Down by the Riverside

January 3rd 2014 kite sailing!
January 3rd 2014 Kite Sailing!

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.

Driftwood Sculpture
Driftwood Sculpture

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.

Still Life of Sand and Stone and a Dormant Plant
Still Life of Sand and Stone and a Dormant Plant

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.

The Hood River across the Columbia. Photographed from The Spit.
The Hood River Bridge Across the Columbia. Photographed from The Spit.

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.

This Graph Shows the Bad Juju. As You Can See, the Trend Is Up.
This Graph Shows the Bad Juju. As You Can See, the Trend Is Up.

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.

6 thoughts on “Down by the Riverside

  1. John –one of my New Year’s Resolutions is that when I get a notice you’ve posted something new, I will read it immediately! I fell behind a few posts there.

    Glad you’re feeling well. It is, as you say, the most important. More sand and stone and dormant plants in 2014!


  2. John – I started reading your blog last summer just after my own father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. With his name John and my mother Marilyn you can only imagine how much it hits home. Just wanted to thank you for your encouraging words and the kindest insight into your life. Wish you only the very best.


  3. Hi John
    We are travelling similar journeys across the pond except I’m on my 8th cycle of velcade and dex so a little further on. I hope that the wind lifts your sails and you start to see your numbers drop or at least stabilise very soon.
    Best Wishes


  4. John — Best to you. I’m glad you’re out walking and enjoying your lovely community — its sights, smells and sounds. Take care.


  5. omy!
    You look great and said you feel great,
    however, I did not know how close to “the other side” you got.
    Thank you for taking such great care of yourself and sharing your beautiful words with us. Wow!

    Gosh, my blog is more like a “Dear Diary.”
    Like a knitted mitten. Loose, muddy and unraveling~
    But it’s fun to write down thoughts + ideas, isn’t it?
    And YOU certainly have a gift for words.
    I’m following YOU for sure!

    John, I am very happy you are going to be a grandpa——you’ll find it’s the greatest gift of your life!

    Carry on, my friend.
    L O V E and hello HELLO to Marilyn, too!
    teri —x


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