Life’s a Beach

Last summer I was in terrible shape. I had not one, but two chest tubes to drain fluid from my left lung. My disease was progressing with each CT scan. I was contending with a newly discovered blood clot and bleeding issues from the corresponding medication. Also, a rapid heart rate required a brief stay in the ICU. The prognosis at that time was grim. In fact, if someone told me at the time that I’d still be here this summer—I wouldn’t have believed them.

However, after starting combination chemotherapy, my cancer regressed (still present, but smaller). Both chest tubes were eventually removed as the fluid in my lung cleared. My heart rate has been stable since starting medication. An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter, a medical device, was implanted into my inferior vena cava to catch blood clots and stop them from moving up to the heart and lungs.

After finishing my ninth cycle/month of combination chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel), I decided to take a treatment break in March 2018 at the suggestion of my oncologist. With each passing day, my energy and appetite have improved. Today, I almost look and feel “normal” for the first time since beginning treatment back in early 2016.

But this coming week marks my periodic CT scan to see how my disease has behaved (or not) without any treatment during the past few months. Understandably stressful and causing me great anxiety (scanxiety), I’ve had four migraines in a little over one week. Uncharacteristic enough in frequency to warrant a trip to the emergency room, but an MRI of my head showed everything was fine. Or, “f.i.n.e.” as far as my brain goes! (A reference to rock band Aerosmith’s acronym “Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional”)

For me, distractions are key during periods of scanxiety. So, my youngest daughter, Megan, and I spent the day at the shore (Ocean Grove Beach, NJ) on Friday. We’re the only two members of our immediate (and very pale) family who truly enjoy going to the beach. It was my first trip there since before being diagnosed in 2015!

However, more fun than the sun, sand, and sea were the impromptu singing sessions in the car ride there and back. Since they were young, I’ve exposed both our daughters to a wide variety of music. I’m proud they still know the words and can sing along to diverse artists such as Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Guns N’ Roses, Van Halen, and many others. I cannot carry a tune in a bucket, but Meg has a decent singing voice.

The perfect ending to the day, I barbequed burgers for Lorie and me after arriving home late that afternoon. School is still in session, so she had worked a full day. It was quite a feast – fresh sweet corn, baked beans, and chips. Preparing a meal for her was nice for a change.

I’ve lost count of the fantastic times that I’ve experienced during my recent treatment break. But yesterday was one that will stand out for quite some time. It was a darn good day!

After this week’s CT scan and subsequent radiology report, I’ll post another blog update. So, stay tuned.

19 thoughts on “Life’s a Beach

  1. Michael Becker, you truly inspire me! So many of us cancer survivors experience the “wake-up call,” but fail to follow through on sqeezing the very marrow out of life. You are an exception, for sure, and your posts remind me, with each reading, how grateful I am to be alive. I’m grateful that you are too and I’m sending you tons & tons of positive, healing vibes for this week. Staying tuned…

    ~Marin Shanley

    • Many thanks, Marin. I’m just a guy with cancer who is trying to make the best of it! If I can help educate and inspire, that’s icing on the cake. Thanks again!

  2. Michael. I love reading your updates and wish you all the best of good health this coming week with the scan. You are truly an inspriration!!

  3. I’m happy to hear that you’re feeling well enough to enjoy some of your favorite activities this summer. I’ll be thinking of you this week. Here’s to good news post scan!

    • Thank you, Susan! So glad the weather is nice again and I can get out of the house after a long winter.

  4. Hang in there on the scanxiety! I just went through it myself: Scanxiety may never be fun; but the beach! Glad you had a great time.

  5. One of the best things I have read in a long time! I am so glad you got to the beach! Theres no better way to spend a day. Looking forward to more positive news after your scan…I am confident of it!

  6. I am 8 months out from treatment for tongue cancer from HPV. I too almost feel “normal” now. It is so wonderful and I appreciate it so much. So happy to hear your update!

  7. Thinking of you Michael as you approach your scan this week and sending only good vibes for a positive outcome. Wheels up!

  8. You are truly an inspiration to everyone. My husband and I are on remission for 3 years now. You are always in my daily prayer, Mr Becker. God bless.


  9. This is what life is all about, living in the moment as that is all that we have right now.
    Peace…………in the days ahead

  10. I’m so happy you are feeling better and enjoying life.. I’m happy it’s finally beach weather too. Fingers crossed for a good update. xoxo

  11. Hi Michael – just wanted to wish you the best for your upcoming scan. BTW – your ink is cool!

    • Greatly appreciated, Rich! Hope all is well with you and the family. Not many opportunities to show off my ink while wearing a suit to the office, which is why you’re only seeing them now. 😇

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