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Feb 14

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, February 14, 2013 6:07 AM 

Larry Auster, author of the blog View from the Right, broke the very bad news to his readers almost in passing: given the discovery of "multiple metastatic lesions" in his brain, he is hoping to undergo treatment that, if successful, might give him "several more months of functional life before decline and death."

He writes:

It’s more cancer, appearing in a whole new front. Several doctors—including my own oncologist—said they had never heard of pancreatic cancer spreading to the brain. But now other doctors have said that because I have survived the pancreatic cancer so long it has had more time to do things and go places that is normally not the case. I was checked into the hospital yesterday and today was given me an MRI for a closer look at the brain. The hospital neurosurgeon speaks of “multiple metastatic lesions.” I’ve already been seen by the consultant neurosurgeon and the consultant oncologist today, who all came to my room. (Things move a lot faster when your’re in the hospital than otherwise, as I can testify from my hellish experiences of the last seven weeks). The treatment they’re looking at is radiation therapy for three weeks (15 sessions, five times a week as an out-patient), which would stop the physical and mental deterioration that would otherwise immediately occur and might give me several more months of functional life before decline and death. Tomorrow the doctors are doing a lumbar puncture to see if cancer cells have gotten into the spine and we will [be] discussing treatment further. I’m now in the hospital for the second night. It’s my first time staying in a hospital in my life—except for when I was born. It’s a pleasant, pleaceful place from which to embark on one’s last journey. I’ve been reciting Homer to my friend.

Larry has been managing/besting/suffering/enduring pancreatic cancer for years now, a medical miracle in and of itself. As readers of his blog know, the last couple of months have been painful and unbearably uncomfortable for him for reasons unrelated to the cancer treatment. Having emerged in great relief on the other end of that trial, Larry ran smack into this new and, by his own account, final health battle.

Nonetheless, his most recent update about his condition and expectations has a bouyance to it that is, yes, otherwordly.

He writes:

I’m currently resting comfortably in my single, spacious, and very pleasant hospital room in what is really a very nice hospital. My one major activity today was a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) in order to determine whether there is cancer in the cerebrospinal fluid. If the test is negative we will probably proceed—even as early as Friday—with the outpatient radiation theory I described earlier. It does not sound as though it is terribly debilitating; there may be some loss of short-term memory, though not of long-term memory. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells but not, for the most part, healthy cells. Here is the reason. The radiation breaks in two the DNA in the cancer cell and thus kills the cell but, but the radiation, while somewhat damaging healthy cells, allows them to recover and does not break the DNA in two. At least that is the way one of the oncologists described to me this morning. My understanding is that surgery cannot be used in my case because there are at least three metastases in the brain.

A remarkable irony is that just before this new cancer was found I had largely recovered from the terrible intestinal pain and discomfort and non-movement that had made my existence a hell for many weeks. If those problems were still going on now, along with this new, more serious problem, my situation would have been much more terrible. So I feel very lucky. My existence is not at present a misery, as it had been from mid December until about 11 days ago when I had the nerve block procudure and we also worked out anti-pain regime and an intestinal regime that worked.

The way I feel now is somewhat lightheaded, tired, and fragile, and it’s hard for me to read much because of the double vision, and I need to be careful when getting out of bed (in fact I am not supposed to get out of bed without assistance at all) because of the risk of falling, but I’m not suffering or seriously uncomfortable or even uncomfortable at all—and that, as long as it lasts, compared to the way I was up to a week and a half ago, is a great deliverance. I also seem to have come into a hospital and among doctors that are very well suited to care for me. And I have a friend at my side who is helping me through every step of this. I am extremely lucky.

Thank you for the many encouraging and loving e-mails I’ve received (I’m sorry I won’t be able to reply to them personally).

It may seem strange that a man who has just learned he has brain cancer speaks of how fortunate he is, but, as I’ve said, I always call it the way I see it, if I feel it is legitimate and appropriate.

I'm damned if I'm going to wait for the end to note in "appreciation" Larry's deep and challenging, provocative and exacting, disturbing, irascible and trenchant commentary, all crafted in his compulsively writerly way to search not only for truth, I would venture, but for a way out of the cultural abyss we find ourselves in. His means? The sharpest, starkest expression of the facts and phenomena he is able to convey, as unadulterated, as unjumbled, certainly as unvarnished as humanly possible. Whether in agreement or opposition, a reader of Larry's work is on his mettle, keenly aware of the laser at work.

Whenever it may be that Larry turns to his body's fight and lays that laser aside, I will greatly miss its light.

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