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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Another “Bump in the Road???”

I’ve been writing this blog for nearly 5 years now! Granted, I’ve been pretty quiet the past two years. In fact, the last entry I did was June 11, 2013, nearly two years ago! Sorry about that. But the old saying “No news is good news” pretty much fits.
Patty is doing amazingly well! She’s healthy as can be. Her cancer exams have been pushed back to yearly exams and come December, she’ll have been cancer free for 5 years!!! That “elephant in the room” has been laying low at our house… until yesterday.
So… Going through my blog, I realized this is my 100th blog entry! It’s somewhat of a milestone. So I guess it’s appropriate for this entry to be about me…
About a month ago I was showering and while soaping up I felt something unusual in my groin area. I wondered “what the heck is that?” It was hard and shaped like a small egg. Being hypersensitive to cancer after going through Patty’s ride, I told Patty about it and we both agreed I should go to the doctor and get it checked. You know how it is when you call the doctor’s office to get an appointment… you can never get an appointment within the next few days. It’s always weeks out, which was the case here. I explained my concern to the woman scheduler and tried to make her understand I had a sense of urgency. She understood and was able to “squeeze me in” the following week. So, that “egg” was making its presence known to me over the next six days. It wasn’t painful. It’s just there and I know it’s there if that makes any sense. I made it to my appointment early and only had to wait a few minutes to see the doctor. I explained my findings to him. He felt around and said he couldn’t feel anything where I was able to immediately pinpoint its location. He still couldn’t find it. His comment was “Well, you know your body better than I do so I believe there’s something there, but I can’t find it.” So, he ordered an ultrasound which ended up being two weeks later.
I went to my scheduled ultrasound this past Monday. I was joking with Patty earlier that I hoped the ultrasound tech would be a male since there’s some “private parts” right in the area where they be working! I checked in and had a seat. Shortly thereafter I heard a door open behind me and a female voice said “Edward?” I turned and wouldn’t you know it… she was gorgeous, tall with long blonde hair! She smiled at me and said “Hi Edward. My name is Gretchen. I’ll be doing your exam today…” Gretchen? Are you kidding me!!! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! I wanted a male! Well, suck it up Ed. I’m sure she’s done a number of these and she’s seen men’s “private parts” in all shapes and sizes. Still… these were my private parts. Damn it, Damn it, Damn it! OK, it turns out I freaked out about nothing. We went into the exam room and she had me all wrapped up like a cocoon. There was no way possible for my “stuff” to pop out while she did her thing. Phew! The exam took about 15 to 20 minutes and I was done. Now the waiting game begins to get the results.
I was at work yesterday and received a phone call around 2 pm. I answered and there was a woman on the line saying “Hi this is Scripps Clinic calling with the results of your ultrasound.” I thought “Wow that was fast!” I said “And, what are the results?” She replied “Your doctor is referring you to a urologist and you need to call this number and make an appointment. She said “Tell them you have a mass in your inguinal region.” I asked “What does that mean?” She said “The urologist will have to explain.” Great! I immediately called the urologist’s number and was connected to the scheduler. I told her my doctor referred me to see a urologist and also that “I have a mass in my inguinal region… whatever that means!” She told me the urologist’s schedule was pretty full and April 23rd was the first opening he had available. She then asked my name and I provided it to her. She brought me up on their computer and said “I need to put you on hold” click! She came back on the line and said “Can you come in at 4 this afternoon?” Hmmm… this is suspicious. Why did she move it from the 23rd to this afternoon??? I told her 4 would work for me and next thing you know, it’s 4 o’clock and I’m sitting in the waiting room. As I sat in the waiting room I saw a nurse practitioner named Susan that was Patty’s angel when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Susan gave Patty so much hope at such a scary time. I wanted to say something to her, but she appeared busy. Finally my name was called and off to the exam room to see the doctor. Of course the nurse had to take my vitals as they usually do. My regular doctor had prescribed new high blood pressure medication for me about a month ago. I take it daily and my BP has been in check normally running around 130/75. But, not today! The nurse slapped the BP cuff on me and I watched confidently waiting for the results. 176/90!!! What???? She said “Are you nervous?” I replied “Obviously!!!” She laughed and didn’t seem too concerned with the results. “The doctor will be in shortly.”
Next thing I know, there’s a knock on the door an in walks my urologist. He introduced himself and shook my hand. I noticed his hand was wet when I shook it. He said “Oh… I just washed my hands… you know, a urologists joke!” OK, I like this guy. He has a sense of humor! He asked me to take a seat and he sat on his stool and rolled in close to me. In a very sincere and empathetic tone he said “Edward, do you know why you’re here?” Wow… immediate flashback to when Patty met with her surgeon. He did the exact same thing to Patty. They must learn this trick in the “Delivering Bad News to Patients 101” class in med school. Who in the world would go to the doctor and not know why they’re there? Anyway, I acknowledged why I was there to him. He then asked “Is there a history of cancer in your family?” Oh no… this conversation is going south quickly! I told him my father had two bouts with prostate cancer years ago. He said “hmmmm… I see.” I’m thinking “Well? Tell me what’s going on!” He slid his stool back a little and said “I’m not sure what it is!” What? All this drama to tell me you don’t know what it is??? Then he changed his story a little and said I have a Para-testicular tumor 30% of which are malignant. Bam! Just like that! I immediately had this sick feeling in my stomach. Get control Ed!!! I’ve always been the guy whose glass is half full so hearing that news told me that 70% are not malignant. That’s pretty good odds! Still, my mind is saying “but what if?” He said he wants to go in as soon as possible to get it out of me. I like that plan! Once it’s out they’ll biopsy it and have an answer of what’s going on. Next step is they’re scheduling an MRI hopefully within the week. I hate, hate, hate MRI’s! I’m claustrophobic and being in that little tube for 20 minutes or so just freaks me out! I had three last year with my back issues and fortunately my surgeon prescribed Xanax which gave me some relief. This doctor did the same thing for me. Phew! After the MRI they may schedule a CT scan then surgery. He said the timeline will be within a month.

Am I scared? Absolutely! Am I worried? Absolutely! Has Patty’s elephant now taken residency with me? You bet! Will God get me through this? 100%!!!

So… I’m trying to look at this as just another “Bump in the road” or an “Inconvenience” or even an “Adventure.” Whatever you call it… it sucks. Let’s just hope and pray 70% is in my favor!

I’ll keep you posted…

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…