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Choose your friends wisely…

The Boys

The Boys

This is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. You will call on them for things that you will not know until they happen, through sickness and health, good times and bad. How do you know if you have chosen your friends well?  You will know when life gets rough. I have chosen well.

As many of you know, I had a CT scan of my lungs, neck, and abdomen on Wednesday May 15th. The results of this scan were extremely important (not that they all aren’t), but these results were hopefully going to show us that the pace of growth in my lungs had slowed, that no new lung tumors were developing in bad places, and that I wasn’t experiencing metastasis (tumor spread) in my innards (liver, colon, gut, etc.). Well, after a tortuous week and a half of waiting, I am thrilled, relieved, and comforted, to tell you that the results were OUTSTANDING.  Things in the lungs looked really stable according to Dr. Mann. He was very pleased with the results. This is a note I sent out:

I finally talked to Dr. Mann, and he was very encouraged by the results of my latest scan. Essentially we achieved stability, which at this point was the goal. He really didn’t see anything that was growing much at all; in fact he saw some lesions shrink a little (probably a result of the Cyberknife treatments). Or maybe the Sprycel is doing something good. He was very pleased to see that my lungs have been cleared out of all of the junk that was in them that made my breathing so tough…that mess is all gone for now. It’s only been 9 weeks since my last scan, but the direction things are going is really good. Two days later we got the news from Dr. Kaplan (new oncologist here in Seattle) that nothing was happening in my abdomen and neck.

In between the scan and the results (a grueling 9 days), I thought it would be a great idea to plan a “guys” trip. I thought getting together with my best friends would be a great way to keep my mind off of the looming results. And it was (more on our trip later). At this point (7 years in), my case is so complicated that only Dr. Mann can interpret what is going on in my lungs, so we really needed him to deliver the lung part of the results. One small problem was that he happened to be in China working on a very important research project for UCSF.  Let’s just say that communication with China is not exactly what you think as you read about all of the advancement, progress, yada yada yada. I’m sure it’s much better than it was 20 years ago, but they still have a long way to go. I finally got the call from Dr. Mann on Thursday (8 days later), and I did the happy dance.

I forgot to mention that Jennie and I blinked through our 8th Anniversary on Tuesday May 21st (still had not heard from Mann). Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a celebration, but it did solidify our love and devotion to each other as we tried to pretend a bottle of champagne would ease our minds. God, I love that woman. How many of you would be content celebrating your Anniversary with a man who can’t get out of his chair and has an oxygen hose sticking out of his nose? Hopefully most of you.

THIS IS US

THIS IS US

Back to the trip to Santa Barbara. Logistically, I wanted to find a place that was kind of centrally located between LA and San Francisco, with ocean access, and the allure of great food, great wine, and great times. Santa Barbara quickly sprung up as the perfect candidate. The list of attendees started out with a posse consisting of Matt, William, Steve T, and Craig from Boston. We decided to stay at the perfect place, Fess Parker’s Doubletree (right on the ocean). Matt and Craig met at LAX (Craig flew in from Boston, Matt was in New York and flew in to LAX, miracously landing at the same time as Craig). How’s that for good timing? Steve, Will, and I met at SFO and all drove down together (6 hours). We had a great time on the drive, sharing memories of past “roadies”, and having some really good conversations about our lives. Eventually we all converged on the Fess, and the party started.

Literally as we pulled up our car on Friday night, we were met by our “big brutha” Steve Hayworth. I met Steve on the basketball courts at Davis, and he ended up being one of my very best Davis friends. He lived with Steve T and I through some of my most formative periods in life. The three of us will always share a special bond as a result. So that night, the six hit the town and had a great dinner, filled with great conversation, lots of laughs, and even a few tears. By 11:30, I was a cooked goose, and needed to call it a day.

Livin' Large...and Sideways!

Livin’ Large…and Sideways!

We woke up Saturday to an absolutely immaculate day. As we were about to start our walk, my great friend, Barry Thompson, met us. “Bare,” as we call him, had driven up from LA that morning just to hang out with us. I have known Barry since I was 6 years old. Never a time or a moment passes when Barry is not thinking of me and asking what he can do to help. After a great walk along the beach, and an outdoor breakfast, we were ready to board our limousine for a little bit of wine tasting, “Sideways” style. To understand the “Sideways” reference, enter it into Wikipedia. We had such a great time wine tasting. I love my wines, but hadn’t really tasted in years, and the Santa Barbara region has some phenomenal product. Along the way, we learned a valuable smiling technique called the “Dempsey” (ask Barry) and tried to charm several bachelorette parties to no avail. That night we went out to an amazing dinner at one of my all time favorite restaurants, the Wine Cask. We shared a lot of revealing toasts that night, further solidifying our bonds as friends. As I finally hit the pillow that night, I knew my boys would always be there for me and Jennie, anytime, anyplace, and I knew that I had chosen them wisely.

Santa Barbara Wine Tasting

Santa Barbara Wine Tasting

Oh, and a few more things. We bought a new house, closed yesterday, moving everything next week. By taking that trip to Santa Barbara, I completely depleted my lung capacity almost back to where it was when I got out of the hospital two months ago. Dr. Kaplan said that flying was like climbing up an 8000 foot mountain (wish I would have known that beforehand), so I’m not exactly mobile, but I will build back slowly but surely. Surrounded by the love of my family and my great friends, I have been lifted up to enjoy another day. God bless.

xo,

Mike

Thumbs Up from Chartie!

Thumbs Up from Chartie!

26 Responses to “ “Choose your friends wisely…”

  1. Michelle Feldman says:

    BEST. NEWS. EVER. :) Couldn’t be happier to hear that your scan turned out so well!!! (big hug) I already knew your wife and daughter were amazing…now I know your friends are too. Wonderful post.

    p.s. congrats on the new house!

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      Thanks Michelle, please come visit us in our new house :)

      • Michelle Feldman says:

        Mike, I will definitely come visit you in the new house when I’m in Seattle! No current plans to visit, but you’ll know when I’m there. :) Missing you all..

  2. Carolee and Tom Mathers says:

    We are thrilled to read this positive news. You are in good hands with Dr.Kaplan. He was one of my closest friend’s oncologists and partnered with Gretchen’s doctor, Saul Rivkin. Did you leave QA? Where did you buy a house?
    We appreciate all your blogs and love the pics, too.
    xxxCarolee

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      Hi Carolee, thank you so much for your great message. And it’s so comforting to know that you think so highly of Dr. Kaplan. He’s a wonderful man, and I think he will be a big asset to my team. Our new house is not far from Queen Anne at all, it’s in Roanoke Park…a stone throws away from Jack’s house. Looking forward to a big welcome party and a good seat for the 4th of July fireworks show :)

  3. Tracy (Greene) Mintz says:

    Michael, I was so happy to read this news. I’ve been keeping current through the mom network, but I can now talk to you via the blog! You look terrific. I know Ali feels the same. xoxoxo xox always, Tracy Mintz (née Greene)

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      ohhhh, so great to hear from a Greene girl. I’m so glad you chimed in. Thank you for your love and support, I can feel it. I think it’s high time we all (Dougherty’s and Greene’s) hit up Gary G for a sail to Angel Island again like the old days. Chart and Jen would love it, and even Joyce if she could somehow anchor her hair…and then afterwards a big bowl of Gary’s famous chilli, what do you say?

      • Tracy (Greene) Mintz says:

        Well, we can get a big hat for Joyce and we’d have to take the ferry, but I know my dad would be happy to make you some chili. :)

  4. Sarah says:

    Michael, congratulations on the good news on all three fronts (good family and friends; health; new house)! Mazel tov, mazel tov, and mazel tov! :-)

    Sounds like you should stay out of airplanes. Probably just as well for many reasons, anyway. Not worth it, imho.

    Is your new house anywhere near the childhood home of St Jimi? And how old is your house? Is there any chance he saw it?

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      Hi Sarah,

      From what I understand Jimi lived and was buried in Renton WA, which is a suburb of Seattle. Doubtful that he hung out in Roanoke Park or Queen Anne. And next time I’m taking the train :)

  5. Barry Thompson says:

    Doe:

    What a terrific week for you, Jen and Char, and for all of us as well!! SB was such great fun, hangin’ with you and some of your mates whom I didn’t know all that well before Saturday. What a cool group of guys; we are all brothers-in-arms now, tightly bound, and we’re fighting for you!! It was also outstanding to see you in your “vino glory” picking choice wines from small vineyards and prompting us to say goofy things like, “Now that’s a grape I’d like to get to know better”. With good scan results and quality time like SB life is really, really good and, of course, best lived one day at a time!! Thanks again for being such a great friend and for your blog that always keeps me in perspective and focused on the stuff that matters most. Much love and see you soon!

    Barry (and the Thompson Family)

    P.S. Patrick (“McDreamy”) Dempsey sends his love and support (I bumped in to him at the bike shop this weekend)! He would like to personally teach you the “Dempsey” photo technique, namely a slight chin drop and head turn by the photographee just before the click, that makes every photo a keeper.

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      Bare, thanks for your message, and most importantly thanks for your lifelong friendship. Making the effort to come up and hang with us says it all. In this day and age, with kids having so many commitments it’s hard for us as parents to carve out even the slightest bit of time for ourselves. I commend you for doing it. I really enjoyed our “one-on-one” time on the car ride to the airport. It just further cemented the love I have for you as a friend. You are such the perfect sounding board for helping me sort out this crazy world I live in. I wish I could have spent some time with your boys and D…but next time we are down south for sure. My crazy kid needs to meet S and H, so she has some big bros to hang with in LA. Thanks for coming, thanks for your support, thanks for the Dempsey, and thanks for being you. See you soon.

      Doe

  6. Brenda MacLean says:

    Dear Mike
    We are thanking God for hearing our prayers. We are so relieved and happy to hear your great news.
    Love
    Brenda and Don

  7. Brenda Thompson says:

    Mike,

    With this kind of great test results, you and Jen can really enjoy your next bottle of wine. Virgil and I read your blog and we were so pleased you were all able to do your version of the “Sideways” trip. Barry had already given us some of the highlights and we were delighted to hear what a wonderful weekend it turned out to be.

    I’m so glad you bought a house. Is it in the same area where you are presently living?

    Once again, I’m still sending lots of prayers your way and will continue to do so.

    Love you,

    Brenda

  8. Mike Dougherty says:

    Bren, tell Virg that it’s time to crack one his prized new Italian wines to go with the ones Barry got in Santa Barbara, oh yeah, and you better invite me. New house is close, in Roanoke Park, about 3 miles away, very close to UW.

  9. Patrick Dougherty says:

    Michael,
    Great news about the scan!
    We are still in Livingston MT until June 19.Quite a bit of rain so far but the natives need it. I could use your Montana hat to stay dry.
    Your Sideways adventure reminded me of some of my old basketball coaches getaways. Lots of fun with good friends. Do we have your new address?
    Our thoughts are with you from Montana.
    Patrick D.

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      Hi Uncle Pat, thanks for the good vibes from Montana, I can feel them calling to me. The “boys” and I were talking about Montana for our next getaway. Ever been to Whitefish Lake? I will email you new address. Stay dry and buy yourself a Montana hat :)

  10. JK & Ron Anderson says:

    Hi Mike,

    Such great news about your test results, thanks to Janet for forwarding the e-mail. It certainly seems you are making the most of every day as we all should be doing. Our grandchildren,Oskar & Erika, are looking forward to Loon Lake again this summer. We certainly enjoyed having you and your family there and look forward to when you can join us again. It is quite the gathering. I loved it when I saw you walking around with the “family tree plate” trying to sort out who we all were. Think we’ve all been there. Know you must be very busy now with a new house — very exciting. Again, so happy for your good news. Ron & JK Anderson

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      So nice to hear from you Ron and JK. We had a lovely brunch with Wayne and Anne and Nancy, Chuck, and Heather when my parents were last in town. My dad thought it had been 50 plus years since they had last seen each other. Way too long. Sorry we will miss the “Lake” trip this summer, we will gear up for next year. I will even try and coerce Uncle Pat and my dad into coming :) Thank you for all your support.

  11. Gill Newton says:

    Dear Mike,

    Well you should know that your journey has found me on the North Shore of Maui and that I am deeply inspired and touched by your courage and vulnerability. I remember when we chose ourselves as friends, so long ago now, and I remember why: it was your intellect, your wit, and your honest vulnerability, that is what allowed me to trust you – and that our shared bumps in the road proved we both knew the value of a well kept secret: ).

    Thank you for your gifts of love, strength, and your courage to let yourself be seen. You make a difference, and I will act from this inspiration to love my children more dearly, if that is possible. Ella is now 13 and “over” 7th grade, wanting fashion school in Paris or the like, and Matthew (10), well I have a hard time pulling him out of the surf. So, while what is in front of me has a different flavor then what you face, we both share love of family, and many of the same values we first connected on.

    I look forward to staying in touch more frequently. Carry on Man!

    Much Aloha,

    Gill

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      Thanks Gill, I really appreciate those way-to-kind words. And I think I remember that well kept secret, although there could be more than one I’m thinking of. One involved a bridge, a car, and a rain soaked night :) Jennie and I have promised Charlotte that we will go to Hawaii (it’s a popular destination for Seattleites), so she keeps asking when we are going. I promise we will call you when we go, so stay tuned. Thanks again for your powerful words. I miss you buddy.

      MD

  12. Dave Mariottini says:

    Dear Mike,
    I was speaking with my twin sis Deb tonight, and you came into our conversation. We’re thinking about you man. Big love, big prayers, beaming lots of positive energy your way tonight my friend. I remember visiting you in your new loft south of market, talk of hundred year old vines, the future of the wine industry. From Gil, to Barry, (and Grant) and Deb & so many others, I feel you Mike. On this Father’s Day night, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day. Sending you strength, love and comfort.
    Love, Dave, Annalise, Harrison Mariottini (Deb too)

    • Mike Dougherty says:

      Thanks Dave, I appreciate your kind words of support, and oh how much I remember the carefree and easy days of hanging out in SF. It sounds like you are doing great, and thanks for pulling for me. Love to the rest of your family.

  13. Kelly Anderson says:

    Hey Mike n Matt,

    Don’t know if you will recall me from high school but word has finally reached me, via Facebook, regarding your recent update.
    Just now getting around to your blog n going through the archives. Had no idea what you have been through. You are quite the trooper. Want to let you know that you are being thought of n prayed for.
    In Gods love,
    Kelly Anderson

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