Me and my chordoma

I just wanted to let readers know that I'm doing pretty well, and thank everybody for all their support

Published February 23, 2011 2:01AM (EST)

Dear Reader,

Someone e-mailed me yesterday asking how was the cancer so I thought I would spend some time telling you how is the cancer. The cancer is just fine, thank you. I mean, the cancer is gone.

Hey. It might come back. It sometimes does. But for now it's gone.

I am doing well. I had a great swim this morning and I was hanging out with the loud Russian guy in the sauna at the Y. The loud Russian guy went to Mexico and got sick. Imagine that.

So what else? OK, I had two months of proton beam radiation therapy in June and July of 2010 down in Loma Linda, Calif., I'd love to write about that experience but have not found it possible to do so yet. Now in recovery, it's harder to write about.

Here is something worth saying. Chordoma is a rare, slow-growing cancer but it definitely kills people. It would be nice if there were a cure. So I've signed up to attend the third annual Chordoma Community Conference March 18-20 in Bethesda, Md. When I get there I'll check in on FourSquare and I'll use AroundMe to see what is around me.

I really love AroundMe. The other night Norma and I had to go down to Sears in San Bruno to get a new washer and dryer and afterward we wanted ice cream. But we were in San Bruno. We don't know where the ice cream is in San Bruno. Then we realized we had AroundMe! You can look in AroundMe and find ice cream in San Bruno! So we did!

I'll use AroundMe in Bethesda.

And now can I just say that many, many people were extremely kind during my illness. Friends got together and bought me a Kindle and I read many books on Kindle during my illness when I was unable to sit in a chair and had to lie down. Kindle is good for reading lying down. I read Diane Johnson novels. I liked the Diane Johnson novels. I also read Jane Smiley novels and liked them too. I read a lot of other stuff. I read stuff about chordoma, trying to figure out if I was going to die or not.

Oh, boy. It's hard to think about that. It's like your brain clicks off when you try to think about it. I'll bet our brains try to keep us from thinking about stuff like that. Like your brain gets overheated when you think about whether you're going to die of cancer or not, and it wants to cool off, so all of a sudden instead of thinking about cancer you're thinking about ice cream.

Anyway, I hope this isn't too rambling. I wanted to just check in and say how I am. I am fine and I intend to be finer.

People did some really great things while I was sick. For instance, there was the bake sale for me and King Kaufman, described here by our friend and former colleague Mark Follman and orchestrated by the lovely and talented Mignon Khargie. Wow. Lots of great people donated stuff for us. That made us feel really good. I can't believe King Kaufman is no longer at Salon. That bites. I hope he's having a good time at Bleacher Report

On Feb 5, 2010, I visited the surgeon and he said I could finally sit down. I mean, it had been 50 days, or 7 weeks, since I had been able to sit down. I had been during all this time either lying down or standing up. So on Feb 6, I was celebrating. 

Only a month after my surgery my dad died. I couldn't go down to Florida on account of I couldn't really go anywhere. So I was watching a lot of old movies on the TV my brother bought us when he came to visit, and I saw "The Fugitive Kind," with Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward, and it was just fantastic, and it made me think of my dad.

Certain milestones were a big deal, like the first time I walked up to the cafe, in April.

So it turns out that writing about your own cancer is harder than it looks, especially after the initial excitement wears off. So that's why all I'm filing for today is just this piece about how I'm doing.

I'm doing fine. Tell your friends.

And also tell your friends that if they ever have a persistent pain in their tailbone that they should have it checked out because they might be one of the lucky one-in-a-million people to get some kind of chordoma this year.

Tomorrow I'll get back to writing the regular column again.

January 2011 Creative Getaway

What? You want more advice?


By Cary Tennis

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