The Simple Things

The doctors found one new nodule in my left lung.  My string of NED is broken, but it was a great run while it lasted.  Since it is one spot, the hope is to receive radiation to remove it.  I will meet with my lung radiation oncologist in the coming week to establish a treatment plan.  Surgery was also an option but it would remove a large portion of my left lung and we are trying to keep my lung intact right now.  If radiation isn’t a viable solution, I’ll have surgery.

The news was disheartening but it is my reality.  I’ve always known there isn’t a cure for my diagnosis, but of course I’m always praying and hoping for one.  The good news is, it is only one spot and it can be treated.  The doctors were optimistic about my current treatment regimen because it has been about a year since my last surgery to remove cancer nodules.  On this trip I learned my cancer will come back and I hope it comes back one spot at a time with a long time in between occurrences.

The Texas Medical Center is a city unto itself.  MD Anderson is an entire hospital dedicated to treating cancer, not just a wing or a floor of a hospital focused on cancer treatment.  I’m very fortunate and thankful for Dr.Martin because she was able to use her contacts at MD Anderson to allow me to see a thoracic surgeon for an evaluation an hour after I learned of my scan results.  Seeing a thoracic surgeon right away saved me time.  It usually takes weeks to get an appointment.   It also gave me peace of mind because now I have a plan to treat this new tumor.  It would have been a long flight back if I didn’t have the meeting with the thoracic surgeon at MD Anderson.

When I had time, which wasn’t much, I did enjoy the city of Houston.  I went off my diet and ate delicious Texas BBQ, lots of Mexican food (which I love) and I also ate antelope. Along with the wonderful food, I was able to catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in over a decade.  It was great catching up and hearing about each other’s lives.  It’s fun because we are in similar stages of parenthood and I enjoy listening to parenting stories and seeing how our lives have changed over the past 10 years.

Again I’m faced with the complications of cancer.  I started to get ahead of myself by imagining being NED for a year or even longer.  Truly, I had a hard time identifying myself as NED because I thought it would come back.  I’m grateful it’s only one, treatable spot and, as of right now, I don’t need to switch chemos.  My latest approach to life is trying to see life as my seven-year-old daughter, Katie, sees life…Simple.  Cancer is complicated but I don’t need to make my life more complicated.

My daughter Katie and I had a wonderful interaction the other day which exemplifies simplicity.  She watched me struggling to open a jar of peanut butter because of the pain in my hands.

Katie told me, “You’ve suffered a lot dad.”

I replied, “Yes, I have.”

She then said, “Suffering is a good thing.  Jesus suffered for us.”

It is a very simple concept but one I’ve struggled with for a long time.

I’ve always had an awareness of how fragile life may be, but being told my cancer has returned is a rude awakening.  It helps me to live in the moment and see beauty in the little things.  I’ve noticed over the past months I am stressing over things I haven’t stressed about in years because I was NED and I was feeling good.  I wasn’t worried about dying. I hope it doesn’t take cancer for me to keep seeing the beauty in simple things.  I hope to view the world as my seven-year-old daughter…definitely not when she’s thirteen, seven is perfect.

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Authentic Texas BBQ spot

 

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Enjoying my evening with Ben Rhem at the Lodge.  We were “unlodgeable” by NDS standards. 

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Great catching up with Wade Barrett

 

 

 

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Brain MRI Results

 

Good news, my brain MRI came back clear of any cancer.  The day of the scan started out rough though.  I slept only a couple of hours the night before because my feet were itching and burning, a side effect of chemo. Because of my lack of sleep, I decided to have a relaxing morning and take Anabel to daycare later than usual.  My morning was a little too relaxed and I ended up rushing at the last minute to get out of the house.  As I was walking out the door, Anabel wanted her Dora winter hat.  We went back in and explored our house for the Dora winter hat.  We couldn’t find it and the fox, bear, zebra, or Minnie Mouse hat would not suffice.  By this time, I was going to be late for my appointment.  A crying Anabel and I went out to my driveway.  As I was holding Anabel, her feet began pushing down my sweatpants (I can’t wear any metal in the MRI machine and I prefer to wear my clothes instead of wearing a hospital gown).  I made the decision to waddle like a penguin with my pants falling down instead of putting Anabel, her lunch and backpack on the ground (I’m glad my neighbors did’t see me).  I buckled her into her car seat and sat down in my seat and realized I didn’t have my keys and I locked my house door.  I went to my neighbor’s home for our spare keys but the keys were to our old locks.  By this time I was 30 minutes late for my appointment and, fortunately, I was able to move it back.  I eventually was able to get into my house but it was a frustrating and knucklehead-filled morning.

On Valentine’s Day, Janie and I leave for MD Anderson In Houston, Texas for a week of medical tests.  CT scans are usually nerve-wracking for me, but in a new environment with new doctors it is a little more anxiety provoking than normal.  But I have spoken with people who have been treated at MD Anderson and they only had wonderful things to say about the doctors.  Also my thoracic surgeon, whom I love, trained there and is having a colleague “check on me”, which is very comforting.  I’m also looking forward to spending time together with Janie.  I’m trying to view it as a mini-vacation.  With that said, please keep me in your prayers and send me positive vibes the week of  Valentine’s Day.  As always, thank you for your prayers and kind words.

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I thought this was cool.  Katie is on a billboard for her school.  We didn’t know anything about it until we drove past and Katie screamed “It’s me!”.

 

 

 

 

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