Friday, July 6, 2012

A week late

But glad to announce Kel is ONE YEAR ALL CLEAR!!

'Nuff said.

With love,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quick update

I just too a look after 3+ months and realized I hadn't posted anything since Kel's 7 month checkup was pending, so I thought I would add news:

He has just (2.5 weeks ago) cleared his 10-month post-surgery all clear and is currently in his final week with the Tucson Police Department before saying goodbye to Arizona and moving to MS to be with David and I.  I am sad to see him leave such AMAZING friends and co-workers who were out of this world supportive and caring during Kel's illness and beyond.  I feel guilty about moving so far and having to have him leave that great family, but I also cannot wait (after almost 9 months) to have him here with us.  It has actually been 3 months since David and I have seen Kel and cannot wait.

In cancer news he is now at 2 month checkups rather than monthly, and all is holding steady and looking good.  The next one will be the big 1-year all clear, after which the chances of recurrence drop immensely (actually statistically for the salvage surgery he had the peak risk was 8-9 months, and he is past that too), so we will breath so much better soon.  The worry never goes, but reaching a year is a huge milestone.

That is it for tonight ... to follow my old sux/doesn't suck prescription:
I suck for having to have Kel leave TPD just to be with David and I.
Being past at least the first hurdle of recurrence risk does NOT suck, for sure!

With love,

Monday, January 30, 2012

2 years today

When they were here over the holidays, I was telling Kel and my father than anything that happened beyond the last 4 years feels like a different life - just over 4 years ago we adopted David, 4 months later came mom's diagnosis, 21 months of time with her until she passed, then Tahoe's cancer diagnosis and passing, then Kel's cancer diagnosing and fighting. Anything beyond that? Too far back to remember.

But back to today, we have again arrived at the anniversary of my mother's death from endometrial cancer ... almost down to the hour this time. Jan 30, 2010 somewhere around 7:30pm PCT, Dena David took her last pained breath, her suffering ceased, and we lost a loving wife, mother, and dear friend.

2 years already, really? And at the same time, I feel like that is a lifetime ago. How can 2 years simultaneously feel like forever and yesterday all at once?

No insight today, no shining memoir, nothing but a hard, sad day with just me and David tonight (and he is too bright and bubbly for me to make him sad with my sadness, so kept on a happy face with him). But time does make the pain less, and brings forward more memories of good times than hard ones.

I love you everyday, mom, and miss you just as often.


p.s. Kel's CT scan for his 7 month post-surgery followup was today, not sure if that was a good omen or not. Then a black cat ran in front of my car on the drive home ... not liking the omens. But I just keep trying to tell myself whatever will be, will be, and whatever fight we have to take one, we will take on. Que sera, sera

Friday, December 30, 2011

What a difference a year(ish) makes

I haven't written since Thanksgiving, but today (or yesterday? We can't remember exactly, but think it is today) marks the 1 year diagnosaversary for Kel. And yes, we made up that word. He wrote a long note of thanks and reflection which I will post below (for those who are not on FB), but first I thought I would note what a difference a year makes.

To be honest, it is hard to believe it has been a year already. The first 6+ months were a bit ... ummmm, hellish? We welcomed in the New Year with Kel's surgery (aka removing the troublesome 'boy'), he started chemo soon after, etc. What we believed would be done in March (chemo) extended through June, didn't work, and onto surgery. Now we've had a 5 month 'cancer-vacation', but every month is worrisome and only time will tell.

We've also (kind of) moved across country, minus one critically important family member (Kel, of course), and have been a long distance family for about 4 months now. Hopefully Kel will soon be able to move to MS with David and I, although I know he is not looking forward to leaving TPD.

While a year ago we were in shock, today we enjoyed a day of NOT working on the new house (as we had been doing for the last week or so). A few pictures below, but we chose to drive to Tupelo, MS today - where Elvis was born - and do things entirely unrelated to cancer (or Elvis)!


Went to the Tupelo Automobile museum, which is WAY WAY COOL! They had some late 1800s and early 1900s beauties:
as well as some later models (this, in case anyone is wondering, is one of my DREAM cars!):

We also ventured over to the Buffalo (really bison, of course) Park where we saw Bison, Zebras, Donkeys, Horses, Giraffes, and much much more. It was a fun and carefree day!

I've said it many times before, but I will say it again - to all of our friends and family, near and far, IRL and through various support groups, a BIG Thank you! May 2012 bring us all a year of love, peace, and comfort. We may not know what the next year brings, but if it has half of the love we had this year, we are in good shape.

Now, instead of a SUX section, onto my 'ghost writer' - Kel.

"Today is an important anniversary. 1 Year ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm still here. Over the past year I went through chemotherapy and a couple of very invasive surgeries. I am doing very well now and feel great, but the fight is not over. I need to take this time to say thank you to everyone who has been there for me. My family, friends and co-workers.

First, my family. THANK YOU!! You were always there for me and stayed with me through all of this. I was cared for and loved and I want you to know how much it meant to me. I would not have made it through this with out you. Mom, Dad, Rachel, Ira, Grammy, Mimi, Bumpie, Brenda, Kathy, Trudy, Chad, Nancy, Jon, Shari (David), Sherry (Brooks), Brent and everyone that I am probably forgetting right now. It meant so much to me to know you were there by my side.

Friends, THANK YOU!! No matter what happened through all of my sickness I knew I could rely on you to take my mind off it and help me and my family cope with the reality of what was happening. It was a relief knowing you all were still there. I really appreciated Tim coming all the way out to Indianapolis for me, Bryan and his positive encouragement from Atlanta (and his Packers Predictions, LOL) and all the kind thoughts and prayers from everyone. It was incredible to see the support from close friends, acquaintances and high school alumni. Thank you Tim, Bryan, Alex, Craig, Ryan and again everyone that helped me stay positive through out this battle.

Co-workers, THANK YOU!! My brothers and sisters in blue! I always knew we were close but I never expected the outpouring of support I received. From my squad bringing me BBQ at my home just after I was released from the hospital to the help with the benefit yard sale and all the things you did for me on a daily basis. It was really overwhelming. I think "co-workers" is not really fair, you are all family too. Leanna, Rachel (Marquez), Scooby, Greg, Vince, Frank (Ortiz), Frank (Landholm), Stephanie, Anina, the entire Rapid Response Team and the Hostage Crisis Team, Sgt Merrill, Sgt Broderick, Capt Batista thank you all.

And lastly, my wife Tracy. There are no words to describe what you've done for me this past year. There isn't enough space on the Internet to say what I feel about how you carried me through this. You had so much on your mind already losing your mother the year before to cancer and then to go through it all again with me. You guided and supported me through each step of the treatment and in the moments in between. You cried with me, you laughed with me, and you kept me going when the future looked bleak. I LOVE YOU!! You even kept looking for the best options if I need more treatment, you never gave up. I saw this with your mother as well, you never gave up. You and David are my reason for being here and I love you both.

To everyone that I have forgotten to mention, thank you. Here's to another year. No matter what happens in the coming months I have no regrets and no fear because I know you will all be there again. I love you all!!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do we really have anything to give thanks about?

It is the time of year where we think back over the events of the last 12 months and give thanks. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot … do I really have anything for which I can be thankful?

A year ago we were unveiling my mother’s headstone, because cancer stole her in January of 2010 (I know, that is beyond the year, but the unveiling was the start). A month later came Kel’s diagnosis and soon we traveled down the road of chemo for 3.5 months, found out it didn’t fully work, tried salvage chemo, that didn’t work, had some salvage surgery and 5 months later (almost) have no idea if that worked. This summer I lost a friend to leukemia, and recently two more friends have heard that dreaded ‘C’ word. Man, cancer really follows me around, doesn’t it?

In the midst of all of that, where can I be thankful? Honestly, this cancer road sux (really sux), and finding the positives can be hard. But I am going to say I do have things about which I can be grateful, and maybe it is just because we’ve had a quiet 4.5 months since the last ‘treatment’ for Kel that I can think this way.

I am going to claim for my own, and hold onto, the positive, and I give thanks for (in completely random order):

-Back pain. Back pain so severe that Kel actually went to the doctor to get the t.c. diagnosis before it kept on going and spreading and we got onto treating it like the beast it is (killing it with poison)

-Miraculous, amazing, wonderful family and friends who supported us, let me/us vent, talked to us, cooked for us … really made a hard situation more bearable.

-Of those, my father deserves a special note of gratitude. He was barely out of the ‘all things cancer’ world when Kel was diagnosed (thank goodness Dad was actually in town with us those days – he helped so much with David), and he has been a rock for us. It can’t be easy for him to hear it all again, see it all again, live it all again, but he has been the wonderful man I know him to be (you have to dig under the sarcastic exterior to find it), and am thankful for. Thank you Dad.

-Finding and becoming part of a group of knowledgeable, supportive, and often humorous new friends in the world of testicular cancer at I didn’t even search for or find this site until Kel didn’t reach remission after chemo, but they have been a wealth of information for me, and I have even been lucky enough to meet a family going through similar events recently. I am so thankful to them for a shared lunch, and a camaraderie that I felt down deep in my soul. I will meet more from that forum in April, and I have recently been welcomed as a moderator to the forum where I am grateful to pay forward the knowledge and life experience I have gained. Thank you.

-Although I really didn’t need it, I am grateful for the reminder of why I do cancer research. Watching mom go through it, and being by Kel for this year has just cemented my resolution to finding new therapies and deepened my commitment to my work.

-And on the note of my work, within this year I was able to interview for a few Assistant Professor positions, and I am thankful to have been offered, and proud and thankful to have accepted the position in Pharmacology at Ole Miss. While it is difficult to be apart from Kel, this is a wonderful new stage of my career, and I truly enjoy where I work, and with whom I work.

-For Kel and David. This last year has not been easy, or especially fun, a lot of the time, but through it all we (Kel and I) have grown closer, learned to appreciate each other more, laughed a bit more than we cried, and, well, Kel put me on a whole new pedestal that I can’t get him to knock me off of. For that part I am not so thankful. David has been good, bad, really bad, and really good all at the same time. It’s been a rough road for him to navigate through Daddy’s illness and to come to grips with so much loss in his young life, but he is doing really well and he has been a shining light at the end of a long tunnel of cancer. Plus he’s cute.

I am sure I will think of more later, and probably add more, but the last one I will say for now is:

-Cancer. Weird, I know, but since it fills at least half of my time, ¾ of my thoughts, and has ruined my diet (well, Dad’s cooking helped with that), I’ve decided to find something positive in it. Within it lies my true nemesis, and having identified that enemy I have a place to channel my violent tendencies (I’m not teaching self-defense here right now, so that channeling is good) … Cancer is tough, but I am more tough. Cancer really sux, but I don’t and I will win this fight. So I am grateful because I know my enemy.

And mostly, I am grateful to you – friends and family, near and far (I know I am totally cheating since I said the above was my last one). I give thanks to being loved.

Happy Thanksgiving, 2011.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Pajama Sunday

Yesterday David and I declared it to be 'Pajama Sunday', meaning we never changed out of our pajamas. In fact, the only time we left the house was to take the dogs on their nightly walk, in a moment's respite from the rain.

*note: yes, this means that I spent a whole day without showering, but hey, if David didn't mind, why should I, right?*

It was ... GREAT! It was a cold and rainy day here in Oxford and we just didn't want to go anywhere or do much, so we 'pajama'd it' all day. And we baked a LOT - David loves to help me cook or bake lately and is constantly wanting to make 'banana bread', which is actually a double chocolate banana bread recipe from Ghiradhelli. So we made a beef stew (got tips from Dad, but I still need to work on what to add in it), orange shortbread cookies in Halloween shapes, and oh my gosh yummy orange chocolate chip scones (called for raisins, which I forgot, so clearly I HAD to replace it with chocolate).

And then we carved pumpkins. Of course by 'we' I mean I ... I am not foolish enough to give a four year old a knife ... well, not for too long anyway (I promise, I supervised the attempt at carving). I did let David draw on the pumpkins with some gold and silver glitter glue, which he loved.

All in all it was a nice day, albeit sans Kel. Only five more days until Kel will be here again, and none to soon for David who is REALLY missing Daddy. It is another short trip, but at least this time it will be for more than 48 hr (51, I think).

Oh, and before I forget, in cancer news ... yet more unclear, ambiguous, who the heck knows results. Kel's AFP (that all important marker) has been holding steady, but a bit higher than the normal, or at least borderline, so his oncologist wanted to do a CT scan and see. The good news is nothing new showed up. The unnerving news is that there is a 1.8 cm mass where the 5.8 cm mass used to be. Sounds good, right? Well, since that 5.8 cm mass was surgically removed, technically there should be NO mass remaining. The most likely explanation is that it is scar tissue, which can't be differentiated on a CT scan and can only be determined by whether or not it changes in size in future (i.e. at least 3 month) scans. I mean, really, it is 98+% sure to just be a scar from the massive surgery, but no cancer patient wants to get back a CT report that says 'mass'. Back to the world of waiting for a clear answer. The next bloodwork results are on November 8th, I believe. So prayers accepted, fingers crossed, mojo needed for steady #s. We'd really like to at least finish out the year in remission*.

So, what SUX? Ambiguity. Just be cancer or don't - but pick already.

What doesn't suck? Lazy, quiet, uneventful, all-day pajama wearing Sundays. All we were missing was a Sunday paper (comics would have been GREAT), and Kel. Almost perfect.

Off to the world of night-night bliss.

With love,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New reason to be positive tonight!

We are hoping for the best (i.e. that Kel is now CURED), but planning for the worst (that he is not). And we know that if the surgery was not curative, that there is still the tandem transplant available, but the more I looked into it, with Kel's refractoriness (i.e. not responding) to cisplatin anymore, then the chances of the standard working are low. More than 0, less than we are comfortable with.

So, I had been told about a trial going on at MD Anderson that is using different drugs in their own version of a tandem. Actually, someone I met online through a great site for testicular cancer had told me about it a while ago since her husband went on the trial and is doing GREAT. I contacted the lead doc there and got a response back from him on a Sat night at almost midnight - an amazing doc! He is still running the trial and is having really encouraging results with over a 70% complete remission rate at 2 years (As a comparison, we are looking at less than 30% with the standard regimen), and should he need it Kel will be (likely, after a consultation and workup, of course) eligible and able to go on the trial! Not only will he be helping make headway for future patients, but it has GREAT odds too!

So we have a whole new reason to be positive today. This is the best he and I have felt about it all in a long time. Woohooo science (and scientists, if I do say so myself)!

Just a short note tonight - David and I are doing well. Spent a lot of time outside this weekend enjoying the great weather here in Oxford. Missing Kel, but we will see him in 2 weeks. Everything else is chugging along. I even put in my first grant from here in MS (to the American Cancer Society)! Fingers crossed ... for the next 6 months until I hear about it. The next one I am looking at submitting isn't until July, but I should hopefully find something else to apply for in between.

Obviously going to be positive tonight and say that NEW HOPE doesn't suck. Doc's who are so dedicated (and I don't think it was just professional courtesy) that they respond to emails on a Sat night don't suck ... in fact, I think they are amazing (Dr. Einhorn did the same type of thing). Feeling ok to think long term again DOESN'T suck.

One thing that does ... this darned cold and cough David and I have. That sux. :)

With love and hope,