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  • Writer's pictureBostnMike

Start Spreadin' the News...

Updated: Apr 12

Hey Mike, where 'ya been…?

Umm.. all over the place.


As you may remember from my last post, the green light to travel was only a matter of days away. And I've wasted no time jumping in with flights to Atlanta, NYC, and Austin! There's more to come throughout April and May.


Much of this post will be a "travel log and theatre review," so if you aren't intrigued by that sort of fare, I'll get the medical update "out of the way" so you can move along with your day.


The report is: There is little to report. Maintenance mode is still in full effect. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good and growing increasingly accustomed to the new medicine routine (not rut) and monthly trips to the Duke Cancer Center team in Raleigh. The most recent visit was today (Tuesday, April 9, 2024). We ran the same series of labs (all looking stable); however, it took two jabs to get all the blood they needed.


My veins are in a full-blown clinic retreat. I never used to be a "difficult stick" (as the hip nurses say). But my veins seem to know I'm there. And they have had enough after all the labs, IVs, CT Scans, MRIs, etc. But I digress. After the labs were drawn, I met with Dr. R. (my oncologist) for the monthly consult. After a routine exam, he confirmed the orders for treatment. That includes a shot of Darzalex (which takes 5 minutes to administer fully). -It's always awkward having a conversation with your nurse while she's trying not to move too much with a needle in my stomach.- The main side effects of this will be insomnia tonight, and my voice will sound hoarse for the rest of the day.


Then, one more jab (4th of the day for those keeping score), an IV of Zometa. This is to help fortify my bones against the Myeloma. After that, I'm heading home and back to my desk. All in all, these treatment days take about 3.5 hours (much of it waiting). So I can stay on top of work with my iPad and keep things rolling. I stay off calls out of respect for the other patients in the center and get back to those after the twenty-five-minute drive home.


Next month will be a bit different as I have to have my next bone marrow biopsy. Nothing says "fun" like having your knees pulled up to your chin for twenty-five minutes while you lay on your side and your doctor drills into your hip bone. Yes, they use lidocaine to numb the area and additional meds to numb the hip bone before they start drilling. "a little pinch, a little burn, a little pinch, a little burn..." Once the hole is drilled, a "straw" pulls the marrow samples for testing.


I do hope you weren't eating lunch while you read that! (I probably should have warned you.) This is a big one because it's the first biopsy post-transplant and will tell a lot about how I'm progressing towards remission. It's a very good sign that this is taking place nearly ten months after the transplant. My body responded very well to the phase I therapies, and my levels were very low going into the transplant. So, fingers crossed, the trends have continued.


If you came for the medical updates, you may exit here. If you want to follow my travel news and reviews, "read on MacDuff..."


While there was relatively little to report medically (and yes, little or no news right now is good news), there's plenty to report on the travel front. I wrote my plea to #DeltaAirlines requesting reinstatement of my Platinum Status. Their response was, "We have a program for that." They give you the status back for three months, and you have to spend a certain amount of money within those three months, and viola, you're back for the year.


My Response: Challenge accepted. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "Three Months? I'll do it in two!"


ATLANTA was work and the first time my team had all been together in the same room in 4 years! And it was an incredibly productive session. And, of course, we had some fun as part of a team-building activity. A low-key cooking class and wine tasting with lots of laughs... "and a good time was had by all ."



There is also a tradition with one of my team members that if we're within sniffing distance of

a sporting event, there isn't a question of if we go, but "where do we want to sit." So the Atlanta Gladiators were home against the South Carolina Stingrays. A pair of ECHL teams. The arena atmosphere was fun (and on bobblehead day, no less). The home side won a thriller. With 90 seconds to go on the back of 2 goals scored by #33 Michael MARCHesan. With a name so close to Marchand, of course, he would be the hero.


NYC: The "promised" trip to the Big Apple to celebrate my first birthday post-bone marrow transplant with a bevy of musicals. We were nestled in a suite at the W Hotel in Times Square, so nothing was more than a few street blocks away. We were there for three days and saw four (yes, 4) shows. 


A few pics of the drive into Manhattan & a view of Broadway from our Hotel Room

First up was a classic, "Chicago ." It was a great way to start the weekend. A solid performance with vintage Fosse choreography, "And all that Jazz ." The part of Roxie Hart played by reality TV "star"? Ariana Madix. This seems to be a standard move with this show to cast a "non-traditional draw" to that role. You could tell there were a lot of fans of Vanderpump Rules in the house. Max von Essen played Billy, and he crushed it. Everyone had a good time, and for this "casual theatre critic," it was a "B."


Saturday's matinee was Sondheim show #1, "Merrily We Roll Along" featuring Jonathan Groff (from Netflix's "Manhunter" and the original King George in "Hamilton"), Daniel Radcliffe (yes, Harry Potter), and Lindsay Mendez as Mary, who while not a "household name" has an impressive resume none the less and in many ways stole the show for me. Top to bottom, the cast was stellar. The production was equally hilarious and gut-wrenching. A clever and simplistic set framed the story beautifully and was phenomenal, from the Overture to the final bow. If you are considering a show, don't miss this before it closes. It's an A+ and hands down the best show of the weekend.

Highly recommend the Ambassador Lounge if you're Seeing Merrily!

Saturday Evening was "& Juliet." Which is playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. If you're not familiar with it, imagine if "Something Rotten," "Rock of Ages," and "Mama Mia" had a very odd 3-parent baby. Very cleverly written, it answers the question, "What if Juliet did not kill herself at the end of Shakespeare's classic tragedy." The show weaves in and out of storytelling and breaks the fourth wall as William Shakespeare battles his wife Anne Hathaway in a re-telling of the story. Repurposing pop hits like "I Kissed a Girl," "Roar," "Bad Blood," "I Want It That Way," and many, many, many others. It's a very high-energy show with clever nods to Shakespearean history.

Betsy Wolfe (Anne Hathaway) was fantastic, and with all due respect to the incredibly talented Lorna Courtney (Juliet) completely stole the show. She had great comedic timing and a tremendous voice and landed her dramatic moments brilliantly. I knew nothing about the show going into it, but I definitely enjoyed myself. A-/A. (Probably an A because it's at the Sondheim Theatre). I did find myself wondering what he would have thought of the show…


And Sunday was capped off with Sondheim's musical thriller "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Featuring Aaron Tviet in the title role and Broadway royalty's Sutton Foster as Mrs. Lovett. The exceedingly dark show of revenge and murder had a set and vibe to match. A significant departure from the "spinning cube" from the original Broadway

production, the set was both minimalistic and complex, with a large functioning crane to deliver the barber chair in Act II.


Tviet's performance was intense and subtle in its delivery, which drew you in. Contrastingly, Foster's portrayal of the opportunistic and equally evil Mrs. Lovett was heavy on big facial gestures and physical comedy. 


I thought the entire cast was great, and they delivered a rock-solid production. I am also pleased to report that throughout both "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Sweeney Todd," I controlled my desire to sing along despite the urge. I was, however, suffering from 2 weeks of earworms. Sweeney also brought back a rush of great memories, and I often thought of a production of Sweeney that I was a part of many decades ago. In summary, the production was a solid A for me and the second-best show of the weekend, pipped only by Merrily.


I hope you enjoyed reading about my whirlwind NYC trip as much as I enjoyed living it. I can't wait to go back. I've got a couple of trips to Seattle and Vegas (all for work) on the books, so airline status seems safe for 2024.


Thanks for dropping by. I will share more news as soon as I have it. Next stop, Seattle for QBR!

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jillastmann
Apr 09

All I can think about now is what Bob Lawson's take on Sweeney Todd would be....

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