Dad has rolled up his sleeves and taken this fight out of the ring and into the streets. The venue suits him, since he's quite a bit scrappier than he appears at first blush. Hitting cancer with chemo alone is all well and good for a certain group of patients; it's just that Dad isn't in that group. So he's hitting it from all sides. He backs up chemo with diet and follows prayer with targeted determination. He makes me think of Indiana Jones - he's a little gray and ragged around the edges and has a trickle of blood at the corner of his lip, but he's smarter than the bad guy and still has that glint in his eye that says, "I'm not finished yet."
We're in the middle of Chemo Set Two. Tuesday was another IV day, which meant that Thursday night / Friday morning through Saturday night should have been the "chemo crash" days. During Set One (which started four weeks ago - is it possible that it's only been four weeks? It's taken forever and gone in a flash, all at the same time.), those were the days when the chemo really hit Dad's system. He was tired and felt a bit on the crappy side. So we all viewed this week with a bit of trepidation, anticipating when he was going to crash.
He took the IV like a champ on Tuesday, but we've already come to assume that will be the case. Probably not a fair assumption to make, but we make it nevertheless. I have to admit that I wasn't paying too much attention to the election returns because I was thinking about Dad, and in retrospect, I don't think of Tuesday as the day the country elected it's first African American President. It's just another IV Chemo day. Bizarre.
Anyway, come Friday morning, I called the house to ask Mom how Dad was feeling.
"I have no clue," she said, her voice a mix of excitement and exasperation, like a mother whose teenage son is late coming home from his first school dance ("good for him that he's having fun, but when I get my hand's on him....") "He went to the aeroclub last night and didn't get home until after ten. Then he got up early this morning, went to the gym to meet his trainer and I haven't seen him since."
I almost dropped the phone. He's at the gym??? On a crash day???
He's looking to stay strong, and that means doing controlled exercise. It's ironic that he's trying to bulk up now, after all these years of mom trying to slim him down, but that's just life, I suppose. The day after you get used to things being one way, they switch around on you.
He apparently ran himself pretty hard on Friday and hit a bit of a wall on Friday night after dinner, but we still celebrated Mom's birthday on Saturday night (Happy Birthday, Mom!). The evening ran late and it was ten o'clock before I got Anna Lee into bed. I figured Dad would be tucked away in his bed by the time I actually kissed her good-night and came back downstairs, so imagine my shock when I walked into the kitchen and found him standing at the sink, up to his elbows in dirty dishes.
Poor guy. If cancer can't get him out of dish duty, nothing will. Which seems a little bit rough, in my humble opinion.
So I asked how it was that he was upright at ten-thirty at night on a Saturday during a chemo week. And was told that overall, Dad has been feeling much better this week. He's not taking much of the pain medicine the doctor gave him (he actually took none for almost a whole week), so I guess I won't have to fund his stay at Promises Malibu when this cancer adventure is done. Even more exciting than not having to put him through a six-figure stint in rehab (could you picture Dad hanging out with OxyContin-addled celebrities, drinking wheat-grass juice and doing yoga to find his inner zen?) is the idea that his symptoms are lessening because the chemo is working. He's still thin enough to challenge Kelly Ripa for Waif-of-the-Year, but he's not getting sick when he eats. That's huge. HUGE.
In addition to pumping himself up Schwarzenegger-style, he's loaded his diet with as many cancer fighting foods as he can stomach. He's been drinking a special juice called MonaVie, which my friend Christine turned me on to and I passed on to Dad.
It's a blend of berries and berry juices, based on the acai berry which is a cancer-fighting "super-food". It's supposed to help cleanse the body and push back the cancer. It's rough on his system if he drinks it straight, so he mixes it with grape juice. Of course, Dad has always preached the evils of grape juice and what it does to tooth enamel, so he sips his grapejuice infused cocktail from a straw. No matter what happens, he will *not* compromise his choppers.
He's also taking his tea green these days. Last night, as we were all having birthday cake and coffee, Dad was sipping from a mug of green tea.
"Is it good?" I asked the man who I always remember as a die-hard coffee lover. A few friends of mine have been touting the benefits of green tea to me and swearing that it tastes great. I haven't been able to bring myself to try it, but I was giving the idea some serious thought.
Dad paused to weigh his answer before he spoke.
"You get used to it," he finally said with uncharacteristic delicacy of phrase.
I decided to take another cup of decaf coffee and leave the green tea for another day.
So we're heading into Week 2 of Set 2. Keep your good thoughts coming - they're helping immensely. I'm looking forward to making another great report nest week!