There are ever-widening circles of folks who care about Richard and his health. We want this site to serve as way to both let people know of any updates as to his condition, as well as a single place where everyone can share their own thoughts and wishes for him. This will help me to conserve my energy and focus in order to be with Richard. Emilia is co-contributor here and has been holding so many strings as we have swerved into another chapter for me and Richard. She will also post here as needed.
For those who didn't know, here is a brief summary of Richard’s journey with cancer. It began in the fall of 2016 when he was first diagnosed with primary central nervous system lymphoma. Over the following eight months, Richard underwent many chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and finally a 'consolidation' treatment of brutal chemotherapies designed to kill every cancer cell in his body and to decimate his bone marrow. The doctors he worked with at Memorial Sloane Kettering transplanted his own previously harvested stem cells to begin the process of rebuilding his immune system. When they found no signs of any cancer he was discharged, and he seemed to be in a slow process of recovery throughout the summer of 2017. By October, Richard felt well enough to restart his practice, working with clients through Skype sessions online. He was very pleased to return to his work which was one major focus for his own healing process.
Unfortunately, he began to feel very depleted again over the course of the next two months. He had two seizures and went in for another CAT scan of his brain. The doctors discovered that his lymphoma had returned to form a new brain lesion on his visual cortex. He entered an experimental drug trial that initially seemed to be working. But he began to lose cognitive clarity, becoming very weak and often confused. He lost eyesight first in his right eye, and eventually in much of his left eye as well. It was clear the new drug had failed in fighting the cancer.
In addition to the growing lesion, the cancer had metastasized as free-floating cancer cells in Richard's cerebral spinal fluid, washing every nook and cranny of his brain. This morphed into Leptomeningeal Disease, which is a terminal condition that drugs can't alter. MSK had him back in the hospital for 10 rounds of full brain radiation to give him some temporary relief from his symptoms. His symptoms soon included back pain. He has now had new radiation aimed at his spine. These final radiation treatments, and any further medications are palliative, not curative.
After these radiation treatments, Richard is now in less pain and headed home to our rental house in Bearsville (on Friday, February 2nd), where he will be in Hospice care. He has shared repeatedly that he cannot wait to come home and live the rest of his life with his family and friends around him. He is working hard to stay open and present to every moment he has left. Despite his ongoing cognitive confusion, he is still very aware of those he loves and those who love him. He often says of his many caretakers, “He was so kind. She is so kind.” His passionate open heart continues to touch everyone he meets, and everyone he loves.
We will update you all after Richard’s homecoming, and will continue to keep you posted on how this next chapter unfurls for all of us. It is with deep sorrow and gratitude (and I am learning how much those states coexist) that I write this. Please share whatever you can, ask questions if you have any, and know that your attention matters, that your own heart beats with his, that he is breathing the same air as you are, that the earth spins for us all. Judi Bachrach