Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life in Remission

Here recently my life has been relatively boring (hence why there hasn't been a blog post in over a month). I have seen my oncologist once, as well as my surgeon in the past month and have received good news from both regarding my tumor markers. They are still going down. I also had a CT scan back on the 15th and it showed no abnormalities, also good news. So, as far as my physical health goes, I'm in pretty good shape. My mental state on the other hand...

When I was told the good news back in April I thought I would just jump back into the swing of things, get back in shape, back to work, actually enjoying married life, and being thankful everyday for being a survivor. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I haven't worked since December, the job I did have before I got too sick to work is still out there, it just doesn't have benefits. And given my current state, we need benefits. So, I've been applying for everything I can possibly think of in the Murray area with no luck. I thought I had a job at the hospital here in Murray with the marketing department. Even made it to the second interview and felt pretty confident about it but, alas they went with someone else. Being jobless weighs on you. I wake up every morning and am in a constant state of cabin fever. I mean, a house can only be so clean. It's driving me nuts.

I'm also having difficulties sleeping at night. I'll go to bed around midnight, and have no trouble falling asleep. But, around 3 am I'll wake up for no apparent reason and not be able to go back to sleep until 5 sometimes 6 am. I've tried sleep aids such as Unisom, and Midnite. I've even tried taking Melatonin. I don't eat too late, and it doesn't matter if I've worked all day or just laid around. I don't sleep. The only other thing I can think of is stress. But how does one de-stress?

I think overall, I'm just having a difficult time being happy. So much has changed in my life since cancer that I have a difficult time remembering what made me happy before I was diagnosed. I look at things differently now. I want to be carefree and live life day by day, but it becomes difficult when you're an adult. When you don't have a job, the bills still show up, and they still get have to get paid. You start to figure out what you can do without real fast. All of the sudden, New York strip steaks turn into Sirloins. Sirloins then turn into ground beef (although I do grill a mean burger).

I am by no means inviting you to a pity party thrown by me. I'm not like that. Ever since I have started this blog, it has been a healthy way for me to express what is on my mind. I like to think of it as my therapy and you are my couch.

I'm going to close this post today asking you to keep my grandfather in your thoughts and prayers. A few weeks ago he went to the doctor because he had lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Well, long story short, there is a possibility he might have some form of cancer. He has been a role model and mentor to me for as long as I can remember and he is a loving man of God. So, please remember him and your thoughts and prayers. Until next time...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This Time One Year Ago Today...

I was sitting in a hospital room at Jennie Stuart Medical Center in Hopkinsville, Kentucky scared out of my mind watching the second of three drugs go into my body. I had arrived at the hospital at 8 am and was brought to my room shortly after that, but it took forever before I was starting chemo. I was a nervous wreck; Was I going to feel the medicine being administered? How soon after was I going to be sick? Does it hurt? All of these questions were running through my brain as I waited for the nursing staff to get started. It also didn't help that it was my first time ever spending the night in a hospital. I didn't know what to expect. The funny thing about that though is that I was afraid that the food would be terrible and I wouldn't be able to eat all week. But, the food issue resolved itself around lunch time when the nurse said I could have food brought in.

But, most of that was me just trying to think of anything to keep my mind off of what was about to happen... 12 weeks of chemotherapy. Looking back at it now, that cycle of chemo over the summer was gravy compared to the last cycle I went through. But, I didn't know that then. I was just bracing for the worst. So, finally, around 2 pm the nurse came in to access my port. Now let me remind you that my port had never been accessed prior to then, so I had no idea what to expect. WOW! That was excruciating! The area around my port was still tender and she gripped around the port to make sure the IV was inserted dead center and she bore down and jammed the needle in. Not gonna lie, almost cried. But following that they were able to start fluids as well as give me a little pain medicine to ease the nerves.

After about an hour, they were able to start the first of the three medicines; etoposide. I remember sitting there as they got it ready to go and watching medicine drip down until it reached my port and thinking, "here we go" as it entered my body. I felt no effects immediately and all of the sudden I felt relieved about the whole situation. The etoposide lasted an hour and then it was the cisplatin. That was the one the doctors said would possibly make me ill. They got it hooked up and 3 hours later, it was done as well. The last of the night was the bleomycin. When they brought it in I said, "is that it?". It was just a syringe with what I thought looked like around 120 cc of fluid. Not anything like the other two. But upon further investigation I found out that the Bleo was the most potent of them all. The nurse started the push and a out ten minutes later I was done for the night.

I was starving by the time I finished so I asked for a dinner plate. They brought it in and it was some kind of salsbury steak, rice, and carrots. I scarfed it down and sure enough about 30 minutes later, I got sicker than I had ever been in my life (at least I thought so). But the nurses got in and were able to get the nausea under control and allow me to rest comfortably.

It's weird thinking that it's been a year since I started chemo. With all the event that had happened within the year it definitely seems like longer. But, I just felt like reminiscing and felt it would be appropriate to share it with you all as well. I'm definitely beginning to feel more and more like myself. I went out last Friday and played my first round of golf since the surgery. Didn't play all that well, but it sure was fun to get out with my friends and have a normal day. I've been able to get back out and start mowing my own lawn again, which is great as well. I've greatly appreciated everyone who has chipped in to help out, but there is something about being able to mow my lawn myself that is just satisfying. Well, I won't bore you anymore tonight. Have a great evening and God bless.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Paul, We've Got Good News...

"Your tumor markers have dropped to a normal level." Praise God! That is what I finally heard at my doctors appointment yesterday. After over a year, I can finally say that currently, I am cancer free. It's hard to explain the feeling that rushed over my body after my surgeon gave me the news. Not to mention when I broke the news to Dianne. All we could do was just stand there, laugh, and hold each other. We can finally begin to start living a normal life again. After I talked to Dianne I had to call my parents and let them know the news. My mom was ecstatic but telling my dad was the icing on the cake and what broke me to tears of joy. Hearing his voice and the relief he felt, as well the burden that had been lifted from him was incredible. I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for all their prayers and support. I couldn't have done it without you. It just proves that there is power in prayer.

When I got the diagnosis back in November, I was told I was in the 5% range of being cured. And while my tumor markers aren't back to 0, I am still in the normal range (normal being 0-10). And my numbers are expected to continue to drop. When I went through chemotherapy over the summer, Two months after chemo, my numbers were back in the 3000+ range. It's been over two months this time around, and with chemo and my RPLND, I am at 5. That's pretty amazing! For the first time ever I'm looking forward to meeting with my oncologist on May 19. I'm prayerful and confident that when I go back and get my lab work done again, I will be down to 0.

Even though I may very well be done with cancer, I plan on keeping this blog up. Because, I believe that being a cancer survivor is just as important as being a patient. Not to mention the fact that there are alot of things in my life that have changed because of cancer. I won't go into details know, but I'm sure it will come up as life goes on. Well friends, it's been a wonderful evening after having dinner with friends I haven't seen in years. By the way; Happy Birthday Brian Jennings. And all that being said, I leave you with this;

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His mercy endures forever."
 1 Chronicles 16:34

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Been a While...

So I'm pretty sure it's been about a month since I have really been on my computer, much less have I sat down to blog. Having a smartphone almost eliminates me needing to get on a computer most of the time. But, nevertheless here I am attempting to get back in the groove of things again. The last time I was on here I was discussing my upcoming RPLND. The procedure went extremely well. They were able to remove the tumor as well as salvage my kidney. I was extremely happy to hear that. But I'm not gonna lie, I had never been so nervous about anything since having been diagnosed. On a good note though, the morning I was leaving my doctor came in to give me some news regarding my tumor markers. He informed me that they had dropped by over half since the surgery and that was exactly what was supposed to happen. He then went on to tell me that what should happen from that point on is that the numbers would continue to drop to a normal level. We'll find out in 8 days...

You would think that after hearing news like that you would overjoyed. I have had the hardest time being optimistic. I don't know why. Is it because I thought I had it licked last summer and it came back to punch me in the face later? Is it Satan trying to have me doubt God's healing power? Or, WAS it just me being a "negative Nancy"? I'm sure you noticed I just bolded and capitalized the word "was". Reason being;

I had fallen into a funk a few days after returning from the hospital (hence why there has been no updates in a while). You could almost say I was in a borderline depression. I was in pain, I couldn't really eat, I was   still getting nauseous, and I was having a hard time sleeping at night. I was frustrated with the way my life was going. Last Wednesday I decided I would go to All Campus Sing at Murray State. It is a competition where different residential colleges, independent divisions, fraternities, and sororities sing on the steps of Lovett in hopes to win a cash prize. It was really nice to get out of the house and see old friends and listen to some music. That night I kept thinking about how much different my life would be at this point had I not been diagnosed. Of course the next day I was back to my old depressed self, until Dianne talked to me and gave me some good advise. She told me that she could be depressed as well, but she makes a conscious decision not to. She said she has to high of hopes for the future to continue to let cancer bring her down. That made so much sense. I remember thinking to myself, "why didn't I think of that?"

So that's where I am today, I'm feeling better everyday, getting my appetite back, and haven't been sick in almost a week, and am not going to let cancer own me.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -Philippians 4:13

Friday, March 18, 2011

Paul, We've Got Good News...

I have faith that is something I am going to be hearing a week from today. My RPLND is next Thursday. I won't lie to you, I'm incredibly nervous. Nervous of what, I really don't know. I guess it's the fact that when you're under, you have absolutely no control of anything, and that is a scary thought. Not to mention the fact that this is a 4-6 hour surgery, and that is going to seem like an eternity to my wife and family I am sure. On a positive note though, I have almost a full week of relatively nice weather to hit as many golf balls as I possibly can before I head to Nashville.

I got to spend the entire day outside today working on the yard. It was AMAZING! Normally I would have dreaded going out to rake up a winters worth of leaves and picking up debris, but I loved it. I even sprayed the front yard for weeds, as well as fertilized. Hopefully it will green up and be ready for summer. Today was the first day in months I didn't feel like I have cancer. I got out, broke a sweat, did some manual  labor, and bought a wheel barrow. Today was a good day.

Please continue you keep me in your prayers that God will watch over the surgeons next week as well as heal the cancer from my body. This has been my prayer and I have faith that it is going to work. Good night friends.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Long Time No See

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted on here. It has been a rather interesting month, to say the least.  So, I finished my last cycle of chemo back on February 11 and was very relieved of that. Unfortunately, I was back in the hospital in Murray on Monday the 14, Valentines Day for blood complications and wound up spending 2 weeks there because they couldn't get my platelets up. But they finally did and I am back home still battling nausea and general weakness and fatigue, but it's getting better.

I did meet with my oncologist on Monday to discuss how successful the chemo was and unfortunately it was not 100% effective. My tumor markers are currently at 12. The doctors had hoped it would have dropped down to a normal level but they didn't.  Fortunately, they are going to move forward with the surgery which will take place on March 24.  The surgery is called a RPLND which if you click the link, it will tell you all about it.  I'm pretty nervous about it, being it's the biggest surgery I have ever had, and their still not certain if this will knock out the cancer, but I keep praying that it does.

Which is what I'm asking for from you today, prayer.  I've been reading alot about prayer here recently and I need prayer now more than ever.  I have had a very difficult time praying to be healed, afraid that I might sound too selfish.  But I have read that there is nothing wrong with praying to be healed. So if you're reading this, please once you get done, just take a few minutes and pray for His power to heal me be done.

I will post as often as I can between now and the time of my surgery. Thank you for all of your support.
God Bless.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A bit of PC TC history... Part 3

My apologies for taking an entire week off. I wasn't feeling that well once I made it back to Murray, and of course once Wednesday rolled around my fever was back up and I was on my way to Murray-Calloway County Hospital to get my blood counts back up. Fortunately, we were there before my white blood count bottomed out so I was discharged Saturday evening. I spent yesterday with Dianne. We had an always enjoyable lunch with friends, went to Office Depot, and just got to enjoy the day being married for once. Alright, let's go back to April...

On April 16, 2010, me, Dianne, and my parents went back to Hopkinsville to meet with Dr. Franke, my urologist and surgeon to get the results of the surgery. I was a combination of anxious and nervous as we walked into the office. As we sat in a tiny conference room, Dr. Franke explained to me about what the biopsy showed and what all it meant. I must admit, I didn't understand half of what she was saying, but then she said the word I wasn't wanting to hear, Chemotherapy. As soon as she said that I knew my life was heading for a radical change. Dr. Franke said that this was going to be our last visit together and that she was referring me to the local oncologist across the street (at the hospital) to further assess my case. She assured me that they were very good doctors and that I would be in good hands. So I left with an appointment card to meet with an oncologist on April 30.

I know had 14 days to relax before meeting with the doctors, so I thought. On Saturday afternoon I got a call from my dad telling me he thought I should go ahead and finish the semester. I was kinda blown away. I had already stopped thinking about school for about a week and packed my books away (I was moving out of my apartment in May). Honestly, I had just planned on playing golf while I still could and hang out with my friends until I moved back home. I was almost arguing with him on the phone why I shouldn't finish school and how I was so far behind. But, by the end of the conversation, I was going to try and finish out the semester. So I unpacked my books, made a list of everything that I had to make up, saddled up and got myself caught back up.

On April 30 it was back to Hopkinsville to meet with Dr. Gajera, my oncologist. When we walked into the office, I was looking around at the different people who just looked sick. They almost had a blank stare about them as they waited for their name to be called. I was thinking to myself how long it was going to take before I started looking sick? How long before my hair fell out? Would it all fall out at once, or was it a process? I was soon going to find out. They called my name and we were taken back to a sterile pink-walled exam room. Hung on the walls were posters of different types cancers and how they  affect the body. After about 20 minutes the doctor came in and sat down. He discussed with me exactly what was going on with my body. He talked about testicular cancer treatment and how technology has come a long way and that testicular cancer is very predictable. Therefore, the treatment has been honed in to almost an exact science on how to cure it. The chemotherapy was going to be a 12 week process treated with BEP, which is BleomycinEtoposide, and Cisplatin. The 12 weeks would be split into four, three-week cycles. A cycle would consist of 1 week in the hospital receiving treatment for five days. Then each Monday the next two weeks, I would stop by the hospital for an outpatient treatment of Bleomycin. But, he said since I was young and the Bleo was hard on the lungs, he would only do the bleomycin for the first cycle (3 weeks). He also said he wanted me to get a port for the chemo. I had no clue what he was talking about. He informed me that a port was a device that was implanted in my chest, accessed by IV in order to administer the chemotherapy. He explained that the chemotherapy would be hard on my veins, and that the port was the easiest way to go through chemo. So, I left the doctors office with two appointments. I was getting my port placed on May 4 and starting chemotherapy May 9.

More to come...