Professionally, I am the City Forester in Aspen, CO. By City Forester, basically I mean I take care of the trees in town. I’m a pretty lucky guy to take care of the trees in Aspen. I really do enjoy my job and surprisingly, I have missed very little work because of this whole lung cancer thing. The treatments I have been on are targeted therapy drugs and they seem to be working pretty well (I should tell you that I have the ALK mutation and the drugs they have to treat this mutation come with few side affects). So, getting up and going to work every day is an opportunity that I have enjoyed and an opportunity I do not take for granted. Side note, this is one of the ways I hope that I am being a productive member of society – I get up, I go to work.
The thing is, these drugs only work for a certain amount of time. The cancer slowly recedes and then the cancer slowly creeps back. But how long does it take to become resistant? It’s a waiting game and it’s different for each of us. I wake-up every morning and do a self-check. I ask myself – “is it harder to breathe? Am I short of breath? Is that itching in the back of my throat a cough? Is that subtle cough just a frog in my throat? Does my chest hurt?” and the list goes on. I don’t have it written down, I’ve memorized it. This waiting doesn’t overwhelm me; its just there and I know that soon there will be treatments to deal with the resistance issue. So for now, I’ll hope and wait.
Tomorrow I will wake-up and do my self-check. I will feed Reina (my brown dog), drink some coffee and make a smoothie. I will get in my truck and make the morning commute into Aspen where I will spend the day caring for trees. It’s business as usual.