Good evening and happy Monday to you all! I pray and hope your lives are filled with joy and happiness. I hope you look forward to coming home everyday and leaving work, school, and stresses at the front door. I cannot explain the last two weeks in any descriptive terms. They were amazing. The made today bearable. They eased my stresses. For the first time in a long time, I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I was so happy, for many reasons. I have an amazing family, starting from my beautiful wife and children and just spreading out exponentially to each and every one of my immediate and extended family members. My in-laws are amazing. I cannot describe how incredible our support group is. My one wish is that this kindness doesn’t stop at my family. My prayers are that you extend your generosity and compassion to anybody in need. We are not unique, and so many people need what we have to survive; to fight the good fight. I could never ever do this alone. You have proven that time and time again. You pick us up when we are done. You always say the right things. Your prayers are felt so close to us. You are what give me hope, determination, and strength.
I am still awaiting many details from each of the four benefits/fundraisers that were held in our families honor these past two weekends; perfect bowling fundraiser at Five Star Lanes in Sterling Heights on Friday evening, September 7, 2012; an amazing golf outing at the Grand Ledge Country Club on Saturday morning, September 8, 2012; a very thoughtful, family oriented, beautiful setting Softball Tournament Benefit on Friday and Saturday, September 14-15; and last but not least, a very successful, tear filled, laughter abound golf outing at Sycamore Hills Golf Club on Sunday, September 16. It was such an honor, privilege, and blessing to always be able to bounce back in time to attend all of these events. We told ourselves in the beginning, if friends, family and strangers alike tirelessly, frantically, and selflessly take their own time and energy to throw amazing events, the least we can do is show up to extend our extreme gratification, thanks, and to welcome them to our family. The pleasure is truly ours to have you in our lives, not the other way around. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the past, present, and future lifting up our family in prayer, offerings of generosity, and your humble compassion.
As I wait for the minute details about sponsors, volunteers, and participants from each event, I want to take the time to detail our course ahead. We have a very busy end of this month.
As most of you know, I finished the second part of round 6 of chemotherapy today (September 17, 2012). I am so far tolerating it very well. Unfortunately, the time frame for maximum effect is usually around 5-6 days which puts me at this weekend. Last round it was a little sooner than that. However, we have added some counteracting medications and changed a few routines around. Hopefully this helps. Andrea was sick all of last week, and it was just awful to watch because I felt helpless. The boys also fell ill. Fortunately, they are all on the mends and recovering now.
I am planning on getting my blood work done every day for four days starting Thursday. Last round, it happened so quickly we are trying to stay on top of my blood counts dropping drastically low. My Uncle Jim is taking us to Landon’s first Detroit Tigers baseball game on Sunday, September 23, 2012. I pray every day God will allow me to go. I will most definitely be wearing a mask as long as my blood counts are doing well enough. However, they will be going either way. Andrea and I discussed from the very beginning that our lives don’t stop on my accord. If I am not well enough to do something, we will not deny the boys a “normal” life. I will be sad, but am very glad we are living out this promise.
Monday, September 24, 2012 is my re-staging scan. I never look forward to these. We get to find out exactly what this regimen is doing, if anything. The scan will be conducted at the University of Michigan at 3:00pm. We probably won’t get the results until late that evening or the next day. These days are any cancer patients’ worst and most anxious days. They are a necessary evil, but God will get us through it like He always does.
Immediately following the CT scan, we will be flying to Houston, TX for consultations with a thoracic surgeon (Dr. Swisher) and oncologist (Dr. Benjamin) at MD Anderson. They are the hallmark facility for proton therapy. If anybody has done surgery neoadjuvant with proton therapy, it will be them. The appointment times have not been set up yet, but they should be finalized tomorrow. They should be taking place hopefully in one day, but at the very latest Tuesday and Wednesday (September 25-26, 2012).
From Houston, we fly back to Michigan Wednesday night. On Thursday, we have another consultation with a very well respected thoracic surgeon, Dr. Chang, at the University of Michigan at 1130am. We have been in touch with him from the beginning of my recurrence, and he is very interested in my case also.
For Friday, the plan is determined by the re-staging scan. If the scan shows no change, or worst case scenario has spread, we will be going to west Chicago in Warrenville for my CT mapping of my tumor. I have already been accepted into the program even though insurance has denied coverage. We are appealing, but that will take time. I cannot afford to wait around and sit idle. The mapping scan uses a special CT scan to do many detailed and thorough calculations of the chest cavity, tumor locations, breathing patterns, cavity dimensions, and other very precise attributes of the area. This scan takes a couple of hours, but the mapping layout takes around 10 days to complete.
The other scenario for Friday, September 27, 2012, is if the scan shows improvement and shrinkage. This is what we are praying and hoping for. We hope God’s healing hand and mercy are with us everyday and helping to heal my body. If this is the case, we will continue with two more cycles of this regimen (about 6 more weeks). After that, we will be doing the Proton Therapy/ Chemo cycles for 7-8 weeks in Chicago.
The only other item to add is a kink in the weekend of Friday, September 27. We have been offered an all expenses paid couples retreat at Bluebird Cancer Retreat near Holland, MI on Lake Michigan. It’s a wonderful organization built for family’s dealing with cancer. It’s a weekend for couples of all stages and points along the cancer journey; from survivorship to recently diagnosed. We have not confronted this area head on yet, and we believe it would be extremely beneficial for us. We believe we have much to offer and much to learn from these other couples of all ages. From the many books we have read, the feelings are almost always identical and go in phases. It will be very nice to share through speech these rollercoaster feelings. My blogs help, but to a certain extent. If we decide to do this, we will push the Proton Therapy mapping to Monday, September 30. Otherwise, if we do two more rounds of this regimen, we wouldn’t start until Monday anyway.
Sorry for all the information, but it’s important for me to map out our journey when I can. You are all a part of us now, and we are a part of you. Our lives are intertwined, and your guess is as good as ours as to the outcome. No matter what, we will enjoy life together. We will laugh together, and we will share many memories together as often as possible.
This doesn’t have to be the end. The end will happen for us all, and we never know when that will be. It is no different for me. Why waste time thinking about it? On the other hand, don’t get the feeling of invincibility! Life is precious, delicate, and doesn’t stop ticking. Enjoy it when you can and as often as you can. Don’t do it for me or my family. Most of the time, I won’t know the difference in your lives unless your share it with us. You have to do it for you, for your family, for your loved ones, and for your own happiness. Only you and you alone, by the grace of God, can fill your life with what I know now wholeheartedly. I smile everyday. I cannot wait to hear my son’s voices in the morning, and kiss them good night in the evening. I cannot wait to see my wife every second of the day. I look forward to her coming home from work. I honestly am very blessed, and I love my life. You have all given me a new lease on life.
You have shown me what friendship, support, love, and kindness is all about. I have so VERY many people to thank. I have so very many people deeply involved in our lives and waiting on every word, breath, and results as we are. We are humbled every day, and we realize we cannot do this alone. Disease doesn’t define a person, but it is up to you to remake the definition and map out your journey.
Every act of random kindness goes a very long way for us. Our support group is so very large and growing still that it makes me fall to my knees in tears for all of the blessings, stories, sorrows, laughter, and prayers you bestow upon my family. The amazing thing is the timing is always right, and it never fails.
Please give yourselves all the credit. I bounce back because of you. Andrea and I are strong with your help and courage. You do more for others than you do for yourselves, and that is what life is about. It is an honor to share my life with you. It is a privilege to know each and every one of you, and I am so glad I have been able to hug, kiss and give my thanks in person to every single one of you. You are God’s true blessings in our lives, and to the lives you surround. I am proud to be your friend.
We love you very much. Please continue to send messages, texts, stories, and jokes whenever your heart urges you too. Keep being you, and that is all we need. Thank you for your generosity, your strength, and your commitment to our health. Make it a great day tomorrow everyone. It is yours for the taking! 🙂