Two pillars of light on Thanksgiving Day…

I’m being discharged today on my favorite holiday of all time…

I’ll be heading to Duarte for a night, then on Friday checking into the City of Hope Hospital to start the process of a Bone Marrow Transplant.  My actual transplant will take place on December 10th, all I know about the donor is that he is the same age and weight as my father would be, if he were still alive…and that our genes are a 10/10 match, legally in two years I can meet this person if he agrees, for now I can write letters to him, filtered through a social worker, and he can only respond anonymously.

I’d like to give thanks today to this person that I’ve never met and to everyone and everything…sitting here with this diagnosis really puts things into perspective…what wonderful people I’m surrounded by, my family, my friends, my community…everyone’s pulling for me and I’m grateful for the support, it’s keeping me going, staying positive…staying strong.

I’d like to paint a scene that happened a couple of days ago as I was taken from my room and brought to the basement of the hospital for a CTscan. 

FADE IN:

INT. ROOM 610, CHEMO FLOOR, KAISER HOSPITAL BUILDING 1526

A MAN sits cross-legged on a hospital bed.  He’s covered in gowns and blankets, his head is shaved. He resembles a more pathetic version of the King of Siam.

On either side of him sit two pillars of light…

THE DOOR CREAKS OPEN

VOICE (O.S.)

Mr. Goss, it’s time, we’ve gotta take you down to the basement now.

The Man slowly steps down from the bed, slides into worn brown slippers and walks towards the door.

As he reaches the door he turns to look over his shoulder…

The room behind him is now filled with white light. Light so white it’s blinding.

He squints back, snowblind.

VOICE (O.S.)

Mr. Goss, we’ve got to go…

Through the blinding light he can make out two female faces, one slightly older, one younger.

He smiles as a single tear slips down his cheek.  He pauses for a moment longer, then turns and walks out.

As the door closes behind him and he’s wheeled away down the hall he can still see the white light glowing from underneath the crack in the door, spilling out into the hallway.

He mumbles something to himself about light and dark and angels as the wheels of the hospital bed squeal faster and faster…

FADE OUT:

 

Recent photos

The Serum of Life

Today I filled a syringe with cranberry juice and hid it under my pillow.  Whenever a nurse entered my room I would sneak it out, flash it wild-eyed to them and claim it was my “Serum of Life”.  Their faces would go taunt, then crash down in laughter, giggling in Tagalog, spitting out the english words “love potion” or “cranberry juice”.  I think they think the chemo has finally reached my brain, but they all tell me I look like some Fillipino movie star from the Far East who’s name I can’t pronounce.

My moods swing like a rusty gate in a hurricane.  I forced my mother and girlfriend (who I call my two Angels) to dance to Sam Cooke while I lipsynched the words, if they didn’t get the dance steps right or goofed off I would plead and scream to start the song over.  This went on for quite some time.  Sometimes I cry for no reason and other times my brow creases in anger and I’m not quite sure why.  Hormones they tell me, whatever the hell that means…(my girlfriend tells me I’ve been PMS’ing for weeks now).

I’ll keep with tradition in ending with a movie quote/scene, but not one that I said…

My mother and I are in Dr. Cai’s office at the City of Hope Hospital (where I’ll do my transplant) when he goes over the rigors of a bone marrow transplant (I will be doing stem cells from the blood).  The Doctor went on to list the things in broken English/Japanese that could present mortality.  The chemo could kill me, I could have a reaction to the radiation, two weeks without an immune system could lead to severe infection and possible death, and a little number called “graft/host” disease could knock me flat…none of these things I’d have any control over.  I then went on pestering him about my chances for a cure with the transplant…he made a phone call and dug out some unfavorable statistics as I put my head in my hands.  He tried to cheer me up as my mother and I left his office.  As we walked out the door I was in tears, going on about my low odds for a cure to my mother…she was crying too now, but summoned strength from somewhere and winked at me through her sheet of tears, whispering, “Hell the fall will kill ya”.  Still weeping I smiled and hugged her…we stayed like that for a long time laughing and crying.

Asteroid Fields…

Sallow eyes stare back at me from the mirror above my sink, asking questions that can only be answered by time…I scratch my head, ponder, small hair particles float down and line the sink in strange geometric patterns like the metal shavings inside an etch-a-sketch.  I’ll never quite get used to this.

The end of the week will bring another bone marrow biopsy (which I liken to a corkscrew opening a wine bottle, except the stem of the wine bottle is the back of my pelvis). New marrow will be retracted and sent out for more gene mutation tests. This will show where I’m at in the disease control department.  I’ll also be starting a new second generation kinase inhibitor (Dasatanib), this is a revolutionary pill that attacks only the malformed leukemic cells, this drug is so new that no protocol exists for its use in conjunction with induction chemotherapy. My doctor and I think it could make a huge impact…

As a small child I unknowingly adopted a phrase while riding bicycles with my neighborhood pals. It came from one of my first “favorite films”, George Lucas’ STAR WARS…the scene happens as Han Solo looks out over an asteroid field while the droid C3PO rattles off his staggering, longshot statistics of survival.  Solo quickly shuts him up, shouting, “Never tell me the odds!” I used to mockingly say this when jumping a curb or doing a brake slide on my bmx, but now it has become a Mantra I use to fight against my Leukemia.

Finally well enough to write…

…As I sit in my private bathroom the din of the overhead fluorescent light makes it hard to focus on much at all.  I strain though…break through the sickening buzz, try to think of the world outside, how many mundane things I took for granted.  The fluid in my lungs, renal failure, and a full body scarlet rash are just some of the reminders of the chemical gauntlet I’ve run the past three weeks.  Things after my first treatment are certainly on the up and up, yesterday I received a bright yellow livestrong poster from my town (even signed by the mayor and others who attended the bone marrow drive), it said, “Give Cancer the Middle Finger”, I think I’m going to use my whole fist on that fucker.  

Everyday in this place is like the same scene from the same movie, it just depends on which character I play.  Sometimes I’m Robert DeNiro in Michael Cimino’s THE DEERHUNTER telling my Doctor’s they’ve got to find a way to “Put more bullets in the gun”, other days I play the opposite role of Christopher Walken looking back at the medical staff in utter terror, responding incredulously, “More bullets in the gun…what are you crazy?”