Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Grammar Is Not My Dad's Mother

Sometimes, when I do a blog post or send an e-mail with details about what is going on with me, in my rush I leave tracks of bad grammar behind. My favorite English teacher ever, Dr. Ruth Riley (first semester English in college), would not approve. As a result, some information that I post can seem a bit confusing. For that I sincerely (really, honest) apologize.

As a sign of my commitment to communication quality, feel free to post any questions you may have and I will respond (really, honest).

"Lizzie, when you were a little girl, if I ever thought you were lyin to me, I'd look at you and say, 'Honest in truth?' Then you'd never lie. So, I'm asking you now Lizzie. Honest in truth?" - HC to Lizzie in "The Rainmaker," by N. Richard Nash

One question I did ask the doctor yesterday was, "Will I get a hot girlfriend out of this like Lance Armstrong did with Cheryl Crow (What was he thinking when he let her get away?)?" The doctor responded that she couldn't help with that. I asked her to get a second opinion.

Honest in truth

Monday, March 30, 2009

One Thing Ben Franklin Was Wrong About

"Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Ben Franklin

National Bohemian - not a good beer. When it is consumed, it kills things. Therefore, I decree that my remaining treatment shall henceforth be referred to as the "Natty Bo Six Pack" treatment.

Pending one more report from the pathology lab, it is likely that I am going to be going with the more agressive treatment and now that I have wrapped my head around it, I'm not as freaked out as I was. The potential for side effects are there (as it has always been). I am taking it as a personal challenge to skew the statistics and be one of those patients that continue to make the caregivers head shake in approval.

The first round of the "NBSP" treatment would start next Wednesday. The first portion would be a same day treatment and then the next portion would involve going back to the hospital the following day for the remaining chemo drugs and being admitted to the hospital for 24-36 hours. The process would repeat 3 weeks later.

After the 2nd round, there would be a PET scan and then review to determine if I would begin the next chemo/stem cell collection procedure that would involve a 3 week hospital stay or do one more "NBSP" treatment.

That's the immediate details. You know me.....necessary details come as they are warranted. Until then, no need for speculation or concern.

Q&A Day

Today is the day I go back to the Doc to review the results of the CT/Rubber Mallet biopsy (kidding about the rubber mallet part).

I'll post details later today.

Bridgekeeper: Hee hee heh. Stop. What... is your name?
King Arthur: It is 'Arthur', King of the Britons.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?
King Arthur: To seek the Holy Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
King Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
Bridgekeeper: Huh? I... I don't know that.
[he is thrown over]
Bridgekeeper: Auuuuuuuugh.
Sir Bedevere: How do know so much about swallows?
King Arthur: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, you know.
- For those of you who are normal, mentally healthy individuals, the above is from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Today's First "Hymn"

Comes from the "Damn Yankees" Hymnal. It was in my head when I woke up this morning. I get a kick out of how God and I converse.

"You've gotta have....Heart!
All you really need is heart!
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win, that's when the grin should start!
You've gotta have hope! Musn't sit around and mope.
Nuthin' half as bad as it may appear, wait'll next year and hope.
When your luck is battin' zero, get your chin up off the floor.
Mister, you can be a hero. You can open any door.
There's nothin' to it, but to do it.
You've gotta have heart! Miles and miles and miles of heart!
Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course! But keep that ol' horse before the cart!
First you've got to have heart!"

Updates on others..Bo did a great job with his chemo on Friday. No crying and "only 10 more treatments!" - his words. My friend Jay has some tough treatments ahead of him, but his spirits are good. Keep them in your thoughts and "conversations."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What You've Said...

I was talking to one of the chemo nurses the other day and she said I was regarded as a flirt at my chemo treatment center. I told her I hoped I wasn't considered a creepy flirt. She said, “Oh no, you are very discreet and very fun. We adore you over here.” She continued with, “And you know what that gets you....anything you need from us.”

Below, are some things friends have sent in e-mails. They are but a few samples of a whole host of others that I have treasured. It's good medicine. Thank you for two reasons: 1) It does the job it is supposed to and is very appreciated 2)There is no co-pay.

"Keep the blog (and the jokes) going. It's become one of the first things I check each day. You are so blessed by so many compassionate, funny, sports-crazy, supportive friends and you are so wise to lean on them. Thank you for sharing your journey."

"Whatever is around the next corner you'll handle it with peace and grace, and your typical flair for living. You've gotten this far, you'll make it the rest of the way. Look at all the women you have pulling for you!"

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...
It's about learning to dance in the rain.
Sounds like you have a bit of a thunderstorm in your forecast, but not to worry, you've become a very good dancer.
And, the sun WILL come out!"

"Anyway, I've been saying lots of prayers for you!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

3 Days From Now

Biopsy results appt. is scheduled for Monday at 12:45. A friend of mine is going with me to be my second set of ears. I'm looking forward to getting some answers and I know there will be things to think about and decisions to make.

I WISH all that was left is some more chemo treatments as I have done some reading about the chemo/stem cell option on my caregivers web site and it ain't no ride in the park. However, it's effective. The folks that came up with this treatment won a Nobel Prize for it.

The thing that amazes me is 25 years ago, my cancer would have possibly been considered an inoperable tumor based on it's location. Medical research and technology has advanced that far. Wow!

I've recently read the book, "The Shack." I liked it and recommend it. A pastor friend of mine has been reading it and she said, "I can understand why it might upset some people and their beliefs, but personally, I have no problem with it."
I agree with her comments. That's how I feel about medical research. You can't see without your eyes open.

By the way, I'm sure you recognize the image in the picture. I saw an exhibit of Rodin's works at The National Gallery of Art back in the early 80's. I learned that the sculpture shown in the picture is part of a larger piece of sculpture known as "The Gates of Hell." Google it. The story behind it is interesting. It is an amazing piece of sculpture. Another one I like that is similar, appears over the front doorway of The National Cathedral in DC.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Could Have..

....missed it by THAT much!

Yesterday's biopsy was interesting. First thing: I had the same group of people as last time except for a different doctor. This doctor had a great sense of humor (He asked the nurse for a rubber mallet when he was putting the needle in). One of the nurses requested that she assist with my biopsy. She's a great lady.

The biopsy procedure answered the question about why the remaining cancer can't be removed surgically. The "alien" is in the middle of a bunch of blood vessels and bowels that could be damaged in the surgical process. Chemo is the safest way to go to prevent other complications.

Because the "live" tissue is in the middle of some residual stuff and the residual stuff is surrounded by good stuff (like organs, arteries, etc.), there was only a 5 centimeter "window" that the needle for the biopsy could fit into as determined by the CT scan. Last time, they did one scan and went in from my front (near the navel). This time, they went in from my back and did multiple scans. Rather than inserting the needle in one motion, they did it in several steps to monitor its path to verify it was on target. There were a couple of times that made me squint, but it wasn't extremely "I want to hit someone" painful. The good nature and humor of the doctor and nurses made it very tolerable.

They are very confident they did collect some live tissue that will give an accurate reading of the glowing area that showed up on last week's scans.

I should hear the results and what's next by Monday at the latest.

I'm good with that.

Keep remembering Bo, Hunter and Jay. I don't have details on all of them. God is in the details (but he doesn't "give" anyone cancer).

Have a great day!

Chief: Max, you realize that you'll be facing every kind of danger imaginable.
Maxwell Smart: And... loving it.
- "Get Smart"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not A Turkey Baster

When I had my first biopsy back in November, my concern was that the instrument they would use would be the size of a turkey baster. I wasn't crazy about that. To my surprise, it was a collection (they took several samples) of small needles. Whew!

They numb the area where the needles are inserted. Once the sedative has kicked in, they start extracting potential cancer cells. The collection process takes less than 10 minutes and there is no pain.

My biopsy is scheduled today for 1 PM. I have to be at the hospital at 11:30 to check in, get blood work, etc. Taking a book with me for the "waiting" time. I hope I get the same people I had last time as they were awesome!

The other good news is that last time I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. This time, I was allowed to eat a small breakfast, but I'm not allowed to have anything after 7AM. I can deal with that. There is a Subway shop in the hospital. I see myself visiting it after the biopsy.

The results of the biopsy will be reviewed by my doctor and I suspect I should know something by Friday.

It's all good!

Sergeant Hulka: Men, welcome to the United States Army. I'm Sergeant Hulka. I'm your drill sergeant. Before we proceed any further, we gotta get something straight. Your mamas are not here to take care of you now. It's just you, me, and Uncle Sam. And before I leave you, you're gonna find out that me and Uncle Sam are one in the same.
John Winger: Uncle Hulka?
- "Stripes"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Almost Forgot

To post something today.

Biopsy is scheduled for tomorrow at 1PM. Should know results by end of week. I'll be frank. I want the biopsy to be positive so I can get the treatment process started (and over with). However, if I have to wait, I will. There will be activities scheduled in the meantime (i.e. golf outings, hi jinks and mayhem). "Super Duper!"

Potentially, the chemo/stem cell treatments aren't pretty. However, they yield good results. It will be another good story for me to tell that you will have to listen to in the future.

Check out the comment about "pity parties" left by my friend Pat on yesterday's post.

"Could be worse" - Igor (portrayed by Marty Feldman) in "Young Frankenstein"

Hello, How Are You?

Except for "Riders On The Storm," I really don't care for any other music by "The Doors."

Processing the news from Friday and I have hosted a couple of pity parties in my honor. They last for a few minutes and are not so sizable in number that they overwhelm the fun stuff I have been doing. The pity parties are part of all of it and are healthy and cleansing. Early on, my Nurse Practitioner asked me if I had experienced any of them and that she recommended it as part of the healing process. After yesterday, I regret that I have never attended the Irish Festival in Richmond during any of my 17 years here. It is certainly a "do not miss event."

Waiting to hear when my biopsy will be scheduled. Frankly, I hope that the results of it are positive so I can get the treatment under way vs. waiting another 6-8 weeks. Either way, I WILL fill the days between now and then. As my friend, and Bo's mother, Amy says, "I have to learn to wait well."

Funny story: I gave up sugar snacks for Lent (Next year, I am giving up cancer for Lent). My friend Jenny knows of my love for Peeps (she brought some snowman Peeps to the chemo room in December when she went with me for a chemo treatment). She left some on my doorstep on Saturday with a note advising me to forget Lent and enjoy the Peeps. I like her style. I was going to post a picture of them here, but I couldn't get the camera to get a good picture of her note.

"Pete, the personal rancor reflected in that remark I don't intend to dignify with comment. But I would like to address your general attitude of hopeless negativism. Consider the lilies of the field! Take at look at Delmar here as your paradigm of hope."- Ulysses Everett McGill (portrayed by George Clooney) in "O Brother, Where Art Thou"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's Not Personal

Just taking today off.

Processing stuff. Having a couple of pity parties. Heading to the annual Irish Festival in Church Hill (a really cool neighborhood in Richmond) this afternoon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

P'scuse Me If I Repeat Myself

So....there has been some time to mentally process yesterday's doctor visit.

Everybody I have talked to regards the information as good news. The doctor is very optimistic that the alien will be wiped out. Largely, due to the way my body has responded to the previous chemo treatments and the ability of the pending treatment to finish the job.

It's another example of "It Is What It Is." I do not have exact details of how or when the whole thing will go down. Depending on the biopsy results next week, treatment could start as soon as the next few weeks or 2 months from now. I don't concern myself with details that I don't have to address immediately. That's my MO. When I get them, I will pass them on. For now, to paraphrase my friend Amy (Bo's mother), I will continue to ride the rollercoaster blindfolded.

In addition, I'm going to increase my level of exercise so the body is in better shape to deal with what is about to hit it. To paraphrase another friend, I'm going to have to drink my own kool-aid. I tell people that the chemo room/hospital is the safest place you can be during cancer treatment. It is there where you have someone watching and listening to you if something is bothering you. Even though I'm not wild about spending 3 weeks in the hospital, I know that I will be well cared for while I am there.

A friend of mine told me about a friend of hers that went through the same treatment 10 years ago. She admitted that the treatment itself is pretty taxing on the body, but that her friend is doing well 10 years later. I got that going for me.

Another comment the doctor made yesterday was that my attitude through everything so far has been amazing. She encouraged me to keep it up and that it would go a long way in helping deal with what's ahead. She was even amused with the button I gave her yesterday. The message on the button is: "My Oncologist Is My Homegirl." It and various other humorous items are available at www.gotcancer.org.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday - Part 2

Back from the appt. with the doctor. Following is the summary:
1) There is still some glowing areas in me. They are in the areas where the mass was. The mass is smaller than it was originally and some of the remaining mass is dead. Some of it still glows.
2) Next week, there will be a CT guided biopsy to collect tissue. Since some of the tissue is dead, they may not get some of the glowing tissue. What that means is that the biopsy results may come back negative.
3) If they are negative, they will wait six weeks and take another look.
4) If the biopsy results are positive, they will begin an aggressive chemo/stem cell treatment on me. The chemo they would use (vs. what they have been doing) would be the difference between a nuclear bomb and a regular bomb. This form of treatment would involve an extended stay in the hospital (around 3 weeks).
5) The stem cells would be collected from my blood and then held to bring my body back after the chemo treatment.

The doctor said the odds are pretty high that I will be doing the chemo/stem cell treatment (hereafter called the "sucker punch" treatment), but I won't know the details until next week. In the meantime, I am not restricted to anything. However, I won't be committing to anything for the next few months.

The good news from today is that I have responded well to the chemo treatments and they are happy with where I am with everything. The doctor also was pretty positive about that they would be able to treat and beat the alien.


Appalachian Spring

Today,spring arrives in the Appalachians (and to the rest of us in the northern hemisphere for that matter). Today, the earth shifts on it's axis and temperatures in the northern hemisphere begin to shift to the warm side. New growth and regeneration are stimulated (including ramps).

There is a part in the musical piece of "Appalachian Spring", at the end of the "Simple Gifts" portion, when the entire orchestra picks up the tune that is started by a single clarinet and "shouts" it out to the listener. I get goose bumps every time I listen to it.

A "gift" of having cancer is being more aware of the tunes being played in our lives that invite us to join in and shout them out.

Come back to the blog sometime later this afternoon and I will have posted the results of this morning's meeting with the doctor.

Remember Bo and Hunter today. Bo has a chemo visit today and maybe a "crummy" weekend. Don't have any updates on Hunter, but I did get his hat and put it in the mail to him. I do believe once we all are good to go, there will be a get together that will involve the consumption of some Eastern Carolina Barbecue. It's good medicine!

May the best ye've ever seen.
Be the worst ye'll ever see.
May a moose ne'er leave yer girnal.
Wi ' a tear drap in his e'e.
May ye aye keep hale an' herty,
Till ye're auld eneuch tae dee.
May ye aye be jist as happy,
Ads we wish ye aye tae be.
- Scottish Toast

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Glow Scan" Day

I arrive at the hospital at 8:45 today for the PET scan. This scan will be a more refined look at what's in there. It involves the use of a radioactive solution that gets injected into me and anywhere there is cancer, the cancer will glow when that area is scanned. From the time I arrive until I leave will be about 1.5 to 2 hours with the actual scan taking about 30 minutes. The last time I had a PET scan, I was having back pain from the bloating and pressure caused by the "alien" and I was a bit uncomfortable. I do believe this scan won't be all that bad.

My friend that gave me the sign I mentioned yesterday, said to me, "I don't believe I've ever laughed so much about something with cancer as the topic as I have when I have talked to you." Rest assured, I don't make light of cancer when it affects other people. However, humor has been one of my self-prescribed medicines and I don't regret it. Don't know if I would find as much humor if it had been a worse form of cancer, but I hope I would have found some humor at some point in the process. For the record (and it should come as no surprise), there will be humor after the PET scan today and also when I visit the doctor tomorrow.

If you are near the Washington DC area and haven't seen "Ragtime," I recommend it. It's coming to The Kennedy Center. See below:
April 18-May 17: A revival of the award-winning Ragtime returns to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. N.W., Washington. The musical, based on E.L. Doctorow's novel, traces the fates of a WASP family, an immigrant Jewish family and a black family in turn-of-the-century New York. $25-$90. 800-444-1324 or kennedy-center.org.

"Slainte mhor agus a h-uile beannachd duibh"
(Good health and every good blessing to you!)
A Gaelic Prayer

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It Is What It Is...

Today's title is a tribute to a great friend who gave me a sign with those words on it. In the early going, she remarked how often I used that phrase when talking about my diagnosis. Last evening, I was showing another friend of mine the sign and told them I regarded it as a prayer of sorts. By that, I mean that there are things in this world that I can't change (i.e. cancer, etc.). However, I can change the way I react to them and also help others who are being affected by them.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I put together a "bag of fun" for the chemo staff. Yesterday, I got a call from them to let me hear they were playing Irish music in the chemo room. If you had told me a year ago that I would get a call from them on St. Patty's day, I would have raised my eyebrows at you. My life is better because I did get that call. "Tis what it tis." Amen.

Through my friend Bo, I have a new friend. His name is Hunter and he lives in Manteo NC. He is 5 years old and was diagnosed with a Wilm's tumor. He has had his kidney and adrenal gland removed. He has started chemo and his parents are concerned for him. I think a package with a fun hat may show up at his doorstep soon. Remember Hunter and his family in your thoughts and prayers. I'll keep you posted on him as I have been sharing e-mails with his parents.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tis a Good Thing...

...that there are no doctor/hospital visits today. The color of my blood may scare them today as I am sure it flows green on St. Patty's Day!

CT Scan went well (didn't see any pictures from it). I learned that they are not allowed to use the topical numbing spray that the chemo folks use because it is flammable. Hmmm.

Took a St. Patty's bag of fun to the chemo folks yesterday. They were amused and I would pay good money to spend the day in there today to see the look on patient's faces as they come in the room. I made the nurses promise to take pictures.

Rest assured, I won't be adding any "Irish Chemistry" to my blood today. Following doctor's orders.

At the end of his sermon Father O'Brian turned to his listeners and said:"Now, let me ask you. Which of you thinks truly he is bound for Paradise? Would you please stand?"

He was pleased to note that nearly all of his parishioners stood up.

"That's good," he exclaimed. "But now, let me ask you. Which of you thinks he is bound for Hell? Would you stand?"

After a few seconds, Jock Burke slowly got to his feet, and remained standing as the priest eyed him with sadness.

Afterwards, as the worshippers filed out, Father O'Brian pulled Jock aside and asked him,"Now, Jock, what is it that makes you fear you're bound for Hell?"

To which he responded, "O, Father, I have no fear for my own outcome, but I did feel sorry for you standing up there all by yourself."

“May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go, and guide you in whatever you do and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.”

Go gcuire Dia an t-ádh ort!

Monday, March 16, 2009

16 Minutes

One banana smoothie down (450 ml in 16 minutes), one to go. That, and a needle stick that doesn't involve any topical numbing,and today's stuff will be over. I guess as my friend Bo would say, "Time to be a big boy!" Check him out showing off his scars on his journal site: www.caringbridge.org/visit/bobaker

An Irish priest and a Rabbi get into a car accident. They both get out of their cars and stumble over to the side of the road. The Rabbi says, "Oy vey! What a wreck!" The priest asks him, "Are you all right, Rabbi?" The Rabbi responds, "Just a little shaken." The priest pulls a flask of whiskey from his coat and says, "Here, drink some of this it will calm your nerves." The Rabbi takes the flask and drinks it down and says, "Well, what are we going to tell the police?" "Well," the priest says, "I don't know what your aft' to be tellin' them. But I'll be tellin' them I wasn't the one drinkin'."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Quandry

What would I do if I was living in North Carolina and had to be treated at the Duke University hospital? Hmmm. I guess it would be a mission trip of sorts to convert all of those poor wayward people to a proper belief system.

"Smoothies" are in the fridge awaiting consumption tomorrow morning.

"One day to a new beginning
Raise the flag of freedom high!
Every man will be a king
Every man will be a king
There's a new world for the winning
There's a new world to be won
Do you hear the people sing?" - "One Day More" - Les Miserables

McCuen stumbled out of a saloon right into the arms of Father Logan.

"Inebriated again!" declared the priest. "Shame on you! When are you going to straighten out your life??"

"Father," asked McCuen. "What causes arthritis?"

"I'll tell you what causes it! Drinking cheap whiskey, gambling and carousing around with loose women. How long have you had arthritis?"

"I don't," slurred McCuen. "The Bishop has it!"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Give 'Em Goofy Hats

I sent "Bo the Superhero" a goofy hat that looks like a bear head. His wore it to his chemo treatment yesterday. His mother said, "The bear hat was a huge hit at the clinic. All of the nurses and doctors just loved it. Bo took it off to show off his new haircut but the hat really stole the show."

After my diagnosis, I realized there are a lot of resources out there for women with cancer, i.e. wigs, scarves, etc. There's not much for us guys. That's why I went the hat route with myself. I am now known as "the guy with the hats" where I go to get treated. It seems to perk people up. That's why I sent Bo some goofy hats. Keep it in mind, should you ever wonder what to do for a guy that has been diagnosed with cancer and is going to start losing his hair. Fun stuff!

"And the winning ticket is number 11," Father Ted called at the charity raffle. Everybody looked around to see who had won the prize but no one had their hand up.

"Didn't you have ticket number 11 Father Dougal?" Father Ted urged.

"So I do Father," said Father Dougal. "I'm sorry, I was looking at it upside down!"

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today Starts "The Festival"

(as I have labeled it).

Today, I go to the hospital to get the contrast solution (i.e. "banana smoothie") for Monday's CT scan. Then, a nice weekend, followed by a scan, ST. PATTY'S DAY, scan and visit with the doctor. THERE WILL BE HI-JINKS WITH THE CHEMO STAFF AND THE DOCTOR NEXT WEEK. Don't worry, all of them will be legal.

May your day be free of Triskaidekaphobia.

Bo had a good day yesterday. He has a chemo treatment today. He's not been real fond of that because of the needles. Can't say I blame him.

Two Irishmen were out duck-shooting. They had their guns and dogs and walked for hours with no success. Dropping into the pub on the way back they listened with envy to all the other hunters who had obviously been very successful.

"Where do you think we went wrong?" asked one.

His friend thought for a minute.

"You know, I think it must be that we're not throwing the dogs high enough."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nuthin' Better.....

......than the smell of fresh ramps on Easter Sunday!

Going to send some (that I planted in my backyard a few years ago - and they did regenerate) to the National Institute of Health and see if there may be an ingredient in ramps that can be used for cancer treatment. Wouldn't that stimulate the Appalachian economy!!!!

Joey-Jim was tooling along the road one fine day when the local policeman, a friend of his, pulled him over. "What's wrong, Seamus?" Joey-Jim asked. "Well didn't ya know, Joey-Jim, that your wife fell out of the car about five miles back?" said Seamus. "Ah, praise the Almighty!" he replied with relief. "I thought I'd gone deaf!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Learned By Reading...

Frankly, there was a lot to do, read and absorb at the outset of all of this. I was given white papers on all of the drugs that are involved in my treatment. I skimmed through them initially and read all of the side effect stuff (nausea,hair loss,dizziness, etc.).

Last night, I was reading them in more detail and discovered that one of the drugs has an extract from the "May Apple" plant (which is very cool because it grows in the forests where I grew up in western Maryland) and another of the drugs has effects on the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. So that's why there was the dramatic weight loss, I guess.

The steroid drug would taste better if it tasted like ramps (those of you "mountain folks" know what I'm talking about).

The good Father was warning his listeners about the suddenness of death. "Before another day is ended," he thundered, "somebody in this parish will die." Seated in the front row was a little old Irishman who laughed out loud at this statement. Very angry, the priest said to the jovial old man, "What's so funny?" "Well!" spoke up the oldster, "I'm not a member of this parish."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maybe It's The Pills...

I was prescribed blood pressure medication by my family doctor when I was admitted to the hospital. Since then, I make a concerted effort not to let things get to me as I did in the past. I even try to be more courteous and appreciative to help desk people at utility companies. They seem to appreciate it. Maybe it's the pills, maybe some of it is the "new view of life" that comes with a cancer diagnosis. I hope it's more of the latter than the former.

"Your conscience awakes
And you see your mistakes
And you wish someone
Would buy your confessions.
The days miss their mark
And the night gets so dark
And some kind of message
Comes through to you
Some kind of message
Shoots through --
Love when you can
Cry when you have to...
Be who you must
That’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand..." - Dan Fogleberg

Paddy was rather sad after viewing the body of a dead atheist.
"There he was. All dressed up and no place to go."

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Friend, Amy, Has It Right,

Below is an excerpt from Bo's mother as she journals their experience. No one is an expert on any of this. What works for one person physically and mentally, may not work for another.

"Y'all this journey is like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded. You know everything is going to be fine at the end of the ride and you will get off at some point, but you have no idea what's coming up in the meantime. There is no way to be prepared. I went from crying my eyes out this morning, full of worry and sadness to laughing at him and enjoying each moment this evening. I guess we just have to get up each morning and hope there will be more laughing than crying."

Two Irish companies were competing for a contract to put up telegraph poles. The authorities decided to test them, seeing which company could put up the most poles in an hour. The first company achieved twenty but when the second company's tally came in it was only two.

"I'm afraid you lost the job", the second company was told, "the other boys managed twenty to your two."

"Ah," came the reply, "but they cheated. Did you see how much they left sticking out of the ground?"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Be Wise...Exercise!

After all the muscles quit hurting from shoveling snow, and all of the snow has officially melted, the plans yesterday were to cut and clean up the pine branches that fell and to wash the car.

About two-thirds of the way into the pine branch project, my body said, "You're done for now. Go sit down (even though I had been taking 'breaks' throughout the process).I sat down and relaxed for about 6 hours and then went back out and washed the car and worked at the pine branches for another 30 minutes or so.

All of this to tell you that right now, I still feel good and have good energy. I was wondering why I had the energy to shovel snow, but didn't have the energy to finish the pine branch task. One word: Steroids. They were in my system on Monday, but not yesterday.

For now, fatigue and tiredness is the issue. To that, I say "Thank God." It beats the other uglier stuff that could be affecting me as a result of chemo treatment.

Mick, from Dublin, appeared on 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' and towards the end of the program had already won £500,000 pounds. You've done very well so far,' said, Chris Tarrant, the show's presenter, 'but for a million pounds you've only got one lifeline left - phone a friend.'

Everything is riding on this question......will you go for it?''Sure,' said Mick. 'I'll have a go!'

'Which of the following birds does NOT build its own nest?'
A: Sparrow B: Thrush C: Magpie D: Cuckoo

I haven't got a clue,' said Mick, 'so I'll use me last lifeline and phone me friend Paddy back home in Dublin'. Mick called up his mate, and told him the circumstances and repeated the question to him.

'Mick!' cried Paddy.Dat's simple......it's a cuckoo.'

'Are you sure?'

'I'm sure.'

Mick hung up the phone and told Chris, 'I'll go wit Cuckoo as me answer.'

'Is that your final answer?' asked Chris

'Dat it is, Sir.'

There was a long - long pause, then the presenter screamed, 'Cuckoo is the correct answer! Mick,you've won £1 million pounds!'

The next night, Mick invited Paddy to their local pub to buy him a drink.

'Tell me, Paddy? How in Heaven's name did you know it was da Cuckoo that doesn't build it's own nest?

'Because he lives in a clock.'

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Give (Inner) Peace A Chance

A friend of mine sent this. I like it!


I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives.

By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace.

Dr Phil proclaimed, ' The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished. '
So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and had not finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Cabernet, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the key lime pie, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how good I feel right now!

Pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Curiosity and Courage

Been violating my own rules by doing internet searches on NHL. However, I have stuck to websites that are listed by my caregiver and also signed up for "Living With Lymphoma" (an e-newsletter for those of us in the "club."). There's some stuff out there to consider and I don't know answers as to what and why. However, the doctor is in for some more questions from me on March 20. They are questions I wasn't really interested in asking up front. I just wanted to get treatments started and the "alien" destroyed. I don't regret not asking the questions. I'm a "gut feeling" kind of guy and that's how I do things (although, thanks to "chemo brain," I have written more lists lately.). It will also help that my friend going with me to the March 20 appt. is a financial professional who has a healthy blend of analytical and "gut feeling" abilities.

Right now, it's a blend of "Where has the time gone?" and "Why is this taking so long?" I've never been sick for 5 months ever in my life. At least the wait will be shortened an hour this weekend.

Bo went back to school for the first time yesterday. "Go Bo...Superhero!"

Thursday, March 5, 2009


"Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment." - Grenville Kleiser

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"The Waiting....

...Is The Hardest Part." - Tom Petty

Was pondering the wait between now and "the results" appt. on March 20 (may be part of the reason I'm awake right now). The conclusion I came to is that it's OK to have some focus on that event, but if it becomes a major part of my daily focus, then I'm wasting my days on something useless. I will tell you a large part of the challenge of having cancer is the uncertainty. However, uncertainty also gives you permission to "live" every day.

“Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.” - G. M. Trevelyan

Image credit: Alfred E. Neuman by Norman Mingo

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What I Did On A Snow Day

Started shoveling snow out of the driveway and stuck with it. Several branches from a tall pine had fallen in the driveway and were blocking it. Figured it was a good time to work on the aerobic exercise I had been wanting to do and also put some of the muscle that had returned, to work. Since it was the last day of steroids for this chemo treatment, took advantage of that too! Took my time. Took breaks. Talked to neighbors. Finished the job. Took naps in the afternoon.

Will I pay the price for it later?. As I told my neighbor when he said he was worried about icy conditions, etc. on Tuesday morning, "I'll worry about that when I have to and if I have to."

Listening to some good music from the 1980's now (THERE WAS GOOD MUSIC THEN! Joe Jackson's, "Night and Day" album and Double's "Blue" album are good albums.)

“May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten”

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nature's Pruning

I had an in person visit yesterday with my high school friend (that I've mentioned in a previous posting), and her husband. They were in town and stopped by. It was Great Medicine to see them.

We talked about the early days of when we were diagnosed with our various cancers, our testing and treatment. I can say for me, the early days were the worst. Physically, I felt bad. Mentally, I didn't know what was coming. These days, I feel better physically, but the chemo drugs do have a mind of their own and with the last two treatments, I have felt a slight reduction in the "steroid spring in my step." It's not a dramatic reduction, it's a slight sluggishness that's reminds you there is poison in your body. Rest takes care of it.

I am full of admiration, compassion, good thoughts and prayers for Bo Baker and his family. As you know, they are writing their experiences in a journal and I am proud of them. These are tough days for them and through their journal, they are letting us know what their concerns are and how best we can care for them. I look forward to the day when cancer treatments also include an elimination or minimization of the initial mental pain and confusion.

As humans, we tend to focus on the "bright shiny objects" that attract our attention. They change from day to day. I ask that you make Bo and his family (and all the other people whose names we do not know) a constant "bright shiny object" in your hearts and minds.

“May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past” - Irish Blessing

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Steering The Ship

I've just started reading John Meacham's, "American Gospel:God, The Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation." I am only a few pages into the book, but my initial impression is that I am in for a good read. Another impression is how the Founding Fathers desired to make this a nation for all people to feel welcome and succeed.

That's is why I am annoyed at the current economic situation that exists in America and the rest of the world. I read an opinion column in today's Washington Post and it pretty much sums it all up. The link to the column is (you are going to need to copy and paste the link into your browser window as the hyperlink was not cooperating with me): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022703590.html

There are STILL people making money out of greed and nothing more.

The caregivers for Bo Baker, my theater friend Jay, for me and countless others are making money (and it is well deserved) because of our misfortune (but NOT because they created it), but tell me, which of the two experts (term loosely applied to the financial "experts")would you want to have steering your ship in tough times?