Keep those postcards and letters coming – they’re really appreciated.

Status: 9.5/10.   A good day!  Feel better than I have in a while.

Events:  Had my central venous line put in today, a Hickman catheter.  It allows my doctors and nurses to draw blood and administer medicine without repeated sticks.  The catheter is inserted in the radiology suite with local anesthetic and under light general anesthetic (Versed), the same IV med they use for colonoscopies and other similar procedures.  I lay there comfortably as they told me they would inject a little of it, and then began to explain how they’d go about the procedure.  The next thing  I heard them say was, “We’re done.”  Nice.

  The remainder of the day was spent resting and taking a long walk through the hospital for exercise with good friend Laurie Singer, who stayed with me so Lisa could go to work to finish up details to enable her to stay with me.  They have a bulletin board on the floor to record your “laps.”  Exercise is important, since lying in bed itself makes you weak.

   Tomorrow begins the first 3 days of treatment with a once daily infusion of flavopiridol.  Major side effects are gastrointestinal.  Also the first of a number of days that leukemia cells will be killed, and whose destruction produces a large amount of  waste products.  They’ve been giving me, and will continue to give me, medications that protect my kidneys and other organs from the buildup of this metabolic trash.

Comments:  I actually felt very well today and believe it’s likely the result of the large amounts of intravenous fluid they’ve been infusing into me (I’m the middleman between the IV bag and the urinal).  Leukemic cells (like white cells in general) produce an array of immunological chemicals.  And in large part, the reason you feel weak, achy, and tired when get a cold or other virus is the release of those chemicals (in an evolutionary sense, being forced to slow down and rest  had a survival advantage).  This “rinse cycle” I’ve been on in the hospital may have washed a lot of those chemicals out.

    So tomorrow we start on the first step in this journey.  I know I won’t be going through it alone and that gives me added strength, which I’m grateful for.   




15 Responses to “”

  1. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    My dear, dear friend. How delighted I was to see your name pop up on my BlackBerry, only to get a sinking feeling when I read the title of your message….afterall, we don’t often send messages to friends/loved ones when all is well with our health (though a refreshing idea). Needless to say, I am shocked and saddened with your news, and send you my love, prayers and positive energy. Bruce, I think you know I am a woman of great faith, and I will put the power of prayer to work immediately with our prayer group at church…so as of tomorrow, you’ll have 3,000 of the faithful in Walnut Creek, CA praying for you, Lisa and the kids….
    I hope you know that I’d do anything for you, good friend. Have you contacted Walter Stark there at Wilmer? As he’s #1 there, he’s in a position to make sure that you are well attended….let me know, and I’ll contact him in a heartbeat….but also don’t wish to cause an invasion of your privacy if you prefer to keep the circle small and intimate while there at JHMC….I send you my love, dear friend, and please tell Lisa my love is with her, too. XOXO Donna

  2. Tom Linden Says:

    Bruce, my thoughts are with you and your family. I know your strong character and positive spirit will help you in the days ahead. If I can help in any way, please let me know. You’ve helped so many people in your life. It’s time to let others help you. Your friend, Tom.

  3. john hammarley Says:

    bruce, first, you’re right. no way are you alone as you fight this disease. i think in the hours and days to come as people read your jolting email you’ll be flooded with friends like me — trying to find the words, trying to grasp onto something we can do, trying to take the cancer away. tom linden is right: you’ve been the helper to so many, don’t be the tough guy jerk and refuse our’s! 🙂
    now the question is … how CAN we help? please, if you can, share with me lisa’s email so i can reach out and ask her what she needs as well.
    until our next ‘conversation’ — i’m sad but i love you.

  4. Jim DiBiasi Says:

    Dear Bruce,

    I, like Donna, am a great believer in the power of prayer and sending good thoughts your way. I know your positive attitude will go a long way to helping the medication kill those little bastard abnormal cells and get you back on your feet training with me again!

    Thank you for keeping this blog so your friend network can stay connected with you. I know I speak for many of your friends when I say – LET US HELP YOU. If there is anything we can do to help, just ask. If not for you, do it for us. It will make us feel better!
    I’ll keep checking your blog for updates.

    Jim (and all your other friends at 3D)

  5. Bill Schaffner Says:


    Your descriptions are elegant models of how doctors ought to be explaining otherwise bewildering hospital events to patients and their families. That’s why all your TV appearances are so effective. This is a heck of a way to research a story, but after you’ve emerged from this therapeutic tunnel you might consider assembling your blogs into a “how-to-do-it” that could be sponsored by the American Cancer Society and distributed to medical and nursing students, houseofficers, Fellows, etc.

    Am glad you’re exercising – and you might comment on your attire. Hope your fanny is covered!

    Those ghastly hospital gowns (oodles of snaps and ties in odd places) leave unfortunate gaps in coverage. Like Army boot camp, hospitals can depersonalize patients – however, I have no fear that you will surrender who you are. Be strong, keep your sense of humor. Lois and I think and talk about you, Lisa and the family every evening. We’re grateful for all who are caring for you (hospital gowns notwithstanding)!



  6. Bill Hendee Says:

    Bruce: This is a new pathway in a series of adventures that have been your life so far, and I know there are many more to come. Bill Schaffner’s idea is right on – keep up the daily reports, and don’t forget to include the idiosyncrasies – they could become superb reading for those who will follow in your footsteps. That would be just another way of your helping others through your own knowledge and experience – something you are so good at. I know that I speak for everyone on the Patient Channel Advisory Board in wishing you total remission forever in your fight against leukemia. If there is ever anything I can do for you …. Bill

  7. Steve Seekins Says:

    Hey Bruce:

    WOW! Like others I am saddened to have this news, but know that you will be doing every single thing in your power to get all the right treatment. As Hammarley said, do not be shy about letting your community of friends and colleagues know if there is anything that we can all do to help you in even a small way. You will be the recipient of many prayers and good wishes and I hope you know that in your heart. And that includes mine for sure. Steve

  8. Sheryl Stolberg Says:

    Hi Bruce. I’ve been reading the blog faithfully and love all the medical details — its so YOU! — but especially loved your post the other day about your childhood and your mother. It was so poignant. You will have a lot of time to think. You should write those memories down, so that you can weave them into the book you are going to write when this is over.
    I am thinking of you every day, many many times a day.

  9. Gary Anderson Says:

    Lindy and I are greatly distressed to hear news about your illness, and we wish you the very best outcome possible. You have always been a strong and positive person, which I am sure will serve you in addressing this challenge. You have meant a lot to many people, way more than will write in your blog, and I am sure the thoughts and prayers of all those people will be with you. You were very prominently in our thoughts this last March 14 when we went to a “Pi Day” party. If there is anything I can personally do to help you, I would love to do it.

    Your Friend,
    Gary Anderson

  10. Laurie Samuels Says:


    Glad to hear you were exercising yesterday… Good luck today with your first round. Thanks for the simple explanations for us simple minded friends. Just remember we are with you in thoughts and prayers every day. L.

  11. Jill Stewart Says:

    Bruce: Your news is just devastating, and you are taking it all in stride. Plus you are educating us about your disease and treatment as you go along: still the health reporter, even from the hospital bed. Warm thoughts, prayers, good vibes and positive energy all coming your way from Oak Park, IL. We want to add you to our many positive-outcome cancer success stories!! Love, Jill

  12. Patti (Dietz) Davis Says:

    Dear Bruce,

    Although we did not work very closely during my (two) tenures at AMA I remain a great fan and admirer of your work. Tom Toftey, with whom I enjoyed lunch yesterday, shared your stunning email with me. Please know I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts and sending you positive vibes. Keep up your good spirits as best you can and realize your friends will take this ride with you. We know you are in excellent hands. With deep respect and fondness, Patti Davis

  13. Hopie Dan Says:

    Hoping for a good report from you this evening, And that your first day of Chemo went well. Hank is here and checking on us for you, He’s a pretty good lil brother. Left just now to go to target, he forgot his underwear!

  14. Jeff Molter Says:

    Bruce – wishing you the best as you fight this. All of your friends (and former colleagues) are thinking of you and have rallied for you pretty quickly – a nice testament to who you are.

    Your blog is very insightful and interesting – thank you very much for sharing all of this. Safe to say you have several people who will be thinking of you over the next months.

    Be strong and safe – we look forward to your writing as you get through this.

    Best — Jeff Molter

  15. Patricia Obletz Says:

    Dear Bruce,

    Reggie called today to tell me of your latest medical journey. Reggie, Wendy and I are ready to come stay with your children so Lisa can be with you whenever you two say.

    Your insights, knowledge, experiences and humor on your blog are enlightening, as well as a testament to your spiritual strength and bravery. Thank you.

    All I need is a day’s notice and I can catch the next flight heading your way.

    Thank you for writing about this unexpected trial of yours. You are in my prayers.

    Peace and love to you and Lisa,

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