But I am making progress: I can do short walks outside. Maybe not a giant leap for mankind, but more than a small step for this man… The sun and the wind on the skin of my face – I so missed that.
And for reasons I can’t quite understand, yesterday turned into Canadian Music Day. There was Leonard Cohen on the radio during breakfast. Nice. His voice made me think of Robbie Robertson’s Somewhere Down The Crazy River.
Wait, did you hear that Oh this is sure stirring up some ghosts for me She said "There's one thing you've got to learn Is not to be afraid of it." I said "No, I like it, I like it, it's good." She said "You like it now But you'll learn to love it later."
Somehow when I go on this kind of music trip, I often end up at Joni Mitchell’s.
There’s much worse places to end up…
I have a Great Sister. (And a Great Brother. And a Great Family and Great Friends, but that’s a different topic…)
One of the nice things she regularly does is to send me cards that should make me feel goed, like “Bald is the new sexy”. Not sure the messages are always true, but most of the time, the cards work well.
When I entered the hospital last Thursday, she sent me one saying
Kicking cancer’s ass, one day at a time.
Maybe that was a mistake.
The thing is: cancer decided to kick back. So, I’ve been on temesta, valium, licitan and a few other wonders of modern medicine since the weekend, and, until yesterday, I felt like this towel:
Over the past days, I lost some kilos (there’s a huge commercial opportunity for weight loss through chemo!), but I’m back home now and getting stronger. Hey, I can even do the stairs all by myself! I’m beginning to feel more like a clean nicely folded towel:
I guess that, by tomorrow, I can start kicking cancer’s ass again…
One of my many
blessings (too many religious connotations), privileges (seems to imply that if I have it, some of you can’t), … I don’t-know-what-to-call-it-but-it-certainly-is-a-good-thing’s is that I get a lot of energy and joy from my work. That is why I decided to not go on sick leave, but continue working. And, though I maybe work a few hours less every week, as I can use my cancer card to avoid some of the less nice parts of the job, I think I’m actually more productive than ever!
And my job is about to get even better: I’m very happy that, after working in Eindhoven and Brussels, Katrien is joining our group again as a professor!
And we have two open positions in our group, so you may be able to join in the fun! The official announcement:
The HCI research group at KU Leuven in Belgium is looking for new members to join our team!
We have two fully funded open PhD positions:
Position 1: The focus of the research for the first open position is on the design, development and evaluation of second screen applications that enhance the television user experience. The main research interest is to investigate how value can be added to that experience and how user interaction can be designed in such a way that it enriches rather than detracts from the television content. This research will be carried out in the context of a project on personalised advertisements that involves several research groups, as well as content providers and ad agencies.
Position 2: The focus of the research for the position is on user interfaces for recommender systems that suggest items to match user preferences. The overall objective is to research the use of information visualization techniques to give end-users insight into the rationale of recommender systems to increase trust in recommendations. In addition, we are researching how we can use visualization techniques to enable end-users to help steer the recommendation process by providing feedback and additional input.
Funding is available immediately. The research will be carried out at the Department of Computer Science of KU Leuven.
We expect from applicants:
– an excellent Master’s degree in Computer Science or related discipline
– a very good background and interest in human computer interaction research
– strong programming skills and the ability to do independent research
– strong commitment and the ability to work in a team
– a high level of proficiency in English, both spoken and written.
More information about the financial compensation can be found online at http://www.kuleuven.be/personeel/jobsite/en/phd-info#salary
The deadline for submitting applications is 15 Oct. 2014. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible as positions will remain open until filled by suitable candidates.
Interested applicants should send their CV and letter of application, indicating the PhD position (1/2) that the candidate wishes to apply for, as well as an electronic version of a recent research project (e.g. master thesis, scientific publication) to Erik Duval (email@example.com) and Katrien Verbert (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Inquiries about the positions can be sent to the same addresses.
Do feel free to circulate the news ;-)
I like the way my 24 hour chemo intravenous drip is hidden in a bag.
I imagine there’s a bottle of Chateau Margaux in that bag, and I will be close-to-but-not-really drunk for the next 24 hours.
That could explain the head ache I may have tomorrow as a side effect…
(I asked: UV rays from the sun could actually interfere with the chemo. That’s why. Life can be so prosaic sometimes.)
Today was the first day at the hospital, preparing for the first real DHAP chemo tomorrow… “Preparing” in this case mostly means sitting around, waiting, hooked up to an intravenous drip to make sure I take a decent amount of fluid and salt in, so as to clean my kidneys. No nausea, so no complaints!
Funny though how many little things you notice when you spend some time at the hospital.
Why is the water always from a brand that you’ve never seen before? (It does mention that is has been approved by the High Counsel of Health of the Ministry of Health. Sounds healthy…)
Why does the card that has my room number on it look like it’s an announcement for a new baby from the seventies? Why does that person have blocked ears and why does he tell us to be silent. (As his ears are blocked, he supposedly can’t hear us anyway?)
Why do they serve lunch halfway through the morning and dinner when I normally finish lunch? See, they just served dinner – or is it tomorrow’s breakfast already…?
On the bright side: the wifi works. Works well, actually. Well enough for spotify (listening to this playlist at the moment) or netflix or FaceTime with the kids back home… That’s better than what some conferences offer!
And, of course, I actually have access to quite affordable (as in: almost free) high-quality medical care. That’s much better than what 80 or 90 percent of the world population have to settle for… Actually, I am lucky!
Last Thursday, I had my eight and last ‘ordinary’ chemo. Yes, done with ordinary!
This wasn’t an all that great one though. Details on request (if you insist) and much later. You see: thinking about chemo makes me sick… Literally. Which means that I get sick before I even get the actual chemo medicine. When entering the hospital. When thinking about entering the hospital. Actually, writing about thinking about the experience makes my stomach turn. Enough about that. Yikes.
But hey, it’s over! I’m done with it! With the ‘ordinary’ chemo, that is. In two weeks, I will have a PET scan. If that is reasonably OK, then I will spend a few weeks in hospital early October for an extra-heavy dose of chemo to hopefully get rid of the last traces of lymphoma, followed by an autologous stem-cell transplant to get back on my feet. And then, touch wood, well … that may actually be the end of my treatment. We’ll see. Let’s not get carried away…
For now, my major issue is hiccups. Doesn’t sound like a Big Deal. Because I guess it basically isn’t. Unless when you spend halve of the day and half of the night hiccupping (is that a word?)… Bit tiresome. And makes it a bit complicated to have a conversation, or to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. I do have medication that’s supposed to help. And, hey, actually, it really isn’t a Big Deal.
Now, if only hiccups would make me look a bit more like a wolf pup…