Pray for Tay (8/30/2012)

Taylor Filorimo (Tay)

My third cousin Taylor was fourteen years old when she learned that she had a rare form of cancer — Renal Cell Carcinoma. She has been battling this cancer for three years now and she needs your prayers today. She is currently taking chemo and is in severe pain.

Please Pray with me for Tay…

LORD we ask that you relieve her of the pain she is in. And work through her nurses to provide the care she needs today. Jesus we ask that you heal her from this horrible disease. Jesus, work through her family and friends — give them strength and use them to shower Tay with Love. Amen

And please watch and share this video of a Tay’s song (She’s a Hero) written by Tonja Rose. The video and song are very beautiful and reveal how Tay has been most concerned with helping other children fighting cancer. Tay is a beautiful young woman and has inspired many.

And Today Tay needs our Prayers.

Love and Peace be with you all!

Treatment 5 of 12 (8/23/2012)

“and if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility…”

Sailing in my Clipper 27ft sailboat was always a pleasure. This was a very nice boat, with a beautiful cabin and well stocked galley. This boat was clean and comfortable and fit me well. The trip was well planned and I was looking forward to yet another enjoyable time on the water.  My destination was a couple days away and I fully expected this to be another great adventure to add to a long list of successful voyages.

After sailing for a day I was a bit nervous when I could no longer see the shore.  Regardless of the fear I simply chose to trust my GPS and keep on course.  And after a while; I relaxed and started enjoying the sights, sounds, and sun. Life is Good!

It wasn’t too long into the trip before I started to doubt my 27 foot sailboat. When I realized that my course was going to cross with an ominous storm the fear started to consume me and I was on the verge of panic!  I just knew that my small craft was no match for the weather that lie ahead. I noticed that the waves were increasingly threatening and the swells left me with walls of water surrounding my tiny boat.

I was traveling East, directly into the storm and my instinct was to turn my craft 180 degrees and head West, away from the storm.  So I followed my instinct and promptly adjusted course. Traveling West, over what seemed like hours, I continuously looked back to see if the storm was gaining on me; imagine my surprise when I noticed yet another storm flanking my port side. The storm brewing in the South horizon was even more ominous than the one blowing in from the West, filled with fierce lightning and thunder.

I once again adjusted course and set direction Northwest (again away from the now two storms stalking me).  I hoped I could avoid these storms as I feared this tiny and inadequate craft simply could not overcome the tribulation that these gales would deliver.

Sailing at top speed on the Northeast course I couldn’t help but wonder about my fate and whether my end was destined to happen soon. And as if things couldn’t worsen, I glanced down at my instrumentation and found that my GPS was not functioning correctly. My GPS picked a fine time to break! I have grown to depend on high tech solutions and without this tool I was surely lost. Now the wonder turns to worry. Was I heading towards land or further out to sea? What lies ahead of me? What was on the horizon?  Was there yet another storm?  Would battling the turbulent seas be inevitable?  Pondering what might happen given this predicament is a very scary thing to do!

All of you who know me realize that I don’t have a sail boat nor do I know how to sail. However, this story helps me communicate what cancer feels like to me!  All is going well, the children are finishing their college, retirement is not too far down the line, grandchildren are something I look forard to, and the future with my wife Connie looks bright. When suddenly I’m faced with testicular cancer and then, several months later, an even more serious second primary cancer (colorectal cancer).  And to make it even more of a challenge, the next thing we find is that the colorectal cancer has metastasized in the lung.  Now what? What storms lie in wait?  Or maybe, just maybe, we will ride out the storm and find clear sailing in the future? Uncertainty!

I’m sure you all have heard the saying “cancer sucks!”  Well, I have to admit that this phrase, although poorly worded, really hits the mark!  Cancer is a horrible disease for a lot of different reasons.  For me the uncertainty about the future and the side-effects of the cancer treatments are the biggest current challenges. It can be overwhelming at times and certainly is a source of frustration and anger, among other emotions.  I also think that the emotions can rise up within me at the worst times. Although I try to deal with them in positive ways, they seem to negatively influence communication with those closest to me and cause relationship challenges (additional stresses we certainly don’t need during these times). What can I say, Cancer Sucks!

And so I have to accept the prognosis and perservere through the storms!  The doctor estimated that taking chemo would increase the chance of remission by 20 percent.  However, there is still a 50% chance of a recurrence (even with chemo).  And of course, these estimates are not based on an exact science.  They are one doctor’s educated guess. Each cancer patient is unique and the cancer they are battling is also unique. The doctor has to extrapolate from dated and disparate studies and try to apply this knowledge to my specific case (thats how they refer to us – as cases). I’m sure the good doctor is doing his best at estimating; however, I am also very sure it is NOT an exact science.

Even the treatments for cancer (chemo and radiation) are challenging.  They come with many negative side-effects, not least being exhaustion/fatigue.  Unfortunately, it is not as simple as taking a pill and carrying on with our daily lives.  Chemo does disrupt life and without a guarantee that it will help. Even so; I will try to minimize the disruption! I will fight it and try to carry on my normal activities. And we are rolling the dice with the chemo and hoping this time it helps!

Anyway, enough with delving into feelings and emotions – that is very unlike me.  I usually do a really good job of checking any “bad” emotions (a.k.a. burying them so deep that they are surely forgotten and rendered harmless). Just kidding, I think I’ve done better in my later years (good trend) at listening to my emotions and acknoweledging them. I try to understand the reason for the emotion and allow myself to feel and experience them. With hope that the bad emotion won’t linger and fester and ultimately cause additional challenges. Yes, I also know I have to do better at this emotion mangement thing!


I accept the LORD as my personal savior! I will trust in the LORD.  Jesus is my partner through whatever challenges lie ahead.  And I will Love my family and friends.  Simply said I will try to keep my sites on living.  And I will focus on keeping faith and humbly accepting each day as a wonderful blessing from heaven.

Today is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Thank you to all who continue to offer prayers and support for me and my family!  I too pray for you as well; that Life will be filled with Love and many blessings for you and your families!

And thank you God for all the wonderful blessings you continue to send to me and my family and friends! While we may not be deserving of many of these blessing we are always very grateful!

Go Tigers!   Go Lions!   Go Blue!  Go Wings!

Go Marshall 7th Grade Football Team!!!


Treatment 4 of 12 (8/9/2012)

Post Vacation Blues

I woke up this morning at 5:30 AM, not unlike most days. While lying in bed I listened to the distant thunder making its way towards us. I have always loved to listen to a storm. It reminds me of sitting on the front porch with my father. He often would sit with us kids on an old glider/swing and we would all watch the rain together. I loved to cuddle up by my father and enjoyed the rain and his stories as well. I always felt secure and warm on those days.

As the thunder became more frequent I reluctantly rolled out of bed. After getting up I decided to head to the enclosed back porch to watch the storm. I bundled up with the blanket and laid on the lounge chair on the back porch. Soon after settling into the chair our two little dogs, Bella and Ruby, jumped up by me and found a spot to curl up and sleep. Sitting there thinking about chemo and cancer I wished my father was there with me so I could feel the warmth and security I felt when I was eleven years old. The storm front rolled in and brought with it lightning, thunder, cold winds, and heavy rain. I watched the storm as long as I could before needing to get ready for the day.

Connie and I made it out the door around 7am heading to U of M Cancer center. This trip was tougher than the previous trips. The ride to Ann Arbor was treacherous as it stormed the entire way here, sometimes raining so hard that I could hardly see the tail lights of the car in front of us. We drove slowly to avoid hydroplaning and every now and then another car would race by us and spray our car and leave me with a slightly elevated blood pressure. This treatment comes after vacation and that makes it more difficult to do as well. Taking vacation last week gave me a two week break from chemo. And what a wonderful break it was. With this extended break I started feeling really good! And the downside to this is having to go back for treatment 4 today – knowing that I will need to endure through the side effects of chemo once again. Also knowing that with each treatment the side effects may worsen.

Denise, a colleague at work, made me a chain in support of my treatments (Thank you Denise). Each link in this chain represents a treatment. Each link is also scribed with a word of encouragement. The word for this treatment was “courage” and what a fitting word of encouragement for me today. Courage is a necessity as one battles cancer and as I face more treatments. Steven Tyler while co-hosting American Idol once said “Courage is fear offered up as prayer”. While I didn’t really care for him as a host on this show, his words that day have stuck with me. I frequently offer up my fears in prayer and ask the LORD to give me courage to face the days ahead!

The routine of treatment day is fairly simple. Upon arrival at U of M the first stop is the clinic for blood tests. The nurse that takes blood also sets up access to the port (which will be used for the infusion). After the blood draw I check in for the infusion. When they are ready (blood test results are available) they call me into the infusion area and the chemo process begins. The infusion process takes the better part of a day (about 4 hours) and involves receiving multiple chemo drugs as well as medications to help manage the side effects of chemo. When the infusion is complete they connect a portable pump that will deliver the remaining chemo drug over a 46 hour period of time. Once the pump is connected I am free to go home. Today, I expect the pump to be connected around 3pm.

This week my white blood cell count is down – not uncommon per the doctor. The doctor prescribed another medication to help boost the count. If the white blood cell count is too depleted I will be much more susceptible to infection and viruses. Hopefully this added medication will boost my white blood cell count and I can avoid any collateral sickness. The chemo side effects are enough to deal with – I don’t need any flu or cold viruses or infections.

Vacation Update:

Family vacation was a fun filled week. The weather was excellent and the activities were plenty. Boating on Bert and Mullet Lakes, tubing, a raft ride down the Sturgeon river, a scavenger hunt competition, wiffle ball games, kick ball games, camp fires, marshmellows, cook outs, multiple restaurant stops on the boat, Alvis entertainment, pool games, ping pong, shuffle board.

We had a lot of family on this trip as well. Connie and me, my brother George, my daughter and son Sarah and Tony, my step daughter Anna and her friend CJ, my step son Bryce and his friend Patrick, my nephew and his wife (Rick and Buffy) and their children (Taylor, Brendan, and Mitchel), and my BFF Kathy and her God Son Joe and his brother Jack. Even with all these people here we still missed my step daughter Alexis and her boyfriend Aaron as they went on their own vacation down south.

Okay, now mix all these people with all these activities and what do you get — Summer Vacation 2012! Oh yes, you also get a little family drama too but I suppose that is to be expected and to be forgotten.

A few pictures from vacation…

Thank you to my wife Connie – she has been with me through treatments and doctor visits, highs and lows. Your support makes this process bearable!

Thank you to my brother George – he has taken time out of his life to help me with household duties. George, your help is truly appreciated! George has fixed doors, lights, the power washer, drain grates on back porch, assembled patio chairs, helped with cleaning the garage, packing for vacation, fixing the mailbox / address, and numerous other items I’m not remembering right at this moment. I am really lucky to have a brother as caring and generous as George.

Thank you to my best friend Louie and his two wonderful sons Chandler and Parker. They have helped me with many chores around the house (mowing the lawn, trimming, edging, etc.) and their help is deeply appreciated!

Thank you to my BFF Kathy – she has sent me a text message every morning wishing me light and love. Her persistence with these messages has truly been inspiring and encouraging!

Thank you to all my friends and family – for all the well wishes, prayers, and encouragement! I am truly a very lucky person to have so many good people in my life.