Keith Friend's Journal
Unexpected news today.
Written Jan 29, 2014 2:07pmWhen I was invited to go to San Francisco, I consulted with my oncologist about suspending chemo to let my body heal a bit before the conference. At the time, I was having a hard time walking due to the side effects of Stivarga. I didn't want to go off chemo but really needed to do so if I was going to participate in California. So, as of the 15th I stopped all chemo.
Fast forward to yesterday when I went in for my regular blood work that I get every two weeks. My tumor marker was already at an all time high of 83.5. To be honest, I was a little nervous about getting my new numbers. In my head, being off chemo for two weeks was just giving those tumors a chance to grow even more without anything to slow them down.
I just got off the phone with one of my nurses and she told me that yesterday's marker had fallen to 62.9..... huh?!?!? How is that possible? She said that sometimes, the body just needs a chance to catch up and maybe that caused the markers to fall a bit. I have a different theory. I think it was due to the fact that Lori and I were on a little mini vacation and cancer tumors hate vacation. Therefore, I think we need to go on many more vacations in the near future to frustrate those little tumors even more. What do you think? Come on, Genentech. We need a conference in Hawaii!!!
Just had to share the good news for today.
Back safe, sound and TIRED! (San Francisco and speaking for Genentech)
Written Jan 23, 2014 3:13pmLori and I returned from our crazy San Francisco trip late last night. We were only gone just over two days but it seemed like a much longer trip. We had a great time.
After being picked up by a private limo driver at the San Francisco airport Monday night, we were delivered to the Weston St. Francis which is a 100 year old hotel on Union Square. It is a very nice hotel and was fun getting a room in the historic section with it's glass door knobs and very heavy doors. We were on our own for the entire day Tuesday so we unpacked and went to bed trying to get a good night's sleep before what would be a very busy day.
Lori and I had an aggressive plan to see as much as we could in one day. We both really wanted to see the giant red woods in Muir Woods so we headed their first. After renting a car in the hotel lobby, we started out at about 7:30am. Luckily, we were heading counter flow to most of the morning traffic so we made it across the Golden Gate bridge pretty quickly towards the woods. We arrived at the national park around 8:15am. We were surprised to be the only ones there. It turned out that the visitors center didn't open until 9:00 so we decided to go ahead in and pay on our way out. We had the entire forest to our selves until around 9:20. What a magical place. It was very nice to see it so peaceful. We hiked about 2 1/2 miles and made it back to the visitors center just before 10:00. We tried to pay for our entrance but the ranger said that it was free if we got there earlier than 9:00. Cool!
We headed back for Pier 39 where we would catch our bay cruise under the Golden Gate and then around Alcatraz Island. It was a fun little 90 minute boat ride and a good chance for us to re-coop from the hike. The views were amazing and we enjoyed hearing about the history of the bridge and Alcatraz.
After this, we visited the sea lions at Pier 39. This was one of Lori's favorite things about the trip. If you have never been to SF before, the woods and sea lions are a must see. We did some shopping there and had lunch. Lori had some clam chowder in a bread bowl and loved it.
After the pier, we decided we wanted to find the steepest street in SF. We did a quick google search and found the Filbert Street was one of the steepest. Lori actually let out a scream as we crested the steepest part. I have to admit, I was amazed at how much it felt like driving off a cliff. There didn't seem to be a bottom. Right next door was Lombard street. This is hailed as the most crooked street in the world. We drove down it twice and then walked up about half way. After lots of pictures, we head for some famous houses called the "Painted Ladies". Some might remember them from the sit com "Full House". Lori wanted to get a picture here. We didn't feel we had very good pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge so we headed for the Presidio to get some better shots.
After driving all over the Presidio and getting some fun shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, it was off to Ghirardelli Square. Of course we bought some chocolate and did some more shopping. Lori found a diner named after her and got a very cute picture of her there.
When we had our fill of sweets, we headed back to the hotel to return the car and get ready for our dinner at Scomas Restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised to find a fruit tray waiting for us back at our hotel room with some more chocolate and a San Francisco mug, complements of the Snow Company, the organization who sent me to SF. We rode the Cable car to Scomas and had a wonderful dinner there. We finished our evening with a quick look at China Town and then to the "Top of the Mark" to see a great view of SF at night. What a fantastic end to a very full day.
We got to sleep in a little the next morning before we checked out and were picked up for our trip to Genentech. There we met some people from Genentech and were given a very quick tour. We walked over to where I would present at 12:00. It turned out to be a pretty big room. My part of the day was to tell my cancer story to a group of about 200 employees of Genentech and then participate in a Q&A session. It was really a treat to share my story there and then to talk to the audience about various aspects of treatment, drugs, and dealing with cancer. I felt my presentation went well and received lots of compliments from others who were there to listen.
Next it was off to my 'photo shoot'. I'm not kidding , it was a real deal photo shoot. I had a makeup artist to make me pretty. (Something pretty hard to do as I'm already as pretty as I can be!). Then it was off to wardrobe where they dressed me up as a Texas a viewed through the lenses of a Californian. Haven't they watched Dallas? I wore my loud plaid like a good boy and stood there like an idiot as about 7 people made sure I was standing properly, my belt buckle was positioned correctly, my makeup was looking good and my hair was done. That part was pretty easy. The shoot took about an hour and I'll bet they took over 300 pictures of me during that time doing basically the same pose.
They will use these pictures to turn me into a 2 - 5 story banner on the side of one of their buildings to let the employees know the value of what they are working for. It was an honor to be asked to be a part of that program. Heck, they said they might even send a video crew to Texas to film a little biography on the family and me.
It was a great trip and we were pretty exhausted by the time we arrived back home last night.
Thanks to Genentech for sponsoring me through the whole patient ambassador process and to the Snow Company who manages the ambassadors. We are looking forward to the next gig!
Written Jan 22, 2014 2:09amWe had a great day in San Francisco. How about this for a full day?
Golden gate/Alcatraz cruise
Clam chowder in bread bowl
Steepest street in SF
Lombard street - twice
Golden Gate Bridge
Top of the Mark
...all between 7:30am to 10:30pm.
That's a full day.
"Vacationing with Lori Friend.....not for the weak!"
I'll add more later including pictures on Facebook.
Keith (very tired) Friend