Saturday, February 28, 2009
I talked to the Nurse Practitioner yesterday and told her the only side effect I've been having after recent chemo treatments (in addition to the one I mentioned after the previous treatment that lasted for a few days) is the need to take a nap sometimes in the middle of the day. She said, "That's absolutely normal"(the best words you can hear from a caregiver - especially when she says taking a nap in the middle of the day is something you need to do - as an adult I wonder, "Why did I fight with my mother when I was much younger and she insisted I take a nap in the middle of the day?"). Back to the Nurse Practitioner...She said "The effects of chemo are cumulative. Remember, we are putting 'poison' in your body in 3 week cycles. When the previous cycle ends, it doesn't mean your body is back to normal. It means your body is at a point where we can put more 'poison' in. It's doing what it is supposed to do, but it will wear you down over time. It's OK to listen to your body and when you need to take a nap, do it."
I have gained some weight back, but had no idea where it was going because my waistline hasn't expanded (Thank God) and then I started feeling my calf muscles and biceps and realized that muscle tissue is returning. They were pretty spindly a few months ago. Muscle mass takes less space than fat mass, so that is a good thing.
She also told me that it is indeed OK to travel, but not to travel too far. She knows I take regular trips to DC for business, but advised to not travel farther than that for now. They want me to stay close to them so that they can care for me if needed (vs. relaying information to someone in another hospital). Darn, because this year's Men's ACC Basketball Tournament in Atlanta is going to be good! I'm picking Georgia Tech to win it all. I just got a hunch about it.
Friday, February 27, 2009
To follow his journey: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/bobaker
Your thoughts and prayers mean the world to he and his family.
2) I've finally given chemo treatments a nickname: "Drugs and Hugs." That pretty much sums it all up.
3) I was running an errand after chemo treatment (er, I mean "Drugs and Hugs") today and saw a fellow treatment patient that was in the treatment room with me 3 weeks ago. He had spotted me and said to himself, "He looks familiar," and then I spotted him and walked over and asked him if he was who I thought he was (trust me, that's an error I didn't want to make - assuming it was someone who is being treated for cancer - there isn't much room for error in a salutation - FYI: I used, "Don't I know you from Johnston Willis Hospital?"). He was who I thought he was and we were having a good conversation and then I spotted someone who looked like someone from my church. He looked at me and came over and called me by the name of someone who goes to his church. The three of us had a great conversation.
It is those moments to which I can't assign the word "coincidence." I believe they are from a higher source than humanity. They are moments of grace and peace with the intent to comfort. They are real. I encourage you to look for them, facilitate them, recognize what they are when you receive them, but most of all "Go Good" with them!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Yesterday, a friend of mine said to me, "You are the only person I know who has undergone chemo treatments, that looks forward to and enjoys them. You are sick!" I told them that I have responded well to them and the people that work in the chemo room make it a great experience.
That's another lesson I've learned in this. No matter your job, position, activity in which you are involved, etc. you have an opportunity to make that moment enjoyable for someone else.
My brother told me a story last night about the time he was walking through Union Station in Washington DC and saw a kid on a class trip have an unfortunate event with her food while sitting outside and eating her lunch. The kid had no more money to buy more food, so he approached one of the chaperones and gave them more money out of his pocket to buy the kid some more food. Needless to say, more than one person came out of that event with a positive experience and possibly a different outlook on residents of Washington DC.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
"Disease is what is happening to ones body. Illness is your response to disease. He told two stories. A woman free from cancer for ten years who had her name listed in the prayer list (without the cancer mention) until one Sunday cancer appeared after her name. She was ranting and raving after church and he asked her what was wrong. She said 'Now they will treat me differently now that they know I have cancer.' She was free from the disease but not from the illness.
The other person also had a disease but lived her life in a way free from illness. She was upbeat, did things for everyone else, and anyone who learned that she had a disease could not believe it."
"Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn!
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence.
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision;
But To-day well lived makes
Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!" - Kalidasa
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
With that said, remember Superhero Bo and also my theater friend today and send good thoughts their way in the manner of your choosing.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Diversity is good.
Yesterday in church, as the bell choir started a song called "Morningdance," I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be neat if one day they played 'Simple Gifts?'" I kid you not, in the middle of the song, out came the melody of "Simple Gifts." In the Methodist church, the word "grace" is important. I enjoyed that moment of grace as I enjoy the moments of grace in the chemo room.
Talked to an older gentleman yesterday that was diagnosed and treated for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma 3 years ago. He is still "clean" and told me he lost 85 lbs and has kept it off. He also said the chemo treatments were awful for him. He said at one point he asked them if they were trying to kill him. I told him I enjoy chemo days as I have lots of fun in that room. I guess it is another example of everyone reacting differently to their treatments. It's very important to understand that reality as a patient, or as someone who knows someone who is being treated for cancer. Unless I hear it from my oncologist, statements about alternative treatment, how someone else reacted to treatments , etc., I have learned that I shouldn't be concerned why my reactions are different.
Countdown to chemo #6: 3 days.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I kept my word and did yard work yesterday (i.e. raking pine tags, leaves, etc. and then fertilizing and overseeding the grass). Thought about quitting a couple of times due to fatigue, but broke it up and got it all done. Raking is a good upper body workout and it felt good to break a sweat.
On her journal, Bo's mother lists this quote by e.e. cummings as one of her favorites:
"The only wasted day is one without laughter."
With that, some yard work today and some errands.
If I haven't mentioned it in the past, it's about this time in the routine that I start getting excited about the next chemo treatment (next Thursday, the 26th). That's right, EXCITED.
"Be Jubilant My Feet!"
Friday, February 20, 2009
Say it with me, "Let's Go Bo! Let's Go Bo!"
Today is 4 weeks away from the meeting with my oncologist to review the scans, etc. to determine what's left.
And only where the forest fires have sped,
Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
It hides the scars with almost human hand.
And only to the heart that knows of grief,
Of desolating fire, of human pain,
There comes some purifying sweet belief,
Some fellow-feeling, beautiful, if brief.
And life revives and blossoms once again.
E Pauline Johnson (1861-1914)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Saw some of my Maryland Football friends last night. Was good medicine to see them.
I has dinner afterwards with my friend Sammy and I was telling him that sometimes I get confused about how easy it has seemed to go through the "alien" challenge. Trust me, there have been some awful days. I told him that from day 1, I have had complete trust in my caregivers (except for a nurse's assistant in the hospital that asked me a goofy question about my urinary output that I won't post here) and all I have had to do is tell my brain to keep sending signals to the heart to keep pumping blood so that all the other organs could keep working.
The challenge for me ahead is to maintain the weight that I have lost. To be proactive, I will give up sugar snacks (does not exclude fruits, juices) again this year for Lent. I've done it in the past and I can do it this time. Trust me, when I've done it in the past, I've lost weight and even the worst chocolate tastes amazing on Easter morning when you've given it up for Lent.
In addition, I recognize the power of the continuing good thoughts and prayers that my supporters have sent me. Some people have said, "I haven't done anything for you during this." I reply with "Have you been thinking of me?" When they reply in the affirmative, I tell them, "That's good medicine for me. Thank you!"
The picture above was sent to me by a friend. He visited this place (a temple in the country of Bhutan near Tibet, India and Nepal) once and he thought I would appreciate the image. It's amazing and reaffirms the power of creativity, craftsmanship and compassion that is given to us humans.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I am going to call his mother today and will keep you posted on his progress.
I'm going to make the I-95 drive today to Northern VA /DC /Maryland and will be back in town tomorrow. A friend at work is my "check in" person (i.e. I check in with her when I get to certain locations so she knows my travels are going OK - she's smart that way).
McTavish, the Scottish angler died and was met at the Golden Gates by Saint Peter. "You've told too many lies to come in here," said Saint Peter. "Have a heart," replied McTavish, "you were a fisherman yourself once."
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
There is a place on the website where you can send him your best wishes. I encourage you to do so (let him know how you know of him). I have been contacted by total strangers during the alien's visit and it has meant the world to me.
"Go Good" Bo!
Monday, February 16, 2009
I posted my blog before I went to church yesterday. During one of the prayers, the pastor asked that wisdom and knowledge be given to those involved in medical research.
Gotta love it when a plan comes together.
A cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. 'Have you ever done anything of particular merit?' St. Peter asked. '
Well, I can think of one thing,' the cowboy offered. 'On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota , I came upon a gang of bikers, who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So, I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed guy and smacked him in his face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I yelled, 'Now, back off!! Or I'll do the same to all of you!'
St. Peter was impressed, 'When did this happen?'
A couple minutes ago...
Sunday, February 15, 2009
We all have heard the expression, "Things happen for a reason." I will never believe or accept that things are MEANT to happen for a reason. I don't believe that the creator of this world inflicts pain and suffering only for the purpose of hearing his name called out.
I DO believe that there is opportunity in all pain and suffering to search for relief, cures, and compassion. There is not one disease in this world that is intended to punish an individual or a group of individuals. Until humans know the origin, cause and cure of a disease, it is not for them to judge why an individual has been afflicted.
There have been (and will be) controversial medical research studies that have yielded promises of hope for patients suffering from various diseases. My view on those studies has shifted as time passes. Unless the research and outcomes are intended to harm an individual, I say we are obligated to continue to move ahead. Potentially, I could receive some stem cell treatments to eliminate and possibly cure my cancer. Got a problem with that? Call me if you do.
I've been made aware that a theater co-actor and also the son of a friend in North Carolina have been diagnosed with some potential serious medical issues. Of course, I ask for your thoughts and prayers for them, but also ask for legitimate research and wisdom for their caregivers. And while you are at it, humble yourself enough to ask for wisdom for you to accept the God given gift of medical research. Otherwise, I guess leeches and bloodletting are OK for you.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
A 5K Walk (there will be people running in it - I don't plan to) is on my schedule for the day. Rest and napping soon afterwards.
Stuff I've learned:
1) It's OK to let folks be nice to you. Accept it graciously. My brother and I have an expression we use with each other when one of us wants to repay the other for a favor. When we say, "In the south, we just say thank you," we know there is no repayment expected.
2) There are lots of alternative treatments to cancer out there. Accept them graciously, also.
3) The four way stop and parking space lines still confound many drivers.
4) Good intuition is as important as research.
5) Don't be surprised or overanalyze when old friends and strangers come out of the woodwork unexpectedly. Accept it for the gift that it is.
6) The world loves good jokes. Hits from other countries and continents are higher on days when I publish jokes. Yesterday there were visitors from Ontario, Nova Scotia and London.
Roger, who was 19 years old, was buying an expensive bracelet, to surprise his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, at a very smart jeweller's shop in Hatton Garden, London.
The jeweller inquired, 'Would you like your girlfriend's name engraved on it?'
Roger thought for a moment, grinned, then answered, 'No, instead engrave 'To my one and only love'.'
The jeweller smiled and said, 'Yes, sir; how very romantic of you.'
Roger retorted with a glint in his eye, 'Not exactly romantic, but very practical. This way, if we break up, I can use it again.'
Friday, February 13, 2009
Castle Fraser - Aberdeenshire,Scotland
Jock finds himself in dire trouble. His business has gone into foreclosure and he's in serious financial problems. He's so desperate that he decides to ask God for help. "God, please help me. Ah've lost ma wee store and if Ah dinna get some money, Ah'm going to lose my hoose too. Please let me win the lottery!" Lottery night! Someone else wins... Jock prays again. "God, please let me win the lottery! Ah've lost my wee store, ma hoose and Ah'm going to lose ma car as weel!" Lottery night again! Still no luck... Jock prays again.
"Ah've lost ma business, ma hoose and ma car. Ma bairns are starving. Ah dinna often ask Ye for help and Ah have always been a good servant to Ye. PLEASE just let me win the lottery this one time so Ah can get back on ma feet!"
Suddenly there is a blinding flash as the heavens open and the voice of God Himself thunders:
"Jock at least meet Me half way and buy a ticket!"
Jock once attended a Temperance lecture given by Scotland's top medical man, a noted anti-drink campaigner. The speaker began by placing a live, wriggling worm in a glass of whisky. After a moment or two it died and sank to the bottom.
The speaker said quietly to the audience, "Now my friends, what does this tell us?"
Jock piped up, "If you drink whisky you'll not be bothered by worms!"
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Way back (feels good to say that) before I started chemo, a friend commented that I used the word "cancer" pretty freely. I recognized that she was correct as soon as she said it, but at the time, it was pretty new to me and was the most important thing going on in my life at the time. It's still new to me, as the body reacts differently to chemo treatments every time and it is still the most important thing going on in my physical life.
However, sometimes I forget about it and I wonder if that's all part of the healing process; if I'm bored with it and ready to move on; or if I am in some state of denial. I reasoned with a friend that I am not in denial, but rather, my trust is in the caregivers that were placed in my life to deal with the physical aspects of this. My job is to grab hold of all the mental aspects of it (and seek help as needed). It's important to me that it includes some humor of all forms. In the past, if I played the word association game, I never associated the word, "laugh" with the word, "cancer." I had it wrong.
"To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep"
(Music by Pete Seeger)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"A merry heart does like good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones."
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart and good news gives health to the bones."
"When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong; when he is cheerful everything seems right."
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
However.......,I love the people I have met in the last few months, who make a decent income (which of course is no where near as equitable as the first group), they wear nice clothes, sometimes they wear uniforms or vestments, some wear make-up, and their heart's desire is to work hard to make others feel better and possibly heal their ailments.
It's obvious to me which message I should be listening to and which of the two sets is grossly underpaid.
I have listened to plenty of messages in the last few months. The messages I most appreciate are the ones that are based on research intended to improve life. I have no time for messages that do not offer a promise of hope, fulfilled dreams, creative thought, innovation, or openness to other thought or opinion. It doesn't matter to me that the "reality" of non-positive thought is contained in the most intelligent economist, brilliant politician, studied scientist, most honored statesman or religious "scholar."
I have a banana bread recipe that came somewhere from a few generations back in my family. I treasure it. I can't make the banana bread with only the flour. I have to use all of the ingredients. Sometimes, I add strawberries and chocolate chips just to make it different and somewhat innovative. I like it both ways.
The lack of brain activity is used as an indicator of death in a human body. Think about that before you close your mind to new ideas.
PER "SKIPPY'S" REQUEST
Pat and Mike had been drinking buddies and friends for years. After having a few drinks in a bar, Mike said to Pat "We have been friends for years and years and if I should die before you do would you do me a favor? Get the best bottle of Irish whiskey you can find and pour it over my grave." Pat replied, "I would be glad to do that for you my old friend. But would you mind if I passed it through my bladder first?"
Monday, February 9, 2009
Don't know if it's spring fever, or cumulative effects of chemo juice, but the past two mornings have been slow starts (but I'm sleeping better these days - oh yeh!).
I like that the potential time frame of knowing that I will be "good to go" is going to be in the spring.
Mike O'Malley lay dying on his bed when his wife Brigid came in to him and asked if there was anything he wanted.
Mike said "Brigid, what is that delicious smell coming from the kitchen?"
And Brigid replied "Oh Mike that is a ham I am baking ."
Mike thought, and said "Brigid, as my dying wish I would love to have some of that ham you're cooking."
Then Brigid said "Oh Mike, I'm saving that for the wake !!"
Sunday, February 8, 2009
It's a good day!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I've mentioned how amazing the chemo room experience is and it only gets better. On Thursday, I was seated next to a first time treatment patient who had some anxiety. The nurse attending to her was doing great explaining things to her. However, some of the names of the drugs ended in the suffix, "toxin." Anytime the patient heard that, her anxiety level increased. At one point, the nurse said to her, "See that guy next to you? This is is 5th treatment and he's doing great." That comment initiated some conversation between the other patient and I. Yesterday, when I went in for a follow up shot,the nurse thanked me for helping her put her patient at ease. I really didn't know I had done anything all that special. Honest.
As a patient, who is having a relatively easy time of chemo treatments (although today I am having a side effect that hasn't happened in the past. It's OK, not painful, one that a friend who had chemo in the past warned me about and she and I have shared some levity about it, is the reason I am awake right now, not anything really nasty, and if you have to know the details, call me or e-mail me and I will fill you in, and it is temporary), I feel if I can help other chemo patients get through what they are going through, it is a great opportunity to "pay it forward."
As I respect and admire the chemo nurses,I want to be able to earn their respect. Yesterday, I was talking to another patient after I finished my shot. He was sitting close to the nurses station and when we started talking, the nurses were having a conversation between themselves. At one point, I noticed they had stopped talking and I heard one of them say, "You seeing what I'm seeing." They didn't speak anymore until the patient and I ended the conversation. I turned to the nurses to say "goodbye" and noticed they were smiling at me.
I'm not telling you any of this to make you say "What a great guy Greg is!" I'm not a great guy. But those moments I shared are what I aspire to be, and I know that there is a lot of ground to cover to get to that point. I once heard a speech writing coach say, "Nothing is more boring to an audience than talking about yourself." Sales coaches will tell you that when meeting a prospect/client, "Talk about them. Not yourself."
The reason I told you the above stories is that it is amazing to recognize when you are in a truly sacred moment. In those moments, it is more important to listen than talk. They are out there and for me the "gift of cancer" gave me clarity to help me recognize them when they happen. You may have your own way of recognizing them.
After I finished my chemo treatment the other day, I was talking to another patient. As I was talking to her, the nurse that attended me that day came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I have to leave the room for a short while, but I wanted to make sure I said goodbye to you before you left. If I had left the room and came back and you weren't here to say goodbye to, I would have been sad." Then she gave me a big hug. I turned to the patient and said,"If I had known life was going to be this good with having cancer, I would have done it a long time ago."
"Go Good" today, my friends!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Here's where my head is about 6-8 treatments. If it takes 8 to kill it, I have no problem with that. Things have been going well so far and let's do this thing right. I am amazed at how well I feel compared to how I felt in November and December. Still, the doctor did warn me to not overdo it. I did find out I can go golfing and they recommend that I play a walking course. Got my eye on the weather! Also, I'm allowed to give the embolism stockings a break. She said if I start to get swelling in my legs, to put them back on.
If the news is that all is clean on March 20, I will designate that day as St. Sharon's Day (the first name of my oncologist). Either way, it will be a good day as there will be answers in some positive form on that day. Yesterday, I got a little melancholy when I realized that potentially there could only be one more visit to my chemo friends. They told me that I didn't have their permission to not visit them after it was all done. GREAT LADIES!
A pastor friend is a big fan of the group RUSH. Started reading some of their lyrics and listening to their music. Intriguing. Don't know why I've ignored them this long.
I am concerned about my potential to make it to heaven because of scripture from Revelation,Chapter 8, verse 1-...."there was silence throughout all heaven for what seemed like half an hour." Don't know if I could make it that long. I know that I even talk in my sleep.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
So...the AARP Ethical question is: I am approaching the milestone birthday this year (I know, I don't look it or act like it - it's a curse!) and have started to receive AARP mailings. The most recent came the other day. I am thinking about treating myself to a weekend at Kitty Hawk after my 6th (and potentially last) chemo treatment. If I join AARP (in advance of the milestone birthday and not chronologically eligible to be an AARP member), the hotel discount will pay for the membership in the first night I stay there. However, since I won't be the eligible age when I go to Kitty Hawk, would I be a bad person for using the AARP discount? The other side of it is I would be helping the economy by travelling and staying at a hotel.
Before you take all of this too seriously, I just goofing on you (a term that a friend of mine uses). I do know what I intend to do as I think there are some aging credits due me as a result of having cancer. I'm just saying..........
Will let you know tomorrow what the foolishness was as the Nurse Practitioner has my blog address and since she is a Hokie, you really can't trust her.....I'm just goofing on her. She may let the others know what to expect.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
"Michael O'Sullivan was my great friend. But I don't ever remembering telling him that. The words that are spoken at a funeral are spoken too late for the man who is dead. What a wonderful thing it would be to visit your own funeral. To sit at the front and hear what was said, maybe say a few things yourself.
"Michael and I grew old together. But at times, when we laughed, we grew younger. If he was here now, if he could hear what I say, I'd congratulate him on being a great man, and thank him for being a friend."
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
And now the joke:
A woman with terminal cancer returns to religion with fervor. She knows that God will help her get better.
Early in her sickness, a surgeon proposes radical surgery.
"No", she says, "I don't want to get mutilated and suffer pain. It's not necessary, God will help me".
A while later, she sees a radiologist and he proposes radiation to treat the tumor, which by now is uncomfortably large. "No", she says, "I don't want radiation burns inside and out. It's not necessary. God will help me."
A year later, the cancer has metastasized. It's painful and she is referred to an oncologist. Chemotherapy is advised. "No", she says, "I don't want to be sick all the time and lose my hair as well. It's not necessary. God will help me".
Soon after, she dies. She goes to Heaven and demands an audience with God. "Why didn't you help me?," she whines.
"What do you mean? I sent you help three times: a surgeon, a radiologist and an oncologist. What more did you want?"SOURCE: http://www.learningplaceonline.com/illness/humor/jokes/05-archive.htm
Monday, February 2, 2009
"However, if I could go back and make it never happen to me, I'm not sure I would. It has changed my life in some very positive ways. So I worked, and worked, and worked to climb that corporate ladder, but when the "Big C" diagnosis came, it didn't matter a hill of beans that I was a VP in my company. All I could think about was the time that I had wasted getting there. So now, I make sure to stop and smell the roses. I may have missed the time with my own kids when I should have been there, but I don't miss any chances that I have with my grand kids. I'm not too busy anymore to play in the yard with them, or watch a movie with them, or bake cookies with them. Life has a whole new perspective these days. And it is much more rewarding. The satisfaction I thought I would get by accomplishing things in my career was fleeting. The true joy in life comes from spending time with the people you love, taking time to watch a sunset, sitting on the beach watching the waves crash in, walking in the woods, or watching your favorite black and white movie from 50 years ago. That's not to say that it doesn't creep in once in a while, because you are right, cancer makes a bit of a hypochondriac out of you and that's only natural because who of us thought we had cancer in the first place, so now every time something strange happens with your body you wonder if it is related to the cancer. Things that in the past you would have just ignored and chalked up to aging you now run to the doctor for. But let's face it, when we've fought this hard to stay alive, we want to continue to be alive. I've still got alot of living to do. There are lots of things I want to do that I have not gotten to do yet."
Sunday, February 1, 2009
The man said, 'I do, Father.'
The priest said, 'Then stand over there against the wall.'
Then the priest asked the second man, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'
'Certainly, Father,' was the man's reply.
'Then stand over there against the wall,' said the priest.
Then Father Murphy walked up to O'Toole and said, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'
O'Toole said, 'No, I don't Father.'
The priest said, 'I don't believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don't want to go to heaven?'
O'Toole said, 'Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.'