Sunday, September 19, 2010

D Day Minus 172 (September 18, 2009): Part 2: Just a Little Faith

We were ninety minutes into a three hour flight back to Washington National. I tried to bridge the gap between hope, knowledge, and faith about your clinical trial by reading Biotechnology Demystified on my Kindle. You stared off into the pastels of the expansive sky through the portal window while you sipped a glass of orange juice and listened to classic eighties on your iPod.

That was your second glass of orange juice. You wanted to get your fill of orange juice, because you couldn’t have it once the trial started. Researchers were concerned the orange juice would interfere with the drug. With the first glass, I teased you about "craving what you can’t have and the more you can’t or aren't supposed to have something, the more you want it." Then, we planned for the fight aftermath: pray we’d get a quiet driver to the Marriot where my Miata was parked and drop you off in Sterling.  I'd head straight to Bassett to spend the weekend with Dad. You were going to see Katie, stop by Wegmans to talk to Julie, and pick up a few groceries -- namely orange juice. Nothing spectacular. Still, we were both excited for the weekend.

The guy in the row ahead of us was a really loud talker and just plain annoying.  We took turns rolling our eyes (and smirking) at the self-proclaimed muscle man's antics. He was doing some major name dropping and bragging.  He was best at everything - just ask him.  Oh and he'd been everywhere and seen everything.  He was trying to get lucky with hottie sitting next to him. I hoped she was smarter than that, but decided to mind my own business.  So, I stuffed my headphones in my ears and cranked up some binaural beat tracks really loud. Like I told you, the binaural beats helped me relax and concentrate. And blocked out loud talker.

Anyway, I was trying to understand biotechnology and the clinical trial so I could play my part and help you believe the trial would work. I was beginning to think what you believed about the treatment was just as important as the treatment itself.

Remember last May and the books on emotions and beliefs I made your read: The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, PhD. and Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert, PhD. Both books were about the role that beliefs and emotions play in making changes at the cellular level. The books scratched the surface in the field of epigenetics. I told you, but I don’t know if it ever stuck in your brain. Epigenetics is the study of changes that are made above the genes, not to the genes. I know it’s mind boggling, but researchers say your beliefs can change the behavior of the genes (like in cancer) but not necessarily the genes themselves.

I pondered asking Dr. F about epigenetics and the trial. I decided I would if I didn't think I'd get laughed at or ignored at your next appointment. When I’d asked questions about mind-body and other options before, I ended up feeling stupid or that I let the Internet get the best of me.

You smiled and bobbed your head to some song on your iPod, while I thought about what you had believed about your past treatments. You believed the Interferon was working and it did (at least while you were on it). Then you had a hunch that the cancer was back the month after you went off. And you were right. After that, it was DTIC chemo and the doctors saying it was only marginally effective. We believed the doctors (and the statistics) and it didn’t work just like they predicted. We believed you would be fine with the surgery in February and enlisted the help of others (prayers, thoughts and intentions) who believed in zebras. And you were.

Last month, I was numb about your biochemo option.  I didn't have much faith in that.  I knew too much about the statistics, past treatments, and the doctor’s demeanor about the treatment. I didn't ask you what you believed during the treatment, but sensed you didn't think it was working. This time, I felt better because  the trial was targeted toward the BRAF gene and the treatment wasn't shooting in the dark. I knew you believed that it would work.  I just needed to catch up with you.

I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep until we got ready for landing. I kept building upon all the positive thoughts about the BRAF inhibitors and the success with the trials so I could believe in the trial, thought by thought. By the time, we landed at National, I did. Because, you did.

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