The Trip (Part II)

As of this weekend, football (soccer) is back. The mighty Blues won their first game of the year and Villa lost. We took the oldest to Birmingham (AL) for his CFC U-11 team’s first friendlies of the fall session. That night we got back to CHA in time to join 18,000 of our closest friends for the NPSL National Championship game. The big CFC boys were up for the challenge, but in the end fell one short in extra time- a valiant effort (and a great effort from the community in supporting the team). In just four weeks when the other football starts, all will be right with the world.

The latest scans have shown that my tumor is growing. Obviously, the chemotherapy is not working. While this is not great news, it opens the door for me to participate in a clinical trial for an experimental immunotherapy drug. This is how it works.

Were this trial not available, the next course of action would have been to switch the chemo to a cocktail that has about a 20% chance of being effective. In this case effectiveness means that it generally works for 2-3 months. Beyond that, we would consider other options such as radiation. In any case, each time we are forced to choose a new option, it has a smaller chance of being effective and/or has worse side effects.

The trial also has about a 20% success rate. In this case, however, success means that the tumor goes away. Genetic testing of my tumor shows that I have two mutations. It is my understanding that one of them has shown some level of responsiveness to treatment. The other one is a bitch- apparently, it is unresponsive to treatment and results in tumors that are, in my doctor’s words, “aggressive and painful”.

As the line from Argo goes, “There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.” On one hand, it is depressing to think that Shaq is more than twice as likely to make a free throw than my treatment is to work.

On the other hand, my chances are on the Mendoza line (which is the minimum acceptable threshold for major league hitters). As we noted in a past post, however, I'm not getting too hung up on the numbers. Besides, If Ben flipping Affleck can smuggle six Americans disguised as a film crew past the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, I should be able to beat a case of cancer.  On the even brighter side, I don’t have to deal with chemo for the time being...so I've got that going for me...which is nice.

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words
Wow, Istanbul feels like a lifetime ago- I can hardly remember the details to write about it. I promised part two, however, so here goes.

After Ayasofya, I walked across Sultanhamet Park to visit the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (better know as the Blue Mosque). It was stunning:

I then made my way to Fatih to visit the largest and grandest mosque in the city- Süleymaniye:

A few blocks away is my personal favorite, the Şehzade  Mosque:

The next day I did a food tour then visited Grand Bazaar (which you may recognize from my favorite new Bond movie “Skyfall”):

Afterwards, I checked out the Basilica Cistern (which you may recognize from my favorite old Bond movie “From Russia With Love”):

I capped off my Friday afternoon with a cruise on a commuter ferry across the Bosphorus. When I set foot on the other shore I was in Asia, and had officially satisfied the requirements of the Three Week, Three Four Trip, Three Continent adventure:

That night I captured the best image of the trip – The Blue Mosque under the Blue Moon:

On Saturday I decided that I was done with the touristy Sultanhamet and headed for the more hipsterish Beyoglu and trendy Besiktas. Two of the city’s most iconic public spaces are here: Taksim Sqaure and the İstiklâl Caddesi. Despite the government calls to steer clear  of the crowds, I could not resist the siren song of vibrant urban space.

That night I decided to splurge (because, you know, I’m worth it), and booked the penthouse suite of some Euro-chic hotel. The view did not suck:

I woke up on Sunday and took the subway to Ataturk (sorry D*). Upon my arrival at the airport I found, to my amazement and delight, that I scored an upgrade to Delta One for the 10-hour flight from Istanbul to New York. Not a bad way to end the trip.

*Of course, D was concerned about my well being given the travel advisories and the fact that they had a couple of bomb scares while I was there. She asked "Is that how you want to go? Getting blown up in a subway in Turkey?" Before I could develop a measured response, I blurted out "Better here than drugged up in a hospital bed in Houston."Apparently my subconscious has given this some thought. Maybe we'll delve into that one later.

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