Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Reign of Regret


This most recent blow to my plan of treatment has brought me back to MD Anderson in Houston. I am reminded after spending a full day in the belly of this large hospital that things move very slowly and very methodically here. It is very far from home. It is also one of the best places in the world for cancer treatment. I had my first appointment with Dr. Patel, after about a four month break to get treatment at home, and heard her work through a complex and well considered plan for my treatment. I am to see several specialists in the coming weeks including endocrinology, radiation oncology, and a gynecological oncologist. I met with the same gynecological oncologist once before to discuss my tumor being inoperable. The current plan is to try to get more doses of the nivolumab before my liver gets too inflamed to (hopefully) shrink the tumor... again... to get it operable... again. I say 'again' because, as it turns out, right before the first steroid taper that I had back home, when it had shrunk a considerable amount, it would have been operable. The cascade of regret I've had after learning this has been overwhelming. Why was Dr. Bauer refusing to communicate with the big guys at MD Anderson? Why didn't Dr. Patel follow up about surgery when I sent them a message to let them know the treatment was shrinking it? Why did I forget that this was the plan all along?
I can come up with many answers to those questions. They are followed by lots of "should haves." But none of them change that the window may have closed for good. And, unfortunately, reopening that window requires a whole lot of "IFs". 

This is the situation many people with cancer find themselves in time and time again. "Why," "should," and "if" follow us everywhere, shouting their claims without rest, even showing up in our dreams. It takes constant vigilance to remember that they are not real and when unchecked, pull us away from our actual lives and our chance at contentment. 

Here is my biggest challenge today. Let go of the "why" and the "should" and focus instead on the gratitude I have for possibly getting and chance to reopen the window- the hope that can be found in the "if."

If my liver holds on for more treatments... 
If the nivolumab works on its own to shrink the tumor again... 
If it's then safely operable... 


  1. When it rains--look for rainbows
    When it's dark--look for stars!!

    Focus on the what is, not the what ifs! Praying for you!

  2. praying specifically for the last three "ifs"

  3. Praying for you! I went to school with Danny and I follow your journey and pray for you every day !