Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Step Forward

Wow! What a weekend. Nana and Papa (my in-laws) came to town to watch the kids on Wednesday to help out with all of this. Also on Wednesday we went to the Kaiser Lab to get my two month diagnostic blood draw. That will tell whether or not I am responding to the front line chemotherapy. By the way, everything I have heard says that it is a 50/50 chance as to whether I will respond. I was feeling pretty convinced that I was in the wrong 50%. That test takes 5 days to a week to come out so we just had to wait.

On Friday the C/H and I had an appointment with the Stanford Cancer Center where I will have my Bone Marrow transplant. It is a good three hour drive to the campus that neither one of us was looking forward to. We booked a room at the local Best Western so that we wouldn't have to battle traffic on the way home. That would have been too much for me. So we left at 8:30 and started the drive to the bay. Now, on a normal day, I have to nap by 1:00 at the latest and if I don't I am a mess. So we got to Stanford with an hour to spare. We set out right away to find some lunch. We both figured it would be easy to find somewhere to find decent food close to the campus. That was a bad assumption. It took us an hour to find food and get back to the campus, then we had to find the place where our meeting was. It was a big scramble. We ended up 15 minutes late. All I could say was, "oh well." Both of us hate to be late but there was just no sense in getting upset about it.

The meeting with the doctor took an hour. I have found that the sicker you are, the longer the doctors talk with you. We went over all the different options facing us and what the time-lines look like but nothing was close to conclusive. That is because we are still waiting to find out if the front-line therapy is working. I struggled through the meeting to keep my wits about me, I was exhausted. At the end of the meeting all I could think of was going to our room and falling into bed for a couple of hours. The doc had other ideas tho' He wanted me to go get some lab work done. So off to the lab we went.

When I sat down the lab worker pulled out, count 'em, 15 tubes for me to fill. That is about 10 more than I usually do. I am also at the point where I have so many needles stuck in my arm that I have pretty bad scar tissue and bruising on my veins. It used to be that I was pretty easy to pull blood from, but not this time. After filling about 8 tubes from my right arm the blood just stopped flowing into the tubes. So they switched arms. After about three tries on the new arm they gave up and went back to the other side. They found a different vein and started again. After about three tubes I dried up again. That is the point where I just shut my eyes and started talking to myself, sort of the same way I do when I am trying to get up a big climb or finish a long ride.
Just finish this. Just get though this. Stay strong. Keep it together.

I became oblivious to what the vampire ladies were doing. I just sat in the chair and focused on keeping it together. I tried to ignore the frustrated sighs and fidgeting coming from the chickenhawk I just sat there and waited to be done. After a half hour of trying, I was done. They gave me a tiny can of hot orange juice. It was disgusting but I needed the sugar. The Chickenhawk asked for a wheelchair to get me out of there but I said I was ready to go. We hightailed it to the hotel and I proceeded to pass out for a couple hours.

We drove home on Saturday morning and I napped all afternoon at home. I slept through dinner and woke up about 9PM. When I woke up I started puking. Luckily I had a basin handy so the mess was contained. While I was cleaning up from that barf the chickenhawk said she had some good news. My first thought was that there is only one thing that you could possibly tell me that is good news. Sure enough, she said that Doctor KT had called. She had been checking my lab results in the Kaiser system every 15 minutes when she was at work. The key results were in. The key numbers that we are looking for had decreased by 25%! I have 25% less cancer in my body than I did a month ago. I am getting better. I am in the right 50%! I have never. Ever in my life. Had better news. Not even close. I cried tears of relief and joy. Suddenly I felt like I had more hope than I have had for months. There will be another phase to this process. I will get my body back!

I felt better after the barf so I had some toast and Gatorade. That didn't work to well and I barfed all over again. I finally got to sleep on the couch around 11:30 then at 1:30 the C/H came and brought me to bed.

I slept in late on Sunday AM. When I woke up we had just enough time to make it out to the 24 hour Mountain Bike race in cool. Jerry, Patrick, Matt B and Ian raced in my honor. They took 2nd! They may be puddin's but they are fast. They presented me with a banner that Jerry had made. I'll try to get a picture of it up on the blog. I got interviewed by the local Fox affiliate. I have no idea whether it got aired. After the race the guys actually gave me the cash prize that they had won!

That money will be the seed money for the Spencer Rubin Foundation the organization that I will be starting in my name to help ensure the future of my family. The banner will hang in a place of honor in my garage.

Now I have heard of good karma before but here is a great example. I wrote a couple of posts ago about Patrick and all the hard work he did on my recovery garden. Well, at the raffle he won the grand prize a custom Grognard 29 single speed. I couldn't think of a more deserving individual.

We met with the oncologist yesterday (Monday) and he seemed pleased with the progress. Sounds like we are getting ready to move into the next phase. We are going to look at doing radiation on my hip/leg to ease some of the pain that I am having there. That may or may not work out... we'll see. Either way the good news is in. I am responding to the treatment. I am getting better. I cant tell you how good that feels.

Sorry for the long drought of posts but as you can see I have been really busy. I am looking forward to a quiet week this week.


Bill said...

I am glad to hear good news. Keep fighting!

Matt said...



bikesgonewild said...

...what a big smile you put on my face this morning w/ all this good news...stay on it...

Anonymous said...

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!!
Love, Pantani.
PS: Next time please stay with us in Napa, I promise I won't be offended if you puke the dinner I'll make for you.

Anonymous said...

I think many people including myself got tears of joy and relief in hearing the news of your latest lab results!
I'll email you a pic of the banner I took at the race.
Ride hard, Fight hard!

uncadan8 said...

Awesome news, Spencer! Keep on fighting! You're doing great!

Anonymous said...

turnin the ship
That is awesome
you are now in the 100 percent
getting better
I am stoked
Mike D.

Anonymous said...

Hoooooo-iiiiiiiiiiie! (Okay, I'm a transplanted New Jerseyite trying to fake a hog call. Or something exhuberant. Hopefully you get the sentiment.)

What awesome news that you are responding positively to the current therapy and getting results. Win, Spencer, win!!!

FWIW, I was exhausted just living through your telling of the lousy phlebotomists, nevermind having to endure that. Owww.

Hang in there an keep sharing all the details, good and bad-- just keep writing and know we're listening.
-Bikerchick Barb

Anonymous said...

I'm crying with you bud!!


Anonymous said...

That is awesome that your numbers are getting better and that you are constantly surrounded by friends and family who are taking care of you. Keep moving!

Tina C.

Anonymous said...

A happy dance was done in your honor....we're keeping those good thoughts going your way....

Judi said...


Anonymous said...


One of the many sign posts on the road to being cancer-free!


Tourmaline OTC said...

When it comes to Cancer, Don't get mad, and don't get even. Get ahead. Now that you've summited, you can start back down this crazy mountain. Keep putting one foot in front of the other dude. I got the C/H's back on the dance floor, and don't forget we won the women's division of the chickenlips. Girls off the couch are carrying the torch.....Stay strong and stay focused.
Tourmaline OTC

Tourmaline OTC said...

When it comes to Cancer, Don't get mad, and don't get even. Get ahead. Now that you've summited, you can start back down this crazy mountain. Keep putting one foot in front of the other dude. I got the C/H's back on the dance floor, and don't forget we won the women's division of the chickenlips. Girls off the couch are carrying the torch.....Stay strong and stay focused.
Tourmaline OTC

a.w.o.l. said...

I hear the surfing here is damn good...Cowa-efing-bunga!


Anonymous said...

Hey Spence and C/H- I cried with joy when I read the lab results. I even woke Bill up to tell him when I got home ( at 3 am)!!he was sooo pleased...notice i didn't call you at 3 am though. What a relief.
xoxo kt

ps- plan to catch C/H ( b-day girl) and T at the Coloma CLub next friday..

Anonymous said...

Our prayers are being answered ! ! !
Auntie Punky