One Year Older.
One Year Wiser.
Birthdays are a very important day for me. So many people cringe as they cross their mid-thirties and approach 40, but I hope with everything inside me that I get there.
Thirty-Five was an eventful year for me. I’ve had highs and lows and unknowns to last a lifetime. I assume every cancer patient feels those waves of emotion. It’s unexplainable to someone who hasn’t been affected by the disease. You eventually learn to live helplessly treading the water, waiting for something to hold onto.
Thankfully, I’ve had a lot to hold onto lately.
A few days ago on the heels of the bowling fundraiser, the beer league hockey team I played many seasons with organized a charity game in my honor. People came out, wore their PHKL Versus Cancer game attire, and helped raise money for my ongoing treatments. I only knew a handful of the people who attended, so again, thank you to everyone who came out to support my ongoing healing journey.
Priceless Happy Birthday Gift
On Thursday morning Heather and the kids sat me down before I left for work to give me my gift. As I began to open the card, Heather started filming. I had no idea why and felt embarrassed as I normally do in situation where I’m being filmed. Unfortunately, the video lacks the surprise Heather was hoping to see.
As I reached the end of the card, I realized I’d be taking a trip in October to Florida.
In November of 2015, the day I made the decision to stop treating my Stage IV colon cancer with cytotoxic drugs, I watched a documentary called The Truth About Cancer. This documentary definitely has a bias towards alternative treatments as being the only way to heal cancer, but it still offers a person like me, who had a really difficult experience with chemo, a lot of hope. I don’t agree with everything the documentary claims, but the truth is that Stage IV colon cancer is incurable using conventional cytotoxic cancer treatment. This helped open my eyes a bit that there very well could be a way to heal my body and find a way to Radical Remission, a concept I knew nothing about.
Well, a good friend of ours arranged for me to go to their annual conference in Orlando. Flight + Hotel + Conference Pass covered. I’ll be able to talk and share ideas with a lot of people who are treading water with me or have found the strength to make it back to shore.
I can’t explain how amazing of a gift this is, even though the video surprise failed. Thank You. I have nothing but love for you.
You Only Live Once
I also have a friend speaking at the conference. His story is amazing. Ryan was diagnosed with Stage IV lymphoma right around the same time I stopped chemotherapy and I met him in a Facebook group for people affected by cancer. Like me, he was mid thirties, married with young children and fighting desperately to be there for his family. He decided to make his entire life public and started posting 24/7 about his cancer journey. Videos, thoughts, feelings, visits to Mexico for treatment… you name it, he did it. What he chose not to do though was any form of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. He understood stage IV much like I began to understand it at that time… that it’s terminal.
He went through many hills and valleys and nearly died from severe lymphedema, ascites and pleural effusions. There was a time I told Heather that I didn’t think he was going to make it.
But he did. And he’s has no evidence of disease. He had a basketball sized tumor in his abdomen which made him look pregnant and it’s now gone.
And like me, he won’t call it a miracle. Like me, he believes healing is possible –not miraculous – even with Stage IV cancer. Granted, he’s in the minority when it comes to healing from cancer the way he did, but seeing it happen first hand gives me and so many others hope who have heard a doctor say the words “There’s nothing else you can do“. If you want to read from the start what he’s been through, you can find him on Facebook or read his Blog.
I’ll see you in October Ryan. Maybe we can do a video interview together. I’ll try not to be camera shy, but I can’t promise their won’t be tears.
August Blood Work
Tomorrow I’m going in for my monthly blood work followed by my Vitamin C infusion. I desperately want my CEA to be going in the opposite direction this time, but I’m not overly expecting it to be either. This race is long and I’ve barely even began. Blood work is simply a marker to figure out what we should add to or take away from my treatment. I’m anxiously awaiting to see what we should do next.
I’ve still been battling dehydration. Summer + Ostomy = trips to the doctor to get fluids quite often. I’m also getting an extra bag of fluid at each of my infusions as well. The truth of the matter is I’m always dehydrated now without a large intestine. However, we are putting pieces together that seem to add to the issues. For instance, I have a (twice) root canaled tooth that was causing me some pain. X-rays showed that I may need an apicoectomy, which is surgery to get a filling in the root of the tooth. I was placed on Amoxicillin and sent home to see if it helped the pain.
It did. The pain was gone by the second day; however, the antibiotics did a number on the rest of my intestines and nearly sent me to the hospital again for dehydration and fluids. Thankfully I survived the night and got fluids the next day at my naturopath’s office. I don’t know why it affected me so strongly, but it did. After a week on the antibiotics and feeling plenty miserable, I was told to stop. Two days later I felt like myself again.
If the pain returns, which is inevitable, I’ll likely opt for the apicoectomy.
I can’t explain the relief I have now that I feel well again. Last week I was feeling all kinds of miserable and if you ask any cancer patient, feeling unwell only causes anxiety. I was having daily headaches for 2 weeks, taking motrin (which is a rarity for me these days) and having headaches return 4 hours later.
On Monday, I went to my weekly acupuncture appointment and hoped for some help with this headache. I told her where the pain was coming from and she explained that all the points I touched were part of the gallbladder/liver meridians and would treat those organs. I always fall asleep during acupuncture and when I woke up, I’m not exaggerating in the least, the headache was completely gone. I haven’t even had a hint of it since Monday morning.
I know so many people are hesitant to try it, but I can’t recommend it enough. Shameless plug: Call Julie Silver at Michigan Associates of Acupuncture if you’re curious and have ever been told you should give it a try.
A Day in Downtown Detroit
We had an amazing day in Detroit this past Sunday. We had Tigers tickets from the silent auction (donated by Donnie Wood and given to us by my Mom… Thanks!) so we decided to make it a whole day downtown.
It started with the kids seeing the view from my office at the RenCen.
We then took the people mover to eat at the Hudson Cafe. Unfortunately, they were packed on game day morning. I’m actually glad they were because that led us down the street to Avalon Bakery.
Which then introduced me to their vegan, Avocado Toast on an optional gluten free bun. OMG this was amazing.
Heather enjoyed some Avocado Toast as well along with other vegan treats at the Campus Martias city beach.
After playing in the sand we headed to Comerica Park and enjoyed a rare Tigers victory (13-1!), including a grand slam nearly hit right to me (it just missed the Pepsi Porch). Even rarer, both kids made it through all nine-innings and wanted to run the bases at the end of the game.
I’ve worked downtown for the past 7 years, but I rarely venture into the city. After Sunday, you really do realize that Detroit is on the rebound.
It was a perfect day.
I’m blessed to be able to do these things with my wife and kids. I’m still working and feel well 90% of the time. I have so much support from friends, family & work. I truly can’t complain.