The Pause that Refreshes

For the past few years, I’ve received three separate cancer treatments with little reprieve from many of the associated toxicities. This month, I finished my ninth cycle of therapy – a combination of two chemotherapeutics (carboplatin and paclitaxel). The chemotherapy has significantly reduced the size of tumors in my lungs and spleen, but they have not entirely gone away.

This week, I had my periodic CT scan to assess whether the cancer is progressing, regressing, or continuing to remain stable. The positive results, which came today, show no new metastases (the spread of cancer) and unchanged disease in my spleen and lungs since my last CT scan from January 19, 2018.

Michael Becker’s CT scans from June and December 2006, which show the initial progression of disease in both lungs.

After a great deal of consideration, I have decided to take a well-deserved break from treatment. It will allow me to recharge, improve my quality of life, and even allow me to travel and hike. In a few months, I’ll have another CT scan to see how my cancer behaved during the break. I hope that it remains stable or perhaps progresses slightly, although anything is possible during this period. I still recall how quickly I went from “no evidence of disease” to the progression of disease in both lungs and spleen (see accompanying image).

I’m quite proud of everything that I’ve accomplished since my initial diagnosis back in December 2015. I wrote and published my memoir, significantly raised awareness for the human papillomavirus (HPV) and its link to six cancers through numerous articles, radio, and television interviews, authored more than 80 blog posts, vehemently opposed the Right to Try Act, and even published a collection of my photography work.

I believe that my current “walk with purpose” as a patient advocate is far from finished. But with spring and summer around the corner – I want to get outside, travel, and enjoy life without being hampered by the deleterious effects of chemotherapy.

The title of this post reflects the 1929 slogan used in advertising for Coca-Cola. It takes on special meaning for me, as I hope that this pause in therapy helps me heal both physically and mentally.  And that would indeed be very refreshing.

12 thoughts on “The Pause that Refreshes

  1. What a great idea!! A continued positive apporach may be the best thing you need, Let’s tschedule another lunch if this snow ever stops. Jordan

  2. Congrats on a great CT Scan! The prayers are definitely working. So happy you will hit the pause button so you can go, go, go and celebrate like you’re on spring break (but more responsibly!)

    • Thanks for the note. More importantly, thanks to your boys for clearing our driveway of snow! We shoveled a bit during the last storm and it nearly killed me! Your family is a blessing – thank you!

  3. I’m so thankful to God that you’re in stable condition, Mr Becker.
    Rest assured you are always in my prayers. Take care. God bless you and your family. Gina

  4. Been watching your journey for awhile. Maybe we’ll cross paths one day at MSK. I’m 8 months post RT for tonsil/lymph cancer. Or maybe we’ll run into each other in Yardley, where my in-laws live. Enjoy the treatment break!

    • Darren – Sorry to hear that you are yet another victim of this horrible disease. I hope that you have clean scans going forward and would welcome to connect next time you are in Bucks County!

  5. Michael, I’ve been following you a for a while as well. I was diagnosed with Stage I (AJCC 8th edition…not that pesky Stage IV 7th edition) HPV+ BOT OPSCC in January of 2017. I had TORS surgery and radiation therapy that finished up in late April 2017. I am approaching my 1 year post treatment appointments next week and to date things are looking ok (not without drama and scares, mind you). Your story scares the crap out of me, quite frankly. I have the utmost respect for you. You certainly should be proud of your efforts to educate about this stupid disease. I take every opportunity I have to share my story and recommend HPV vaccination. My kids have started getting it (the oldest is 12). I wish you good fortunes in your continued fight.

    • Brandon – I’m very sorry that you have cancer, although Stage I should bode well for you with treatment. I was Stage IV at diagnosis and not an ideal surgical candidate. Thank you for the kind words regarding my attempts to help educate others about HPV vaccination. Thoughts and prayers for you to have clean scans going forward!

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