Saturday, January 31, 2009
She also agreed it's OK to keep pushing to get back to "normal," but reminded me I am still receiving treatments and to listen to the body. When it gets tired, obey its requests and don't feel the need to apologize for it.
I asked her why I was able to feel the "rat/alien" in there more than I had felt it before. My theory was that since the bad fluid was out of the body and that the "rat/alien" is dying a slow death, it is resting against body parts that can feel it is there. The NP confirmed that I was correct (I'm getting good at this).
A very cool thing she did is that she made sure that I was in the game mentally. I asked her if she too had read last week's blog postings. She said she hadn't. I explained that sometimes things get under my skin (and went through the specifics with her). She confirmed that my reaction to them was correct, but then offered ways to deal with them that I had been using already (but not efficiently). She did say that my modified reaction is not to give permission, but to help cope. She also confirmed that if the things that get under my skin persist, I am permitted to address them, but not with a "nuclear" solution. Works for me.
The best part of yesterday....Having nurses and other caregivers in their practice say, "You look great, Greg!" They're good!
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
In the spirit of "Go Good," I present to you the following story (which is true).
As I walked into the waiting room for my chemo treatment, I held the door for an elderly lady with a pretty cool "rolling walker." It was red in color and she had attached various bags to hold her necessary items. As I was feeling full of goodwill (it being Christmas Eve and all), I was glad to hold the door for her, but my goodwill did not appear to be reciprocated.
I recognized her from previous appointments and she never struck me as someone who would appreciate my humor or personality. I considered her in the majority of most people in that respect. But there does need to be individuals on both ends of the spectrum in any statistical category, so I consider that my unique contribution to humanity.
Both of us ended up in the chemo room at a later point. She was there a shorter amount of time than I was that day. However, in a conversation she had with a nurse, she had a bigger impact on me than I on her.
At one point, the nurse that was attending her came walking up through the room with a smile as she nodded her head. I asked her, "What's going on?"
She replied nodding her head to the "walker lady," "Her prognosis isn't good. She just said to me that she would save me a seat in heaven. However, I would need to call before I get there as they may kick her out before I get there."
Go Good "Walker Lady!"
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
As my friends relayed these stories, you could see the frustration in their face of not knowing what to do or say. Then they said, "All I am able to do is listen when I am talking to them."
I told them they knew what they were doing.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
My favorite was a hit from North Hollywood, CA. To which I say, "Anne Hathaway, you can call me anytime!"
Speaking of Hollywood, finally saw a good movie over the weekend- though it wasn't made in Hollywood - "Slumdog Millionaire."
I read Robert Schimmel's book, "Cancer on $5.00 a Day" over the weekend. He was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non Hodgkin's in 2000. He had a pretty rough time with chemo. Made me wonder if medicine has come that far in 8 years (I'll ask the doctor on Friday), OR reaction to treatment is different for each individual based on physical makeup. I'm thinking it's a combination of both.
Feeling pretty good overall. The chemo induced sinus drip cough is back (showed up after the steroid regimen was over) - but it's not annoying.
Duke Basketball is still the evil empire. Lady Terps took away some of the pain last night (Sorry Skippy).
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Physically, I feel better than I have in months. Due to the physical uncertainty of any form of cancer, there comes mental fatigue later on in the process. I have and will be addressing that with my caregivers. I trust that they will steer me in the right direction and that direction will be the best solution for me.
So.....to be very candid, I was facing fourth and long (mentally) the past few days. I've converted it into a first down, but there is still a ways to go to score a touchdown. I feel confident in the rest of the people my offensive side of the ball.
GO TERPS - BEAT THE EVIL DOOKIES!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Things are looking up today (I'm fully aware the last few blogs were not all that bright and shiny - I can't be pretty every day).
Love the perspective of a friend who suggested a party the day after final chemo (which if the full 8 chemo treatments are required - that will not be confirmed until after another CAT scan in early March), on April 10 (Good Friday - meaning the final treatment would be on the day Passover begins). Interesting.
"Why worry, there should be laughter after the pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now" - Dire Straits
And...from my all time favorite Rock and Roll band (with no apologies):
"You got me runnin' goin' out of my mind,
You got me thinkin' that I'm wastin' my time.
Don't bring me down,no no no no no,
I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor
Don't bring me down." - Electric Light Orchestra
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Those who know me well know that I can create some scenarios, based on grasping small portions of reality (i.e. the Teddy Kennedy seizure got my attention).
That's why I look forward to discussing some issues with a professional who is willing to listen first and then make recommendations that are based in real time.
Don't get all concerned that I am going hypochondriac or anything. I'm not. However, I am learning to ask any and all questions to help with the mental aspect. FACT: The information may be online, but accuracy is questionable and statistics are a compilation of multiple inputs. They are not individually applicable. Any and all treatments are specific and not general.
I'm not becoming an authority on any of this, but I thank God for the "gift" of the knowledge I've attained. In the future, I hope that I will have the skill of listening to someone else as they go through similar challenges.
Should have listened to the film critics about "Paul Blart, Mall Cop."
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Still, sometimes this whole thing gets a little weary. I realized it has been 3 months since it all started there may be about the same time left when I am good to go. The good part is I am able to get out and about and am looking forward to a trip to the DC area next week.
I am sleeping better at nights. Whooo-weee!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The Gift of Cancer
You may encounter the phrase, “The gift of cancer.” It may take some time, but you may come to see it this way,
After you’ve been frozen in your tracks with the diagnosis, perhaps sometime during the treatment period - or maybe even months after your recovery, you will discover “the gift.” Every crisis contains the seed of opportunity. Open your spirit as you would open the earth to plant a flower’s seed. Give yourself permission. If you will allow yourself, you can find beauty in any beast, even cancer.Each person’s “gift” differs. Cancer may be your opportunity to discover a community of caring, compassion and love made up of fellow cancer patients, sensitive counselors and dear, dear friends. The resounding grace of these individuals impacts the very essence of the human spirit. You may feel totally unprepared for the unconditional love that is available during your encounters with members of your healing community. If your own support system is small, reach out to a cancer support group (This is where I have been fortunate. My support system has been amazing!).
I have mentioned that I have been credited with a great attitude through this. My support system, my belief in the strength of the human spirit that is supplemented by belief in the purpose of being alive, inspirational writings I have read in the past and new ones I have been introduced to, and the gift of appreciating good humor has been my lifeblood through this.
In spite of being credited with a good attitude, I still get cranky. Things make me cranky. I realize that some of my crankiness is permitted and some of it I have to accept that I cannot change some things make me cranky. I'll work on it. The doctor said I can use the term "Chemo Brain" when I puzzle those around me.
Chemo Brain + Idealism = Cranky Frustration.
Poem for Hope
A Hong Kong Proverb
As long as we have hope,
we have direction,
the energy to move,
and the map to move by.
We have a hundred alternatives,
a thousand paths and infinity of dreams.
Hopeful, we are halfway to where we want to go;
Hopeless, we are lost forever. - by Catherine Pulsifer
Monday, January 19, 2009
In spite of that, I feel the need to make an algebraic statement today. "C" does not have to ever equal "D."
A breast cancer survivor friend of mine, from Keezletown VA and I came up with that equation yesterday.
To clarify, "C" (cancer) does not guarantee "D"(dying). Another friend of mine asked me about my outlook on death the other day and my response was, "I am alive today. That is what matters."
My prognosis is good. I know there are others that are not. What is key is that no matter the prognosis of ANY given situation, "D" doesn't have to be the focus. For now, the word is "life" (the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.- source, Dictionary.com).
Ok, enough of that.
Miraculously, a parking place appeared.
Paddy looked up again and said, 'Never mind, I found one.'
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Last evening, I attended The Richmond Forum and listened to a discussion between John Meacham (Editor of Newsweek and a moderator of the "On Faith" blog in The Washington Post) and Reza Aslan ("an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions"-from his web page bio) addressing Faith and Politics. Both are extremely brilliant men and they share an outstanding sense of humor.
Both events addressed listening. Last evening was about listening to the various views and learning that there is room for all to meet. Especially in the United States which is a blending of cultures and ideologies. Meacham said last night, "This country was not founded to settle arguments. It was founded to have arguments."
Today's service was about allowing silence in your life so you can listen.
I was thankful for the ability to be silent last evening for a few hours so I could listen to both mens messages. I was thankful today for being reminded that it's OK to listen to other views and be open to them.
Society allows change. Ideally, American society is the most open to it. I do not think our society is perfect or that it will be. But, we can always aspire and work towards it. As humans, we cannot expect that we will ever know the truth. Even the American Founding Fathers admitted as much. I will leave you with another reference that Meacham mentioned last evening from a letter that Benjamin Franklin wrote shortly before he died:
"As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble." - http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin
And in our doubts, questioning and listening, we find and grow in our faith.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
2) The first time you wear a shirt and tie to the office in 3 months causes people to say "Wow! You look good!"
3) Good food shows up at your house - and you don't have to shop for it or make it. Then, dishes are cleaned and put away after that.
4) Rockette look alikes show up unannounced at chemo treatments.
5) Doctors and Nurses start consulting you about your weight loss plan.
6) No matter how odd the hat you are wearing that day looks, you develop an attitude of "so what" along with a little bit of confidence.
7) The day the hiccup side effects leave (the 3rd day after chemo). However, hiccups are better than what the medicine that causes them is intended to prevent
8) You learn that being called, "One of our more unique chemo patients," is not an insult.
9) You feel a little bit of power when your oncologist starts referring to the lymph mass as "the alien."
10) Watching the surprise in people's faces when you tell them that chemo treatment day is your favorite day on the calendar.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Last night, went to bed at midnight after ingesting my little white (doctor and FDA approved) sleeping assistance friend. Slept 4.5 hours, as I was awakened by hiccups (remember the other friend that makes me do that?). Nibbled on something, drank some water, went back to sleep and then slept another 2.5 hours. Good stuff. Got up this morning and did some free weight work on the weight bench and I consider it a good day already!
Today, I go in for a shot that stimulates platelet production. Platelets are in the good range that would make me eligible for platelet donations - if I was allowed.
Do me a favor, if you live outside the Richmond VA area, call your local hospital and ask them what you need to do to donate platelets (even if you don't want to donate platelets). Then, let me know who you called and what was their response. I'm starting my effort to make it easy for people to donate platelets, but I want to know where the roadblocks are so I can go after them first. My primary focus is on The American Red Cross.
Feel free to hit my blog site
It will cause me to excite,
Land of the Penguin
Once one visits,
Do they ever come back again? - Greg Frazee, 2009
(To the tune of "Oh Tannenbaum")
Sleeping Aid, Oh Sleeping Aid
You are my friend at bedtime.
Sleeping Aid, Oh Sleeping Aid
You make me sleep a long, long time
You are so small and yet so strong
You're lily white and a bit oblong
Sleeping Aid, Oh Sleeping Aid
I'm glad you're back in the meantime. - Greg Frazee, 2009
(Your doctor has prescribed your sleeping aid to help you sleep. The following information is intended to guide you in the safe use of this medicine. It is not meant to take the place of your doctor's instructions. If you have any questions about sleeping aid tablets be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist.)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The scenario moving forward is this: Still going with 6-8 treatments. After the 6th treatment (I've completed 4), there will be another CAT scan to determine what's left/next. It could involve 2 more chemo treatments or it could involve a chemo/stem cell regimen.
Questions I had for the doctor were (by the way, I have her referring to my mass as "the alien." How cool is that?):#1 What's up with this cough? A- It is the result of chemo creating a sinus drip that goes into my lungs and causes me to cough. The coughs aren't all that frequent, so it's tolerable. It's good to know that's all it is. #2 Are there still restrictions on travel? A-Nope. Let my body be my judge. If I am feeling tired, I need to pull over and rest. There is no need to travel with someone else in the car. I plan to make a trip north to DC in 2 weeks to see some clients. I will do it as a two day trip, just to spread it out. I may fit a weekend trip to Kitty Hawk or someplace, just to breathe some salt air. #3 - Can I please start taking my sleep aid pills again (My sleep patterns are that I sleep in 45-60 minute segments and then I wake up and go back to sleep. I have slept 2-3 hours straight, but that is rare.)? A- Yes, feel free to start experiencing better sleeping through chemistry.
Chemo visit overall was great. Two theatre friends (who shall remain nameless) showed up dressed as Rockettes and did a little tap number and brought joy to all of the room. There are pictures, but I won't post them here until they say it's OK. Another friend who had never experienced the chemo room drove me today and he also was impressed and surprised at the personality of the room. Have I said before how amazing the chemo nurses are?
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy
Waltzing matilda Waltzing matilda
Who'll come a waltzing matilda with me?
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boilled,
Who'll come a waltzing matilda with me?
Brisbane, Queensland, Canberra, Sydney, Tasmania, Cessna, Wagga Wagga (my favorite), Toowoomba
Today: Meeting with doctor at 11AM - followed by chemo treatment. Come back to the site later this evening and I will post all the details from the meeting with the doctor.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Bunyip : Mythical Australian creature with a piercing cry
Dunny : Toilet, referring to the old outdoor unplumbed variety
Face Fungus : Moustache or beard
Goodonyermate! : Good for you, well done!
Lucky Country : Nickname for Australia
Piker : Bore, party pooper
Apples, she'll be : It'll be all right
Holy dooley! : an exclamation of surprise = "Good heavens!
Kangaroos loose in the top paddock : Intellectually inadequate
If you know others (that are socially acceptable), feel free to pass them on.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The scan was fine. I was only there an hour from the time I checked in until I was done. Pretty cool. Look for the details of the scan on Thursday evening after I am finished with chemo.
Monday, January 12, 2009
If you are wondering when I will know the results from the CAT scan, that will be on Thursday prior to my chemo treatment when I meet with my oncologist.
Father McGee walked into the church and spotted a man sitting cross-legged on the altar.
'My son,' said the holy man, 'what are you doing? Who are you?'
'I'm God,' said the stranger.
'I'm God,' he repeated. 'This is my house!'
Father McGee ran into the presbytery and, in total panic, rang the archbishop.
'Your reverence,' said he, 'I hate to trouble you, but there's a man sat on me altar who claims he's God. What'll I do?'
Take no chances,' said the archbishop. 'Get back in the church and look busy!'
Sunday, January 11, 2009
At the risk of being labeled a hypocrite, I have my favorite sports teams that I follow, but believe me, they haven't received as many of my dollars recently as they have in the past. I went to a preseason football game last August and was shocked and insulted at the costs of food inside the stadium ($10.00 for a cheeseburger).
In previous blog postings, I've talked about where my financial priorities are right now. In the future, my money will be spent on myself and those who can benefit from it. Not those who think they deserve it.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been,
The foresight to know where you are going,
And the insight to know when you have gone too far.
May you have food and raiment,
a soft pillow for your head.
May you be forty years in heaven,
before the devil knows you’re dead.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Second note: If you are holding back on getting medical care because of financial concerns, talk to the HR people where you work, your insurance agent and also your health care providers. I have been pleasantly surprised with my work provided health care. They have contacted me with a supplemental complex care nurse to review my situation at no charge. In addition, I have talked with a physiologist who is providing me a list of exercise regimens to help me build my body up physically - again, at no charge. I did hold back on getting care when I initially was not feeling well out of financial concerns, but I have not regretted it. Your 401K and other retirement investments will not mean a thing if you are not there to collect them. For now, invest in your health. If you do not have insurance, talk to your caregiver. They will work with you.
Finally, a friend of mine gave me a "Caddyshack" trivia game and suggested I post a question a day. Great idea (I thought I knew the movie, but some of the questions prove I do not!).
"What is the one thing we do NOT see Dr. Beeper do during Caddyshack?
A. Talk to his office B. Offer medical assistance C. Hurt himself D. Answer a page"
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I heard Thomas Friedman speak at The Richmond Forum, and in his talk he addressed the concern of offshoring jobs. He said (and I paraphrase), "Quit worrying about offshoring of jobs. Focus on innovation of new ones that only America can produce. This has always been a country of innovation. Why stop now?" That's what I like about my friend's attitude towards her situation. She's looking ahead to what is in front of her.
I was recounting to some coworkers yesterday how prior to "the alien," I would think how I needed to change my life mentally and physically. One of them responded, "It's amazing how the body gets your attention isn't it?" It's an amazing contraption these bodies of ours and they WILL get our attention. Trust me on that. I also remember when my sister-in-law was pregnant with her first child and she had several pregnancy books sitting around. I was reading one that explained all of the changes that would go on in her body while she was pregnant. While fascinating, I think my initial response was, "No way is that happening in there!"
One of my favorite mantras is "That which is not natural, is not permanent." That which IS natural is pretty cool. I like change. I embrace it. I like the changes the "alien" has brought about. I will especially like the one that eliminates it from my body.
(Turn and face the strain)
Don't want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strain)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time" - David Bowie
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
"North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow will not return to the team this season because of health issues related to her long fight against cancer. Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, and the disease recurred in the 2004-05 season."
Friends of mine have met her and have remarked that she is an amazing lady. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
"If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up.” - Deepak Chopra
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Feeling good. Walked 2 miles last night with a friend. Coughing a little bit, but I think that is the lungs recognizing they are getting a work out and it's making me breathe deeper and exert the lungs a little bit, which is a good thing.
Can I get a "Yee-hah!
Monday, January 5, 2009
Yesterday, I took a 3 mile walk (probably about a mile longer than I should have), but I took it at a pace that didn't make me pass out or anything. I thought I would pay the price later in the day, but had good energy the rest of the day. Gotta stick with it and also do some weight resistance stuff to get muscles built up and stronger.
Happy Three Kings Day!
Sunday, January 4, 2009
The latest rock came from my niece who spent the summer in Europe and it is from The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland (they were referred to as "The Cliffs of Insanity" in "The Princess Bride." "Anyone want a peanut?' is my favorite line from the movie.)
See the link for a picture: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/13059
Speaking of insanity, one my resolutions this year is to annoy The American Red Cross so people who want to donate platelets can do it easily.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Some thoughts for the day:
"It's your thoughts behind the words you speak that create your attitude" - Jeffrey Gitomer
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13, 11-12
"It's not where you start, it's where you finish.
It's not how you go, it's how you land.
A hundred to one shot, they call him a klutz --
Can out run the fav'rite, all he needs is the guts.
Your final return will not diminish
And you can be the cream of the crop;
It's not where you start, it's where you finish,
And you're gonna finish on top."
(Music by Cy Coleman,Lyrics by Dorothy Field)
Friday, January 2, 2009
"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."
"At last, however, he began to think -- as you or I would have thought at first; for it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too . . ."
"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour."
"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I'm still listening to Christmas music and haven't decided when I will stop (maybe I won't). I have really enjoyed listening to the music this year (except for the two worst Christmas songs ever - 12 Days of Christmas and Feliz Navidad) because of the feelings generated by the music. I have a friend who was lamenting that she hadn't watched "Charlie Brown Christmas" yet and I told her that Christmas started on December 25. Furthermore, El Dia de los Tres Reyes isn't until January 5, so celebrate and soak it all in my friends!
Finally, a medical note...Yesterday, I received a call from my nurse practitioner just to congratulate the Terps on their Bowl win, wish me a Happy New Year and to discuss the Hokies Bowl game (she's a Hokie fan). Is there any doubt I am in the hands of the right caregivers?
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne