Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 2nd - I am cancer free!!

Six months ago (almost to the day) I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma – a fast growing cancer (Stage 3 – not good). Today, I was declared cancer free!! This is after 8 chemo treatments that were spaced out every 3 weeks over the past six months. On Monday I was given a Petscan and today Lynda and I got the results – there is no cancer left!

My faith has remained strong throughout this experience. I strongly believe in the miraculous power of God and He came thru for me. I believe He works in miraculous ways both supernatural and practical and both have been powerfully obvious to me throughout this. From a practical perspective I can honestly say that I have experienced more love and support from my family and friends then I have ever experienced in my life. Lynda and I never felt we were in this alone there have been friends and family holding us up in prayer and support throughout. Thank you!!

For now, we celebrate (taking the next week off from work) and look forward to getting some hair sprouts back (I have peach fuzz now and it seems more white then the brown I am used to – we’ll have to wait and see). I don’t have another doctor’s appointment until October – when they will do a CT Scan to check that nothing has come back. Assuming nothing comes back I’ll continue to meet with the doctor every few months for basic checkups. We certainly don’t expect anything to come back. Statistically, they tell me that I am in the 80% zone that says I will remain cancer free for five years. After 5 years the odds of me remaining cancer free only go up from there!

Thank you for being with Lynda and me and the kids with your prayers and support – it has been an inspiration and a witness to me to the awesome power of God.

In Christ,


Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4 - 8th (last) chemo treatment behind me

I am thrilled to write that yesterday was my eighth and final chemo treatment! Like the last two treatments this one really sapped my energy during the day and then after we came home. The good news is that I am done with the treatments. It'll take a little over a week to recover from the side effects of this treatment - but shouldn't be anything too bad.

We have scheduled my next Petscan for Monday, June 29. We have an appointment with my doctor on July 2nd to review the results. My hopes and expectations are that I will be given a clean bill of health! If true I'll also find out the plan for follow-up checks.

It has been a heck of a journey (my treatment yesterday came 5 months to the day I found out I had cancer) - I am more than ready to put it behind me. At this point my guess is that I might start seeing my hair start to come back in July (probably later in July). My energy levels will take a little longer to recover - probably six months.

Keep up those prayers just a little while longer - I believe we are almost there!

In Christ,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14 - St. Baldrick's Day

We had a great St. Baldrick's event today here in St. Charles! Our goal was to raise $5,000 for pediatric cancer research and at this point we are at $7,000 and still climbing. You can join the fight by donating here -

We started with seven guys with me ready to take the plunge into the Bald Melon Club - for charity! From left Dan Dupre, Bob Gerard, Jay Synder*, me, John Ceisel* (who co-coordinated the event with me), Tim Hobbs*, David Granger and Chris Olson*. Before we had finished Mike Gombar (second from right decided to join in). Keith Worthington* also joined in the picture (third from right - this is his natural look). Note that the *'s are for new members of the Bald Melon Club - I think this brings it to 17 guys!

Here is the after picture - from left on top (Chris, John, Tim, Bob, Jay, Kieth, Mike, David) and bottom (me, Dan).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 5 - Join me in a new way to fight cancer

My friends and family has been so incredibly supportive of me – truly walking with me on my journey towards beating cancer. I believe I am in the home stretch of the healing process (I have two more chemo treatments scheduled – May 13 and June 3). As I get to the end of this phase of my journey I would like to begin to change from an inward healing focus to more of an outward focus – doing something to help others fight against cancer. One specific area to focus on is pediatric cancer – it truly pains me to think of the many kids who have to go thru this process (and far worse).

To this end, I am partnering with Chris Olson, David Granger, John Ceisel and Tim Hobbs (a couple of the many great friends I have at Accenture) who are willing to shave their heads to raise money. We are working thru St. Baldrick’s – a non-profit organization that raises funds to further research in pediatric cancer. I have done some research into this organization and have found that almost 80% of all funds they raise actually goes to fighting cancer. This is a very favorable percentage when compared to other excellent and well known cancer non-profit groups.

On Thursday, May 14 at 11 AM CST we will be doing the shaving. Our goal is to raise $5,000 for St. Baldrick’s. Additionally, I am partnering with my grandfather to provide a little added incentive to help us reach our goal. Together, my grandfather and I will make a matching donation to the first $2,000 in total pledges made by 11 AM CST on May 14.

If you’d like to make a pledge to support Chris, David, John and Tim please do so by visiting our St. Balderick’s page -

Thank you for your continued tireless support of me and my family and for considering a pledge to support the fight against pediatric cancer!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 3 - Pushin' forward

My gosh - it is hard to believe that a whole month has gone by since my last post. Since then I have gone thru two more chemo treatments. The biggest change in the last month is that I am more tired. Yesterday, I spent a little while in the backyard pulling Dandelions. An hour of that light activity and I was wiped out. It just doesn't take much to tire me out these days - mentally or physically.

I am in the homestretch - only two more to go! From the pictures I posted in my last blog I know there was almost nothing left a month ago. I believe it is now completely gone. I won't get any more objective proof until the end of June when I have my next Petscan.

The love and support I continue to receive is a huge blessing to Lynda and I. There continues to be a steady stream of cards, meals and other support. The steadfast commitment from my network of friends has been heartwarming and uplifting - a huge contributor to my healing process. I have never felt alone throughout this entire process - my friends have been walking beside me every step of the way!

Here is just one example - another joiner to the Bald Melon Club! Pat just joined in the last two weeks (see picture below). Pat and I go back well over 20 years as friends! I think that brings the total number to 12! Twelve men making such a show of support that they have shaved their heads for me! There is a good chance that a few more will be joining soon - as part of a fund raiser for pediatric cancer. We are finalizing the details - hope to be able to talk more about it very soon.

Peace, In Christ,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1 - Very Good News!

This past Monday was a big day for us - my second scan since starting my chemo treatments.

This test was a Petscan - this is the same scan I took on January 5 which showed that the Lymphoma was a bit more widespread than we wanted to hear. Based on the results of my CTScan a month ago Lynda and I had very high expectations for great news. The news is very good - most of the cancer is gone. The remnant that remains though means that my doctor is planning for me to go thru all eight planned treatments to make sure it is all cleaned out - this means I am halfway thru.

Since I have been so open about my experiences I thought I would share with you images from my two scans so you can see the dramatic improvement. Lynda thinks I have gone way to far here - I just think the pictures are pretty cool and demonstrate the dramatic progress that is being made!

This first image below is from January - the Lymphoma is represented by the firey yellow spots on my neck and lower abdomen (it was growing around my right kidney). The second image is from this past Monday - my untrained eye can't see anything!

The third image shows a little more of the cancer in January growing between my spine and heart. The final image below is from this week and it looks clean (note that the yellow that is in the kidneys is normal)!

When I saw these images I thought I was totally home free - meaning only two more treatments. The doctors see some remnants of the cancer causing them to be cautious - meaning I will get four more treatments. This Friday I meet with the doctor in person and will be able to get a bit more explanation on what she is seeing.

Overall, I am thrilled with the progress that is being made. I am not thrilled with four more treatments but if it means complete healing so be it. My faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the continued love and support Lynda and I receive continue to carry us through. Continue those prayers - we are getting there!

In Christ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25 - Still Keepin' On

I am happy to say that things are going well for us. Outside of a nagging cough that has been hard to shake over the last month I'm in very good shape. Last weeks recovery from treatment #4 was actually a little easier on me. A couple contributions to this were that one of the chemo drugs was reduced, some of Lynda's family was in town to visit and we had great weather.

I challenged Lynda's family that I was up for some activity while we were in town. We took the time and spent the day downtown on Monday visiting the top of the Hancock building and then walking up to see the Bean sculpture in Millennium Park. Getting outside and stretching my legs was a huge help!

Lynda's brother Tom surprised us by joining the Bald Melon Club. Tom's been a big help to me since day 1 when I learned of my cancer. He is a pharmaceutical doctor and loves to research. He immediately dove into researching Lymphoma. As Lynda and I went thru those first days of testing and diagnosis Tom was able to confirm thru his research what we were hearing from my doctors on the type of cancer and the treatment plan. This gave us big boost in confidence that we were headed in the right direction.

Today is Wednesday and we are looking forward to Monday morning when we go in for my Petscan. This is the big test we've been looking forward to since day 1. I am hoping for a clean scan which will tell me that I have two more treatments and I'll be considered cured!

You'll be hearing from me again by this time next week. Between now and then I have some big plans. Friday, I am going to try nine holes of golf and Saturday I am heading to the Bulls game with my brother-in-law Jim and my uncle Jack. Yes, as you can see from this blog (and others) I am doing my best to enjoy life and praise God I have been able to do so.

God bless,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Marcb 15 - On the road...

Today we are on our way to visit with Lynda's family. We haven't seen them since Christmas. By the way this my first post via my mobile phone.

I am taking a couple days off this week -less about recovering from treatment #4 (which was Friday) and more to spend time with family. It took a little insistence on my part to convince Lynda's family that I am not an invalid and could try something more active on Monday (a better day for me than later this week). Maybe we'll give a museum a try.

My doctor is "cautiously optimistic" on my progress -that seems to be the most I can get out of her. I will be going in for my next Pet scan in two weeks. If the scan is clean I get two more treatments. If it isn't totally clean it will be four more treatments. Please keep storming the heavens for me - praying that #4 cleans out whatever cancer I have left.

In Christ,

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7 - It has been awhile...

It has been a couple weeks since my last post. Outside of a nagging cold/cough (almost 4 weeks now) and tingly finger tips (started a week ago) I am doing fantastic. I just started taking an antibiotic to help fight the cough. The finger tips - well, the doctor tells me that might last until about six months after my treatment ends. It doesn't hinder me from doing anything - but it does feel odd typing. Overall, my body feels like I knocked the cancer weeks ago and now I just have to keep working thru these chemo treatments to seal the deal.

Treatment #3 was two weeks ago. I got thru the first 7 days a little easier than after the first two treatments. Lynda and I have learned a lot about how to best time certain medications to minimize the valley I experience during days 5, 6 and 7 after each treatment. The great thing is that the nausea has not been a big issue for me and fatigue isn't too bad. I have felt well enough that working has been no problem. Fortunately I have plenty of flexibility in my hours and where I work (home vs. the office) that I can take a break whenever I need to. Treatment #4 is next Friday (March 13). I am looking forward to getting past this one because it means I will get scheduled for my next PET scan (probably very end of March). My doctor will use this scan to determine how many more treatments I'll need. Please keep up those prayers - especially over the next couple weeks!

We have a new member of the Bald Melon Club - he is #10! Ray and I have known each other for years - going back to a Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) retreat at St. John Neumann about nine years ago. Ray and I are now members of a prayer/discussion group that is meeting at Lynda/my house each week thru Lent.

I learned this week about St. Baldrick's Foundation - a non-profit group that is funding research for pediatric cancer. It pains me to think of the many kids who are struggling with cancer. St. Baldrick's is all about "Shaving the way to conquer kids' cancer". They recruit people to volunteer to have their heads shaved - encouraging others to donate in support. I am talking with some friends at Accenture to do something to support this. More info to come. BTW - I looked into St. Baldrick's and they appear to apply a higher percentage of the funds they raise to fight cancer than many other cancer charities.

I'll end there for now. God bless,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 17 - Prayer's are being answered...

Today, I received my first tangible objective news on the progress I am making in my fight with cancer – and it is great news!

Based on a CT scan taken yesterday (my first since starting chemo treatments) the main Lymphoma tumor (behind my kidneys) has been reduced by just over 80%!! This is after two rounds of chemo treatment. It has been reduced from 8.9cm X 7.3cm (64.9 sq. cm) to 4.7cm X 2.6 cm (12.22 sq. cm). I have been confident that with all the prayer and support that we’d conquer this and it sure looks like I am on right road.

My doctor still has me on a plan for eight chemo treatments. Treatment #3 is this Friday. My doctor now plans to do the more extensive PET scan after my fourth chemo treatment. The original PET scan showed that in addition to the main tumor that the cancer was spread thru-out my abdomen with another spot in my chest and another on the right side of my neck. I am confident that similar progress has been made on those areas as well and fully expect that the next PET scan will prove that out. Based on that test the doctor will decide if I need all eight treatment or something less. I expect the test will be done at the end of March.

The amount of prayer and other support that Lynda and I have received has been overwhelming – we are feeling the love. It is working. Please continue to keep Lynda, me and the kids in your prayers.

Love and in Christ,

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16 - Waiting for results and a new addition to the club

My first Cat scan since before my first treatment was done today. We now wait with high expectation for some good news - though it may take a couple of days before we hear something.

Over the weekend Lynda and I celebrating Valentine's Day in our traditional way - by going to a nice dinner with our good friends Brian and Violet. We've known them since prior to college. Our Valentine's tradition with them goes back six or seven years. Brian surprised me with a new look.
Brian is the ninth member of the Bald Melon Club!

My next post should contain news from today's scan.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12 - Bald Melon Club Grows!

The Bald Melon Club has two new members today - both big pleasant surprises! So far eight men have joined me in solidarity.

Here are Dan and I. We've worked together at Accenture for many years.

Scott and I go back all the way to college - when we both sported beards. Some (including Scott's mom) have suggested that when we have a full head of hair and beards that we look like twins. You can be the judge if this still holds true by comparing with the picture above.

Click here if you missed the other pictures of the bald melon club

I am having a great week. I was pretty much fully recovered from my January 30 treatment by this last Monday - 10 days. Within those 10 days there were only two that were a little rough in the middle. Outside of that it was only dealing with a little fatigue.

I am looking forward to my CT scan on Monday. The focus will be on measuring the reduction in size of the main tumor behind my kidneys. I told my doctor that I'd love it if she couldn't find the tumor. Her response - "Miracles do happen". I should know something by Wednesday.

In Christ,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

February 5 - Getting thru a little valley

We continue to be incredibly blessed by the love and support by our family and friends. I don't think a day has yet gone by where we haven't received some sort of card or care package via the mail or an offer to provide dinner or a myriad of other blessings and prayers. This afternoon our neighbor called and offered to bring over a Chicken Vesuvius - not long after we received another offer to bring dinner to us. Personally, I am extremely fortunate that the little nausea I am experiencing this week has done little to harm my appetite :-).

While we come from many different perspectives and faiths I believe that God is at the root of the inspiration that causes each friend to reach out in help and support. Reflecting back on my life my most profound experiences of God happen thru other people. I thank you for responding to God's call and being his instrument for me and my family to experience His love.

Brief update:
After my first treatment I struggled a bit in days six thru eight. Knowing this we've tried several things (new medication for nausea, more proactive use of others) to help this round go smoother. Last night (between day 6 & 7) was rough but wasn't as bad as last time. My hope is that last night was my little valley for this round and that I am going to move into the clear for the next two weeks.

Tomorrow (Friday), I have what will hopefully be a short visit to the doctor to check my blood counts. During the last treatment at this time my white blood cells were very low and my blood pressure was high. They both bounced back quickly - hopefully I won't have anything to bounce back from this time.

In Christ,

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February 1 - Bald Melon Club

First off - a brief update. I had my second treatment on Friday. The treatment itself and the two days since have been remarkably uneventful - which is fantastic to be able to say! I hope and pray that I continue to do well the rest of this week. After the first treatment my struggles were with day 6-8 after the treatment - that is Wednesday. We have several counter measures in place to help minimize those issues (primarily nausea, constipation, minor fatigue).

What is the bald melon club?
I am extremely blessed to have friends who are going many extra miles to stand by me in such a unique way - by sacrificing their hair with me. From left - Samir, Bob, Mike, me, David. We've all worked together in various ways, shapes and forms for well over 10 years. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have these guys make such a strong statement of solidarity with me!
Of course the Bald Melon Club isn't limited to Accenture. Here is a picture of John. John is a member of small group faith discussion group Lynda and I host in our home.

I just received Kevin's picture. Kevin worked with us at Accenture until a few years ago. We stay in touch occassionally via email. What a great surprise when I got this email with the picture. Welcome to the club! What an honor it is to me to have such great friends!

I know others are contemplating joining the club. You are welcome - there is no pressure to join. If you do decide to make the leap be sure to send me a picture so I can post her to my blog.

I think you'll agree - this new look actually looks good on all of us! It isn't quite as risky as you might think. A word of warning though - if you join I highly recommend that you have a hat ready for going out in the cold weather!

Send pictures to me at

Monday, January 26, 2009

January 26 - The aftermath

It's done - there ain't any going back now. Here are a couple of pictures of the my last visit to the barber for a long time.

We started off well.

But this is what happens when you bring the kids along and put them in charge.

But, it all turned out well in the end.

Though, this is the last time I give this crew a say when I am at the barber!

January 26 - Hair today, gone tomorrow

They told me to expect my hair to start to go on day 16 or 17 after my first chemo treatment and like clockwork on day 17 it has started to go. I first noticed it in the shower yesterday and then when I checked my pillow discovered it must've started overnight.

Since yesterday I have found myself being very conscious of it. I think twice about scratching an itch on my head, in the shower I am not as aggressive in washing it and in drying my hair I pat it dry. I am sure this is over reacting - it isn't like it will come out in big patches. That said, just a little tug and I can pull out a tuft pretty easily. I have demonstrated this bizzare oddity a few times. I let Kaelyn, our 5 year old, take a tug - for some reason she thought that was really neat and I had to stop her from grabbing more.

I just got off the phone with my barber and at 5:40 this afternoon I am going to have it taken off. Better to get this off in one swoop then shedding worse than our dog, Gracie, over the next week or so - we already have enough dark hair floating around our kitchen floor from her.

BTW - Since it has been asked I will mention it - the primary hair loss is coming from on top. It has been much less pronounced in other parts. We'll see what happens, I'll probably thin out in other areas but hopefully it won't be as dramatic.


Friday, January 23, 2009

January 23 - More good stuff

Lynda and I had a great visit with the oncologist today - this was my first visit with the doctor since my first treatment two weeks ago. Our impression was that the doctor was surprised at how well I am doing!
  • During the exam the doctor checked out the lymph nodes in my neck. During the initial visit she easily found a lump in the left side of my neck - the next day the PET scan found cancer there. Today, the doctor could find no evidence of the lump - it has disappeared.
  • My blood pressure is much closer to normal - for the first time since my first doctor visit mid-December. Prior to December my blood pressure had always been text book.
  • My blood counts have returned to normal levels (white and red cell counts). This will be something that will continue to fluxuate dramatically as a result of each treatment.
  • The fact that the cancer was not found in my bone marrow has caused me to be reclassified as having Stage 3 Lymphoma (she originally had me at Stage 4). Note that the staging for this type of cancer is not the same as other types. Stage 3 essentially means that the Lympoma exists above and below my diaphram.

Until this point I had not pushed for information on the odds of success or the odds of re-occurance in the future. Based on all the factors (including my age and overall health) I am in the low-intermediate category. According to the statistics this puts me in the 80% range that I will be cancer free at the end of the treatment and will remain so past five years. The percentages don't go much higher than that - I'll take it!

We also discussed the process for evaluating progress of the treatments. I expect I will have another CT scan toward the end of February. The main focus area will be the 7 centimeter growth that was found around the kidneys. Any reduction in size of this tumor will be a sign that the treatment is working as planned. Based on how my body has responded so far (neck and overall I feel great this week) the doctor fully expects that the tumor will be smaller. I'll take fully disappeared and call it another miracle! Regardless of the amount of progress, the doctor told me that I will be doing the full eight treatments.

A couple of folks have sent me some information on supplemental herbal treatment options (ex. Triphala which is an India based approach). I talked to the doctor about these and she is insisting that I stay away from those while I am on the chemo treatment plan. She doesn't want to do anything that might cause interference with the existing treatment plan - especially when it appears to be working.

My confidence continues to grow that we are on the right path and that with everyone's continued prayer support and the grace of God that we'll beat this!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20 - Feelin' Normal

The last couple of days have been great! I woke up Sunday feeling more "normal" than I have felt since late November. No back aches, stomach aches... The normal feeling has continued. My hope is that I will be in the clear until my next treatment on Friday, January 30th.

I noticed this morning as I was getting ready for the day that today I almost didn't have to shave. This may be a sign that hair growth is slowing. Being able to skip out on shaving would be a small benefit to this whole process. Unfortunately, this might be sign that the hair on top is getting ready to go.

I believe the hair loss is primarily due to one of the main drugs in the chemo treatment - Adriamycin - also known as the "red devil". This drug was literally a very deep red - and there was a lot of it. It came thru two giant syringes - the biggest I had ever seen. Think bigger than a turkey baster you'd find in a kitchen. It looked more like something you'd see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon - at my next treatment I will check to see if there is an "ACME" written on the side of it. On giving it to me the nurse said this one "is the interesting one" which alarmed me a bit initially. Turns out the interesting part was that it turned my pea red for the next couple hours - it was good to be warned about that.

That's all for now, my hope is that life will continue to be normal for the next week and a half.


Friday, January 16, 2009

January 16 - Back in the saddle

Before getting into my update - I have noticed some folks are starting to add comments to my posts. This is great. It is quite simple to do this - though not obvious. If you'd like to comment on any of my posts simply click on the small "comment" word below the posting.

Whew - I had a rough 36 hours that started with nausea and resulted in being plugged up from the bottom up (yes, probably too much information). The process of getting everything moving was unpleasant - I will spare you those details. I will say that I thank God that Lynda is a nurse! She has been such a huge guide to me and care giver to me - we are stretching the "in sickness and health" here and she has meant the world to me. Seriously, if I didn't have Lynda to rely on to make sure I am doing the right things to keep my ship upright I'd probably have had to make several trips to the emergency room - and it is only the first week!

Example - Wednesday night Lynda decides we needed to do a little procedure to get me moving again (being discrete here). Needless to say I never had one of those. With a shaky voice I asked - "Do you know how to do that?". With a roll of the eyes, she informed me that she used to have to do this sort of thing all the time while working in the hospital. I didn't know, didn't need to know - but am glad she knew what to do!

We are learning quite a bit about how my body reacts to the treatments and the associated drugs. We are going to be in much better shape going into the next treatment - January 30.

Today, my stomach is a little sore but I am doing much better. After an awesome first weekend we hit a valley which I think we are about out of now.

I am hoping and praying for a good weekend. Tomorrow we celebrate Ryan's eigth birthday and we also have tickets to see Wicked!

Continue your prayers. I was in the doctor today for my weekly checkup. As expected my white blood cells have taken a dive - my immunity levels are pretty low right now. We are hoping that with one of the drugs taken last week that this will bounce back over the weekend. Another concern is that my blood pressure (which has been high since I first checked with the doctor mid-December) is still high. We had hoped that with the free up of the kidney last week that the blood pressure would come down to normal levels (prior to last month my blood pressure has always been text book).

In Christ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 14 - Great News! The cancer is not in the bone marrow!

A week ago my doctor was fairly certain she'd find the Lymphoma in my bone marrow. We finally got news today that the bone marrow is clean - no cancer. There have been so many people praying for me - this I believe is testimony to the power of prayer!

If I wasn't feeling so nauseated I'd be jumping for joy right now!

To be honest I don't really know all the ramifications of cancer in the bone marrow - I just know that it not being there is the best news I have heard in the last 10 days.

I chalk this up as God's second miracle in me (first being the freed up kidney on day 1 after treatment).

Thank you, thank you to everyone keeping me in their thoughts and prayers - it is working! With your helpl and the power of God WE are going to conquer this.


January 14 - Not as great

The nausea finally set in over the last day. The first five days were great - I guess that the anti-nausea medicine they gave me during the treatment only covered five days. The supplemental stuff they have given me has done little to help.

After two good days working in the office, today I am doing what I can from my reclyner at home.

In other news, I think the kids are starting to understand a little more what I am going thru. Kaelyn (5) learned that I am going to lose my hair soon. She laughed and pointed her finger at me - "That is so silly". If given the option, I think Kaelyn and Emily (10) will want to be given the first opportunity to take the shaver to me. That is still a week or two away.

Here is an oddity from one of my tests last week that I haven't shared. One of the tests was a "Pet" scan. To prep for this test I was injected with lightly radioactive glucose. The cancer cells eat this up and then glow under the scan. The oddity was that on leaving I was warned to keep a 3 ft clearance from the kids the rest of the day and evening. While adults are fine with the level of radioactivity I had kids are susceptible. I was able to do a short hug here or there but generally had to keep my distance until the next morning. It was incredibly odd to spend the evening being so self-conscious about how close I was to Emily, Ryan and Kaelyn.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11 - A great weekend!

It has been a great two days! I attribute this to the work of God and the great progress made in developing this chemo process. I can only hope that I respond to future treatments nearly as well.

The last two nights I have slept better than I have in over a month. I haven't experienced any of the after effects of the chemo treatment that I was concerned about. My energy levels have been excellent - the steriod they gave me has been a big help. I have had a little bone soreness and slight headache - but hardly even worth a Tylenol.

Another blessing this weekend was that our good friends, Pat and Teresa volunteered to have Emily, Ryan and Kaelyn visit their house for the weekend. Our kids think of Pat and Teresa as another aunt and uncle and their two kids Erin and Kimmy as more cousins. It was a win-win for Lynda and I and for the kids. Pat and Teresa are wonderful lifelong friends.

It was a blessing to Lynda and I to have a peaceful, restful weekend - and the extreme bonus no bad symptoms from the treatment. I felt so good that we decided to go out to dinner Saturday night with good friends of ours, Brian and Violet.

Today, I gave my primary doctor a call to give him an update on my progress. Dr. EJ has been an awesome care provider and guide over the past couple of weeks and a great friend. It truly has a been a blessing to have a relationship with my doctor (we go to the same church and our boys go to school together). An interesting item came out of our conversation - he let me know that he had never had a patient go from Lymphoma cancer diagnosis to first treatment as fast as I have.

My last dose of the steriod for this treatment is tomorrow. It is likely that as that dose wears off I will start expriencing far more fatigue. On top of that, while the chemo treatment begins working immediately it hits its maximum working potency after seven or eight days.

I will continue to take each day - one at time. Again, I feel very blessed to have a good start.

I expect that future posts will be less frequent and will begin getting shorter.

Peace, In Christ,

Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9 - The day after

The only thing out of the ordinary I was expecting for the first night was that I'd need to get up every 2 hours to go to the bathroom. The first night was a little more eventful.

I woke up at 1 AM with the sharpest pain I have ever experienced in that area no guy wants to have pain. On a scale of 1-10, this was a 15. The shock of the pain was so great I aggressively vomited. Fortunately, this made the pain miraculously go away completely. Unfortunately, this happened two more times during the night - every two hours.

Lynda talked to the doctor Friday morning and the next thing I knew I was packed and heading into the emergency room. They thought I was dealing with a kidney stone from the treatment. The reason is that the chemo treatment begins working immediately killing cancer cells. The dead cells get flushed thru the kidneys and bladder. One concern is that these cells can crystalize - forming stones. One of the medications I take each day is to keep the crystalization from happening. When I heard kidney stone I just rolled my eyes - that is what we originally thought I had before getting into this cancer journey.

Two or three hours in the emergency room - a blood test and a CT scan and big surprise - no stones. The miracle here - all indications show that my right kidney has started working normally again!!! The first of many expected miracles. My personal belief is that the drugs went to work immediately over night on the Lymphoma that was constraining my right kidney from emptying.

I was incredibly sore all day on Friday in my mid-section and back. I think this was due to my aggressive use of some stomach muscles last night that haven't been used in a long time. The back pain is a left over from Tuesday's bone marrow biopsy.

Interestingly, I have so far had no adverse symptoms yet from the chemo drugs - I'll take that as a mini-miracle! The drugs they gave me to counteract the symptoms and a steriod I am able to take for the first five days after each treatment are doing their jobs.

Before leaving the hospital we had to pay a visit to the Oncology office (where I receive my treatments). I needed to receive an injection that will cause my bone marrow to boost the amount of white blood cells. This is a standard shot that I will receive after each treatment. The chemo drugs are going to do a lot of rough stuff to my blood over the next six months - affecting white and red blood cells and platelets (help stops bleeding). My immunity to colds and other things is going to be dramatically reduced. As such every week - regardless of whether I receive a treatment I will be visiting the doctor to monitor the effects on my blood. The draw-back to this drug is that for the first couple of days while the bones are producing the white cells it creates a bit of a log jam in my bones. I may experience some soreness in many of my bones.

All in all, it was a rough and scary first 24 hours but not at all in the way that I expected.

Tonight, I get to try a sleeping pill to help me sleep. It has been many weeks since I have had a really good night sleep. One thing or another has kept sleep from being pleasant - back pain, stomach pain...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

January 8 - First Chemo Treatment

Yesterday, I found a great deal of stress and anxiety building in me for this first chemo treatment and what it would do to me. Stress and anxiety are not normal for me - I am normally very calm - letting stressful stuff roll off me. Not this time.

I am happy to say that the first chemo treatment (my treatments are at Central Dupage Hospital) went very smoothly - it was a heck of a lot easier than I expected - in truth even with research - I didn't know what to expect.

Basically, I was given an IV and they slowly dripped various chemo drugs in me thru out the date. I basically sat in an reclyner for about 7 hours as the drugs made their way in. I kept expecting that the next drug would cause some sort of unpleasant reaction - but it didn't happen. The nurse was most concerned with the first drug (Rituxan). In many cases Rituxan can cause adverse reactions with the heart while it is dripped in. For this reason this drug goes in very slowly - about 5 hours. Thank God - in my case there was no problems. The interesting thing about Rituxan is that it basically paints targets on the cancer cells that acts like a magnet for the other chemo drugs - amazing. I believe this is a newer drug that has just started being used in the last 5-10 years.

After the Rituxan finally finished making its way in me there were four or five other drugs that were pushed in much quicker. Some that are part of the chemo treatment others that are used to counteract the unpleasant side effects of the treatment.

Once all the drugs were in, they removed the IV and we were free to go. The nurse was confident that I would do well and might not even have much of an adverse reaction in the first couple of days.

While I was a bit tired Thursday evening - I was blessed in that it was uneventful.

What I thought might be a stressful day was oddly fairly relaxing. I can only hope this is a good sign for my future treatments - which will be done once every three weeks. I expect I'll have to do seven more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January 7 - Discovering cancer in my life

I plan to use this site to help keep my friends and family updated on my journey and fight with cancer - non-Hodkins Lymphoma. Included below is the information I shared on Wednesday, January 7th with friends and family and on Facebook.

From January 7th:

While I’ve had the chance to tell my story many times in the last 24 hours – I know many may have not heard my news. In the last couple of days I have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (large B Cell – if that means anything to you). The cancer cells are very aggressive growers and I have quite a lot of them in my lower abdomen with smaller pockets thrown in my chest and neck. Today (Thursday, Jan 8), I begin the first of 8 chemotherapy treatments. The treatments will each be separated by three weeks – so this process will go on for about six months. The good news is that this type of cancer cell is very responsive to treatment. I am told that the drugs begin immediately in attacking and killing the cancer cells and continue working for three weeks. Each following treatment is intended to kill more and more cancer cells. The goal is that after the last treatment all cancer cells will be gone - a complete cure. I approach this whole situation with confidence and optimism – this is another problem to focus on and solve. That said this last day before treatment begins as been a bit more stressful and anxiety filled then I am used to.

Many ask me about my current symptoms and pain. For the last five days I have had some back pain – at times requiring some pain killers. Oddly that pain has subsided in the last 24 hours. Other than that I don’t have significant symptoms or pain to describe.

I am expecting that the first couple of days after each treatment will be very unpleasant – I will be very tired and there a good chance I will be nauseous. My hope is that my body will rebound quickly after each treatment and that I will feel up to doing the things I want to do – spending time with friends and family (home and work). I’ll take each day one at a time.

I have already been overwhelmed with the response of care and love from my friends – everyone wants to know how they can help – many want to help right now! My wife, Lynda, and I will put our heads together to think of some practical ways folks can help out. Right now we just don’t know what this is going to be like. Fortunately, we have this first round covered in terms of help. As we get thru this first round I am sure we’ll find ways couple practical of ways others can help out. This is going to be more of a marathon vs. a sprint. For now prayer support is most welcome.

Lynda and I are still in quite a bit of shock over this. Fortunately, we have a wide network of friends and family – including you to turn to for support. On top that we have a very strong faith in Jesus. We know that God will not put anything in our path that He hasn’t given us the strength to handle. We are going to tackle this head on – I expect nothing other a complete recovery.

You are welcome to share my news with others.
Peace and Love,Tom