Monday, May 20, 2013

Personal Travels

With ASCO (AmericanSociety of Clinical Oncology) and EHA (European Hematology Association) upcoming, a significant backlog of abstracts to review, promised synopsis of critical issues, important editorials, and still some videos from ASH, I am going to grab this moment at the airport in Orlando to update my crazy spring.

First the biggest most important news:

My oldest daughter gave birth this weekend to our second beautiful granddaughter. Mother and baby are doing great (if you don't consider the sleep deprivation), and I am flying to Alameda to meet the newest member of our happy growing family. I can’t wait to hold her and smell her and kiss her.

Sydney Lilah

It is being alive for moments such as this that remind me why I fought so hard to travel across the country a year ago leaving the California sunshine for an Ohio winter, uprooting my wife and myself for months, and risking a new unproven therapy to knock back my CLL and ITP. But my calculated gamble has been an unmitigated success, offering me chances to see so much more than I could have dreamed possible. And no sight will be sweeter than my new grandchild.

Now that baby has safely arrived after a very quick and natural labor and delivery, my schedule is a little more solid.

This frantic spurt of travel started at the end of April with my trip to Columbus, Ohio for my treatment. I stayed a few extra days due to scheduled CT scans, an opportunity to tour of the new hospital and Dr. Byrd’s wonderful lab (the highlight was meeting the bright and enthusiastic PHDs, MDs, and other lab staff), meals with Dr. Byrd and other friends, new and old, and an amazing Mark Rothko exhibit at the Columbus art museum.


When back home, I had time to catch a hockey game (Go Kings Go) where the Kings beat St Louis in the Stanley Cup playoffs, before driving up to the Bay area to help my then expectant daughter and son-in-law with the toddler. That didn’t stop me from flying to Vancouver, Canada for a few wonderful days of a west coast all boys high school reunion (UTS or University of Toronto Schools) that included kayaking in Deep Cove, a gondola ride to the snow and the grizzly bears at the top of Grouse Mountain, and poignant memories.

Deep Cove, British Columbia

Now I am writing this post from a plane leaving Orlando where I attended a two day primary care medical conference.

Once back in the bay area, I will be driving back to Orange County for a day or two, then onto San Diego for one day for more learning.

Before the next week is over, and after spending time at the office, getting trained on a new EHR (electronic health record) module, and visiting the infusion lab for my life saving IVIG and a routine check-up with my local CLL doc, Dr. Sharma, I will be leaving for five nights in Chicago to cover ASCO with Andrew Schorr and Patient Power. So far Drs. Byrd and Wierda are aboard for interviews and several other familiar faces are very likely. I will also be interviewing experts on other hematological malignancies and on some solid tumors for Patient Power.

Only two days after ASCO, things get real crazy. I will be driving up to Santa Clara to lecture with Dr. Steven Coutre out of Stanford on anemia and MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), a too common complication of CLL and its treatment. From there, just hours after I finish, I drive to SFO to fly to Stockholm for only three days to share my experience with ibrutinib from a patient’s perspective just before the EHA meeting (European Hematology Association), then rush back to the bay area the day before I leave for Chicago to see my younger daughter, just back from her delayed honeymoon in Spain and Morocco.

After another brief visit with my daughter, son-in-law and the grandkids in Alameda, the drive to SoCal gets me home in time for more doctors’ visits, clinic hours, a local CLL support group, seeing my son Ben off to Stonehenge for the summer solstice with the Druids, all followed by a two days car trip to La Jolla for more medical education conference, this time on heart failure organized by UCSD.

A week earlier, my son, Will is flying to Israel for 10 days, and I hope to arrange a meeting up with my bone marrow donor.

The next weekend I am in Baltimore for more med. ed., and the extra bonus of catching the Max Weber exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

This is the last year of my CME cycles in Canada and the USA, and I must squeeze in a lot of hours to meet my requirements. Now I have to overload my credits to catch up before the end of June. Poor planning and other priorities lead to this crisscrossing of the country.

July 3, I have been ask to lead a CLL support group for UCSD on their campus in San Diego.

In between, I have scheduling and planning teleconferences and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

No more travel is scheduled for July until I need to be back in Columbus, Ohio again in the third week, and I am so looking forward to not leaving home for a few weeks.

This frenetic pace is not sustainable or healthy. I nap often at the hotels and on the planes. I wear an N95 mask and gobs of hand sanitizer. I treat myself to the best vegan meals I can find on the road ( which is not saying much) and I always try to see more of the town that I am visiting than the hotel lobby. In Orlando, I hiked though a lush swamp with catfish and egrets and Spanish moss that was just minutes from the silly shopping malls and alligator miniature golf courses near my hotel. No amusement parks for this traveler.

Shingle Trail, Orlando

Then I took a long nap.

I bring my comfort foods (organic raw nuts and fine Japanese green tea), meet old friends, do work that I love, and have a rare opportunity to make a small but meaningful difference in the world.

This schedule was an extraordinary confluence of opportunities and my inability to say no to spread the word about how cancer treatment is changing. I admit there is desperation to all this journeying, but I know my time is limited and I want every moment to matter.

If I was more at peace, perhaps I could sense the gravity and power found in standing still, like a mountain, like a master, but I am still a breezy soul.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Mazel tov on your grand daughter; she looks very dolly.

Your travel schedule is, in one word, nuts!!

Go carefully and enjoy, no use suggesting that you cut back.

love from cold London

May 21, 2013 at 8:04 AM  
Anonymous said...

Congratulations Grandpa. She is beautiful.

But now I must go take a nap, because I am exhausted just ready your post and all that you have coming up. Including the Stanley Cup Playoffs........At least one of our teams may make it.

Blessings today and always,


May 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

congratulations on your 2nd granddaughter. She is a beauty!

--Janet Morrison

May 22, 2013 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Brian

Congratulations on becoming a second time grandfather. Looks like a lovely baby. so happy for you and Patty.

Mary and Arno

May 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Deb Light said...

Congrats Dr. Brian on your new granddaughter.She is Beautful!Enjoy your travels and try to rest some to.I think it is feel up to doing all you do.ou are being used by God in a great and mighty way.
God Bless,
Deb Light

May 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM  

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