…..already in progress

April 2, 2007

(EDIT: In celebration of the news below (I won’t spoil it if you haven’t heard), I’m putting a link to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night, to be held in C’ville in October. Please consider a donation, even if it’s only a few dollars. The site is secure and accepts Visa, Mastercard, and AMEX., I’ve donated through the firm that runs the site on a number of occasions and never had a problem. Click here to donate. Thanks for your consideration, and enjoy the post!)

I never expected that getting the long awaited report from my doctor would be so anti-climactic. Since my scan last Tuesday, I’ve been anxiously awaiting word on what they found. After waiting for a few days, I was able to feel out of my nurse practitioner that the cancer was gone from my neck and that there had been significant improvement. However, she doesn’t have the final say, and my doctor, being part of the medical school faculty and an active researcher, is a busy man. So I had to wait a while to find out just what the course of my treatment would be. My NP informed me that I would find out for sure on Monday.

So it with that in mind that I eagerly picked up my phone after hearing strains of Sweet Home Alabama, which is my ringer when the incoming number is unlisted or private. I was all prepared to talk to my doctor…..when I found out it was my old boss, Todd Gilbert. I’d been wanting to talk to him for a while, so the trade-off was fine, but as you can imagine, I was still a little anxious. So I laid back down for a nap, and the phone rang once more. This time, it was my mother. It was then that I found out: apparently my NP had the wrong number, and she called the house instead. But I finally had my answer: No more chemo.

That’s right. Now, it’s hard for us to throw around the word “remission,” but it appears that for right now we have this thing under control, and my doctor feels comfortable with discontinuing my treatment. Cancer will always be a concern for me, but for the immediate future, all I have to look forward to is a PET scan in eight weeks. It’s then that we’ll be certain that it’s gone. But for right now, I feel great. We have this under control, and right now, no chemo. That is a big relief. I know it’s the cure, but I was getting tired of being essentially poisioned every other week.

As you can tell, I’m being very cautiously optimistic. I still have a long road ahead of me, as the first five years are the most important in regards to the chance for remission. Add to that the long term effects of chemotherapy (increased risk for malignancy, possible nerve, lung and heart damage) and cancer is now a key part of my medical history. But the immediate future looks very bright: I have chemo behind me, and I’m working on graduating this December.

As for this blog, obviously the bulk of my treatment is done. Now it’s wait and see; I’ll be sure to post the all clear. But for right now, naturally, things will be very slow around here. Hopefully in eight weeks I’ll post here for the last time, and I’ll be able to say for sure I’m cancer-free. But for right now, lemme just say: The future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades.


For just pennies a day…..

April 1, 2007

With the undpredictibility of my sleep cycle, I’ve come quite familiar with the great wasteland of late night television. I remember when I was younger my schoolyard chums would regale me with tales of VH-1 showing a documentary on the making of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, which seemed to always air at what was then the unholy hour of two. I always had to be in bed by 11:30. Now that I’m in college being in bed by two seems to be hitting the hay early.

Anyways, like all forbidden pleasures of youth, it seems that late night television has lost some of its luster. Most of the programming is now infomercials. One of the most recent I saw was for The Feed the Children Foundation. Now the cynical part of me would want to make some criticism of their supposedly shady fundraising practices. I just can’t do that. From what I’ve always understood they’re one of the more reputable charity organizations, and the cause is too good for me to make light. However, there was a moment the other night that was nearly intolerably (albeit unintentionally) humourous. The founder of the organization was holding one of their youths and speaking on a cell phone. “Hello? I’d like to make an international 911 call. What’s that? You say there’s no such number?” I just lost it. I can only imagine what the child thought of the whole scene, why they were taking all those pictures of him but wouldn’t take him with them……

So why do I bring this up? Well, those “help the hungry” organizations are generally the ones that try to persuade you to give by using the logic that you can help a child for just pennies a day. The problem is people tend not to write checks for sixty cents every day. They write a check for $219 each year. And while on even a $30,000 a year salary (less than one percent) that may not seem like much, it seems like a good deal of money, particularly in a society when there are hundreds of different people and organizations competing for it. I’ve never had a problem with giving to charity. If anything, I’ve always felt a little guilty that I’m don’t do more volunteer work but instead give money. I just don’t have alot of time and alot of my free time goes to political work. Hopefully when I get back home I’ll be able to volunteer more (particularly with the animal shelter), but for right now I try to give to worthy organizations whenever someone asks. Particularly when that someone is a co-ed wearing a short skirt……..ok, pretty much any girl that asks me for a donation is going to be $15 closer to their goal afterwards.

It’s a simple fact that there are alot of organizations competing for our donor dollars. Animal welfare groups, political groups, poverty and hunger organizations……the list goes on and on. That’s why I’m a little embarassed to announce that I’m joining the chorus of organizations. That’s right: I’ve decided to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night walk. For those of you who are unfamiliar, essentially it’s the same as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, an annual fundraising walk used to raise money. Now you may ask why I just didn’t raise money for the county Relay for Life. While I support this organization (and indeed, have already given to the chapter here in Charlottesville), since I am battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I wanted to help an organization that is geared towards the unique needs of patients and families that are battling cancers of the blood and the lymphatic system.  The ACS does great work, but I wanted to help raise money that is going specifically towards research on lymphoma. Aligning with the LLS allows me to do that. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to walk on the date (October 11th), but at the very least I can help raise money.

So I ask that you take a moment and consider giving a small donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You can give via this secure page: http://www.active.com/donate/ltnRichmo/2134_CraigOrn. I just became involved, so I can’t give much a pitch, other than the typical “any amount helps us get one step closer” yadda yadda yadda. All I can say is I’ve been so blessed during this fight to have the love and support of so many people, so if I can help another patient get that same support, then I’ll be a happy man.

So please, take a second and consider donating. I’d greatly appreciate your help in helping me reach my goal of $150. I know it’s relatively modest, but I felt it’s the least I could do after my fight. I’d never want anyone to be stricken by this terrible disease, but if they must be, I certainly don’t want them to be alone. Any organization dedicated to patient support and education deserves our support. I’m a somewhat pesimisitic person, so I have to say that we don’t know if we’ll ever definitively cure cancer. But we have been able to go great lengths in detection and treatment of the disease. If man must have this scourge, then we should do everything we can to ensure that people suffer as little from it. That means promoting the signs and symptoms of the disease and encouraging early detection. Education is just as important as research, in my opinion.

Anyways, I hope you’ll consider donating. Perhaps someday cancer will be no more a health concern than the common cold. Until then, let’s keep fighting.