Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meeting Grace

I used to think when I said the words, "Let me know if there is anything I can do," I was giving a hollow response to an event. Not any more. The fact is, some people don't know what to do at times and it's OK to ask them directly for help. In addition, there are questions that are asked of me that initially seemed a little odd, but I have learned that there are questions that can help me process and address what is in front of me.

I have learned from a nurse friend how to ask for help from other nurses. I have learned that it is no one's fault if I need to change treatment recipes, drugs or require infusions of blood/platelets. I am learning to "wait well" and not count on the schedule that I have created for future treatments. I have learned that if someone wants to come visit and they postpone the visit because they aren't feeling well, or have the slightest sign of not feeling well, that it is because they are looking out for my health and well being.

With that said, there is nothing that cannot be said or asked. I will cringe a little bit if I hear "doctor talk." There are some things that I will leave in the hands of the doctors and nurses.

Grace has visited often since I was diagnosed. She doesn't come to visit every day, but comes back to visit when she is needed the most.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Counting Down

This Friday is the first shot to boost stem cell production. It comes with the potential side effects of bone pain in the bones where the bone marrow is most prominent, some slight fever, etc. All which can be treated by taking Tylenol. As mentioned before, I will have to get one shot daily (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday). I have the option of bringing the medication home and giving myself a shot on Saturday and Sunday. However, I have issues with watching needles be put into me. I don't mind the pain and I don't care if someone else is putting the needle in me, I can't do it to myself. The kind folks at MCV told me I could come down there and have them do it for me. Right now, I'm leaning that way.

In the race of anxiety vs. determination, anxiety sometimes takes a slight lead, but determination always battles back. Right now, they are running neck and neck.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Funny Sunday

In addition to the suggestions posted in the comments section here are some other ideas for stylish mask wearing that came via e-mail:

1.You could always get a black wig, a black hat and one white glove and
pretend you're paying tribute to the king of pop!
2.Or draw a shark's open mouth with teeth.
3.Or how about "Really Bad Garlic Breath...."
4.Better yet, you could sell it as advertising space! "PLACE YOUR AD
HERE -- CALL ...."
5.Jim Carrey redux
6.tic-tac-toe outline
7.This mask is classified
8.I'm not contagious but you may be
9.Speak no evil
10.My lips are sealed
11.Dental team at work
12.It'll be gone soon
13.The sixth element (earth, fire, air, ...)
14.Talk softly and ...
15.The puck stopped here
16.I'm listening
17:Hunter loves googly eyes....I think you should make them part of at least one of your designs!!!!
And this one is my idea: "Ask me about ramps."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What To Say Today

Other than the suggestions for stuff to put on the face mask cracked me up. Keep 'em coming!

Found this article in "Slate." I think it is a good article. It echoes what I've said about how cancer news is presented in the media.

Farrah's Fictions
What stories like Fawcett's can teach us about cancer.


Friday, June 26, 2009

How Creative Are You?

One of the things that will bug me after the hospital stay, and it truly is a small thing, is that I will have to wear a protective face mask anytime I step out of the house. I mentioned to one of the nurses that I may decorate it or write something on it. At this point, I have a couple of ideas, but I am up for any of your ideas. They must be socially acceptable and "Kiss Me, I Have Cancer" would be counterproductive to the whole purpose of the mask.

What'cha got?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Other Way But The Official Words

Up to now, I've been talking about my stem cell transplant. I've probably told you that the stem cells will be collected from me vs. from a donor (I could go back to some old blog postings and confirm, but I'm too lazy). They will be collected directly from me and that process is known as an autologous transplant - when a person receives their own stem cells. The others are known as allogenic - when a person receives stem cells from another person and syngeneic - when a person receives stem cells from an identical twin sibling.

My transplant is not a bone marrow transplant. They will not collect the stem cells from my bone marrow, but rather from my blood.

Like the other transplant options, an autologous transplant requires the discipline of diet restrictions, cleanliness and keeping a distance from others who may be ill or have been exposed to illness. However, the length of time to "reboot" after the autologous transplant is shortened (100 days vs. a year for an allogenic transplant).

I won't post any of the hospital visit rules quite yet. I will do that a few days before I am admitted, so it will be easily accessible. I will be able to set up a system of letting you know whether it is a good day to come visit in the hospital or not. There may be some days when I'm not quite the handsome and entertaining person you consider me to be.

This too, shall pass.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Carolina Boys

Hunter had some scans on Monday (the medical folks like to call that "restaging") to see how things are going. His scans came back clean, so he is progressing along with his treatments without having to change anything.

Bo is moving ahead with his treatments, enjoying summer day camp and enjoying just about everything.

One thing that is difficult for the parents of these little guys, and also for me, is that you know you have to be careful not to contract any germs, etc. and yet you do have the freedom to be out and about. However, if I am out and about and I hear a stranger cough anywhere near me, I get a little anxious about it. You may say, "The solution is to not be out and about." Since having a good attitude is such a significant part of the getting well process, you have to do some things to make your day enjoyable and not feel like the Boy In The Plastic Bubble.

Some folks have said. "Wow, I can't believe you are going to work everyday." Let me tell you, if it wasn't for that and having something else to focus on everyday, I would be admitted to a different kind of hospital.

On another note, I left my patient binder behind at the hospital the other day (Chemo Brain) and picked it up yesterday. Once I absorb some more of it in the next few days, for everyone who has asked how they can help, I will start posting information and approximate time frames. In addition, I will set up a calendar that will allow you to sign up for "help activities."

On Monday, as she was going over the list of things that I would need, The Pre-Transplant Coordinator could see the look in my face of "How am I going to repay all these people for their kindness?" She said, "It's OK Greg, you'll repay it all someday." I told her I probably wouldn't because I am a very shallow person. She laughed and said, "Oh yes you will." I think her response was somewhere between being affirmative and a command.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Words

Independence and Discipline. I will be challenged by both of them over the next few months. My independence will be challenged because, as the Pre Transplant Coordinator told me yesterday, "You will have to count on people to do things for you." I will pass those things onto you over the next week or so in the event you want to be one of those folks who get to help and also watch the fun of my independence being challenged.

The other word, discipline will require that I adhere faithfully to the regimen that will be given me. No cutting corners, no fooling around. I've been pretty good about that so far and found out yesterday that I've done better with some things that I really needed to. Another thing that will tax my discipline is the requirement to complain as needed. I don't mean that in a negative sense. However, the Pre Transplant Coordinator told me that I need to let them know that if anything feels different vs. trying to tough out symptoms. If I have a headache, I have to let them know. The reason is because symptoms that seem like they can be tolerated can turn into something larger that could be a bigger issue if I don't let the caregivers know something feels odd.

Hunter had a big day yesterday with some scans to monitor his progress and also some stronger chemo than he has received so far. I'll keep you posted. His parents have to drive a couple of hours every time he has to get treatment. That's hard.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here We Go

Greenlight to proceed with stem cell transplantation treatment. I am scheduled to begin getting shots to increase my stem cell counts on July 3 and will get them daily (yup, on July 4 also) until July 6. On July 6, they will do blood work to see where the levels are and if they can begin collecting stem cells. As far as the date that I will be admitted to the hospital, that is not set until the stem cell collection happens.

There is lots of more information and links to web sites that I will pass along in the next few days. Just wanted to get the breaking headline news out there for now.

If there are questions you have, send them my way and I will make sure I answer them in future blog postings.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Looking Forward To The Past

Letting you know that I will take the weekend and Monday AM off. I will post the results of Monday's appt. at MCV later on Monday afternoon.

Now that hockey season is over, I guess I'll start using football analogies. I said to my doctor yesterday, "I look at this as I am 30 yards out and driving and the last 30 yards will be the toughest, but there is a plan to score a touchdown." She agreed. There have been parts of "the drive" that I can look back on as significant to the success so far. Oh heck, every minute has been a rich experience due to the players on the field.

Yesterday was the last day at the clinic until I am released back to them from MCV. I will miss seeing them and all of the others in this process on the regular basis that I have seen them since last November. I look forward to the day that I get to go back and see them again.

I've said it countless times before and I will say it again. They are amazing people. There are people that you don't select to come into your life. However you are a better person because they have come into your life.

They are the angels I've seen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Do Believe I'm Feeling.....

Talked to a gentleman (and he truly was) last night from Williamsburg VA that had undergone the same stem cell transplantation process for which I was pretested. He also had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He could not say enough good things about the process and recovery. His main issue was feeling tired after the process. I know that the two of us are not cloned twins and that my reactions may be different from his, but he could not speak highly enough of the folks at MCV and the entire process. He told me that if I was classified as a candidate, that I shouldn't think twice about it and go forward with it.

Remember those "moments" that I've mentioned before that follow on the heels of a tough time? He was 29 of them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Don't Ask Me Why... Don't Know"

One of the questions that came up in the psychosocial interview the other day was, "Have you always been this optimistic?" I replied that I hadn't. However....I told her that the driving force in my life is my deep rooted belief that in this world there is good and bad. I believe that the force of good is bigger and more powerful than the force of bad and from that comes hope and optimism.

All of that said, I am mentally pretty much ready to go ahead with this treatment. Yesterday was one of those "validation days" where things were said and done to offer me support to go ahead with it. One of the people that works in the blood lab told me that her sister had this same treatment and would be happy to talk to me about her treatment. She had hers 8 years ago. That's good stuff. The Nurse Practitioner (who I deeply respect) offered her insight and then said some very encouraging things to me about how she thinks I will deal with it. A friend of mine suggested that I ask the MCV folks to put me in contact with some of the folks that have been through this. I e-mailed my MCV contact and requested that of her and she responded promptly that she would help me with that. Another friend e-mailed with some encouraging words and also approved the use of some swearing as therapy. Told her I'm close to maxing out my co-pay on that.

"Sign,Sign,everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?" - Five Man Electrical Band

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Close To Capacity

Did the pretesting for the stem cell transplant/chemotherapy stuff yesterday. First, the day was scheduled PERFECTLY by the transplant coordinator. Since I was going to be all over the hospital, I thought for sure there would be some long waits, delays, etc. Everybody was right on time. I got there at 8:15 and left around 4PM. I was exposed to some interesting medical technology such as a MUGA scan that only took 25 seconds vs. the one I had in November that took over an hour. The scanning device was entirely different. As with everyone else to date, the folks at MCV are good folks with the intent to help.

After spending the last 8.5 months getting treatment at a smaller hospital and clinic, the numbers of people waiting for care yesterday, was a bit overwhelming. It put a visual size to the enemy that is cancer

The remaining treatment is not going to be a walk in the part. In advance of the treatment, I will have to get injections of a drug with the intent of stimulating stem cell production. Some of the injections I will have to give myself at home. I'm not wild about that, but won't let it get in the way. Once the treatment gets started I could feel pretty crummy physically for almost two months. As one of the people told me yesterday, "We make you feel bad for a little while, so you can feel good for a long while." That's a good way of looking at it. I also look at it as "What's two months compared to other cancer patients who are dealing with feeling bad on a daily basis for a longer period of time?" It will involve some serious restrictions to avoid me contracting any viruses that could cause some set backs. I think that I have the most anxiety about any time during that period that I step out of the house, I will have to wear a mask over my mouth and nose. Ugh. Crowd contact will be minimal and working in the yard, etc. will not be allowed. Visitors to the house will have to be free of any illness, etc. My personal independence will be challenged.

"What's the alternative," you ask. Most likely it would be a chemotherapy regimen that would occur on a regular basis for a sustained period of time (i.e. years) with the intent of keeping the alien in check vs. wiping it out. Sounds simple, however, chemotherapy has cumulative effects on the body. Most noticeably, it messes with the blood and lowers counts, messes with the bone marrow, etc. Over a period of time, the body could say, "I've had enough" and lose some of it's efficiencies and capabilities.

As far as when it all begins, I will know that next Monday when I meet with the folks and review the results from all of today's tests.

That gives me a week to put some fuel back in the mental tank.

"Now the darkness
only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away

Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
Its not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away" - George Harrison

Friday, June 12, 2009

Had To...It's The NHL


Stuff For Today

Bo has a scheduled visit to the clinic today and he is not a big fan of having his port accessed (i.e. when they stick the needle in the port to administer his medication). I understand. I always turn my head when they do that to me. I still think of him every time I remove the bandage that they put on me after my port is accessed. Heck, I've even gotten to the point where it's not a mental thing anymore. The day after I have been "stuck," I remove the bandage and say, "Thanks Bo for teaching me how to be a big boy about this."

My friend Jay is having a bit of a tough time. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

I'm going to take Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. Nothing much to chat about until after the pretesting day on Monday. Will fill you in on those details on Tuesday morning. FYI: Next week's schedule is pretesting on Monday, a check in with the Nurse Practitioner on Tuesday and a visit with the doctor on Thursday. The following week is a follow up meeting with the folks at MCV on Monday and then pending appts. based on the pretesting results and how they schedule me for stem cell collection and being admitted. I won't know that until the week after next. Most likely, I would be admitted somewhere near the end of this month. When I know those details, I will pass them on.

I recently read an article about professionalism and friendliness as it applies to sales people. The article spoke about how clients appreciate those who are friendly vs. those who reek of professionalism and polish. It mentioned that the "professional" is perceived as slick and insincere. I believe the article spoke to the very heart of my affection for the doctor, nurses and staff that I have met at the clinic, the hospital and at MCV. Getting to know them and know that they have a genuine friendly concern for my well being makes this "fun" an enriching experience. It blows my mind when I walk into the clinic or hospital and we all share smiles and laughs. There ARE some GOOD people out there.

Get to know them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Still Learning

Yesterday, had to get platelets as I was 4 points below the minimum level. Not a big deal and I don't blame the Penguin jersey.

Interesting fact I learned yesterday from the infusion folks. You will read statistics about 5 year survival rates for cancer patients. I thought it was strictly because of the constant advancement of cancer treatments. It's also because the 5 year point of being cancer free is considered the complete remission point. With that knowledge, I'm letting you know that there will be another party 5 years after the big celebration party when this is all done. There will be a ceremony of burning all the paperwork that has been generated through all this. Kind of like a mortgage burning ceremony.

Mark your calendar.

"Though his mind is not for rent,
Dont put him down as arrogant.
His reserve, a quiet defense,
Riding out the days events." - "Tom Sawyer" by Rush

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maybe, Just Maybe

Yesterday, my friends at MCV verified that I will not have to have a bone marrow biopsy as part of the pretesting day of fun next week. Yee hah! The official day of Thanksgiving is in November I know, but p'scuse us cancer patients for having random Thanksgiving Days throughout the year.

Leaving in a little while to go get bloodwork to check on the platelets. Trying to figure out ways to sway the results. They scheduled me early (8:50AM) so that if I need platelets, I could be done by mid day and then go to work. If I wear clothes for work, that would be my way of telling the platelets to get their numbers up, I got stuff to do. I could also use reverse psychology and wear some comfortable clothing (like my Penguin jersey and a pair of jeans) and be mentally prepared to stay and have an excuse for a Thanksgiving celebration if I don't need platelets. Also, if I go casual it takes the stress off the Nurse Practitioner as she will see my attire and know I am mentally good with needing an infusion. OK, those of you who really know me get that it's really all about wanting to wear the Penguin jersey since they did force a game 7 last night. I'll take work clothing along so that I can change clothes and go to work at whatever time I get there.

I watched a feature on "The Today Show" yesterday about the financial impact of cancer. Their "teaser" caught my attention as they presented a family that had insurance but still had to declare bankruptcy. Even though Dr. Nancy Snyderman (whose credentials I seriously question) tied it up with some suggestions at the end, I don't think there were enough specifics about the families involved. Unless I am in for a big surprise, my insurance coverage has been more than adequate I will say that this whole thing has not been without the need to be careful with finances. However, as a good friend said, "I'd like to know what made the folks involved in The Today Show story feel like they were stuck on an island without support."

Personally, I can internalize things and sometimes hold things in. I have been blessed with some good friends that I have confided in during all of this and as a result, have been able to see the finish line without as much angst between me and it as one would think.

I can see the finish line and I know there is still some competition in front of me that I have to beat but I'm thinking I am still the crowd favorite in this race. I'm on a bit of a roll this week and if I don't need platelets today, I may be tempted to buy a lottery ticket. I'm just sayin.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Say She Won

Before the Nurse Practitioner walked into the exam room yesterday I heard her say, "He guessed 19 and I guessed 35, so he was the closest." She came in and said that the platelet count was 25, so I was the closest and I won. I told her she won because the platelet count wasn't low enough to require an infusion and that I was willing to concede that part to her. I go back in on Wednesday and expect that the counts will be in the teens. However, we'll see. If not, they'll think I'm really cool.

Overheard over the loudspeaker system at an airport, "Will the person who lost their hearing aid, please come to the ticket counter and claim their hearing aid?"

Here's a way to help cancer patients that you may not have thought of. Most first time chemo patients have a long day and are there most of the day. They are so focused on the chemo treatment that they don't realize that they may get hungry during the day. Ask your friend or family member if you can pack a lunch or snacks for them when they go for chemo treatment. A friend of mine stopped at a deli on her way in to see me during chemo the other week and we had quite the feast. It saved me from having to worry about making a lunch to take.

Got a voice mail from MCV yesterday about some questions they had in advance of my bone marrow biopsy next week. That was a bit of a surprise as I just had one the other week and was thinking I was done with them. I don't mind them...really...but they aren't my favorite test. I'm thinking if there is one next week, there should be some sort of award. Like a Bone Marrow Biopsy Hat Trick (sorry for the hockey reference again) Prize or something.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Feeling Groovy

Feeling fine. Went out yesterday and hit a bucket of balls at a driving range. Felt good. Would have gone out walking today, but overslept a little bit. No ill effects, no fatigue. Off to work and then to see the nurse practitioner for blood work. We'll see who guessed correctly as far as blood counts.

If there are any questions you have as far as this treatment thing or anything related to my "big fun," feel free to post them and I will get them answered.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Blood Edumacation

A friend asked the other day what caused my blood counts to be low after chemotherapy. Good question. I must be learning a lot because I gave him an answer without consulting my doctor that was pretty accurate. Below, is information taken directly from the website (www.vacancer.com) of the clinic where I am being treated.

"A reduced number of blood cells in circulation is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Blood is composed of three basic blood cell types: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and regularly released into circulation. Chemotherapy destroys rapidly dividing cells, a characteristic of cancer cells. However, bone marrow cells also divide rapidly and are frequently damaged by chemotherapy. Blood counts are monitored with a laboratory test called a Complete Blood Count (CBC). The best way to treat low blood counts is to prevent them before they occur. This can be accomplished with the administration of blood cell growth factors. In some circumstances, blood transfusions may also be necessary."

They do administer blood cell growth factors to me the day after chemo, but this chemo recipe is having more effect on my counts, particularly on my white cell counts and platelet counts. That is why I have had to get some transfusions.

My friend also asked if I had any physical signs of low cell counts. With low white and platelet counts, there are no signs. There would be some physical signs if my red counts were low. Ain't it something how the body works?

More info is available at:http://www.vacancer.com/Content.aspx?Section=cancertreatment&DocumentID=23114

If the link doesn't work (which for some reason, blogspot has been uncooperative in letting me create links), copy and paste the address into your explorer address window.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Good Info, Goofy Hat

Bought two multicolored baseball hats with a propeller on top of them to take to the clinic yesterday. There is a lady at central check in (for those of you who know the story, she's not THAT lady) who always asks where my hat is when I'm not wearing one. I stopped by to show her the propeller hat. She was amused. I bought the second one to give to a random person in the waiting room who looked like they were having a bad day. Before I got to the clinic, I was stopped in the hospital hallway by a lady who said she wanted to get a hat like that. Winner, winner, chicken dinner for her. She got the second one and I left my hat in the clinic for them to give to a patient having a bad day.

There was no need for a platelet infusion yesterday as I was 46 points above the minimum level of 20. I have an appt. scheduled for Monday and the Nurse Practitioner and I made predictions for where my counts would be on Monday. She guessed 35 (bless her heart, a level of 35 would not require a platelet infusion) and I guessed 19, which would require an infusion. I guessed low just so she'd know I would be mentally accepting of a platelet infusion and that I wouldn't be cranky about it. However, this lady knows her stuff and if she's correct, it's a loss I'll gladly take.

I recently read a book that was given to me titled, "The Cancer Conqueror" by Greg Anderson. It speaks of the mental aspect of being diagnosed and treated for cancer.I recommended it to the Nurse Practitioner. She purchased a copy of it and gave it to a patient that was having a tough time. I liked the book because it was not about a specific cancer case, but rather the big picture of having a good attitude and how to develop and sustain it. There are a lot of well intentioned, case specific books out there, but I can't recommend them because they are case specific. Each cancer diagnosis is unique to the individual and attaching your cancer to another person's specific case can create confusion. Same thing for surfing the internet for information.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I Like It

I like that my favorite NHL team is playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. Normally, that would be enough. This year, it holds some special meanings. 1) I'm using physical activity to deal with the excitement. I.E. Last night I came home from work and went for a walk. Somewhere in the middle of that walk, I actually jogged for half a block. Haven't done that in years. 2) The owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux, fought his own battle with a version of Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He played hockey on the NHL level after he dealt with it. 3) I'm glad Miroslav Satan (pronounced Sha-tan)is a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's good. However, it would crack me up if some day he played for the New Jersey Devils. 4) The irony of scheduling the final treatments for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the same time my favorite team is playing in the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Finals, is not lost on me.

To my friends who are Red Wing fans, I'm not talking any trash yet. I shouldn't. However, a warning to you if you do and your team loses the series. I've already done some serious smacking down of one opponent in the past 7 1/2 months........

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Up Next

June 5: Meet with Nurse Practitioner - regular blood work, possible whole blood or platelet infusion.
Week of June 8: Tentative appts. with Nurse Prac. - see above
June 15: Day of pretesting at MCV (seriously, a full day). Various exams including bloodwork, updated physical, EKG, MUGA scan, psychosocial exam.
June 18: Meet with doctor - regular blood work and review
June 22: Follow up with MCV folks to review pretest results and discuss upcoming schedule.
June 26(tentative): Collection of stem cells
June 27(tentative): Admission to MCV for start of 3 week stay

The reason the last two dates are tentative is that they are based on results of the pretesting and there could be some curve balls. Not that any are expected, but nothing is expected with cancer. That's the way it is. The best plan you can make is to not make plans. I've developed a system for when plans go as scheduled and for when plans don't go as scheduled. It simply involves being nice to yourself with something. Whether it's a food treat (lettuce sandwich) or buying a book or an album I've been wanting, you get the idea. One of these days, I may decide to treat myself with a trip to the Caribbean in spite of the doctor's restriction on travel (Lighten up Lucy, just seeing if you were paying attention).

See ya!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Good New Days

P'scuse me for repeating this concept, but learning comes from repetition and memorization. I ate a lettuce sandwich on Monday night that I made from lettuce that friends from church brought by. I told them that when I was a kid, a lettuce sandwich, with spreadable salad dressing on bread with nothing else, was a summer favorite. When I had the sandwich the other night, I hoped it would take me back to the good old days and some good memories from before all of this stuff started. Instead, it created a new good memory of good friends who raised the lettuce in their garden who knew how to administer their "good medicine."

You've heard me say it and I will continue to say it as much for my benefit as yours.."The best days are ahead of us." The good old days are there as a point of reference for how much better the rest of our days can be. My friend Bo doesn't say, "Yesterday was a great day!" He says, "Today, was the best day ever!" He does have some days that aren't that (like yesterday - he had a fever spike), but he knows that the next "Best Day Ever" is in front of him. Not behind him. In the play, "Shadowlands," by William Nicholson, the character of C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, "For believe me, this world that seems to so substantial is no more than the shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet."

Unless I am wrong, all significant religions focus on the future. My mainline Protestant faith focuses on the future without the need for the regret of the past. Focusing on the past and the guilt associated with it is not a faith process to which I can align myself. I focus on the promise of the good days ahead. Some days I lose the focus because there is tough stuff between now and then and I have to deal with it. We all can deal with tough stuff. We aren't perfect in how we deal with it. It's not required. In addition, there's always help in the form of others.

I'll give you details of what's on my schedule in tomorrow's post. For now, "L'Chaim", "Sallallahou Alayhi Wasallam," "Shalom," and "Go n-eírí an bóthar leat."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Details Are Filtering In

This week, I have an appt. with the Nurse Practitioner on Friday. Next week, nothing is scheduled, but I'm sure after this Friday, there will be appts. scheduled as next week is when my blood counts hit their low after chemo. Meaning, there will be some platelet and possibly whole blood infusions.

On June 15, I am scheduled to have my day of pretesting at MCV. It starts at 10AM and goes throughout the whole day. There will be various tests, including a psychosocial examination (have fun with that) to determine that I will be capable of receiving the treatment. Even though a day's worth of testing sounds a bit exhausting, I know I am going to learn stuff that day and that makes it interesting to me.

On June 18, I have a follow up appt. with my oncologist and then on June 22, I meet with the MCV folks to review the results of the June 15 testing. At what point after that I begin the stem cell extraction and then chemo, is to be determined based on results and their scheduling capacity.

Woke up this morning with a "yak attack." Was a bit surprising, but this chemo stuff is cumulative and has a mind of it's own. Nothing too serious and not an indicator that I'm getting sick. It's just the way it is and you deal with it. 4P pills are close at hand. For now, I'm going to go catch some nap time and hope to go into the office later on this AM.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seeing Past The Storm

When I lived in the Shenandoah Valley, on certain days you could look west and see snow on the ridges of the mountains while at the same time the sun was out and the sky was blue in the expanse of the valley. Sometimes, you could see storm clouds rolling over the mountains, and know what was coming or that the mountains were providing a windbreak of sorts. In the meantime, I would continue on to work, or if it was a weekend, continue with whatever tasks or errands were before me. I was not going to be concerned with the weather on the horizon until it reached me.

I would like to say that is how I have addressed this cancer thing. As a patient you wonder what is next as far as reactions to treatments. Especially when you know that some chemo treatments are cumulative and the reaction to the first treatment may not be the same as the reaction to the second. OR, you become amazed by the fact that your body can recover from the treatment and that you can put yourself in a mental place to deal with it.

So...the next few weeks, I will be in better mental shape to deal with whatever platelet infusions are required. I made a vow to my Nurse Practitioner to not be cranky about it. I will go to the day of pretesting at MCV knowing that it is one step closer to the end of all this. A comment I have been making to myself lately is, "You are closer to the end of all of this than you are to when it all started." The part of it that gets in your head is that the final portion of this is like being down a goal and facing the other team's power play in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final (had to get that hockey reference in there). At that point, why shrug the shoulders and quit? I've gotten this far, it would seem a waste to not finish the game.

Cinderella Story