I Love my wife, family, and friends!!! God is Good to me!!!
Today is Day 3 of Treatment 10. The treatment began on Thursday at 5:30am. The typical routine is for Connie and I to wake around 4:30am. We get ready, feed our two dogs and head out the door around 5:30am. First stop is for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. We then proceed to eat breakfast and drive to the hospital (I drive there and Connie drives home).
We arrive at UMHC between 6:55 and 7:05. The first appointment is usually at 7am. This first stop involves “tapping” the port and drawing blood. After the blood draw we either go to an appointment with Dr. Krauss or we go straight to the infusion area (every other treatment includes a doctor appointment). This treatment included an 8am visit with Dr. Krauss.
Dr. Krauss reported another <1 CEA level. And he pointed out that my blood work is excellent. He then looked over the rash, listens to my lungs and heart, and checked for signs of other possible side-affects. After the check-up he declared me ready for and Erbitux treatments 10, 11, and 12. He also scheduled scans (PET, CT, and MRI) for week of October22.
He brought up the CEA level and cautioned that while <1 is excellent we still may see an increase in CEA come post chemo treatments. He wanted to assure me that even if it goes up some we need to be cautious but not overly concerned. Of course if it doubles several times he will be concerned and we will do more scans and tests. I think he wanted to help with managing emotions that could run hot if faced with this future situation.
I am resolved that this whole matter is in the hands of our Lord. And I trust that his plan will prevail. And, although I don’t exactly know what his plan is, I do have faith that his plan is a perfect plan for me and all of us. And I am sure we will all be alright throughout any future challenges!
A little different pattern has occurred over treatments 9 /10 than previous treatments. I ended up sleeping at the hospital quite a bit this time. I still felt nauseated and fatigued throughout the treatment but was much more rested on the way home. My wife pointed out that I tend to fight the treatment and am restless and agitated throughout the process. This time I tried to relax and not fight the treatment and focus more on its healing affect (e.g. killing any cancer cells that may be roaming around awaiting a future attack!).
This treatment also included some training. To tell the training story I have to go back up to treatment 9. As some of you may know I come home from Ann Arbor connected to a pump that runs through Saturday afternoon (46 hours of continuous infusion). The normal routine is for the home care nurse to call on Friday and confirm a time for the Saturday disconnect.. If they don’t call on Friday the usually call on Saturday morning ,
So after 10 treatments of FOLFOX and 9 treatments of FOFIRI I didn’t panic when I the call didn’t come in on Friday. And I didn’t panic when the call didn’t come in on Saturday. But when the treatment was completed and still no call…
Well I didn’t panic anyway. I observed enough disconnects that I decided I’ll do it myself (Connie was at school and all the kids were out and about). I called UMHC and told them I didn’t hear from the home nurse and the treatment was done and I was going to disconnect myself. The attending nurse tried to talk me into waiting but I insisted that I can do it and would probably do a better job if she explained the process to me. She did good job explaining the procedure over the phone and I was a careful student and the process was completed by yours truly.
A little while after the treatment I reflected on the fact that I pointed the needles down when ejecting the air from the syringes used during disconnect. I did some Google checking and learned a little about pulmonary embolisms (air bubble in a vein) and then wondered if I might end up regretting my decision to do my own “disconnect”. Well I managed to scare myself first, then Connie when she came home… But I’m still here.
So, this treatment included training on the disconnect process, and little lecture on how important it is to learn before doing. Connie and I are now officially trained on the process. And now we are not dependent on a home nurse to complete the treatment cycle.
I attended the Promise Keepers event in Battle Creek (Kellogg Arena) last weekend. The event was excellent! The speakers were chosen men! Their knowledge of scripture was simply amazing and their ability to apply the scriptures lessons to our modern day challenges was equally amazing. I was also in awe watching over 4000 men worship and praise together. It was inspiring and moving. If you ever have an opportunity to attend and event I highly recommend. And if you are interested I bought a CD for one of the speakers that I will gladly share with you. The CD is from Rick Rigsby. His story was amazing and compelling.
On future blogs I want to talk more about the emotional and perspective changes that occur as I go through this cancer battle. I feel like I am going through a significant transformation as I endure through this war.
I first decided to start this blog for a few reasons. The first reason was somewhat selfish. I wanted to coral all of you into this battle with me. I was (and still am) convinced that the power of prayer will make a difference! So again THANK YOU all for your prayers and support.
The second reason I wanted to blog is because I thought it might be therapeutic for me. it offers an outlet for my thoughts, frustrations, and emotions.
A third reason for blogging is that I truly hope to help others, even though I wasn’t sure about how. I thought if I can encourage someone to get a colonoscopy or to follow up on symptoms (something MEN are programmed not to do), that maybe I could save someone from going through the things I have endured for the past two years. And I truly feel that if even if this blog resulted in one or two people avoiding this long cancer battle It would be worth every minute of my time. The fact is if it helped one, it actually helps many. Cancer doesn’t just impact the victim — It impacts the victim’s wife, and children, and family, and friends.
And now I am beginning to realize that the one thing I can do is blog more about the transformational process that is occurring in me. I think that everyone could benefit from this experience and I want to share more about it in the hopes that one or two of you might truly explore a new perspective on life and living and loving.
This transformation began for me on October 31, 2011 (almost two years ago). This journey included 4 surgeries, 22 treatments of radiation, 10 treatments of FOFOX and Oxaliplatin and 10 treatments of FOFIRI and Erbitux. This journey involved losing some pleasures in life like Golf and some play time with my thirteen year old step son. I have had many hours of down time because of fatigue and other side-affects from chemo. I have had highs and lows throughout the process. Tumor is not consistent with cancer… tumor has grown and is most likely cancer… tumor in lung is metastasis of the colon cancer… The FOFOX treatment isn’t working. The cancer is most likely on attack (climbing CEA levels)… The liver appears healthy in the CT scans… The liver has inoperable tumors (too many of them)… The FOLFIRI and Erbitux are working (drastically dropping CEA levels)… The tumors in the liver have shrunk and I’m now a candidate for surgery… The liver resection is successful…
And throughout this journey what changes have occurred? How am I different? How has my thinking changed? What is going on inside of my head and my heart?
This is what I will focus on in upcoming blogs. And I hope and pray that by sharing this part of the journey that two things might happen. First I pray that I will learn more from my family and friends about Loving and Living and God. Secondly I hope that you might learn from me as well.
So expect some future blogs to reflect on thoughts, emotions, and perspective.
Lord God, thank you for another day on this wonderful planet you have given us. Thank you for the family and friends you have surrounded me with. Thank you for the challenges and storms in life as they lead us to new levels of understanding and growth. Thank you for the countless and unrecognized blessings you bestow on us. Let your will be done today and every day. All Glory and Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
God be with you all.
Today is treatment nine of twelve. The end of the chemo treatments is so close! My last treatment is scheduled for September 26. I am so looking forward to that day. Well, maybe a week after that date (when the side effects of the treatment begin to become a fleeting memory).
It was nice to have a break from treatment for our summer vacation. I went from July 5th through August 1 without chemo and enjoyed a wonderful family vacation in the middle of this break. We spent a week in northern Michigan and had a great family get-away. And I was truly blessed to have had all my children and wife together during this time.
My first treatment after the break (August 1) went fine. During the treatment I did experience difficulty in breathing. That required stopping the treatment for a period of time and waiting for this symptom to pass. That also extended the time in Ann Arbor. Last treatment also included a doctor visit; so we left the house at 5:30am and didn’t return to the house until 6pm on August 1st. I’m hoping that today’s treatment will not take as long. We left the house at 5:30am but expect to be home between 3:30pm and 4:00pm (assuming all goes well).
The rash from the Erbitux drug seemed to peak yesterday. But this morning it seemed to have lessened. Just in time to begin another round. The rash is annoying but it is tolerable. The other challenges during the treatment continued as expected. Fatigue is the most challenging side-affect. It seems like I sleep a lot and then my sleep pattern is impacted as well.
Another bit of good news is that my CEA level continues to remain under 1. I went four weeks between treatments (no drugs) and the CEA level remained low! That is a good sign that the cancer is in remission. And these remaining treatments will hopefully eliminate any microscopy cancer and pave the way for a full remission.
Many of you have been very supportive throughout my battle with Colon Cancer. And I hope you know how grateful I am to have so much support from family, friends, and colleagues. I especially want to thank my colleagues at the Foundation. I am so lucky to work in a wonderful organization with outstanding and supportive people. Thank you all for your understanding, patience, prayers, and genuine concerns! You have truly empowered me to fight this cancer with all my ability and I am forever grateful to you all.
I’m looking forward to going to Promise Keepers in Battle Creek next week. Our church has over 100 men going to this event. I’m planning on attending with my brothers from First Wes and my younger brother George. I hope to learn and grow in this retreat along with my fellow brothers. Please keep me in your prayers as I complete this treatment cycle and next week as I attend the Promise Keepers conference.
Father God, you are all mighty. The beauties of your creation are evidence of your vast awesome powers. You have created this planet as a paradise and allowed us to rule over this Earth. The more we learn about our home the more we can appreciate your perfection. The eco systems you have created in nature are marvelous. Evolution is also your creation and this force is yet another sign of your living presence. The human body is a fascinating system that demonstrates your greatness. And when we follow the path you have created for us we can live in harmony with each other and with your planet.
Lord I pray that you make your path clear to me and my brothers and sisters. Show us the way. Give us the wisdom and courage to choose your will over our own. And give us the strength to carry on your mission.
And Thank You Lord for this beautiful day. This truly is the day that YOU have made; Let us be Glad and Rejoice in it!
Peace and Love to you,
Family Vacation Picture: