The Movie Tube™ is closed for now. After 7 weeks of treatment we’ve reached no firm conclusion. This isn’t all bad news – based on a scan from two weeks ago and compared to scans from last April and September, the necrosis has gone from “rapidly progressing” to “no change or slightly progressed.” A lack of progress, in this case, is a good thing – another paradox of cancer.

The treatments were supposed to run for a total of 30 – every day, 6 days a week for 5 weeks. But the doc decided to add another 10 and extend it to 40 with some speculation that it would provide a better outcome . At our last meeting, and reviewing the scan, we were both a bit disappointed since we were looking to gain greater ground. The doctor I was working with was always very open to my opinion and asked what I thought. I told her plainly that I was quite tired of CAT scans, PET scans, and MRIs. I’d been poked, prodded, stuck with needles and scoped. And now for the last 7 weeks, I’d been slid in and out of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber on a daily basis. Now we were flying by radar so-to-speak, looking for guidance from images rather than symptoms.

I was the walking book of braille – not so much examined as read.

She agreed a break was called for – and well deserved – although we both knew we weren’t quite done. We agreed to review again in the fall when the insurance company would allow me another PET scan to more accurately gauge the progress. We stood, shook hands and parted ways, having educated ourselves a bit more about process and structure. I stopped in at the treatment room and said goodbye to the technicians who were my tour guides for the last two months. On the way out, I waved to the receptionists and stopped in to thank the billing administrator who spends her days processing patients on paper. Judging by her response, it was a rare occurrence.

On the way to my office, I felt a bit melancholy. I should have been ecstatic now having my mornings free and not having to be at a treatment center at 7:15 AM every day. But it felt as an odd loss – not unusual for cancer patients who spend weeks in treatment and manage to weave physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and technicians into the fabric of their lives. After all, one way to survive is to just accept it as routine, as something to get done, as mindlessly as brushing one’s teeth, or pulling on one’s socks.

If it can be imagined – as just another ordinary day.

Old Pepper napping…two years ago…she’s much grayer now…