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It is a Happy Birthday!

Well, it seems like today is the perfect day to write in my blog. It’s my birthday!!! Eight months ago, who knew if I would have a birthday to celebrate? I am proud to say that I am here, and plan on enjoying many more birthdays. What a crazy journey. Life really is nuts, but I sure do love it!

I survived the big round 2C, and am currently in the first of two rounds of 3B. Each round has been everything that was promised – difficult, painful, exhausting, and very humbling. Four days ago, when I finished taking chemo pills, I was laying on a couch with zero energy. My stomach was all screwed up and I felt weak.

I am constantly stunned by the body’s ability to recover. The next day, the Chemo cleared my system, and poofŠ – I felt great. I went to the beach, took my son to the batting cages, swam in a pool, and was even allowed to order Thai food (my numbers were good enough). When you havent had much variety for eight months, Thai food is especially amazing.

On August 14th, I go back into the hospital. I will be staying in there for maybe five days. When I get out, it will be about a week of feeling no bueno. After that, I get a PET scan and CAT scan. Assuming that everything is clear of Cancer, I will have officially finished all of the intense rounds. I will no longer have to stay in the hospital for any extended period of time. I can’t believe it! I am so thrilled to have gotten through these past eight months.

After that, I will begin “maintenance.” This exciting word translates to still receiving chemo, but going home at the end of the day. After the first few months, the dosage will be WAY less intense than it has been. I will regrow hair, and will even able to build muscle again. So I have a lot to look forward to on the health side of things.

So is this a Happy Birthday? Heck yeah it is! I have amazing friends and family, and my health is on the up and up :) Thank you to all who love and care for me. It has helped me get through this most challenging battle of my life. I love you all.

The very best birthday present that I could ever ask for is to go donate blood. I never understood how important blood donation was. But it is the simplest way to become a hero. You can leave the experience knowing that you literally just saved a person’s life. I have had at least thirty blood transfusions now. That means I owe my life to at least thirty different people.

If you do choose to donate, please don’t put it in my name, to be reserved for me. It is best to keep it random, so that it matches the blood type of the person in need.

P.S.: If you ever want to comment on any posts, the comment wall is the best place to do so. I read and appreciate every single comment. Here is the link. Thanks!

Updates

A few words

I wanted to share this video of my speech from The Love Benefit event on June 2, 2015. The event was dreamed up by my friends and colleagues in the wedding industry, who went all out, and put together an amazing evening. Since I couldn’t be there myself, having come off an intense chemo round, I was asked to prepare a video. I figured I’d surprise everyone and show up instead :)  NOTE: I mention in the video modern humans existing 200 years, meant to say 200,000 years.

Updates

Why me?

I am currently in the hospital, having the big dreaded Round C. Oooooohhhhh. This is the round where they take you down to zero and then bring you back up. The round where if a side effect can happen, it does happen. The round where everything gross and uncomfortable surfaces before you feel better.

So far…. all the rumors have unfortunately proven true. Two days ago, my neutropenic level (immune system) officially dropped to 0.00. This means NO immune system. When your body can’t fight anything off, things start to get weird. In comes the crazy painful mouth sores, upset stomach, four blood transfusions, one platelet transfusion, fever, chest X-rays, infection, seven bags of antibiotics over ten days, total dehydration, itchiest rash everywhere, a numb left foot, and a completely f-d up GI track (stomach pain).

I also had extremely low blood pressure, which apparently causes me to have brain loopiness. This loopy feeling almost earned me a trip to the ICU (I secretly think it stands for Induced Coma Unit). Fortunately, three or four doctors assessed me, and I was able to prove that my brain was working well enough. If it had dropped just one more point, it would be no bueno for my brain, and they would have had to do some intense stuff. Scary stuff. They had actually called down to ICU, and then cancelled it.

Wouldn’t this be a perfect “Why Me” moment? Yes it would. But NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Tonight is the 4th of July. April (who is amazing) was not only willing to be with me tonight, but had counted on it. I insisted she go out and have fun for the two of us. She has been with me every day, and I plan on being here in the hospital tomorrow. So I would not accept otherwise, and asked that she go have a drink with her friends. One for her, and one for me. It makes me happy that she ended up going. Now, when I see her tomorrow, we will have something fun to talk about besides Cancer.

So tonight, if I just paint the reality for a moment, I am totally alone in a hospital, on the 4th of July, hooked up to an IV. I just peed in a urinal, I have ointment being applied to my body for the rash, and I had a really crappy meal. I have been walking around literally in circles in a hallway for the last forty-five minutes.

Wouldn’t this be a perfect “Why Me” moment? Yes it would. But NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Why am I sharing these wonderfully sad stories? To look for sympathy? So people will think I’m brave or something? To depress all of you? NOOOOOOOOO!!!! (sorry for all caps, I thought it would add to the drama).

So why share? Well… two purposes. The first is to serve as a reminder to everyone, including my future self, to appreciate every moment that we are healthy. Soak it up! Appreciate everything you have. Take full advantage of it. Don’t get stuck. Go take a drive, move your body, climb a rock, skip, jump up and down, watch a sunset, throw a frisbee, do jumping jacks, go swim, do it while you can. Even if it is for only 15 minutes, take advantage of being healthy every single day. Don’t say you don’t have time, because at some point there really won’t be a time. I will NEVER take health for granted again.

The second is that sometimes we all can feel very alone. Tonight, on the 4th of July, I am technically alone. But mentally, I made the decision that I am not. I have my brain. Inside my brain are a lifetime of memories with so many people that I love. I know that sounds cheesy, but my thoughts really helped me have a peaceful night tonight.

If you were to view me through a glass window, you would have seen a guy walking around a hallway in circles, holding an IV pole. But mentally, as I walked, I relived great moments in my life. I remembered 4th of Julys that I spent with my parents. I pictured myself sitting in a car at a church parking lot, overlooking the bay, and waiting for the fireworks to start. I thought about when I was with my sister and friends, riding our bikes in PB. My sister looked back at me, and when she looked forward again, she flew over a car. Like a ninja, she didn’t even spill a drop of “soda” that she was holding in a red cup. I thought about being in a small dingy boat behind Sea World, with fireworks right over my head, and how powerful that was.

Tonight I wasn’t alone at all. I had the love and stories from all of you to keep me strong. I was technically “alone” but I was laughing and having a great time. All while walking circles around a hospital hallway.

Not always, but most of the time, we choose our misery or our happiness. I believe it is a choice. The instant I feel too much compassion for myself, I’m toast. I can’t let myself go into “why me” land, or else the Cancer wins. No matter what hits me, I have to stand up again.

It is a battle for sure. It is impossible to not get knocked down. But misery should be a moment, not a lifestyle. By applying the right strategies and techniques within our minds, we all have the ability to get through anything in our lives. What really helps me during this time is to replay all the amazing adventures and stories that I have had in my life.

Tonight, in my mind, I choose to not be alone or sick. Instead, I choose to be happy and healthy. Happy 4th of July!

Updates

Health Update June 30th

It has been a while since I wrote on my blog. Call it writer’s block. Or just blocking out writing. Or thinking so much.

At this point, I understand what it takes to get through each new round of chemo. But I am at the beginning of what will be my biggest round. So far, it has been four very intense days. This one will last for 3-4 weeks, and I will remain in the hospital the entire time. I will admit that physically, I am a bit spent.

For example, in the past 48 hrs, I have had: 2 blood transfusions, 2 rounds of chemo, 4 bags of potassium, 2 bags of magnesium, steroids in my eyes, laxatives, Acyclovere, Mepron (which is like paint that you swallow), Lasix (to pee), and a gallon of fluid which made me gain 14 pounds of fluid (I looked like a puffer fish). On top of that, I have shared a room (which is ridiculous). When sharing a room, you don’t sleep, because the other patient’s lights go on and off, and their iv beeps throughout the night. So it has been an adventure. As I write this blog post, I am sitting in a hallway, waiting for my own room. It is 12:15 am.

This process wipes out my body, but I am proud to say it still has not broken my spirit even one percent. I am optimistic. I love the feeling of accomplishing each round. After this, there will be one more intense round next month. Then, assuming all stays on track, I transition to maintenance, which is much easier on the body. About half as intense. The doctors said that my body has handled the treatment very well. They said it has responded quicker than most, so that is good.

I feel strongly that my next chapter will be a happy story of survival, and that I will be looking back on this someday with a new celebration of life and all that it has to offer. I am so motivated to get through this, do amazing things with my life, and make a positive impact on the lives surrounding me.

Updates

Health Update for May 30th

Well my fingers were crossed last week for my numbers to go up, and the next day they did!  I have been in the hospital since Tuesday and was finally able to receive the Chemo that I need. I call this round the Pee Pee round. It is a nonstop pee fest. They give me a chemo that requires a ton of hydration, so that it doesn’t crystallize in my stomach. So I received chemo for thirty-six straight hours and then fluids to help rescue me from the chemo.

With this, it means that about every 40 minutes or so I have to pee. But not the normal version. It goes instantly from zero to, wow I have been sitting in a car for 3 hours and have to go really bad. This gets pretty tiring as I have to go day and night. So I am tired from that, as well as the effects of the chemo.

The goal is clear all of the chemo out. From a numbers perspective I have to get the methotrexate levels (chemo) down to .1.  Yesterday I was at 7.0. So there is still a hill to climb to get there, before they release me from the hospital.

Overall I feel ok. I am really bloated from all of the fluids, so I have a nice puffy face, like a puffer fish. But it is better than my old look, like Skeletor, when I was way too thin.

Updates

Learning Patience – Health Update

The last two and a half weeks have been all about learning patience. You would think that having a break from chemo would be very nice, but it is frustrating. My chemotherapy has been delayed two and a half weeks now. I am just waiting for my numbers to go up.

Even though my mind is sharp, my body is exhausted. There is no mental effort required on this one. It is all physical. I am at the mercy of my body waking up.

In order to have treatment, my bone marrow platelets have to be at 50,000. Instead, my platelets have been hibernating at around 24,000 – 40,000. A transfusion would get me to the desired numbers. However, with this round of chemo, it is very important for my safety that my body makes natural platelets. So chemo is on hold.

This has definitely been a test of my patience. It is a bit nerve wracking. I feel like I’m in a trap. If I have chemo when my numbers are low, it is very dangerous. But with an aggressive cancer, it is not good to delay too long either.

In a weird way you find comfort in having chemo. You know you’re at least moving forward, and fighting for something. But the last chemo also kicked my butt a bit. I have experienced some nerve damage in my body, and my legs and feet are always very numb. I walk with a sort of wobble these days. Like when you are in a car for eight hours, and then get out to stretch at a gas station. The main difference is that that this feeling doesn’t go away.

The doc said this kind of nerve damage is usually reversible over time. I of course naturally focused on the word usually. Ha.

Every other day, I go to the hospital and get the same news. The numbers are still not where they need to be. I actually have hair growing back on my head. Naturally, you start wondering what else could also be growing back.

I am trying to take my own past advise. Focus on what is in my control and accept what isn’t. It is a tough discipline to maintain, but I do my very best. I try as hard as I can to stay focused on that philosophy. It is very important that I only have small bad moments, and not bad days.

I will fully admit that I felt a bit grumpy a couple days ago. It lasted more than a moment. I got a bit angry at Cancer, and found myself just yearning for normalcy. I found myself just wanting to go to a Padres game, maybe grab a beer and sushi before the game with my friends. But it isn’t possible. So I had to have a serious conversation with myself to get out of that phase of impossibility.

I feel better now, and have my head on straight. But again, I find myself sitting at the hospital, waiting for the results of my next blood withdrawal. This process is much more than just about dealing with pain. It is about handling reality. It is about being patient.

While writing this, I just received my results… I am now at 46,000, up from 40,000. So 4,000 to go and I will start my chemo again. Fingers crossed it will be there by Tuesday :)

Updates

Living my life story, not someone else’s

I think it is in my nature to constantly compare. I see other people’s achievements and want to achieve more. I want to be the BEST! I feel we’re all wired that way. I don’t think anyone wants to be ordinary. But what is the best?

We all put timelines on when things should happen. For example: getting married by a certain age, staying married, owning a house, having kids, having a career path, reaching a certain weight or fitness level. etc…  We create pressures on ourselves based on what we believe society expects of us. If we don’t follow the process, then we are failing. We are unhappy.

Goals are good to have for sure. But the second we start trying to live someone else’s story, we truly suffer. We aren’t meant to have the same story. I have lost sight of this many times over the years. The desire to achieve and over achieve has propelled me in many ways in my career and life, but has also caused me a lot of unnecessary stress. That is my doing. I have a natural tendency to show off, and let others see how great and happy everything is. I have let my ego get in the way at times.

Recently, I have made a lot of effort to push all of that aside, in order to find my own true happiness.

I don’t have many regrets in my life. But a part of me wishes I could go back to my old self in my early 20’s and just tell that guy to chill out a bit. To embrace exactly where I am at, rather than constantly living for the future. I have found that if you can trust your story, the good and the bad, you can be much happier in the moment.

When I was single, I spent so much time worrying about whether I would ever find the right person. So many conversations with friends. “Why not me, I’m a good guy. All the good ones are taken…” I would look at other people that were in love and would feel sad that I didn’t have that. I could have spent so much more time enjoying all the joy that can come from being single. But I was blinded by my fear of not having a sure answer. I jumped into relationships that maybe I knew weren’t right so that I could follow society’s protocol. I could have just trusted that my story would unfold as it was supposed to. I would have been much happier.

When I was super skinny (still am), I would look at other super fit people and wish that I could be like them, even though their body frame was completely different from mine. But I am not meant to be them. I was born me, and now I embrace it. I appreciate being me and respect the body I was given. It has kept me alive. I have all the friends I need, and I have a great wife and family. So I own it a bit more.

When I was twenty-six, I would see all of these super successful business people. They were way ahead of me financially, or in their business, and I put so much pressure on myself. I would tell myself that “I have to be at a certain point by the time I am thirty, or it won’t be impressive anymore.” I had this need to show off, to wow people with my early accomplishments. That was my definition of happiness: be the best at everything, and do it all first.

I was definitely wrong in this thinking. Guess what? Nobody cared. It was just me putting unnecessary pressure on myself.

I don’t know if our story is already written. I would like to think that I am continually writing mine, and helping it evolve. I trust that my Cancer is just part of my story. That is has purpose. That with all the pain that comes with it, and all the unknowns, it will be the best thing that has happened to me. I have learned to really embrace whatever my story may be.

I am not waiting for my Cancer to be gone in order to find my happiness. I am not comparing myself to healthy people, or wishing I could be them. This is my story, and I’m living happy today. My brain works, my eyes work, my fingers work. I am grateful for that. Now, I don’t look at what I wish I had. I appreciate what I actually have. That brings me a lot of peace.

There will always be someone “ahead” of us. Someone that has achieved more, or is younger or wealthier, or hotter and more fit. But I no longer compare. I no longer care about proving anything to anyone. My goals of happiness have changed. I now look at each day in a much simpler way. I just want to be me. I want to see what makes me happy on a daily basis. My goals are now more focused on what I personally want to achieve, versus what others have achieved in comparison.

I think it is important to ignore the timeline of when goals are achieved. The important thing is whether you achieve them. Turn off the “has to happen by this time” clock. Remove the urgency and live in the moment. Good things always happen even, from bad things. We have to make all of our decisions on what we feel is best. We can’t worry about what others will think. That is wasted time.

I am now living my life story daily. I am so excited to see what is ahead!