The Philly Chronicles – Trek 6


The Philly Chronicles – Trek 6 (out of 10 mandated to complete the first phase of treatment – 5 for actual treatment. Clinical trials are not easy work.)

People often tell me they pray for me. I figure that is good because any pull with any gods can’t hurt my situation. I, myself, am fairly nebulous in my belief system. Raised an atheist, it always seemed hard to develop an otherworld view that included throned figures in the clouds. On the other hand, I have never seen the value in discrediting options. If it ends up there is an actual heaven and hell, I am quite sure where I want to go. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be surprised with Elysian Fields showered in sunlight or a new home amongst such billowing clouds?

A recent study revealed people who prayed for others benefited themselves, a nice outcome, albeit less for the person prayed for. In my agnostic way – open to everything, rejecting little – when folks offer to pray for me, I thank them sincerely.

On the plane this last trek my seat companion was a former seminarian. He introduced himself with handshakes to both seatmates, he helped out every distressed passenger within reach and when he realized my sorry plight he offered to pray for me and I said, “how nice.” I was not ready for what came next. Glasses removed, hands held out palms up, with the voice of an almost priest he intoned a most respectful prayer for my best outcomes. It felt a bit like Reiki. I loved the caring but was quite conscious of the odd scene. (An almost priest’s voice is trained to carry and a plane is rather small.)

And so I started this trip prayed over, a quality way to deplane to the “extreme heat emergency” that gripped the Philadelphia area. The nighttime lows were projected at 82 degrees. The daytime highs with humidity were in the low 100s. Philadelphia is not a green city. Parks are few and trees scattered about creating a slight canopy. It is a city of concrete.

The heat emergency cramped my style emotionally and actually. I have never tolerated humidity well. With an excessively fair constitution I have learned to dodge sun from an early age. I always mean to buy a parasol (wherever do you get them?) but an umbrella works just fine when I have no choice but to walk in the heat of the day. And so I marched around Philadelphia with the exception of one late afternoon commute where I hopped a bus for an air-conditioned ride home.

The treatments themselves roll along, the less thought about the better. The chemo leaves more nausea then I am used to and the big needles to the groin lymph nodes well, really, could they ever be pleasant. This is just what I do when in Philly.

I am now over the half way mark – two more treatments at both ends of August, and then two close out visits in September mark the formal end of Phase One but not of Penn treatments.  What comes next was a topic of conversation with the staff there this visit. I would presumably go into either maintenance therapy once a month until the vaccine material runs out in a year or Phase Two, which is a little more dramatic then I had understood. Phase Two kicks off with three days of back-to-back chemo, then two days of shots, then a transfusion of my jacked up t-cells extracted during my second Apherisis scheduled for September 16th, 2013. I would then resume the every 2 ½ week travel cycle for an unknown period of time. Currently, entry to Phase Two is by waiting list and triaged need, as they are at capacity. I find out in late September, post a day of testing, which route is seen as best for me. If I go the maintenance route, when and if I recur, I automatically start Phase Two procedures.

Oregon Bliss

Oregon Bliss

Since returning home to Oregon’s lovely summer temperatures with no humidity, I have watched Philadelphia mellow out with nighttime lows dipping to 61. I have not had great travel luck. I should focus on the big things (please cancer, go away!) but honestly the small things matter, too – flight delays and egregious weather. If you cast a prayer my way perhaps you can take the big and the small into account. I continue to use my favorite prayer, the serenity prayer, to remind myself to let go.

xoxo marcyprayer


17 responses »

  1. Thinking of you with love, Marcy. Our thoughts will include low humidity and temperatures as well as the usual “may these treatments be magic.” Love, Janice and David Newton (Carol’s parents)

  2. Marcy, as always, thank you for sharing. What a lovely story of the priest on the plane. I, however, might have tried to crawl under my seat at that point…. While I’m not an atheist, I don’t believe in a traditional male god, as you say, living in the clouds. Still, my mom, a staunch Catholic, prays for me and my family all the time. You’re right; it can’t hurt. I will not offer to pray for you, but with the power of positive thinking, I continue to send healing thoughts your way. I figure that can’t hurt either. Love you and think of you often, Penny

  3. I meditate and pray every day, although it’s not the traditional hands folded, knees bend. For me, when I think of someone and wish them well, that’s a prayer. When I smile at a stranger on the street or let someone in a traffic line, it’s a prayer. Each adds to the inner harmony we all need for healing. My meditation is to empty my head, breathe, go through the chakra points to relax my body. I think it is quite powerful for someone to “pray” for you. It focuses energy on your well-being and also is powerful for the praying person. It’s a connection. I really don’t care if “God” is male or female (probably neither), exists up or down (probably neither), is a spirit or an energy (probably both.) All I know is I feel a presence of comfort, stability, and healing (not the miracle kind) when I hold others in my heart for a few minutes.

    Last week I had a man in the parking lot of Lowes ask me if he could pray for me. It was very cool and I was touched.


  4. Thanks for sharing your journey. It must help so many people. It helps me as I deal with my cancer (in remission) and another friend’s cancer (not in remission). As far as I know, my prayers have never been answered. On the other hand, they probably have and the answer was “forget it!” Still, I hold to a benevolent force in the universe which has come through a time or two. In my mind I connect you with that. xoxo

  5. Marcy, I follow your blog with a personal interest as I also have cancer (ovarian) and am from Philadelphia. I see you live in Oregon. Do you really have to fly there every two and a half weeks?!! Do they pay for it or do you have to cover the costs? They must be enormous!

    • The trial *only* covers what they mandate that is not standard of care. So, I couldn’t even have considered this while on my original hmo. Once I met the 2 1/2 year waiting period for medicare, though, I could get the rest covered. But all other costs are mine. Travel not only sucks to endure but then you have to pay for that! And summer flights are not only booked solid but also very pricey! It is a huge burden even before adding in that I live on disability. I cherish both medicare and disability but they dont make it easy to take on such ambitious commuting to stay alive! It would be lovely to meet some time when we are both in Philly. How are you doing on your cancer path? warmly, marcy

  6. My dear Marcy, Every breath and action offered up to god to bring us from suffering and toward happiness. We love you and so does She. Safe travels and know you are loved.
    Joe and Lisa

  7. As always – I really enjoy hearing your voice through your writing Marcy. I have missed you at the 4th of July and now at our recent event. While the path is a long one – it does seem to be a hopeful one……..Much love to you Marcy. Your Olympia Pal, Doodle

  8. Ah-h-h-h, Marcy – how I do love your stream of words and experiences! I might just search you up one of those parasols…..surely the old estate sales around the midwest would have one or two laying around?? Sending love, acceptance, courage and wisdom!!

  9. I have a lovely parasol waiting for you. Bright, iridescent green with lace around it. I bought it in Beijing. When I return from Canada we will find a way to meet so that I can pass it over to you. Love, Adele

  10. Marcy, I have been thinking of you and hoping you have not had to endure the wrath of the East Coast summer, but alas, i see you have, and have prevailed over it! I am in awe of you!….

  11. Marcy, it was such a joy meeting you twice in one day, and you’ve impacted me and my heart a third time by this incredibly beautiful and inspiring blog! Welcome back to Portland and see you again soon, I’m sure!

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