Good Luck Charm?

It was July 18, 2017 when I started my third line of treatment (carboplatin/paclitaxel) for Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Things weren’t exactly going great at the time and I remember thinking that I wouldn’t make it until my 49th birthday in November.

For example, I had two chest tubes to manage a pleural effusion (buildup of fluid in the pleural lining of the lung). My tumors were slowly growing with each CT scan. Additionally, I had an IVC filter put in to manage clots since blood thinners had caused bleeding issues. I was a mess and in-and-out of the hospital constantly.

Earlier today, however, I received my third consecutive CT scan report since starting chemo again that showed further decreases in my lung, spleen, and pleural metastases (where the cancer had spread). It looks as though the cancer continues to respond to the treatment, which is great news.

It just goes to show the perils of trying to answer the question every cancer patient wants to know: How much more time do I have left? It doesn’t stop us from asking physicians, but as a dear friend consistently points out to me – you just have to live in the moment and enjoy every day. Much easier said than done, but sage advice nonetheless.

Our pup Humphrey

I can’t help but wonder if our 8-month old golden retriever puppy, Humphrey, is perhaps some kind of good luck charm? We got him about a month before I started treatment and things have been going relatively well since then. Not that we need another reason to love him! He’s such a clown, always making us laugh and smile. We love all of our other pets too, but there’s just something about Humphrey that makes him special. At the very least, he’s a great therapy dog for me.

In any event, today is a very good day. It will be nice to bask in the warmth of some good news as the colder weather of the season approaches.

6 thoughts on “Good Luck Charm?

  1. Such great news!! Congratulations…..and I do believe in Humphrey as a Healer too.
    Due to illness, Oral Cancer patients often have few words….but they have so much to say.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Humphrey is definitely good news! And so cute! Have a wonderful holiday. I’m in Santa Fe working on CancerRoadTrip. Let’s catch up if you’re up to it. Happy holidays!

  3. Of course it’s Humphrey. He’s related to Hank! Your dear friend is absolutely right – day by day👍🏻

  4. Mr. Becker,

    It is a pleasure to read your blog. I have an obvious oral exposure to the virus in my teen years and it has been so taxing on the mind. I feel cellular changes in my palate, and my tonsils are enlarged. The back of my throats feel radioactive at times. Visually, it doesn’t look too abnormal. This causes me to never get diagnosed. So I live with this discomfort, this shame, and this fear that any day it will progress to cancer. I fear getting married, or having children..only to be defeated by this virus at a young age. It really has me locked up. Your blog is encouraging me to try to live a full life and to try to make a difference while I am still here. Thank you.
    -Millennial sinner

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