Abbot Steve finished his first round of chemotherapy this past Thursday. This week he is able to take a break from chemo, and a blood test on Wednesday may help determine if the treatment is having any success in shrinking the cancer cells. He still has very little appetite, and his experience of pain is again a concern.
So far it has been the case that the day after chemo has been a pretty good day. Abbot Steve took advantage of this last Friday by performing a lay entrustment ceremony with Elizabeth Sawyer, a long time sangha member. Steve Weintraub and Ken Sawyer were here as witnesses to that ceremony. Included in this post are a few pictures taken just after that ceremony.
Abbot Steve is working to accept the limitations placed upon him by his decreasing energy. Every day seems to bring new challenges. He and Lane are continuously learning about pancreatic cancer and the complex situation that they find themselves in.
Finally, Abbot Steve asked me to again thank all of his family, friends and sangha members who are sending greetings and who are supporting him in many diverse ways.
Abbot Steve heads to the infusion center at Kaiser several times a week for chemo and hydration. In the center is a glass-fronted case containing the warm blankets Steve loves. Returning home recently, he read aloud from Sherman Alexie's War Dances. It was the chapter called "Blankets." An exerpt follows: ...continue reading →
Jay gently reminded me this morning that I had not sent in an update for a while and asked if there would be one today. Thank you, Jay, for the reminder.
Abbot Steve's condition has been changing. Just about two weeks ago he and Lane made contact with an incredibly supportive hospice doctor. With careful monitoring and close contact with the hospice doctor many changes were made in Abbot Steve's pain control regimen. For now Abbot Steve seems to have found pain relief that is effective and allows for mental clarity. This new regimen also seems to have lessened his nausea some. He still has virtually no appetite and his energy is very limited, but given the difficulty felt last week, today seemed much more easeful.
Abbot Steve underwent a second chemo treatment last Thursday and is scheduled for a third one the day after tomorrow. It is too early to know if the chemo is of benefit, but Abbot Steve is intending to continue with the treatments until he is no longer strong enough or it proves to be affecting his health adversely.
Thank you all again for your cards and blog entries. Abbot Steve appreciates all of these messages of love and support a great deal and has the wish that these wishes help alleviate the suffering of all beings.
Abbot Steve returned home about an hour ago from the 2nd of 3 chemotherapy sessions in this first cycle of treatments. It was a long morning and he is exhausted.
It has been a difficult week. Steve is still working to manage his ever-present pain. There has been some hope that a place of stability could be found which would afford both mental clarity and lower levels of pain, but as of yet that place has been elusive. He is having continuing difficulty with nausea, and his appetite is very limited.
Abbot Steve moves around the house with the use of a cane and still goes into the yard each day to marvel at the beautiful roses that are blooming in their back yard.
Abbot Steve continues to appreciate the well wishes and support he is constantly receiving from family, friends and sangha. He adds that this is a good time to examine the reality of impermanence in all of our lives. And to continue to express our love for each other.
Abbot Steve's pain level fluctuates a great deal, and periodic supplemental doses of medication are needed around the clock to keep it manageable. Also, fatigue and weakness make simple ventures from the bed seem like major efforts.
Somehow, even through his weakness and discomfort, Abbot Steve shines through like this at various moments.
Abbot Steve had chemotherapy yesterday and was in the hospital from 9 until 2. He's at home resting now. Steve continues to lose weight, and recently he has not been able to absorb fluids into his system, so now he needs to go in to receive regular fluid infusions in addition to the chemo.
He tends to bring energy to what is happening, and visitors buoy him up. Afterwards, though, he is really tired and because he's unable to sleep deeply any longer, he catnaps.
He has started the process of Dharma transmission for Christine Palmer, and he is grateful that it has begun.
Abbot Steve has enjoyed hearing your cards and messages read to him by Lane and Mary. Mary continues to field any requests.
A conversation with Mary yesterday reminded me that every day seems to bring greater fragility and discomfort to Abbot Steve as the cancer is moving through his body. That, combined with meds that are escalating daily to control pain and nausea, is putting a tremendous strain on his system.
On a good day recently, what he managed to ingest was little more than half a cup of soup. And restful sleep is elusive. He is still able to get up and move around the house with a cane. A walker and a wheelchair are also available. Mary says the need for these tools has been pacing ahead of the mind's ability to take it in.
Chemotherapy was scheduled to resume today, on a schedule of once a week for three weeks, and I have not yet heard a report on that. It is questionable whether he is strong enough for the treatment to be beneficial. The focus for Steve, Lane, and Mary is becoming more and more a day-by-day one. Mary plans to provide an update tomorrow about what happened at the clinic.
Mary offered this update as a reflection of Abbot Steve's sincere concern that we be well informed about the steady progress of his illness.
I apologize for not writing an update for a few days. Time seems to get away from me, and the web editor is kind enough not to send me deadlines.
Abbot Steve took a walk in the yard this afternoon again today and spent some time talking to David, his old foreman. David and the crew that are here worked for Steve when he owned the landscape design company before Abbot Steve was "Abbot Steve." Currently they are working at the house doing extensive fence and other outdoor repairs.
In general, the process of this disease is continuing. Abbot Steve is requiring more and more in the way of pain control, and that affects his entire system.
Lane and Abbot Steve are on a very steep learning curve and are in consultation with a number of physicians in order to find a balance between the pain and the side effects that the medications cause.
Each day presents a slightly different challenge.
Abbot Steve continues to be extremely grateful for all the well wishes he receives and for the chanting that is being done on his behalf. He asks that all these be done not only with him in mind but to all those who are in need.
Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts,