To everyone who contributed to the fundraiser Megan Fitzpatrick organized on my behalf last winter, sent kind comments, notes of support or handmade gifts, shared garden bounty, good wishes and prayers: Thank you.
After several months I thought it time to express my gratitude with an update. I still have Stage IV pancreatic cancer, per the original diagnosis. But if I hadn’t seen the scan images and read my doctors’ reports, I wouldn’t know it.
Six months of Folfirinox chemotherapy – not something I can recommend if you’re looking for a good time – shrank the primary tumor by two-thirds. Six weeks off chemo, starting at the end of June, gave me a chance to recover strength, energy (and my sense of taste, which was super-bleh due to Folfirinox). I started the alternate chemo regimen, Gemcitabine and Abraxane, in August and have had no side effects to speak of so far.
Most important, I feel better than I have in years. My diet is seriously wholesome, I haven’t been drinking alcohol, I exercise every day and am working with some excellent integrative healthcare practitioners.
Throughout most of this period I have continued to work. I started by writing “Shop Tails,” which is forthcoming from Lost Art Press, then built and installed the cabinetry for the kitchen of a 1920 bungalow (above). I’ve been blogging as usual for the Pros’ Corner at Fine Woodworking and the Little Acorns series of profiles here. Thanks to the success of “Kitchen Think,” I have also had a number of kitchen design commissions, among them a few rivals for Most Challenging Kitchen Layout of My Career. I do love a challenge. This week I will start prepping for a shoot with Anissa Kapsales of the plate rack article we’ve had under contract for longer than I can even remember, between the pandemic and various chemo-related delays on my end. I’m also working on some Voysey two-heart chairs.
I am feeling strong and optimistic. Please don’t ask about medical specifics – not because I am trying to keep any of this a secret (I’m not), but because I honestly feel so great that I’m done with seeing myself as a cancer patient. I am a healthy woodworker, design professional and writer who is living with cancer. Seeing myself this way does not equate to denial. There is no denial going on here. To the contrary, this has been and continues to be a transformative experience, and I wouldn’t want to deny any of it because it has taught me so much. If you’re interested in hearing more, there’s plenty in the first two chapters of “Shop Tails,” as well as in the conclusion.
The outpouring of love and generosity from Lost Art Press readers and editors has been one of the most moving experiences of my life. You have kept me company, shared cancer-related resources and made me laugh, in addition to providing invaluable help with medical expenses, which are significant even for those self-employed people who pay through the nose for the most affordable healthcare coverage. The best way I can show my gratitude is by continuing my efforts to recover from this disease that is widely considered incurable. So that’s what I’m doing.