As some of you know, Tem Tarriktar has thyroid cancer with metastases. We didn’t notice anything until last summer, but apparently the tumor is aggressive and has already gone into some bones. The thyroid oncologist he’s seeing says Tem is very ill and that we need to be aggressive in his treatment. He believes the cancer is being fueled by a rare genetic fusion and is hopeful that a genetically targeted medication he has researched, if it works as expected, could shrink the main tumor, as well as the metastases, from 50 to 75% relatively quickly. This doctor has ordered it and we’re waiting to see if Blue Shield will cover it, as it’s very expensive (about $20K a month).
Unfortunately, the drug is not a cure, and the cancer will likely eventually outsmart the drug effects. The oncologist has no idea when that can happen, but we’ve been hearing about people who have lived three years on this drug. The oncologist thinks there are a few other drugs that might be used if the main ones stop working. So, we are trying to find ways to strengthen Tem while he takes this drug and experiences its side effects, which should not be as severe as typical chemo drugs, especially since we have a team of alternative health care people (not covered by insurance) that will help Tem weather the storm.
Meanwhile, Tem is suffering with constant mucous formation in his throat from the irritation of the main tumor. It keeps him from sleeping and breathing easily. He may get about four hours a night, with drugs to help him get beyond the distress of the mucous. This process has become more difficult since the emergency intubation and tracheostomy he underwent two weeks ago, because his breathing tube was being pressed on by the growth of the tumor.
Tem has had seven surgeries and procedures in the last eight months, including thyroid surgery that had a limited benefit — the tumor had infiltrated structures in his throat; a procedure to prop up the vocal cord that had already been paralyzed by the tumor; a gastric tube placed in his stomach because he couldn’t eat enough without aspirating into his lungs; and an emergency tracheostomy (which may be reversible if the drug can shrink the tumor). His quality of life, as you can imagine, is very poor. He is underweight and very weak.
Our business, The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, is being run by our small group of employees, with a little help from Tem when he’s able. The employees have been amazing in their ability to adapt to Tem’s situation. At this point, the magazine is going to press on time, and the high quality of the publication has been maintained. Tem started this magazine 30 years ago from a little rag costing 50 cents, and it is now an international publication.
So far, we’re working to find Tem some skilled nursing assistance and a Transitions group that can oversee symptom management. If insurance doesn’t approve, this will be an added expense. If the drug is not approved and the manufacturer turns us down, we would need to finance the drug ourselves at $20K per month. We’re hoping for the best, and that it will happen soon. Time is of the essence. We must also hire in-home help, since I cannot take care of Tem's needs by myself. An out-of-town friend has been here for a month, and without him, I would have been floundering, as I have my own health issues that take time to address each day.
Tem has been a warrior for the last few years, tenaciously caring for me when I was close to death. He tirelessly researched treatments and encouraged me to forge ahead and try new approaches. And all this was done while continuing to maintain the magazine, and care for himself and our home. Many people came forward to support me both financially and donating their time, and we will always be grateful for everyone who helped us. It is now Tem’s turn to need your help. He is a kind, deep, intelligent, even-tempered, and vital man, and he is open emotionally and spiritually.
We’re having a weekly virtual healing circle on Monday nights at 7:00 p.m. PDT, with a focus on this drug being available and actually helping to improve Tem's condition. He needs a great deal of support and help now from friends and TMA readers who value the contribution he's made to his field. Tem sends his love to friends, family, and the astrological community. Thank you for any support you're able to give.