Thursday, March 31, 2011

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Of all the "ists" in the world - artists, motorists, psychologists, anesthetists, equilibrists, whatever - the one type that probably everybody dreads in the very type I am due in just a few hours today to meet for the first time in my life: an oncologist.

Let me say this as gently as I can: no one wants to experience the kind of involuntary system re-boot that is involved whenever something as radical as Whipple surgery is involved. But Whipple patients still have a whole second challenge ahead of them: even if, as in my case, the surgery is completely successful, the recommended Next Steps involve chemo.

While not as debilitating as some other forms of chemotherapy, the drug Gemcitabine (a.k.a. GEMZAR) is most likely to become my new poison of choice. I won't know until the oncologist tells me how long the treatment will last, but I gather it may come in 21-day cycles. Given the proximity of Cloud Expo New York, I certainly hope the chemotherapy is a resounding success!

Meantime, I will continue to work even, if as in this photo, I have had to be creative at avoid creasing my stomach where the scar from the Whipple operation is still knitting together only very slowly. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention!

Monday, March 28, 2011

How the Web Can Help Fight Cancer

There is really no other way to do this than just to blurt it out: six weeks ago I was diagnosed - unexpectedly and completely out of the blue - with pancreatic cancer.

What has one of the deadliest forms of cancer got to do with "New Media"? Quite a lot, it turns out. Because thanks to the Internet, I was able - before my consulting surgeon could even say it to me - to learn that in cases such as mine where by some quirk of fate pancreatic cancer is detected early enough, there is a very radical surgical procedure that is claimed to be curative. Curative as in, if everything goes okay, you emerge from the operating theater cancer-free.

Needless to say, Wikipedia played its role here. Its entry on the so-called "Whipple procedure" is a classic of detail and balance.

But Facebook wasn't far behind. There is both a Pancreatic Cancer topic page and a separate, and invaluable, topic page on the Whipple procedure. Honestly, who'd a thunk it?

The final new-media pièce de résistance came when I was thinking about what to do, having had Whipple surgery just ten days previously, with the entry I had already secured last December into this year's San Francisco Marathon on July 31.

The answer was obvious: use the Web to transform it into a fundraising run, a personal 26-mile journey toward helping raise funds towards doubling the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020.

Here is the donation link: I am not saying that it is exactly a barrel of laughs to have cancer diagnosed one week, Whipple surgery three weeks later, and chemotherapy due to start just three weeks after the surgery...but I will say that, if you have to undergo such a fate, then using the Web to make it easier to endure, manage and understand is definitely the way to go!