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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Recent and Decent

It has been over a month since my last post, and I have been getting a lot of questions on my health update.

Since my last round of chemotherapy I have had a few developments in my road to recovery. Here are some of the most significant.

I went in to get my first PET scan post-chemo (which shows if there is cancer in the body).  The results were not immediately available, so I had to wait a few days.  Fast forward a few days, and I was on the phone with the insurance company, when I saw the hospital calling me on the other line.  I couldn't click over in time, and ended up missing the call.  As I was still on the phone with the insurance company, my phone beeped indicating there was a new voicemail.  Once I finally was able to get off the phone with the insurance company, I sat there with my phone in my hands for several minutes just trying to brace myself for how that short ten second pending voicemail was going to have such a significant effect on my life (or at least the next few months).  I held down the number #1, and after listening to my annoying voicemail message say

"You have one new voicemail message"..."Press #1 if you want to hear the message, press #7 if you want to delete the message,"  There was a quick moment where I wanted to press #7 and forget all about it, but of coarse I pressed #1.

The Doctor's message was very short, but informative.  It went something like "Blah Blah Blah, no signs of cancer, Blah Blah Blah".  VICTORY! -Johnny Drama

I will have to continue to have these scans performed for the next several years, so I figure I better get used to the nervousness the anticipation of getting the results that the PET scans causes.

As a result of have a "clean scan", the doctor told me to go ahead and schedule to get the catheter removed from my chest.  I was glad to be able to part ways with the catheter, it always was a nauseating visual reminder.  No matter how good I was feeling inside, the catheter forced me to remember the agony of laying in those stupid hospital beds with tubes and drugs going in and out of my body.

So last Friday I went in for surgery to have the catheter removed.  It was a quick twenty minutes under anesthesia, and I woke up feeling pretty lucid.  I didn't have the same crazy reaction as I did when getting the catheter put in.  No singing "You can't keep a good dog done" or any of the other shenanigans from before.

I am still recovering a bit from the surgery, the recovery time is about week before I can start getting back into fighting shape, or triathlon shape (I am training for a triathlon in Las Vegas in October)

Other than the scar on my chest, the immediate nausea from the smell of alcohol wipes, and my inability to eat any more Cutie oranges, I would say that I have come through this ordeal unscathed.

Thats the news from Wes 2.0

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thank you

Well hello there. .

I have high-jacked Wes’ blog in order to show my appreciation to all those who have helped us during this difficult time.  There have been so many that have reached out to help us: family, close friends, co-workers, friends from the past, complete strangers, etc.  It is because of all of you kind-hearted people that Wes was able to kick cancer’s ace!

This is my personal list of people that have helped me, but I’m sure Wes wishes to thank these people as well.

Thank you:

1)       To everyone who took time out of their busy lives to bring us dinner.

2)       To the kind employees over at the Burger King around the corner, who I’m pretty sure we kept in business because apparently chemo makes you crave a Whopper?

3)       To Wes’ doc, Dr. Popplewell, who to sum it up saved his life.  Also who didn’t give in to Wes’ several attempts to discontinue chemo.

4)       To all our friends and family who came from out of town to visit us.  We honestly had people coming every other week, and I know the constant company helped to keep Wes’ spirits up.

5)       To the staff over at Virgin Vacations who allowed us to postpone our trip to Italy, and waived the extra change fees when we went to rebook. 

6)       To the Rite-Aid pharmacy who always had Wes’ prescriptions ready for me to pick up, and never judged me when I went to stock up on Wes’ prune juice and stool softeners.

7)       To my friends who called to check on me, and listened to hours of me complaining.  Who supported me, consoled me, and cried with me.

8)       To Wes’ DEA family who did hours upon hours of fundraising to help with the cost of medical bills.  Who sold DEA Cancer hats, arm bands, and tickets to a really fun comedy night; all for the Wes Cancer Fund.  Thank you to all those (not only those who know Wes, but complete strangers too) who donated money, attended the comedy event, and put money down on the silent auction; your generosity was unexpected and overwhelming.

9)       To Wes’ Arizona family who donated money as well.  Not only siblings, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, but younger second cousins who went door to door to sell cookies for the Wes Cancer Fund. 

10)   To Wes’ dad who dropped everything and came to stay with us in the beginning when things were new and scary.  Who went to doctor’s appointments, watched our house while we were at work, and even attempted to “dog whisperer” our crazy dogs.  Sorry Dave, she’s still crazy. 

11)   To all those who thought and prayed for us every day since January 1, 2012.  Who called us, thought about us, messaged us, and care packaged/carded us; we’ve never felt so loved. 

12)   To the cast and crew of The Office, who never failed to cheer us up when we were cooped up on chemo week.  Laughter was our best medicine. 

13)   To my dad and brother who made several “service calls” to help fix things around our house that I was unable to do myself.  Yes, I tried to snake a drain and failed miserably. 

14)   To my mom/boss, who listened to my problems every day, literally every day.  Who gave me 17483074 days off of work so I could go to treatments.  Who always had a positive attitude.  Who cheered me up when I was sad.  Who brought us elaborate meals at least once a week.  Who offered to help whenever I seemed stressed/fed-up.  Who was my rock when life seemed to be crumbling around me.  I love you.

15)   To my dear Wesley who gave everything he had to beat this.  Who kept his spirits up week after week, even during times of absolute torture.  Who has developed a new talent in whistle calling for me.  (This sound still haunts me.  Like I think I hear it, and I go running for him, but he’s not even home. . . Spooky)  Who would have treatment on Friday and would go back to work on Monday; continually working full-time. Who attempted to keep things together even when his skin was crawling and his hair was thinning.   Who would be sick in bed and still able to crack me up.  Whose sense of humor made light during our darkest time.  Who never gave up, and who is now a cancer survivor.  I love you. 

There are 5735038 more people I could thank.  I wish I could name you by name. . . heck skywrite a list of the most generous and kind-hearted people for the whole world to see. . . but I’ll settle for this: We would like to thank you for all you’ve done.  We are humbled every day and are forever indebted unto you.  We love you!

Happy 4th!  Let freedom (from chemo) ring!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Graduation from the University of Chemotherapy

The words I have been waiting to say for many many days... IT'S OVER! (at least for now).

Last Friday I completed the 12th and final scheduled chemotherapy session. My physical reaction to the treatment was about the same as all the rest, with the exception that I knew once I recovered I was home free.

Here is the run down from the final chemo session.

Yes, I threw up several times.
Yes, profanity was directed at the nurses several times.
Yes, I got into the fountain at the hospital on my way out! TAKE THAT CITY OF HOPE! Cancer patient in your pretty fountain.

The doctors told me I have to continue to go in for testing (PET scans) over the next few years, but as time goes on the tests will be more spread out and eventually I will put this all behind me.

Hopefully I can get the catheter out of my chest in the next month or so. I feel like that it is a symbol of cancer and sickness. I understand that it is a miracle of modern science, but I never got used to it.

I wish I there was someway that I could tell each and every person that has supported me over these last  few months just how much they have helped. I am privileged to have such a support system made up of family, friends, co-workers and even strangers (some stranger than others).

I get asked the question "How are you feeling?" I understand that it is probably directed at my physical well-being, but the honest answer to that question is "I feel grateful".

Thank you for all the support.

WE beat cancer once, if it comes back WE will beat it again.

~ Wes 2.0

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Last One

I have my last chemotherapy session planned for the June 22. I have received several inquiries into how I am going to celebrate/mark this particular event. The purpose of this post is get some ideas of things I could do. There is not any parameters for the marking of this event. Some of the ideas so far have been wear something crazy to the last session. (gorilla suit, or some kind of superhero outfit...), going skydiving or any other extreme activity (I think chemo used up all nine lives), getting a tattoo (nope),  other people have talked about throwing a party or going on a trip (doing both, but neither is really is exactly what I am looking for here.)

I am available for comments directly to the blog, or FB. You can also call, or text. I am also willing to parlay two semi good ideas into one great idea. (like eating food in the shower).

Wes 1.85

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Burritos in the shower

It has been several weeks since my last post, so I wanted to catch up on the most recent developments with Wes 2.0.

I had my 10th chemotherapy treatment last week. This one was not really any different from the previous nine. One interesting thing that occurred was as I was walking out of the hospital in my post chemo "zombie state," I got a whiff of cigarette smoke in the parking lot. I looked up and saw one of the doctors/nurses smoking a cigarette as he was getting out of his car. While giving him the worst chemo face I could, I yelled something I cannot completely remember or write on the blog. Come on now, smoking at a cancer hospital, really. I am not going to write that I wish that guy would get cancer, but I am definitely going to think it. And just for reference, The City of Hope is a smoke free facility... even the parking lots.

Over the last five months I have tried numerous things to elevate the pain and side effects of the chemotherapy. Previous posts on the blog have mentioned some of the more interesting ideas. One principal I have learned is do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better (within reason). In many instances this concept pertains to my eating and sleeping habits.

Once I come home from a chemo session I try and go straight to bed in order to sleep off the initial chemical onslaught. Either Saturday night or sometime Sunday I normally feel good enough to get up and take a shower and try to start getting back to reality. One thing I have been doing is combining my shower time and meal time, taking one thing I really like and combining it with something else I really like.

I started eating in the shower several years ago working as police officer. I would work the midnight shift and get home around breakfast time. Obviously being really tired, I did not feel like sitting down at the table to eat a bowl of cereal and then going to take a shower, so I combined the two in one single glorious event. Eat my cereal while taking a shower.

Now transitioning to my current cancer situation. For several days after chemo I have very low energy levels and don't feel like being out of bed for too long. Therefore, I maximize my time by eating in the shower. Now I don't do this at every meal, but I will admit that during the recovery from the 10th session, I did have two delicious pulled pork burritos in the shower.

Yes, there is probably some hygiene issue with this.
Yes, there is probably some underlying social issue responsible for this habit (not being held enough as a kid, or being bullied at school).
Yes, Kristen knows about this, and actually brought me the burritos last week.
and Yes, I am doing to this because it makes me feel better.

... I have had several other failed ideas at making myself feel better and sitting reverse on the toilet in order to rest my arms on the tank does not make me feel better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

See look, my insides are not rotten anymore.

Let me explain the photo, as it was explained to me as I was throwing up during treatment.

The one on the left was taken before any chemo had begun (January). The photo on the right was taken in April, and all the black spots are supposed to be there. So therefore, there is no visible signs of the cancer still in my body.

Let me address a few things before people start making obscene comments.

1. No, you cannot see my private parts
2. No, my heart is not really black (contrary to what Kristen says)
3. Yes, you can see my rosy cheeks through the scan
4. No, my body has not shrunk overall.
5. Yes, my brain is that big.
6. Yes, there is less space between my arms and my waist as a result of my "Chemo Diet."
7. Yes, you can see my private parts

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Can't think of a good title.

written April 30
published May 1

I having been procrastinating in my updates for two reasons. First, I still feel like I am in Hell's version of groundhog's day, and second, the more I talk about my current cancerous status, the more I feel like I am living in the present, where as I would rather be living in the future (cancer free).

As many of you know I have chemotherapy every other Friday. On the weekends I don't have chemo, I like to do whatever I can to help me "escape from reality". (try and name the song I just quoted). Some of my recent escapes have been to Yosemite National Park (saw Half Dome), Minnesota (saw the Mall of America), Las Vegas (saw Flava Flav) and Phoenix (saw Family).

This last Friday, I had my 8th round of chemo. I have progressively gotten more and more sick each time I go. I am trying to do whatever I can to help with the horrible feelings I get when I arrive. For the last few rounds, once I check in to hospital, I go outside, sit on a bench and wait for my name to be called. I just sit on a bench by myself and try to enjoy the sun, the birds, the breeze, or anything that distracts me from the feeling of nausea.

An interesting side note is that I felt too sick to get out of the car once we arrived home, so I just reclined the seat and stayed in the car for about an hour. Once I thought I could get to my bed safely, I opened the door, stepped out and ended up on my knees throwing up in the planter. My neighbors probably think I am the biggest alcoholic. It was 4:30 in the afternoon.

One of the most difficult parts of the treatments are the terrible smells associated with the drugs, hospital, cleaning solutions.... I started writing this paragraph this morning, but just thinking about it made me sick, so I am giving it another try this evening. I have tried different candies, burying my head in a pillow, sleeve, different masks... but the smells still get to me. I AM UP FOR ANY SERIOUS or NON SERIOUS SUGGESTIONS.

Overall, I am still doing fine. For those of you who have not heard, I received the results from a mid treatment scan, and the cancer is retreating/ appears to have left. This is not an official "All Clear", but its definitely good news. I don't like the word remission, so retreat is what I say.

My hair is falling out, but not bald. For some reason, I have lost all the hair on my thighs. They are quite smooth. I am also losing a lot of armpit hair. I guess if I was going to choose areas that I don't mind losing hair those would be it. Other than the hair, and being out of shape, I am doing fine.

On a more serious note. I consider myself very blessed to have gone through what I have so far. I heard someone put life in perspective this way.
             -Its only when you are aware of death, that life screams at you with such intensity-
I feel like I have been given such a unique opportunity to look at life in a way that most people my age don't get. It reminds me of the book titled, "Don't sweat the small stuff, it's all small stuff." I am not professing to be any more wise or educated than anyone else, but I feel a change within me on my view of life.

I appreciate all the support in its many forms: prayers, texts, emails, phone calls, fasts, thought, etc.

This is the part where I insert photos... the photos we have from the last few treatments don't show off my baby angel-like glow. They will be funny to laugh at... down the road.