It is 5:30 am on June 12th. Not very early for a lot of you, but early for an out of work self-employed bachelor. Today is a pivotal day. At noon I will find out the results of all my latest tests. From there I am to see my oncologist who will tell me the course of action for my chemotherapy. Friday the 13th at high noon my chemo will begin for Stage IIA Hodgkin's lymphoma. No, I did not plan this dramatic start. But I do think it will keep in the spirit of this odyssey as a positive and life improving journey.
Yesterday as I was driving home from one of my more horrifying tests (a written driver's test at the D.M.V.) when this idea came to me for a website.
What do I hope to accomplish with this website?
I am glad you asked.
First and foremost is to acknowledge the tremendous support I have been given. There are numerous pant legs being worn thin from all the bended knees of prayer being offered for me. I think of this website as kind like an electronic Christian Children's Fund child status report. You get to see where all your good intentions are going to.
Second, since there have been many of you who have offered their help in this fight, I thought this would be an easy and simple command post vehicle in which to coordinate the effort. I am truly hoping not to have to count on all of you for rides to the numerous medical appointments. I would rather call and cancel; thus, giving someone back four hours of their life than to be scrambling to make calls disrupting your life with last minute rescheduling. I also hope in some off shoot of this experience, you will be exposed to some truly amazing people that I have the privilege to know. I have always said, "Say what you want about me, but I have awesome friends."
Many of you have been calling to see how I am doing. I am most grateful for that. I will be as diligent as I can in returning all calls and e-mails informing you of my progress. As many of you also might know, I start work on a network one-hour drama in a little over a month. This is a tremendous undertaking at the peak of health, and I will be starting the show at about the middle of my treatment. I am hoping this website will not only keep you updated with my progress but also provide you with an easy to use link or two to information on what my condition might mean.
Last, in doing my research I found numerous websites. Some of those sites have been like screams in the wilderness. Since the very first day I was diagnosed, I have asked the doctor, "What do we do, and what can I do RIGHT now." In every challenge I have come out swinging. Soon as I heard what I have, I never thought of losing. I told several people that, "Cancer is my bitch."
I know this might be denial. You may be right, but I see myself better after this experience than when I went in. Maybe this website, after being kicked around, could land at the doorstep of someone who might find it encouraging. I am hoping for that. I also know that many people with worse cancer than mine may not have the luxury of this kind of attitude. If my condition takes a turn for the worse, I will be ever grateful if you all remember these sentiments and echo them back to me.
As I start this journey, I look forward to all of you standing next to me as we begin this fight together.
Tales from the Chemo
It is a known fact chemo effects all writing and grammar skills. Please keep this in mind and do not blame my Jesuit education.
First Treatment 6/13
During: the lovely Jane Darcy took off from work to see to my first visit. When I walked into Tower Hematology Center, who was in the waiting room? Ladd Sullivan took off from work early. Even though I had four D.V.D.Õs, my computer, and lot of nurses to annoy ahead of me, it was great the two of them spent the next nearly four hours with me, keeping me company. Ladd’s wife Carrie had gone to this exact same chemo treatment facility. Ladd made sure I scored some free samples of Zofran (anti-nausea medicine) from the nurses. Jane was great in driving me home and staying there the whole time, even with the Beverly Center mall just yards away.
After: Well, I can tell this is going be a lot of fun. My body is like a cranky child. I never know when it will act up. While everyone says each person reacts to chemo differently, I seem to have a low-level constant annoyance that comes and goes in intensity. I know it will get worse. I think my coping skills and what to expect with it will get better.
Next Battle 7/26
To my five loyal friends who actually surfed in for the update, I apologize for my late entry. I will explain. As you know, my first chemo was 6/13. That weekend I was very busy; by Monday I was very tired. The following days I began to feel better than I had in a long time--even my allergies were clearing up. Dr. Rosenfeld (or Rosey as I call him) explained that I have been living with Hodgkins for a year and a half and I was getting back to normal. I seemed to be getting along fine; I had my hair cut to one-half inch and grew my goatee back, gray and all. I was almost ready for the next treatment on 6/26.
On 6/26 Steve Gramling brought me in for the chemo, left, and I went to see Dr. Rosenfeld to cause a bit of chaos, which I enjoy doing. Imagine my surprise when he told me that my white blood count was too low for chemo. He said that chemo that day would plunge the blood count dangerously low. I had a shot that day, another on Friday, and another on Saturday. No one told me that these boosters give you bad lower back and joints pain. I walked like Fred Sanford. I wish someone had told me that this would happen.
Monday, I decided not to put anyone out by driving me. I drove myself to the chemo and back. Rosey said the first is the worst. The second chemo took less than three hours--as compared to four hours for the first. Except for no sleep Monday night and a mild metallic taste to my food (like that would stop me), I seem to be doing alright. I like rubbing my short hair, but I did notice that it was a little brittle this morning.
Work has picked up and my series is getting closer and closer. I worked out an extensive schedule between chemo, booster shots and work. Now let’s see how far a box of candy which I gave to the scheduling staff takes me. I wonder if a fine Irish whiskey would be inappropriate. Not that that ever stopped me before. Next battle is 6/14.
I became too busy to add any more entries…