Monday, November 12, 2012
The Emperor of All Maladies
Jon came home from the hospital saturday afternoon feeling a few degrees from normal. He went on a 90 minute bike ride less than 24-hours later. This is the face of cancer treatment that we did not imagine: the juxtaposition of valleys and normalcy. Jon's white count went from 1.5 to 9.3 in fifteen hours. This is partially due to Nuepogen, the drug that he has been injecting into his stomach for a week. The second night in the hospital (as Jon waited for his counts to rise), he experienced severe bone pain (a side effect of Nuepogen). Given he has never felt this type of "deep pain" before, his imagination was left to its' own devices. He did not know if his counts were rising or if he was descending....and he fought all night with the mental fear. On the day Jon announced his diagnosis at church, a wise sage and friend whispered to him, "the fear is the hardest part". This is true to Jon's experience. I just picked up the book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer written by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Written by an oncologist, it weaves science with the history, of cancer, patient stories, and social context. Cancer, in many ways, has a "personality"--the evolving non-conformist that "exploits the very features that make us successful as a species and an organism." Jon will have a chest catheter inserted this week for round 2 of chemo, which begins Monday November 19th. He will also see his oncologist, Dr. Padmanabhan, to assess the "mothership".