I saw Dr. Bergen yesterday, and I will see him again next Wednesday. He said my blood test from yesterday showed that some of my liver enzymes, which had been elevated, had decreased substantially, one even falling back in the normal range. He was very excited, and needless to say, we were, too. The CA19-9 tumor marker was 3021, up from the 2880 last time, but still down from the 3600+ in June. He attributes the falling liver enzymes to the Xeloda, so I'm going to try to take that again, but only take it five days with two or three days off. He did caution me that all these blood counts will go up again someday, but for right now, we are encouraged.
My hemoglobin was 11.7, weight 66 kilograms (about 145 pounds), blood pressure 105/70. They only had to poke me twice to get my IV started. (I have banned Robert from standing over the nurses when they do this as I think it makes them nervous and harder for them to do. I'm trying to get braver about the blood draws and IV's. I may request a port at some point.) We also talked about looking for new clinical trials. And, we are keeping Davanat on the back burner and applying for compassionate use of that drug, which is in clinical trial testing, as a back-up plan.
So I had my Gemzar infusion yesterday and will start my Xeloda pills today. We also discussed Avastin which if we add to the mix, I asked if I could start it the second week of August because my schedule is very hectic the next two weeks. (More about that below.) But we're going to add back Xeloda for now, see how that is tolerated, and add Avastin if the Xeloda doesn't work out. They both work on reducing blood vessel growth.
WRITING WORKSHOPS PAST AND FUTURE, LYLE LOVETT & MEXICAN FOOD
I had such a wonderful time in Taos at the writing workshop last week that I have to wonder if that helped my blood work, too. I owe a debt of gratitude to my good friend Jody Curphy of Denver for driving me there and back and being there with me. I was a little nervous about being there alone and having some health issues come up. I had some minor stuff - swollen and painful knees and ankles, the D-word (diarrhea), mouth sores, a few other little things - which probably would have made me anxious and not as able to concentrate on writing. Jody and I also had a good time hanging out together, catching up on old times, and comparing notes on where we're at now in life. We met back in 1985 at an 8:00am Saturday morning speech class. We did go to the Sanctuary at Chimayo and I got some of the sacred dirt there, lit some candles, said some prayers. I rubbed the sacred dirt between my fingers to get all the clots out and visualized rubbing the tumors out of my liver.
We have a writing workshop next week in Ouray. I'm doing two creative non-fiction classes - one with Lee Martin, the other with Lee Gutkind. They are both marvelous writers and instructors. So I am very excited about that. I will have to miss one class to go to chemo, and one class on Saturday afternoon as we have tickets to see Lyle Lovett in Telluride on Saturday night.
I saw Lyle once at Red Rocks in Denver back in 1993 right after he'd married Julia Roberts, and of course, he was fabulous. (I think Julia screwed up when she let him go, but I'm sure there's another side to that story.) Robert discovered my Lyle Lovett cassette tapes once while he was on a trip to Denver and had nothing else to listen to, so he is a big fan as well. He really likes the song about "She's no lady, she's my wife." I'm not sure if he identifies with it because of his ex-wife, me, or both of us, but I tell myself it's the former. I love his song about the pony on the boat and also that one about nobody knows me like my baby - "I like flour tortillas." Actually, I prefer corn because I grew up on Tex Mex. We have good Mexican food out here, but it's different, and I have to confess I don't like Mexican food the way I used to - I guess you can get your full of it. (At the writing workshop in Taos we got fed a lot of New Mexican-Mexican food which may have caused my D-word.) But, when I get to Texas, I have to go to El Fenix or El Chico, and bury my face in a plate of enchiladas and cheese tacos. Great comfort food!
We are in heated rehearsals and preparations for the melodrama "Perils on the High Sea" coming up August 2nd - 4th. My sisters, brother-in-law, several cousins, possibly an aunt and a friend from Albuquerque are coming - a total of 10 - 12 people. I'm working on my subtext and motivations to portray Mary Pickaxe, as well my costume. If anyone has any thoughts on where I can get a Mary Pickford wig or even a Shirley Temple, let me know. We have a well-used blonde wig from when I was last in the melodrama and played nurse Ivy Dripp, but there's a scene where I fall off the ship this year and have to be on stage all wet so I think we'll need that wig for my drenched appearance.
Lots to look forward to in life. Keeps me going. Tumors be damned. I think Robert's mother and sister Jane may come later this summer, and we hope Robert's son Ian can drive over from Denver while they're here. By the way, Ian is doing really well and enjoying his new job in Denver and still doing some fine art as time permits.
Just up here in Colorado with new hope again, well immersed in my "Carolineland" with my acting and writing, grateful for my wonderful family, friends, and community. Life is good.