Monday, February 23, 2009

Appointments, Discussions, and Hair

Angie accompanied me to my visit to Dr. Amatruda last week. She had a particular question in mind. The question didn't have a particularly great answer for her to hear, but she needed to ask it and have it answered. Essentially the question was, "How long?" Dr. Amatruda began explaining, and then gave me a bit of a look to ask if it was okay to be blunt. The short answer he gave was "nine months".

She was very shaken, and I've put off writing this for a while now. I suppose I've understood that answer, but it was really the first time I'd heard it in those terms myself. During the course of this thus far, I've learned how the numbers game works, and I choose to fight my natural-born pessimism and look at this in an optimistic light.

As it so happens, tonight I found the following in one of my search feeds:
Nine months? If the statistics for Stage IV malignant melanoma applied to every patient, I wouldn't be writing this post. I would be dead already as the statistics point out.
I followed the link and found the following chart, which better expresses the optimistic view I try to focus on:

The odds are what they are, but I don't see any zeros.

Having confronted the numbers in this dark way, Angie and I have had many difficult talks regarding a less-than-optimistic outcome for me. "Hope and pray for the best, but prepare for the worst", so to speak. It isn't the most enjoyable exercise, but it's not something that scares me at this point -- Angie is a different story. We'll keep at it; it would be good if I could put my procrastination off a bit though.

On Friday I had my second chemo. This one went much like the first, with me napping through most of it. The staff is friendly and fun, so it's not an unpleasant experience. Afterwards I wasn't as tired as the first time around, but maybe that's because I had some idea now of what to expect. Saturday I may have been a little bit too much "business as usual" because I was pretty worn out on Sunday.

Going back to a moment before Tuesday's appointment last week, my hair had begun falling out in clumps. It continued, and by the end of the week what was left was looking pretty ratty.

So I decided to go for a mohawk with the hair I had left. I think it turned out pretty nice -- Heather said she really likes it.

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