Sunday, May 31, 2009

Some More Energy

One never knows how to deal with new stuff. I'm thinking I should have laid low the day after the most recent chemo, but since it was Friday, I went into work. In the past, the day after recipe #2 chemo was a Saturday and I could rest at will. It didn't kill me, but I do respect energy levels when the body says, "Used up." Yesterday was a quiet day, but I did manage to eat some chicken and even a good salad for dinner without the "yak reflex." Seemed like the Penguins were low on energy last night also.

Didn't go to church today as I haven't slept all that great the past two nights and am thinking snoring during silent moments of prayer isn't all that much of a form of worship.

Hunter in Manteo NC got to meet Darrius Rucker (formerly of "Hootie and The Blowfish") the other night at a concert. He and his parents were pretty excited about that. He and Bo had what seems to be a good week. Happy Anniversary to Bo's parents!

I may get out on the golf course later today. Right now, it's about the conditions of the course after the rain last night and this morning.

Nap as you need to!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Down A Little Bit

Went to work yesterday, with "4P" (Peep colored puke prevention pill)pills in hand. Did OK. Got home last night and from about 6PM on, had no desire for anything to eat. It lasted through the night. There were no "Yack Attacks," so the pills did their job. Up this AM and had a bagel. Kind of looking forward to be able to ingest some barbecued chicken and some strawberry items that are going to be on sale at my church today.

My analogy of the beehive was verified by a professional at MCV and I thank them for the verification. I'm glad I'm learning something.

Made the staff at the clinic laugh hysterically yesterday with this parody of a song I came up with on the way to work about one of the side effects of chemo. Enjoy. If you don't...sorry.

(To the tune of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”)

You got that constipation.
As a member of Chemo Nation.
It’s not a fun sensation,
But it’ll be gone, gone, gone.
And it will let go…

Friday, May 29, 2009

Home And Stuff

Finished at the hospital yesterday right at 5PM. Even though it is nice to have meals prepared and brought to you, it was even better to get out of there and come home and choose my own meal. Overall, another good experience with really nice caregivers.

Yesterday, a friend asked for some clarification on the remaining treatment. Let me try this analogy. When I was first diagnosed, there was a bee hive in me with a bunch of bees growing in me. The first recipe of chemo killed a bunch of those bees and got it down to some of the worker bees and the queen. The second recipe got it down to the queen and it is intended to wipe her out. The third recipe (which will be the MCV stay) will be with the intent to kill any eggs that are laying in there to keep them from hatching. In effect, wiping out the potential for any future activity in the nest, and then the nest rotting away.

Even though that part seems like it has the least amount of work to do, it will be the one that results in more side effects than I've had in the past. Oh well, they'll only last a week or so and then the stem cells will kick in and start doing their job. The whole process is very interesting to learn how it works.

How does that explanation work? Let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Still Lots To Learn

Yesterday and this morning going well. Much of the same routine as in the past. On day two of this, when I wake up there is the the nausea reflex that subsides by mid to late morning with the assistance of chemistry. Once that passes, it's easy to start focusing on the release time which should be about 4-5PM today.

The one thing that doesn't get old with this is meeting new folks in here. Each nurse and nurse tech has their own distinct personality and it's interesting to find out why they chose this profession. They are good people with good hearts.

Got some good information yesterday from the MCV folks. I have encountered a lot of information for what I call "non-licensed medical professionals" who mean well. However, they do give bad information in a well meaning way. My doctor said the best thing to do in those situations is to smile and say "thank you" and then call her for clarification. That works well for me. The information that I got the other day was that I would need to tear up and remove all of the carpeting in my house and throw away all of my rugs and replace them before I come home from MCV. In addition, I would need to have all of my ductwork cleaned in the house. The MCV folks said that all I needed to do is a good spring cleaning on the house and that I would need to steam clean the carpets and rugs, but no need to toss them out. In addition, unless there is a severe dust problem in my ductwork (which there isn't), there would be no need to do that.

Heard from Judith who follows this blog and she has some elective surgery coming up that won't be lots of fun. She's got her head around it even though she taunts about her UNC team whenever she can. That may be an incurable illness. Keep her in your thoughts.

Bo had a good day in school yesterday. He and Hunter have helped me a lot by being less goofy about removing bandages. They are good dudes! I will not apologize for the fun we are all going to have when the doctors give us the all clear to see each other.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More To Come Today-Here It Is (With Shout Outs!)

Running behind schedule this AM and need to get ready to go to the hospital for today's and tomorrow's treatment. Will post more stuff,including the story behind today's picture,once I get there and get settled

The picture above is a t-shirt that a client friend had made from a drawing her young son drew. What a great gift!

How about them Penguins!

The sad news about the alien is that the scan results show he is drawing his last breaths. The change in him from the previous PET scan is that there were two glowing areas and now there is only one that is minimal and they think this round of Camp Chemo will eliminate that. There is still mass in there, but it is calcified - meaning it is dead cell residue that will eventually pass from the body. I have been contacted by the MCV folks that they have started the scheduling process for my pretesting and I should be admitted there in about 4 weeks for the 3 week camp.

Shout outs (in no particular order of playing favorites): Two friends in Louisiana that I knew from mutual theatre experiences here in Richmond that faithfully follow the blog and sent a card yesterday with their son wearing the latest in hat fashion -a traffic cone

A friend in Chicago who also follows the blog even though she went on a "New Kids On The Block" cruise.

Multiple friends that follow Bo's journal and post supportive comments because they know his family must be great people because I say they are. Bo had a spell over the weekend of not feeling well, but he was back to feeling well last night. His final chemo date is scheduled for August 14.

Friends who came over to my house and let me make my most excellent "frozen concoction that helps you hang on" for them and confirm that it is one of the best they have ever had.

Co-workers and bosses who have been more than amazing in their support of me through all of this.

Friends and family that share and are genuinely amused by my dark humor moments.

Oh...I have been honored in the chemo room at the clinic. One of the drug companies brought a tsotchke to them that has a suction cup base and at the top of it has a cartoonish head on a spring with tufts of multi-colored hair on it. When you press down on the head, it lets out a wicked laugh and then says,"I'm having a great day!" One of the nurses wrote "Crazy Frazee" on the front of the face and the name "Gregory" on the back because she said it reminded her of me. Don't know how honored I am personally about that, but I'll take it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Good news today. Just finished meeting with the Nurse Practitioner to review the results of last weeks biopsy and scans. There is significant improvement from the previous scans and I have responded well to the Chemo Recipe #2 treatments. My platelet counts are as high as they have been in awhile, the red and white counts are trending to the anemic side, but the folks here at the clinic will be able to deal with that. I will be needing more platelet and potentially some whole blood transfusions in the near future, and I can deal with that. Knowing what is ahead of me vs. being surprised by it takes away a lot of the stress asssociated with the whole thing.

Today will be the last administration of chemo here at the clinic and then in about 3-4 weeks will be the admission to MCV for the stem cell transplantation therapy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Whoops, She Did It Again!

Made it through the bone marrow biopsy yesterday. Seriously folks, it's not all that bad. I arrived at the clinic at 10:15 and was walking out of there at 11:00. Maybe 10 minutes of that was the actual procedure. There are needle stings and a dull bone pain throughout the procedure, but the length of those pains is no more than 2 seconds tops. After that, you can tell that something has happened back there, but it feels no worse than a light bruise.

As I said before, the Nurse Practitioner doesn't enjoy doing them because of the pain that the patient feels. However, based on my experience, the anxiety before the process is the worst part. I took my IPod and listened to some Gipsy Kings in one ear and listened to the Nurse Practitioner and the Nurse Tech with the other ear. We had a conversation the whole way through the process. I'm proud that most of it was humorous and I wondered if the folks outside of the room were saying, "Isn't there a bone marrow biopsy going on in there? Why all the laughing?" I also took the bear that the Nurse Practitioner gave me along to the procedure to make her relax and smile. She appreciated that and I'm thinking there may be a bone marrow biopsy stuffed animal in her future.

Bo is doing well and is off of the weekly chemo schedule and now on a schedule where he only has to have chemo every three weeks. I know that makes him happy!

Hunter participated in a Relay for Life event last week and was quite the rock star. I saw some pictures of him and his mohawk hair cut. I may look for a wig like that!

Not sure of the details, but Judith, who is a regular reader of this blog and posts some very encouraging comments, is undergoing some difficult procedures.

My friend Pat has a friend named Jim dealing with colon cancer. I've started to correspond with him and will keep you posted.

I'm thinking of taking a Memorial Day weekend vacation from the blog. I have some tests tomorrow and Friday (CT Scan and PET scan), but the results of those won't be back until Tuesday morning. If I get results from the Bone Marrow Biopsy before that, I will post them here. Otherwise, I won't be doing any blog posts until next Tuesday around 11AM or so when I know the results of the scans.

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Knowing More Today Than Yesterday

Yesterday's platelet count was 67 (from 23 on Friday). That's a pretty decent spike upwards. I told the doctor that the platelet infusions bother me because I feel like I'm not responding well to the treatments. She confirmed that this recipe of chemo does affect the bone marrow and platelets more than the previous chemo recipe and that platelet infusions are normal with this recipe. Who thought "normal" could sound so good?

Today is the bone marrow biopsy. The purpose of it is to determine if there is any residual cancer in the bone marrow. Thursday and Friday will be the CT scans and PET scans. The CT scan is the one that requires the drinking of two "banana smoothies" and the PET scan is the one that requires the injection of a radioactive isotope. Both of them look for residual cancer in the body.

Yesterday when I spoke to the doctor, I asked her since the scans were scheduled so late in the week and since I was scheduled for chemo treatment on Tuesday, how would they know if the previous new recipe chemo treatments had done the job and if the next chemo treatment would be worth the time if the the previous ones hadn't succeeded. She said the bone marrow biopsy results should be back by the end of the week and the scan results would be ready by Tuesday before the chemo. She was scheduling an appt. with the Nurse Practitioner to review those with me before chemo. In the event the scans indicated that we needed to go to another treatment plan, we would know that before they administered chemo.

Her opinion, based on the results of the last set of scans showing there was minimal residual cancer as a result of my response to the initial chemo treatments, is that things will be on track to continue with the current treatments. She said, "I'm optimistic that things are heading in the way we want them to." I told her if she was optimistic, then so am I. I also told her that in no way would I expect her to guarantee anything. That's the way cancer works.

For more clarification, the whole point of this current treatment "recipe" is to put the cancer in remission before I go to MCV for the final portion of the treatment. At MCV, the treatment is to wipe it out (i.e. remove it entirely from my body...cure it). One of the anxieties I was having last week was not knowing when I would be going to MCV. In my mind, I had it scheduled in late June, but wasn't sure. The doctor confirmed that was a good tentative date to look at. Whew!

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail calling me "Mr. Crankypants." She was right. I had been cranky the past week. She calls it "PCC" (Pre chemo crankiness). I have other names for it, but the FCC and common decency won't let me type them in here.

Off to my trip down memory lane with the Nurse Practitioner. If you recall, the first time she and I met, she took a piece out of me. She said the other week that she didn't like to do bone marrow biopsies on anyone other than strangers. After my crankiness in front of her last Friday over having to get platelets, she may be looking forward to to doing the biopsy.

"I sat alone in the dark one night, tuning in by remote
I found a preacher who spoke of the light but there was brimstone in his throat
He'd show me the way according to him in return for my personal check
I flipped my channel back to CNN and I lit another cigarette

I take my chances, forgiveness doesn't come with a debt
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I've crossed lines of words and wire and both have cut me deep
I've been frozen out and I've been on fire and the tears are mine to weep
Now I can cry until I laugh and laugh until I cry
So cut the deck right in half, I'll play from either side

I take my chances, I pay my dollar and I place my bet
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get
I take my chances, I don't cling to remorse or regret
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get
I take my chances

I take my chances" - Mary Chapin Carpenter

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Cancer GPS Help

Got these e-mails from two friends who are cancer survivors. They are in response to my crankiness from last week. They helped me and I thought you would like to read them.

From the first friend:
"I hear ya. After all, how many curveballs can a person catch? I know you are the model patient, but that gets old. How about just a “normal” day without something unexpected (like platelets!)?

I remember one day going to what I thought was going to be a quick x-ray. My master plan was that I would wear my bathing suit under my clothes for this “quick” xray, and then take the kids to the pool. Well, when I got there, it was a 2 ½ hour procedure complete with an IV (which I almost passed out during). The kids waited in the lobby for the duration, while I worried about how in the world they were entertaining themselves. I learned 2 things: always get a babysitter, and never wear my bathing suit to a doctor’s office!"

And from the second friend:
"The physician assistant at my oncologist’s office was extremely helpful in getting through the treatment phase. He suggested that I keep a good ATTITUDE, keep up my APPETITE and remain ACTIVE. He assured me that he would deal with everything else. He also suggested that I do NOT do internet research. My most depressing days were when I attempted self-diagnosis with information from the internet."

I got a good feeling about bloodwork numbers today.........

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Took yesterday's crankiness out on some weeds in my flower garden and some dirty gutters on the house.

Tomorrow, a visit with the oncologist to discuss what she wants to discuss and to run the current list of anxieties by her. She's great with that stuff.

"Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye

Boy, you're going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you're going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time" - The Beatles

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just A Little Cranky....

I hope I never promised you that this blog would always be "flowers and chocolates." Some days, it's not going to be. One thing it will always be is honest. If I don't tell the truth in it, then it's not credible. When I started it, I did it for the purpose of telling you what was going on with me. It still exists for that purpose. However, as I continue with it, I hope that it helps you know how to respond to not only me, but to others fighting any significant medical issue.

A friend called me yesterday and said, "By your blog this week, I can tell you have been processing stuff." She was correct. I guess the whole schedule breaks down as 1) chemo week, 2) beat the side effects, 3) bloodwork to monitor platelets - get infused 4) start wondering if your platelet counts will delay further chemo 5) more bloodwork to monitor platelets - get another infusion 6) wonder what really is next - especially when the following week is a bone marrow biopsy, CT scan and PET scan.

Then you take a glance at the news and you hear "Wayman Tisdale has died from his two year bout with cancer." "Farrah Fawcett is dying from cancer." That's like saying someone died from something they ate. Did they eat cauliflower (I would die from that) or did they eat 5 pounds of leaves from a poisonous sumac tree? When a cancer patient hears that someone died of cancer, you ears perk up. Give me all the details when your report them, or don't bother to report them at all. I watched most of the Farrah Fawcett thing last night and fell asleep 45 minutes into it. I respect her courage, but all I heard last night was that she had liver cancer. Wasn't sure how that happened and was concerned because my NHL had metastasized into my liver and it was stage 4. My last scans showed the liver and spleen were clear, but still, you hear someone had liver cancer and your mind goes into warp speed. Wayman Tisdale died from bone cancer in his leg. The electronic news just couldn't seem to report that. I had to dig for that information.

One thing good from Farrah's special last night was it stated that "mental down time" was normal throughout the process. A person can have a bright outlook and the mindset of fighting their cancer, but they still have times when it gets weary and they can be a bit cranky. A friend of mine tells me she watches me go through that process and said I haven't failed to come out of it a bit wiser and a bit more resolved. She is one of two people I asked early in the process to be in a "sacred circle." I.E. they have the right to tell me, "You're right or you're wrong about that." Frankly, with this mental cycle, until the testing from next week is over and I hear the results, I don't know how chipper I will be. I'll deal with it and probably offer up a couple of "It's your problem" thoughts. Also included in next week is the next round of Pittsburgh Penguin playoff games (I only taunted one Washington Capitals fan and he admits he deserved it), getting to see some friends in a show they are currently performing, and a visit from some Carolina friends.

Enough of that.

Bo is at the beach this weekend with his parents celebrating scan reports from Thursday. His scans came back showing there is no new cancer growth. He will have to finish his treatment regimen, but there are no signs of new stuff to deal with.

Hunter spent a full day at school the other day, but is at a point where he may need to get some transfusions because of his blood counts. He gets to skip chemo treatments as a result, but still has to get accessed via a needle. His mother said he hasn't grasped that quite yet. It's tough for a little kid to get their head around that stuff. The responsibility of explaining that to a child falls to the parent. That's a tough job.

"You've been thinking that your fun is all through now.
(you shouldn't have lied now, you shouldn't have lied)
But you can come along with me,
cause we gotta a lot of things to do now.
(you shouldn't have lied now you shouldn't have lied)
And we'll have fun fun fun now that daddy took the T-bird away." - The Beach Boys

Friday, May 15, 2009

Miracles In The "Ordinary"

Those who know me well will agree that the "worse" thing this whole bucket of fun has done is that it has given me time to think about stuff. That, I can do!

Sometimes it's easy to think "Wouldn't it be great if the next time I had a scan, the doctor would look at it and say, 'It's a miracle! You are cancer free. No further treatments are necessary.'" That would be a miracle and would be welcomed. However, I think the true miracles are happening in what has occurred so far. As I told a friend last night, we overlook the miracles of body regeneration research, chemotherapy advancement, tumors that were once inoperable being classified as treatable, long term survival rates, and medical professionals who are in it to fight the disease.

We overlook encouraging words from friends like,"I'm impressed that it's taken you this long to actually question this whole thing and feel like throwing in the towel. I'll bet most people deal with that much earlier on. I feel certain that your Dr. will prescribe a "happy place" pill for those times, but if I know you (and I think I do) you'd opt not to take one. You always seem to find your "happy place" on your own. Always admire you for that."

We overlook the miracles of receiving regular cards and words of support from people we know and also from complete strangers who have heard about us.

We overlook the miracle that I haven't had to shave my face in almost two weeks, due to my body's reaction to the chemotherapy drugs.

One Sunday in church in the middle of a hymn that was being sung, I was having a pity party and at one point I stopped, and via the "thought process," I said, "It's your problem now." It felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders.

It was a miracle.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crazy Numbers

Platelet counts from yesterday.......18. No one's guess even came close. Everyone that guessed, guessed way high in order to send good mojo my way. I appreciated that.

I did require a platelet infusion and it was a pretty good experience. The hospital has added a new cancer wing and the infusion center is located in the new wing. Last time, there was no room available in the infusion center and I had to be admitted to a room in the hospital. This time, the infusion center was able to take me in. The room I was in had a recliner chair and also a flat screen TV. There is also WiFi access in the room, so I spent time working on my laptop.

The whole process involves more waiting than anything. Once they take you in, they draw blood to get the matching info for them to contact the blood bank and let them know what platelet blood type they need to send. It takes a few hours from the time they draw the blood until the platelets arrive. Once the platelets arrive, it takes about an hour or so to get them in and clean out the port. I went in around noon and left around 5PM. By the way, I have yet to meet a nurse that doesn't like the fact that I have a port. It's much better for them than having to administer medications, platelets, etc. via a normal IV. For me, it's a lot less painful.

As a patient, I have found that the doctors and nurses appreciate patients with a sense of humor. I got that going for me. Most of them laugh with me. Honest. It makes the whole thing go better.

Finally, I want to share a conversation I had with the nurse that did my infusion. I was telling her that there are days when I get bored of the whole thing and just want to cut off the treatments and take my chances with what happens. However, I know that what's left with treatments is good stuff. She looked at me and said, "I understand, but I can tell you are a person that has a lot of fight left in you and you are going to go through with it." I guess I got that going for me too!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"When I'm Tired And Thinking Cold ....

.....I hide in my music , forget the day." - Boston

Let's play "Guess The Platelet Number!" Post your guess on the comments section or send me an e-mail with your guess of the what today's platelet number will be when I go for the "Platelet Poke" today. Whoever is the closest (over or under) will get a shout out on tomorrow's blog.

"There's a place in the world
For a gambler
There's a burden that only
He can bear
There's a place in the world
For a gambler,

And he sees
Oh, yes he sees...
And he sees
Oh, yes he sees...

There's a light in the depths
Of your darkness
There's a calm at the eye
Of every storm.
There's a light in the depths
Of your darkness.

Let it shine
Oh, let it shine
Let it shine
Oh, let it shine
Let it shine
Oh, let it shine." - Dan Fogelberg

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We Know The Drugs Are Working..

My platelets did do a dive since Thursday. They were at 156 on Thursday and yesterday they were at 50. That number did not require a platelet infusion. However, I am scheduled to get the "platelet poke" again on Wednesday. I think I figured out the trick of avoiding a platelet infusion. I've been taking my laptop with me in anticipation of being held up from going back to work because of waiting for platelets. Since the hospital has WiFi connection, I can sit there and get work done with my laptop. Right now I'm 2-0 with that. I will be taking my laptop with me tomorrow.

Funny story from yesterday's appt. is that I mentioned to the Nurse Practitioner that she and I will be doing a bone marrow biopsy again next week. She furrowed her brow and frowned a little bit. I asked her what was up. She said, "I don't enjoy doing them on people I know. I much prefer to do them on strangers because of the pain involved." I told her it wasn't that bad the first time and that no one has apologized more to me for pain than she did when she did the first one. I told her I would take my Ipod and listen to it while she worked and that we would be fine. I guess this time, it's my turn to be as nice to her as she was to me. She's a good egg that I would recommend to anyone.

Some good folks from church brought back some ramps from North Carolina and I picked them up last night. They smell mighty good, but I won't be eating them raw anytime soon. I'll cook them and use them in food. Fine stuff, them ramps.

Last night I had a little bit of the "I'm tired of this and don't want to do it anymore....I'll ask the doctor what the consequences would be if we stopped now" thing going on. I know the answer, but like anything that requires some bit of faith, it's healthy to question it every now and then so that the truth gets confirmed and strengthened. I'm a guy that believes truth comes from reason vs. affirming or authoritative statements. The owner of the company where I work told me the other week, "The last mile of a marathon is the hardest. Hang with it. You are going to win!" I liked that. I told him that it helped knowing there was a large crowd cheering me between the start and finish line.

Thanks for being in the crowd.

Monday, May 11, 2009

There Will Be Bloodwork

Today. Ate protein and exercised to stimulate platelet production in preparation for today's appt. Those stretch band exercise things are pretty cool. I purchased a set back in December and they are very convenient and don't take up a lot of space. I take them with me when I go to the hospital because I don't like walking the hall with my chemo machine.

A friend asked me over the weekend how I was doing with what's ahead of me. I'm there mentally because it's still a few weeks away. I'm sure anxiety will kick in as it gets closer. Relief will kick in as I get closer to the end of it.

Note to those of you hoping to come to the hospital and laugh at my hospital party gown apparel. Joke's on you as I will be allowed to bring my own clothes (i.e. sweatpants, t-shirts, pajama bottoms and tops). I'll be physically weak, so you'll be able to have fun with that, I guess.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Making Friends With My Port

For the first time, I actually looked at it and studied it in the mirror yesterday. That was a big deal for me.
I can see why nurses prefer it over a regular IV. It really is not all that larger than a quarter, although it is thicker than a quarter. It has three little bumps, i.e. targets on it that show the perimeter of the area where the access needle is to be inserted.
I can count back the times a needle was stuck in my port and can tell you I would rather have it accessed than an IV any time. Not crazy about IV's.
However, I'm still not crazy about looking at the "port bump." It's just a thing.
Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chemo Clarity

I've had several questions about, "What exactly is ahead of you?" Here is the breakdown:
May 11: Bloodwork to check counts at the beginning of the nadir after my last chemo treatment. Could be a potential platelet infusion. Body is ready for it. Mind says, "Not gonna be necessary."
May 18: Doctor visit
May 19: Bone Marrow Biopsy
May 21: CT Scan
May 22: PET Scan
May 26: Chemo - Day Camp
May 27,28: Chemo(cont.) - Overnight Camp
Approx. 3 weeks or so later - Pretesting at MCV followed by admission to MCV around 1 week after that.
Once I know the MCV details (exact dates, exact tests, blah, blah, blah), I will pass them on.

Bo had to skip chemo for the 2nd week in a row due to having a droopy right eye lid. He's being affected by the cumulative effects of chemo. It amazes me how long chemo drugs stay and do work in your body. He was excited that he got to skip chemo, but Rob and Amy, his parents, are concerned about it adding to the process and the possibility of further complications. Just when you think cancer has given you it's best punch, it does come back with others. I can deal with cancer picking a fight with me. When it picks on a kid....Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Here's a funny Bo story. He and his mother were singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to each other this weekend. At the part where the words are "A-wee-mo-way," Bo started singing "A wiener dog." I hadn't heard that one before. Amy said it took hours to calm down from the hysterics of that one.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Don't Get Crazy

Results of blood work yesterday was that my platelet count was 156. Normal is 140-415. Anything above 140 for someone receiving chemotherapy is good stuff. Minimum level to get chemo is anything above 100. After I flexed my muscles for her, I told the doctor I would go out and donate platelets. She swatted at me with the papers in her hand. She's figuring me out. It's probably best that our interaction will be minimized for awhile during the MCV thing. She'd probably hit me for real. Here's the bait and switch....The low point (they use the term "nadir") for blood counts occurs 10-14 days after chemotherapy. What that means is there will be blood work on Monday (day 10) to see if my platelets are really the little studs they are pretending to be. I was physically prepared to have a platelet injection yesterday, but mentally I decided it wasn't going to be necessary. I'll be loading up on the proteins and exercising this weekend..all to stimulate platelet production.

The true irony of yesterday is I received my annual gift from Virginia Blood Services for being a "Friend for Life." It recognizes that I donated platelets at least 4 times last year. It's a nice gift. It's a collapsible cooler with a retractable bottle opener on it. Might have to be my personal cooler for the big backyard party this fall.

Here's some Greg crowing. If at some point you are listening to the radio (typically a news or sports station), and hear a commercial for an alcoholism recovery product, the person telling the story about his alcoholism in the first part of the commercial is yours truly. I'm only acting in the commercial, so don't get all, "He never told me about that", when you hear it. I recorded the commercial for a client about a year and a half ago and the commercial started playing on XM stations and now is playing on regular radio. It's kind of fun when someone calls and says they heard it.

"I rolled on as the sky grew dark.
I put the pedal down to make some time.
There's something good waitin down this road.
I'm pickin up whatever is mine.

Yeah runnin down a dream.
That never would come to me.
Workin on a mystery, goin wherever it leads
I'm runnin down a dream" - Tom Petty

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh, Why Not?

On a rainy day in Richmond (where it's been raining for several days and I love every minute of it because emerging plants are getting plenty of water for the growing season), and I have blood work today and the possibility of platelet infusion.... I'm ready for them this time. Going to take my laptop and cell phone and get some work done while I wait. I'm getting smarter through this. Also, I took another Bo and Hunter big boy step last night and finished shaving the rogue "oh my gosh what happened to his head", hairs off my head. It was kind of liberating and not the crisis I thought it would be.

"It's astounding, time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely, not for very much longer
I've got to keep control

I remember doing the Time Warp
Drinking those moments when
The blackness would hit me and the void would be calling
Let's do the Time Warp again...
Let's do the Time Warp again!" - Rocky Horror Picture Show

That song gets me fired up every time. Another one is my favorite rock and roll instrumental of all time: "Fire On High" by Electric Light Orchestra. If you think all back masking is evil, this is one song that doesn't have evil back masking. The hidden message on that song says, "Music is reversible. Time isn't. Turn back."

And to the anonymous commenter yesterday who said "If you combine Pink Floyd, The Wizard of Oz, AND your hallucinatory drugs...?", I think I know who you are and you made me laugh out loud.

And if you are in need of creating a "Best Day Ever" for yourself, take "just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. With your hands on your hips,You bring your knees in tight"

Rock On!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hurry Home

Yesterday twas a day of mental accomplishments. Here's where I was mentally over the weekend. I had conversations with myself saying that this thing taking almost a year to get the "all clear", stinks to high heavens. I heard voices in my head with counter arguments and although they were right, I still had to argue with them. I did come to reality however, and as echoed by real people, this whole thing is a one year investment in an entire lifetime of many years to follow. I read a blog yesterday by a 60 year old guy who had NHL (I do read other blogs and internet postings with some skepticism unless I am forwarded them as a resource by a caregiver) and did the stem cell transplantation. He stated that after his transplantation was complete, his immune system was that of a 23 year old. Guess it's like having an engine overhaul in some way. I'll get more details on that for you. If it's true, "I got that going for me."

Then..I got a call from someone at church last evening who I have never met. She told me she had read my blog. Then she started talking to me about ramps. She and her husband are going to North Carolina this weekend to dig ramps and wanted to know if I would like some. All I can say is that it's probably best my bone marrow biopsy isn't next week. It'll be good just to smell 'em!

Then...I was thinking about how Bo and Hunter focus on the good times. I came across this song last night:
"The breakthrough was needed, by the sign of the day.
Singing out our revolution, children show the way.
They made out a charter, sealed with a song.
It took me across the river, to where I belong.
Hurry home to your heart. Hurry home to the voice.
There are times for inner changes, be ready for the voice.
Hurry home said my love. Hurry home to the stars.
Start a new generation, with a freedom that's ours."
"Hurry Home (Song from the Pleiades)" - Jon Anderson(formerly of Yes)

Then...., Friday I got a packet of info from my health insurance company requesting information and providing information. I couldn't process it. Too much info. Yesterday, it all made sense and was more explanatory than it seemed. They spelled out and defined the stem cell transplantation process. I'm no authority (nor will I be), but I do find the whole thing interesting. My hope and prayer is that I will be able to use my knowledge of all this to help other cancer patients get through what they are facing in the future. My strongest hope and prayer is that there will be no need for me to volunteer time for cancer patients in the future. I do hope you take that the way I meant it.

That's why I am comfortable with my doctor and nurses. They are taking care of the physical and medical part of all this. They also are very aware and encouraging of the mental part of this. Whatever your source of nature's creation is, there is no denying the goodness and power of the human mind. It sees, it heals, it questions, it hopes, it looks, it finds. Then..... it starts all over again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Apologies

For my appreciation and affection of classic rock. Even though I've heard Pink Floyd's, "Dark Side of the Moon" album many times (never have played it while watching "The Wizard of Oz" because I resist urban legends), there is always something new to hear. The following lyrics from the song "Time" on that album speak to the Bo Baker "Best Day Ever" brand of thinking.

"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun" - Pink Floyd

I think Bo will look back 10 years from now and say, "Holy Cow, I packed a lot of fun in those 10 years!" Then, he will pack even more fun in the next 10 years, then 10 years after that, etc., etc., and so forth.

Hunter's mother told me they were going to picnic on the beach the other night. It takes them 8 minutes to walk to the beach from their house. I'm not jealous or anything, but I am channeling something that feels like jealousy. They got rained out, so they did a picnic and tunes on their front porch.

A friend of mine recently traveled to England and brought me back this postcard. Look closely. When people I know travel to places I have never been, I like to get rocks from where they have been. It's cool and they are cheap. I have rocks from all over the world. This rock souvenir cracked me up. She also bought me a rock from Dover, England. Very white and chalky. Come by sometime and I'll show them to you.

Best Days Ever! - Bo Baker

Monday, May 4, 2009

Less Vivid Dreams

Must have been because I napped quite a lot yesterday, but last night's dreams weren't anywhere near wacky as the night before. I even took two "4P's" yesterday. Was good to rest yesterday even though I would have spurts of productivity (some vacuuming, putting things away, etc.).

Today is Neulasta shot day (oh gee, I have to see my chemo nurse friends today....they told me the other day I was like family...) and Thursday is blood work. We'll see how the blood and platelets respond this time. The doctor did say a platelet treatment would be likely again this time. Just a matter of when. Oh well, they worked last time. I have another appt. scheduled with the doctor on May 18 and then they are also giving me my appt. schedule today for the scans, another bone marrow biopsy, etc.

A friend asked if the need for the third "camp chemo" session meant they had found something that required it (vs. only needing two as I previously mentioned). Good question! The good news is, no they did not find that anything had flared up. The bad news is, it only adds to the wait time, but in a way, it's more reassuring to see the target dates get more defined than it is to wonder if the dates are going to change. Any thing's a possibility with this stuff, but it's good to have slivers of something to hold onto sometimes. I told the doctor the other day that even though I had some anxiety about the possible side effects during "3 week camp," I would determine who would be in charge of them. She agreed.

"Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide-
No escape from reality-
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see-
I'm just a poor boy,I need no sympathy-
Because I'm easy come,easy go,
A little high,little low,
Anyway the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me,
To me." - QUEEN

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Laying Low

Spent some time around 4:30AM hoping mind and the "4P" pill would win out over matter. Took a couple of punches, but nothing awful. It was just the chemo telling the body it was in there doing it's job. I took a "4P" pill yesterday and as I mentioned in an earlier post, it can cause hallucinations. I experienced nothing during the waking hours, but I had some crazy dreams last night. All were bordering on science fiction stuff. No idea what would have caused those dreams. Better dreaming through chemistry, I guess.

Was worth it because I got the yard mowed, trimmed some hedges, and set out the banana trees yesterday. Today, I relax.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Recap And Other Info

Got home from overnight "chemo camp" last night around 7PM. There was a problem with one of the UV pumps on Thursday night (Upper Line Occlusion) that went on for several hours. Slept well last night, I did. Otherwise, all went well. For now, the doctor asked me to be cautious and avoid large social gatherings (church, theater, concerts, NASCAR race)for a week or so, since the blood counts will be compromised. She's going to look at them next Thursday. I'm allowed to go to the store, mow the lawn and other stuff, so I'll keep busy. Tight schedule today. Stuff to get done today before a hockey game (Go Pens!) and the Most Exciting 2 Minutes In Sports!

I did find out yesterday that I will have to do another "day camp" and overnight "camp chemo" on May 26,27,28 before the 3 week session at MCV starts. That will push the 3 week session into late June, early July I would imagine.

My friend who gave me the "It Is What It Is" sign called me yesterday. A good friend of hers with whom she works was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. My friend told me she didn't know what to do. I told her to be herself, it worked in the way she has interacted with me. She'll do fine, not sure about her friend's diagnosis yet, but if you could add them to your "heart list," that would be great.

My friend, Jay's father passed away last week Jay made the trip to Western PA to attend the funeral. He was fatigued when he got back, but was glad to make the trip. Next week, he finds out what his next treatment is to be.

Bo didn't have the most fun at chemo yesterday. He said "It wasn't his best day ever." I know the little superhero will bounce back.

Hunter's sister gave him a mohawk hair cut and then painted red lightning bolts on both side of his head. Sounds like there is amusement in Manteo NC over it.

Good day today and good days coming.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Made A Deal With My Hibiscus Plant

I have a hibiscus plant that I started a few years ago from seed. My mother gave me the seeds from her plant. She got the seeds from her grandmother's plant. There must be at least 75-80 years of history behind my plant. I call it my "Heritage Hibiscus." It's pretty cool to see it bloom every year with it's large pink flowers and feel the connection back to my great-grandmother who I recall only seeing once in my life.

I was concerned that my plant was not going to come up this year. For some reason, I was thinking that it would come up much sooner than now. I made a deal with it a couple weeks ago. The deal was between it and I. I will not divulge the details of the deal.

It held up it's end of the deal as last night I saw several shoots of it had emerged through the soil. I don't ever recall the shoots looking as strong as those I saw last night. It does spread out as there are more shoots this year than there are of remaining shoots from last years plant. It is my favorite plant in my yard.

It's a pretty simple statement, but I think plants are there to remind us of regeneration. I've also made a deal with my banana trees that I will be setting out this weekend. I brought them in for the winter the day before I was admitted to the hospital last fall.

Should be a good summer with great days.