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Day 117 – Tuesday (12/18/18)


Next blog update will be posted by Saturday, December 22nd, at midnight.

Hello again everyone.  I did it again!  Two weeks in a row now I have forgotten to update the blog!  I apologize for the post being a couple of days late.  This week it wasn’t a snowstorm that got me side tracked, but rather my college graduation.  If you go back to the preface, you may remember that I had just finished my final project/presentation and wrapped up my college classes at the end of July (just before I started having symptoms that turned out to be Blobby).  My college, however, did not have a commencement ceremony for summer semester graduates.  Instead, Summer 2018 graduates were asked to join the Fall 2018 ceremony.  I personally had no interest in walking across the stage since I already had my diploma mailed to me, however my wife insisted that I go.  I’ll be honest, once I got there and participated, I did actually enjoy it.  The irony of the graduation was that it was my first time on campus.  I was a distance learning student and had never actual visited the school.  They did, however, have a satellite “campus” near my house, which I was able to attend for the in-person class requirements. Nonetheless, I digress.  The campus was very nice, and the ceremony was very professional and efficient.  There were right at 900 graduates in my class.

Another week is in the books.  10 down, 8 to go.  My “bad” week lasted an extra day and a half this time.  Usually I start to feel better after 7 days… but this time it was about day 9 I started feeling better.  This is somewhat expected, as the doctor says the chemo builds up in your system more and more with each cycle.  Today as I type, I feel good.  I know the scans showed improvement, but I’m feeling improvement as well, which is encouraging.  Even if the last two cycles make me feel bad… say 10 and 11 days respectively, I’m still okay with that.  Its definitely manageable.  My next cycle infusion is on December 27th, so it is awesome that I am able to make it through Christmas without it being one of the rough weeks.  My children wound up being out of school the entire week last week due to the snowstorm.  They are back at school this week for just 3 days, then Christmas break starts, and lasts for 2 weeks.  The peace and quiet I have enjoyed during my recovery is being thrown into disarray, haha.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for another week.  Thank You for continuing to help me through this process.  You have truly taken away a large part of the burden relative to how rough I thought this would be.  Lord, there are several people in our Church and on our prayer chain that are going through rough times as well (for various things).  Please be with each of them.  Provide them the same strength and encouragement you have shown me.  Thank You for always being there for all of us.  Amen.

Day 109 – Monday (12/10/18)


Next blog update will be posted by Saturday, December 15th, at midnight.


Hello again everyone.  I apologize for the post being a couple of days late.  We had a significant snowstorm hit this weekend, and to be honest, I got side-tracked and forgot all about the blog!  Nonetheless, another week is in the books.  9 down, 9 to go.  Welcome to the half-way point!  Honestly though, the week countdown is a little misleading.  I feel like I am more than half way done, as I had chemo cycle 4 of 6 this past Thursday (12/6/18).  The countdown includes the recovery weeks post chemo.  Speaking of recovery weeks, that is where I am now.  The 7 days after the chemo infusion seem to be the worst, and the pattern did not let me down this time around.  Like usual, my stomach has been in roller coaster mode, and I have had the typical weight gain / water retention with the prednisone that I have been experiencing.  Today was my 5th day of prednisone though, so I have that wrapped up now for this 4th cycle.  I suspect by the end of the week, I will start feeling better again, in preparation for cycle 5.  Cycle 5 is scheduled for 12/27/18, and then my 6th and final cycle is scheduled for 1/17/19.

While my kids were playing in the snow this morning, I sat outside and simply enjoyed the winter wonderland scene.  (I believe we officially got 13 inches of snow this weekend).  It was nice to see how inclement weather can bring community together.  I saw neighbors helping neighbors shovel driveways.  I saw neighbors checking in on each other, and delivering Christmas goodies.  There is a massive hill in our neighborhood, and I saw all the neighborhood kids playing together, sharing sleds, and having fun.  For a moment, I was able to completely forget that we live in a fallen world full of heartache, sadness, disease, etc, and sin.  The Bible tells us that we do live in a fallen world, and that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  However, it also teaches that God had a rescue plan for us.  He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins.  He did not stay dead, but rose again 3 days later, and is living in Heaven today.  If we want to take part in God’s rescue plan, and have the Holy Spirit indwell within us, all we have to do is believe, ask, and receive.  I am so thankful that God provided this plan for us, so that we may have snowy days like today where I can sit and look around and know that there is hope.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You so much for continuing to heal my body from this cancer.  Each round of chemo is a mental and physical challenge, but You have proven that You are with me through it all, and are helping take the burden.  Thank You for beautiful snow days like today.  Thank You for giving me the time to slow down and just watch the world around me.  Thank You for reminding me that because of the work Jesus did on the cross, there is hope for this fallen world.  Please let us all be a light of that hope, and show that hope to others around us who may be looking for it.  You are an awesome God, and You continue to prove that to me everyday.  Thank You.  Amen.

Day 100 – Saturday (12/01/18)

 

Next blog update will be posted by Saturday, December 8th, at midnight.

 

Hello again everyone.  Another week is in the books.  8 down, 10 to go.  It is DAY 100!!!!!  I remember when I was in elementary school, the 100th day of school was a big deal.  We would make cheerio necklace’s with 100 cheerio’s.  We would count and roll 100 pennies.  We put 100 gumballs on a paper plate, and make a gumball machine out of them.  So, what am I doing for my 100th day celebration?  Typing a blog, and later we are having family movie night and we are going to watch Home Alone.  Haha.  Yeah, some of us are real party machines ;)

Health update:  My PET scan results actually posted to my account this week, and I was able to read through them.  Let me put some numbers to the picture I posted on the Day 86 post.  It was pretty clear the improvement just from the picture, but numbers sometimes can help as well.  Lets start with size.  The original size noted was 7 x 16.1 cm.  The current size is now 4.4 x 9.6 cm.  We are missing a dimension to get the volume, but just from an area stand-point, these numbers represent a 62.52% reduction.  And that is after just 2 treatments!  The next set of numbers that tell the story are called “SUV” or “Standard Uptake Value”.  This is a number that is assigned to how much of the test fluid was absorbed by the cells during the test… which basically tells us how “active” or “alive” the cancer is.  The original scan at the beginning had a SUV of 29.6.  Today, the SUV is only 5.4.  A 81.76 reduction in activity.  So in summary, we are definitely shrinking and killing Blobby.  Now, lets put that spot in my stomach they were seeing in perspective.  I don’t have dimensions on it, but the SUV value was only a 4.6.  Unfortunately, they did not record an SUV value in the original scan, so we don’t have a point of reference.  All they were able to say was that “at 4.6, it appears less intense then the first scan”.  This gives me some hope that this is also related to the lymphoma, and it will disappear with Blobby over the remaining cycles.  I’ll keep praying that on the next scan in February, it is simply gone.

The next important date is this coming Thursday, 12/6.  This is when I will receive my 4th round of chemo.  My son has another foot x-ray tomorrow, and hopefully will be released to full activities.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for another great week!  I didn’t know exactly how everything would play out 100 days ago, when I was told I had a mass in my chest.  But looking back, I can see you working through the entire process, and helping me every step of the way.  I pray for Your continued strength, blessings, and encouragement, which You have provided through friends, family, the church, neighbors, etc.  I truly am lucky to have so many people that care about me.  Please help chemo this Thursday to go smoothly.  Amen.

Day 93 – Saturday (11/24/18)

 

Next blog update will be posted by Saturday, December 1st, at midnight.

 

Hello again everyone.  Another week is in the books.  7 down, 11 to go.  From my health point of view, this was a fairly uneventful week.  The cycle seems to remain consistent, where I feel rough through the 7th day after the infusion, then things calm down.  My family was willing to push Thanksgiving to Friday, in hopes that my stomach would be better, and it was.  Unfortunately, while I started feeling better, my wife started feeling worse, and wound up with a stomach bug.  She felt pretty rough Friday and today, but I think it is starting to ease up some now as I type.  Going back to the beginning of the week, on Monday we received good news on my sons foot.  Everything is healing nicely, and he can stop using the boot and change to a stiff sole shoe on Monday, Nov. 26th.  Then we have another follow up on December 3rd, when he should be fully released to all activities.  Our one neighbor who had a follow-up visit also got good news that her bone was completely healed, and she could start putting weight on it again.  Lastly, my blood work this week came back… in the words of the nurse… “phenomenal”.  Looks like God is working things out all around!

I know that is short and sweet… but those are really the key points that I can remember.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for another blessed week.  Thank You for healing the feet in our neighborhood.  I’m not sure the status of the 2nd neighbors foot, but You do, and I pray You are healing it nicely as well.  Thank You for helping my blood work numbers come back “phenomenal”, and helping my stomach calm down by the end of the week.  I pray for my wife, that her stomach will make a full recovery very soon.  I told her she didn’t need to have sympathy pains on my account.  As we celebrated Thanksgiving this week, it gave us time to remember everything that we truly can be thankful for.  All of those things come from you Lord, and to You we give the ultimate thanksgiving.  Please be with all of my fellow blog readers in this coming week.  Keep them healthy, keep them safe, and help them through any trials they may be having.  Amen.

Day 86 – Saturday (11/17/18)

 

Next blog update will be posted by Saturday, November 24th, at midnight.

 

Hello again everyone.  Another week is in the books.  6 down, 12 to go.  I received some very encouraging news this past Thursday.  The doctor went over my latest PET scan with me, and showed me the progress we are making.  The scan is below.  Here are some notes that may help properly interpret the scan.  The dark spots are active cancers cells.  Ignore the heart, and the two places I X’d out.  Those are organs that always look dark on the scan.  You can see that the dark spots that were around my neck and shoulders are completely gone.  Also, the main mass is basically dead at this point.  There is still some activity, but very little.  It has shrunk some, but that is not the primary focus of the chemo.  The chemo is simply to kill the cells, and the radiation afterward will do the shrinking.  So, all in all, this scan looks very promising.  However, there is one item that showed up on the scan that needs further attention.  I will discuss below.

The item that showed up on both scans is a small area in / near my stomach that is showing up as a “hot spot”.  The spot appears small (I wasn’t given the measurements), and did not grow any during the 2 months between scans.  However, it does appear “active”, and did not show reduced activity on the second scan.  The doctor wants to keep an eye on this.  It could be nothing.  It could be an ulcer.  Or it could be stomach cancer.  If the spot was from the non-hodgkins lymphoma, it should die with the rest of Blobby and his friends.  If it is not, it will stay a hot spot.  The chemo regiment I’m currently on would not take care of stomach cancer.  If it turns out to be cancer, another treatment plan would have to be put in place.  The next PET scan will not be until the beginning of February when all of my cycle’s are complete.  If the spot is still there, the doctor said they will need to go in with a camera and see what it is.  So, my prayer over the next few months will simply be that the spot will be gone at my next scan, so that I can wrap up all this cancer talk and move on with life.  For those of you that have been praying for/with me, I’d ask that this be your prayer as well.  With that said, if the spot is still there in February, and it turns out to be something, at least God allowed us to catch it very early.

I guess the only other important info from this week is that I did start my 3rd cycle this past Thursday.  Everything went well, but as I type, I’m having the expected nausea and metallic taste in my mouth that makes everything yucky.  This usually lasts for 1 week, then fades away.  Other than that, all is good!

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the awesome results that I received this week; that we are making good progress killing Blobby.  It is somewhat unfortunate about the spot in my stomach, but I know You have a plan, and You already know what it is (if anything).  I pray that You would deal with this spot over the next few months, leading up to my next scan.  If it is Your will, I pray that the spot would be gone completely.  I also continue to pray for my son and our neighbor(s) with broken feet… Yes, I found out a second neighbor had foot surgery also.  My son and one of the neighbors have follow-up visits on Monday.  I pray that both visits show progress in the right direction.  I’m thankful that even when things may seem overwhelming, You have it all under control.  I love You Lord, amen.