Ist Chemo Cycle Back and Completed

Today I finished up my first cycle of chemo and I feel good.  My feet began to hurt yesterday but it was expected.  My regimen is two weeks on and one week off. Thank you for the prayers and support.  With summer approaching and Katie and Janie’s school year wrapping up, I figured I would post a blog I wrote earlier in the year about a school visit I had at a local high school.

In October I was approached, by Upper Chesapeake hospital social worker, about speaking at a local school about cancer and my experiences living with cancer.  I jumped at the opportunity because I like talking to others about cancer and I believe it was an opportunity to educate others about living with Stage IV cancer.  I contacted the school to discuss the specifics of the assembly.  I learned, from the organizer, that a young teacher was recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer and the purpose of the assembly was to provide information and personal experiences.  But more importantly, it was a rally of hope for the teacher and for others who have been affected by cancer.

There were six presenters who shared their experiences with cancer. I learned a lot about different cancers and different treatments.  For example, one gentleman had a rare cancer of his appendix.  He endured a 24-hour surgery, (he described his surgery as removing all the organs around his appendix, power washing the organs and the organ area, and then putting the organs into place) followed by 24 hours of intensive chemo.  I can’t imagine a surgery lasting one entire day.

When it was my turn to speak, I was excited and felt a little nervous because it was my first time speaking in front of a large group about my illness.  It was harder than I thought because I’ve never told my entire cancer story from the beginning. Usually when I talk to people about my cancer, I’m updating them on the latest episode.  But starting from the beginning made me think of how much I’ve been through and brought up emotions I haven’t felt in a long time.  I felt scared, sad, and joyful all over again.  It was funny to look at the students’ facial expressions when I told them about a doctor touching my brain.  They seemed attentive and asked good questions. Most of their questions involved my wife and children, which I love talking about.

The presenter following me was a 15 year-old girl who lost her mom to breast cancer.  I was amazed by her resilience. She was not just living but thriving.  She had raised over $50,000 for breast cancer research and organized cancer awareness events.  I was blown away by her talk.

I often think about how my cancer has impacted my daughters.  I don’t expect them to pick up the colon cancer flag and wave it around or organize any charity events.  That’s not important to me. Its more important for me to see them running and playing with their friends and not thinking about me being sick.  It’s about being innocent at age 6 and 2.  I hope and pray they can live as normal lives as possible, whatever normal is nowadays.  It also assured me that my girls will be OK no matter what happens to me.  Walking away from school that day, I understood the assembly was just as much for me as it was for the students and staff in attendance.

Thank you John Carroll School for the opportunity to share my story.  The young teacher who had colon cancer is now in remission.

Speakers and their family members

Speakers and their family members

May 29th marked a year since my brain surgery.  This was my scariest and darkest time.  I included this photo for a good laugh.  The photo was taken just after I took off my head bandage and some of my hair is glued to my head. While posting this, I just noticed I have a light mustache that completes my creepy guy look.  The two doctors were residents who helped with the surgery.

Two days after brain surgery

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