Sunday, December 9, 2007

Officially in the Clear

I am now officially cancer-free! Boy, what a great thing. It's such a relief to know the cancer is in remission, and the doctor doesn't even expect anything to come up again, ever. It's because the cancer such a quick and great response to the chemo-therapy, that they expect it to stay away. There's always the slight chance of it coming back though. Something like 1-5%. I'll take those odds. It's been such a journey. My good friend, Blaine, told me about 2 Cor 1: 3-4. Boy was he right on the money with that one. No sooner did I read that, then one of my co-workers, who's in his 60s, found out he has lung cancer. One of the things he told me though was that he thought of me and how I persevered through my cancer, and it gave him a good bit of encouragement. So, we talked for about half an hour about it all, and he felt a lot more comfortable about what to expect. He has stage 1 cancer, which is good (relatively) because it's in it's beginning stages. He has a much higher chance of surviving with a great outcome. So, to be able to share my experience with him was a good thing for me also. It always feels good when you can comfort someone who's going through the same thing you went through and have the experience.

Other than that, my strength is coming back, slowly. I can tell the chemo is finally getting out of my system, and things are getting back to normal. And food is starting to taste normal again! What a great thing. But I still have the occasional chemo-brain thing happening. (Chemo-brain is slang for the side effect the chemo has on short-term memory). I can be thinking about doing something, and literally within 5 minutes I will completely forget about it. I didn't normally do this before. Not too much anyways. But that's starting to get better too.

So, this Christmas is going to be a little more special to me, even though I'll be by myself. The good Lord keeps reminding me of what I've been through, and it just puts a smile on my face to know that I came out on the other side just fine, with His right beside me of course. And I'm really looking forward to 2008. I think things are going to be good for me. We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Long Overdue Update

First, let me apologize to everyone for not keeping up with the updates. At the end of September, I moved to a new apartment, and couldn't get internet for almost a month. Now that I have it, I will try to keep the updates coming more regularly.

Well, a lot has happened since last time. I had my last chemo-therapy treatment on Oct 31! Thank God that's over with. I have my next PET scan on Nov 26, but the doctors are 99.9% sure it's going to be clear, seeing as how the last scan was clean. That means the cancer is officially in remission! Although I am very fortunate that it wasn't worse than it was, it wasn't a walk in the park. All that time of being sick, upset stomach, being extremely tired, and the little bit of hair loss. Feels like it's been going on for a lot longer than 6 months. But here I am, getting over the last little bit of nausea and fatigue, and looking forward to getting on with my life. Things sure have changed for me though. I definitely have a different outlook on life, which I think is a standard for almost anyone who has survived cancer. I'll go in to details about that later. But when you hear those words "you have cancer", that's one of the most fearful things there is. And it will change your life, whether you like it or not. Lord knows the millions of thoughts that ran through my head. I was scared beyond anything I'd ever felt before. Sure I've been to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia when I was in the military, but there was always some measure of security and safety in that. But with the cancer, you feel completely helpless. Sure there are good doctors and medicine, but that stuff doesn't always work. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt completely defenseless, and it scared the hell out of me. One of those thoughts was that "this is it. My time is up. I guess I've had a good life. Wish it could have been longer though." But that was one of those thoughts that I HAD to get rid of, or else the cancer would have won. And I eventually did. Now looking back, I know that with the grace of God, I have overcome a tremendous hurdle, and that I DO have more life to live. Now's my chance to really make a difference, really make something meaningful of my life. I'm still trying to figure out the details of it all though. What exactly do I do now? What do I strive for? I know a lot of "good" answers, but not the one that's for me. For now, my new goal is to do a charity bicycle ride for the "LiveStrong" foundation. There's going to be a few charity rides in 2008, and that's what I'm focusing on starting now. I know I have a long ways to go, fitness wise, but my goal right now is to do one of those rides. I'll update everyone on the details when I get a better idea of exactly when and where that will be.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have prayed and supported me through all of this. I know I haven't been in contact with everyone as much as I would like, but please know that I continually think of all of you, and give thanks for you being my friends and providing support. It all really means more than you could imagine. I will make a conscious effort in the next few weeks to get in touch with all of you. God bless every one of you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Great Test Results

Well, I got the results from the PET scan today. As far as the scan shows, all of the cancer is gone! I couldn't believe it. Not one single spot of cancer, anywhere. But the doctors want me to continue the chemo-therapy to get all of the cancer cells that the scan may not show. Just a "better safe than sorry" type thing. Which is fine with me, I don't want to go through this again. So, thanks to everyone that was saying a prayer for me. Things are going ok, had chemo today, and the nausea is already hitting. It use to take a couple of days, but this time and the last time it hit only a few hours later. The doc gave me a new nausea medicine, so hopefully it works good. I'm just happy the cancer is gone, seems pretty amazing to me that only 3 months ago things were looking not-too-good. Thank God things went/are going as good as they are. Thanks again to everyone that has kept me in you prayers and memories.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chemo is boring

Well, it kinda is. The actual process of getting the chemo. All you do is sit there while they inject the chemo in. It doesn't hurt or anything, don't even feel it. The only thing I don't like is the saline flushes they have to do between each drug. For some odd reason, a lot of people taste or smell the saline. I smell it. It's nasty, like getting a big shot of sea water up the nose. But the actual process of chemo is pretty much just sitting there. I have a portable dvd player which helps, but I feel rude when the nurse is doing something, and I'm just sitting there watching my movie. So, I'll pause it and speak to them. Sometimes they talk back, sometimes they don't. Whatever.

It seems like this last chemo, I got sick right away. It usually takes a few days for the nausea to come on, but this time was different. It may be because I didn't eat anything before hand. Who knows. I was suppose to get my PET scan tomorrow, but the machine broke down. Now it's going to be another week until they can get it done. I want to get it done and over with just to see what progress I'm making. I was suppose to have it done last week, but the hospital visit canceled that. O'well, I can be patient for another week.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Interesting Past Few Days

Well, the past few days have been interesting. I just spent those days in the hospital. I had another blood clot, and part of it moved to my lung. Yep, a pulmonary embolism. It wasn't a bad one, but it could have been. I was short of breath all the time, and my left calf was hurting for a few days until I finally went to the doctor. I knew I had a blood clot, but didn't even thing about the lung part. I was taking a blood thinner medicine, Coumadin, but apparently sometimes when one is on chemo-therapy, it gets canceled out. So, even though I was taking the medicine, it wasn't doing what it was suppose to. Now I have to take a shot in the stomach every day while I'm doing chemo. Which will be another 3-4 months. yay.

I'm back home now, which is a good thing. I was bored out of my mind while there. The television only had a few good channels to watch, and it was one of those remote control things that only had one button to change the channel. So, if you accidentally went past your channel, opps, gotta go through every channel again to get back to it. I took a book to read, but didn't have a small light to read with. Either the large overhead light, or nothing. Well, I should stop complaining. My stay did go good, considering the circumstances.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Another Chemo done with

Well, chemo #4 is done for. Seems like I started getting sick sooner this time. And of course the medicine they gave me to begin with isn't working too well this time around. I have some other medicine that does the trick, so I guess I'll be taking that from now on. And I'm noticing that when I'm not feeling good, it seems like time just drags along at work. Probably a combination of not feeling good and being really bored.

Over the past few weeks I'm noticing I've been extremely tired, or get tired very quick. I went to the golf driving range, and when I was done I had to take a nap for about 2 hours. haha. I mentioned this to the doctor, and they said it's to be expected. It may even get worse. I guess I see now why a lot of people going through cancer quit their jobs. I don't have a choice though. I have to work, that's all there is to it. At least everyone at my work is willing to help me out. That means a lot.

I know I keep saying this, but thanks to everyone that's been praying for me, and keeping in contact. It helps to know my friends are out there pulling for me. God bless you all.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Chemo #3 in the books

Chemo #3 is down in the books. Nothing to much to write about other than a little bit of heartburn. And my appetite has gone down some, but that happens for the first few days afterwards anyways. And concentrating has become something that's a little harder than normal. My hair started falling out the other week, so I went ahead and shaved my head. Doesn't look bad, actually. The strange thing is none of my facial hair or body hair has fallen out. Which might be a good thing, cause I don't want to go around with legs smoother than a girls. haha. Well, I need to get going and eat something. Have to stay ahead with the nausea medicine, or else I'll get really sick. Made that mistake once, not again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Getting sick, kinda rough

Well, looks like I spoke too early about getting sick. Starting yesterday at work, I started to feel it. Then today, all I've been doing is getting sick. I can't even keep water down right now, but I think it's starting to go away a little bit. I just wish I could keep this nausea medicine down long enough for it to take effect. Kinda ironic, huh?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Second Chemo Treatment

Had my second chemo treatment this past Tuesday. Everything during the chemo went good, just a little tired from not sleeping good the night before. Same side effects as last time. Real fatigued, a little nauseated, and my bones hurt some from the Leunasta shot. All of this was getting to me today at work, and I had to leave early. I felt bad, but my supervisor told me everyone was behind me, and was shocked that I'm doing as well as I am. So, it was partly expected. Made me feel good that they are there for me, and no concerns whatsoever for covering me on a moment's notice.

Still haven't lose my hair, appetite is the same, and still amazed that this is all, so far. Thanks to everyone who keeps in touch. I promise to get in touch with everyone who's emailed me. Sorry for a not to exciting email. I guess nothing new is a good thing in my case. One good thing going on at the chemo treatment center is that they're starting up a support group for all of the cancer patients, and I was asked to help out with it. For both of my treatments, I haven't seen anyone close to my age, so maybe with this group, I'll meet some. It's just kinda hard going through this with no one to really talk to who is is going/has gone trough cancer. Don't get me wrong, it's great being in touch with everyone, but I guess it's just different talking to someone who's had/has cancer. Guess it's just the common link. Well, I'll get going. Thanks again to everyone for listening to me ramble on a bit. God bless.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wide awake in the middle of the night

Well, here I am, 5 a.m. and I've been up for about 2 hours now. Can't sleep at all. My left leg is hurting, my right one keeps getting little spasms. My right shoulder grinds now, after the port surgery. And I can't sleep more than two to three hours a night because of the steroid injection they gave me during chemo. So, I'm having a fun night for sure. O'well, could be a lot worse. I could be in the hospital in a lot worse condition, so I am grateful for that. I'm also grateful to my friends. The multiple emails and phone calls I've received from them has been a great motivation for me. I really enjoy talking to all of them, some whom I haven't spoken with in years. Partly my fault, partly just loosing contact information. But all in all, things are great considering the circumstances.

One of my friends, Amanda, who's mom is a recent survivor of breast cancer, has been very encouraging to me. She will tell me all the things her and her mom went through, and the things that helped them out. When I talked to her yesterday, she was saying (about her mom) that God wouldn't put you through all of this if He didn't have some kind of awesome plan for you life. I keep getting told that too, but nothing has materialized yet. Guess that's the frustrating part of it all. When will I be able to move on into what God has planned for me? Am I there now, cause I don't see it. But in it all, even though I may get tired and frustrated with it all, I know He's there coaching me along. I just wish things were a little easier. haha It's all good though. As long as there's a good outcome for me or someone else, then it's all worth it.


Friday, June 1, 2007

First Treatment

Had my first treatment on 29 May 2007. Everything went a lot better than I thought it would. Thankfully, I hardly had any side effects right off the bat. About the only thing I had the first night was a slight upset stomach. But one of the meds they gave me took care of that real quick. On the 30th, I had a Neulasta shot, basically a medicine to boost the white blood cell count. That makes the bigger bones hurt a little bit. It's enough to may me uncomfortable, but that's it.

Starting yesterday though, I've been getting tired a lot easier than normal. Yesterday, I took 3 or 4 naps. I've only taken one today so far, but am getting ready to go lay down again.

So, all in all, everything is going great. Not at all what I expected, but definitely grateful they're going as good as they are. But that might change with the next few treatments. I may start getting some of the other side effects, like losing my hair and getting more tired than now. We'll see though, I'm not going to wait around for them to come. I'm just going to keep plugging away like usual.

Thanks to all of my friends and family that have written me emails. It means a lot to me, and as soon as I can, I'll write everyone back individually. God bless you all.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

21 May 2007, Doctor's Results

I had my doctor's appointment on Friday, and got the results from the bone marrow test and PET scan. The bone marrow came back clean, no cancer there. Thank God. The PET scan showed that the cancer is on both sides of my diapraph, which isn't too good. They (the doctors) gauge what stage a patient is at by how much there is and if it's above/below or both sides of the diaphram. A stage 1 is the best and stage 4 is the worst. I'm at stage 4, which includes both sides of the diaphram and moved to other places. In my case, it has began to move to my bones: the right shoulder blade and the top right side of my hip bone. The doctor didn't seem too concerned with it though, said that the chemo would take care of all of it. I'll have 6 months of chemo, which starts on 29 May, and hopefully that's it. No radiation or any other surgeries.

All in all, it's not too bad. It's not great, but it could be worse. I'm just thankful that it was caught now, instead of later when it would be too late. I am still in shock of the whole thing, and just wonder about it all. If I never would have went to the hospital to get checked for a blood clot, I still would not know. I guess everything happens for a reason.

So, if you all could keep me in your prayers, and thank you for everyone who has prayed so far. I appreciate it.

Today I'm going in for a lung test and tomorrow for a heart test. One of the drugs in the chemo can have a bad reaction in a small percentage of people, and they have to check and make sure my lungs and heart are healthy enough in case there is a reaction. So, more tests, yippee! O'well, small price to pay I guess.

06 May 2007, port installed

Well, things are ok with me so far. This past friday, I had a port put in. A port is basically a device that's put in right under the skin, around the collar bone, with a tube going into one of the main veins going into my heart. The doctors can administer the chemo through that. It's suppose to be easier to do it this way instead of sticking a vein each time. The area where it is installed is still pretty sore. The bones in the area feel bruised, and the stitches are still sore too. I guess that's expected after only two days.

I still don't know the results of the tests yet. I won't know those until the 18th. I'm praying that the cancer hasn't gotten into my bone marrow. If it has, I'll have to do a transplant of that. Let's pray that it hasn't gotten in there yet.

Well, starting tomorrow I'm going on vacation to Dayton, Oh. I'm really looking foward to this. A whole week off of work, I'm not going to know what to do. But I'll definitely find something to do. I'll update everyone as soon as I know the test results on the 18th.

01 May 2007, Bone Marrow Test

I had a bone marrow test today, to see if the cancer has moved to the marrow. It wasn't too painful, actually. It kinda hurt, but the doc did a good job of numbing everything up real good. I won't go in to details, cause I don't want to make anyone sick, but it sounds worse than it actually was. The doc said I have very thick, healthy bones. Which is a good thing. I won't know the results for a few weeks, but I'm hopeful that everything is alright. Now, I just have to look forward to the PET scan and the Port to be put in, and the "hard" part is over with. I really hope the chemo-therapy isn't too bad. As my brother said though " just think of it as a six month diet plan." Guess that's a good way to look at it.

But as for now, everything is alright. Just looking forward to a little vacation next week in Dayton, Ohio, then on with the tough part (chemo), which will probably wreck my summer. O'well, life goes on. Hope everyone is doing good.


28 Apr 07, initial cancer diagnosis

Yesterday, 27 April 2007, I was diagnosed with cancer. It's not terminal, but it's going to require at least 6 months worth of chemotherapy, and maybe radiation and a bone marrow transplant. The type of cancer is Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It's a cancer of the lymph node system. I'm going to survive, but it won't be a fun ride. I don't know the details of the exactly of how long I've had it, or at what stage it's at, but the doctors think they have caught fairly early. I'm not really showing any signs of advanced stages, so that's a good thing.

Well, that will be all for now. I just ask for your prayers.


My Struggle

Well, here goes. I've been keeping my friends and family up to date with emails, and posting blogs on myspace. But thought this might be more accessible to others. So, here goes. I'll post my earlier stuff from myspace, to catch everyone else up on my progress.

So, for those who do not know, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma on April 27, 2007. Kind of from left field, as I did not have any symptoms. But from my research, there's not too many symptoms for Lymphoma to begin with. So, finding out I even have it is a blessing. A blessing so that I can be cured of it. The doctor told me if I had let it go, I would most certainly die from it. Kinda scary, but also thankful for the doc thinking to look for it.

So here I am, in a place I never imagined I would be in. But, as the old saying goes: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm praying right now that this is the case.