Ray Report 3: “Thanks, I think”

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RAY REPORT 3

“Thanks, I Think”

17 January 2013

I would like to thank my engineer friends, and other nitpickers, for setting me straight on the difference between millimeters and centimeters.  Yes, there was a simple mistake in the e-mail titled, Ray Report 2.  My daughter had given me the correct comparisons of my cancer with everyday items but somehow I transposed the two and sent it out to the world. Considering that most Americans have some difficulty with metric vs. U.S. units, you would have thought I’d suddenly become road kill by the amount of birds of prey circling over my transgression.  I’m sure the corrections were well intentioned so are accepted as such.

To set the record straight, here is what was intended.  The lung tumor is 4.1 cm (about 1 3/8”) or about the size of a golf ball.  For those of you who are data driven, the size is closer to the smaller British ball (Sweetshot Dyna 90 Matic) vs the standard American (Titleist Personalized Pro VI).

The nodule on the adrenal gland is 1.5 cm (Just over ½”) so a little larger than a marble.  Once again, for you total nerds, that’s bigger than a Pee Wee and even standard Aggies, Opals and Black Beauties but not as big as a Bowler or a Steeley.  Let’s hope this puts an end to insignificant squabbling and returns us to feeling properly forlorn for the afflicted.  Unfortunately, the damage is done.  My daughter is now convinced that I have somehow contracted dyslexia* and is off to find a remedy for that.

Stay tuned – Louise and Ray

*No offense intended to those who do suffer from dyslexia.

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Ray Report 2: Jumping Through Hoops

RAY REPORT 2

Jumping Through the Hoops

16 January 2013

I will answer the question most often asked of me:  I feel great and I have felt so since it was first suggested that I have cancer.  I went through a Brain MRI followed by a PET scan to determine where there is a problem, if any.  I have fantasized someone else was given my original biopsy result and is on his second celebratory bottle of wine.  On my visit to the medical oncologist yesterday, I was almost sure he would say, “There has been a terrible mistake and you are cancer free.” 

Unfortunately, I was given another Good News/Bad News report.  The bad news is that I have Stage 4 cancer.  I learned that Stage 4 is not a measurement but an identifier.  The first 3 stages describe a cancer that is in one general location.  Stage 4 indicates that it has spread to one or more parts of the body…like to my neck.  There is no Stage 5.

The PET scan shows a 4.1 mm mass on the top of my right lung with the possibility of a 1.5 mm spot on my adrenal gland.  The doctor recommends chemotherapy infusions once every three weeks with up to three treatments.  He will then determine if the medication has reduced the cancer by any amount.  If so, he will increase the dosage to shrink it and, most likely, finish it off with radiation treatments.  Certainly not a drive-thru window approach as it will take some time. 

While offering no guarantees, he has treated several cancers of this type with measurable success and has offered that as encouragement.  My first treatment will be 22 January and will last four hours as they will infuse three different medications.  The possible side effects of the chemo are the usual including minor hair loss (I started that years ago). Feel sorry for me, yes, but for Louise even more.

Did I mention the good news?  All indications are that cancer spread from my lung to the nodule on my neck causing a tumor.  That was my “canary in the coal mine” warning that something was wrong otherwise I could have gone on for months/years while it spread silently inside my body.  The tumor was removed and all indications are that the area is now cancer free, so one less worry.  The other good news is that the brain MRI shows no cancer so I can continue expressing my slightly off-kilter view of the world…possible bad news for all of you. 

The oncologist said I don’t have to change my lifestyle in any way.  “Eat sensibly, drink moderately, and continue to work out.  You’ll need the energy.”  He also recommended the usual consuming plenty of liquids and energy sources.  “Many have found that American ginseng helps,” he said.  Louise has already been to Whole Foods so we are locked and loaded.  She and I want to thank all of you who have responded to this new direction in our lives.  Your concern has touched us deeply and your support has been overwhelming.  We’re surprised at the amount of first-person cancer survival stories we’ve heard and it has given us great encouragement. In journalistic fairness, we haven’t spoken with anyone who hasn’t survived…and hope not to anytime soon.

Thanks also to those of you who encourage a sense of humor to help sweeten the vinegar.  My choices are limited to laughing, crying, or suffering silently.  The latter has no appeal to me and I can’t stand the idea of seeing a grown man cry…especially in the mirror.  So, I’m left with the challenge of trying to find a smile in a hillock of frowns. Bear with and pray for me.   

When something of significance happens we’ll keep you apprised through “Ray Reports.”  We hope to keep the contents brief and the numbers few. 

 

iMacRayCU                                                                                                                              Ray today

                                                                                                              With many thanks,  Louise and Ray

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Ray Report 1: Good News/Bad News

RAY REPORT 1

Good News/BadNews

12 January 2013

Louise and I want to thank all of you for your responses and kind wishes for my recovery from the recent (3Jan) surgery for removal of a tumor from my neck.  The recovery has gone well with Nurse Louise providing unparalleled service from dawn to dusk and beyond.  Her reward comes from climbing our stairs 29 times a day (she’s counting).  “Better than the gym’s treadmill,” she says, “except there’s no one interesting to talk to.”

We’ve held off responding until we received a result from the biopsy taken after the surgery.  It’s in and is the old, hackneyed “Good News/Bad News.”  Last Monday I received a call from my GP (also a friend) who laid it right on the line.

            “The results of your tests are positive,” he said. 

            “Oh, thank God,” I replied. 

            “No,” he said. “That means it’s malignant.” To make sure I understood,

             he then said, “You have Cancer.”

             Just before my surgery, the surgeon said, “The x-ray shows a spot on your lung. We’ll go ahead with the procedure and do a biopsy.”  This was so casual that I had no problem with it.  Yesterday we paid our first visit to a medical oncologist who further identified it as lung cancer from a node on the top of the right lung.  He is unsure if it’s connected to the removed lymph node on my neck.  I am scheduled for a brain MRI and a PET scan on Monday so he will know what he is fighting.

             The oncologist was careful to contrast the seriousness of the disease with strides made in combating cancer, so he hit me between the eyes and then helped pick me up.  At this point I am nothing more than a vessel passing between data ports until they get what they need.  Our oldest daughter, Lisa, a doctor in Miami, is on top of this like a terrier.  Her advice: “Show up, shut up and do what you’re told.”  I guess she missed the class on bedside manner.

            I’ve learned there are five stages of accepting a serious disease: Denial, Anger, Fear, Hope, and Acceptance.  I’m progressing in that I’ve already gone from Denial to Dammit.  A cancer-recovered friend advised that I skip the next two steps and go right to Acceptance.  Only then will I become useful to my care providers. 

             So, dear friends, I’m sorry to have to pass along this news but it might give me a new subject to shower my writing talents on.  I do ask for your prayers.  So far I have accumulated Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Star Wars Buddhist, Non-denominational and even Agape prayers but am drawing the line at anything from the Taliban.  Oh, the Good News/Bad news thing?  The good news is there is no more bad news.  We’ll know more on Tuesday.

 Louise and Ray

Ray and Nurse Louise In Happy Days

Ray, Louise, Heidelberg

Categories: B3 Shakedown Cruise, Ray Reports: Living Through Cancer | Leave a comment

RAY REPORTS: LIVING THROUGH CANCER

Enclosed is a series of progressive reports on living through the cancer of Ray DeTournay.  While originally intended to be a breezy letter about removal of a minor tumor on his neck, it evolved into a continuing correspondence once a malignancy was discovered and diagnosed.  To keep from having to answer the same questions over and over, he elected to usee-mails titled “Ray Reports” to keep family and friends updated on his progress.  A number of people have found the information to be helpful, acting as a reminder to pay attention to what their own bodies might be telling them.  He is pleased to share this information with those who might have questions about the effectiveness of modern medicine, medical practitioners, technology and the power of prayer.  

 

The Message:

          Don’t hesitate to contact a medical provider about unusual bodily changes.

 

 

In deep appreciation to

Paul O. Gulsrud, MD, Omid S. Shaye, MD, Randall A. Scharlach, MD

and their staffs

 

RAY IS ON THE MEND

4 January 2013

Dear Family and friends,

             Thanks, so much for your cards, letters and e-mails celebrating my January 3rd yesterday.  For those of you who don’t know or…worse yet, forgot…on January 3rd I celebrated my 78th birthday.  This is a difficult date…especially for Louise…to come up with a proper celebration since everyone is partied out after Christmas and New Years.

             Yesterday she outdid herself.  She arranged a special party that took place at the West Hills Hospital here in California.  My special gift was to be removal of a tumor on the left side of my neck.  I’ve had a nodule there for ten years but it never hurt.  Last November I noticed some pain and it set me on a trail to the offices of my GP, an ENT, the MRI, a biopsy technician and finally to the hospital.  The needle biopsy was inconclusive so the tumor had to come out one way or another.

             Of course, this was no surprise party since I had to sign my life away several times but it was special.  When they wheeled me into OR prep it was still decorated for Christmas.  “Staff too lazy to take it down” was a nurse’s comment.  The party had a clinical theme and everyone was dressed in surgical costumes even wearing plastic shower hats for the occasion.  One nice nurse came up and said, “You’re going to have a great time” while she was sticking needles in my arm.  My surgeon gave me the Good news/Bad news lecture, mentioned something about my x-ray showing a spot on my lung and solemnly shook my hand.  We were waiting for the Anesthesiologist who finally showed up dressed in all black and looking like he had just ridden in on a Harley. He introduced himself, said “Good morning” and then “Goodnight.”             

I woke up with a complete stranger holding her fingers in front of my face, saying, “How many?” and “What is your name?”  It must have been a helluva party because I had a nasty gash on my neck and a hand-made scarf around my neck fashioned from bandages.  Since I must have missed out on the cake in the operating room, she came up with three saltine crackers and some apple juice but she was out of candles.  The biopsy will be available next week so we’ll know what is what.  Love the wait.

             I am now safely home and in recovery.  The best part is that they sent the cutest nurse home with me.  She does whatever I ask, served me my favorite left-over for dinner and went so far as to go to bed with me last night.  I am really looking forward to this recovery.

Nurse Louise and Ray

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B60 BIG FINISH AND CREDITS

Thank you for your interest in our twice-in-a-lifetime tour of Europe in our antique MG.  We hope you enjoy our memory blog half as much as we did in creating it.  Since this blog was first published in 2011, we have had a life-changing experience that we want to share with you.  In January 2013, Ray was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to a lymph node in his neck.  In a cathartic effort to deal with the seriousness of the disease, and to keep friends and family informed of his progress, he began publishing a series of Ray Reports that chronicled his battle with this serious illness.  After reading the blog of the trip, if you would like to understand more of what it is like to live through the cancer experience, just go to the upper right of the screen and click on Ray Reports: Living Through Cancer  New entries will be added on a semi-regular basis.  Louise and I hope you will appreciate…and even enjoy… the description of how we dealt with this life-threatening illness.  Until then please dive into the story of our SECOND HONEYMOON, SAME CAR.

Welcome to the readers of Road & Track magazine.  We hope you enjoyed the article and would like to know more details about our marvelous adventure through our blog.  Unfortunately, the nature of blogs is the last entry is the first to appear.  If you would like to start at the beginning just enter B01 in the Search box and it will take you to the first entry when we had no idea of lay ahead.

For those of you who prefer to read from hard copy rather than a screen, click on “Articles as PDFs” just above this text to see an index of entries from which to choose.  The file sizes are reduced for quick downloads and suitable for printing.  Whatever way you prefer, we sincerely hope you enjoy our Second Honeymoon in the Same Car.    Louise and Ray DeTournay

Having spent over fifty years as a television professional, I find it almost impossible to sign off this blog without showing credits.  In this case the credit goes to our family who supported us in this grand adventure; our friends who encouraged us to follow our dream and ignore possible bankruptcy, permanent crippling and destruction of our marriage and to the people who took us in, shared their food and wine and then gave us a bed.  This project has been in gestation for over twenty-five years and it’s hard to believe it has come and gone.  All we have left are the bills and the memories but the latter are enough to last us a lifetime.

So, here goes, in order of appearance:

FAMILY AT ROUEN Road & Track Read more »

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