Getting on with it

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Great Reading Voice

An intense week, helping me move forward and firming up directions.

My haematologist laid out a general plan, but like last week, stressed that there is no regular protocol or sequence for me to organize my life around. “Bespoke” treatment that varies depending on how my body responds, with a fair amount of uncertainty/flexibility on timing, but likely including two to three more rounds on chemo (‘salvage chemo’) to address the lymphoma in the nervous system. Transplant likely to take place this summer and I should know whether one of my brothers is a match in a week. My kids rather sweetly asked whether they could be donors so we asked  – but apparently no better odds than the general donor bank. Asking the inevitable, will we find a donor?, she was fairly categoric: with my background and 7 million potential donors, one will be found.

Probed a bit on the transplant procedure itself. Again, noting we should not get ahead of ourselves, she nevertheless told us that the conditioning regime will likely be closer to high intensity than low (different from last week), with radiation both for conditioning and possibly for treatment as well, which makes the treatment harder – but also more effective. The usual balance and risk management.

In the meantime, she told not to drive given the remote chance of a seizure, and I should not plan to return to work but explore early retirement options.

Clear, brutal, but delivered in a wonderfully compassionate and thoughtful manner.

Then a good session with the counsellor. Again, going back to individual/group duality, a lot of my worry is related to my wife and kids, both our son at university and our daughter still at home. Good and helpful discussion, with follow-up sessions for them as needed, given the pressure on my family. She then turned to me and asked the inevitable, ‘what about you?’, given that I seemed to be more concerned about my family and work team than myself.

Helpful to articulate the real sense of loss I felt at the premature end of my professional career, how the second time was so much harder, and that I was finding if difficult to get into the zen space that I was able to first time. I also seem to be more emotionally fragile, whether to minor professional issues or to absorbing some of the health information (I never sleep well after a clinic visit!). She reassuringly said this is normal, that I was processing a lot of information – implications on health, profession, family and place in society – all of which takes time, without any real shortcuts. However my journalling and blogging, given the self-awareness that it fosters, were all good techniques. Equally reassuring was doing a signal check with my wife who confirmed none of this was new to her, meaning that I have been sharing with her.

So with all of this, I have let people know at work that I will not be coming back, although will be engaged remotely (love the technology) over the next few months to help my group transition and transfer my knowledge and experience. All very supportive; never easy to have these discussions and no way to sugar coat it. While I cannot control what is happening, I can at least manage how I exit, and try to do so in a manner as supportive of the team as possible.

Also getting some great comments from readers of my blog or in other on-line fora; all of which help broaden my support network. And my metaphor seems to be changing; I had earlier cited an article In Search of a Better Metaphor which challenged the notion of ‘fighting’ cancer which spoke to me. Now, I seem to be coming back to fight metaphor, as best expressed in the Dylan Thomas poem above. Maybe getting back into the zen space will change this, we shall see. Ironically, the Ottawa Citizen seems to have deleted this article from their archives, a reminder of how transitory the electronic world we live in can be (trying to get a copy to re-establish the link).

Just two movies this week. Precious Life, a documentary about a Palestinian baby given a stem cell transplant in Israel, and the hopes, politics, and realities that it entails on all sides. A bit too close for comfort on the medical side for me but some good additional information on what I am about to go through, less the charged environment.  Four Lions, a black comedy on suicide bombers that works devastatingly well.

Have started a twitter feed, predictably enough called LymphomaJourney, to allow for short updates when appropriate while I continue with my weekly posts.

Other than that, have been feeling well enough to be walking a lot, doing a fair amount of work, and this weekend went out for a few bike rides, savouring the first few days of nice weather. As will be going back in the hospital for round 2 on Monday,  enjoying this weekend with my family, particularly nice given our son came back to spend the time with us.


5 thoughts on “Getting on with it

  1. The whole Griffith family is an inspiration to us all. Tracking your journey alongside you is enriching our lives Andrew – there but by the grace of God….no need to reply. Bob and Vicky

  2. This is very touching. I feel your emotions and totally understand what you are feeling. You write beautifully and I know with all that you are going through writing can be very helpful. I am pulling for you Andrew.

  3. Andrew,

    At times I check I am an active member of the ACOR list. MCL has it’s own strand which is highly informative and I recommend you check it out. Many of the members have relapsed and there is much discussion on what they have done or what they are doing for treatment. Many are searching for clinical trials and have successfully participated in trials. ACOR is very inspirational and I am so happy to belong to that “family.” If you don’t want to have an allo, there options that can give you time while research is looking for the cure. Long live for a CURE!

    dx’d 04/08, CR 02/09. r hyper-CVAD, BEXXAR, BEAM, ASCT and radiation

  4. Dear Andrew,

    I have been to write you for a while to wish you well in your struggles and to thank you for sharing them with us. Your courage is inspiring and your attitude towards this difficult time really does help put whatever minor concerns I might be facing in perspective. If only we could maintain that perspective every single day and not only in the face of adversity!

    I hope that you are having a good weekend with your family. Hopefully, we will see a little more sunshine before it is over.

    All the best,

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