Friday, December 23, 2011

All Clear for Santa

Had my high resolution CT scan today.  And actually got the results today to, what a bonus.  The infection in the upper lungs is no longer there which is good.  Even better no sign of any lymphoma in the chest.  At the time of this news, I did not have the results of my blood work.  So later in the day I found out that the immunoglobulins have boosted my immune system back up to good ranges.  So my question was "why am I coughing so much?"  It is possible that the rituxan is being hard on my respiratory system in the way of tightening the air ways, which could cause me to cough as a reaction.  Being that I have been coughing for 12 weeks, it's possible that maybe I did not have the crud the whole time.  Don't have all the answers, but the onc wants to try an inhaler to help open up the airways.  Tonight I did my first dose, and I gotta say, it did help.  So let's hope this is a step in the right direction, and possibly a cause to all my discomfort.  I can hope right?  So thats how this year will probably end up, and possibly my first difficulty with treatment since this began earlier this year.  No complaints on that one.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and cannot wait to ring in 2012!

Maintenance on hold

Talked to the oncologist again today.  Gotta say that the day started off good with a nice number on the scale, good blood pressure, but concerns over the coughs.  Yes, after 12 weeks, I am still coughing.  This past week I noticed a tightening of the chest feeling at times when I took a breath, and sometimes just not feeling like I was breathing well.  Not short on breaths, but just a very different feeling.  One of the side affects to Rituxan is lung problems and chest pains.  So my oncologist is going to put my Rituxan on hold right now, and send me to a pulmonary specialist to see what is going on with the lungs and make sure that the harshness of the Rituxan hasn't knocked me down too far.  So I have a High Resolution CT scan tomorrow morning, hopefully the infection is gone, but better yet not worsened.  I will go back in two weeks and have another round of immunoglobulins, bubbles as I call them, and see if it will get my immune system back on track.  Guess I now know what it is like to have a suppressed immune system.  While I don't feel awful, the cough is getting old, but the tight chest did get my attention, so here is to getting better!!

So not a lot of good cheer to go with this, but Christmas is soon to be upon us.  I will have a smile on my face, and look forward to a new 2012.  This year has been one that I will not forget, but I am very positive that I will continue to do well and am motivated to continue fighting this inconvenience.  Many people keep me in their prayers, and I am grateful for that, and is part of the reason that I stay strong in this fight!!

Merry Christmas!  iBelieve

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Today I have my treatment to help my immune system with the IV of immunoglobulin.  It was pretty easy to do, had the strange taste in my mouth common to the treatments I have had.  Hopefully I will feel better soon.  Wikipedia gave this definition, IVIG is given as a plasma protein replacement therapy (IgG) for immune deficient patients who have decreased or abolished antibody production capabilities. In these immune deficient patients, IVIG is administered to maintain adequate antibody levels to prevent infections and confers a passive immunity.  Gonna go back in 2 weeks and hopefully be strong enough that I can continue on with my maintenance treatment.  If not, more IVIG.  So for now, doing good, just hoping I bounce back from the infection they saw in my lungs.  Not sure why it had so many air bubbles, but this is what the bottle looked like once I was almost done.

Getting the immune system pump started

Friday, December 2, 2011

Maintenance Round 4 delayed

So like I cannot believe I have not added a post in almost 2 months.  Where is time going.  But I partially have a good reason.  I have been sick for 9 weeks now.  It started out as a cough sometimes congested head in the middle of October. So I started the over the counter meds, you know mucinex and vitamin c.  Yeah that did not get better.  So at the end of October, found out I did have fluids in my right ear, an ugly throat, and I got my first round of amoxicillin, and an inhaler.  7 days and guess what, not better.  Gave it a little longer but went back for more meds.  Got some cough syrup with codeine plus a nose spray.  10 days later, the improvement nose dived again and I started feeling like crap again.  The coughing was not suppressed with the syrup I was taking so I asked for something better so I could at least sleep.  So Oct 29th, my third trip in, got a chest X-ray.  Yeah, that was clear, my lungs sounded clear, but I coughed and hacked it up all the time.  So I asked how that could be with everything being clear, and was told that they may need to do a CT scan of my chest.  Guess you cannot se everything with X-rays any more.

So I asked my oncologists triage nurses whether there was anything to be worried about and what a CT scan would show that a chest X-ray wouldn't.   Apparently a good bit.  So, I got right in for a CT scan, and when I went in my my 4th round of maintenance, my oncologist decided we would delay and he wanted bloodwork.  Talked about my immunoglobulins and needing to see if they are low.  He wants to give me what I think is called an ivig, which google says is an iv with immune globulins from donated plasma.  So the bloodwork is taken and I will know more on the 8th.

So meanwhile, 4 days into the stronger antibiotics, and I don't feel any better.  The cough syrup which has hydrocodone in it, that makes me sleep pretty darn good.  Thats a life saver let me tell you.  I will see what Monday brings, but if I am not better, might be calling back to ask about the immune system and what the bloodwork looks like.  It's a wait game.  Not sure when Round 4 will be, so keep an eye out.

Don't forget you can put your email address on the main page to get an email notice I blogged.  That way if I totally loose track of time and haven't posted, you won't get tired of coming back to nothing. :)

I think this is such an awesome quote, gonna post it again!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Maintenance Round 3 and the passing of a true innovator

Today's round of maintenance went very well.  No side affects, great seeing the wonderful staff at Louisville Oncology Suburban again today.  They truly make the experience awesome.  Two more months and this year of treatment will be over.  I asked today if I will do maintenance next year and the onc said yes.  I expected that, so looks like 2012 will be another exciting year.

Last weekend, though well overdue to post, I completed 69.38 miles in the Bike to Beat Cancer ride.  It was a cold and raining morning, and a cold afternoon, and a bit of sunshine towards evening.  The course took me 8 hours and 45 minutes due to 3 flat tires due to a sliver of glass in the rear tire.  Total ride time was 5 hours and 55 minutes.  But I completed it.  An awesome feeling.  I raised a total of $1,400 and for such a worthy cause.  Look forward to next year.  Could it be a 100 miler next year?  Hmmmmm.

So tonight, coming back from Bardstown, I heard on the radio that Steve Jobs has passed away at age 56. Though the cause is not public knowledge, it is mentioned about his battle with cancer.  This just hits home for me, though I can say I am a survivor, I will always wonder if it will come back again.  I will one day have to have a bone marrow transplant, but am encouraged that the onc says I am too young right now.  Cancer is become a very common word, I sure hope they find a cure soon.  Until then, I pray my remission lasts forever.  Please pray for the Jobs family for the loss of a true innovator!

RIP Steve Jobs - you never gave up!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Preparation for the Ride

Spare tubes check.  Electrolytes check.  The important stuff check.  Motivation check check.

In about 10 hours, the Bike to Beat Cancer ride will begin at EP Tom Sawyer Park.  68.38 miles, I am trying to figure out how long that will take me.  If I can maintain an average of 15 mph, thats a little over 4.5 hours.  Woot Woot.   Either way, time to rest up and get myself ready.

I currently met my $1,000 fundraising goal by 133%.  What an awesome finish!

2011 Bike to Beat Cancer Ride

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last Chance!!!

Okay, I am still a little short, I am at about 83% of my goal for the Bike to Beat Cancer ride on Saturday the 24th of September.  This goes to such a worthy cause, if you are interested, please help me reach my goal :)

Support my ride in the Bike to Beat Cancer!! 2 Days left!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feeling good!

So the cortisone shot seems to be working, and making the discomfort stay away.  I start physical therapy next week, that ought to be fun.  So we'll see how that works out and what happens in a few weeks.

Next round of maintenance is Oct 5th.  Should be a breeze like always.

So in 7 days, I will partake in the Bike to Beat Cancer ride for the Norton's Cancer Institute.  68.38 miles long, I hope that I can take the hills and twists on this long course.  I have met 70% of my goal.  Only need a little bit more.  Definitely would appreciate the support for this great cause.  :)

Bike to Beat Cancer - Support my ride!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bring on the shots

Okay, so today's appointment didn't do much for me to figure out what is in store for me for my torn rotator cuff, but I did find out it was a 5mm tear.  While that doesn't tell me much, I do know that being able to see the MRI films would have helped a lot more.  The doctor wasn't able to view them so he is going to start me with a shot in the glenohumeral joint and did some X-rays today.  He did say the report said the lesion was inactive but sounds like it is still there.  Not sure what relevance that has, but will know more once he sees the MRI films.   So tomorrow morning I get the shot, and PT will start soon.  Hopefully that is all I will need for now.   But, I have a hunch the battle is not over.  Stay tuned, more to come.

Support my ride in the Bike to Beat Cancer - only $320 away from my goal

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's a tear

So I got the MRI results today, looks like the right shoulder has a rotator cuff tear.  That might explain all the pain/discomfort that I have been having, especially when I use my camera for a bit during the day.  My appointment with the Doc is on Thursday, 8 September, so I won't know more till then.  Glad to know what was causing the problem, but not sure I am too happy to know. :)  More to follow.

Hopefully this will not interrupt my Bike to Beat Cancer ride, but we'll see.

Sponsor my ride in the Bike to Beat Cancer!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

MRI complete

I had my MRI on Friday, so hopefully I will know soon if there is anything else going on in my shoulder that has been causing me the discomfort.  This was the first one I have had done at the Brownsboro Road Norton's Hospital, and the first in an open MRI, so it wasn't quite as intimidating as the closed ones.

I have passed the halfway point in sponsorship for my bike ride on September 24th.  Only 20 days away, can't wait to get this started!!  If you have a few extra dollars to help Cancer Research, please click the below link to help me reach my goal!!

Sponsor me in the Bike to Beat Cancer Ride!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The course is set, time to get ready!

So they posted the course for the 3 distances for the Bike to Beat Cancer ride on Sept. 24th.  Gonna drive it today, but here is the link to the course if you are curious. Ha.  It goes right by my neighborhood, kinda neat.

65 Mile course - actual course 68.38 miles

Less than one month away, I need your support.  Please take a moment to donate, even if it is a couple dollars, every little bit helps.  Follow the link if you would like.

Support my ride in the Bike to Beat Cancer!

A few weeks ago, they did an interview with me for the Bike to Beat Cancer ride.  They finally posted it on the Facebook page, so go take a look if you want a good laugh hehe.  It is actually not too bad I guess, but I always think worse of myself.    Because it is for such a good cause, I even put on the biker jersey, ohhhh those things are form fitting let me tell ya.  ha.  The ride will be a great event!!  Come out and cheer me on either at EP Tom Sawyer Park, or somewhere along the way.  Westport Road Walmart is a key location close to both the finish and almost mid way through the course.

Bike to Beat Cancer video with Jackie Hays and I

Anyone can give up, it is the easiest thing to do.  But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.
 - unknown

Cruising along

Many this month has flown by.  Kinda stinks, but thats how it is.  Up to 32 miles on my training for the Bike to Beat Cancer bike ride.  I was hoping for 45 this weekend, but some muscle cramps due to the hills got the best of me.  But the final stretch is coming, and the push is on.  Be sure to click the link to help sponsor my ride.  Every little bit helps.

Support my ride in the Bike to Beat Cancer Ride on Sept 24th

The pain I felt in my shoulder is more of a discomfort now.  Still waiting to find out when the MRI will be scheduled.  More on that when I find out.  :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Maintenance Round 2 done and done

Had my second round of maintenance today, and all went well.  Talked to the doc about my shoulder pain, and he wants to do an MRI to make sure there is no fractures or anything from the tumor that was in my shoulder.  He pressed in the front and that sure got my attention, so maybe it is just needing a cortisone shot or something to get it back to normal.  We'll see soon.  Treatment went well, no complications.

Yesterday I had an interview for the Bike to Beat Cancer ride for Norton's.  While I feel kinda dorky, it was kinda fun.  Should be up on the website for all to have a good laugh over.  But please support my ride, whether you have $5 or $10, it all goes to a great cause.  I up'd my goal cause I want to get a championship jersey but also to help out the research that will keep me healthy.  Click the link below and donate online for me!  Thanks!

Support my ride in the Bike to Beat Cancer!!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

All Clear!

So I took a chance to see if I could find out the results of my pet scan today.  The good news, I am still all clear and remission continues.  Why do I have an oh so familiar pain in my shoulder?  Thats the next step, not sure why, but it definitely isn't anything coming back to haunt me.  I will find out more at my appointment on the 10th, but for now, it's all clear still!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Napping during a PET scan

So today's PET scan went great.  I only fell asleep and snored 4 times.  What do you expect for 6:45am show time. :)  I will have the results by the 10th of August, but if the onc changes that and calls me in sooner, could mean my hunch is correct and something is brewing in my shoulder again.  Hope to know more soon but most likely the 10th of August.

iBelieve!   Rob

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A challenge to the Watch and Wait

So I called my oncologist on Monday to mention the shoulder pain that has come back.  Naturally that could be a bad thing, but to be safe, they changed my CT scan to a PET scan and that is scheduled for 6:45am Wednesday, which is tomorrow.  I probably won't know the results until the 10th of August, which is my scheduled appointment.  So hopefully the results will be just the joints being tired.  :)  More news to come.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Almost time

It's almost time to go back for my next round of maintenance, and the first CT scan since remission.  Had a rough week this past week, and spent a much needed weekend doing nothing.  I would definitely rather be on the beach in Florida, but hey, sometimes you get that pulled out from under you.  So I had some fun at friends in the pool.  Tonight though, I hope that the feeling in my shoulder is from swimming and not an indication that some shoulder pain is coming back.  Unfortunately, it is the right shoulder that had the tumor in it.  So lots on my mind right now.  But all will be good.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rounding the corner.......

August 10th is fast approaching. Very interested in seeing how things have gone these first 12 weeks of maintenance.  Still feeling great, doing good.  Just came back from a week in Fairview Heights, IL for work, and had some fun photographing around the Arch in St. Louis.  Gotta get bak on the bike training, September is right around the corner.

Sponsor me in the Bike to Beat Cancer ride in September

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Went in for my port flush today, first time I have had this.  Pretty simple, they put the saline in, then the hepren (sp) and I was done.  No clogging or anything.  Next step, maintenance treatment in August.   All is WELL :)

The journey continues.......

Tomorrow is my port flush.  I think it is just a check to make sure no clogging has occurred, flush some saline though it, and I am done.  Can't wait, cause I miss the awesome nurses that took care of me at Louisville Oncology!!

This weekend I rode 29.6 miles, and tonight 4.5 miles, working to get set for my 65 miles in September for the Bike to Beat Cancer.  I am really excited to do this, it is for a great cause, one near and dear to my heart.  

I am still hoping to get more support for my ride, and raise some money for a good cause!  If you have some pennies laying around, I will take those, any little bit will help :)

Bike to Beat Cancer - Help me by sponsoring my ride!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fun in Orlando

Man, time is flying by.  All is still going well, and pretty soon it will be time for my next maintenance treatment.  I had a blast in Orlando with my friends Marcia, John, and Kelsey.  Got to spend two days at Universal and LOVED LOVED LOVED the World of Harry Potter!!!  The Forbidden Journey just couldn't get any better.  4 days of the AAU Girls Jr. National Championship volleyball action.  What a blast.  My friends daughter Kelsey made the All Stars, one of eleven out of 275+ participants.  Awesome!!!

Tonight I biked 21 miles to continue training for the Bike to Beat Cancer ride in September.  I am tired let me tell you.  But a great ride tonight, just had a hard time on the hills.  Saturday there is a big ride and hope to make it even further then.  Please don't forget to support my ride and sponsor me :)

Bike to Beat Cancer, support my ride!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time to get away and relax

Today I will be heading to Orlando, FL with some friends for 9 days of relaxation.  For 3 of the days, we will be visiting Universal Studios, including Harry Potter World, which I am very excited about.  Definitely a much needed get away and hopefully time to rest up and relax.  I have several fruity drinks in mind!   

All has been going well for me, no issues, just trying to keep moving in the right direction.  Definitely enjoying the positive results.  Very excited for September to get here so I can do the Bike to Beat Cancer ride, and have been doing some rides to get ready.  Definitely looking forward to it, and maybe see some friendly faces out to support me. :)

If you would like to support my ride for this great cause, click the below link and donate.

Bike to Beat Cancer - Support my Ride for this Cause!

In a recent portrait project, Nick Folino took this photo for me with a biking theme. :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bike to Beat Cancer

This past Memorial Day, I rode in the Mayor's Bike, Hike, and Paddle and successfully rode 15 miles.  While I did have a blowout around the 9 mile mark, the support folks came and changed the tube for me, only to find that the tire had blown out too.  Thinking I was done for the day, the other support van came by and I asked if he had a tire.  Believe it or not, he had one, and I was able to get it changed out, and I was back on the course so I could finish.  Surprisingly, the support people do not charge for the parts and I am extremely grateful for the help.  Totally unexpected.

So on to my next challenge.  The Bike To Beat Cancer ride supports the Norton's Cancer Institute, and I am riding for the Suburban's Norton's Cancer Institute, where I had my treatment.  I have chosen the 65 mile course as a goal to push further towards getting in shape.  The ride is on Sept 24th, 2011 at EP Tom Sawyer Park.

As part of the challenge, I have set a goal to raise $500 for this race.  You can donate online from my personal page for this very worthwhile cause, but don't feel obligated to donate.  Naturally, I would love to reach a higher goal, but anything works for me. :)  Please support my ride if you can.

Donate here on my personal page

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rolling right along

So a week and a half has gone by pretty darn quick.  While very busy, I have not noticed any difference, feeling great and nothing to complain about.  I have a week in Florida to look forward to in a couple weeks, so I am gonna hope that time keeps flying by for that to get here :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Remission! Time for watch and wait, it's maintenance time

So this week has been a little crazy and I am a bit behind in adding this entry to my blog.  But on Wednesday, my birthday, I got the awesome news that my cancer is in remission.  The best part was pretty much all NED, and that means no evidence of disease.  The shoulder, which was the biggest hotspot was clear.  At my doctors recommendation, we started maintenance Rituxan and that will be every 12 weeks.  I will have a regular CT scan after that, to see how things go.  Rituxan targets a marker called CD20 on the B-cells where NHL starts.  Healthy B-cells help your body fight infection, but some become cancerous and form tumors.  So the Rituxan maintenance will help keep the bad cells that try to form to a minimum.  Thats the best I can explain it. Ha.   So, my day was pretty crazy with all that wonderful news and the fact I got it on my birthday.  Couldn't have been a better present.  But good things sometimes come with bad things, and unfortunately the 2D echo of my heart showed a bit of concern.  I guess the heart isn't pumping the right way and I need to eat better and get in shape.  This is something I can control and will have to do so to help this out.  Unfortunately, I think that the stresses of my day job are getting the best of this, and either I find a way to control it or make some changes to lessen that stress.  Thats the tougher one, but we'll see how it goes.  For all those that have asked or wondered if I am not including any of the bad news, this is the first I have had to include, so yeah, it's all real.  But I am doing great and look forward to getting my fitness on.  I challenged my niece to run the Kentucky Derby Festival mini-marathon next year in 2012, to which she accepted and also said there was one in November too.  LOL  Not sure I can meet that one, but who knows.

That's it for now.  Gosh, 12 weeks till the next treatment, that sounds so far away, but I am sure time will go by fast.  Thanks for all the prayers and support over these past 5 months!  It has truly helped me get through this. :)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's that time....

Tomorrow, I have my first PET scan, and cannot wait.  At least this one will not be as painful as the first one.  Thank goodness the pain in the shoulder continues to stay away.  After this, I will find out where my boat will take me on this journey that I have been given.

There's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all...yes
 -- Garth Brooks "The River"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Small Change in times

My PET scan is now set for 4:30 next week on Monday.  Super excited and ready to get the great results that are forthcoming.  More info soon, everything is still GREAT.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The stage is set!

Appointments are in.  Now it is just time to cruise on through the weeks till they get here.   Monday the 16th at 12:15 is my first PET scan since treatment has started.  To say I am excited is an understatement.  Also on Monday I have a 2D echo of my heart.  The 18th I meet with my doctor to hear the news that I can't wait to get.  So for now, I will be keeping busy to get me to the 16th to see what is in store for me next!!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another great week

So time has flown by from a busy week, and all the derby festival fun this weekend.  Things are going very well, and I can say that I don't have anything to say other than this week has been very good.  Still waiting for my sugars to bounce back after my chemo, but all is good.   Adjustments to my meds have helped with the weight gain I saw last month, so all is working well.  Feel great, just cruising through.  Hello May, its time to do that PET scan and see how things have gone.

Thats all for now, nothing but great news to share :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Treatment 3 done!

No obvious side effects from the Neulasta shot yet, so all is well.  Hope to know something in a couple weeks on when my PET scan will be.  So for now, its sit back and go back to the norm.  :)

Hope everyone has a Happy Easter Weekend. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Treatment #3c

Today went great, no issues with the treatment.  Got my new schedule for May.  If the PET scan shows a need for a 4th or more treatments, I will be having a big birthday in the chair, yep it falls on my birthday.  Oh well, maybe I will get special treatment that day LOL.

All is well, time to cruise into May.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Treatment #3b

So today went well as usual, next months PET scan will show how the treatments have worked.  They have me scheduled for another round next month, but I think that it is dependent on the results of the PET scan.  My nurse said that usually 4 is the fewest, so I think that is something that depends on the PET results, so nothing to be concerned with.  I will have the Rituxan maintenance for probably a year, which is like every 8 weeks, but I will know more about that next month, and if Vanderbilt is something that will benefit me.  So, one more day and a shot and I will cruising into May.  All is good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Treatment #3a

Today was a great day.  No issues during treatment.  Mr Smurf ended up turning from blue to green, if you know what I mean.  The 3rd bag that has given me a little issue had no problem today due to the added steroid injection.  So, today I finished about 2 hours earlier, and I never felt bad at all.  Did not see the vision blurriness like before, but felt maybe a little nausea but nothing I had to take medicine for.  So a great day.  My onc (oncologist) came to see me, and we discussed how things were going.  Because of the tumor being in the bone marrow, he mentioned his thoughts to still have me get evaluated at Vanderbilt.  I may have to have maintenance treatments to help the bone marrow, but he did not give specifics yet as he is waiting on the pet scan in May to see how I responded to chemo.  He mentioned the bone marrow transplant, but that would depend on how things go in May and how remission goes.  He doesn't have enough information yet and the trip to Vanderbilt will help, so that will be more information later.

For now, I feel GREAT, yes I would say if I did not, and there still is ZERO pain in my shoulder.  That gives me great hopes that May will be a great month!!  So thats it for now, 3 days to go, and then cruise into May.

Once again, Mr. Smurf failed      :)

Final round, just a bunch of smiles

It never hurts to ask for prayers, and while you continue to pray for me, I hope that I can ask that you pray for my friends who are dealing with any form of Cancer.  It seems several are getting news and I ask that you pray for my friends, which I leave nameless out of respect.  But you guys have helped me tremendously, I thought I would ask this small favor :)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Almost done!

So tomorrow starts my final round of treatment.  All is great, and I expect the same results this week.  I have had a couple people ask if I am really great, or just saying it so no one worries.  Thats an expected question and I will say that I have no reason to sugar coat this.  So all of my posts are genuine and factual.  I really wish I had something to tell you, but nothing has come up.  The meds and chemo have messed up my blood sugar, which was expected, but my doctor has adjusted my meds to help counter it.  So all is really good.  As I have always thanked my supporters, I can say for sure, if I had something go wrong, I would post that too.  But all has been GREAT!  And I expect more to come, so the next 4 days will be the last of planned treatments, and hopefully a fantastic May for me.

iBelieve!   It's contagious. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pain free, I just can't describe it!

So I am almost a week away from my planned last treatment.  And I am feeling GREAT.  No pain in the shoulder for almost 3 months now, I am totally ecstatic about it.  Feeling great also.  I have a week of vacation so that I can finish some photography projects.  Definitely gonna be a great week.  Time is moving along fast, can't wait to see where the summer takes me.  Hopefully to the beach for some more R&R :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Half way to home

So today is halfway through the second week, and I am just cruising.  I feel great, really, I am doing well.  No sniffles or cough like the first round.  Just doing good.  Thought maybe I felt a little pain from the Neulasta shot, but I think it was just my mind.   Getting excited for the final round and put this baby to rest.  So for now, all is GREAT.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

One week down, two to go!

Very little to say but all is well. No real issues, blood sugars coming back down, so full steam ahead. The 20th is the final treatment as planned. I think May is going to be a great month and cannot wait till then. So for now, all is good!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anyone can give up........

The past 3 months have put a damper on my photography passion, whether by means of pain, or lack of inspiration.  Tonight I took a night off and went to a photography seminar that I hoped would re-energize me and foster some creativity to jump start me.  :)  I had no idea.  The Power of Passion by Sandy Puc' and Jerry Ghionis was quite amazing.  A great seminar and sometime caught my attention in the form of a quote that just sums it ALL up.

Anyone can give up, it is the easiest thing to do.  But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.
 - unknown

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Treatment 2, done and done

Shot of Neulasta in the arm, boy it sure stings going in.  But feeling great and ready to rock.  So this treatment has been put to rest, and ready for the last one set April 20th.  Got a little sunshine today, gonna be a great one I think.  :) 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Treatment #2c

So round two, done.  No problems, no side effects, feeling awesome.  So now the cautious part where I watch out for trouble cause my immune system goes out of whacks.  Saw my regular doctor about my sugars and got some insulin shots to take so that the drugs and chemo treatments don't give me too much of a sugar kick.  So all is good, noticing changes already.  This is a good thing.  So top of the mountain and crossing the peak to head down to the final and planned last round next month.  Time is moving very fast.

So glad the pain is still gone, definitely enjoy being able to catch up on the photography side of the house.  You never know what will happen to you when you cannot function day to day like you normally do.  It's a slow process but definitely making strides to catch up.  To those that have graciously given me time to heal, I cannot thank you enough.  And thanks for helping me focus on myself and not be stressed for being behind.  Priceless!

So, as I pass these 25 days til the final round, expect post that all is well, just like last time.  So for now, all is well, no complaints, except I saw some snow flurries today, where the heck did the almost 80 degree weather go.  I am so ready for that and some fun photography outings.  Thanks for the thoughts and prayers that my huge support group has sent for me.  That motivates me tremendously.

Have a great weekend all, and iBelieve!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Treatment #2b

In and out, it took like 30 minutes to get the bag and little bit of saline.  Feel great, and don't see any issues just like last month.  This is really going well, and expect the same tomorrow.  So nothing to report, just feeling great and going in to see my primary care doctor in a little bit, gonna double check things out of whack because of the chemo drugs.

It's tough seeing Facebook posts that more people are talking about cancer, like it is popping out of the woodworks.  I know what they go through when they are waiting to find out for sure if it is.  Whether breast cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, they all have a waiting period while test results are determined.  Then, the bills come in and you are overwhelmed at times.  I got one more bill today, and it looks like I have maxed out my out of pocket expenses, so guess that will be a good thing.  But either way, attitude is everything.  I won't let it get me down and the bills will be worked out.  Gotta stay positive and move forward, just wish the whole process would be easier and everyone could have things caught early.

So, one more hour day and a shot on Saturday and 25 days till round 3, rock and roll, here I come.  Thanks to everyone who supports me day to day, I could not do this without your help to keep me motivated.  So far I haven't really needed to reach out in times of need, but I know I can count on everyone if needed.  I thank you for that!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Treatment #2a

So today started Treatment #2, this is the mid-way point if all goes as planned.  So today, a little stressed as traffic put me behind, and every road seemed to have a delay.  Getting there about 9:55 instead of 9:30 mean I got behind a lot of people.  So, checked in, ready to go, and because there was a few ahead of me, I got hooked up to the machine and saline going in in at just about 11am.  Bloodwork checked out and the first bag was in.  I started to play the Angry Birds, listening to Millionaire, and drinking the water.  That bag finished fast.  Had several wonderful visitors to chat with today that made the time go by way fast.  Mr. Smurf, came and went, and basically my Red shirt told him who is boss, so I own'd you Mr. Smurf.  Bag number three, good ole Rituxan.  This was the one I had the couple reactions to.  The bump on my head did not duplicate itself, which was something I talked to my doctor about.  That is good, he wasn't concerned over it, so all is good.  But the tightening chest and the tingling/itchy scalp did.  I also felt a little light headed, mostly when talking to the person to my left, and then to my right.  Wasn't bad, just noticeable.  Because they want to know any reactions, my wonderful nurse decided to back it off a little, and give me a shot of a steroid to help easy any discomfort.  This lessened all of the noticeable symptoms.

So I took 7 hours today, but it went by so fast it was great.  As I gathered my things to leave today, I thought, damn, I feel great.  No noticeable pains or nausea, but I did start to notice the voice being hard to talk, coughing like I had something in the throat.  But, thats a side effect and the throat thickening and/or the tongue, speaking gets harder sometime, messing up on pronouncing some words.  So thats okay.  I got that last time too.  So for right now, I kicked its butt again.

Best news is, STILL NO PAIN IN THE SHOULDER.   Singly, that has given me a lot of hope that this is going very well.  If you haven't read all the way back to the long first post, I had an MRI expecting news of a torn rotator cuff.  Instead it showed a possible tumor in the humeral head.  LOTS of pain, coming and going, which made sleeping miserable.

So that give me great hope and expectation that my onc (oncologist) is RIGHT and that Three Strikes and your OUT!!!  For my birthday in May, I plan to be in remission, and continue to spread my motivation and enthusiasm as long as I need to, because all you can do is iBelieve!

Tomorrow is a one hour, more then.

 Gifts from my teammates.  PRICELESS!
 Mr. Smurf, I own'd you!

I can't take a good iPhone good photo, but the smile is genuine!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Here we go!

Okay, so in another two days and a wake up I will start my second treatment and am ready to roll.  If my onc is correct, I am midway and that is a great feeling.  I have been busy catching up on my photography, which has been a huge improvement from the beginning of the year.  Definitely doing good, and still no pain.  Thats awesome.  It will be Wednesday before I know it, so expect more of the same I hope. :)


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just WOW

Less than one week away from round two, motivated!  A friend thinks that Mr. Smurf is gonna make me bleed blue, but thats not gonna happen.  Go Cards, let's kick it in the tourney!

Got two of the big bill benefits statements.  Like the markdown, but yikes, one is just under a grand.  Not bad in the bigger scheme of things, but that was a big OUCH kinda.  :)  Still motivated, it will all work out.

Found out two friends are joining in on this dance, my thoughts and prayers go out to them as they get more information and options.  Next weekend, 26 Mar, there is a Walk for Cancer at EP Tom Sawyer Park at 10am.  If my chemo goes well, I may try to get out for this great cause.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Keeping track

So dang, this week has been a flood of bills.  And a bunch of Explanation of Benefit forms to match up.  But I keep trying to figure out which go with which, and it's kinda hard cause some are only a couple of items.  Dang, this has been a tough one, and I am giving up for tonight. :)

But, the big one came in.  Two appointments, and 3 days of chemo.  $24,365.25.  Bada Bing.  So that means my total with the 5 big bills recently comes to $65,798.25.  Now thats a lot. :)  Waiting on the EoB's to see what is covered.  Trying to figure out what to pay out and get ready for.

Still smiling and feeling great!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Feeling Awesome and ready for the next round!!

So I have to say, I feel awesome.  There have been very few things that have given me any reason to think I have gone through one round of chemo.  No major illnesses, just a bit of a runny nose and cough.  The best part, knock on wood, I have had ZERO pain in the shoulder.  This has been a huge setback and I am so happy that I can feel normal again especially when sleeping.  So yeah, I feel AWESOME.  Less than two weeks and I will be fighting ole Mr. Smurf, so I can prove to Angie that I won't be bleeding blue. :)

On a different note, today I found 4 bills in the mailbox.  Seriously, you gotta wait and send me 4 at once.  Ha.  So, $13,029, $8,205, $10,297, and $9,902, thats a lot of dough.  Not bad for one day, $41,433.  Yeah I won't owe near that, thank goodness for insurance.

Alright.  So thats it, feeling good, no major concerns, and to top it off, my oncologist left me a voicemail just checking in on me to see how I was doing.  I can say, LIFE IS GOOD

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One week almost over

This week hasn't been too bad, work has flown by and kept me busy.  Still no pain in the shoulder, no significant side effects, overall feeling good.  Just trying to stay clear of the possible sicknesses so my immune system doesn't suffer.  So, still doing great, just passing the time till the next treatment is due. :)

I got the bill for the biopsy of the mass in my abdomen, it was a little over $10K.  The good news is the provider statement covered all but $165, so I was excited to see that I don't have a huge bill for that one.  I am sure more will be coming, but for now, not to bad.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Back to work

Well, I am still doing good, had my first full day back to work and all went well.  Noticed that it seemed close up things were fuzzy, but seemed to go away as the day went on.  Don't know, maybe cause I have cut out a lot of caffeine out of my system, but all seems okay and still going strong.  The day definitely went by fast.  I have been off pain pills for two days and tonight appears to be a third, thats a huge thing, I just hope the shoulder pain stays away :)

Moving along full steam ahead!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Treatment 1 complete, doing great!

So I had my shot of Neulasta today, which is a drug that helps your body make more of its own natural white blood cells to help protect you against chemotherapy-related infection, which could put things on hold.  So far, I have not seen any side effects at all, so today has been a great day.  I got out a bit for lunch with a good friend, and then met two other friends to chit chat.  This first treatment has gone so well, I hope that all the energy I have to kick this keeps things the same way for the next two treatments.  I have zero pains or sickness, and have been doing very good.  It's been great to spend a little time catching up editing some photo projects that have been put on hold because of the pain in my right shoulder.  I will be cruising through to the 23rd of March hopefully with all good reports.  Thanks again for everyone's support/prayers.

:) Rob


Friday, February 25, 2011

Treatment #1c

So today was the final bag for my first treatment, leaving only the shot tomorrow morning.  It has been quite an easy couple days.  I have to say not getting stuck in the hand or arm has been quite nice.  The needle going into the port is just a minor stick, and pretty quick.  I chose to do a new needle each day instead of leaving it in for 3 days, mostly because I don't want to bump it when I roll around at night by accident, plus I cannot get it wet.  But we'll see how it goes next time.  So today, got my bag finished and asked a little about some of the meds to make sure I am taking them as needed, and then I was done.  I was a little tired today since last night I was up a lot, mostly going to the bathroom.  But just laid down to get a little nap.  All the additional IV fluids plus me drinking more water, have kept the trips to the bathroom quite active let me tell you.  But as of right now, I haven't really felt any issues due to the first treatments, and am glad to be resting and taking it easy.  I think that helps more than anything.  My shoulder pain has gone away which is allowing me to get a few projects worked on and seem like I might be back to normal.  We'll see if it comes back in a week or so like it usually did.

So for now, I have nothing to report.  No sickness from the first treatment, no use of the meds standing by, just relaxing, taking it easy, and having tons of support to keep me motivated.  The next couple weeks will be harder on me than I think, because I have to be careful who I am around as far as sickness and things go.  Gotta wash my hands a lot, carry the hand sanitizer, all that stuff to stay healthy has my immune system catches back up.  So, we'll see how that works, and hopefully going back to work will keep my mind busy so time passes quickly to get to the next round of treatment.  Which is Mar 23rd, 24th, and 25th.    I may post a few posts as I go, but it will be smooth sailing I hope till the next treatment.

Signing off with a big smile for this week!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Treatment #1b

So today was a very short day, only took about an hour to get the fludara in me.  This one did not give me any feeling yesterday and the same happened today.  Didn't feel anything.   I don't know if I felt nausea or just hunger for lunch today, but all is going well.  So just being productive and making sure something doesn't happen, plus staying away from others that might be sick.  Gonna be doing that a lot the next two weeks.  The nurse told me today that with the shot I have to get on Saturday to boost my bone marrow activity, I might not crash as bad.  Still gotta see what happens.  But doing good for now.  Quite happy.  And I am still motivated to get this done!

I have said it several times, but the support/prayers from friends and family has been a huge boost to my motivation and energy, I can't thank you enough!  For now, I'm just taking it easy.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Treatment #1a

Wow, I don't know what to say about my experience today.  It was long, but only 6 hours long.  I guess they factor in possible complications and wags of time that could take longer.  Basically I feel fine.  Maybe a little tired.

The day started with some nausea and antibiotic iv drugs.  The first bag of chemo was fludarabine (Fludara), which was a clear solution and went in without any feeling.  I will say the stick to connect to the port was very easy, and I like it better than the iv's in the hand.

Second bag, which I call Mr. Smurf, was the Mitoxantrone (Novantrone) and it's a dark blue.  I will add a photo of that one.  This to went in very fast and I did not see any after affects of the blue solution, yet. :)

 Angie, this does not mean I bleed blue now.  But that made me laugh!

The last bag which was Rituximab (Rituxan) and was the hardest.  I didn't take another photo of that, it was clear.  I felt my scalp tingle and itch a little, but that was a possible side effect to watch for.  Nothing to be concerned over.   I did notice a bump on my head, that seemed to get bigger as the meds went in.  It's gone now, so I am going to be watching that one.  They increased the drip like every 20 minutes, and I did feel my chest get a little tight, but all in all, it wasn't bad.  4pm and I went home.  That was fast.

I feel pretty full, due to drinking water and all the fluids going in me.  I am feeling a little tired right now. But not really any pain.  I have a little ways to go but so far, all is good.  Now what happens as time goes forward I don't know.  But I truly feel really good.  And yes I drove home as I felt fine.

When I explained my chemo the other day I was not clear.  My treatments consist of an 8 hour day like today, then two one hour days.   So the first day is approx 8 hours, then the next two are only 1 hour.  So each treatment is 3 days total.  So my first day of treatment 1 went very well.  Probably gonna take  a nap and relax, but feel really good.  :)

Thanks for all the texts and comments today during my long day, it kept me busy.  Today, my buddy Chris brought me lunch, and had a great visit.  My dad came by after work to visit till the end of the day. What a fun day.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Port or Starboard?

So today I got the port put in.  Took about an hour, and I was out, so I don't remember much of anything.  Had an absolutely hilarious team of techs for my install, and that made it go that much easier.  So now I have this little mouse looking thing inside my body, that will make it easier to get me my treatment, so now comes the fun part.  Of course, no showers to the insertion area, but at least I can bathe so I feel like I haven't been on Survivor.  Gotta get over a little discomfort from today's surgery, but all is well.

So that leaves me with one wake-up till chemo starts.  The wait has seemed to take forever, but truly I don't know where this month has gone.  But tomorrow begins my days of healing, and I am very excited for that.  I have no idea what to expect, but I think I have enough planned to occupy my time.  Now I don't know if installing the Angry Birds app on my iPad was a good or bad thing, but it will surely keep me on my toes during treatment.  So that is it, ready or not, here I come!


While this isn't the greatest of photos, this gives you and idea of the bump I now have from my port going in.  Chemo is from 9:30-5:30, so expect a later post tomorrow :)  My Dad pointed out I had an incorrectly oriented photo, so now I show the port on my right side, which is where it is inserted.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I have made my decision


So today was the second most important doctors appointment for me.  In the past 3 weeks I have done more tests than I care to, but it has all built on how I made my decision today.  As you know, picking the right doctor is a hard choice.  You do your fact finding, weigh the good and the bad, and decide what is best for you.  This has not been easy, and well I can't have every BEST doctor there is to cure me.  So today, it was clear to me, and I chose to steer my boat full steam ahead.  I knew that if it was time, we would schedule chemo, and get the port installed.  Unfortunately, they couldn't work me in today to do the port install, so my chemo won't start on Monday, but Wednesday.  Yep, that was quick.  But really, why wait.  An awesome doctor passed on information to me to help me be ready for that, in that MY kind of lymphoma is rarely mis-diagnosed the first time.  I also know that it is time to dive in.  For the last 3 days, I have not slept well, have had concern with new pains I thought I was feeling, and well, more and more concern for my shoulder.  While I had medication to help with the pain, it just had a constant nagging pain, and it has made me loose enough sleep.  So lets get to the reason I jumped in full steam.

Today's news has some new items to pay attention to, and will explain why I was extra ready to kick some butt.  Let's start with the PET scan.  This, as many know, is the scan that shows the spots that matter when it comes to how well the chemo is working to wipe out the bad cells.  My right shoulder lit up the charts, imagine that.  From the previous scan's, it was called a hot spot.  My oncologist shared with me that it stood out on the PET scan again, he told me that it was about a 20 on the scale.  So I asked what the low end of the scale was, maybe normal, and well, he said a 2.  Yeah that didn't surprise me, nor was he surprised when I talked about the pain.  I guess I did not do my job to make sure he understood my pain was bad at night last Friday, because the meds I have don't help.  He said he would fix that.  Next up was the lower right side abdomen.  Some new spots showed up and he asked if I had any pain.  Funny thing is, that was one area I wanted to tell him about and he already knew it.  Maybe the other scans did not pick up what a PET scan does, maybe they are new.   But I had questionable pain in that area and well, I was a little concerned, but he beat me to the punch on that one.  Okay, lastly, the left shoulder showed a little activity on the PET scan.  He asked if I had any pain there, and again, that was on my list to discuss with him, and he already knew it.  Now, the left shoulder is in the bone marrow just like the right.  Hopefully that doesn't get bad, but it added to my decision to jump right in.  It's time to start killing the bad cells and getting on the road to recovery.  It only takes one aggressive lymphocyte to go on a rampage, and I don't want that.  I brought up the recent fever and night sweats, even though I knew that was just part of the body fighting all this bad junk, and he confirmed that it was nothing to be alarmed about, and well, it's gonna be common until we kick this lympho's butt.  I got to meet my oncologist's right hand woman, his nurse, and I can tell she keeps him on his toes.  She was on top of everything he said, and had stuff ready to go for me, so I feel pretty good about that team, and decided it was time to stick with him, and that was my decision.  With the added news this time, I think it is time to get started and if I need to re-evaluate, I can always do that.

Okay, so they wanted to get my port installed today, but the schedule was full, so chemo cannot start on Monday.  Tuesday morning I will get my port installed, and Wednesday is my first treatment of chemo.  Wednesday will be a full 8 hours due to the need to administer the drug slowly.  For those who want to know my cocktail, it is a combination of Rituximab (Rituxan), Mitoxantrone (Novantrone), and Fludarabine (Fludara).  There are many things with each drug that has side effects, and won't go into those but the Mitoxantrone is a blue color and it can cause urine, sweat, saliva, and the whites of my eyes to be discolored.  So no reason to be concerned if I have some blue eyes, at least they aren't pink.  :)  That was a joke.  But, I guess I may look a different way, but some of those side effects are normal.

I dropped of 7 prescriptions today at the pharmacy.  Finally I got me some good meds to kill this pain.  But all the others tie into the chemo so I can't wait to get them started next week.  :)

Okay, so thats about that.  I am excited to get this journey started, and without all the wonderful support I don't think I could have made it this far.  Wednesday could be an interesting new beginning, but it is a necessary step.  I will say I am not scared with an honest face.  Your prayers are always the best thing I could ask for.  But as I start chemo, please remember that my immune system will be wacked, and I can easily pick up something that could be trouble for me.   So if you have or been around someone that is ill, they recommended you stay a little further away to help me.  If I am wearing a mask, it's only to help me be out and about but also help protect my system.  I will try to blog a lot, so that time passes fast but also I can give you an idea my ups and downs.  If I am sleeping, I won't have the phone ringer on.  So please don't freak out if I don't answer.  Text messages will be a lot easier for me, so just understand I might not be in the mood to talk.  Don't be afraid to come visit me, but also don't be offended if I am just not up to it.  Hopefully this will be short lived and I won't really need visitors.   Don't be offended if I ask you if you have been around sick ones, or if I wash my hands a lot.  These are things recommended for me to keep healthy, just want you to understand as well.  I might do the Howie fist bump a lot :)

Okay, so thats a wrap.  I am still EXTREMELY MOTIVATED to kick this slight inconvenience's butt. Keep up with my journey here.  If you wish to email me privately, I have created a temporary email account and you can email me there.  I will also answer from that email through this journey.  So if you add to the first words at the top of this post, you will know that address.  Remember, I don't want auto spammers to just get the full email by trolling the web.  If you don't get it, let me know, and I will find a way to call or write you :)

Thanks for ALL of the support.  And iBelieve!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Squishy Squishy Squishy

Today was the 2-D echo which was of the heart. It was pretty neat I have to admit. Seeing the valves open and close was interesting. Then she turned on the sound. A lot of squishy going on. First time for everything!!

So last night I took the night off, but I didn't know I was gonna run a 101 temp. So about 1:30 in the morning I found that the pool of sweat made me feel better but definitely made sleeping hard. :) I got some sleep but definitely not enough.

Tonight is my last chance to gather my thoughts before seeing my oncologist tomorrow at 10:30. I do know one thing for sure, and that is that I am about tired of this shoulder pain. :)  It will all work out very soon!

I have such a huge support group I can't thank you enough for the prayers and selfless offerings. I am ready to begin the kick butt stage of this journey.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A day to ponder

So today, while busy at work, I needed to take a breather from all the hub bub to just hang out.  Watch some tv and clear my head.  A much needed degaussing.  After all, Survivor started tonight. :)

Tomorrow, 2-d echo then the much awaited oncologist appointment on Friday.  Fire in the hole!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The simplest of tests can test your resistance to pain

So today was my first PET scan.  Since I did not know anything about them, I was a bit surprised.  So it said no eating 4 hours before.  Since I was on driving arrest for 24 hours from my bone marrow biopsy, I slept in and was ready to leave for work at 10am.  So I ate some turkey to give me a little boost to 2:15pm. So I get to work, and oh guess what, there are all kinds of goodies.  Brownies, cookies, pretzel kiss things. And I can't eat them till after my 2:15 appointment.  That was hard.  So I get there at 2pm, sign in all the paperwork things, and wait.  I get called back and find out that they have to inject something in me to get me ready for the PET, and oh yeah, I have to sit for one hour to let it work it's way in my system.  Tell a hungry man to wait an hour, then have a 20 minute procedure.  So I sit and watch The Talk and had a good time waiting.  I get called back and oh yeah, love the techs :)  I lay down on the board, and she tells me that I have to raise my arms above my head.   UUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!  The worst position I could be in.  While it didn't seem to bad, I get sucked through the donut looking machine, and as I go through I see a radiation symbol and these lines.  Yeah, don't know what they meant.  :)  I try to lay still, and then I get pulled out, the lasers did not line up right, so she set them back up and in I go again.  This time all goes well and they start slowly going through the scans.  Now remember that pain I talked about.  Yeah, as the 20 minutes ticked down, the pain increased on my shoulder.  The cushion I was laying my head on was pushing on a tender spot in my shoulder and I began to hate the pain it was causing.  While the test was not that hard, having the headrest pushing into my shoulder made it so tough to get through.  When I got pulled out and told I could relax my arms, I slowly moved them as it was painful.  I told her I hope I was still enough for the scan, and all she asked was if it was my first.  So next time, if there is any pain, I know I will try to lay a little different, but I made it through.

So tonight, the pain is not any less, so I took some good meds and hopefully I will be able to sleep.  Wednesday is a free day, no appointments, but I am still gathering information on doctors, care, and the best solution for me.  That is tiring.  But I am thankful for friends and extended friends that have helped me determine the best route for me during this inconvenience.

Regardless of the pain, and all the decision making, I am still ready to jump in and wipe this out before it gets the best of me.  All the support gives me strength to stay motivated and be ready to beat this.  So I still have a clear head, and am strong.  And iBelieve!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Into the marrow we go

I can now say that I have had a bone marrow biopsy.  And you know what, it ain't nuttin.  So far today I have not even felt a thing.  Maybe they used an extra small needle.  Either way, the procedure went off with zero problems.  I thought that they would take it out of one of the sides, but no, I was face down and they went in on the left side part of the back, technically still the hip.  The most pain came from having the right arm stretched above my head.  The pain has been back the last few days, mostly at night.  So, hopefully I can make it to Friday and see what's next.  All I felt today was a little pressure as they pushed on me to get the needle in my bone, and I mean it barely hurt.  One down, two to go.

Okay so here is the funny part.  Any of you Grey's Anatomy fans that saw the episode where Bailey was tweeting from the OR, and how much the Chief hated it.  So the lady that came to get me, which I don't know whether she was a tech or nurse, saw me texting and we got talking about Grey's Anatomy and tweeting.  So I said I wanted to tweet during the biopsy.  Well, I had a fun doctor today and my lady friend who got me to the CT room told him that I was gonna tweet during the procedure.  He got a kick out of that, so as I got wired up to the monitors and they prepped the needles and such, he went in the other room to do what he has to do to get the machine ready.  So my lady friend goes back there, and she comes to the door way and tells me that we will have to delay the procedure as the doctor was tweeting.  What a fun way to have an experience that you don't know how it will feel, and laugh a little along the way.  I can't tell you how enjoyable that was, and having people work on you that can laugh a little is a great thing.  So I had to share that.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Information Information Information

Okay so today, I continued to receive helpful information in my decision making process on what to do now that I have confirmed I have cancer.  Picking the right doctor is a very very hard task.  Digesting all the information has been an interesting challenge.  Gotta weigh the good with the bad and hopefully the right decision is made in the end.   I have 5 days to get to that point.  :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The day after

So what's it like the day after you find out you have cancer?  CRAZY!  The good thing, is having this blog will allow anyone to follow along if they so choose to.  And I don't have to say the same thing a gazillion times in a row :)  It's not that bad, but you know what I mean.  So all the information gathering has begun, considering options, googling tests so you know what they are, and reaching out to those you know can give you information that will help in your decision process.  Never have I felt so ready so soon.  So while it's a bit to digest, it has been the most relaxing in nearly 2 months.

So, appointments on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and lastly a visit with the oncologist on Friday.  By then, specifics should be crystal clear, and I can continue on my path to beat this slight inconvenience. :)

The most common question I have had is "Are you OK?"  My answer is, I am GREAT!  I mean that whole heartedly. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's time to kick some butt

Today, I met my oncologist to get the news of the biopsy from the mass in my stomach.  I have cancer.  But it's a good cancer to get.  I have Stage IV NON-hodgkin's Lymphoma.  For those that do not know, the different stages have to do with multiple locations of the lymphoma.  For me, the pain is in my right shoulder.  I have several masses in my stomach.  I have a couple in the left armpit.  So when you have locations in both areas, it is Stage IV, it doesn't mean it is worse from I to IV.  There are many things left to decide, but next week I have a bone marrow biopsy, I am sure that is gonna hurt, in the hip area, I also have a 2-D echo, which I had to google, and it says it is like a test in which ultrasound equipment is used to examine the heart.  It says it is capable of displaying a cross-sectional "slice of the beating heart, including chambers, valves, and the major blood vessels that exit from the left and right ventricle.  Doesn't sound so hard.  And then I have my first PET scan.  Google says that is Positron Emission Tomography.  Yeah I don't know, but it is a part of Nuclear Medicine imaging.  It states it measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism, to evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning.  I am sure I will understand this at a later date :)  And Friday, February 18th, I discuss where we go with my oncologist.

I mentioned a second opinion.  I have interest in the work at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville.  Go Cards.  So over the next couple days I have lots to digest, research, and decide on, but the one thing that is crystal clear to me is that I will beat this.  Feel free to following me on this journey on this blog to see how well I beat this.

iBelieve is more than just a word, I Believe I will beat this.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One more day

So I didn't sleep that well, the pain in my right shoulder hurt no matter which way I laid.  I did my best and had to get some ibuprofen about 4am.  Go figure, when I woke up, the pain subsided.  Why can't it let me sleep at night.  But that's how it seems to happen.

Oh the anticipation of getting the results to the mystery of what is going on inside of my body.  You never really know what reaction you will have, and you don't know what the news will be until it is given.  So tonight, after a bit of thought, I am relatively calm.  The day is almost here.  Will I be told I have cancer?  Very soon I will know.  But I am ready to hear the results.

An old song stated one step up and two steps back.  Tomorrow, I take one step back and two steps forward!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Biopsy

Today, February 9, 2011, was my biopsy of the mass in my stomach, and I have never been through one of these.  So I get there at 6:30am, check in, and at 7am, I get led back to my room.  Here comes the fancy socks and the gown, you know the one that if you are not careful you flash the butt-crack.  :)  I get the iv, all the prep work, and at 8am I get wheeled back for the CT guided procedure.  The same tech that did the initial CT scans was there, man those gals are great at what they do.  Get moved to the ct table, and I get hooked up to all sorts of gadgets.  The radiologist explained all the particulars to the biopsy and I signed on the line, and the groggy meds begin to roll.  Got numbed up, and they took a prep scan to line up the mass.  Looking at the monitor, it looked big, but I can't read a ct scan, so who knows.  They put the template on there, and in goes the guide needle.  Very interesting to watch.  They took 4 biopsy's and it was all over, probably 30 minutes.  I give both tech's and the radiologist 2 thumbs up, they made it very easy for me.

Back in my room, two hours of laying flat.  Man that was hard.  I got to sit up and eat after that, and the radiologist came in to look at the area, give me my orders, and asked if I had any questions.  Nope, it all rest and recooperate.  About an hour to go, my sister-in-law came to get me, my ride for the day, and we waited out the last hour till I got discharged, 1pm.

Being home all day, it has been an easy day till about 7pm, I felt a little hot.  Took my temp and it was 100.3, and if I get to 101 I have to call the doctor.  So far it has been up to 100.4 but is down to 99.9 now, so I think it is gonna be okay.  No pain or discomfort, what more could I ask.

Unfortunately, today the pain in my shoulder is flairing up, and I hope it doesn't get as bad as the last time.  We'll see.

Friday I get my results, and I am very excited to know which path I will be dealt.  So many have shared their prayers and support for me I cannot express it.  I am fortunate to know them.

The journey begins

It all started in November 2010 when my right shoulder started to pop a little when moved.  I had planned on getting it looked at in 2011.  On a trip to Bowling Green for work, in late November 2010, I noticed a pain in my shoulder that didn't feel to good as I tried to drive.  I made it back, but started looking for an Orthopedic doctor to get it looked at.

On December 9, 2010, I saw an orthopedic doctor to have my right shoulder looked at.  Got a few x-rays of the shoulder, and found out that the doctor wanted to go straight for the MRI.  So the wait begins.

On December 20, 2010, I had an MRI on my right shoulder.  After the first set of images, they pulled me out and said they saw what looked like a snap in the shoulder area and wanted to look to see if I left something on.  There was no snap.  About 45 minutes later, I was done.  Longest set of images took 16 minutes.

On December 23, 2010 at 9:30am, my Orthopedic doctor called to give me the MRI results.  This was the day my family picked to do our Christmas.  He stated that the MRI showed a lesion on the humeral head in the right shoulder and a possible tumor.  A second lesion was possibly there as well but not clearly seen.  My doctor said there I should not worry about cancer as there are more tests needed, and it was outside of his specialty.  He was referring me to a doctor that specializes in shoulder tumors and oncology.  I can't tell you how shocked this news was for me, and unsure what was going on.  I was told that the office would call to schedule an appointment for me.  Here comes the wait, my next appointment is January 20, 2011.  Nice.

Due to whatever is going on in my shoulder, each weekend there was extreme pain throbbing in my right shoulder and nothing was helping, so I called the doctor for some drugs.  500Mg Hydrocodone, you would think that would do it.  Not!

I toughed it out barely to January 20th, but I called numerous times to try and get in early, but it didn't happen.  So my first visit went well with the new specialist, he didn't agree with the MRI results and felt that it was inflammation in the bicep and could be treated with meds and physical therapy.  He did want to test for worst case due to the MRI report, so he scheduled blood work, a full body scan (nuclear medicine) and a CT Scan with Contrast of the abdomen, pelvis, and chest.  Appointment for the x-rays was scheduled for January 26th, thats only a week later, was very excited.  Follow-up for results was February 3rd.  Blood work was drawn before I left the hospital.

So January 26, 2011 came fast, and I checked in to Norton's Brownsboro for the x-rays.  Got the nuclear injection and drank the special lemonade concoction which was not bad.  Had an awesome experience from the techs who did the cat scans and full body scans.  Time to wait a little more.

February 3, 2011, not a peep from the doctor.  I figure, no news is good news.  So I get to the office and sit in the holding room.   45 minutes and still no doctor.  Alas he comes in.  He has someone with him, maybe an intern, and sat down asking how I was.  By this point, I am anxious.  Do I have a tumor, is it cancerous, what did the tumor marker test indicate.  The doctor did not have the blood results so he left to get them and came back.  He didn't really tell me much on the blood results, other than it looked a little anemic and some counts were off.  He said the right shoulder showed a "hot spot" but didn't really see a tumor nor did he see the humeral  head breaking down due to the lesions.  Okay so now I am really confused.  What he did concentrate on was that there were a couple masses in my stomach area in the lymph nodes, and the largest was 8cm's.  He said it could be Lymphoma, but he needs to send me to another specialist to diagnose.  He feels that the right shoulder "hot spot" is connected to the stomach lymph nodes, and maybe we will need to do some radiation on the shoulder to deaden the pain, but he wants me to see another specialist to proceed further.  He gave me the option to have my primary care doctor refer me, or he knew two specialists he recommended, and I wanted his referral at this point.   He said he was on text basis with both, and would try to get me in as soon as he could.  So, he ordered a biopsy of the mass, and that is scheduled on February 9, 2011.  However, due to the preferred specialist and being a new patient, I got a follow up appointment on February 22, 2011, are you kidding me?  :)

Okay so on February 8th, good news came to me and my doctor worked some magic through texting and I am going in for results of the biopsy on February 11, 2011.  I can't believe it!!!

I decided to summarize what has happened so far in a single post and build this blog on my journey to fix my shoulder pain and whatever mass is in my stomach.  I don't know if it is cancer yet, but it could be.  Either way, I am on the way to recovery for whatever is causing the pain in my shoulder, and wanted to share it with those that have supported me with prayers and support so far.