Date night!

For Christmas, Patty gave me two tickets to see the musical West Side Story on Wednesday, January 5th.  She knew this was my favorite musical so it was the perfect gift!  As the day got closer, we both got excited, not just for the play, but I think more because we were going to have a night out!  Those who know us, know that Patty and I keep pretty busy.  It’s rare that we’re just sitting at home.  We’re always “out” somewhere!  But that was “pre-diagnosis!”  “Post-diagnosis” has been much different.  Post-diagnosis chemotherapy which left Patty with no energy what-so-ever.  Post-diagnosis has put our lives on hold for the past nine months.  Even if we did go out, it would only be for a short time.  “Post-diagnosis” also brought along that “elephant in the room.”  Anyway, we were really excited to have a night out!  

Patty has been feeling stronger and stronger every day since her last (and final) chemotherapy.  Well, this past Wednesday finally came.  Patty went out shopping earlier that day to buy a new outfit.  (Poor thing didn’t have any dressy clothes that fit her anymore since she lost so much weight!)   We both got ready to go.  We were like two kids getting ready for their first birthday party!  Once dressed, Patty came out into the living room.  She looked absolutely gorgeous!!!  A nice black skirt and black pumps and wore a black and white print sweater.  She wore her wig.  By looking at her, you’d never know what she has gone through the past 9 months!   Wow!  I think I already said this but man, she looked gorgeous! 

The play started at 7:00 p.m. so we went over to a downtown restaurant called Mr. A’s.  If you’ve never been, it sits on the top floor of a high-rise building on 5th Avenue.  It has the most amazing view of downtown San Diego, the bay, Point Loma and the airport.  It  is really an amazing view.  We sat at the bar overlooking this view.  We shared a light dinner and were on our way to the Civic Theater by 6:30.  The play started promptly at 7:00 and ended around 9:30.  We were home by 10:15. 

I just have to say that we had a great night!  I was out with my gorgeous wife!  I joked with Patty and asked: “What happened to chemo-wife?”  She told me that “chemo-wife” stayed home where she belonged!”  Tonight, I was out with my wife, Patty!  The awesome thing about this night was that the elephant in the room didn’t enter once!  The topic of cancer didn’t enter the picture.  It was just the two of us enjoying a “normal” night together!  This night reminded us of what life used to be!  We’re looking forward to doing this more often!

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Merry Christmas

As Andy Williams sang… “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” You know what? It really is!

I realized this morning just how much I’ve missed over the past ten years, living in Northern Ca. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a catch-22. In a way, I wouldn’t trade the experiences and friends we’ve made in Northern Ca. for anything in the world. On the other hand, this was the first Christmas in 10 years that I’ve been able to spend with our kids! It’s also the first Christmas in 10 years that I haven’t worked! Let me tell you, I’ve loved every minute of the past 24 hours! Let me recap…

You know how our life has been… go, go, go! Between work and Patty’s “Adventures in Chemo” and just life in general, (plus the main fact that I’m a guy!) I hadn’t had much time to Christmas shop for Patty! So I got up early yesterday morning and blasted over to North County Fair, the closest shopping mall to our house. They opened early on Christmas Eve so I was on their doorstep at 7 a.m. when they opened. I discovered this was the perfect time to Christmas shop! There was me and probably 20 other “last minute husbands” with a whole shopping mall to ourselves! Fortunately, I already knew what I wanted to get, so I was in and out, with bags in hand, within a half hour! (I may just consider shopping like this every year! Too easy!) The next stop was at the grocery store to pick up things for our Christmas dinner with the kids. I was at Ralphs by 7:45 a.m. armed with my shopping list that Patty wrote for me. I could have been in-and-out within 20 minutes, but after 16 years of marriage to Patty, I still have a real difficult time reading her handwriting! I was home by 8:30 a.m., still not bad.

The plan for Christmas Eve was dinner in our little condo with the kids… Kristi and Ryan, Nic and Joey, Steven and his girlfriend, Acacia. I had picked up a 9 pound prime rib earlier in the week and we were having that with scalloped potatoes and some kind of vegetable. I spent the day, not just cleaning and prepping dinner, but trying to keep Patty under check so she wouldn’t do too much and be tired when everyone got here at 6:30 p.m. The day went smooth. I was able to convince Patty to take a nap around 2:30 p.m. She took a good two hour nap!!!

By the way, Patty is doing just great! Her “taster” is starting to come back. She’s feeling physically stronger, but still get’s tired easily. Overall, we’re close to two weeks since her last infusion and I couldn’t be happier with how she’s progressing. I’d guess she’s at about 75% – 80% right now. Another week and she’ll be around 90%. By mid January, she should be well on her way back to being her-old-self! (I probably shouldn’t use the word “old” in that description!)

Our little condo looked great… Christmas tree lit… lights up and lit on the deck and mantle… Christmas CD’s playing… the condo had the aroma of prime rib in the oven… I had a cocktail in hand… life is good!

The kids showed up around 6:30 p.m. I couldn’t have felt closer to my family once there all arrived! We all laughed and joked. Once dinner was served and we all sat at the table, I looked around at each and every one and just couldn’t have been prouder! We have such a great family! We finished dinner and played a game called “Apples to Apples.” It was a lot of fun. Patty begrudgingly hit the wall a little after 10 p.m. and went to bed. The rest of us continued to play the game until around midnight. Wow, midnight! I normally have a good three hours of sleep under my belt when midnight hits!

Patty and I woke up around 8 this morning. We stayed in bed for a while and had our morning coffee. We got up around 9 and exchanged presents… just the two of us. I looked at Patty at one point (she didn’t catch me)… I just thought to myself how in love I am with her! We’ve been through so much these past 9 months and here we are… together… celebrating Christmas. Patty (we) are so fortunate to have discovered this disease early on.  There are too many women who aren’t that fortunate.  But, Patty is alive and well!  We have so much to look forward to! We have such a great family! There is no drama and we all get along so well!

The past 24 hours have been awesome!  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Merry Christmas!

W.A.R!

When I started this blog back in early August, I titled it “What a Ride.”  When you set up a blog one question they ask is “what’s the title of this blog?”  It’s hard to come up with a title on-the-spot, but “What a Ride” was first to come to mind so I went with it.  The second reason I used it was because What A Ride has the acronym of WAR!  Since we were in the midst of a battle of some sort, it just seemed too easy and so appropriate! 

As I said in my first blog, I had wished that I started “blogging” when Patty was first diagnosed, but there was so much going on at the time, blogging was the last thing on my mind.  So I had to play catchup for the previous 3 1/2 months in my first post.  I’m sure I left some things out, but I did my best to try to remember the highlights, or lowlights!

So here we are… this nightmare started in late April 2010 and here it is December.  In one sense, the time just flew by, but in other respects, it took forever.  This past weekend was very quiet for both of us.  Patty was far from feeling even 80% so we stayed pretty close to home.  Since we had “quiet time” without any “Adventures in Chemo” going on, I took some time and read my entire blog, from start to present time.  I’m really glad I’ve been doing this because I found there was so much I had forgotten.  Let me recap the last 8 months in bullet form:

  • Patty found the “lump” in late April
  • June 22nd – the biopsy confirmed she had breast cancer
  • June 23rd – we met with the crackpot surgeon who was totally rude
  • June 27th – Patty had the notorious PET Scan
  • The “Black Cloud” accompanied by the “Elephant in the room” keep hanging around!
  • June 28th – We booted the rude surgeon and changed care providers to Scripps
  • July 2nd – Patty had her first appointment at Scripps
  • July 2nd – We were given the devastating news that the results of the PET scan showed that the cancer had spread to Patty’s chest wall.  We were told the cancer was incurable and surgery was NOT an option!
  • July 2nd – Our nurse practitioner from Heaven told us that she was not sold that the cancer had spread and she needed proof that it had, otherwise, her experience tells her that the cancer was localized in Patty’s breast.
  • July 22nd through July 14th – Patty went through countless tests.
  • July 14th – The Pulmonary Specialist confirmed the cancer had NOT spread and the doctors were going to “treat for cure!”
  • July 14th – Patty did a “Happy Dance” on the outside deck of the Beach House Restaurant scaring most of the patrons on the deck!  Moments later the patrons are giving Patty words of encouragement and congratulating her for only having breast cancer!
  • The “Elephant in the room” pokes his ugly head out.
  • July 29th – Patty had the mastectomy.
  • July 29th through August 5th – back in “waiting game” for the lymph node results.
  • July 31 – Patty’s sister, Kathy, came out from Az to help out!  (What a huge help she was!)
  • August 5th – One in twelve lymph nodes biopsied were positive for cancer. 
  • August 5th – Patty did another “Happy Dance!”
  • August 10th – Faith, Family & Friends!
  • August 11th – “Hey cancer!  You picked the wrong broad!”
  • August 11th – I learned of the “Secret order of Women!”
  • August 14th – Patty spoke at the National City Relay for Life event!  She was amazing!
  • The “Elephant in the room” is still here!
  • August 16th through 27th – Countless blood tests, ultra-sound, biopsy, chest x-rays, PET Scan, CT Scan, Marker scans, Bone scan, Heart scan etc…
  • August 31st – with all the test finally completed where the doctors literally know every inch of Patty’s body, Patty declared: “ok I’m ready to kick this cancer’s ass!”  (that’s my girl!)
  • Sept 1st – Patty’s first chemo
  • Sept 8th – Patty took some control of the situation and shaved her head before the chemo took her hair!
  • Sept 22nd – Patty’s 2nd chemo infusion
  • Oct 1st – We learned Patty will NOT need Radiation therapy after chemo!  HUGE NEWS!
  • The side effects from the chemo were a little tougher on Patty than before.
  • October 3rd – Avery Nicole Cox, our newest granddaughter, was born!
  • October 12th – Chemo infusion #3 is done!
  • October 18th – Patty had a 2nd surgery related to the reconstruction.
  • October 16th – We learned what Adventures in Chemo are!  Patty passed out in the bathroom, lodging herself against the closed bathroom door!  Kinda tough to open when she’s passed out against it!
  • November 3rd – Chemo #4 done!
  • The chemo side effects are really getting tough for Patty, but only two more to go!
  • November 6th – We learned that Patty’s office in Placerville held a “Pink Party Day” to raise money for the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.  The money was donated in Patty’s name!!!
  • November 6th – Adventures in Chemo have returned as Patty passed out in the middle of the night while returning from the bathroom, striking her head on the nightstand.  We spent nearly 7 hours in the middle of the night at the emergency room!
  • The side effects from the chemo keep intensifying!
  • November 23rd – chemo #5 is done!!!
  • November 26th – Adventures in Chemo return!

So here we are… One week away from Chemo#6!  Can you believe it??? Number 6!!!  The last one… final… finito… done… over… no more!  The side effects keep getting stronger with each infusion.  They really knock her for a loop!  I will admit, there were a couple of times from this last infusion that I really debated in my mind whether or not to take her to the hospital.  She was sooooo weak! 

This last chemo is somewhat of a Catch 22 for Patty.  In one sense, she’s looking forward to having her last one.  In another sense, she’s dreading having to go through the side effects again, even knowing it’s the last time!  I’ll take all the necessary precautions to avoid another episode of Adventures in Chemo even if that means removing the bathroom door again!  She’ll have the last infusion on Tuesday, Dec 14th.  The side effects will be tough for the first week and then she’ll start getting stronger.  Unfortunately my guess is that she’ll be pretty fatigued on Christmas Day as that’s only 11 days after the infusion.  She should be feeling pretty good by New Years.  My guess is that her taster should be around by then and she’ll be able to bring in the new year with a glass of champagne!  Plus, we’ll also be able to celebrate Patty’s new sprouts of hair growing in around that time also!!!

There you have it!  What a Ride it’s been!  Just one more to go!