Thursday, January 21, 2016

About the book State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, by Jerry Oppenheimer

I am Marla Crider's nephew. It has come to my attention that Marla's name is again in the news regarding her brief relationship with Bill Clinton decades ago, before he was married to Hillary. In particular, author Jerry Oppenheimer has raised Marla's name again, claiming that she let him interview her again before her death.

I do not believe this to be true.

In the final months of her life, I helped Marla with this blog. She had two wishes. First, she wanted to share her experience battling cancer in a way that would be helpful to anyone going through the same thing. Second, she wanted to push down all references to Bill Clinton - push them off the page - whenever people Googled her name. Sitting down for an interview with Mr. Oppenheimer would certainly have run counter to that goal. I saw no new information in the news articles I've read today. I saw no new quotes from Marla that were not in the book when it was written years ago. New photos of Marla that appeared in the news stories could easily have been lifted from this blog by Mr. Oppenheimer.

I believe Mr. Oppenheimer is using Marla's name in an attempt to generate new interest in his book so that he can make a little bit more money. If Mr. Oppenheimer has any proof that he actually spoke to Marla "shortly before her death," I'd welcome visiting with him about it.

To those who are reading this blog after finding it while searching for information about breast cancer, please continue reading and know that it was Marla's wish that her experience during her battle will give you strength and comfort.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remembrances of Marla F. Crider

After her heroic 18-month battle with breast cancer, on December 13 (2014), hundreds of people attended a memorial service for Marla F. Crider at First Christian Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The following are memories of Marla written by some of those in attendance:

Marla was the sister I received after marrying into the Crider family. She had a twinkle in her eye and we shared lots of fun times together. 
- Carolyn Crider

Marla - my true friend for 38 years. You fought cancer like no other. You are at peace and out of pain. May Happy and you enjoy many laughs and giggles. God only made one Princess! 
- Patty Roddenberry

My memory of Marla was of a beautiful, thoughtful, interested and interesting woman. Heaven must be all aglow. 
- Anonymous

Marla - the shining star of Arkansas tourism! 
- Anonymous

Marla never complained. She tried to trick everyone into thinking she was more healthy than she was. In fact, she would always ask about us before we had a chance to inquire about her. She knew everyone, and always had something nice to say. She always dressed to the nines. She was always upbeat. She fought so hard to not only give others strength, but to have her experience expand medical knowledge for others' treatment. 
- Cindy Smith

I remember being excited wear my pretty long dress to be Marla's flower girl. She was a beautiful person. 
- Sherry Watkins Anderson

I was very young and remember when Malcolm died we visited the family. When Marla was born, I remember going to see her and how cute she was. All through the years she grew into such a beautiful and sweet girl. Love to the entire family. 
- Pat Watkins

Marla was not only a boss to me, but a friend. I looked to her as a mentor. I will miss our conversations in the office and driving to and from commission meetings. She is greatly missed, and I will never forget her. 
- Erik Holbrooks

Marla: Smile - hers like none other. With cancer, still a smile. What a lesson! Thank you, Marla.
- Anonymous

Marla was a youth sponsor when I was younger. She became our "mother" for two others and myself (Susan Bailey Edwards and Gayle Jenkins). It's funny because all of us were the youngest siblings in our families. Marla was there to celebrate with us when we were Baptized and on through life as we celebrated graduations, marriages and births. I didn't remember or know until her memorial how alike we were. I, like her, had three older brothers, with the third brother dying at a young age (10 years apart) and then the birth of a first girl (almost 10 years apart). We were Princess girls with older brothers. I think of her often and she will always be a part of my happy memories. Love you, "Mom!"
- Betty Arambel

Honorably happy,
Active believer,
Pretty and precious,
Youthful for eternity.
- George Wheatley

Marla, you have shown us all COURAGE. 
- Anonymous

The word that comes to mind when I think of Marla is resilient. In fact she should be listed as one of the definitions of the word. These are some of the definitions I found when I looked for ways to describe this incredible woman:

1. The ability to become strong and successful again after something bad happens.
2. The ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever.
3. The capacity to withstand stress and catastrophe.
4. The ability to cope with change.
5. Being able to endure tribulation without cracking, closely connected to happiness.

See what I mean? She faced cancer with an uncommon courage that amazed all of us. One day as we sat waiting for chemo, I asked her how she coped with the fear and anxiety. Without even a moment of hesitation she replied, "you don't let it get in your mind." That was our take-charge Marla. She simply took charge of her mind. As she said in one of her posts, " in spite of cancer, I choose to be happy." She made this devastating loss so much easier for us. She was one of a kind. 
- Mike and Barbara Crider

Marla and I always worked in tourism. We are the same age. When I worked in Arkansas, we travelled to trade shows, market places and events. She was the most fun representative of the State of Arkansas. I work in Branson and we have kept in touch all along. Arkansas tourism lost their greatest cheerleader. Love you, Marla! 
- Lynn Berry

Marla was all those things that Don described - intelligent, brave and classy always. I might have added sassy to the list. I am so happy to learn how warm and loving her family is. We are all better for knowing Marla. May we all find even a fraction of her courage and grace. I love you and miss you, Marla.
- Anonymous

Our families have known each other for generations. My parents grew up with Happy and Mitchell. When I was in Hot Springs a few years ago, she met with me and told a funny story about my grandmother. That's how she was - friendly, kind, gracious. But that 's the way all the Criders are. They never forget you. I'm so sorry her life ended so early. My prayers are with the family at this time.
- Kathleen Webb Wallace

Marla and I were college friends and were inseparable for a time. I always enjoyed spending time with her laughing, sharing secrets, and just having a great time. As time would have it, our lives took different turns and we were apart. But Marla was always someone I could always continue a conversation no matter how long it had been since we had last seen each other. What an honor it was to have known her and shared sweet moments with her.  
- Susan Freeman Wizer

Marla and I share our love for cats. I remember being sent pictures of her sweet cat. I remember always thinking of her when I played with her dolls that had been passed down to me. 
- Hannah Crider

Marla always had the most incredible sparkle. She was just full of life and beauty and wit. She will be missed. 
- Kiki Crider

Wonderful memories of a great cousin. We will meet you in Heaven some day. 
- Leon and Alice Bradshaw

Marla and I grew up in First Christian Church together. I was two years older than Marla, and when you are young two years is a huge span of time. Therefore, to me, she was one of the "little kids." I know that Marla lived a happy life. 
- Pam Nickle

I dated Marla from 2002 until late 2004. She loved boating on Lake Hamilton and travelling on the Arkansas River on my cruiser. She was a beautiful, strong Lady. I will miss her as others. We have remained friends up to the very end. 
- Paul Hastings

Though I knew Marla for many years. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with her. I met her when we were seniors in High School. She introduced me to one of her very best friends - and he became mine. We have celebrated 40 years together, thanks to Marla. She has always been an energetic, positive person and through her disease and treatment became an inspiration to so many - myself included. Marla was such an example of how to deal with disappointment  and extraordinary pain. She remained incredibly strong in her walk with God. She has taught us all that life can be short and we should live each day to the fullest, making each moment count. Her absence leaves our hearts heavy, but we all know she rests with Jesus and smiles down on each of us. 
- Anonymous

At our wedding reception in 1997, Marla was the first person to hit the dance floor after the Father/Daughter dance. She took over the dance floor with laughter when she began doing the "Elaine Benes" dance from Seinfeld. 
- Christy Crider

Marla was a "get it done" person. She lived the life of "lead, follow, or get out of my way."
- Shelby Woods

Marla - Try not to tell St. Peter where to eat lunch. 
- Gloria and Richard

Marla loved my voice. That sounds like a good thing, but I really wanted a better, professional voice to represent Arkansas Tourism in our TV and radio spots. I lived in dread for a week or two as we debated the voice choice. In the end, she agreed that there was a much better voice out there to attract visitors to our great state. She was brilliant that way - to be active and dedicated to promoting Arkansas, and to the do the right thing for her beloved state. Still in all, I was flattered she had confidence in me and appreciated her guidance always. 
- Bill Fitzgerald

Marla: I have only known you for less than a year and through this short time I considered you my family. I know you are in a better place now and I will be able to see you again someday. You have a special place in my heart and I love you. 
- Charlee Martin

Marla was my new friend (mi nuevaamiga). My brother Miguel and me, we met her working with our new client the Department of Parks and Tourism. Even I did not have the opportunity to spend and share more time with Marla, I can say that Marla was a beautiful woman with a big heart. Thank Marla for your friendship. Gracias Amiga. 
- Enrique Fuentevilla

When we hired Marla at the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, she made several changes in our policies and procedures, saying there was "a new Sherriff in town." The rest of us were happy to be her Deputies. 
- Joe David Rice

Marla was a very genuine, warm and a fighter. We were not aware of her disease, never realize it because of the strength and attitude to life. We had a chance to eat some authentic Mexican restaurants. She also support us and was very excited of our new working relationship. I have a lot to learn from such a beautiful person. 
- Miguel Fuentevilla

I have never met anyone who exhibited the amount of courage as I saw in Marla. Working with her from day to day gave me so much strength and faith in God. She handled her life a remarkable way, showing her faith and strength. Her last 1 1/2 years were an inspiration to many and testament to the glory of God. My life has been richly blessed by knowing her. 
- Cynthia Dunlap

I worked for Marla, and one evening my son told me he was punched on the bus. I was determined to get to the bottom of it the next day. I called Marla at 8:30 pm and told her what happened - that I was going to be late in the morning. She told me to do what I needed to do and don't let them brush it off. Marla was just as fired up and mad at what happened as I was! She wanted to know how everything turned out and gave me strength to keep pushing the school to act. This was a week before she left for the last time. 
- Jennifer Neubaner

What a wonderful spirit she had! Always fashionable, happy and confident. If someone could bottle what she had, they would be a billionaire. How rich we are to have known Marla. 
- Marilyn Heifner

Marla - I'll miss your wit and charm - bust mostly I'll miss you. 
-Bryan Kellar

Marla, I'm so glad to be a part of your family and lucky that I got to know you (it's always interesting that I met you through work SO many years ago and then got to know you as family). You just always filled any room with your sparkle and energy (no matter what). I'll miss you. 
- Morgan Robinson-Crider

Many times throughout my career in Arkansas, I made long presentations full of complex strategic plans and ideas, only to have the client's first question be: "Are you related to Marla?" I was always proud to say "yes."
- Scott Crider

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marla Crider Memorial Service

A Memorial Service for Marla F. Crider will take place at 11:00 A.M. (Central Time) on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at First Christian Church in Fayetteville, AR.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can Happiness Fight Cancer?

It has been more than a month since I documented my continuing treatment plan for Stage IV, triple negative breast cancer.  In the past few weeks, unfamiliar road blocks have cropped up, teaching me even more about this insidious disease than I ever wanted to know.  Just to clarify, what I’m experiencing is no different than what others with cancer endure everyday, it’s just new to me and my battle.  I'll explain...

Marla, smiling through
chemo treatment #7
Several weeks ago, Dr. Makhoul ordered a routine PET scan to determine how the carboplatin/gemzar chemo cocktail had impacted the small, cancer-laden tumors in my bones, liver and lungs. After the second dose of the chemo drugs, we were all elated that the cancer nodules on my head and back had disappeared.  Dr. Makhoul was in hopes the drugs were having the same effect on other parts of my body. 

Interestingly, the chemo destroyed some of the old lesions, which were not detected at all on the scan; however, new ones showed up, mostly in my spine and liver. Needless to say, I was disappointed that more progress had not been made, as was Dr. Makhoul.  He suggested that we start looking for new drug trials again, especially since the idea of going to M.D. Anderson in Houston fell through. Dr. Mak planned to have his research team investigate various drug trials all over the country to see if there are trials for which I might qualify.  He said he would call me a few days later with an update. 

In the meantime, the good doctor prescribed the third carboplatin/gemzar treatment.  He felt that even though the results were not as good as we had hoped, it was still working – slowly - and should be continued while the search was underway for a drug trial. 

My brother, Mike, and sister-in-law Barbara faithfully traveled to Little Rock, once again, and accompanied me to Infusion 1 for the treatment.  Unfortunately, the chemo treatment and the medical team that administers it have become routine.  Each week, with a nod of the head, we acknowledge familiar faces awaiting their turn for treatment. We smile and cordially speak to one another as we patiently wait for the poison concoction to trickle into our bloodstreams and silently pray that remission, or better yet, a cure, is just a drip away.

The week following my third treatment, I noticed that the fatigue was more prevalent than usual.  I actually became winded when I made the walk from the parking lot at work to my office, which was unusual.  Mid-afternoon became a challenge for me to stay focused and awake.  I assumed that the third treatment of chemo had built up in my system, just as Mr. Nurse Ratched had predicted.

When I returned for my next chemo treatment, a week later, I reported for the usual lab work to check my red and white blood cells.  About 30 minutes later, the charge nurse in Infusion 1 called my name in the waiting room.  I assumed she was escorting me to a recliner for my treatment.  Wrong!  She informed me that my white blood count was very low (neutrophils at 2.1); therefore, Dr. Makhoul cancelled my chemo.  In fact, she said Dr. Makhoul was very concerned that if I were exposed to a cold or other type of infection my immune system wouldn't be able to fight it. She explained that if I ran any fever over the weekend I was to call Dr. Makhoul immediately.  Well, it was now understandable why I was experiencing extreme fatigue; it was the low white blood count.

The plan was to stimulate my bone marrow to make more white blood cells, so Dr. Makhoul prescribed three consecutive days of Neupogen, a drug that would do just that.  The first injection was scheduled to be given that day – Friday – while I was still in Infusion 1.  The RN, who was preparing to inject the Neupogen into my belly forewarned me that the main side effect was bone pain.  Well, that’s just dandy – fatigue AND bone pain.  The next injection was to be given on Saturday morning at UAMS Cancer Institute on the 4th floor, where multiple myeloma patients receive treatment, followed by another injection on Sunday morning in the same location.

Over that weekend, I was not only exhausted, but I was experiencing a lot of bone discomfort that moved from my upper spine to my lower spine and all places in between. All I could hope is that the pain was due to my bone marrow making lots of new white cells.  The good news is that by mid-week I felt like my old self – full of energy and a renewed fighting spirit.

I was scheduled for another chemo treatment the following Friday.  When I reported for the routine lab work, I was anxious to know the results.  About 30 minutes later, I was called back to the infusion room… for chemo.  My white blood cells had increased enough to get back on track with treatments.  I was relieved because every week without chemo could give the cancer cells a head start.  Bring on the chemo; I’m more than ready.

The following week, the extreme fatigue returned, indicating that my blood count had dropped again.  When I reported that Friday for the next chemo treatment, I flunked my lab test and, again, had to take the Neupogen shots to build up my white count.  The next five days were filled with exhaustion and bone pain but my energy level improved by mid-week. 

I had an appointment with Dr. Makhoul a few days later.  We agreed that I would return to a regular chemo schedule and the Neupogen shots would automatically follow for three consecutive days after each treatment.  This plan would keep us on track and prevent any future cancellations of treatments, which suited me just fine.

During our visit, Dr. Makhoul informed me that his research team had found two new drug trials for triple negative breast cancer for which I might qualify.  Both trials are being conducted at Washington University in St. Louis.  Dr. Makhoul was very excited about one of the trials in particular, which involves a chemo drug that is currently being used as a treatment by some oncologists for other kinds of cancer – one that I have yet to experience.  After administering the existing cancer drug, the trial drug would be injected, which should flush the cancer cells into the bloodstream, making them much more susceptible to being “zapped” by the existing chemotherapy drug. We learned that this particular drug trial is taking a three to four-week hiatus to collect and organize the data collected at this point.  When the trial comes back on line, Dr. Makhoul has submitted my name and case for admission to the program.  

The second trial is brand new and involves testing the cancer-laden tumor that was extracted during last year’s mastectomy.  If the tissue contains a particular mutation, then I would qualify for the trial and be given a new immunotherapy drug that would enhance my immune system and improve its capability of fighting cancer cells. The medical necessity for me to qualify for either of these drug trials is monumental. As Dr. Makhoul told me several months ago, the plan is to keep me alive long enough to find a cure for my particular type of breast cancer.  While those words are sobering, they are also my reality. My fingers are crossed and many prayers are being said daily in hopes of qualifying for one of these programs.

Several weeks ago, someone asked me how I cope on a daily basis with the knowledge that I have Stage IV breast cancer.  My answer surprised the inquisitor.  Even though I have a life-threatening disease, my life is good.  I work at a job that I love and with people that are like family.  My responsibilities at the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism help occupy my mind so that cancer seldom enters my thoughts during the day.  I’m a happy working girl.

In addition, I’m lucky and fortunate to have a loving relationship with Don, who has been with me during every step of this battle. He interprets the tests and translates the doctor­-jargon that might confuse any other patient.  He talks frankly with me and doesn't soften the reality that I’m sick.  He makes me happy.

I have a caring family that has committed themselves to accompany me to each chemo treatment and doctor’s visit, even though they live more than 180 miles away. They provide me with encouragement and embrace me with their love and support on a daily basis and that makes me happy.

My support network is hundreds strong and includes friends, both old and new, colleagues and acquaintances that cheer me on and offer their prayers when I need them most.  They make me happy. 

I’m fortunate to have a remarkable, experienced medical team that cares for me as an individual patient and not just a number.  They are just as concerned about my health status as I am.  They talk me through the difficult treatments, answer my questions and treat me with respect-and that makes me happy.

Cancer has taught me much, like loving unconditionally and not taking myself too seriously.  It has taught me how to be grateful for the smallest of accomplishments and to appreciate the wealth of support and encouragement received from family, friends and my medical team.

Make no mistake; cancer is not my friend, yet it is a part of my life.  One of the ways I have learned to fight this disease is to not give into it.  How do I accomplish that?  By being happy!

And that, I am.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bumpity, bump, bump.....

Sometimes, it seems, things just aren't meant to be, such as my July 14 appointment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Institute in Houston.

Several weeks after my UAMS oncologist, Dr. Issam Makhoul, made the arrangements for me to see the cancer team at M. D. Anderson for possible inclusion in a trial drug protocol and/or new treatment program, I noticed six to eight hard, pea-sized nodules on my scalp.  Since my appointment at M.D. Anderson was still more than three weeks away, I decided to call Dr. Makhoul’s office and tell his nurse, Brenda, about the bumps on my head. It was Friday afternoon. She told me that Dr. Makhoul was out of town but she would let him know the first thing Monday morning.
marla crider, cancer, chemotherapy, advice, patient's blog
Marla and Don - July 4, 2014

After fighting cancer off and on for more than a year, I knew that the bumps on my head, and now a new one on my back, were related to the metastatic breast cancer.  Having cancer improves one’s health instincts. More times than not, the least little change in the body is usually a pretty good barometer that something isn't right. Late Monday afternoon, I finally received a call from UAMS.  It wasn't Brenda, Dr. Mak’s nurse; it was the good doctor himself, which alarmed me just a tad.

When I answered the phone, Dr. Makhoul wanted me to know that he had placed a call to M.D. Anderson Cancer Institute to inquire why my appointment was scheduled more than six weeks after he requested their medical team see me.  He promised to contact me after he spoke to someone in Houston

About an hour later, Dr. Makhoul phoned me to share what he had learned.  It seems that M.D. Anderson recently changed its policy when accepting and scheduling patients.  Texas residents are seen first, followed by patients from other states, then international patients.  Since I’m from little old Arkansas, my appointment was delayed for six weeks, without considering how aggressive the cancer had become. Dr. Makhoul was incensed that no one from M.D. Anderson had notified the UAMS oncology department about the new policy, especially since the doctors there refer lots of patients to them.  The oncologist with whom Dr. Makhoul spoke went on to tell him that I wasn't a candidate for any of the trial treatments being offered and he encouraged Dr. Makhoul to continue treating me in Little Rock.

Dr. Makhoul told me that we could no longer wait to start a new treatment plan.  He directed Brenda to schedule an appointment for me on Wednesday, as well as time in the infusion room for chemotherapy.  Things were moving fast, as they always seem to do with cancer treatment.  I must admit that I was actually relieved to learn that the appointment at M.D. Anderson had been canceled and I was back in the hands of the doctor I trusted the most. Even Don was satisfied with the current turn of events.  He understood the urgency and was ready to stand by me, yet again, as I endured another series of chemo treatments.

As they had done a year earlier, my brothers decided that one of them would be with me for each chemo treatment.  My older brother, Mike, and sister-in-law Barbara, drove from Springdale in Northwest Arkansas for my first treatment.  As I have mentioned before, family support is key for those of us battling cancer.  Never will I ever be able to verbally express my gratitude and unconditional love for the sacrifices of time and travel mine has provided me.

We all arrived at UAMS for my appointment with Dr. Makhoul to learn what his plan of action would be.  It was early enough in the day that I only had to wait for an hour before seeing him.  When Dr. Mak entered the exam room, I was very glad to see him.  It had been more than a month since we had talked about my diagnosis.  The first thing Dr. Mak did was examine the bumps on my scalp, as well as the one on my back, and acknowledged what I already knew; the cancer was spreading…quickly. 
marla crider, little rock, arkansas, breast cancer, triple negative, advice, patient blog
Back in the Infusion Room

The plan included a double whammy of carboplatin and gemzar – two chemotherapy drugs that Dr. Makhoul said had rendered very good results for other patients.  It may seem odd to be excited about taking chemotherapy, but I was.  It meant that I was no longer going to have to sit idly by while the cancer cells dined freely on my liver, lungs and bones.

My family, Don and I made our way to the very familiar surroundings of Infusion 1, located on the first floor at the UAMS Cancer Institute’s Outpatient Clinic. As usual, the waiting room was almost to capacity and our wait was long.  When my name was finally called, I almost skipped to the recliner where I would begin treatment. 

How appropriate that Mr. Nurse Ratched would be the RN assigned to administer the newest round of chemotherapy. He greeted me with a smile and requested I tell him my current status. When I shared that the cancer had spread to my lungs, liver and pelvis, he said, “Yep, that’s where breast cancer likes to go, but rest assured Dr. Makhoul has an arsenal of chemo drugs to get you back on the right track.”  I was somewhat surprised that Mr. Nurse Ratched was actually trying to make me feel better.  Who knew that the guy was capable of compassion? 

As Mr. Nurse Ratched prepared to start pumping the intravenous poison into my system, I noticed two new RNs in the infusion room – both were male.  I remarked that it appeared he was no longer the token male in Infusion 1.  He replied, “Yes, I have two new roosters in my hen house.”  I laughed out loud.  My nemesis with the questionable bedside manner had acquired a sense of humor since our first encounter more than a year ago.  

Mike and Barbara shared “sitting” duty, while the carboplatin and gemzar dripped into my bloodstream, each drug taking approximately 30 minutes. Mr. Nurse Ratched told me the usual side effects from the drugs were fatigue, constipation, and a possibility that my blood counts might be affected. Some hair thinning was also possible.  I have determined that side effects are what you allow them to be and I refused to let them interfere with my daily routine or my job.  Dr. Makhoul scheduled me for chemo two consecutive weeks, then off the third week to allow my body to recover.

Fatigue and a few achy bones were the side effects that I noticed after the first treatment.  Also, I was experiencing some insomnia.  Even with that, I felt blessed that the side effects were minimal and prayed that this would be the norm, not the exception. 

Treatment number two was scheduled on July 3.  My middle brother, Marion, and sister-in-law Carolyn journeyed to Little Rock to provide support.  Don was expecting 19 family members for the Fourth of July, so we agreed that he should spend time preparing for the mass of people and leave the care giving duties up to Marion and Carolyn.  Whether necessary or not, it is always comforting to have family nearby, should something unforeseen happen.  

The most important thing I observed after the second treatment was that the bumps on my head were all but gone.  The nodule on my back was still noticeable but felt smaller.  I was ecstatic.  After only two treatments, it was apparent the carboplatin and gemzar were killing the cancer cells!  God bless Dr. Makhoul!!

My miracle worker of a doctor requested to meet with me on July 18 - week three - to discuss my progress.  This time, it was Mike and Barbara’s turn to make the trip to Little Rock. Since Don’s ability to walk has become more burdensome, due to numerous knee replacement surgeries and old sports injuries, I encouraged him to let my family do the walking, sitting and waiting with me and he agreed.

Mike decided to accompany me to meet with Dr. Makhoul. As usual, the wait took about an hour.  In his usual hurried state, Dr. Mak entered the exam room anxious to hear how I handled the first two treatments. When I shared that the bumps were gone, he almost didn’t believe me.  He requested that I sit on the exam table for a quick check of my heart, lungs and bump patrol.  To say that Dr. Makhoul was surprised and elated would be an understatement.  He was almost giddy.

I told him that I was hopeful the chemo was working as hard to destroy the cancer cells internally as it had done externally.  To determine if that is the case, Dr. Mak scheduled a PET scan for August 4 that will provide the answer.  He ordered the third round of chemo and confirmed that I am still his poster child for chemotherapy because my blood work is excellent and the side effects are manageable, which is uncommon for the type of chemo I’m taking.

Before Mike and I left the exam room, I heard Dr. Makhoul use the “R” word – remission.  He enthusiastically told me he had several patients who had experienced remission after receiving the one-two punch of carboplatin and gemzar and I might just be one of them.  I could feel the warmth of God’s embrace after that comment and even heard a faint “praise the Lord” coming from the direction of my brother.

As I sat through the 90-minute intravenous drip of my two, new best friends – carboplatin and gemzar – I prayed silently that the “R” word would trump the “C” word and become a frequently spoken description of my health status.  I certainly don’t want to get ahead of the PET scan results, but I keep repeating the word…remission.  It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?