The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Its been a while since I’ve entered an update on my cancer situation. A lot has happened in the last couple of years and especially in the last couple of months for me. I write about this in case someone finds it helpful or useful. I know I have found others’ stories of their cancer experience helpful.

The Bad

When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007, the only treatment for my somewhat rare form of cancer was radiation and surgery. There was no chemo therapy available at that time. That was probably a good thing from my perspective. I found out that I might possibly live as long as another ten years. That was six years ago; four to go.

The Good

A few years after my diagnosis, I discovered that I might live as much as 15 years after my diagnosis. Not sure what was happening, but things were looking up. But things weren’t always nice. I had about 5 or 6 surgeries to remove the cancer, plus a series of radiation treatments, drank a little radioactive iodine twice and had an interesting experience with a Cyberknife. All of these treatments reduced the tumor on my spine a bit, but it always came back in time. My most recent surgery was this past February and it was a far more radical approach to completely remove the tumor. The surgeon believes he did just that. He removed all the visible tumor and replaced the artificial vertebrae in the middle of my back with a new one. My spine is held together with 2 long pins and 14 screws and I still have a hard time believing I can still walk. The skills of doctors and medical technology continues to amaze me. The recovery from this last surgery has been a difficult one. The first few days, I really didn’t care if I lived or died, I just wanted to not be in my body; it felt like voluntary torture. But I guess all’s well that ends well, and its nice to still be on this side of the great divide.

I also learned just in the last month that there is now a drug available for my cancer. It hasn’t been approved by the FDA, but is expected to be approved within a year. Hopefully, I will never need it. Again, it amazes me how much medical science has advanced since my original diagnosis.

The Ugly

I continue to plant solar cameras, though recent results have not been so good. I put out some cameras before the last surgery and made and planted several cameras this past week. My work in general isn’t very “pretty”. It isn’t meant to be. These truly are collaborations with nature to create images that are unique and minimally directed by me. I point the camera at a scene, so I compose the scene in the beginning. And I decide when to pull the camera in. It stays out in nature for weeks or months. But nature does much of the work, providing rain, humidity, heat, cold, living creatures of all types who might enter or move the camera. I harvest the cameras after nature has done its work and then just scan the resulting image on the black and white photographic paper. This negative image that comes out of the camera has color. I don’t understand the chemistry of black and white photography enough to understand how the color is layered in the image, but it is there and looks a little like a color negative. I then reverse the image using a photo editing program on the computer and save it that way. From that I make prints.

So some of the images that nature and I make are sort of “pretty” and many are “interesting” and a lot are perhaps “ugly“. With this post I’ve added some recent ones from this year that I would put in the “interesting” and/or “ugly” camp. So it goes…

Click on image to view larger.

Other information:

What is Cyberknife
Umberto Eco on the History of Beauty and Ugliness