, and having a fun time.

We Got Some Very Good News regarding Larry

Larry got a follow-up PET scan done the Friday before my birthday, but we didn’t get the results for a few days.  Larry’s 9th round of chemo occurred the week following my birthday, which was also a week when Fran & Joel came back out to visit and spend time with their boy.  So it was very much a happy coincidence that while they were out here, we also got the news about the PET scan results.   On Wednesday’s follow-up to remove the pump, one of the nurses let us know that he’d seen the results and while Larry would need to talk to the doctor, the results were realllly good.  And then on Thursday, they were all there for the Nulasta shot and had a chance to talk to Dr. Arzoo – and he basically said that the triplet chemo we’ve been doing has created results that are as good as could be hoped for.

Larry’s liver had been previously covered in hundreds of spots, which we knew about but didn’t actually want to see the pictures of.  We still haven’t seen pictures, but there’s basically only one 4x4cm spot remaining in his liver after the chemo he’s been getting…which is incredible.   The reason we didn’t have a parade though is that the reality is that this is still not over.   Dr Arzoo wants us to continue the current regimen of chemo, meaning basically finish it up through the end of the year.   I think we can push to at least reduce the oxyplatin as that is causing the neuropathy and Larry’s neuropathy symptoms are getting more intense and longer to recede.  We have to roll that back before the nerve damage is permanent.

Then there is the fact that this is considered a chronic condition – and that there will be some form of reduced chemo for at least another year.   Nothing as long and intense as what he’s getting now, which is good, but it’s not that we’ve ‘beaten the cancer.’  We actually may never ‘beat’ it – at least for the time being, but medical breakthroughs happen all the time.   Anyway, we have an appt with a UCLA liver specialist this week (he is the doc we spoke to about a second opinion this summer) and we should hopefully be able to get more information about next steps, whether it’s continued chemo or who knows, maybe some kind of surgery to cut the spot out?  That’s all guesses on my part, but it will be good to have an idea of what the next phase is.   But the fact is, while there’s a lot of ‘Yeah, but’ above, the chemo did its job and Larry is in a far better state than in July.  We just are processing the reality of his condition.

Fran & Joel Came Out for a Little Bit

They came out and stayed at the newly opened Hyatt Place down the street from our apartment on Central Ave in Glendale.   It’s a perfect location for them as well as us, as it’s on the way to all the restaurants from our place.  It was wonderful that they could be around when all this good news was coming through about Larry’s cancer, plus it was just nice to spend time with them.   We did take them out to eat a few times – and in fact, we ended up going back to Cote Est just a week later than the last time we were there as it’s really that good of a place to visit!

I also ended up getting my birthday gift from Larry while they were out – Larry was way too kind and got me a new Apple Watch!!!   I am a huge fan of this thing and a few weeks into owning it, I can’t imagine not having it.   It’s just the best device.  It’s the freakin’ future.

We did take Fran and Joel to visit the latest at the Glen LA, but I figure I’ll group those pictures together at the bottom of this post as then we took Michancy this weekend to see it and there was some significant progress witnessed this time too!

They wanted an LA brunch before leaving, so we took them to one of the fun places in Hollywood we’d been to before, Madera.   Goood times and good food, and loud music.  🙂

Dear Evan Hansen w/ Nicki

It has been a little bit of time since we’d seen a show (Come From Away back in May, I think, when we saw that in NYC) so when Nicki reached out to see if we’d want to see Dear Evan Hansen at the Ahmanson, it was like duh.  It was on a Saturday night so we had the ability to get some food beforehand, so we met up at Bottega Louie for a fabulous Italian dinner, then took an Uber to the Ahmanson.   Last time that Larry & I had been there was seeing Les Miserables 25th Anniversary staging of the show – which was an event unto itself.  Anyway, concerning the show itself – I really liked the staging and the music, but the story and plot were a bit interesting to consider. Obviously, it’s a damn musical – but it’s not that the situation was fantastical or unrealistic, it was that the main character is taking advantage of a situation that benefits himself and another family…only up until the truth of the situation gets out.   I’m being vague to not spoil anything, but it’s just hard to feel sad or empathy after a certain point with Evan Hansen as it’s like, come on, dude, this is fucked up.  So yeah, it was good….but also, I didn’t love it because of the above.  Whaddya gonna do.

Fireball Island!!!!

I subscribed to a Kickstarter for Fireball Island early this year as hello, Fireball Island was one of my favorite games as a 10yo kid.  I don’t know what happened to my original game (probably grew out of it and thought I was too cool for school) but when I saw a post on Kotaku about this being Kickstarter’d, I was IN.   I was IN for a lot too, as I ended up basically buying nearly every option.   Happily, they met their Kickstarter goal by a LOT and for the last few months, the updates were all about production and getting distribution lined up.  This past month or so was all about the games going out, and I was hoping it would be here for Thanksgiving and happy day, it was delivered!  We did get to play it finally with Michancy and I gotta say, I love it.   The new version has a lot more sophistication and structure to it, but there’s nothing so satisfying as getting to launch a fireball and it takes out your intended target.  It’s wonderful.

Michancy Visits for Thanksgiving

It isn’t Thanksgiving if Michancy doesn’t come down to visit!  It had actually been since last Thanksgiving when we saw her last, but a lot of curveballs were introduced obviously this summer, so not unsurprising.  It was really good to see her.   I think we had hopes to have been in the new house by this point, but that was not the case and so Michancy did get to enjoy the fact that we rearranged the office to allow for a bit more room when the air bed is set up.

On Thursday, Thanksgiving ended up just being the three of us as mom wasn’t feeling well, so we had a lot of food (from Whole Foods, again, as that option is the best option around for hosting Turkey Day).   We did drink plenty of wine but it was NOTHING like last year’s ridiculousness.  Still can’t believe how much wine was drank then.  We also played Fireball Island and I am so happy about that.  We went and saw Widows on Friday (it was okay, but somewhat disappointing), ate plenty of good meals, she got to see the house in its most current state, and then on Saturday she took off back to Vegas.  Her luck was awful though as there was an accident at the top of the Cajon Pass, holding her up for almost 3 hours.  Then it only got worse, and she finally got home like 8-9 hours after leaving.  That is not good.   I wouldn’t be surprised if she never came back this way again!  But we loved having her around so much.

Larry and I have had the remainder of the weekend to ourselves – first we did go to my mom’s yesterday to have Thanksgiving Round 2, as one can’t not have a turkey dinner this weekend.  She also has a good amount of turkey leftovers too for further meals.  Today Larry & I had brunch with Nicki and her sister and mother, who were in town for Thanksgiving.  Went to Republique in LA which was wonderful.   Then we went to see Ralph Breaks the Internet and it was fantastic.  Stay through to the very end of the credits, especially if you loved this part of the trailer:

And now it’s the end of the 4-day weekend!  BOOOO.

Updates from the Glen LA:

Before you leave though, here are pictures of the place at the Glen LA.   The first set is from the second week of November and is when we saw that we had tile in all our bathrooms and all the exterior work was finished!   It was exciting.

The best news that visit though was the fact that the gas company had FINALLY connected Phase 1.   At least part of it.  So people in Phase 1 finally closed escrow on their homes – not only that, while we were there, we saw some of those people moving in!   It was kind of…stunning.   It’s actually going to happen.  Our date is currently the later half of December – we’ll just have to see if that holds.  I have my doubts, but you never know.

The next set of pictures are from this past Friday – and while in the set above the tile was down, the hardwood floors were not.   Well, that’s not the case anymore!  All the floors are down, except for carpeting on the stairs, which won’t happen till the very end.   Even more, there’s running water in the unit, along with toilets and sink fixtures.   No power or gas yet, but it’s coming along!!!

Anyway, on to December 2018.  Let’s end this fucking year right.

Catching Up on the Last Few Weeks

I’ve been pretty bad at updating, as is my way.  So I’ll try to rectify that here, with some pictures and general “here’s how it’s been going” updates.  Long story short though, Larry has been doing pretty damn great during Rounds 2 & 3 of chemo. A brief update on the chemo story:  For Rounds 1 & 2 of his chemo, we were doing a “doublet” chemo treatment called Folfox.  I’ve linked to a site that kind of explains it so I don’t have to get into the weeds.  This treatment approach is the typical standard one for colorectal cancers, and so that’s what our oncologist recommended.   The goal though was to see how Larry took to these and if the side effects were going to be too much. Because his port surgery was still within 4 weeks, we did not do the +Avastin though, as that is the drug that inhibits capillary growth, to stop both cancer cells from building out but also good stuff, so healing Larry’s surgery scars would have been impeded.  But we did Folfox for the first 2 rounds and while he definitely did experience neuropathy as expected, and of course fatigue and occasional nausea, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t manage.  And by the time each 2nd week came around, Larry felt pretty good.  So by the time it came time for Round 3, the onocologist (Dr Arzoo, who is an amazing man and doctor) let Larry decide if he wanted to increase the treatment potency.  There is a “triplet” chemo treatment that has been shown to be very effective too, Folfoxiri.  It’s more aggressive and comes with heightened side effects, namely much more diarrhea.  Dr Arzoo was supportive if we were wanting to go for this, and after some consideration, Larry was on board.  It definitely adds more time to the chemotherapy process on Monday, and the neuropathy seems to be heightened, but the dreaded constant diarrhea really didn’t manifest for Larry.  He’s been actually doing pretty good during this Round, which is certainly hopeful for us.  Really hoping that will remain the case as we go into Round 4 tomorrow.  All thoughts and good vibes are appreciated!

Here are some pictures from Round 2, on July 30, 2018

Why don’t I have pictures from Round 3 two weeks later?  Well, that’s because Fran came in to spend some time with her boy!  Only one visitor is allowed at a time, so I stayed home while she went in for the Round 3 super dose.  I had told her that it wasn’t such a long day, but Folfoxiri + Avastin does take a long time, so my bad!  I’ll get to be there for the long day tomorrow.  Anyway, before she accompanied Larry on that Monday, we picked her up on the Sunday before from LAX.  Taking advantage of the fact that we don’t typically spend much time on the West Side anymore, we planned an outing to the Century City mall – and went to Eataly for lunch!

Eataly @ Century City on Aug 12, 2018:

As far as other stuff that happened since, here are some pictures and stuff! One of the things Larry & I saw at the Hollywood Bowl was a live performance of Annie – which was amazing.  Much like Mamma Mia last year, it’s basically putting on the Broadway show but keeping the sets from being too over the top.  In both of these cases, the sets actually were pretty flexible in that they took advantage of rotating sets to great effect.  In Annie, the letters themselves were able to be used as various locations by rotating them around to show they were hollow and had sets in them.  AWESOME. The cast of Annie, especially the lead and then the celebrity cast that filled in the other main starring roles, were all amazing.  Ana Gasteyer was great as Mrs. Hannigan as was David Alan Grier as Daddy Warbucks.  The girl who played Annie was fantastic.  I love the songs too, and they didn’t disappoint with numbers like “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”, “Tomorrow”, and “Maybe” (and everything else, of course).

Annie @ the Hollywood Bowl, July 28, 2018

Early this month, Larry & I went back to the Glen to see how our house was coming along.  No drywall up (although we have heard that has started this week!) but we got to see that all the electrical and plumbing is in, as are all the windows, and a lot of the clutter on the floors was gone, so it was much easier to walk around and imagine the future.

The Glen LA, Aug 5, 2018

The day before Fran arrived in town, Larry, my mom, and I went to the Hollywood Bowl to go watch The Empire Strikes Back accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra.  It’s a phenomenal movie and has one of the more iconic soundtracks – obviously it’s the movie that first used the Imperial March, but it also has such great themes such as the love theme and the stupendous Asteroid theme.  It was a pleasure to hear it play out live.  Plus there were so many lightsabers in play it was a joy to see them all come out when certain actions or musical moments came on, notably when the Imperial March played.

The Empire Strikes Back @ the Hollywood Bowl, Aug 11, 2018

I have been working basically from home while Larry is going through this.  With the stuff I’ve been working on lately, that’s been an option.  I do go in occasionally though just to make sure people see me or when others let me know they’ll be in.  In this case, my ex-work wife Barb let me know she was going to be downtown one day AND she wanted to take me to lunch!  How could I refuse that offer?  Fran took Larry duty (I kid, honestly – he doesn’t need such attention) and I went in and met her at her new office neighborhood and she then surprised me by saying we were going to 71 Above, the restaurant which resides at the top of the US Bank building.  It was spectacular, and since we got there around 11:45am, we beat the rush and got window seats.  It’s kind of nuts.  The food was fantastic, and I definitely appreciated her generosity!

Lunch w/ Barb @ 71 Above, Aug 16, 2018

It’s been a blur though, to be honest.  I can’t believe we’re on to Round 4 tomorrow, and that Fran has come and gone already.   There was fun to be had, as we did go and see Crazy Rich Asians which was awesome (go see it), we’d go for walks to keep Larry active, made dinners at home, Fran and I drank wine, she’d watch a lot of her British Netflix shows, and overall it was just an easy time, thankfully. So here’s hoping the good vibes continue.  We’d love to learn that the chemo is doing its job, but we won’t know how well it’s working for a little bit longer.  Dr Arzoo has mentioned we’ll test levels after Round 6.  In the meantime, positivity and confidence it’s all working out are the order for the day. In random news, I’m in love with this mop I saw at Bed Bath & Beyond:
My absolute joy
I got it and I used it yesterday at home and never again will I use those stupid Swiffer Wet Jet things.  Such a waste of paper and resources those things are.  This mop has a built-in spinner function to help you both wash the mop head and then a salad-spinner thing that helps you rinse off excess water before using it.   I’m sad to report that our floors were filthy, but damn if they’re not clean now!

Week One Complete + All Sorts of Other Stuff

Yep, the first week of Larry’s chemotherapy is complete.  It’s been a whirlwind, a rollercoaster, and exhausting, and I don’t recommend it for anyone.  But it’s all in service of the fight that we will be winning, and I am frankly glad to get it started.  No more quarter for these fucking cancer cells in Larry’s liver.  No. More. Quarter.   Get the fuck out.

The beginning of the week was when Larry had to go and sit in the treatment center for about 3 hours hooked up to an IV.  He’s taking the Folfox treatment chemotherapy which is the standard method of treating colorectal cancer.  We didn’t do Avastin this round, which will likely be back for Round 2.   With this therapy regimen, Larry will go every 2 weeks.

On day one of each cycle, he’ll get chemo in the center.  Before he leaves, the staff then attaches an infusion pump that attaches to his port and he carries around with him, which keeps administering the chemo.  He keeps the pump with him for the next 48 hours, and after that, can then go back in and have the pump removed.   His regimen is then over for the next 1.5 weeks.  All things considered, it is something he has to deal with for like a full 2 days, but after that, he can get back to just building his strength and living his life.

Obviously it doesn’t come without side effects.   Neuropathy, nausea, and fatigue are the main ones we experienced, but I don’t think they were too overwhelmingly bad this round.   I don’t know what we can expect as this continues, but I do know the key is to keep him eating, drinking, and exercising.  So that’s what we’ll be doing, dammit.

To prepare for naps and relaxation on the couch, we got some help from Nicki to go to our storage unit and grab the chaise part of the sectional couch.  We’d put it away as our apartment just really wasn’t big enough to have it present…but now it’s like, fuck it, we want to be comfortable!

Honestly, while the walking space was intruded upon, you can still get by.   And it’s amazing to have a full couch again.  You can truly sit a few people there now to watch TV!  And I like having a chaise option to sit in.  Sometimes you don’t want to chill in the chair, right?

On the weekend before chemo, on Saturday, July 14, Larry and I happily made it out to the Hollywood Bowl.  We’d had to miss our first planned show around July 4 as we just weren’t feeling good enough to make it, but Larry’s made huge progress in feeling back to normal, at least as much as he can.  It was a huge happiness to make it to the Bowl this time though, as the performers were Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald.   Yep, the Kings of Yacht Rock were all together, and the songs and performances were amazing.  AMAZING!  And that place was sold the fuck out, as obviously many are unashamed in their love of smooth pop rock!

Anyway, that concert was a nice thing to have right before heading into chemo.  We got through the week of chemo with its ups and downs, but this isn’t really the place to go into all of that.  Just know that Larry made it like a champ, and he will continue to fight to be free of this cancer.  His youth will be an asset and we’re going to take advantage of that in this fight.

So on Friday night, Mila and Sveta dropped by and it was just a blast.  We had dinner, talked, drank wine (well, Sveta and I did), watched TV (showed Sveta the first episode of Pose, which is one of our favorite recent shows as it’s glorious) and just overall had an amazingly fun evening.

On Saturday morning, Larry & I went for a brisk walk around Glendale, and Brand Blvd was shut down in advance of the annual car thing they do here.   So here are some pics of that:

This weekend, we had yet another Hollywood Bowl concert in store!   On Saturday, July 21, it was a screening of the movie Jaws accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra.  As a reminder, Jaws is a fantastic movie, and even with it being 40+ years old, it still thrills and kicks ass.  Seeing it with a giant crowd makes it even more fun, as it was clear there were some who weren’t ready for some of the scares.   Chief Brody’s snap to attention when the shark nearly takes his arm off is still fantastic.

And now it’s today!  We just came back from seeing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! and gotta say…it WAS FANTASTIC.  So much fun, they got some of the deeper ABBA cuts into the song (“Andante, Andante” was a particular delight), the new members of the cast portraying the younger versions were amazing, CHER was wonderful, and the story ended up being very poignant.  The ending scene might have made me cry just a LOT.  But then there were the upbeat numbers to “Waterloo”, “Dancing Queen”, and happily, “Super Trouper” that just made my heart swell with happiness.  ABBA is the fucking best and will always be.  And I’ve heard that Cher is going to release an album of ABBA covers and that just makes me so happy.  Anyway, go see it, you’ll be very happy you did so.

Finally – I have to share that my Daily Double clue from my game way back in 2016 ENDED UP IN THE 2018 JEOPARDY DAILY CALENDAR!!!  And it’s today!   And I’m so stoked.  I had seen my super bestie from the taping (Vicki) had posted a few weeks back in the J! group that her clue had showed up in the calendar.  I had bought the 2017 calendar thinking maybe my clues would be in it, but I think that the production schedules of that never would sync up – so it makes sense our clues wouldn’t show up until 2018.   So I was motivated to find a copy of the calendar (got it on eBay) and quickly flipped through it to find anything that looked familiar…and there it was on July 22!   It’s not correct that it was a Final Jeopardy (I WISH), but still, I’m psyched that my question made it:

This Guy

You may have seen some of the Facebook posts I’ve put up over the last month or so having to do with Larry.   We’re going through what we’ll have to call our “cancer period.”  Yeah, Larry has cancer.  More accurately, he has colorectal cancer which spread from his colon to his liver.   Fortunately, it has not spread beyond the liver.   Spreading to the liver is the typical place that colon cancer travels to if it does spread, so right now we’re dealing with “run of the mill” colon cancer that’s spread.   We obviously are relieved it hasn’t spread further.   There’s lots of emotion right now about the whole situation – some of it is fear, some of it is anger, and a lot of it is hope.  Lots of the latter, honestly, but there are days when the other emotions can threaten to overwhelm hope.   I don’t like those days.

Larry’s going to get his chemotherapy port installed on Tuesday.  A port allows a much more efficient way to administer chemo and take blood without having to destroy a person’s veins.   Also, chemo can’t go directly into veins as it’s toxic.   He’ll then start chemotherapy shortly thereafter.   We have gone to get second opinions at another specialist doctor at UCLA and then another at City of Hope.   We think the therapy will be folfox avastin but City of Hope’s proposal was to do something called folfoxiri avastin.   Basically, it seems that folfox avastin is a ‘doublet’ treatment while folfoxiri avastin is a ‘triplet’ treatment.   You’re getting more drugs injected into you in the triplet and it’s much more aggressive at fighting the lingering cancer in the liver, but of course the toll is greater.   The City of Hope doctor believes Larry’s age will be an asset here and he’d be able to respond well to it.  So we’re currently in that stage of running that information by our current oncologist at UCLA/Burbank to see if he agrees.

All of these things are a lot to deal with.  Some days are better than others, emotionally.  Send out good vibes into the world for Larry, for everyone.  This diagnosis is so fucking messed up – he’s 43 and diagnosed with colon cancer.   You’re not even advised to get a colonoscopy on a regular basis until 50, although we’ve been learning that guidelines were recently changed advising it at 45, and thoughts are that it may even go lower because there are more and more incidents of early colon cancer being observed.

I’ll try to keep updates coming either here or on Facebook – the good vibes do help, as do the stories of people beating this.

I Talked About Jeopardy – and How You Can Too!

First Step:  Get on Jeopardy!  EASY.  Click here for those easy steps!  🙂  (Spoiler alert, that’s just all my posts related to Jeopardy – but perhaps you’ll get something out of it?)

Second Step:  ….

Third Step:  Profit!  errr….I mean, talk about your experience with other former contestants!

#JeopardyLivePanel – Season 3 Episode 9, Live Roundtable (December 17, 2016 8:00 PM Eastern)

I was graciously invited to participate in this fun Youtube / Google Hangout hosted by The Jeopardy! Fan, and I got to meet up with Amy, Bridget, and Chelsea who participated in shows this past week, in addition to also talking with Ryan who taped the same week as I did.   Talked about a whole host of things about the show, and before we knew it, 90 minutes had gone by!  So if you haven’t had your fix of seeing me on your screens, as well as hearing some of the great inside stories about filming episodes with the current champ, Cindy Stowell, check it out!

If you haven’t heard about Cindy, she’s the current bad-ass champion of Jeopardy who played the game while suffering from terminal cancer.  She was fighting through fever and weakness during these episodes and she has been playing like a boss.  The tragedy is that she died earlier this month, before her episodes started airing.  I know I didn’t expect to see her claim a victory, let alone FOUR!  And here she is, racking up the wins amidst all the external factors that would rightly be something that could knock others off their game.  Chelsea, who you’ll see in the video above, got a good idea started to donate money to the Cancer Institute, to the tune of $1 for each answer clue you get right on Jeopardy.  I haven’t been keeping track of that, but just donating money to them is a laudable action, with every bit helping.