October 27, 2000

October 27, 2000|

A lot has happened in a short period of time here in the hospital since I last wrote. It hasn’t been easy and I am thankful that my dad has been staying here, keeping me company and straightening out everything with the doctors, nurses and treatments.

The biopsy was all day Thursday. It was rough, as the anesthesia was much more powerful than my last biopsy. The biopsy was cool though and all I have is few scars to show and a sore stomach (which is feeling better everyday).

Friday was the day of uncertainty- the call from biopsy didn’t come till almost 5pm. My dad wouldn’t leave the room till we heard the results. He wouldn’t even leave to eat. He ended up eating the scraps from my new roommate, Boris and me. Boris is a 60something Russian Jewish immigrant, from Brooklyn, owning his own construction consulting company, and had his lymphoma come back too. He is incredibly well educated about our situations (as we are doing the same treatments), and also super positive. Him and my dad talk a lot about the cancer and about everything. I don’t think my dad has met someone like Boris (a character straight out of a Brooklyn novel, basically) and Boris, who has never met your totally average American (which I totally consider my dad to be- white, Midwestern, middle class, conservative, etc).

As for me, I have been under the influence of a lot of morphine, which I just learned how to control the flow of this morning. The morphine drips into my IV every 15 minutes, and if the pain really flares up, I push a button and I get an extra dose of morphine. My back hasn’t felt better in months, but the morphine really zonks me out. Therefore we reducing the morphine and trying to see if the chemo did its job and is reducing the size of the nodes, thereby reducing the pain. I think that is happening.

Once we got the call about the pathology, the doctors here (who work in teams instead of individually) started chemo instantly. My first dose came last night, and I received my second and third today. The third is a 24 hour drip, and then the fourth will happen tomorrow and will take an hour drip. After that, I will have nothing for 2-3 weeks. Then I will have one more chemo treatment and 2-3 weeks of rest. After that we will have an extra 10 radiation treatments on my back (which I am assured and assure you will not be nearly as close to painful as last time, especially not being close to my throat or stomach) just to make sure my back nodes are done for.

After that radiation, the last step is the stem cell transplant. I don’t have all the details on it, but it appears if that will happen in January and will require 14-21 days in the hospital. The rest of the next few months will be a lot of tests, making sure everything is clear. If these work, well then, remission is declared and life is back to normal. If they don’t work, well, then I am battling this to death. It is a scary thing, amazingly scary thing, but this is where clinging to the hope and promises that were made to me come in. And clinging to you all and your prayers too. We (not I) will beat this thing.

October 21, 2000

October 21, 2000|


After analyzing the viewing statistics for artcanning.com I have discovered a few startling trends. I will only write about the most interesting -everyone is going straight to the pictures! The pictures are getting WAY more hits than the updates! Who wants to read anyway! Who cares what Art writes, let’s only see what he looks like! J

To address this “problem,” I will add more pictures. If you have any great pictures, send them along to me and we will put them up!

980 2nd Ave.

Apt. 2A

New York, NY 10022


Last week was an adventurous week. Not really. It was more of a test-filled information gathering week. Not much excitement. At least not for me anyway. My mom, well, that’s another story…

It ended up that Dr. Moskowitz wanted to do about million tests. So last week I spent almost everyday at Memorial Sloan Kettering getting every test known to man and doctor. EKG, Gallium Scan, CT Scan…just to name a few. In addition, I met my surgeon, Dr. Kevin Conlon and went through surgery pre-testing.

I don’t have any of the results just yet. That will all come in two weeks when exactly everything will come to light. Before that though, I still have one more test, another biopsy. This is going to be a cool test though- I mean you can’t beat getting put under for an afternoon.

The Dealio

This biopsy is going to be pretty cool, I actually wish I were awake to see it being preformed, even though it might hurt. Thursday, Dr. Conlon is going to make a little slit under my belly button. From there is going to insert carbon dioxide and blow up my belly. Next he will insert a 5mm camera into the incision and look around for some large and funny looking lymph nodes. Once he finds one, he will remove it and send it to the labs for analysis. Then all of us will know exactly what we are dealing with down there.

Mr. Ibuprofen

Before then, I will be going to work and doing the semi-normal routine. Because of the surgery I will not be allowed to have any aspirin or ibuprofen, as it thins the blood (which is not a good thing during surgery). This is not a good thing, as I rely on ibuprofen as my basis painkiller for my back. Without it, I have discovered this weekend, that my back hurts a lot more. I have much stronger painkillers (narcotics at that!), but they don’t do the job like good ol’ Advil. I look forward to Friday and resuming my Advil addiction J

DeeDee’s Adventure in Manhattan

As for my mom’s excitement- she ended up staying the whole week here in New York, and she had a blast. She had sushi for the first time (and was ready to bring it home with her before realizing it would spoil on the flight home), went to Macy’s for the first time, explored Midtown Manhattan, got her favorite singer’s autograph (Audra McDonald) at an exclusive Tower Records signing, had a giant bowl of soup at the famous Carnegie Deli, made brownies and cleaned my apartment like 25 times. You would think she wouldn’t have time to take care of me, but she did.

Straight from the Doctor’s Pad

For those looking for the exact cause of back pain, here is the note from the doctor at the emergency room:

“The exact MRI of lumbarseral spine revealed lymphomatous involvement of L1 and L2 vertebral bodies, no spinal cord involvement. Small disc herniation at L5/S junction.”

More information on the way, have a great week!

October 18, 2000

October 18, 2000|

Yesterday was the day – the fateful meeting of doctor and patient. After enduring the weekend in a haze of painkillers, sleeping 16 hours a day and not leaving my apartment once, my parents and I made the 17 block trek to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. There we met with Dr. Craig Moskowitz, the in-house expert on lymphomas and stem cell transplants. He totally is a sharp shooter, telling us like it is, without the candy coating. We really appreciated that sense of honesty. He was very knowledgeable about the disease and our options for treatments.

He was having a rough time figuring out what the problem is with me. In his mind, not all of the timing, symptoms and results added up. To help him get a bigger picture, I am undergoing five tests in the next few days. Quite possibly as soon as Friday or Monday, I will have another biopsy, taking a lymph node out of my abdomen area, and we will start the chemotherapy as soon as late next week. Dr. Moskowitz does not mess around!

The back spasms haven’t returned since I starting taking these super powerful muscle relaxants. Those things can mess you up! Otherwise my back and other muscles have been sore, just requiring my daily dosage of Advil, Oxycontin and Percocet.

Trying to find a place for my parents to stay when they come in town has been an adventure. My roommates have been very accommodating, but in reality we are hoping to get into a Ronald McDonald-like house near the hospital.

That’s all the news here. Thanks for reading, come back for more updates, pictures, and information!

October 13, 2000

October 13, 2000|

Crazy stuff here…

I write this update as I lay here in my bed, working on my laptop supplied by Goldman Sachs. It has been a LONG week.

It first started on Sunday night when, after laying down to watch TV, I got up to go to bed and my back started to spasm. I have been through a lot of painful experiences in the past year, but these spasms are the most painful on record, worse than the radiation burns, the kidney stone, the stomach sore, etc. It is like a charlie horse in the back muscles, but times 20.

So Thursday morning at 3am I woke up with terrible spasms, so much so I couldn’t move an inch without a spasm occurring. “Conincendentally” my roommate Brian got from work about 3:15am (I-bankers, typical 20 hour day…). I yelled out for him, he called 911 and a few minutes (and a ton of pain) later I was in the back of an ambulance taking me to New York Presbyterian Hospital.

At Presbyterian Hospital, they got me some morphine (which helped very little) and also did an MRI to find the root of the back spasms. 10 hours later we got our answer; enlarged lymph nodes hitting some vertebrae (L1 and L2 to be exact) which was radiating the pain. The spasms ceased after awhile and I was released.

Unfortunately, and rather comically, I went to the ER wearing only a pair of shorts, a wife-beater undershirt, and a fleece jacket that they put in the ambulance. Leaving, I had to figure a way to go 17 blocks to get home. At the ER they gave me a pair of green cutoff socks to wear- so here I was, couldn’t find an open taxi anywhere, riding the bus home in nothing but green cut-off socks, khaki shorts and an orange fleece. People gave me looks like I was crazy. It was pretty funny looking back.

Today I woke up fine, but after checking e-mail, the spasms kicked in again and I was trapped. I couldn’t move out of the chair I was in. Luckily I had my laptop from work delivered yesterday and I was able to do work while I sat.

My parents arrived at 1pm this afternoon and have been a big help. I may end up at the ER again today, we’ll see, depends on the pain, I can’t move right now, all I can do is lay here in bed and type 🙂

In other news, I will be going to Memorial Sloan Kettering on Monday at 2pm to see Dr. Craig Moskowitz, a specialist in Hodgkin’s and stem cell transplants. He wants to get moving on treatments, and I will be staying at MSKCC most of next week as an in-patient.

Thanks for reading, stay in touch!


October 5, 2000

October 5, 2000|

Just a quick note

I am going to get my bone scan tomorrow at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Next week I will know better what we are up against and where I will be getting my treatments. After talking to my insurance case manager, it appears Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSKCC) is the Cadillac of treatment facilities. That also means that it cost a Cadillac- actually a couple Cadillacs. MSK isn’t in any network for PPOs, HMOs, etc, so anything beyond the reasonable cost is an out-of-pocket expense. From what my case manager said, everything there is beyond the reasonable cost, so I will be paying a ton out of pocket.

So where will I go? We’ll just have to see. US News and World Report has ranked the best hospitals for cancer, check out the link. Also check out the link to a very cool fundraiser that will help support research for finding a cure for Hodgkin’s and other forms of lymphomas.

October 3, 2000

October 3, 2000|

Itís been about a month since I last sent an email update out to my list-serve.† I was hoping to send one out this week, detailing my doctorís appointment in Philadelphia where I would be declared in remission.† It would have been a nice, short email.† Things donít always go like we plan them though and instead I am not remission and I am not going to write a short email, but rather the exact opposite- create a large and information filled website.†

So first things first.† Dr. Alavi, my chemotherapy doctor and I met last Friday.† Before the check up I received my first CT scan since May.† After viewing the CT scan, it was discovered that the lymph nodes in my chest and shoulder were smaller than in May, which translates into our favorite word- remission. Those areas were where I did the radiation- so the radiation did itís job. (Thankfully too, cause I never want to have to go through that again.)

But not all was rosy.† One lymph node in my right lung had doubled in size since May, and the lymph nodes in my abdomen area had also doubled in size (one has grown to 2 by 4 centimeters!).† That translates to some of our not so favorite words:† the cancer has returned and spread.† To further explain what happened, basically the first round of chemo didnít kill every cancer cell. And if you donít kill every cancer cell, it reproduces and makes more and more in a very short period of time.

What does this mean?† Well we canít do any more radiation (woohhooo!) because radiation can not reach or be effective in these areas.† So that means more chemotherapyÖand more chemotherapy.† This time though it will be a lot more intense and will require some hospital stays.

Hereís the tentative schedule of treatment:

1.Friday: Bone scan to determine if the cancer has spread to my bone marrow. I will be taking a day off work and traveling down to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to get the all day test.

2.ESCHAP: This chemotherapy treatment requires a port to be put into my chest (like having a reverse udder) and a five day hospital stay for the chemo to fully drip in.† After that I can go home for two to three weeks.† This will then be repeated 3 or 4 times.

3.Stem Cell Transplant: This next treatment is the funnest of all.† First the doctors will take stem cells out of my bone marrow in a surgical procedure.† They will then scan them and kill any cancer cells that have been taken out of my body. Next they will freeze the stem cells (kinda like in Austin Powers). Then I will receive massively high doses of chemotherapy which will effectively kill just about every cell in my body.† After they have killed everything, they will reinsert my stem cells and in turn the stem cells will reproduce the white blood cells, red blood cells and placelets that my body needs.† We should have by then killed every cancer cell, and I will be given a clean bill of health.

Next week I will decide which hospital I will be doing the treatments at. Most likely it will be Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center here in New York City, and 20 blocks from my apartment.† Memorial is the best cancer center in the country according to US News and World Report.† Check out www.mskcc.com for more info.

As for work, I asked my chemo nurse, ìdo most people work during this?î She replied, ìMost people- no. You- youíll be fine.î† My co-workers here at Goldman Sachs have just been incredibly supportive.† The main concern for them is that I get better and they will pick up any slack.† I intend to stay active and do work from home and from the hospital.† There is totally no pressure from them to work, I want to though, for my psyche and to keep me out of trouble.† I enjoy my job tremendously and I look forward to helping out any which way I can.†

So thatís the latest update.† If I might I will borrow I quote from an old pastor of mine, Dr. James Boice, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer in June.† In his call to worship on May 7, he told the congregation of his condition and remarked,

ìIf God does something in your life, would you change it?† If you’d change it, you’d make it worse.† It wouldn’t be as good.† So that’s the way we want to accept it and move forward, and who knows what God will do?î† (for more of his inspiring announcement go to www.tenth.org.)

I firmly believe that, down to the core of my soul.† God doesnít make mistakes.† I look forward to seeing the great things that will come out of this next chapter of my life.

So keep checking in on this site. I hopefully will have links to informational site, pictures, and much much more. I owe a giant thanks to my dear friend Patrick Altman, who is helping me in the development of this page.

Thank you all for your support, care and prayers.† It means the world to me.