Surgery Looms Ahead

Chemo is done.  Finis.

I survived four rounds of chemotherapy without one bout of nausea.  My oncologist, Dr. Daniel R. Gruenberg, observed that I endured chemo better than 95 per cent of other patients who undergo the same cancer-killing infusions.  Score one for the Loika and Johnston genes!

What lies ahead, though, is a surgical date with urologist Dr. Daniel Janoff, ostensibly in mid-November, to remove my bladder and prostate.  A second opinion with a different surgeon seems to be all that lies between consciousness and a scalpel as I cross my T’s and dot my I’s.  What will life be like without the essential tools of procreation?  What will the effect be on my creative spirit?

Cannabis oil is quickly becoming a competitive industry in Oregon, as growers race to develop a product totally free of THC.
Cannabis oil is quickly becoming a competitive industry in Oregon, as growers race to develop a product totally free of THC.

Bladder Surgery, Cannabis Oil or Both?

Alice is opposed to the surgery.  She monitors my daily intake of cannabis oil, reputed to keep cancer cells at bay, in hopes I will change my mind and follow that approach instead.

I disagree, even though I have more questions than answers.  Sufficient evidence is being gathered that documents what Alice has learned: Cannabis oil helps fight cancer, but marijuana remains nationally labeled by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule 1 substance.  Because it’s been so vilified by law enforcement, in vitro observations in the laboratory remain the only medically factual evidence.  Sufficient data must be gleaned through future human trials to learn precisely how much cannabis oil is needed to keep a high-grade cancer at bay.

The future suggests more-informed treatment options will be available for the next generation.  In the meantime, though, I suspect my bladder’s integrity is compromised beyond repair, and enough successful bladder-removal surgeries have been performed that the prognosis is good for me to aggravate the world for years to come.

But isn’t it a bitch to know my cancer was caused by chemicals added to American tobacco products to make cigarettes addictive, but such deadly tobacco products are still legal to purchase over the counter?  Whenever I see a sizable segment of the population huff and puff cigarettes here in Portland, I shudder at the future human cost.

Marijuana as Cancer Therapy

In the meantime, how many lives have been trashed through the enforcement of archaic marijuana possession laws that incorporate “Reefer Madness” propaganda into a ban on love, peace and happiness?  DEA’s diehards dispute current scientific studies with the same fervor as climate-change deniers.

My Medical Marijuana Card enables to purchase all kinds of marijuana products without being taxed.
My Medical Marijuana Card enables me to purchase all kinds of marijuana products without being taxed.

One great thing about living in Oregon: Medical and recreational cannabis is legal here.  Also, I now possess a valid Medical Marijuana Card.  That means my consumption can be discussed openly.

You might notice from recent photos that my hair has thinned considerably, although Dr. Gruenberg promises it will return.  Because I prepared for bouts of nausea, without any occurring, my weight is up 15 pounds!  Where’s the irony in that?

Local farmers are perfecting the process to completely remove THC from cannabis, because it’s been found to be a legitimate pain reliever.  But more data is needed to let cancer sufferers make informed alternate decisions that avoid surgery.  And I refuse to consider radiation.

In the meantime, what about Alice?

Alice’s Speech Continues to Progress

The woman who accosted me romantically six years ago is doing fine, but tremendously bored.  Some aspects of her stroke, though, have become a godsend.  Because of those invested in her therapy, as well as fellow couples comprised of a stroke survivor and caregiver, we occasionally encounter people who deal with the same issues.  Most of them are well educated and a joy to be around.

In late August, Alice and I attended another aphasia camp on Oregon picturesque coast.  As new hair grows in, I might not have to hide the top of my head.
In late August, Alice and I attended another Aphasia Network camp on Oregon’s picturesque coast. Self-consciousness caused me to wear a Cape May cap to hide my balding head..

We met a few of those at Alice’s aphasia camp that we attended on the Oregon coast the last weekend of August.  In addition, while Alice took a nap, I sat in a rowboat while two nubile physical therapists took over the vessel using muscle power and shoulder grease galore.  Should I feel ashamed to accede how idealistic, determined women can flaunt how much they are in better shape?  Before we left the dock, I bragged how well I could row, but I proved useless.

Alice had an encounter with a two-foot-high yellow pole while swerving to avoid being struck by a tractor-trailer.
Alice had an unexpected encounter with a two-foot-high yellow pole while swerving to avoid being struck by a tractor-trailer.

Alice Steers ‘Betsy’ Into a Pole

One last piece of news: Alice tore up our Ford Escape’s right-hand front panel against a two-foot-high yellow pole to avoid a tractor-trailer swinging its load wide.  For six days, our Ford Escape has been sitting in a repair shop waiting for The Hartford’s adjuster to approve its own surgery.  It will take a couple weeks before I can Uber again, so Alice and I are pinching pennies accordingly.

In the meantime, I can use this time to sit in front of my computer and write.  This post on my blog is long overdue, and I thank everyone for being patient while I find my writer’s cap again.

Pragmatically, I feel guilty about not making money to pay all the medical bills that are piling up, but I feel emotionally satisfied that I can renew my former identity as an author.  Who can say what the future will bring?

Only Creator knows.

15 thoughts on “Surgery Looms Ahead”

  1. Mason I’ve known u forever though fleetingly and I just wish u all the best to you and your love. I’ll never forget your kindness to me in Miami. I’ll never forget you’re a true friend-Lala

  2. So glad to hear that you made it through the chemo without nausea. You truly are a king! Love and prayers to Alice and you for a quick and full recovery. xoxo

  3. It was so good to follow your comments once again! I am recovering from a similar bout of problems, breast cancer surgery, heart stents, side effects of meds for both, knee problems, shoulder problems, but oh well, I am still here and I am feeling a bit better after stopping some of the anti estrogen drugs! So where do I go from here? Not take the meds and hope and pray the breast cancer won’t return I guess!

  4. Sounds like you are weathering the storm so far. I know the road ahead is unsure and unfamiliar, but I am assured that you and Alice can face anything with style and grace. Sorry to see the car limping about on only 3 good legs, but hopefully that will be fixed very soon. On another note, here in Florida we will be voting on marijuana legalization laws on November 8th. This has come up in past elections, but narrowly missed passing on the previous vote. Hopefully we will see some expanded thinking and voting this year. I love you both. Hugs to each other from all of us here in the sunshine state.

  5. Mason your bladder cancer hasn’t affected what you love to do most, to communicate well through your writing. Thankfully your mental abilities are not impaired. At our age most of us are dealing with some chronic condition which could turn nasty. We wish you both all the best.

  6. Mason,
    Gave up my bladder 5 years ago and don’t really remember why I had one in the first place. I hope your remaining treatments go well.

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