Clinical expotitions, part 1

This children's frieze illustrates chapter eight, "Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole" from "Winnie the Pooh", by A.A. Milne, 1926. The frieze incorporates the original book illustrations by E.H Shephard which have been made continuous by the addition of an idyllic landscape.
Christopher Robin leads an expotition to the North Pole. Source:

As I mentioned in my last update, I’m now in the hunt for a clinical trial. Until we find something new, it appears I’m staying the course. I got a Keytruda infusion Wednesday and learned that in three weeks my PSA had climbed from 64.9 to 88.8. A bigger jump than I was expecting.

So Thursday we made the three-hour drive to Nashville to talk clinical trials with a doctor there I’ve seen on the same topic once before. They didn’t have anything picked out for me yet–the nurse will send me information next week on trials I might qualify for. Okay. Long trip to not learn much. The trials they do are mainly phase 1 trials for drug companies. That means they want to try out a new drug on me to see if it does what it is theorized to do and how much of it I can take before I turn into a bucket of toxic waste. For one of the trials, I’d be the first patient to enroll.

I came away underwhelmed. Meanwhile, my own oncologist also talked with the clinical trials doc up in NYC whom I visited a year and a half ago. He’s the one who recommended trying Keytruda first. A good recommendation, it turned out. My next step, in addition to waiting to hear what the Nashville doc has for me, is to schedule a second clinical expotition, this one to NYC.

I’d packed myself a nice lunch. I put it in the car we weren’t taking, so no lunch except some peanut butter crackers Liz found for me at the appointment. We’d left early enough to have some extra time before the appointment, but imaginary construction delays ate all that time while I ate nothing. Once we finished up at 4:00, we hightailed it out of Nashville to beat as much of rush hour as we could, not stopping until we arrived at home. We have a lot to learn about making necessary trips more enjoyable. That can be difficult when you’ve got two people who just want to get home ASAP.

By the time we got home, I was ready to kick clinical trials to the curb and try whatever magic potion my doctor here can still come up with. Or call hospice. But the next morning I was back in my usual mode of seeing what’s next, even if it means a clinical trial.

Cancer seems to be spreading like cancer among some of my friends and relations, and several of them have also gotten bad news about disease progression this month. Their bad news hits me harder than my own bad news.

And yet…the weather is warm and springy. We now have TWO dogs, the second a puppy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, half brother of Sir Gibbie and therefore also titled–Lord Digory. I can sit in the sunshine watching them chase each other around our lovely backyard while the birds swoop, chirp and warble. I have good friends here now, even if most of them do have cancer. I’m getting very positive reactions to my book manuscript from my beta readers. Our son Ben, wife Shelby, and their two dogs visited us for two days at the beginning of the week. Our other son Brian and his family live nearby, affording us lots of grandkid time. Our daughter Hannah and her family are moving much closer to us this summer. My GI issues appear to be healing (again). I have a wife who loves me and cares for me. We have a supportive, caring church family. I can still walk two miles.

So despite some downed trees across our trail and bushwhacking through rhododendron thickets ahead, I thank God for all he has blessed us with and will bless us with. After all, it’s an expotition (a la Winnie-the-Pooh), an adventure, which Tolkien’s Bilbo Baggins notes are “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” Tiddely-pom.

Crooked, Sir Gibbie, Lord Digory and Sprinkles