Wednesday, May 22, 2013

En garde! Cancer, prepare to die

“Courage above all things is the first quality of a warrior” 
Klause Van Clausewitz

The time has come to go to war to live … nothing I have ever written seems more fundamental.

I thank God for over a year diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer. One brief surgery and life was back to normal or so I thought.

Mornings seem earlier now in Stage 4 as I enjoy my coffee in the 64°F (17.7°C)  lilac scented dawn. Stardust, our cat, hunts through the ground fog.

I remember my daughter loaning me her copy of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu while I had my CT guided biopsy and resulting pneumothorax 15 months ago that began it all. Everything beforehand I had concealed from everyone including her. How did I miss the warrior heart in my own daughter?

I will not waste my time on prognosis of Stage 4 with brain metastasis, Google if you want. Prognosis is about statistics not people – what lung cancer can never know nor claim is the heart of the warriors it meets and we all bring different pre-existing health to the fight.

Half way through brain radiation for lung cancer metastasis to the brain, we (my daughter and I) met with my oncologist today.

While radiation therapy has eliminated metastatic related headaches, swelling, numbness and pain, I get a two week break and chemotherapy begins with a half day drip every three weeks. I’m scheduled for three such drips this summer.

What began as ‘just an appointment’ with my oncologist Margarita Gareis MD yesterday metamorphosed into more of a family experience as we met and talked with my Care Coordinator and my assigned oncology nurse, touring chemo rooms, lounge and talking chemo thorughout the eclectic building. Synergy flowed and more importantly trust and hope grew. I went for an appointment and found my team at Andews & Patel Associates.

Curiously just three months ago while still Stage 1. I went in search of survivors like me and in a now prophetic visit in the chemo lounge instead found myself in awe and empowered by meeting several Stage 4 lung cancer survivors, two 4 year+ survivors and a 10 yr survivor.

I begin with a combo of Altima and Cisplatin on June 11. Biomarker testing did not come back great for targeted therapy so we are going in gangster style, everything the good, the bad, and the ugly are going to get hit during my chemo cocktail drips of about half a day or more. I’m forewarned my ass will be kicked like nothing I have ever known or imagined for up to 48+ hrs afterward. … Three treatments over the summer, likely every three weeks is the plan to start.

Soooo to paraphrase from the Princess Bride ... 
“Hello, My name is Inigo Montoya. Pancreatic Cancer, you killed my father. Lung Cancer, this stops here.  En garde Cancer prepare to die.”
Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. Cancer is one of the dangerous disease.But can be curable if its symptoms foung in its early stages.Thank you for giving this information.
    Regards:oncology hospital india

  2. I am a stranger to you but I have read your entire blog tonite and wanted to say that I am praying for you and your family. I pray this scourge called cancer is cured or at the very least, goes into remission!
    My mom who is 72 and a smoker for many years, was diagnosed as having Stage 1B non small cell lung cancer in March of 2011. It was in the upper lobe of the left lung with no node involvement and no radiation or chemotherapy needed. She had the lobe taken out in June of 2011 as well as a small piece of the bottom lobe and, after regular follow up scans since then has been told she is doing well and in remission. However, the last scan showed a minute node that they said was there in the previous scan and they attributed it to a cold she had. She goes back sooner this week. I pray it is gone and really was due to her cold she had. But tonight I just felt compelled to read a few blogs about lung cancer which is not something I have done before.
    If you should want a listening ear, I'm willing to listen and offer what emotional support I can to you or your daughter.

    1. Lori, you have brought my morning coffee to life, thank you and thank you for caring. As I have too well learned Stage 1 while the goal of early dedection campains, can be a dangerous self sense of security. ... As a Stage 4 survivor I met explained to me you have to take control.

      You and your Mom are in my thoughts.

    2. Thank you, Patrick for your kind words and thoughts. Yes, after reading your blog I am realizing that my siblings and I need to encourage my mom (and do so ourselves) to take control! She is not the strongest woman emotionally when MAJOR crisis hits. I suppose we all handle it in our own ways though so I do not judge anyone for that (esp. since I am not a judgemental person anyway lol)
      You are a warrior for sure in this fight against lung cancer! Your strength and courage is impressive--although I totally understand it's not like you were given a choice! This disease is pretty much an "equal opportunity" illness.
      Keep writing--and I intend to keep reading!

    3. Lori you hit it on the head, we are all different as are our teams. I was lulled by hope and happiness in Stage 1.

    4. Patrick,

      Taking control is the right approach.
      It's been a few years since HPHS, but if I can help, let me know.

      Steve Schuster

    5. Wow Steve what a blast from the past! Thank you for caring.

  3. Patrick, I've decided to go back to this point - your dx with brain mets - to try to compare some notes. I know our situation with lung cancer was quite different before, and that this was really your first forte into stage IV land. So I would never think how it shocked us was similar. Still, there feels to be something just so damn invasive about this shit now growing in my brain - my most sacred of places... It's truly shaken me to my core.

    Ranting yours,

    1. Jessica!!! Thank you, knowing I am not alone is sooo welcomed. Unfortunately technology is was not my strength and since toll of brain radiation and chemo fog I suspect it has improved. ... though like you I feel rage that cancer slithered right by 'professionals' staring lung junk for 4 months ... and of course living in Harrisburg (country mouse medicine) no one could safely perform an EBUS (they flatined me a year earlier leading to the questionable Stage 1A DX)... and possible waste of a year. ... finally ended up in Baltimore for successful EBUS where not only was my DX changed to Stage 3, but different eyes looking at the symptoms found Stage 4 with brain metastasis ... where you live can be fatal if you do not seize control of your treatment ... only WE are just not another patient ... WE are fighting to live