Treatment 4 of 12 (8/9/2012)Posted: 08/09/2012
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.
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.