Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Click on this link-

Here is a link to the daily (well almost daily) updates. Click Here

Saturday, February 11, 2006

2. What do I do now ?

Shortly after we got home, my parents, sister and her daughter came to the house to here about the results. We sent my niece upstairs to watch our girls while we discussed the diagnosis. It was conversation that had no tears involved, but the tension and concern were in the air. One of the comments I made was that I was still planning on doing the Half Ironman in Florida despite the diagnosis. I didn’t know how that would fit into treatment, but I was still going to do it. We decided not to tell the girls just yet. Sharon and I needed too discuss the best way to do this.

That Friday night was an extremely long night. We were aware of the diagnosis, but it just didn’t seem real yet. But it was real enough that neither of us slept for more than a few minutes at a time. How could I have cancer? Why me? What did I do wrong? What was wrong with my body that allowed me to get cancer? I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I was healthy and very active. I always tried to do the right thing, so I should have good Karma. What went wrong? What was going to happen in the course of treatment? Was I going to turn into a cancer patient that was hairless, ashen in color, thin as a rail from suffering through the treatment? I don’t feel sick. How can I have cancer? What if I just ignore it? Maybe the diagnosis was a mistake. Maybe a second opinion will contradict the diagnosis and this can just go away. What will our girls think? How do we explain this to them? Am I going to die? What is this going to do to us financially? Will our insurance cover this? Do I really have cancer? I don’t feel sick, how can I have cancer?

Saturday morning rolled around and I left the house headed for the Dallas Athletes store to meet up for the morning bike ride. When I got there, I was still numb from the news, but needed to tell some people. I needed help in dealing with this news. I remember talking to Tom R, Kristin V, Kathi W, Dave D, Dan J. I know I told others as well. It felt good to ride that morning. It was a quick 22 miles. I had to cut it short because my daughters were going to be performing on stage in Lewisville that morning with the dance school they were involved with.

After the dance recital, we had lunch, and then headed to the house. Sharon and I had come up with a way to talk with the girls.

We sat them down and I began to explain that the bump in my neck that the doctor removed was something called Hodgkin’s Disease. I went on to tell them that although I looked ok and felt ok, I was indeed sick. I saw a look in my 7 year olds eyes, and I asked what was wrong. She wanted to know if she could catch it from me. I assured her that she would not catch it from me. I went on to explain that it was going to take a while for daddy to get better. It wasn’t going to be next week or next month and I was better. It could take 6 months or maybe a year. We just didn’t know yet. There would probably be times that I stayed in bed. I might even need to stay in the hospital sometimes. We just did not know yet. I was also going to being going to the doctor a bunch if times. Sharon and I both said several times that daddy was going to be ok. We also mentioned that sometimes Hodgkin’s is called cancer. We wanted to make sure they heard that word form us.

We also made them pronounce the word “Hodgkin’s”. That was fun. We got everything from Hogins to Hawkins. The tough word was Lymphoma. Lifoma, Limoma, Lymphona, Lindoma….we got quite the range….but they finally got it right. It was a bright spot in a tough moment. We wanted to make sure they knew what daddy had.

The first visit to the Oncologist was a couple of days later on Tuesday. It was then we learned what would happen next and what to expect as time went on. We learned there a lot more tests to come and another surgery. We learned that he thought I was stage 1A or 2A based on his physical exam of me. We learned that I would most likely be on an ABVD chemotherapy cocktail for 4 cycles (8 treatments-1 once every 2 weeks) followed up by 1 month of radiation treatment. Side effects included hair loss, sterility, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, low immunity to infection, mouth sores, dry mouth, lung damage, heart damage…..and the list went on…

I explained that was very active physically with Triathlons and could I continue to participate? His response was that I could do what I felt like doing. He did recommend that I stay away from the swimming pool as they are a good place for bacteria to hang out, even with chlorinated water. Chemicals aren’t always as they should be in a pool.

The tests required were a PET scan (to detect where the cancer is), MUGA scan (to baseline my hearts ability to pump blood), Pulmonary Function Test (to baseline my lung capacity), more blood tests. These would all help determine the extent of the cancer and the best treatment path to take.

Another surgery was scheduled to place a “Medi-Port” in my chest. This allows them to put the chemo drugs into large veins and prevent damage to the smaller veins that would occur if they just put them into my arm.

Somewhere in here ( I don’t remember the exact date) , I called Pauline and told her about the diagnosis. I needed to keep my guardian angel in the loop.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

1. Massage Is A Good Thing

Back in late October, I got a wonderful massage from Pauline. During this massage, she asked me about the lump on my neck. I said "What Lump...huh. I don't know what it is." As it turns out, Pauline is my guardian angel. If I had not seen her, and if she had not said something, I don't know what would have happened. To Pauline, me and my family are very greatful. The following week I saw the Doctor.

The Doctor tried a couple of antibiotics thinking it might be from some sort of infection. That didn't work. Next was an ultrasound. Next was a visit to the surgeon.

He wanted some tests done before he did a biopsy. Once all the tests were complete, I was scheduled for surgery on 11/28. The surgery went without any complications. (That was the first time I ever had any anesthesia-that was interesting). Next came the waiting. The biopsy had been sent to lab in Dallas for analysis.

My appointment to go back to the Dr for the results was December 2. That was a long day. It almost felt like I had an appointment with the principal. Sharon and I sat there for what seemed like 30 minutes (but it was no more than a few minutes). When the Dr walked in, I knew he had bad news. He held out the lab report and said I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The next few moments were a blur. The next thing I know, Sharon and I were walking to the car in silence with a lab report that would change my life.

As we began to drive home, questions started forming in my head. How would we tell our two young girls? How would we tell our family? What will the treatment be? How long will it last? How ? What? When? ? ? ?

While I was driving back to the house, Sharon and I tried to come to grips with this news. It's difficult to drive with tears coming down your cheeks. I felt like the lump that was removed from my neck was back in my throat.

My cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number. I tried to decide if I should answer, because I could barely speak. I answered the call. It was Tom Ryan. (For those that don't know, Tom is the founder of Dallas Athletes, coach, and friend to me). He wanted to know what we had found out at the Doctor. Now, up to this point, I had not yet said those words outloud (cancer or Hodgkin's Disease) about myself. With trembling voice and tears welling up in my eyes, I told Tom that I had cancer, specifically Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I don't remember the rest of the conversation after that, but I was glad he called. It was good that I was able to tell someone about this news before we saw our girls. Thank you Tom.

I'll continue with more in the next posting.