Soon after the New Year, I walked the perimeter of a sandbar on the Columbia. It juts north from the Oregon shore in Hood River and is called “The Spit.” Kite board enthusiasts know it as the largest sandy launch site in the Mid-Columbia Basin. From March through October, surfers take off from here and weave their colorful sails through the loom of winds that make our town famous.
On the day I visited, mild January temperatures stirred the fervor of serious kiters eager to ‘catch some air’ in the off season. While there, I watched a modest breeze knit and purl scallops of sail onto the fabric of a charcoal sky.
When the day crept toward dusk, the surfers gathered their gear and departed. They left behind a deserted beach and a gallery of driftwood sculpture the Columbia had curated along the shore.
The wanderings of this river walk occurred during a break in treatment for my blood cancer, multiple myeloma. I am now on a full dose chemo protocol, as opposed to the reduced dosages of maintenance therapy.
Whereas previously I took a pill form of chemo, I now receive an injection in my belly each of the first two weeks of a 3-week cycle. Then, I get the third week off to let my body rest before starting all over again. Blood is drawn on the cycle’s first week, at which time I also meet with my oncologist, Dr. L. We discuss the weather, our families, and the ambiguity of lab results.
The numbers of bad juju have not retreated, but neither are they running amok. It’s early. Determining the effectiveness of the stronger medicine may take several cycles. For now, I am tolerating it. The important thing, indeed, the most important thing is that I feel well.
I like the changes we’ve made. Now, two weeks out of every three, I visit the infusion clinic of our county hospital. In fact, I received a shot of the magic juice yesterday, the 2nd week of the 2nd cycle.
On the way home, following the injection, wind gusts buffeted me. I wondered about the kite sailors down by the riverside. Would they consider the weather promising? Probably. For them, harsh conditions contain opportunity, irrespective of the time of year.
And me? Multiple myeloma patients live with the virtual certainty of relapse. Therefore, I expect, but don’t fear, swings in MM’s cancer markers.
The doc and I are pursuing an option that may quiet the progression. If not, other options exist upon which I plan to ride the shifting winds of MM in the days ahead.