Another Journey Update…

Sorry I have not posted in a while, but I have been trying to figure out how to word things.  Then I thought, that’s stupid, why don’t I do what I always do, just say it like it is.

Well, Sandi and I spent the day together on Tuesday.  It was nice spending time with her, but it was at doctor appointments.  Spending any time with Sandi is great, even if it is at doctor appointments.

The day started with my radiation therapy.  She came back to the room and saw the exam being performed.  Radiation therapy is going well.  I have three more sessions (I will be done next Wednesday).  The pain from the mass is getting better, but not sure if it due to the doctors increasing my pain meds or if the radiation therapy is doing its job.  I have not felt any decrease in the size of the mass, but that may not happen until after therapy is done. 

We then went to see my oncologist.  He was very happy with my weight gain.  Up to 177 pounds now.  I have gained 45 pounds since the beginning of August.  We discussed starting me on a new drug (think Huey Lewis, “I Want a New Drug”).  The drug is Vectibix and we will see what it can do for me.  I will be on it for about two months and then we will do a CT scan to see if this new drug has made any difference.

The it was off to lunch.  We met up with our niece, Kristen, for lunch at Bravo.  We had a nice lunch and visit with Kristen. 

Next stop, the surgeon.  I really like my surgeon, but he can be very direct.  I like people that are direct, you know where you stand with them, but it can be painful sometimes.  He told us that he would do more harm than good if he performed surgery right now.  We did look at my latest CT scan and it looked pretty ugly.  My entire abdomen is just full of cancer.  He pointed out some of the tumors as well.  He seemed a little puzzled about next steps and noted that he is not giving up on me yet.  Yes, very comforting words.  One good thing is that he is also happy with my weight gain and so we are going to get me off of the TPN treatments.  Sunday night will be my last treatment.  We will then see if I can self-sustain my own weight.  It is also nice to get off TPN as Sandi and I would like to take a trip for our anniversary and we were not going to be able to do that if I was still getting TPN treatments.

Anyway, the nutshell is that radiation therapy is going well and will be ending soon.  Getting off TPN.  Chemo will be starting in about a week and a half.  That’s the update.  Thanks for reading!!

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Back to the grind…

Well, it is back to the grind, again.  Had a CT scan last week.  Results showed continued growth.  There are a few tumors that have grown from about an inch to an inch and a half.  There continues to be mild growth in the abdomen.  Gettin’ tired of these CT scan results. 

Started chemo again on Friday.  It hit me hard for the first five hours or so. Harder than I remember in the past, but got through it.  Will be having chemo treatments every two weeks, starting on Sept. 16th.  My oncologist is putting me back on Erbitux again.  This is the drug that gave me the very bad chemo rash.  Great.  My face gets to look like it went through a meat grinder again.

Met with my surgeon today.  At least a minimum of six more weeks on TPN.  Guess I better get used to this, even though I don’t like it.  He still wants me to gain more weight.  I have gained aoubt 20 lbs. in the last three and a half weeks.  He is happy with that, for sure.

Anyway, here we go again.  Will probably get another CT scan in about 2 months to check porgress.  I will continue to keep you all posted.

Perseverance – Introduction…

Not sure why this has been tugging at me for a few days now, but I feel compelled to share my thoughts on persevering.  Let’s face it, persevering is a way of life for me now.  So what is perseverance?  Here are a few tidbits to get our heads around this.

  • Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~Newt Gingrich

 

  • When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
    ~Author Unknown

 

  • There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream. ~Author Unknown

 

  • I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday. ~Author Unknown

 

  • Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

  • Getting knocked down seven times and getting up eight.

 

  • Perseverance is commitment to hard work, patience and endurance.

 

  • Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.

 Let me tell you a story about Sandi and me.  It was 1998 and one morning, after a night of very terrible storms, we woke up to five feet of water in the lower level of our bi-level house. We lost everything on that level, plus both of our cars, that were completely submerged.  That was our first test.  We started the process of rebuilding our home.  A few months after the flood, we found out that we were expecting our first child.  Very exciting, but very nerve wracking for me.  About six months after that, I decided to change jobs, a stressor in itself.  Then we decided to buy a new home.  Yep, that’s easy.  NOT.  Oh, by the way, this all happened while I was getting my MBA.  Yep, learning about perseverance the hard way.  Going back to the thoughts on giving up, bearing difficulties, etc.

 

Well, we thought that we had been through enough, but God wasn’t finished with us yet.  Nine years go by and life was good.  Family was growing, job was good, and church was fantastic.  Then July 23, 2007 comes around.  My diagnosis date.  Stage IV colon cancer at the age of 37.  Not just colon cancer, but the worst type that you could get.  Great just what I needed in my life.  How would this affect my family?  What is my true prognosis?  How would my golf game turn out? 

 

It has been a little over a year now.  Everyday is a battle.  Everyday, I thank God for one more day.  Everyday I persevere.  Over the next week or so, I will be blogging on various aspects of this topic.  I hope you enjoy it.

Russ Runs a Great Race…

Well, my good buddy, Russ, did it!!! He ran the Columbus 1/2 marathon this morning and finished strong and well under a two hour time. It was great to be there to support him as he ran to support me. You see, Russ was running to raise some funds for the Tarapchak boys to get to Fenway Park to see a Red Sox game. His post is here. Russ was wildly successful in getting sponsors and thanks to Russ, we will not only get to Boston, but also to Chicago for a Cubs game!!

Russ, words cannot express my thanks and appreciation for what you have done for me and my family. To give so unselfishly of your time to train and then to run today, means so much. Thanks, my friend, is all I can say!

I also watched some other friends from my church run. Congrats to Heather and Amanda for finishing strong and beating their time goals as well.

I had a great morning. I think I was as excited as some of the runners. It was a great experience and again, many thanks to Russ, Heather, and Amanda!

Still Learning To Receive…

Still a very hard lesson to learn. Again, this is not a self serving post, but rather another friend who is making a difference in our lives out of the goodness of their hearts. Here is an e-mail excerpt from a dear friend of mine and her husband and what they are doing. They have asked me to post this…

Hi all!

I loved reading the post by Russ on Stef’s blog March 26th about raising money for Stef to take a trip to Fenway – one of his “bucket list” items. My husband Dave and I have been wanting to challenge all of Stef’s friends, family and acquaintances to join us in trying to cross off ALL of the items on Stef’s “bucket list” and we were very excited that someone else has the same idea! We have decided to match the first $1,000 (dollar for dollar) given towards the goal of seeing Stef and his family enjoy EVERYTHING on that list! The check is already in the mail to them. Some other ways to contribute would be with air miles for the trips to Greece or California, or wave runners for summer fun – just take a look at the list and be creative! I’ve copied Stef’s list below.

From Stef’s blog (Jan 23, 2008):

“I really would like to see the movie “The Bucket List”. Maybe that will motivate me to get some things done that I would like to do. Such as (in no particular order):

1. Go to Greece and visit some of my family that I have never met.

2. Take Sandi to California, rent a convertible and travel up the coast of California and stay at some Bed & Breakfast places along the way.

3. Take the boys to a baseball game at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.

4. Take the boys deep sea fishing.

5. Take Sandi and my daughter to Chicago for a weekend and go on a shopping spree.

6. Go big game hunting out west.

7. Buy some wave runners and take the kids out on weekends this summer and have some fun.

These are just a few things, as random as they are. The problem with this list is that we need to watch our funds due to the medical bills. Some of this may get done, but I know some will never get crossed off the list. Am I ok with that, I think so… I guess the most important thing is to just make sure that I spend as much time with my family as possible. That is what really matters to me. Yes, it would be great to do any one of the things on my list, but if I give up these opportunities to spend time with my wife and kids, I am ok with that. I am getting used to making sacrifices, if it means more time with the family and friends.”

Come on everybody, let’s bless the (red) socks off of our friend Stef!

Thanks ahead of time for this great gift to the Tarapchak family!

Laurel and David Pinson

Run for Stef…

Ok, this is a hard one to post. Know that this is not a self serving post, but one that a good friend of mine has asked me to do. My buddy, Russ, who I have coached soccer with for a number of years, is a solid friend! He is a sprinter by nature and running a 1/2 marathon is going to push Russ to some limits, but he is game. Here is what Russ is doing for us:

Taking care of the Bucket List

For those of you who have read this blog regularly, you’ll know in January, Stef posted a Bucket List. #3 on that list was to go to Fenway. To help get him there, I’m running a 1/2 marathon on April 12th as a fund-raiser and would love it if you would contribute toward that goal. I’ve never run a 1/2 marathon before, but I also couldn’t just sit close by and do nothing. We’re also working with the Red Sox to see what they can do for tickets and area hotels for his stay.

So please, I will do the work – I’ll run, contact the Red Sox, do all the correspondence, collect and distribute the funds to him, and all the other little things if you’ll but simply donate.

You can track my running progress at : http://runforstef.livejournal.com/

If you’d like to contribute, please contact me at busket_13@yahoo.com

Thank you and pledge from the heart,
Russ Beitzel

I could not thank Russ enough for what he is doing. I was surprised and got a little emotional on this one. We have had so much support through this and receiving is still a lesson we are learning. Thanks, Russ.

If you had the chance…

question.jpg…to ask how you would die, would you ask that question? Tough one, huh. Disclaimer: this is not meant to be a morbid post. I am in a very good mental state right now. Just sharing my curiosity and thoughts.

I asked that question yesterday at my oncology appointment. It was a question out of curiosity as I cannot wrap my head around how this cancer can get me. In my small, finite mind, I had an answer for everything. If it gets to the liver, either do a radiofrequency ablation procedure or surgically remove some of the liver, it will grow back. If it gets to the lungs, take out a lobe of the lung. If it gets to the lymph system, hhmmnnn, not sure about that one.

So, here is the answer my oncologist gave me. First, he corrected me on my two year prognosis. For the second time in eight months, he has told me that these are just averages and that he has many patients out five and seven years. Then he went on to say that there is not a real defining moment in the process. Basically, he said that cancer takes its toll on the body and the body begins to shut down. It can really no longer fight and so it starts the process of shutting down. He went on to say that many of his patients know it is their time before he does.

So, if we keep fighting and keep the cancer at bay, and I continue to keep the positive attitude, maybe I can keep my body from shutting down for a few more decades. Gonna be a battle, but I don’t lose very many things!! Watch out cancer, here I come! Are you ready to RUMBLE!!!!!!!!!

Also, a small bit of good news yesterday. I gained three more pounds the last two weeks. I am now out of my old high school weight and getting back into my college weight. I have gained back a total of 10 pounds and only have 28 more pounds to gain to get back to my fighting weight!