Friday, April 30, 2010

Still Kicking!

I'm still kicking! My first post in a very longtime. Here's a synopsis of the goings on over the past few months:

Major business first. My latest MRI, CT, PET chest x-ray scans were run this week. the results are .... drum roll .... UNREMARKABLE. Man I love that word more and more as time goes by! This brings it to somewhere around 1-1/2 years Beast free, depending on your start date!

So, literally, I am still kicking. I have taken up playing soccer more in earnest these days. Boy does it feel great to be back out on the field with less trepidation. I am also still coaching the Greatest 5th, 6th & 7th Grade Girls Team Ever. Lot's of fun with some "girls' drama" now mixed in!

I now have a new puppy, Tanner! He is now 5 months old, a mixture of Boxer & Lab (a Boxador) and is very smart, fun, happy, and healthy. I get the greatest greetings when I come in the house, whether I've been gone a few hours or a few minutes. You gotta love that unconditional love a dog gives you.

I have turned 50 years old, and happy to say so. Of course having stared at the alternative to growing older, I have to say that I much prefer celebrating this milestone. Anyhow, I still feel, oh, about 35. Some might say that my maturity level is significantly lower still. In fact my sister accused me of being a "just a big kid" earlier this week. We celebrated the B-day with a pretty fantastic B-day party with some very notable folks there. I only wish I had more room to invite more people, but unfortunately the place was space limited!

I am working full time. (Some have asked about this so I feel the need to answer to all.)

My kids are fantastic; Stephen ready to graduate HS; Emily is a fine young lady in HS; and Brenna growing up more and more is a "tweener" now. They are truly one of the bright spots in my life and continue to impress me more & more all the time.

Lori is still an important part of my life, and I am grateful to have her attention.

My friends, ex-caregivers, family, are still concerned with my well being, and I am still blessed by there care and love.

My eating repertoire continues to expand, but there are still the basic restrictions. Simple carbs and sugar can still do a number on me, however, I keep experimenting and the errors are not as bad as they used to be.

My weight is holding steady, however not as high as I want it to be. I have to admit some frustration here, but not to the point that I am too bothered.

I'm saddened that the Capitals have been knocked out of the playoffs by Montreal (so all is not going well). Hopefully, Montreal can do the same to Pittsburgh!

Overall, things are going quite well and thus the best way to put it is (of course) ...


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ups 'n Downs, and NIH Results

So as not to keep everyone guessing until the end of a long rambling posting here, I thought I'd give the results early. Today's official NIH results to the CT scan, PET scan and MRI is (drum roll please) ... um ... er ... OK, OK here it is ... "Unremarkable." Everything is clear again. I have now spent the whole of 2009 without the Beast to be found in my body. A pretty remarkable year if you asked me.

Strolling down memory lane, it was about 11 months ago that I was diagnosed as having a recurrence of cancer. It was supposed to have metastasized to my liver (does anyone else remember that "happy" occasion?). Well with that diagnosis there were many ups & downs, mostly downs (candidate for "understatement of the year"). Fortunately the diagnosis was determined to be false and life has improved greatly since! One of the great fortunes of that misdiagnosis (and possibly the only fortune of it with the exception it being a mistake) is that I had the opportunity to get involved with NIH. To date I have not had a bad day at NIH. They were the ones that delivered me the good news that the Beast was not back as was thought at the time. They have also been the ones to continually to bring me the good news that my scan results are unremarkable. They continually bring me clean bills of health with great big smiles on their faces. What more can a guy ask for?!?! So thus we are at the end of a totally Beast-less year, the first of many I hope. I feel good, stronger and getting more so daily, happy, spirited and cured. Brenna asked me today when will it be official that I am actually considered cured. As she put it "a year is such a long time." However, in terms of being healthy, it seems as though illness was such a long time ago, and yet just a few weeks ago. I'll keep taking it 3 months at a time (per Toby's advise, taking one event at a time) which is when my next set of scans are to happen. So to answer Brenna's question, the bottom line is, one year down, four more to go until its official. In the mean time, watch me live.

Have a great holiday season and a happy & healthy new year to all.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waiting Rooms at NIH

Hello anyone still checking in. Sorry its been so long. It would seem that life has gotten quite busy, a bit more normal, and somewhat less adventurous (at least where cancer is concerned) for me. To say that life is not adventurous is truly a misstatement though. There is adventure in many things. Since my last posting back in September this year much has happened. I have coached the greatest 5th & 6th grade girls soccer team in the world (with the help of my son Stephen and another good friend Tony), I have played a couple of full 90-minute games of soccer myself, I have hiked Sugerloaf Mountain with Lori and Sam the Wonder Dog and the mountains of the Shenandoah with Lori, Diego (aka Trevor),Theresa and Sam too. Just this past weekend I hosted my now 12 year old daughter's overnight birthday party with 11 guests (9 of which stayed over night). I have traveled for work, but unfortunately not for pleasure. Basically, life is still adventurous but in a much more enjoyable and healthy way these days.

For those wanting to keep track, I have gained some weight back but seem to be stuck between 135 & 139 lbs. I can't seem to break the 140 mark, but that to will come. My new year's resolution is to start working out more diligently so that more muscle mass will form.

However through all these adventurous goings on, the Beast still has its little reminders that it was with me. For example eating (although much easier these days) can still be challenging on occasion. The biggest reminder though is my quarterly scans at NIH. I just had a set of scans this past Monday and will learn the results on 23 December. I anticipate a Merry Christmas from the doctors and a very happy "Unremarkable" answer yet again. Basically I feel good and I believe what my body is telling me!

To change gears here, I would like to tell you all a bit of the NIH experience. Along with the scans, the blood letting for labs, the IV needles to inject contrasts, filling out forms to disclose that I am not allergic to iodine and numerous other things, much of my time is spent waiting in waiting areas. I know, this is totally surprising to consider but alas, it is a realism that medical care requires a bit of waiting around and self entertainment (reading, crosswords, IPOD, etc). One of the ways to entertain ones self is to "people watch." At NIH there are a great many types of folks: doctors, nurses, interns, lab techs, administrators, parking attendants, janitors, construction workers, patients, patient family & friends, old, young, kids adults, mobile, debilitated, accomplished destitute, local, foreign, southern, northern, western, mid-western, Hispanic, Asian, black, white, all creeds, all races, all colors, and all ages (just to name a few). It really is a potpourri of life. It is also easy to realize that the Beast is very indiscriminate as to who it chooses to infect as its victim. I had the pleasure of meeting an elderly African American gentleman while waiting for my CT scan. I'd venture to guess his age at about 70. A very pleasant man who traveled to NIH from Florida for his testing and care. He had been doing so for 4 years already. We talked a while, compared the taste of various barium flavors and then he was called for his turn to get viewed from the inside. Then, I also saw a young boy, probably about 8 years old, hooked up to his chemo IV's walking with his mother, pushing his IV tree, then sitting and awaiting his scan. I marvelled at the dignity and courage his mothered carried about her while having to watch her son be poisoned to be cured of the Beast. But even more incredible, I watch this young boy show such strength and yet such innocence while carrying on his battle with the Beast. This boy was certainly winning the battle in his way. These kids (and inevitably I see a few every time I go to NIH for testing) are just incredible. They know so much, albeit about things I certainly wish they didn't. They are so experienced, again about things I wish they weren't. And they are so inspirational. They smile, they laugh, they bring that certain youthful enthusiasm into a situation that can use a lift in spirits. I will not say that the kids I see at NIH are jumping for joy, believe me they are not. However, many are smiling, joking with their family and care givers, and those that are not, have typically displayed courage beyond explanation. Although saddened by what these children have to go through, I am inspired by how they meet their challenge, accept their burden, and carry on their battle with the Beast. I find these kids very inspirational. I only wish they all could have their happy ending to their battle.

Well, as for me, I am doing well. I am naturally curious about the results of my scans, and am also trying to get ready for the holidays. I wish happy holidays to you all and (of course) good health in the coming new year. And always remember ... LIFE IS GOOD.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where Were You Last Year

Quick ... what you were doing one year ago today?

Most of us have a few days in our lives where we can vividly remember an important event. Many times these moments are associated with tragic moments in history, for example: the Space Shuttle disaster; JFK's assassination (if your old enough); John Lennon's assassination; Sept 11 ... need I say more. Then there are the happy events in our lives: your marriage; the birth of your child; graduation from college; etc. The common characteristic of all these memories are that you were likely conscience for them. Thus the capability of remembering!

Did you remember what you were doing one year ago today? Most of us can't!

Well, not to brag, but I do. It was exactly one year ago today that I had surgery. One year ago I had 1/2 of my esophagus removed, my stomach removed, and most importantly, the Beast tumor removed. One year ago today I became NED (that's No Evidence of Disease). One year ago I was unconscious for most of a day that will live in my memory for as long as I live. Because of one year ago, the rest of my life may turn out to be a very long time. It seems inappropriate to me that such an eventful day should not be a part of my conscience. However, considering the extent of work that was done on my body, man am I glad I was unconscious for it!

So after a year, I have to say that its been a tough year in many ways. I'm still trying to find my new normal and that is a little frustrating at times. However, on the flip side, at least I'm around to find out what that new normal will be. Because of one year ago (along with the chemo before and after, as well as the radiation after) I can say I've had a year...tough or not. So, even though it's been a tough one, I can honestly say its been a great year. I can still honestly say that Life Is Good.

I hope you've had a great year too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Take that Beast

No cancer again! The answer is "unremarkable" again. The Beast is still beaten back. All in all a pretty good day.

Life is Good

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Adventure Reminiscence and Gratitude

Its the eve of another visit to NIH. Tomorrow I will get a CT scan, a PET scan, and an MRI. Another chance to prove to all that the Beast is gone. Another chance to verify that I'm still a survivor. Another step in getting to my new normal. I'll be sure to post the results after I get them on Wednesday.

In thinking back on all the goings on in this adventure, I realized that September 24 will mark the one year anniversary of my surgery where my stomach, some of my lymph nodes, and more importantly, the cancerous tumor were removed. I've taken the occasion to reminisce by looking back at the blogs of the time. Because I was in the hospital at the time, Lori was kind enough to post updates for me so that all may stay abreast of the goings on. I dare say that her writing style is certainly much better than mine! So, as I reminisce I think that I should also give thanks for all the support Lori has given me throughout this adventure. Lori has been there with me from the time I felt a pain in my throat. She was there for me when I went in for tests which ultimately diagnosed the tumor. She was there for me for all that led up to treatment, through the chemo prior to surgery, through surgery, through the hospital stay, through surgery recovery, through post surgery chemo, radiation, and treatment recovery. She was there for me when I was misdiagnosed with a recurrence and then she was there when it was proven that the Beast wasn't back. The bottom line is that Lori has been there for me throughout this entire adventure when the easier route would have been to leave. I have expressed my gratitude to many in the course of my missives in this blog, but I never really gave a proper thanks to Lori for all she has done for me throughout. So with all the help, support, love, effort, time, writing, worrying, inquiries made, care, and driving done on my behalf, all I can do is offer up a simple phrase of thanks. Thanks Lori, you've been the greatest throughout and I've been very lucky to have you along on this adventure.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Oh happy day, I am missing my spare part. The port is gone, or as Lori says, I've been de-ported. I think of this as a symbol of my completion of cancer treatment. This was the last vest age of treatments. I had the port in me for about 13 months. It was a constant reminder and a continued reason to go back to the chemo clinic for its monthly flush. Now, free of the leash to the chemo clinic, I feel another step has been taken on my road back to my new normalcy. Fantastic!

So the next step is another set of scans in September to continue to prove that the beast is gone. There may be more of these steps for years to come, but the accomplishments of the past 13 months are things to be remembered. Thanks to all for all the help and support along the way. I don't know where I'd be without you.

Life is Good!