Wednesday, August 20, 2008

3rd Round

Having been a runner for most of my life I've been mentally comparing my chemo treatments to workouts or a races. The mile, or 4 laps around a track (which also happened to be my favorite race in high school) works nicely since I've got 12 treatments of chemo that I'm shooting for, every three is a lap. Figuratively speaking I'm just about finished with my first lap of a mile race, and feelin good!

I haven't had much to report by way of news since round 2, it turned out to be much better than round 1, and I only had a few days where I felt really bad. I have noticed the nueropathy side effect more in rounds 2 and 3. My hands and feet have been a little numb, clammy and at times a little weak...some people have lasting problems with this after they conclude chemo treatments and others don't.

For this 3rd round the doctor switched me to a new anti-nausea medicine and I'm happy to report it seems to be working the best out of the three I've tried with little of the blurred vision, headaches etc that the others seemed to cause. I spent my time at the clinic yesterday watching the Olympics and chatting with my one neighbor, Maryanne, a fellow Colon Cancer patient. I'm not sure how old she was, I'm guessing late 60's early 70's, but she was very up beat and positive. She was on her 10th of 12 chemo treatments, which is always inspiring for me to see someone finishing strong.

Another reason for the lull in blog entry since round 2 has been 'blogger's block'. I mentioned that in my next few posts I was going to attempt to articulate some of the things I've learned up to this point...its proving to be a much harder thing to do than I thought. I started a few posts but was never able to finish them or feel like I was expressing what I wanted to express.

So here is a brief, but very humbling lesson that I've learned. I've mentioned this before, but words just don't express how supported I've felt from friends and family. Every email, voicemail, comment on this blog and text message that I've received have meant more to me than the people leaving it will ever know. The same goes even more so for all the prayers, and the good I know they are doing.

We've had more offers to come help out with chores around the house, and yard, dinners and errands than we know what to do with. There is really no other way for me to describe it other than just a complete outpooring of love. I've had several friends say to me something like, "I'm so sorry that it takes something like this happening for me to really make the effort to stay in touch." I'm equally as guilty and wonder what kind of friend I've been through the years to people as they have gone through difficult experiences in their lives...and what kind of friend I've remained in my 'ordinary friendships' where there haven't been any major events to motivate us to stay in touch better. Why is it that I haven't made more time to keep in touch? Well I guess the answer is easy, I thouht I was too busy. Knowing this makes all the support we've received all the more humbling, followed by feelings of not being worthy to receive it.

So this is the lesson I'll say has been reiterated instead of learned: People are good, and they have good hearts. I say reiterated, because I've never had the belief or thought that mankind as a whole had 'bad hearts', but through this experience I've just been reminded of the goodness of people. They have gone out of their way to show love and support to myself and family. I'm inspired to try and be the best I can be because of their examples.

As always thank you for your prayers!

Friday, August 8, 2008

2nd Round

On Wednesday I started my second round of Chemo! It has been much less eventful than the first time around, and I haven't even been all that sick... yet :) After the first round I didn't have any of the potential side effects common with my particular drugs, the most frequently reported of which has to do with intense sensations of pain with cold on the hands and in the throat. It was described to me like a feeling of a 'peel' in your throat when you swallow something cold. This round I've experienced a little of that, but it hasn't been too bad. This is one of the side effects that often times gets so bad that it prevents people from continuing chemo treatments all together.

We met with Dr. Bachrach at Desert Oncology Associates on Tuesday. He was recommended to us by several Doctors, and the appointment went really well, he was very thorough and optimistic...this 'professional optimism' as I like to call it is very important to me. I really don't have a desire to be treated by a Doctor who doesn't believe that I have the chance to beat this, regardless of what the statistics may point to. I may have already mentioned this in a previous post, but we stopped looking at statistics. I had always liked 'statistics' and what information they can offer or infer....until this all happened. I'm an individual, my situation is unique and I'm not planning to be someone's 'statistic'.

So after feeling good about the meeting with Dr. Bachrach we were able to schedule my next Chemo appointment for the following day, Wednesday. The clinic is literally 3 minutes from our house in the Medical Plaza by the could it be any more convienient!? This time I didn't have a private room with a bed like at Mayo, the treatment room is just lined with recliners and 'trees' (IV poles and pumps), not really even any room to have someone sit there with you. Most people sit in there for a couple hours and read, sleep, watch movies etc. while they are getting pumped full of drugs. My neighbors were Patricia, a woman in her 60's with Lung Cancer and an older gentleman who I never got the chance to talk to, he was a little hard of hearing and pretty focused on his crossword puzzle. Patricia and I had a nice chat, and I was inspired by her optimism. She told me she was jealous that I still had my hair...I was the only person in the room who did. I'm not really sure why my drugs don't cause it to fall out for the majority of people, and I had mixed feelings about this. Don't you think it could be kind of fun to have an excuse to be a woman and shave your head? :) I think I'd even stick some little bows on with honey like you do for bald newborn girls...

After I was done at the Clinic I headed home where a home health company delivered a 'ball-o-chemo' that serves the same purpose as the pump I had at Mayo, with the added bonus of no pumping noise ever 5 minutes. Later a nurse came and hooked it up to my port-a-cath and its slowly been shrinking over the last 48 hours. I'm pretty facinated with this little thing and how it works. The nurse will come back this evening to un-hook me and I'll be tube free for another two weeks!

One thing that has been surprising to me is how much I've learned in this past month. I've been told by other cancer patients that I will be amazed at the life lessons I will learn through the experience, lessons many of them say they would go through the whole trial again to learn. I think my next few posts I'll try and share some of these 'lessons' that I'm talking about. I only hope that I can put them in to words!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I really like this quote that my dad shared with me,
“… the tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful as well as just and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way.

If we constantly focus only on the stones in our mortal path, we will almost surely miss the beautiful flower or cool stream provided by the loving Father who outlined our journey. Each day can bring more joy than sorrow when our mortal and spiritual eyes are open to God’s goodness. Joy in the gospel is not something that begins only in the next life. It is our privilege now, this very day. We must never allow our burdens to obscure our blessings. There will always be more blessings than burdens—even if some days it doesn’t seem so. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Enjoy those blessings right now. They are yours and always will be.”

What a great reminder to me on my ‘down’ days to look around and smell the roses. One thing that I’ve come to realize in this short time is that we all have experiences in our lives that test us, some seem greater to those on the outside, but to the person in the midst of it all it’s a struggle/big deal. We have to remember this as we look on others during these difficult times and try our best not to judge their course of action or attitude etc because really they are probably trying their very best.

There really isn’t much reporting or updating to do, but it’s very early in the morning and I’ve thrown in the towel on trying to stay asleep in bed for the night. Blogging seemed like something I could do to pass the time. Any closet insomniacs who have some good advice for staying asleep without using drugs?

I don’t think I’ve adequately thanked Justin for all that he does for me. Not but 5 minutes ago I was crouched over the toilet, trying my best not to wake him up, but he came running in with a bottle of water for me just woken from his deep sleep. He’s also got a special way about him of kicking me in the pants to keep my attitude on track when it starts to veer one way or the other through this experience. I guess this is one of the many positive things that spouses are good for. : ) I can’t imagine how different of an experience I’d be having if this diagnosis had come about 7 months earlier. Happy 7 month anniversary to us!!

In the last post I wrote about trying to get into Mayo Scottsdale. Well we had our appointment with the oncologist, who seemed very good. However after a little more exploration we have decided not to pursue treatment there because our insurances are not accepted. So we will most likely use another oncologist here in the valley to administer the chemo regiment that was outlined for me at Mayo Rochester. And from there we will just play it by ear to see what will happen with surgery, follow up visits to Mayo etc. I have an appointment with a highly recommended oncologist here on Tuesday, and we hope to resume my next chemo cycle starting Wednesday.

As always, thank you all for your support and prayers!