Monday, July 31, 2006

Nothing Special, Just an Update

What is up?

Things have been pretty cool around here. Jake has been alternating between two year-old terror and angel of joy. Jen has been working hard but finding time to spend at home too. All in all, we are a very happy family. :)

I did the outpatient part of my chemo and for the most part, I like it. It only takes about four hours and going home afterwords is awesome compared to staying in the hospital. The only gripe I have is that the nurses in the outpatient clinic don't seem to be as knowledgable about the drugs as the inpatient nurses. More than once I had to correct the nurse as to the timing or order of my drugs.

I go back into the hospital today for the rest of my treatment. I can't say I am excited to go, but I can handle seven days no problem (compared to the twelve to fifteen I am used to).

I have started a new book, Still Here by Ram Dass. This guy is very deep. I am usually a fast reader but with this book, each page takes a minute. He says something profound in every paragraph and you have to stop and think about it. Pretty cool.

Well, I gotta go get the boy up. I hope everyone has a fine morning aand a wonderful day.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mr. Clean

Short note: I full-on shaved my head last night. Here is a pic.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Important News via Song

What? Two posts in two days? Well, I have important news.

So yesterday I went to get some tests done and visit my doctor, the standard procedure prior to a chemo cycle. Those of you that have met my doctor know he isn't exactly "Mr. Emotional" (not a bad thing in my opinion).

Well, when I went in he asked me, as he always does, how has my belly been filling up? When I told him that it seems to have stopped filling up he asked (excitedly) how I was feeling. When I told him I was feeling great, almost normal he got overjoyed. I swear I have never seen a doctor so happy.

What this says to me: "The doctor can't tell me that my cancer is going away based on this evidence. However, he feels that the stoppage of fluid buildup in my abdomen is a strong positive indicator for the progress of my treatment. In other words,


Great news, really. Jen and I are ecstatic, and foresee more great news in the future.

I wanted to post some song lyrics that describe how I feel. This is a good one by Robert Earl Keen that described an evening when things just went right for an unknown reason.

Feelin' Good Again (excerpt) by Robert Earl Keen Jr.

...So I strolled across old Main Street
Walked down a flight of stairs
Stepped into the hall
And saw all my friends were there
A neon sign was flashin' "Welcome come on in"
It feels so good - feelin' good again

My favorite band was playin'
An Otis Redding song
When they sang the chorus
Everybody sang along
Dan and Margarita were swayin' side by side
I heard they were divorcin'
But I guess they let it slide
And I wished I had some money
with which to buy a round

I wished I'd cashed my paycheck
Before I came to town
But I reached into my pocket
Found three twenties and a ten
It feels so good - feelin' good again...

Cancer Sux like a Hoover

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Quick Summary for Newbies

Hey everybody!

I thought I would take this opportunity to provide a recap for people who are just now getting the news of my cancer. For those faithful readers that already know all of this, bear with me. :)

In mid-April, I started to notice my belly getting larger. This isn't the first time this has happened to a 30 year-old, but after I grew out of a new suit in a week, I knew something was wrong. I went to the emergency room and quickly discovered that my abdomen was filling with fluid. Days of tests confirmed that the fluid and all my organs were normal, and no explanation could be found for the fluid.

I had a malignant mole (Melanoma) removed from my back about 6 years ago. I have returned to MD Anderson every six months since for checkups and have not had a problem since. I returned to MD Anderson with my new problem of excess fluid and after an exploratory surgery (via Laparoscopy), Cancer was determined to be the cause.

My peritoneum had developed a covering of Melanoma cells. This is important to understand. The cancer is Melanoma (skin cancer, the same type I had on my back), but it is located inside my body. This means that the cancer mad moved or metastasized. This is generally bad news, and makes my cancer stage 4 (out of 4).

I started chemotherapy at MD Anderson immediately. I have been in and out of the hospital for chemo treatments for the last three months, with periods of feeling good and periods of feeling horrible.

I start my fourth treatment tomorrow as an outpatient. I will take outpatient chemo for 4 days and then go into the hospital for the remainder of my treatment. This will take 5-7 days. After that treatment I will go home to rest for 2-3 weeks before another treatment.

So, how is the treatment working? It is hard to say. Usually, they do a CAT scan, see a big tumor and measure it before and after treatment cycles. The doctors can then say "your tumor has shrunk by 20%; the treatment is effective." With me, my cancer is not visible to X-Rays or CAT scans because it is so thin. The doctors have been watching my fluid buildup in my abdomen as a gauge for how the treatment is working.

Until recently, there was no change in the amount of fluid filling my belly. Since my last treatment though, the fluid has almost stopped filling my belly. I take this as a very good sign.

I have also been feeling great. I remarked to Jennifer on Sunday that I felt normal this weekend. It is an awesome feeling. This too, I take as a good sign.

The only way to know for sure how the treatment is working is to open me up and do another exploratory surgery. The doctors have been talking about doing this after my next treatment. Look for news along this line in about a month (2 weeks of treatment + 2 weeks of rest, then surgery).

Well, there it is. It might have been quicker just to read 3 months worth of posts!

Feel free to email me with questions regarding my treatment or just to chat. You have all been so wonderful and supportive, and are a big factor in my (fingers crossed) recovery. Love you all.

Death to Cancer

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lunch Makes My Day

Ok Ok Ok!

I know I haven't updated in more than a week. I know that everybody is worried about me. I know everyone checks this blog first thing in the morning (as they should). I haven't been busy, my computer hasn't been broken. I have just been lazy about updating. I am sorry, and I will not let it happen again.

So, what has been going on with me? I am sorry to report: not much. I have been out for about 2 weeks and have been enjoying myself and resting.

My day has become centered around one thing: lunch. I have enjoyed meeting people for a good meal almost every day. The highlight so far? Pappa's Seafood with my brother Jordan. I had this AMAZING mesquite grilled redfish and shrimp. Why don't they serve food like that in the hospital? If they did, nobody would want to get discharged (there is that word again).

I made some divinity last week that turned out pretty good. For those that don't know, divinity is a type of candy that is crumbly, white, and usually vanilla flavored with nuts. Mine had halved pecans on it, and it was pretty good. If you have ever tried to make candy in a humid climate, you understand the "luck" involved in having it turn out.

I have decided that we are going to rent an RV for a week to ten day trip sometime next year. I am going to spend the time in between now and then planning it. I welcome any destination (final or intermediate) recommendations. So far, I am thinking either grand canyon or DisneyWorld as the final destination, but I am open to other ideas. Help would be appreciated.

Until just a few days ago, I have been feeling great. I caught some sort of stomach bug on Sunday and have been less than 100% since then, although I have a feeling that I am on the mend. Hopefully I will get to go to lunch today with some old work buddies (my old work, not old buddies).

So, what is coming up? We take Jacob to the circus on Saturday (I'll put a picture up), and I start my next chemo round on Wednesday, July 26. This round will be done outpatient, so I just go to the hospital for 4 hours a day for 4 to 5 days. After that, I will have to go in to get the immunotherapy portion of my treatment. The good news is that I will only be in the hospital for 4 to 7 days! Big change from the 13 I am used to.

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes and prayers, I think they are working so keep it up! :)

I promise not to let it be this long between updates again.


Saturday, July 08, 2006


Hello Real World!

I say the real world because when you are in the hospital for almowst two weeks, you can forget that anything happens beyond the door of your room. But, the world does continue to turn even when I am in here, whether I like it or not.

To all of those who wanted to come and visit me and either got a thumbs down or just didn't hear from me in time, I am sorry. As it turns out, this session of immunotherapy was the worst yet. I don't want to go into details, but I have been miserable for 5 days and in no shape to receive visitors. It is over now, they stopped the medicine about 28 hours ago, and it should be out of my bloodstream now, although for some reason I will still feel some of the effects for days.
Some good news: I am going home today! The doctor has pronounced me well enough to be let out, and I should be discharged in a couple of hours (that sounds slightly gross ;) ).

Sorry its a short post, but I am lacking energy and I really don't have much to say. I'll post again from home in a couple of days.

Love you all!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Alright everybody, I know its been over a week since my last post. I can't really claim to be "too busy", so I will just say I had other things on my mind.

The first half of my treatment went well. The started me on the Chemo Wednesday night, and I finished it Sunday night (Monday morning). Just like last time, I tolerated it well, and kept me appetite throughout. In fact the doctor might reccomend that for the next course that I do the chemo part outpatient! I would still have to drive to the hospital everyday for five hours, but I would get to sleep in my own bed!

Now for the second phase of treatment. The doctor decided to start the bio therapy Sunday night, while I was still receieving the chemo. I have been sick since. This drug is really mean. I have eaten so little since I started, you can count it as not eating. I am in really bad shape, but it is just side effects from the new drugs. The same thing happened to me last time. Tonight I ordered a blueberry muffin, applesauce, and cherry jello for dinner...

Now for the good news. My belly does not seem to be filling up with anywhere near as much fluid as last time. The difference is staggering. The last time I was in the hospital, we empties 4 liters a day from my belly (keep in mind they are pumping tons of fluids into my body). This time, in 7 days, we have emptied 7.3 liters (would have been 28). For three days my belly looked the same without emptying. I am going to see how long I can go without pulling any fluid out. Maybe the rest of my stay!

Happy 4th to everybody. Remember what this holiday means. It represents the birth of the greatest country on earth. Give her a good party...