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…

Distractions are golden!

Patty and I have been spinning the past few days over this latest turn of events.  As I’ve been saying, Patty’s frustration level has pretty much max’d.  I’ve been frustrated but I’ve also been at my wit’s end over a number of things.

Going back a couple of days… This past Monday, Patty called me when she learned that she was scheduled for a sonogram the following day.  Needless to say she was somewhat upset.  I zipped home to talk with her and reassure her that things were going to be ok.  We talked for a short time then Patty suggested we take a walk.  (As you know she’s starting to train for the Komen walk in November.)   That particular day was very hot with the temperature at our house hovering around 101 degrees!  She suggested we go down to the beach where the temps should be cooler.  As we drove to the beach, which is about a 15 minute drive from our house, Patty suggested that we take the walk  from Torrey Pines State Beach to La Jolla.  She said her sister had made this walk many times and really liked it.  Hey… Sounded good to me!

We were fortunate to find a parking place at the beach and maybe it being a Monday afternoon worked in our favor.  I got out of the car and realized the temperature was in the mid 70’s, so much nicer than inland at our house!  In fact, it was slightly overcast!  Perfect walking weather.  Patty wanted to get in a good six miles, which is in the neighborhood of a 90 minute walk.  We decided we’d walk south on the beach for 45 minutes then turn around and walk 45 minutes back to our car.  The beach wasn’t crowded at all.  We enjoyed watching people in the water, kids making sand castles and the hang gliders floating over Torrey Pines.  We were a good 30 minutes into our walk in an area that was somewhat secluded.  We could see people off in the distance ahead of us.  Suddenly Patty motions towards a man probably 50 yards ahead of us and asked: “Is that man naked?”  I looked and not wearing my glasses responded: “No… I think he’s just wearing a loose sweater!”   Patty looked at me like I was crazy.  We continued our walk.  As we got closer to the man, my eyes were able to focus better…. Yep!  He was naked!  He was walking around and in-between some fairly large boulders.  He wasn’t bothering anyone so we just walked by keeping our eyes forward.  We walked a few more yards and saw a man standing in the ocean in about a foot of water with an easel in front of him painting a seascape… naked!  Ok… he wore a baseball cap and a tank top, but other than that… naked!  Suddenly we were swarmed with nakedness from every angle!  It then dawned on me that we were at the infamous Blacks Beach, one of San Diego’s few nude beaches!  How this happened… I’ll never know!  I looked at my watch and we were now 35 minutes into our walk.  We still had another ten minutes to go until we could turn around.  No big… nudists don’t bother me nor Patty… we’ll just continue on our walk to the half way point, another ten minutes away.  And we did!  At one point I joked like I was taking off my shorts.  The expression on Patty’s face was priceless.  I did make an interesting observation during this 10 minute walk… there were probably fifty to sixty naked men in this stretch of beach and not one woman!  There were big naked men, short naked men, naked fat men, naked skinny men, naked hairy men, naked young men, naked old men, naked tan men, naked white men, naked black men, naked men with long hair, naked bald men,  naked men with tattoos… but not one woman!  What’s up with that?  We finally got to the 45 minute mark of our walk and… we had the privilege of turning around and going through the naked mine field again!

We finished our 90 minute walk and returned to our car.  We had a good laugh about the whole experience.

I learned something that afternoon… I now know what to do with Patty if she’s having a bad day!   If a good laugh at Blacks Beach doesn’t get her mind off things, nothing will!

The frustration of recovery!

 

Patty and friends at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life a couple weeks ago.

Patty’s recovery from the reconstruction surgery is going well.  She still has a long way to go, but overall she’s doing really well.  They started adding saline to her implant last week and she’s pretty excited to have a cleavage again!   

The initial recovery period from the surgery was pretty painful.  She hid it pretty well from me at first, but as I’ve said in many previous posts, her eyes tell the story.  She fooled me and was on the go pretty quickly.  Too quickly!  I should have known better.  Those of you who know Patty, know that she’s hard to keep down.  She wants to exercise and get back into her routine.  She can’t do it!  Not yet.  I could see she was tiring easy and “hitting the wall” by early afternoons.  So, I’ve had to put my foot down and limit her activities.  She’s begrudgingly cooperating… 

Up until surgery her “job” was watching our granddaughter, Avery.  The doctor told us that she wouldn’t be able to watch her full time again until at least 8 weeks after surgery.  She thinks it’ll take her 6 weeks, but I’m going to win this battle.  She needs to take as long as she needs.  Avery kept Patty pretty busy during the days, but now that Patty’s on her own, she gets pretty bored!  She’s been devouring a lot of books, which she loves, but she gets frustrated that she can’t do it all right now.  She’s doing so well, I just don’t want her to overdo it and, in turn, take longer for her recovery.

She has a doctor’s appointment next Monday to add more saline… a little at a time.  Right now it’s all about adding the saline which in turn stretches the skin until it’s the same size etc as the other breast. 

Patty’s been walking as often as possible… a couple miles at a time.  She’s impatiently wanting to push the walking farther to start training for the Komen walk in November!   

She needs to heal first… she has plenty of time!

There’s no place like home!

What an exciting couple of weeks this has been for me and Patty.  Exciting, but a lot of work.  I had forgotten just how draining a move can be!

I have to say, coordinating the sale and closing of the condo with the purchase and closing of the new house went as smooth as anyone could ask for.  The condo closed one day and the house closed two days later.  Not one hitch!

Patty did a lot of the packing of the condo while I was at work.  She did a great job other than packing a few of the boxes with more than one human could lift.  I had a ton of help from my son Steven and my son-in-law, Joey.  We rented a 26 foot truck.  One would think a 26 footer would be more than enough truck to handle all our things, but between the condo and what we had in storage, it took two trips.  We started moving around 11:00 a.m. and ended at straight up 7:00 p.m.  Needless to say, I was one tired puppy by the end of the day!

From the moment we were told that our mortgage recorded at the County Recorders office and we unlocked the front door to our new home, we knew buying this house was the right decision.  It just felt right!  It felt like home!  Our home!  Now, over the past week, we’ve put a dent in unpacking boxes and little by little it’s taking shape.  Quite honestly, it’s looking pretty awesome!  I wish I knew where the camera was so I could post some pictures of what we’ve done.  I’m sure the camera is packed in some box in the garage.  The question is… Which box?

This house just screams: “Let’s entertain!”  Well, tomorrow is Easter Sunday.  Patty’s so excited to show off the house, she’s invited the whole family for Easter dinner… 15 people total.  It’ll be great to have our first party which I’m sure will be the first of many to parties to come!

Patty is doing really well in her recovery.  She’s been training for the Komen walk in November and has been attending training walks with a group a couple times a week.

Patty took a big step forward in her recovery this week.  She’s decided to no longer wear a wig.  This is a big step for her!  She does’t need the wig anymore.  Her hair is coming in as thick as you could imagine.  It’s at least a quarter of an inch now and it looks really really good!  I’ve been pushing her for a few weeks now to go au-natural.  But, she needed to do it on her time.  So, this week she finally said: “That’s it!  I’m done.”   She said she feels a little self-conscious at times, but I don’t know why.  She’s looks gorgeous as usual!

Patty got an email the other day from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure in San Diego.  Major League Baseball is honoring breast cancer survivors on Mother’s Day, Mary 8th.  They’re asking for as many breast cancer survivors as possible to go to the Padre vs. Diamondback’s game that afternoon.  All the survivors will be honored on the field before the game!   Patty is so excited to be on the field with her “Sisters” that afternoon!  I’ll be so proud to watch her!  I’ll do all I can to find the darned camera before then so I can post pictures after the event!

Sorry for no pictures for this post.  I’ll have some new ones on her soon!

Until then… life is good!