Goodbye 2012


I’ve been reflecting back on the past year.  Although we didn’t get the remission that we hoped for, I am grateful that Dave is doing as well as he is.  We’ve witnessed Samantha’s excitement as she first toured and then applied to colleges.  This year also brought us Winston – not much more to say about that!  2012 also brought me a new job that has renewed in me a love of teaching and learning.

I have heard that you should spend New Year’s Day doing the very things that you would like to be doing the rest of the year.  So here a few things I WON’T be doing tomorrow…



stressing about time and money

stressing about health and what-ifs and treatment plans

stressing about Grant’s homework efforts

Here are the things that I plan on doing tomorrow and hopefully throughout 2013…

sleeping soundly

solving the daily crossword

enjoying family time


walking the dogs



Mostly, I am feeling hopeful about what the new year will bring.

Happy New Year!





Several things to be thankful for today.  Some more important than others.  Dave’s procedure went really well.  The abscess had not gone very far into the muscle which is a good thing.  The doctor did mention that healing might take a little longer since the tissue under the abscess had disintegrated.  She didn’t really have an explanation for this and seemed a little perplexed.  The abscess is not cancer related or probably even chemo related.  It is apparently just “one of those things”.  It could happen to any of us.  There is a chance it could happen again, but we are going to assume it won’t!  One thing is for sure, Dave is going to be SO much more comfortable once he has healed from all of this.  He is currently feeling no pain since the anesthesia is still in his system.  Hopefully the pain meds will keep everything under control later.

I am also thankful for Dr. Spira and his team.  They called today and have Dave set up to come in next week for labs and an appointment.  The plan is to get him back on the chemo schedule the week of January 7th.  I am glad they are so proactive and taking an aggressive approach to his treatment.  We think he will be able to go back on the trial as well as the regular chemo regimen but will know for sure next week.

Finally, I am thankful that our great team of cleaning ladies was able to get rid of every last pine needle that had invaded every nook and cranny in our living room.  It was our tallest tree and probably our nicest shaped tree ever but it was also the tree that died the quickest.  This, in part,was helped along by the puppy who loved to chew the lower branches and drink the water out of the tree stand.

Happy weekend everybody!




Dr. Spira started the conversation with “Dave your scan looks okay.”  I would have preferred “fantastic” or “miraculous”, but I guess I’ll make do with “okay”.  Basically, the three lung lesions have increased in size very slightly – we’re talking millimeters of change.  Four of the tumors they have been keeping track of in his liver have also increased a bit.  One went from 1.0 cm to 1.4cm so nothing earth shattering but not in the direction we want things heading.  Dr. Spira said that he is not “overly” worried but this just means that we should continue to keep a close eye on things.  He said it doesn’t mean “that the chemo has stopped working”.  His recommendation was that Dave continue with his current treatment plan.  

The low thyroid is likely caused by the chemotherapy so they will continue to monitor it when he has his labs done at the office every two weeks.  The high liver function blood work didn’t alarm him at all.  Apparently this is something they also monitor when Dave has his labs done.  The slight increase in his CEA level could also be due to a variety of factors. 

The good thing about going with Dave to his doctor’s appointment is that he confesses things that he might not otherwise mention.  He has been having pain in his right side and was concerned it might be cancer related.  He hadn’t mentioned this to me prior to the appointment.  Dr. Spira reassured him that there was nothing on the scan that would cause that pain and that it is more than likely a muscle strain.

I mentioned previously that Dave was having some issues with his nether regions.  Turns out he has some kind of internal abscess which will have to be surgically removed after Christmas.  So, that means he is taking a chemo break at least for a little while.  Dave is looking forward to some time off from chemo.  I am concerned at the timing, but as with this entire journey so far, there isn’t a decision to be made.  He has to have the abscess removed because it is infected.  There is one path so that is the one we are one.  



Remember the Time We Went to That Retreat?

I came across this blog entry.  It was written by a woman who was in charge of filming during the retreat.  The video she is making will be used in the future with patients, caregivers and staff at Johns Hopkins.  Laurie’s husband, died of colon cancer so it is more personal for her, I believe, than just a job making an educational video.

You can read my perspective of the retreat here.



Why Doctors Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Call on Fridays

ImageYesterday my mind was so very heavy, first and foremost, with the events that happened in Connecticut.  It is all so beyond my comprehension.  To a much lesser degree, I was bothered by this message left by Dave’s endocrinologist on our voicemail.

“Hi David.  Dr. __________ calling.  Got your blood work back.  A1C was 7.2 which is pretty good.  Holding stable from last time.  Couple of other things though.  One is that your thyroid is messed up again so I think it is time to treat it.  I’m going to send in a prescription for __________  60 micrograms once a day tab to the Express Scripts.  And also one of your liver tests came back pretty high.  Normal is up to about 50.  Yours was 100.  I will send that on to the other doctor to look at.  And if you can come see me in 3 months instead of 6 we can check thyroid again.  Thanks.”

That raised more questions than it answered.  Scan Monday morning and follow up oncologist appointment Tuesday, so I guess we can ask our questions then.  Doctors really shouldn’t call on Fridays.



Why Me? (or Why Us? or Why Dave?)

Yesterday, I read this story.  It is about a mother and daughter who were both unfortunate enough to contract cancer.  It is about how they supported each other and what they went through.  It is a very sad tale.  This line stuck out for me in the article 

“Once, the day before a chemo treatment, Patti reflected in a blog post on the misfortune of her diagnosis.

When I’m feeling sorry for myself, she wrote, instead of lamenting “why me?”, I’m trying to ask myself “why not me?” Who would I wish this on if it wasn’t me? (hint: the answer is no one.)”

I have had that exact same thought.  I guess the question is, why anyone?






ImageThose of you who know Grant know that he is an amazing kid.  He is so smart and has a wicked sense of humor.  I am often blown away by his play on words or his thought processes.  However, this same quick tongue can also get him into trouble.  I am constantly telling him to “know your audience!”

Grant hasn’t shown much outward stress to Dave’s illness.  When Dave first sat him down and explained to him that he had cancer, that he would be having surgeries and chemo but that everything would be alright, Grant accepted it wholeheartedly.  In fact, he was so relaxed about the situation last year that he even took a little bit of advantage.

Dave’s liver surgery was in December, and I spent most of my time at the hospital.  The kids were left to themselves at different points, but they were all old enough to handle it and look out for each other.  One night I came home and watched Grant playing a video game.  I laughed and commented about one of the odd “lego headed” characters.  The next night, I came home and noticed the video game box.  It looked a lot like a game that I had bought for Grant and put away for Christmas.  Confused, I asked him why he asked for a game that he already had.  Well, long story short, he had helped himself to his Christmas present early and planned to just put it back before I noticed!

He’s too smart for his own good, but he has a mom who is pretty with it too.  This year I have a new hiding spot for gifts.



Insult to Injury

ImageTurns out that colon cancer is quite literally a pain in the ass.  Which means there are quite a few unmentionable side effects.  Trust me on this one, you don’t really want to know.  Yesterday Dave told me it was all “very humbling”.  It just doesn’t seem right.  Not only does the person with cancer have to deal with the actual cancer and chemo but also the embarrassment of asking your doctor about issues with your nether regions.  Not to mention the fun of buying certain drug store products.  Ugh.  It is awful, plain and simple.

Round #28 today.



Throwing in the Towel


It has been a quiet writing week.  I couldn’t think of much to write about that didn’t involve feelings of frustration, hurt or complaining so I decided to take a little break.  I reflected quite a bit on the events of last weekend.  Dave and I talked about everything and, in the end, simply didn’t agree.  So I am brought back to a fundamental truth of which I had lost sight.  You can only control your own actions and decisions.  If Dave wants to do something, that is his choice.  I can only speak my mind and ultimately control how I react.

Dave wants to visit a friend in Chapel Hill next weekend.  In my efforts to look out for his best interest, I told him..

*driving on I95 Friday after work is nuts.

*driving on Friday when you have just been disconnected from chemo is exhausting

*I would rather see him take it easy next weekend, so that he can have a good “off” week with his family.

In the end, he will do what he wants to do.  It may not make any sense to me and may not seem to be the best choice health wise.  But the only thing I can control is how I act.  So, if he goes, I will not spend a week thinking about it.  I won’t be hurt, and I won’t be complaining.  If he is tired and feeling cruddy next week though he probably won’t be getting a whole lot of sympathy either.