Friday, November 25, 2011

Too Long

Well I know for those few of you who follow me it has been too long since I have last blogged and I am sorry. To say that things have been rough would be an understatmtent. Yes I am on a new drug and it has been very difficult on me. One issue we are having has nothing to do with the durg. The turmor under my arm continues to grow and in in doing so is causuing the skin to split open and bleed more than it doesn't. And when it bleeds, it really bleeds, not just a little bit. Keeping it under control continues to to be more and more of a challenge. The drug itself is proving to be a challenge as well. It has cuased more nauaesa, more to the point of not eating. I went about two solid weeks without eating much of anything, losing around 20 pounds. I was finally able to eat yesterday (Thanksgiving) so I am hoping we are over that hump for a while.

I went to the doctor here last week for reglularly scheduled blood work and found most of my count's were way out of whack. I won't bore you with the all the details other that to say it wasn't good. I ended up having to have another transfusion and had to be given lots's of fluid. I will go back on Monday for another round of test's and after a conversation with the nurse expect that I will have another transfusion next week and more fluids. (When I say transfusion, I do mean blood transfusion by the way.) When we first got home after my first treatment I was having really high fevers and very loose stools. Part of the side effects we are supposed to watch for. I pretty much have had all of the things you don't want. The simplest way I know to put it is I have been really sick. And scared.

I can say this. I think my body if getting worn out between constantly fighting the cancer and dealing with the side effects of all the drugs they have running through my body. The pain is better thanks in large part to being on a program with a pain doctor at MD Anderson. That has made some things a little easier. But I can tell that things have changed for the worse just by the way I feel both physcially, and emotionally. It has become more difficult on a daily basis. I am able to to alone less and less as things have gotten worse. I am unable to to do for myself more each day which is alway's a difficult thing for me. As you can imgaine that had put a lot more pressure on my wife and parents. Especially my wife and as you can guess she needs lot's of prayers right now.

We all need lot's of prayers and support right now. We go back to Houston on the 2nd of December for the next round of drugs. (That I am not looking forward to) We are talking about seeing if we can maybe move the treatments here and do them with the doctor's here. The trips to Houston are simply getting too hard on me. The doctor's here have proven they know what they are doing with this new drug which was one of the big questions we had when we started it. We should know more in a few weeks. That is all I have in me for now. We needs all the prayers we can get, and thank each of you for your support.

Remember everyday to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water and don't forget to breath........................

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Well the good news is I survived the tests yesterday. It seems the more MRI's that I do, the more I hate them. I am getting to the point I am lucky to get through them to be honest. The older I get the less I like enclosed spaces and not being able to move around. The CT's I can handle no problem. But the other thing is doing all of them in one day, including all the other test's, makes for a really long day. Not to mention the trips themselves are getting harder and harder. All I can say is I will be really glad to be home tomorrow night.

The test results. Bottom line, things are worse. There is a new spot in one of my lungs, and several of the nodules in my lungs are bigger. Several of the infefected lymph nodes under my arm have doubled in size. The latest chemo. has had no effect on the cancer at all. There still is a spot in my brain, but it still remains unchanged and they won't call it cancer. We talked about two other possible drugs. One of which simply hasn't shown much promise. The second, Yervoy (Ipilimumab), is the one we have decided to try. It has shown good results in some people but still not anything to get excited about. It has a lot of very tough and dangerous side effects. It is a drug that we can get at home but the doctor was very clear that due to the side effects being so tough, that he wants a doctor who is familiar with it to administer it. So at this point we are leaning on coming to Houston to get it. I will have to have an IV port put back in my arm. It is a drug that is given every three weeks and should only be about four rounds. We will come back to Houston in three weeks to have the port installed and do some other follow up issues. We asked about why I have been so sick lately. The doctor told us that one reason is probably due to the large mass under my arm. He told us that as it grows the cells in the center die because they aren't getting enough nutrition and as they die they get into the blood stream and go to the rest of the body. Thus causing fever and night sweats and other issues.

Needless to say it was a tough day for Rebecca and I. We even noticed, for the first time, a sense of defeat or frustration in the doctor. I think we all know that the options are getting slimmer, and with me feeling worse each week it is getting tougher. But we will press on, that is all we can do at this point. I am still hoping they will find a magic pill for nausea and vomiting. Well that is all for now. Been a long day and there is baseball on. Gonna see if I can get lost in the game for a few hours.

Remember every day to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water and don't forget to breath.............

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick Update

Well it was another beautiful fall day in Oklahoma. My wonderful wife and I got to go on an actual date tonight. What a wonderful and relaxing time it was. We actually got to go out to eat and to a movie. I have always loved spending time with my wife, but as you can imagine I value it these days even more. Plus with all the craziness of our schedules and the way I have been feeling we don't get to do it much anymore. Great night baby!

Not to mention today was a good day for me. The last week has been rough with lot's of nausea, fever and vomitting. And the typical no energy. We don't know if it is the cancer or the chemo. At this point I don't know if there is any telling the difference. I just know since getting home from Houston, it has been rough. We did manage to take the kids out of school early on Monday and take them to the Tulsa State Fair. What a great day that was. It always brings me great joy, not matter how bad I feel, to watch the kids laugh and have fun. Mom rode several of the rides with the kids, we ate lots of fair food and did lots of sight seeing. (My favorite thing is the people watching, which is a blog for another day!) It was a great day. The kids are doing good, staying busy as always. Lots of sports and school work. Rebecca is good with another crazy work week and taking care of me.

I have to tell you a story. Last week when Dad and I left for Houston we stopped in a small town in southeastern Oklahoma called Atoka. There is a Dariy Queen there where I love to eat. To make a really long story short, as we were leaving, I backed into a car that was pulling into the parking lot. It was a sweet older lady, and I felt horrible. After the proverbial exchanging of information we left to continue our trip. The following day Dad called her. Come to find out she and her late husband were members of the First Baptisit Church in Ada when Dad was the pastor there. After realizing that they each remembered each other, it was a homecoming of sorts. And after an almost 30 minute conversation two old friends were reunited. So I guess sometimes good can really come from bad. Speaking of driving to Houston, Rebecca and I leave next Tuesday to go back. This is the big trip. Testing to determine if the new drug is working, and decisions as to what will be done next. We are anxious as you can imagine. And no it never get's any easier not matter how many times we do it. So this will be a long week and weekend. Thank goodness there is football to watch. We will have answers a week from Thursday and I will let everyone know what we find out as soon as I can.

Hope everyone is doing well and having a great fall!

Remember everyday to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water, and don't forget to breath................

Monday, September 26, 2011


I was just reading a blog by a friend of mine about change. He used the example of people being against the changes to Facebook, and used that to talk about how life is about change and we must learn to be flexible and accept that change is going to happen no matter what. The real key is in how we handle that. As you can imagine it really struck home with me. My family has done nothing but see change in our lives for the last two years. What struck me was the part about acceptance because that to me is the key to dealing with change. So l looked up several different definitions of acceptance here is the one I liked best. Acceptance: The act of accepting; a receiving what is offered, with approbation, satisfaction, or acquiescence; esp., favorable reception; approval; as, the acceptance of a gift.

I am learning a really good lesson in my life right now. I know that things have changed. I know that things will continue to change, for better or worse. My cancer is proving to be something very uncontrollable. The last week or so I have started having nausea again, being really tired, having a very sore mouth due to the chemo, almost to the point I am having trouble eating. I am also not steeping well. Again writing this at 3:30 in the morning. I know that my body will continue to change, due to the cancer and all of the chemicals they are pumping through my body. I get it. I understand change that is out of my control better than I ever have. What I have a hard time with is the acceptance part. Usually my acceptance comes with an attitude of I will deal with it but I don't have to like it. What struck me is that all of the definitions that I read, somewhere in the definition, refered to accteing being a positive thing. Like the one above stated, "favorable reception: approval: as, the acceptance of a gift". I don't know about you but I don't see nausea and throwing up as a gift. I also know that having a new boss who you don't like doesn't seem like a gift. Nor do new job regulations or requirements. We all have those people we work with or a family member we have to accept as a "favorable gift". Surely an illness or death cannot be seen as a gift. The loss of a job, a cut in pay, an unwanted move, I could go on and on. It's all about those changes that life brings, want them or not.

I think what God is trying to impress upon me is that if I really want to find peace in all of this, if I want to be happy no matter my circumstances, is that I must accept whatever comes with the best attitude that I can possibly have. It's not easy, nor is it done over night. It is, for me, a process over time and a lot of work. There have been a VERY few times in my life where I was able to do that. And talking to and watching others, I realized those times that I and they were able to do that, those situations became non-issues for them. I didn't even think about it anymore. I just went on with whatever I was supposed to be doing, giving that situation no second thought. It didn't let it "rent any space in my brain". Maybe acceptance is seeing whatever I am dealing with as a gift. Maybe I am to focus on the good things that can come from that situation. I should focus on what I can learn through it that will make me a better person. Maybe I will learn what I don't want to be or act like. Maybe it will help me see the kind of boss I don't want to be, should I ever become the boss. It could teach me to be a better coworker. Maybe a better family member or friend. I do know that if I can do any of this, and it's a big if, I will grow and become a better person. It's hard to see throwing up or being nauseas as gift, but I still have to focus on the good. Like, I could be in bed waiting for the end. At least I can walk to the bathroom to throw up! And at least I can walk to my medicine cabinet to get my nausea medicine when I need it. And driinking a malt or shake when I can't swallow food, well they are never bad things! It's ice cream for crying out loud! Is acceptance a gift. Today yes. Talk to me tomorrow and the answer may be different! But what I do know is this, it is another challenge in life that if I allow it, can make me a better person. Change will come no matter what, the question is what will I do with it? And will I see it for the gift that it can be? Stay tuned..........

Remember everyday to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water, and don't forget to breath....................

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Well if you live around here and don't love this weather something is wrong with you. Of course the three days of the coolest weather we had here I had to spend in Houston where it was still 100 degrees! But this weekend the rain and cool weather has been great. We truly, like most, needed the rain. It was wonderful to sit last night and watch the thunder, listen to the rain and watch the Sooners beat Florida State!

Several have asked me how I am doing, and more specifically how I am doing on this new drug. The short answer is ok. The long answer is longer, thus being called the long answer. I had gotten rid of the nausea, but it seems to be coming back in the afternoons. I am having some short dizzy spells and light headedness, but luckily I haven't fallen. I am in a lot more pain these days. There are several theories as to why. I feel like there are several reasons, really a combination of many. One, the most obvious, the cancer. Two I think after a year and five rounds of different kinds of chemo. my body is wearing out. After having conversations with my mother and wife, and listening to the things they have read and researched, the chemo. just wears your body out. On top of that having bone and joint degeneration makes me hurt all over. The trips to Houston are getting harder on my body. It usually takes me two or three days to recover from the travel alone. For whatever reason the tests have shown that my liver and spleen are swollen which I am sure attributes to some of the pain. My kidney functions are off and my hemoglobin is still down. I know that may not mean much to most of you, nor to me, but I think they contribute to how I feel. One of the fears we have is your organs can only take so much, and chemo., after a period of time, starts to damage those organs. I think we are starting to see some of that. I don't seem to have many obvious side effects from this new drug. I think my body is getting tired and worn out from fighting the cancer and all of the drugs they have put in my body. THANKFULLY, most days I am able to function pretty well. I do have those days that I can't do anything, but they aren't as often. The biggest obstacle is I still don't have a lot of energy. But as I have stated many times, it could be worse. And I am ever grateful that it is not. Overall on a scale of 1 to 10 I would say that I am about a 5 or 6. GIve or take a little each day. And for those of you who live with pain everyday, I have a lot more respect for you. I am having to learn to just live with most of the pain and it is a tough thing to do.

I also want to take a minute to say a huge thank you to my family. I have been reminded lately how much they mean to me, and what huge sacrifices several of them have and continue to make so that I can not only fight this fight, but get the best care in the world. I have been reminded here lately that this is incredibly hard on them to go through this with me. The bottom line, I may not be here today if not for the love, support, sacrifices, and selflessness of my family. So when you pray for me, say a prayer for my family as well. I am not and have not traveled this road alone and I am so grateful for each one of them. Thank you guys. I love you all!

Well Rebecca and I are going to enjoy our Sunday. It is the only day of the week that we don't have soccer, football, band, school, work, doctor's appointments or anything else. It is our only day to sit on the couch and relax, and today we are going to watch football and chill out. And hopefully refuel for another busy week. I hope that answers some of the questions. And again thank you to each of you for your love and support. We simply couldn't do this without you guys!

Remember everyday to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water, and don't forget to breath..................

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August the 30th was the one year anniversary of the second worst phone call I have ever received. I knew in the back of my mind the cancer had returned. But for me it was still hard to hear. My life had changed before that day. The first cancer phone call and all we went through that first year took care of that. I was truly living life differently. I had just been elected the Third Vice-President of the Oklahoma State Fraternal Order of Police. A huge honor and responsibility I was truly looking forward to. Things at work were good. Things at home were great with the wife and family. We were working towards hopefully buying a home. The kids were settled in, all was great. Yet somehow I knew in the back of my mind that if that day ever came, if the cancer ever returned, things would change drastically. If I had only know just how good my fortune telling abilities were.

And so the whirlwind began. Surgery, tests, and finally a trip to MD Anderson began what has been more of a journey than I could ever have imagined. One year later, hard to imagine in a lot of ways, seems like forever in others. I wish that I could say that it has been a great journey of self discovery and growth, during a time where I have been able to answer some of life's mysteries, solve long lived problems, and found a peace that passes all understanding. As I stated above, the year after the initial diagnosis, I was living differently. I valued life more. I slowed down a little bit. I didn't take as many things for granted, put my family and friends first, tired to be better at everything I did. But the changes that lay ahead were more than I ever bargained for. Because of the physical part of the treatments and surgeries I had to walk away from work. Something I have never done before. I was a workaholic. I wasn't able to perform my duties as Third Vice-President like I had wanted. It seemed even during those times I felt okay, I always had a doctor's appointment or a treatment or surgery when a responsibility came up that I needed to be a part of. I slowly had to start to give up the things I loved like fishing or playing golf. In the beginning I could stil do certain things like mow the yard, or work in the shop, things that would keep me busy. But slowly over time I have had to give those things up as well. (The one good thing is I have been able to spend a lot more time with the family and that is always a great thing.) Now days I spend most of my time stuck on the couch or in bed. As I have stated in previous blogs I am much more sick these days. Nausea, vomiting, fever, pain, and on and on. It has become very tough for me. Someone who is used to be constantly on the move. is now stuck doing nothing but sitting. And the trips to different states for treatments are starting to wear thin. And treatments, we are on our fourth different treatment, none of which have worked. And as one ends and another begins, it is becoming more difficult to be positive and upbeat that the new one is going to work. A year later, here we are, still fighting, still trying to find something that will work. And as I knew back then deep down inside, it is getting worse.

I share all of that because I made a commitment to be honest about how I feel. And a many days that is how I feel. Frustrated, scared, tired, sick, and simply worn out from it all. People don't call as much anymore. I don't talk to as many people as I used to. I have too much time to sit and think. So what now? That is a question I have asked myself a lot here lately. What do I do now? How do I continue to find the strength I need to keep on fighting? It is a question that is continually evolving. I haven't gotten there yet. I pray a lot more. I lean on my wife and family more than I ever thought I could or would. Then I make a trip to Houston and walk around and see others who are fighting and I realize several things. One, I am being selfish feeling sorry for myself. Two, I ain't the only one in the world in this position. It could be a whole lot worse than it is. I also realize how good I have it in so many ways. God continues to take care of us. Our needs are met every month, the kids are taken care of, even the dog gets to eat. It's all about my focus and what I chose to spend my time thinking about and focusing on. It's not a complicated or new theory. If I focus on the negative, I will be negative. If I focus on the positive I will be positive. It's really that simple, but not always easy. So I have to work a little harder at it, its good for me. I never thought this would drag out so long either. I don't know what I expected, but I guess I expected faster, one way or another. So, and yes I am going to say it, patience is slowly becoming a lesson I am being taught. Notice I didn't say learning. I am not even begin to explain or give any sort of dissertation on patience. As I am sitting here writing this the air conditioner in our bedroom went out. It's always something.

So one year later we press on. We continue to do our best to put one foot in front of the other. Some days are good, some not so good. The lessons I have learned and continue to learn are sometimes easy and sometimes hard, but in the end it's worth it. And as always I must give my wife a huge amount of credit. She continues to be there for me, and take care of me without complaining, not expecting anything in return. She has had to take on even more now that school has started, taking the kids to practice, school, and all their other activiites. She continues to work and take care of things around the house. She is absolutely amazing. The kids are doing well, busy as ever. We won't know until mid October if the new medicine is working or not. It's another round of hurry up and wait. You would think the we would be used to it by now, but apparently not. It's still hard as ever. Thankfully, at least for the time being, the weather has cooled off a great deal and I am hoping I will be able to get out and work around the yard a little. I think some fresh air and cool weather will do me some good. Thank you again to all of you for your prayers and support. We could't do it without you. Hopefully this new medicine will work at least enough to help me feel better. I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and do my best to focus on the good things in life. Because even in the midst of all of this, there is still more good in my life than bad. And I think it's fitting that I am going through these changes during the change of season's outside. I think for me it's all about growth and knowing that I can change and grow no matter how good or bad things may get. I just have to keep my focus on the good, be open to the lessons that God is trying to teach me, and strive to be the man he wants me to be no matter the circumstances. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time, no, one moment at a time.

Remember every day to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water, and don't forget to breath..............

Friday, August 19, 2011

Catch Up

Well I know it has been a while since I last blogged. We are wrapping up a week long stay in Houston that quite simply hasn't been fun. We have been here since last Sunday. The weeks leading up to the trip were crazy to say the least. School started for all three kiddos, so you can imagine how busy we were, (okay how busy Rebecca was) getting them ready for school. During most of that time I was sick, really sick. I ran a fever, had terrible nausea, and was throwing up. Along with all of that had zero energy. My blood pressure was running consistently around 95/45 and all I did was sleep. I ate maybe once every other day and lost about 10 pounds. Not fun at all. The tumor under my arm continued, and continues to grow, causing quite a bit of pain.

The trip to Houston was to be tested for a new clinical trial. And when I say tested, I mean tested. One of the things they found was that I am very anemic, which is part of what was causing me to be so sick. They gave me two pints of blood in a transfusion on Wednesday and so far it has helped a little bit. On Monday we were at the hospital from 9 am to 9 pm. I had meetings with the doctor and nurses, had a bone scan, had blood work, and had CT scans. We were off on Tuesday which was great because it was my birthday. Wednesday was much of the same, being at the hospital from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm. Thursday was 9 am to 4:30 pm and Friday was all morning with and upper GI. And I can say that not only do I feel like a lab rat, but a pin cushion as well. I have never been stuck with so many needles in all my life. I was tested in every way possible, and it absolutely wore me out. The good news, I guess, is that I qualify for and started the new medication. It is in the second phase and they don't know much about it and don't have a lot of results to go off of. What it does in theory is stop the blood flow to the cancer. Cancer likes a lot of blood flow and cannot survive without it. But being so new we simply don't know what to expect. I have to do a lot more work with this drug. I have to keep a daily log of when I take it, and keep a daily journal of how I am feeling and any side effects. I also, for the first six weeks, have to return to Houston every two weeks for check ups. One of the side effects that they watch closely is that it can cause your blood pressure to go way up. So we will see what happens.

I think we would all agree, we each know our bodies pretty well. In the weeks between the last dose of drugs in Nashville, and this trip to Houston, I knew things were changing. The tumor under my arm was growing at an alarming rate, plus not feeling well, I suspected in the back of my mind that the cancer was moving and growing again. When we met with the doctor on Wednesday my feelings were confirmed. The cancer is spreading and growing again. There is new cancer in more lymph nodes under my arm, there is now cancer in my chest cavity, and there is quite a bit more in my lungs, especially my right lung. It's called metastatic, or in transit. And it is quite a bit more. They noted that my liver and spleen are swollen, but show no masses. As I stated above I am very anemic, and am having some other problems like the nausea and vomiting, which they cannot figure out. I have very little energy and not much of an appetite. I have a lot of pain from the tumor under my arm and deal with it the best I can.

We have been doing this long enough now that when we get bad news like we did in the doctors office we handle it a lot better, at least in the moment. I sat down yesterday and read the report again and it finally sank in that the cancer is moving again, and it hit a little harder. Thankfully it has stayed out of the rest of my vital organs, but knowing that it is moving and growing again, fast, worries us. We hope the new drug will do it's job. And I have to be honest, I am tired. I mentioned in a blog a while ago that this was turning into a marathon and I was right. The other thing I don't like is not being able to do the things I was able to not long ago like mowing and weed eating, working in my shop, playing golf, and working around the house. Most days I am relegated to the couch or the bed. And that is tough for me. Some day's I have to dig even deeper to find the strength I need. But, as always we have only one choice, keep going. Not giving up or giving in. We continue to do our best to put one foot in front of the other and deal with whatever comes. I turned 40 last week and turning 40 is usually a big deal, but for me it was and even bigger deal. Much more meaningful. When all this started two years ago, I didn't know if I would still be here to celebrate it. But I am, and now I am old. Or at least that's what the kids say. And I don't know how old I feel, but I feel old! So we embark on our next phase in this journey, not knowing what lies ahead. But we will continue to try and keep life as normal as possible, and fight with all we have. Next week will be a reminder how life doesn't stop. The kids have soccer practice Monday and Friday, Tuesday and Thursday, and Tyler has football everyday after school. We haven't quite figured out how we are going to pull it all off, but it will be fun to say the least! (And it will be that way for months until soccer is over!) Thank you again for all your thoughts and prayers. We need them now more than ever. I will try and do a better job of blogging and keeping everyone updated.

Remember everyday to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water, and don't forget to breath......................