Monday, January 18, 2016

Scans and Resolutions

I wrote this post, as it'll become obvious in a paragraph or two, a couple weeks back, but having just posted this one, I held it so I could reflect a bit on it.

In the interim, I had my annual scans which showed some slight lymph node growth. Key word: slight.What does that mean? We don't know. It could be the normal waxing and waning of lymph nodes; the beginning of follicular's return; the fighting off of a cold or other infection; or a combination of all of the above. From a practical standpoint, it means a visit back to Dr. L in three months and scans in six (instead of a year), and at that point, we'll determine if intervention is necessary.

It'll be just over five years since I was diagnosed when those scans occur and what intervention means has changed a lot in that time. New therapies, including the much heralded immunotherapy known as checkpoint inhibitors, are now potentially an option for follicular lymphoma, as are Rituxan, Rituxan and Lenalidomide, and others. The science continues to advance and if treatment is required, we'll deal with the options then. But scans are just a picture in time, and hopefully the picture this time just caught my lymph nodes waxing a bit. 

And now on to resolutions...

* * * * *

It's New Year's morning and the house is quiet. I'm sitting in my family room, coffee at the ready, music in the background. Outside, the day is gray and bleary, a disposition that seems as much New Year's hangover as it does winter. But the gloomy weather can't cloud my outlook. I love these kind of mornings. It's my favorite time of day and not just for its soothing peacefulness, but because it's a time of new beginnings, blank slates when the day is stretched out before you, full of possibilities and opportunities. Refreshed (and properly  caffeinated), when the house is still like this, it feels like the whole world is equally so -- and waiting for me.

Today, that feeling is amplified as it's the first day of 2016, a chronological new beginning. Our New Year's celebration last night was intentionally subdued; some video games with the boys, movies with the family and Chinese food that was delivered twice - we declined the second delivery at 9:30. I've been thinking about resolutions, a subject I've written about on this blog before, here and again, here.  My main concern with resolutions is that if they're absolute ones, the minute they're broken, there is little incentive to continue. (Or as John Oliver says, they're the perfect middle ground between lying to yourself and lying to others).  And saving resolutions for January 1 creates the prospect of a pre-New Year's anti-resolution binge. 

But all that said, it's hard to deny the allure of using New Year's Day as a springboard for self-improvement. And so rather than making specific resolutions, I'm going to focus on a word and in 2016, that word is Feed. In the days, weeks and months ahead, I want to:

Feed My Mind
In a nutshell, this comes down to read more, write more. It's creating more mornings like this and more evenings as well. It's cutting down on the junk food of mental stimulation, which for me, often tends to be meaningless sports on television. I'm not suggesting I'm going to give up watching the Patriots or Chelsea, or playing Madden football on the X-box. But to watch Southern Alabama play West Georgia may not be the most nourishing of activities for me. 

Feed My Body
The six weeks or so from Thanksgiving to now is full of sugar -- from apple pie to birthday cake to Christmas cookies. And while the myth of sugar and its relation to cancer is just that -- a myth - there's a lot of science about good nutrition and its positive effects on cancer prevention, and on good health. I'm fortunately addicted to running - and I plan to nurture that addiction for many more years. It'd be good to complement that with more attention to what I'm putting in my body.

Feed My Soul
How do you feed your soul? It starts, for me, by feeding your mind. For me, a well-nourished mind creates an environment more conducive to happiness, and, well, peacefulness. And in that state, I'm more able to connect, more ready to deal with the uncertainties, more prepared to quell anxieties, more willing to accept imperfections in others and myself, and more ready to be in the moment.  

Feed My Family 
It's hard to believe but I have less than four years of having Matthew in my daily life. Less than seven for Noah. That's a short stretch of time. I want to be sure that I give them the best of me. As much as my resolutions above are for me, I know that if I really want to be the best dad and husband, it will happen much more readily if my mind, body and soul have been well-fed.

Here's to a filling 2016.