Happy New Year!!!

Well, another year has passed and Patty and I are about as healthy as we can be! Patty got some amazing news just a week ago…

December 14, 2015 was Patty’s 5 year anniversary from her last Chemo. Five years! My how the time flies by. She just had an appointment with her Oncologist for her final check-up of the year. She has been seeing her every six months for the past couple of years. This was a big one for her since hitting the five-year mark post chemo gives her a greater chance of survival and being cancer free for many years to come. In addition, she was taking the medication Arimidex which lowers estrogen levels in post-menopausal women, which may slow the growth of certain types of breast tumors that need estrogen to grow in the body. Patty experienced a number of side effects to the medication such as tingling of the extremities, joint pain and, one of my personal favorites… hot flashes! Not just one or two a day, but we’re talking hot flashes anytime of the day, night or morning! I’ve been wanting to get her a super hero costume with a cape and call her The Hot Flash! Poor Patty… she is the only woman I’ve known that will turn the air conditioner on in the car when it’s 32 degrees outside! If things turned out well with her appointment there was a big hope that the doctor would take her off the Arimidex! So this was a big appointment for her… and us. I generally go to every appointment with her,but unfortunately she had to do this one on her own as I had “things” to deal with at work. As usual, about a week before her appointment Mr. Elephant in the room dropped by for his semi-annual visit as I could see patty starting to withdraw a little. If you look back in past posts I’ve described how she gets about a week before any appointment so I go into my routine of trying to keep her mind off of things… I go into “stupid mode!” I joke… laugh… just try to keep her entertained. It never works but why not try.

Her appointment with the Oncologist was December 23rd at 2:00 p.m. She gave blood samples the day before and had a bone density scan. So, December 23rd finally arrived and fortunately Patty was really busy with work so that kind of kept her mind off of things… Patty went to her appointment as scheduled, apprehensive as to what news the doctor would have for her…

December 23rd at about 2:30 my phone rang. I saw it was Patty when I answered it… Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Hi Honey… How’d it go???
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m taking it that it went well?”
Patty: “The doctor said I graduated!!! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m so happy!!!”
Patty: “No more Arimidex! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “That’s great!
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

That’s pretty much how it went! Not recommended, but she was driving and doing her happy dance at the same time in the car!

Yep… the doctor gave her a clean bill of health! She graduated! The doctor also took her off the Arimidex! No more hot flashes! No more air conditioner in the car when it’s freezing outside! No more needing to wear a wetsuit to bed! I know it all sounds selfish of me, but all I can say is: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

We hope 2016 brings everything good to you!

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Men don’t get hot flashes, do they?

I just celebrated my 57th birthday on the 7th of this month.  Another birthday, another year older.  What’s a guy to do about it?  Nothing, considering the alternative!  With age comes aches and pains that weren’t there yesterday.  Silly aches and pains that sometimes are just enough to wake us up in the middle of the night or just enough to make us get up from a chair a lot slower than we used to.

Well… I spent my birthday hobbling around like a cripple.  Somehow I herniated a disk in my back.  How did I do it?  I wish I had a great story to tell like how I was rock climbing and fell off a cliff and was at the bottom of a ravine for days without food or water, but no.  I have no story.  In fact, I have no idea how I did it!  Quite honestly, I probably did it while doing something basic like tieing my shoe!

I’ll admit, it’s pretty painful and from what Patty tells me, it’s pretty painful to watch!  Speaking of Patty… it’s now her turn for the “love, honor and cherish through sickness and health!”  She’s been my angel!  I can’t do much other than moan and groan!  She does the rest!  She’s taking amazing care of me while I’m down!

I was at the doctor the other day and he scheduled an MRI for next week.  But, in the meanwhile he put me on a six-day steroid program that would reduce any swelling.  It worked great!  Within days I was feeling so much relief.  I did have to laugh because the first day I took them I was at work talking to my Asst. Director of Security.  Suddenly I broke out in a sweat… I was thinking: “What’s this all about???”  I mean I was hot, red  and sweating profusely!  I hadn’t done anything to cause this perspiration, but it was like I was raining from my body!!!  He looked at me and asked if I was ok.  I told him I was but didn’t know what was going on!  He asked in a joking manner:  “Are you menopausal???”  Great!  Everyone is a smart ass!  So women… I experienced my first hot flash!  It was caused by the steroids.  I experienced several more as the days passed.  I didn’t like it but I now have a great appreciation for those who experience them regularly!  I truly apologize for any jokes I made about hot flashes in the past!

So, the MRI is next week.  Hopefully it something they can do a quick fix and I can get back to some kind of normal!

There is life after cancer!

The view from our deck in Carmel!

It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged but today I woke up and thought it’s time to give an update as to where we are.

It’s been over two years now since Patty’s official diagnosis on June 21, 2010.  Two years ago we were both shocked when Patty got the news that she had breast cancer!  We had no idea what was in store for us and no clue what the future would bring.  But, as a team, we got through it.  Now we sit two years later… done with chemo but Patty, to this day, still suffers from some chemo related side effects which is a daily reminder of her journey… Patty’s hair has grown back curly as ever…  done with reconstruction… Life is pretty damned good!

The bad thing about cancer is that the subject will always linger around.  Linger around as in “will it come back some day?”  We pray that it doesn’t!  Patty get’s aches and pains like we all do.  The difference between our pains and her’s is that there is always a question mark behind her pains wondering if the pain is cancer related.  This is absolutely normal for anyone who has battled a life threatening disease.  Other reminders of cancer are the quarterly exams and tests Patty goes through.  She meets every 3 months with her oncologist and every six months with a pulmonary specialist just to make sure things are looking good.  And, Bless the Lord, everything is looking normal for Patty!

Room service dinner on our deck. It’s doesn’t get any better than this!

This past Monday was our 18th wedding anniversary!  18 years, can you believe it!  (And there were some people early on who predicted we’d never make it!)  I’ve been working a lot lately and we’ve both been busy/tied up with “things” that we realized we really  miss each other and needed some “Ed & Patty” time.  Time for nobody else but us!  So I took a few days off work and Patty and I took a driving trip.  We left this past Sunday morning and headed up to Carmel, Ca for a couple of days.  Thank God Patty and I travel well because the 6 1/2 hour drive to Carmel seemed like nothing.  We talked and laughed all the way there.  We stayed at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Resort and got a room with a fireplace and deck overlooking the beach.  It couldn’t have been any more romantic!   We didn’t do much as far as sight-seeing.  All we needed was to be together.  I have to say this was one of the best anniversaries we’ve had.

Top the night off with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries!

We then drove up to Santa Rosa on Tuesday where we met some friends and did a little wine tasting.  (one of our favorite pastimes!)  We had a fun day visiting with friends.

We were supposed to stay in Santa Rosa two nights.  It’s funny how Patty and I are pretty much on the same page all the time… we got up Wednesday morning and laid there in bed… Patty looked at me and said “I’m ready to head home.”  I felt the same… so, we packed up the car and drove 6 hours down to Santa Barbara where we stayed at another Hyatt property which was ocean front!  This stop was a great way to break up our drive home.  We had a real nice dinner that night and overall, another great night!

We got up Thursday morning, rested and ready to head home.  The 4 hour drive was nothing, other than Los Angeles traffic!!!  I don’t get it!  Anyway, don’t get me started on that!  So we made it home in the early afternoon.  Patty and I love to travel, but it’s always so nice to get home!

So, here we are… two years out from Patty’s cancer diagnosis… Patty’s doing so well!  We’re doing so well!  After 18 years of marriage, I still call Patty my best friend!  And even though there’s always going to be cancer reminders and fear of reoccurrence, THERE IS LIFE AFTER CANCER!!!

A year later…

First of all, I know its been about a month since my last post.  My goal at that time was to keep you up to date with posts as Patty and Nicole were walking the Komen 3-Day walk.  It turned out that I got pretty sick with what I thought was just a cold, but it turned out to be pneumonia which, to say the least… kicked my butt!  I’ve since recovered and am feeling pretty much back to myself but this past month has been rough.

Patty and Nicole completed the Komen 3-Day!  I will say, they had some tired and sore feet by the end of the weekend, but, the bottom line is that they put their minds and feet to the test and did it.  Unfortunately I wasn’t there except for the closing ceremonies, which, by the way, were pretty emotional!  Nicole blogged about their experience so I think I’ll just give you the link to her site so you can read about their  journey from her perspective… http://hipfitmom.com/

I do have a couple of pictures from day three of the walk to share…

Amazing how a shot of tequilla can relieve foot pain!

Thank you El Dorado County!

December 14th… a special day for Patty and me.  December 14, 2010 was the day Patty received her 6th and final chemotherapy infusion of her breast cancer treatment.  December 14, 2010 marked the end of one chapter of our lives and the beginning of a new one.

I took a few minutes this morning and read through old posts of this blog.   Wow, it brought back so many memories.  Patty was so sick just one year ago.  She had lost so much weight.  She had lost her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.  She was so weak and fatigued… she’d even passed out several times.  I remember referring to those times as “Adventures in Chemo – the bathroom Chronicles!”   Twice she required medical attention and stitches from passing out.  It was a pretty scary time in our lives, but you know what?  We made it.  Not having ever faced a health issue like this, not knowing what day to day issues we’d face, I think we did pretty good as a team… mostly flying by the seat of our pants!  Even as scary as the whole experience was, and I mean it was scary, our love and respect for each other kept us going!  And that love and respect has grown 100 times over since then, if not more!  The other thing that kept us going was keeping our sense of humor… when dealing with breast cancer you can either laugh or cry and we found a combination of both worked for us!

Now look where we are… one year later.  Patty has come so far.  She has a head full of curly hair.  Her eyebrows and eyelashes are back and have been back for months.  She looks healthy and feels healthy!  She goes to Jazzercise a couple times a week and, as you know, she was able to walk 60 miles in the Komen 3-Day for the cure.  A year and a half ago, we didn’t even know if she’d be alive today.  But you know what?  She is and she’s doing great!

Patty had an appointment with her oncologist this past Monday.  Everything looks great and the oncologist had no issues where she is with her recovery!    Next appointment with her is in three months.  Patty goes back to see the reconstruction surgeon in mid-January for her next to last procedure.

Everything is just falling into place…

So, as I said, yesterday was a big day for Patty.  Sure, she’s still dealing with some issues from the chemotherapy.  But the bottom line is that she’s come so far and has a whole life ahead of her…

That’s my girl!!!

 

Komen 3-Day Walk – Day 1

The excitement for Patty in anticipation of the Komen 3-Day Walk grew as this last week passed.  It seemed to be our main topic of conversation.  Patty was a little nervous about walking 20 miles for three days in a row plus the possibility of rain in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, however, I don’t think there is anything that would get in her and Nicole’s way to keep them from walking.

It’s funny, I work strange hours with my new job and a few days each week I don’t stumble in until around 3:00 a.m.  I always try to be as quiet as possible to not wake Patty… I’ll walk in the bedroom and whisper “I’m home honey.”  Generally I’ll hear a “grunt” from Patty acknowledging my presence and that’s about it.  Last night I walked in with my usual routine, whispered “I’m home honey” and she startled me with an alert voice asking “What time it?”  I told her it was 2:45 a.m. and she responded “Good… I have an hour and a half to go!”  4:15 a.m. couldn’t come soon enough for her!  Patty is not a morning person, but today, she was all about getting up and facing her walk.  She reminded me of when I was a kid and my parents announced they were taking my sister and me to Disneyland the following morning.  The excitement of the next day kept me awake all night!  Patty and Nicole needed to be at the walk starting point by 6:00 a.m. then participate in a community stretch followed by the opening ceremonies.  The walk officially started at 7:00 a.m.

I slept in until around 9 and Patty called minutes after I awoke.  She sounded so excited!  She just rambled about how awesome the event was and how happy she was that she and Nicole could participate together.  She said there was more energy then you could ever imagine, women and men walkers dressed in wild pink clothing, boas, hats… you name it.  She’s having the time of her life!  She said she didn’t think there would be an issue for her to complete the 20 miles today.  (We’ll see how she’s doing tonight!)

Unfortunately I’m not able to make it to the walk today as I’ve now come down with the cold that’s being passed around the family.  I’ll do my best to be there tomorrow!

Here’s a couple of pictures she texted me of their adventure…

I’m not going to even bother asking who this guy is!

I’ll keep you posted on their walk as I hear more!

Just venting!

A mere 18 months ago, Patty and I were just this happy-go-lucky couple.  Life was perfect, at least that’s what we thought.  Sure we had many of the same issues and challenges as most couples have, but overall, life was great.  But you know what?  I think I can honestly say that now, life is better!

Looking back, my father had prostate cancer in his mid-60’s.  I’m ashamed to admit, but I was young and pretty self-absorbed at the time. I remember him having surgery and going through radiation treatments.  I do recall him very weak from the treatments and one day him telling me “Ed, if I would have known how these treatments made me feel, I would have never done it.”  He finished his treatments and went on to live a very long life of 94 years!  I never gave it a second thought that he could have died from the cancer.  “He’s my dad!  He’s going to live forever!”  I just went on with my life and never gave a second thought to what he and my mother were going through. Now knowing the challenges Patty and I have face the past 18 months, I look at what they went through much differently.  I wish I could apologize to them.

Other than my father, Patty and I had never been affected by cancer of any type.  We had never known someone outside the family who was diagnosed with it.  Patty’s family has no history of cancer.  We’ve never had a friend, or a friend of a friend, who had it.  Cancer just wasn’t in our world.  When we did hear of someone diagnosed with cancer, we’d look at each other and say “Oh.. that’s too bad.  I hope they’re going to be alright.”   And that was about it.  No further thought.  No idea of what that person was facing nor how the cancer affected them, their family, their friends.

Patty and I talked last night and counted the number of people we personally know who have some form of cancer…. TWELVE!  TWELVE people!  Twelve people we personally know who have cancer of various types and in various stages.  Twelve people who’s lives will change forever.  Some of those twelve will make it through the battle… others may not!   That just angers me!

I’m not sure where I’m going with today’s post.  I think I’m just venting.

Cancer is just so random.  Why it chooses one person and not another person is beyond me.  There are times I’ve thought “Why did it choose Patty?”  Was God trying to give us a wake-up call?  If he was… it worked!   Patty and I have face challenges and trials over the past 18 months that I could have never imagined facing.  These challenges were no more and no less than what any person diagnosed with cancer goes through.  Sure the types, stages, grades and treatments may vary, but the challenges, both emotional and physical, are similar.

What is the deal with cancer research?  There are billions of dollar that go into research and yet no cure.  I hear rumor the researchers are close in some respects, but still so far from beating it!  Researchers etc. have made a lot of headway regarding breast cancer treatment as treatment is now leaps-and-bounds from where it was even ten years ago.  Maybe researchers will accidentally come across something that will cure cancer.  Kind of like how they accidentally discovered Viagra.  In that case, researchers were testing a cardiovascular drug known for lowering blood pressure.  They found the drug did lower blood pressure however had a significant side-effect on the male volunteers… presto chango… Viagra was discovered!  Maybe something like that can happen for a cure for cancer.

Well, thank you for letting me vent!  I’m done!

Team Patty in Pink hit’s the road this Friday morning for the Komen 3-Day walk.  Patty and Nicole have been squeezing in their training walks as often as possible, but it hasn’t been as often as they’d like due to weather, work, travel, sickness, etc.  They did do a 12 mile walk about a week ago.  I can tell you, Patty is pretty excited for the walk.  Knowing her, she’ll do just fine.  Stay tuned… I’ll be doing more posts about the walk this weekend.

I started this post saying that life is better now than pre-cancer.  It really is!  I didn’t think it was possible, but Patty and I have grown so much closer.  We have so much respect for each other.  We enjoy our time together so much.  She’s my best friend.

Patty still gets very frightened about cancer.   The subject seems to always be lurking around the corner or hovering around like a dark cloud.  I was telling someone just today that people often thing that when the treatment is over and you’re cancer free you just continue on with life like nothing has happened.  Not true.  It’s something we’ll just have to live with…

I’m honored!

Three to four weeks ago I was contacted by a woman named Alexandra Gekas.  Alexandra is a writer for Woman Day Magazine.  She was writing a story for Womansday.com titled “Men who Support the Fight Against Breast Cancer.”  She called to interview me regarding my blog and wanted to feature it in her story with four other men.

I am absolutely honored that someone finds my blog interesting enough to actually write about it in an online publication and feature it in a story.

The story came out last Friday, October 21st.  As I said, I’m honored they included me in a story about men who support the fight against breast cancer.  I’m even more honored that they put me in a category with men who are in the “Who’s Who” of men against breast cancer.  I’m in the story with Mitchell Ashley, founder and blogger of BreastCancerForHusbands.com;  Woody Fraiser, Co-Founder of MenforWomenNow.org; Marc Heyison, Founder of MenAgainstBreastCancer.org and Eric Brinker, National Board Member of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  I have so much respect for these men and what they’ve accomplished, and now, I’m one of them!  I couldn’t be prouder!

Take a look at this story:

http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Health-Fitness/Conditions-Diseases/Men-Who-Support-the-Fight-Against-Breast-Cancer.html

Ed