28 December 2009

Check Up and Round 2

The holidays have been far more enjoyable than I had imagined they would be.  Except for my hair deciding to fall out on the morning of Christmas eve everything was quite normal.  I've been blessed with good results and comfort during the holiday season.  In case you haven't seen the new look I am sporting ...

Had blood work and a check up with the doc before chemo today.  Everything OK on the blood work and pretty good news from Dr. Ahmed.  Seems the two known tumors in the lymphs have shrunk significantly and he had trouble locating them just through feeling for them.  No indication from the doc as to whether that was expected but I sure feel good about it.  He also said I was tolerated the meds very well especially since this is what he described as a pretty "hot" course of treatment.  So while we are far from declaring victory this was all in all a very good, at least in my mind, interim report.  None of this do I take credit for, of course.  I can only attribute it to the right course of treatment and the power of all your prayers. 

I am extrememly grateful for all of your support, all known and unknown.  Please continue with your prayers as I know this is contributing towards achieving a positive outcome.  As I have stated before, it is all very encouraging and uplifting for me.

Happy New Year to you all and best wishes in the coming months.

21 December 2009


Getting a portal implanted - $6337
One round Dr. Ahmed's Magic Elixer - $9746
Having a great bunch of friends and family - $$Priceless$$

Seriously, you all have been a great support as I went through this first round of chemotherapy.  I weathered the first cycle really well with only some minor level of discomfort and everything at this point is largely back to normal.  I'm really thankful I will be able to enjoy the holidays without having to deal with side effects from the treatments.  Next round begins the 28th.  I'll be a real dud by New Year's eve.  Kim is going to have to either prop me up in a major way or find another date.

Speaking of priceless, I can't help but contemplate the greatest gift we've all had bestowed upon us.

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  Mat 1:21

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."  John 1:14

Merry Christmas

12 December 2009


All the cards, calls, texts, emails are great. These are really uplifting for me. I really appreciate all of you and am blessed to have such people in my life.

As the week progresses the energy is really draining from me.  I've worked when I could but find in increasingly difficult to cocentrate for longer periods of time.  Thankfully I shed the pump yesterday and the poison is no longer being injected.  I'm hoping in a few more days I'll start to feel an upswing again.

Physical symptoms were manageable this week.  In reality, while it is uncomfortable, it has not been horrible.  Headaches almost all the time but relatively controllable.  I have no feeling of being hungry or full but am able to eat.  Things definitely taste different but still ok.  Dry, pasty mouth.  No real nausea to speak of.

The head game this is playing on me is really the most difficult part right now.  Left is right, up is down - everything seems to need to be re-calibrated.  All my worries surfacing.  I don't know how to make commitments to people because I don't kow what I will be feeling like.  Clearly the human in me is still holding on and not letting go of this to God.  This is where I need your prayers. 

Even in this short period of treatment I have gotten a whole new perspecitve on many things.  There are easy one's - make the most of now, don't take your health for granted.  But there are truly places where this will go much deeper.  The spiritual side of this is just beginning and I'm seeing Kim in a much different way than I have in years.  There is a lot of upside potential in this.

07 December 2009

Feeling Fortunate Tonight and God's People

Well the short story from Chemo Day 1 is that I am feeling quite normal.  Drugs started flowing about noon beginning with the one most likely to cause problems.  Kind of waiting for something to happen - like I'm crossing the interstate blindfolded.  Every progressing day is quite unknown and I'm just waiting for something to hit.  I'm wearing a pump through the end of the week with the last of the drugs so I'm not sure if this one will cause me any problems or if the others have some hang time before setting me back.  Don't know how I am going to sleep because I've drank about 3 litres of water today and still going. Supposed to stay uber hydrated for the next week.  Regardless, I'm feeling thankful for today.

Two big take aways today.  First, there are a lot of really sick people out there and I'm not one of them.  Therefore I am feeling quite fortunate this evening.  I spent the day in a treatment suite that is kind of an open area with lots of stations around to administer chemotherapy.  Lots of folks in and out during the day.  Unless there is something seriously wrong with my mirror, many of these folks looked to be in much worse shape than me.  And after getting to talk to a few of them I haven't reached a point of extreme pain, lengthy treatment (2 years), serious side effects.  I am truly counting my blessings and it really makes your heart ache for these people.  Good people who have this terrible thing in their life.

Second is the real observation of the sovereignty of a real God who is putting people into my life on a daily basis to help Kim and I get through this.  From the guy who pushes me from pre-op to the operating room and back, the dentist, the pastor who is the husband of the lady across from me today, and countless other incidental (at least it seems so to me) and not so incidental encounters with survivors and friends and acquaintences.  You can't see it while it is happening but it is amazing to look back at the order God planned this for me.  Being able over the last year to re-connect with some great old friends.  The people and new friends and neighbors he has put in our lives here in Evansville who will be a great help to Kim and me.  A terrific family who has always been there.  To paraphrase - With God on your side how can you lose?

02 December 2009

Kim And The Kids

They are pretty much caught in the whirlwind of this at the moment, not unlike me.  Pray for them through all this as well.  Nervous and a little scared - again like me.  Wanting to do something to help but not much to be done at the moment and I think feeling a bit helpless.  Kim readying to be the main care giver. 

Great family, great friends (old and new), Great God all supporting us.

OK - I Think We Got To The Overwhelming Part Today

Major data overload. Spent the day with a radiation oncologist and the lead medical oncologist. First time I've met either of them but they have been consulting on my case all along. Both seem good and I was comfortable with the discussion. Neither contradicted one another nor the head and neck guy I have been seeing. All have been talking pretty much real time to one another as well. Everything seems well coordinated.

Get a port put in tomorrow. Seems, as expected, there will be some major inputs and withdrawls over the next 4 months and it is just as easy to do it from a single spigot. Chemo starts Monday. Three week cycle. One week of chemo, two weeks off, repeat. PET Scan again to check progress then third round. Two weeks off after that then begin a lighter round of chemo with a radiation chaser. Six to seven weeks of that, 5 days a week. The idea is to give it a real hard systemic hit with aggressive chemo to shrink the current visible tumor and knock out any as yet undetected locations in the rest of the body. Follow up with the radiation at the specific site.

Side effects - yeah. Hair will fall out with chemo. Then the rest of the list - nausea, etc. Radiation has it's own pleasantries based on location of the tumor. Mouth sores - like a bad sun burn in the throat. Dry mouth that will to some degree be permanent. Possible loss of ability to taste food or just change in a way that nothing tastes good any more. I will really miss that if it happens. Oh yeah - super freaky mask they have to mold of my face to hold my head immobile during irradiation. Gonna be a great souvineer!

So today is the day I got to hear all that can happen but of course it varies on an individual basis. Long term survival rate is somewhere north of 50%. This is for cases in older people, smokers, more advanced stages. Significantly boosting this for me is age, general health, stage at which this has been detected (stage 3), non-smoker/drinker which makes this a highly treatable. Good chances of a positive outcome according to the doc. "Good" seems to be a highly relative term at the moment depending on which side of the fence you are viewing this from.

Cool thing happened at dentist today (dentist part of medical team). He took me through what we needed then he looked at me and asked me if I was scared. I told him that yeah, in fact, I was a little nervous about it. He said "Can we pray about this?" We did - very neat and unexpected.

30 November 2009


Big hang over and a major sore throat. I totally underestimated how I would feel after the biopsy today. Able to get the work done endoscopicly (tube down throat) rather than an open biopsy but was done with a general anesthetic. Thought I would be bouncing around by this evening but still in a fog and still have a pounding head. I was pretty much starving by the time I was released at 3:30 today but just a little queasy - like low blood sugar. Stopped to get meds at CVS on the way home and Kim grabbed a little something for me to eat. Drove about 6 blocks to drop Tess off at bowling practice. I yakked in the parking lot. Problem solved. I've felt great since and pretty much ate what I wanted at dinner. Diagnosis is official - squamous cell carcinoma. OK - so what is a squamous cell? Basically any cell that is a lining. Skin, mouth, tongue, esophagus, and all the way through you and out the other end. The specific location of the cancer is in my lingual tonsils (not the kind you get removed when you're a kid). Essentially a throat cancer. Early read on this is that it responds well to radiation and chemo. Two consults on Wednesday - one for radiation, one for chemo. Moving along quickly and I'm quite happy with that. Thanks for all the prayers and support. Hoping to feel a lot better tomorrow.

29 November 2009

The Journey Begins

Last few weeks have been a bit stunning. Found a lump on my neck. MRI, biopsy, PET scan indicating malignancy but not sure of specific diagnosis. Final biopsy tomorrow to determine exact type of cancer and determine course of treatment. Not sure where this is headed but seems like it will be a bumpy ride at least in the near future. Great support coming from all over the place. Lots of family, friends, friends of family and friends praying for me. Totally needed, totally appreciated. Saying my own prayers and doing my best to hand this over to God. Certainly out of my hands. Wanting to figure out what His message is for me in all this. Have to admit I've been pretty stressed today. Down time over holidays creating a lot of time for thinking. Too much time. Just wanting to move forward with treatment and get on with it. Will try to post tomorrow with any update.