Chet The Scribe

My name is Chet Meeks. I am a 32 year old sociologist. I started this blog so that I can write about the things that interest me. I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Out of Jail

Hi Everyone,

I'm out of the hospital and resting at the apartment. Mom and Dad and Asa and Andrea are still here. Carla left yesterday. I am feeling fine. I walk a lot and rest a lot. My appetite is getting better little by little. Asa and Andrea leave Friday. Mom and I will go to Atlanta Sunday, and Dad will go back to Wyoming.

As you know the surgery did not work out as we had hoped. In order for the surgeon to remove the cancer in my messentary, she would have had to also remove my entire stomach and what remains of my colon. But she did remove my omentum, which contained the largest mass of cancer, as well as my belly button, which I was sick and tired of looking at.

There is good and bad news in all of this.

The bad news is that this pretty much officially removes me from the "cure" category. Like Elizabeth Edwards and many, many others, I will likely struggle with this disease for the rest of my life. There is a slight chance that more chemotherapy could reduce the tumor in question to a point where it could be removed and I could be back in the "cure" category, but unlikely. So that's disappointing since a cure is what we were all hoping for.

The good news is that cancer is not what it used to be. Increasingly, many individuals live with cancer as a chronic illness, just as people live with high blood pressure and diabetes. There are all kinds of new drugs coming out all the time, and these drugs are increasingly not as poisonous as chemotherapy. I will likely be on some version of chemotherapy or biologic therapy for the rest of my life in order to keep this cancer at bay and to keep it from damaging me. But the good news is that they have had remarkable success at doing this, and that so far, as all of you know, the cancer itself has not infected any of my organs and has not affected my health in any way. The current plan of attack (subject to change) is to go on a "chemo light" plan that will enable me to do chemo while not interfering with my work and life schedule. Given what I've been through with chemo for the last 2 years, that sounds like a good plan to me!

I want to thank all of you for your support through this. Many people provided resources. Many provided love. Many provided both. I feel like the luckiest person on earth to have so many amazing friends. Thank you for all of your emails and phone calls, and thanks for supporting my parents. And thanks for keeping up on your phone tree assignments.

Hope to see all of you soon.

Love, Chet

Monday, May 21, 2007

Update from Houston (via Chicago)

Chet, unsurprisingly, has been ahead of the surgical recovery time curve from the start. By Saturday morning (after having surgery on Friday morning), he sat in a chair and walked a short distance. By Saturday evening, he had walked several times more. According to a conversation I had with Carla on Sunday, he had just taken a wheelchair ride to the rose garden and had gotten a little sun.

This morning, I talked with Chet to relay the names of a couple of MD Anderson medical oncologists that I requested from a friend of mine who also is an oncologist there. He will discuss these recommendations along with recommendations made by his surgeon and others and will arrive at a decision about a treatment plan.

Chet’s surgeon allowed him to start a liquid diet a day earlier than we were told he would be able and he has started to eat solid food again. Carla today told me that he also was able to stop epidural medications, that his IV was removed, and that his pain is being managed by oral medications. It appears it will just be a matter of a few days before he will be able to be released from the hospital and able to travel again.

This will likely be my last post on behalf of Chet, since I am now back in Chicago, have not seen him for over 24 hours, and expect I soon will be scrounging around for information like everyone else. ;) The Scribe will return soon to keep you informed about his progress. Stay tuned.

Best to all of Chet’s supporters,

Friday, May 18, 2007

Update from Houston

Chet came through surgery fine. The surgery took 2½ hours. It was not possible to remove as much of the tumor as the surgeon had hoped, so she was not able to perform the heated chemotherapy that was planned. She was, however, able to remove Chet’s omentum and reduce a substantial amount of the tumor. Chet is still a little foggy, post-anesthesia, but his vital signs are strong and he is able to carry on conversation. He is in good pain control.

The surgeon told us that she will consult with a medical oncologist about her findings and that the medical oncologist will make recommendations about another round of chemotherapy and possibly monoclonal antibody therapy. While recovering from the surgery, Chet is free to decide whether to receive further treatment at MD Anderson or return to Atlanta for further treatment. We have been told that he will likely be released from the hospital in about a week (assuming he will choose to return to Atlanta rather than stay in Houston to pursue further treatment).

The surgeon spoke with him soon after the surgery and explained to him the surgical benefits she was able to provide for him. Ace, Heidi, Asa, Andrea, Carla and I have all seen and talked with him. Although Chet (and everyone else) is clearly disappointed that the benefits of surgery were not as great as we’d hoped, there are viable chemotherapy (and possibly monoclonal antibody therapy) options available to him that can provide benefits.

Chet, as always, is concerned about how all of us are doing and has, of course, grilled all of us as to whether or not we are fulfilling our phone tree obligations.

To say anything beyond this would be no more than arrogant speculation. We are all hopeful – for good reason – that there are further options to pursue.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thanks -- Here We Go

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to the hospital soon. I'm waiting for them to call me once they get my Doctor's orders and then I'll head over to start doing my "bowel prep." FUN!!!

I want to thank all of you for supporting me and being such amazing friends to me. I don't know how I'd be able to get through this mess without all of you. I don't know what else to say. Words fail me.

Please remember your phone tree assignments, and I'll see you on the other side of this.

Love, Chet

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Satan is Dead -- Welcome to Houston

I arrived in Hell, I mean Houston, today. My apartment won't be ready until 3pm so I came to this coffee/sandwich place called Brasil, opened my laptop, and learned that Beelzebub (aka the Lord of the Flies, aka Satan, aka Lucifer, aka Henry Baranczak [oops], aka Jerry Falwell) is DEAD!!!

According to, The Beast was found unresponsive in his office at Liberty "University" this morning at 10:45. says that he was 73 years old, but I think we all know he's quite a bit older than that.

I guess the work of the Dark Side will now have to be carried out by Dick Cheney and Pope Ratzinger, but it's hard to imagine how they'll carry on without Master.

It's an interesting question isn't it -- when the Devil dies, does he go to Hell? I would imagine so. I wonder what he's doing right now? If there's any justice in the universe, it involves Ronald Reagan, a Teletubby, and a LOT of rectal pain.

Seems like a good omen to me. I arrive in Houston for radical surgery on the same day that the Lord smites Belial. Miracles CAN happen, people. If Pat Robertson or Karl Rove suddenly drops dead, I might even start to feel optimistic about things.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Calendar Update and Directions

Hi Everyone. Below is an updated calendar. Also, here are driving directions to the apartment from both Bush Int'l and Hobby airports.

From: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 2800 N Terminal Rd
Houston, TX 77032 US
To: 8181 Fannin St Houston, TX 77054-2911 US

Driving Directions
1. Start out going WEST on TERMINAL RD N. (0.08 miles)
3. Turn SLIGHT LEFT onto TERMINAL RD S. (0.02 miles)
5. Merge onto BELTWAY 8 E/SAM HOUSTON PKWY E via the ramp on the LEFT
toward US-59. (1.86 miles)
6. Merge onto US-59 S toward HOUSTON. (15.73 miles)
7. Merge onto TX-288 S toward LAKE JACKSON/FREEPORT. (3.79 miles)
8. Merge onto I-610 W. (0.96 miles)
9. Take EXIT 1B toward FANNIN ST. (0.23 miles)
10. Stay STRAIGHT to go onto S LOOP FWY W. (0.35 miles)
11. Turn RIGHT onto FANNIN ST. (0.43 miles)
12. End at 8181 Fannin St Houston, TX 77054-2911 US
Total Estimated Time: 33 minutes
Total Distance: 26.64 miles

From: William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) 7800 Airport Blvd Houston, TX 77061 US
To: 8181 Fannin St Houston, TX 77054-2911 US

Driving Directions
1. Start out going NORTH on E RENT CAR RD toward AIRPORT BLVD. (0.08 miles)
2. Turn RIGHT onto AIRPORT BLVD. (0.19 miles)
3. Turn LEFT onto BROADWAY ST. (1.93 miles)
4. Turn SLIGHT LEFT onto GULF FWY. (0.11 miles)
5. Merge onto I-45 N/US-75 N via the ramp on the LEFT. (0.74 miles)
6. Merge onto I-610 W via EXIT 40C on the LEFT. (6.80 miles)
7. Take EXIT 1B toward FANNIN ST. (0.23 miles)
8. Stay STRAIGHT to go onto S LOOP FWY W. (0.35 miles)
9. Turn RIGHT onto FANNIN ST. (0.69 miles)
10. End at 8181 Fannin St Houston, TX 77054-2911 US
Total Estimated Time: 16 minutes
Total Distance: 11.12 miles

Calendar (for one month, since I'm optimistic):

May 15: Chet arrives
May 16: Asa and Andrea, Mom & Dad
May 17: Mom and Dad, Tom, Asa and Andrea
May 18: (Surgery Day) Mom and Dad, Tom, Asa and Andrea
May 19: Mom and Dad, Tom, Asa and Andrea
May 20: Mom and Dad, Tom, Asa and Andrea
May 21: Mom and Dad, Tom, Asa and Andrea
May 22: Mom and Dad, Asa and Andrea
May 23: Mom and Dad, Asa and Andrea
May 24: Mom and Dad, Asa and Andrea, Carla Goar
May 25: Mom and Dad, Asa and Andrea, Carla Goar
May 26: Mom and Dad, Carla Goar
May 27: Mom & Dad, Carla Goar
May 28: Carla Goar
May 29: Carla Goar
May 30: Carla Goar
May 31: Bob and Memo, Carla Goar
June 1: Carla Goar, Ben Ash, Bob & Memo, Michael R.
June 2: Ben Ash, Michael R., Katherine H., Andrew Vail
June 3: Ben Ash, Michael R., Katherine H., Andrew Vail
June 4: Andrew Vail
June 5: Andrew Vail
June 6: Wendy
June 7: Wendy
June 8: Wendy
June 9: Wendy, David
June 10: David
June 11: David
June 12: David, Kirk
June 13: Kirk
June 14: Kirk
June 15

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ode to Carla

If I had a hammer (toe)
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

If I had a bell
I'd ring it in the morning
I'd ring it in the evening
All over this land
I'd ring out danger
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

If I had a song
I'd sing it in the morning
I'd sing it in the evening
All over this land
I'd sing out danger
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Well I've got a hammer (toe)
And I've got a bell
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer (toe) of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Birthday, and the War of the Roses

Carla and Henry were here for my birthday last weekend. They arrived Friday. Carla requested that I pick them up late, because, as she stated it to Henry, "we need some 'us' time before Lucifer picks us up."

Friday night we had a dinner party at Enat, an Ethiopian restaurant here in Atlanta. After dinner, we went to Wendy's house for Birthday pie (one pie was chocolate and the other was fruit). I got lots of good presents, including a "roast" by Andy. Don't ever email anything to Andy -- he will use it against you.

Saturday we went to Inman Park festival. It was great -- lots of art vendors and most of the art is not of the cheezy variety one usually sees at community fairs. I almost bought a $100 black walnut salad bowel, but came to my senses. Saturday evening Carla and Henry had had enough of me; they had dinner with Henry's friends Hank and Mindy, and I had dinner with Katherine Hankins, her husband Jeremy, Andy & Jody, and one of Katherine's new colleagues in Geography.

Sunday, the idyllic courtship between Carla and Henry came to an abrupt halt.

Anyone who knows Henry or who has even been around him for 2 and a half minutes knows that his only source of pride, dignity, and self-worth is his feet. Henry could brag about his law degree, his expansive knowledge of US political history, or any number of other things, but he reserves his boasting rights solely for his FEET. Henry could (and has, believe me) go on for hours and hours and days and weeks about his feet. He spends hundreds of dollars at a time on pedicures. I've caught Henry before, by himself, in an empty room, LOOKING at his feet, with a self-satisfied smile on his lips.

So anyone who knows Henry Baranczak knows that his feet are about the only source of positive self-identity the man has -- everyone, apparently, EXCEPT Carla. The two major, universal taboos that I can think of are (1) incest, and (2) insulting Henry's feet, and Carla would have been better off this weekend if she had flown home to Texas and had sex with one of her cousins.

The peaceful events of Sunday morning were interrupted when Carla looked downward toward Henry's feet to tell him he had a "hammer toe," not just once, but repeatedly. I can't say whether or not Henry does have a hammer toe because I try not to look at his feet, but all I know is that Carla and Henry's cloy, disturbing, sickening two year love affair is over.

Of course Carla and Henry will chime in now to say that all is forgiven, that I'm just jealous of their special friendship, that I'm simply reveling in their tiff because they love each other more than they love me, etc., etc. But I know how Henry Baranczak's mind works, and I know that one of these days, when Carla least expects it, Henry will reach into Carla's chest and pull her beating heart out with his sausage-like fingers. Carla won't even see it coming. She'll gasp for a moment; she'll look shocked and betrayed; her eyes will flutter, and it will all be over. I have insulted Henry innumerable times and in the cruelest of ways over the years, but never ever ever, even during my most suicidal moment, would I dare to insult his feet.

That's Carla and Henry above before the Great War began. Carla is holding a little statue she bought, and Henry is wearing Carla's "Mrs. Roper" blouse. The next time you see Henry wearing orange, it will probably be at his arraignment.