Too Much To Think About

I spoke with my oncologist yesterday and she said my MRI came back negative for any melanoma in my brain. So again I get good medical news. But, I still have more to do. I am scheduling another round of surgery to remove more lymph nodes from my groin, which will hopefully show no additional micrometastatic melanoma. After that, I will need to schedule my treatment, which leaves me in a bit of a quandary.

The standard treatment is Interferon, which is an IV drip five days a week for four weeks, followed by three self-injections a week for another eleven months. There are potentially miserable side effects, which may slow me down or, worst case, make me so ill I have to stop treatment. On the other hand, they’ve offered me a clinical trial of Ipilimumab, which has worked for people with Stage IV melanoma. The thing is even if I sign on for the clinical trial, there’s only a 50% chance I’ll get the Ipilimumab. Otherwise, I get Interferon. My gut reaction is to just go with the standard treatment, but given the small (in my mind) benefit to doing the Interferon, why not try the trial?

I love how every website and every book on cancer says the same thing: When your doctor recommends a treatment, ask them what they would do if it was their family member. I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m pretty sure they’d recommend their family member do whatever treatment is available. The only times I could see wanting a second opinion is if they told me to do nothing, or if they said I was going to die in the next six months. Otherwise, I kind of feel like they all tell me the same thing.

Either way, I need to take a decision because I can start treatment about three to four weeks after surgery. It sounds odd, but for me, having cancer is more of an annoyance than a deadly disease. I’m ecstatic my melanoma isn’t an immediately life-threatening situation, but I don’t feel like it’s … Important? Relevant? Significant? I don’t have a sense of urgency.

This seems to be a trend for things in my life. I have cancer, but it’s not too bad (day surgery, no pain, all tests show negative for additional cancer). I deployed to Afghanistan, but the closest I came to combat was watching Band of Brothers (I didn’t even wear body armor for the last six months, I had access to decent espresso with the Portuguese and I had hot showers every day). I refuse to call myself a combat veteran and I’m even embarrassed to cal myself a veteran at all. Likewise, I’m embarrassed to say I have cancer because so many other people have real cancer and I “only” had a little spot on the back of my leg. I don’t want to get shot at and I don’t want real cancer.

So then there are all these protests against Wall Street or rich people or Robber Barons or whatever. I’ve tried to ignore them because my life is hectic enough without worrying about other people’s problems. I checked out the website where the protester folk are posting up their stories and (1) I feel bad for some of the people who have rough lives, (2) I have no pity for the whiners who have to pay back student loans and (3) I can’t understand the people whose comments seem to boil down to “Life is not fair.”

If you actually spent money on a degree in creative writing, you deserve to not be able to find a job in your chosen career field. Quite frankly, if you’re inclined to be good at creative writing you don’t need a college degree. If you’re complaining about the fact your job doesn’t pay as much as your last job or you don’t get all the benefits you used to, keep looking for something better or talk to your boss about taking on more responsibility.

I had crappy civilian jobs where I felt I was underutilized and underpaid. I worked to get the full-time job in the Guard because I hated how I perceived I was treated in the civilian workplace. Since coming on AGR, I routinely work more than 50 hours a week. While deployed, I worked seven days a week for an average of sixteen hour days – that’s 117 hours a week. In each of the past three years (no counting my year deployed), I lost leave. I earn 30 days of leave a year and can carry over a maximum of 75 days. I lost 40 days (15 days, 15 days, 10 days) because I was too busy or urgent meetings came up or I had sudden job changes. Is this the American Dream? Not by a long shot, but I chose this life and when you deal yourself a hand of cards, you play the hand you’re dealt. If you don’t like it, work to change it.

I don’t feel like complaining about my job and I don’t have the energy to talk about all the opportunities I have to succeed in it, either. It is good to follow someone who dropped the ball, though.

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