Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Holy crap, I can't believe it's been nearly two weeks since I blogged. I've actually begun to dread blogging, feeling that it's run its course—in my mind at least. Giving it away for free and all that when I have 320+ pages of my now-untitled manuscript to edit. I think I'm just totally burnt on the blog. But I like to let you all know that I'm not dead yet. I updated you on the good CT scan results. I headed up to NYC last Monday for a consult with Norton. Which was really kind of unecessary, as he told us upon entering the room.

"Why do you keep coming up here just to see me?" He said sarcastically.

"You've got a great doctor down there and he can talk to me anytime. Unless you're already up here anyway. But you don't need to keep coming here just to see me!"

Was he firing us?

"I was in Miami last weekend actually, I could've seen you there."

"Really? Where did you stay?"

"The Mondrian."

I laughed out loud. The second and last time I'd patronized Asia de Cuba there, this total hooker was wearing a skirt so short Ben, his folks and my folks got a glimpse of her vjayjay—and I'm not kidding. Dr. Larry Norton staying there? No way.

"Oh. My. God. You did not! I live on that street!"

"Oh really?"

"Omigod! That place is like call girl central. I can't believe you stayed there! It's so beyond. It's disgusting!!!"

"Yeah, you're right. And I'm like the perfect target for them—older, well-dressed man traveling alone. They were all over me."

"Shut up!!!"

Even the stoic, female doctor in Chanel ballet flats, who he'd sent in to examine me before his entree, began cracking up. I was dying. This hotel—picture Vegas-style hookers casing the lobby, with worse implants and yellowed extensions.

"Oh my god!" said the other doctor. "What did you do?"

"Well, you just don't engage them." Like, all in a day's work for the good doctor. I would love to step into his shoes for a day or so.

Man, what I wouldn't give to have seen that scenario. Just. Beyond. Well, Norton agreed with Schwartz's next protocol. Do another four treatments; two Carboplatin with the Avastin antibody and two Gemzar. With a week off in-between. Maybe it wasn't worth the trip after all? Actually it was. I get this Avastin antibody along with the Carbo treatments. That's the one harvested from mouse DNA. Sloan and Norton have now found that a dosage of 7.5 mg every four weeks is more effective than a 10 mg dosage every three weeks. He wanted to know whether I've been getting 10 or 7.5. I didn't know, but I'd definitely been getting it every three weeks. So, I was to talk to Schwartz about it and obviously change it up to the Sloan protocol next time 'round.

Yesterday, I popped by the hospital just for fun—to get a CBC before dental work cause my fucking nasty-ass, root-canaled tooth is still giving me headaches—and told Schwartz what he said. So he and Schwartz will talk, and I'll switch it up. Now, Schwartz said, this will mean me going to the chemo ward an additional day, separate from the chemo. But what the fuck do I care? The chemo ward is so non-traumatic for me. In a way, these people have become like family. It's like high school and I'm the popular kid. They all know my name, and shamefully, I don't know all of theirs.

Doc Norton did say—and I don't quite remember the exact medical reason for this—that complete remission is very, very, very rare. (So if your doc tells you you're in complete remission, I'd have a CT scan to see whasup.) Something about cells, and the bones taking a while to regenerate. He talks a mile a minute and we didn't take notes. But it's good to know—I'll never make the mistake again of saying 'I'm cured.' Or 'I'm in full remission.'

But I am definitely in remission, yay! I wasn't really sure whether I was or not. But Norton confirmed that yes, I'm in a pretty, pretty, pretty good state of remission. (BTW, when the hell is Curb coming back?)

I begin cycle two, or whatever the fuck it is, Friday June 4, a day after I get back from L.A. (I leave this Friday.) And this time, I'm going it alone. I'm going to be a Big Girl—in more ways than one; I'm a complete fat ass right now despite my diligent gym-going. There's just no need—no jinx—for Mom to come in for these treatments. It's only two of each. And it's not worth the self-imposed Jew guilt for me. Sure, in an ideal world she'd like to be here to take care of her daughter and it's uber-comforting for her to be here, knitting and drinking her red wine while we watch The Biggest Loser. But in the real world, she's got a job and has more than used up her vacation days. If this is something I'll be dealing with for life, then I need to learn how to deal with it on my own.

So, New York was good, despite the weather, which sucked my asshole. Cold, rainy and windy in May. Weather like that makes me sooo glad I don't live there anymore. It's so nice to be able to put your Winter wardrobe away in April like clockwork as opposed to having a schizophrenic one—with no closet space to boot—like you need in New York. I actually had to buy rain boots to survive the wacky weather. And since I had to buy them anyway, I may as well have gotten these:

So very practical for hurricane season. I've never even owned rain boots. despite a lifetime in Florida. They came in handy—I had Wally with me. We stayed on Central Park South and I had to actually enter the park to walk him. Despite that, he decided to pee on the hotel's bed and chair. Poor guy. He's now with Mom, Dad, and StellaCaTessie. I miss him sooo much already. The Loews Santa Monica is dog friendly, but he's happier at home. Anyway, I wore these beauties yesterday to the hospital over leggings, and I've never gotten more compliments on a clothing item. Props to Meredith for introducing me to them.

But I digress. Monday night I got to hang with Laura, of Ben and Laura, who's in living in the City while studying at the prestigious International Center for Photography. We had drinks at the Ritz on CPS, where the pappers were actually waiting outside. Within an hour we spotted (rapper?) Akon, Scott Bakula, Greg Gruenberg from Alias and Jesse Metcalfe (who held the door for us) of Desperate Housewives.

At the Ritz bar with Laura.

And the following night with Michael—thanks to Mom for not telling me that fucking annoying strap thing they put in garments was showing.

Laura, Brother, Mom and I went to Buddakan for dinner, which was fabu as always. And I drank for the first time in months. Oh, wine, how I've missed thee! Tuesday night we had dinner at Kefi with my lovely, lovely, lovely cousin Will Schwalbe and his equally lovely partner David.

(David, I'm sorry if I talked your ears off about your secret for looking at least 10 years younger than you are;) Mom and Michael got to meet them for the first time, and we're all so happy to have a 'new' member of the family. Especially one as awesome as Will!

Equally fabulous is Will's new and hot culinary Web site Cookstr. Check it out, and cook something for me while you're at it. I'm begging you—Whole Foods prepared meals department is probably going to kick me out soon.

Back to me. I leave for L.A. Friday—yaaaaaaaaaay. My two big food outings are Katsuya—you guys know I MUST see TMZ—and the Foundry on Melrose. Dr. Laura has called the chef of the Foundry and he's preparing a veggie tasting menu for me! Not to mention seating me at her table etc. etc. Could you die??? Only a Jewish, Beverly Hills shrink! I may also have the chance to check out a marij-u-wana dispensary. And of course brunch at Geoffrey's in Malibu is a must.

Natch, wardrobing for this trip is unique due to the weather and West-Coast style.

My message for Lee Ann yesterday:

"Hiiii! So, I'm soooo psyched to come on Friday, but I have some wardrobe questions. Like, what do people wear during the day? Jeans? And at night—dresses or is it too cold? How cold is it? I mean, do I need a coat or will shawls work? Anyway, call me back! I've forgotten how people dress out there!"

I did make a concession in the shoe department—I'm only bringing two pairs of daytime ones. How did I manage such sartorial restraint? By ordering new Jack Rogers! Check these babies out—they arrived today and are Ah-dorable!

This color is called Platinum, and is a perfect neutral. The heels are two-inch, great for a shorty like me.
And both match the two daytime bags I'm bringing. (Black Chanel and pewter Balenciaga.)

What's also been keeping me from the blog is I've actually been editing the book. A little more every day. Almost up to page 50 by now. So fingers crossed that one day you'll have to pay for my words. For now, it's untitled. I still think Cancer is the new black—but, let's face it, the phrase is played.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Raining CTs and Dogs

I've been busy and quite fucking lazy. Dana and Baby III have been staying with Wally and me since Saturday. I even baby-sat one night—she's eight months old, so there was lots of baby food, dog toys and goo-goo, ga-ga noises involved. It's been a whirlwind couple of chemo months. Only 10 weeks in this cycle, can you believe? I've been tired, mostly. White blood counts were borderline this week, so Tuesday was an interminable day at the hospital, starting with a CT scan (to gauge whether the chemo worked or not, no biggie, right?) and a Nuprogen shot to boost me enough for today's FINAL chemo. Of this cycle anyway.

So, yesterday, waiting on the results, I was quite the bundle of hay-wired nerves. To the point where every little thing grated on me. As I was on my way to Chad for some needle-and-massage relief, "Mammo" popped up on the Caller ID, and I knew this was the Results Show. Bigger than American Idol, natch.

"Well!" Joanne the nurse says without introduction or preamble, "The CAT scan was great!"

I started crying with relief, not realizing just HOW stressed I was in the waiting. "They're even better than he [Dr. Schwartz] was expecting."

"Oh, thank GAWD."

"Yes, so there is significant improvement in all the areas. He's very, very pleased."

"Oh god, thank fucking god. So what does that mean exactly; I mean, I don't really know how CTs work. You don't need to read me the report, but like, what does it say basically?"

"Well, it says (I'm summarizing), 'patient shows significant shrinkage [save the Seinfeld jokes] in all the metastatic sites'."

So, all the Cancerous sites have shrunk significantly; even moreso than Schwartz had expected. (Chad had predicted this, as my last 15-3 had dipped from a 191 to an 81 level. Normal blood work in a healthy woman would have a number between 5 and 40. Halfway there!)

I was crying from sheer relief and for the ability to exhale. I even let a car go in front of me whereas before the call I flagged off a pedestrian on a bike—with a kid no less—for crossing the street and causing me to lose a yellow light.

During Chad's session I even passed out a couple times. Unheard of for Stephanie Green. (Okay, so I'd popped a Marinol prior to session.)

Though not fully remissed, I think this is more than what my doctahs were hoping for. I have chemo in an hour+, so I will get the full report and the 'what's next' talk. I will need another 10-week cycle of this chemo, the theory being if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Schwartz will consult with Norton; I fly up to NYC Monday and see Norton Tuesday. I return Wednesday night, then fly out to LA the following Thursday for my post-Chemo, The Sequel vacay. Five days at the Loews in Santa Monica, chilling on the Pacific with my friends.

So all is well, and I will report back with Schwartz's opinions later, I swear.

Meantime, below is moi, in my last Carboplatin-treatment-retail-therapy-sa-weeet-Manolos, drinking the Barium solution the night before the CT. Woohoo, I'm on the mend. And my hair still looks fab, no? I had a trim at Oribe a couple weeks ago. Thanks for hanging in for the long haul folks.
Your favorite Cancer Patient