Post Chemo Update- 3/14/07

March 14, 2007 from Skip | Quick Overview, The Whole Story, Ups and DownsComments Off on Post Chemo Update- 3/14/07 | ««Previous - Next»»

Update below from Don mid-afternoon today. Don is working hard at sleeping and resting from the chemo yesterday. It is not easy because he wants to be up doing things, and he can’t always sleep comfortably. We remind him this is his more than full time job — to fight the cancer by building up his strength as much as possible. Heather enjoyed a delightful afternoon at Swanson’s nursery picking out flowers and plants for her garden. Those of you who know her well know what joy that gives her.

Skip, for Don & Heather

I had a good time with Dr Lee and my mother-in-law Maryanne, better known as “Duke” on Tuesday. Since the chemo has changed from Thursdays to Tuesdays it conflicts with Heather’s neighborhood women’s group that has been meeting for several years. It was great to be with Duke since she is another of my heroes, having beaten ovarian cancer several years ago. I used to go to the hospital and read to her and now she comes and sits/reads with me. After my blood test we met with Dr Lee and I was thankful I had called him last Friday to let him know how well my feet were doing.  It was great seeing him today so pleased with the reduction of the neuropathy- clearly the Lextera is working. I reminded him how amazing it also was that I had this tube in my side for almost 6 months with no infection and without antibiotics. He said “You know Don, this is something I just can’t explain.” How many times have I heard those words on this journey?

Chemo took about 3 hours. My blood test was good with my hemocrat continuing to rise (37) and my white count at 14. Doug said next week’s blood test will be the most important one to see if the new chemo drops my WBC count. If it remains up we can increase the chemo dose with 2 weeks on and one week off. I rested most of the afternoon after chemo and also did a little walking in the neighborhood. Walking by Brooke and Ryan Anderson’s house, Brooke pointed out the daffodils that were blooming in a cluster in the yard. She said those were the Hope flowers Heather planted for me. I reminded her they were Hope flowers for her family. She was insistent that they were Hope flowers for my health. What is especially encouraging to me is that the flowers are planted all over the neighborhood and are all blooming now.

For some reason it reminded me of when I was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma, I was told it was not curable. My gastroenterologist , Dr Alex Reed, would not tell me how long I had, but said I should think more about quality of life than cures in Mexico. A few days later, I looked up the cancer on the Internet and read “maximum of 6-8 months.” Well, here I am almost 6 months after a late diagnosis and I feel better than ever. I have NO burning or pain sensation when I breath (that was gone 3-4 months ago) and NO pain — and I mean NO pain in my side even after eating any amount of food (that was gone 2-3 months ago). I have already mentioned that I have NO pain from the drainage tube, and that it not doubt has helped prevent infection in the liver. Dr Lee also told us that it was very unusual that cancer patients gained weight during treatment- I initially lost 15lbs and am back up 10lbs.

Now add to this equation the significant shrinkage of the tumors seen in the CT scans and it strikes me that not only have I beat this 6 month prognosis, but I am going to continue to beat it over and over again, 6 months after 6 months, year after year for all the days of my life- however long, however short they may be. What an amazing place to be- totally on the edge of heaven- dancing with joy!

Thank you for all your prayers, all your thoughts, all your practical help. I do hope in some small way I am encouraging you to live every day to its fullest. No two days should ever look the same unless you are living your life on autopilot. Break free and live as if your days were more limited than you think. Don’t wait to love God and love one another-do it now- it really is that simple. Surprise someone every day with some simple, random act of kindness, not only friends, but complete strangers too. Don’t worry if the homeless guy on the corner of the freeway exit will really use that money for food. Take a quiet time alone to think about how you define success with 50 years to live, 20 years, 2 years, 2 months. Then ask yourself why there should be any difference. I’m not saying I have all these answers figured out, but they are the very questions that are on my mind every day, dancing on the edge of heaven. I can tell you they are hard questions for me and I can only imagine how much harder they are for someone not facing a life-threatening cancer. But why should it be different, for you or me?  The one thing we all know is that we will die – when that day comes is the only question.  Anticipating a future death is so much sweeter than death without pause.

Blessings and joy to you.

don

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