If you are reading this for the first time and want to hear the whole story, look under "BLOG ARCHIVE" on the right. Read the oldest blog first, starting with "The Diagnosis" in January 2009 (click on it) and continuing down. The blog you see below is the most recent and you want to read it last.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I try to maintain a positive attitude while still being realistic about my situation. But the attitude is suffering a bit lately so if you‘re looking for an upbeat post you may want to skip this one. I apologize. Last weekend I had a great time in Atlantic City with my good friend Vince. I could have been a little embarrassed at the poker table because I was not able to properly handle the cards or chips due to my dry fingers and fragile fingernails. If you’ve ever watched poker on television you may have seen some of the players doing chip tricks at the table. How’s this for a trick - start to take your chips out of the rack and send them shooting across the table and onto the floor? Things like that along with almost constant tears could have gotten me down but it didn’t. Vince stacked my chips for me whenever we were at the same table and when we weren’t I didn’t care. I was having fun and I was feeling great. When I got home on Sunday Terry and I attended our grand nephew’s (I think that’s the relationship) baseball game. After the game he, our niece and her husband and in-laws all came back to our house for pizza. It was another weekend for the “Happy Times With Cancer” list. I was feeling so good that weekend that I decided to go to the chemo lounge on Monday to let them knock the hell out of me. And they did. It’s been a week now since that treatment and I’ve never felt this weak so long after a treatment. This weekend immediately passed I tried to take advantage of the warm weather by doing some yard work. I couldn’t even stand up for more than 15 minutes let alone exert myself. This is the cumulative affect of the chemo. There is some tiredness, particularly in the early part of the cycle. But it’s the lack of energy, strength and stamina that is the most frustrating. I can’t do much except activities that don’t require I get up from the chair. I guess it’s to be expected. Take a look at the two pictures at the following link. The first picture is of the IV pump and a second infusion pump. Both of these are putting stuff into me while I am taking the picture. The second picture is what’s waiting to be pumped into me. Chemo Pictures What you see in the pictures does not include the 5fu which is pumped into me through a portable pump for the next 48 hours. When you consider all those chemicals going into my body it’s easy to see why my body reacts negatively. It’s easy to see why I pee so much. Perhaps it’s the mental reaction to the physical stress or perhaps it’s a normal part of the process or perhaps I’m just a wimp but whatever is causing it I’m getting depressed lately. Yes, I’m depressed about not having more energy but it’s more than that. I feel like this is never going to end. I feel like I can’t take much more of it. I find myself thinking about my own funeral, and yes, it makes me cry. I find myself wondering if anyone will miss me. Anyone that is besides my dog Oscar. But I’ve noticed lately that Oscar and Terry seem to be bonding more. Then I think that they’re both preparing to live without me. I cry by myself a lot lately. If I get caught I can blame it on the blocked tear ducts. I’m sorry for the negativity. There is a positive. If you were to give me the choice of living only six more months with the improved relationship I’ve enjoyed with my two children and my mother over the last six months or living another ten years without those relationships, I’d take the six months. Something is going to change soon. Next week I’m scheduled for another PET scan. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the results will be good enough to allow me to back off some of the chemo. If not I may keep getting weaker to the point I’m forced to back off. I still have some fight left in me so I’m going to try not to let it be the latter. I scheduled myself for an extra hydration session tomorrow. Maybe that will help with the weakness. Either way I’ll carry on. -------------------------------------------------------------------
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I recently received an email from a lady who has been reading my blog. Her name is Rolinda. She told me that her father died from esophageal cancer on Sept. 12, 2008. She said she feels a bond to anyone who is fighting this disease. Two things struck me about what Rolinda said. First the bond that she feels. It shows you how cancer affects loved ones. They fight the battle along side their loved one but the enemy is the disease. And that enemy doesn’t go away when their personal battle is over. Rolinda recognizes that there are many more soldiers left fighting. Secondly, it struck me that Rolinda’s father’s battle ended right about the time that mine began. In fact it was on the very day I was getting the telltale CAT scan. When I read that part of Rolinda’s email it felt like a passing of the torch. So I am now determined to fight this battle in the memory and honor of Rolinda’s father, Richard Martin. Every warrior needs encouragement and inspiration. Much of mine comes from Mark Richardson. Mark was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2005. His was the same type as mine, adenocarcinoma, and he was also at stage IV. He was given 3 months to live. Mark has fought this battle hard and has been very successful. Take a look at the two pictures at this link: Mark’s pictures The 2005 picture was taken while was undergoing treatment, shortly after being diagnosed. The 2009 picture was taken recently. The difference is stunning. Needless to say Mark has defied the odds and far outlived the prognosis he was given. Mark is not cured. There is no cure for this disease we share. But if I can be doing as well as Mark 4 years from now I’ll be very grateful. Mark’s mother Betty has blogged his entire story. You can find it through the link on the right side of this page. Richard and Mark are heroes of inspiration to me. Rolinda and Betty are fellow warriors, fighting this battle by bringing their heroes’ stories to people like me who benefit so much from it. Carry on Mark. Carry on Betty. Carry on Rolinda. Rest in peace Richard. ----------------------------------------
Monday, April 13, 2009
My daughter Heather just secured a volunteer position. She will spend a week this summer as an artistic therapist/counselor at a place called Happiness is Camping, a camp for children with cancer. She’ll be giving up a week of her vacation time to help children who are facing this monster. You might think that Heather is doing this because of my situation but this is not the case. Long before I was diagnosed she felt a calling to work with children afflicted with this disease. She has been a crusader for other cancer causes as well including walkathons for the American Cancer Society and volunteering as a “chemo angel”. She has done these things because of the goodness that is in her heart. She is a better person than I am. She is the acorn that has fallen far from the tree. Thank you Heather for all you do to help fight my battle and the war against cancer. Speaking of trees, on Saturday Terry came to me and asked “have you seen the tree?” I knew immediately which tree she was referring to. Last summer she and I planted a cherry tree to replace some shrubbery we dug up. “Is it blooming?” I asked. I was practically out the door as she responded yes. Sure enough, the pinkish-white flowers were adorning this scrawny little mass of twigs. It immediately hit me as a symbol of hope. It is a sign of Spring, which leads to the warm weather I’ve been waiting for. It survived the winter, as did I. Click here to see the acorn and the tree Last week I had my 12th treatment. I can definitely feel the cumulative affects, mostly a little more fatigue and weakness each time. But that's a small price to pay. Spring is here. Life is good. Cancer sucks. Carry on. -----------------------------------------------------------
Monday, April 6, 2009
As I begin writing this I am sitting in the chair at the chemo lounge. To my left is a patient whose veins are collapsing from so many IV treatments. He will have to have a portacath implanted. His blood oxygen level is low so he may need oxygen. To my right is a patient who is being given a prescription for morphine to replace the oxycontin he had been taken. I’m not sure, but this sounds like serious pain management to me. Also, he has lost a lot of weight since I first saw him. I’m worried about him. There’s already been one fellow whom I became friendly with at the lounge that has passed away. All of this supports what I wrote about in my last post. No matter how bad things seem there’s always people who have it worse. Here’s another thing. If you look at the right side of the page, under “THINGS OF IMPORTANCE TO ME”, you will see links for “Happy Times With Cancer” and “Sad Times With Cancer”. There are far more happy times than sad times. Last week I was able to add another happy time. While I was taking extra time off from chemo we took a trip down to Atlanta to visit friends. What a great time we had. Denis and Carol were the perfect hosts. We took a tour of Coca Cola headquarters and saw the new Atlanta Aquarium on Friday. On Saturday, with perfect weather, we summited Stone Mountain. OK, it’s not very high and we took the cable car up but we did reach the summit. It may be that I’m just more aware of it now but it seems that there is a lot of cancer around. Denis was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and his father is fighting bladder cancer. I accompanied Denis to his radiation treatment. We were Cancer Comrades. Denis delayed telling me about his diagnosis. He felt that it was insignificant compared to mine. It is true that his prognosis is better than mine but it is serious nonetheless. I pray for him and his father and hopefully you will too. Denis is one of a small group of men whom I both enjoy and respect. On Saturday Carol put together a very nice cook out which was attended by all of their children, their son’s wife, their daughter’s boyfriend, their grandchildren and some friends. It always amazes me to see children I have known since they were very young mature into fine adults. This gathering of great people firmed up a life lesson I’ve been slowly learning. Good people usually have good families and good friends. I’ve added that to my list of “Important Lessons I’ve learned in Life”. I’m trying something new with today’s post. Pictures. I don’t want to embed them in the post because if I keep doing that it will take a long time for the pages to load. Instead you can see pictures associated with this post by clicking this link: Atlanta Pictures I had hoped that the extra week off from chemo would provide me with superman energy and some extra taste buds. It did not. But I still feel better than a many other patients so I can’t complain. Today the oncologist submitted a request for insurance company approval of another PET scan. If it’s approved I’ll soon be suffering from scanxiety, the fear of what the results will show. Carry on.