Monday, May 29, 2006

I Love Visitors

Hi everybody! I hope everyone had a good memorial day. Take some time before bed tonight to think about the hundreds of thousands of men and women that have given their live so that we can barbecue, waterski, and relax on this fine day.

It rained in Houston today, spoiling many an outdoor barbecue. I have privileged information that in fact, every one of those barbecues continued successfully somewhere else, so no harm done :) For myself, I had Chick-fil-a for lunch with Jen, Jake, and an old friend from my Anatec Consulting days.

I am still doing well. The stubble on my head is continuing to thin, and my appetite is finally decreasing. I managed a full breakfast and lunch, but dinner didn't do it for me. I ate a lot of it anyway! It was turkey slices and gravy with mashed potatoes. I used my old trick of just mix it all together to mask most of the taste. It worked, enough.

Some friends from school also stopped by to while away the afternoon. It really is nice when people visit. I think I surprise people with how energetic I am. I miss everybody so much. Trust me, if you are reading this, I miss you.

Updates to my treatment:
For those of you who don't know, the last time I was here I received 4 drugs, Vinblastin, Cisplatin, Temodar, and Interferon-A. This time they haven't been giving me the Interferon because of a Staph infection in my belly. It looks like that infection is pretty much whupped (as we say in Texas).

So the new plan is this:
After my course of these three drugs (Vinblastin, Cisplatin, Temodar), I will have a five-day course of both the Interferon-A and Interleuken-II. The second one is a new drug to me, but shows amazing promise for putting patients in my situation into remission, sometimes permanently!

I love you all. I think about you guys all the time and miss you dearly. I am not a praying person, but I am not ashamed to say that I've been praying. Not for my health or a cure, but for the strength to get through this. All of you, you give me strength.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Moment of Peace

I woke up this morning and I wasn't sure where I was. Then I remembered "The Cancer".

It sounds terrible but it was actually a good thing. Usually, I can't stop thinking about it. The fact that I forgot for a while, means I have been thinking of something else while I was sleeping.

So here I am, in the hospital. Same basic room (across the hall from where I was last time). Same nurses, blankets, tv shows, etc... I'm officially back.

Some things are different. My hair is gone. Jen and I decided yesterday that we didn't want it to get patchy so we went down to the barber and had it ALL chopped off. I'll upload a picture as soon as I get a chance to take one. It's funny but it doesn't look half as bad as I thought it would. My head gets cold though :)

I feel better than I ever did the last go around. The main reason for that is I started my hospital stay with a surgery last time. This time I am coming off of two week of rest.

I know what to expect, and I packed exactly what I will need.

Still, the things that are the same overwhelm me. Did I even leave?

I am 1/5 of the way through 3 of my 5 drugs. I start the fourth today, and the fifth in four more days. I am excited about this round because I feel like we are trying some new things. Plus, about 2 weeks after this round of chemo, they are going to open me up and take a look around again to check the progress. That will be the real defining moment. Is this working or not? The ten-million dolllar question.

Gonna stick to my goals today. I woke up and cleaned up, and went to the nurses station to MAKE and get coffee. I just ordered a big-ass breakfast and I plan on taking a walk afterwords to get some fresh air. I think the walk will be better if I can make it a morning/afternoon routine.

Oh, my other goal of not focusing on how crappy I feel? I smiled at every person that woke me up in the middle of the night to poke and prod me. :)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Good Week, About to End

Well, it has been a great week.

I have gotten stronger everyday and continue to eat more at every meal. I still get tired easily, but I plan on driving (wow) to the mall today and going out to lunch. My brothers and I are meeting at Freebirds for burritos.

Some bad news. My hair started falling out two days ago. It is coming out in clumps and I have no doubt that I will lose it all within a week or so. I knew this would happen, but I can't say I was prepared for it. It makes the chemo all the more real. Jennifer, my wonderful wife, went to the store and bought me a bunch of hats without even being asked. Love is a great thing.

I go back tomorrow to the hospital for another round of chemo. I am dreading it, but it must be done. They might start me on a new drug after the standard five days of the other drugs. If they do, it will extend my hospital stay by about 4 days.

My personal goals for this round:
  • Keep Eating. I will eat whether I am hungry or not, and whether it tastes good or not. My strength has come from food and staying as normal as possible.
  • Keep Moving. I do not plan on spending the next week or so in a hospital bed. I will take walks around the hospital and try to get some fresh air.
  • Keep Believing. I got pretty despondant last time because I felt so horrible. I will keep focused on the prize, cancer-free living for myself, my family, and my freinds.
My posts might stop when I am in the hospital, last time I wasn't able to use the computer very well.

I let everyone know how it goes!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Pictures From Before

Wow, what a difference a few days makes!

I am feeling much better. I am moving around, eating meals, and even snacking! I still can't mow the lawn or run, but I'll take what I can get.

I can't believe some of the people I have heard from since my diagnosis. You know who you are, you wonderful people from my distant past! The outpouring of love and support has been inspiring and uplifting.

I wanted to share some recent pictures with everyone. These are pictures of Jen, Jacob, and me back in early April. We went to Chappell Hill, TX to take pictures in a field of bluebonnets. What you can't see in the pictures is that it was really cold! Jacob was a trooper.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hello Out There

Good morning all,

I had a great day yesterday. I feel that I have turned a mental corner with my cancer. I was feeling pretty shitty prior to yesterday, but then I was okay. I am determined to fight this thing. I have decided that my job is to get my body in the best shape possible for my next treatment (next fri). That means being able to go up the stairs without getting winded, not running a marathon.

I have so far eaten 3 full meals, and I plan to continue eating today. For those who haven't seen me since the hospital, I look like a skeleton. I am going to get my haircut today, and I'll take a picture and post it.

I finished Lance Armstong's biography. I highly recommend it. It is a short, easy read, and he talks alot about his cancer and chemo treatments. In fact, I am taking some of the same chemo drugs that he was treated with. Great book.

Well, thats it for today. Love you all.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What is Chemotherapy Like?

OK guys, a quick update...

I made it through my first round of chemo with little to no side effects. However, when I came home from the hospital, it all hit me. I have been home for 7 days, and I am doing much better now, but I was in bad shape the last week. Some highlights:
  • I don't really have energy to do anything, including type :).
  • I didn't eat much solid food until yesterday.
  • I've been in pain from the IP catheter they put in my belly.
  • I had to go to the emergency room due to low calcium. My muscles were seizing up and I could't talk or breathe.

So, that's some of the bad things. Yesterday I hit a turnaround. I ate 2 meals of solid food, which I need for energy. I walked around the hospital without a wheelchair (this is a big step). Finally, I took a shower and shaved. Man that felt good.

So, the situation is bad but getting better. I go back for another chemo treatment on the 26th. I am not looking forward to it, but I am determined to be in better shape for this treatment than I was for the last.

Thank you all for the emails, I love you guys...

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Dark Day

To loving family, dear friends, and respected colleagues;

As some of you know, I spent most of the last two weeks in the hospital with an unexplained swelling in my belly. I had exploratory surgery Tuesday and it was confirmed to be caused by Melanoma, a malignant cancer. I had a Melanoma removed from my back in October, 2000, and it was never expected to return. Well, it did. The technical name for what I have is Metastatic Melanoma.

Unfortunately, it is not operable. It is covering my peritoneum, the bag the holds my organs in. Luckily, it has not spread to any of my other organs that we can see.

I am at MD Anderson Cancer Center here in Houston, one of the top two cancer centers in the world. My doctor is awesome, and I trust his judgment completely.

I have started what is called Biochemotherapy therapy. I had my first dose last night, and things went very well. I plan to be home next Thursday for about two weeks while I wait to start another course. The courses take 3 weeks (1 week on chemo, 2 weeks off), and my doctor wants me to do 6-8 of them.

I am very weak from the drugs and Jennifer is very tired from the stress. If you have a question about this cancer or the drugs I am taking, please look it up on the internet.
Keep in mind, that every cancer is unique, and you have to take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt .

Please feel free to send me emails. I will read them, however, I will probably not reply. I only turn my computer on for about 20 minutes a day, and I don’t have the strength to answer all the emails I have been getting. I appreciate the awesome gifts people have sent, they are quite nice and cheer up my room well. However, it is getting quite crowded in here. If you wish to send something, please make a donation to MD Anderson here

Thank you for you prayers and thoughts.. I plan on getting through this and ending up in full remission. The is no other alternative I will accept.