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...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A bit of PC TC history.... Part 2

Well, I'm back out of the hospital, sitting in Princeton at Dianne's parent's house realizing that I meant to post on my blog yesterday. Sorry for the delay. I just kinda get in a daze when I leave the hospital and inevitably forget to post a new blog. I'm feeling pretty good at the moment, just some typical leg soreness and nausea. I hate the way I just mope around the house making people take care of me, but I guess it's for my own good. My Dr. at Vandy pretty much told me to be ready to go to the hospital again for blood issue stuff but I hope to beat that this time. OK, so now I'm just wasting time so, here we go...

After getting back home and letting reality set in, I had a better grasp on what was going on, and I could mentally prepare for what was about to happen. In one week I was going to be laid out on a table and going to have half of my manhood removed (at least that's what I initially thought). But, the orcheictomy, was the most important measure in finding out exactly how far the cancer had progressed, or if it had even progressed at all.

So, during this week of waiting, I was also in my last weeks of school, considering graduation was just around the corner. So I had another decision to make. Was I going to fight to finish school this semester, or was I going to take it easy and do it all next fall. After speaking with my parents at the time, it looked as if I was going to take a medical leave for the rest of the semester and focus on figuring out what was going on and get it taken care of. The next day, April 2, I went to my professors and brought them up to speed on the situation. They, for the most part were very sympathetic of the situation and wanted to do whatever they could to help out. I did have one professor that was going to make me either finish the course or fail, but I figured one failed class wasn't going to hurt anything.

So after a week of prepping the early morning was here. I'm about to go under, and get this going for sure. I rode down with Dianne, and my parents as well as hers were following close behind me. When we arrived at the hospital, I didn't know if this was going to be an outpatient surgery or if I was going to be spending the night to get my bearings on track. But shortly after getting checked in, they brought me back to prep before the surgery, where I was able to take my dad with me. That helped a lot, it was really nice to have my dad back there to kind of just talk me out of the fears I was having (which honestly weren't that many) but none the less it was still nice to have him there. After I got prepped and ready for the surgery, Dianne got to go back there and different relatives came in and wished me well prior to surgery. About 45 minutes after that, Dr. Franke (my surgeon) came back and wished me well, followed by the anesthesiologist to prep me for surgery.

After getting prepped by the anesthesiologist I was on cloud nine. I don't really remember anything from this point on, but Dianne did say I was taking orders from all the nurses because we were going to Pattis after I got out of surgery.

The next thing I remember is sitting in recovery after surgery and the nurse telling me I had to pee before I could go home. That was the last thing I could think about doing, all things considered. I had just had my left testicle taken up and out toward my stomach, I didn't want to pee. So, I asked the nurse for a sprite. 3 Sprites later I was ready to go. My dad helped me outside the room where there was a restroom for me to utilize, unfortunately, there was also a nurse sitting outside my room that I had apparently shown my whole butt to and politely reminded me that my gown was open. But, I peed, which wasn't pleasant, and now I could go home. 

The ride home was fine, the kept me pretty out of it until I got to Princeton (it was easier to do alot of the healing related things at Dianne's house considering it was central and her dad was a doctor and mom was a nurse). When I got back to their house, I went and laid in her parents room for a couple of hours, got sick, and then stumbled into the sun room because I could hear that my parents were still there. I hung out with my folks for a while, and then stumbled my way back to bed where I pretty much stayed for the next three days.

I would venture out every once in a while. My biggest complaint was not being able to play golf. Prior to my surgery, the Dr. told me it would be a few weeks before I would be able to go out and golf again, so of course, this frustrated me to no end. But, I was able to go outside and sneak a couple of chip shots in every now and again. But, we were getting close to the 16th of April and our first meeting post op to find out the results.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A bit of PC TC history... Part 1

As I promised yesterday, I'm going to give you the first part of how I discovered I had TC. I will try to keep it as brief as possible, but I also want you to know how important it is to act fast. Because TC can spread like a wildfire and I have the perfect example which I will compare to later on. But first, part 1.

It was the end of March 2010 and Dianne and I were spending the weekend in Nashville with her parents looking at wedding dresses (YAY! <--- Obvious Sarcasm). We were staying in a hotel called the Indigo which was a really nice hotel. But as I was taking a shower before we went out to dinner I noticed that my left testicle was swollen. While I was freaked out a little, I tried to not let it ruin the weekend.

When we got back to Murray, I could tell that it was even more swollen. I explained to Dianne what was going on, and she urged me to talk to her dad who is a doctor. I called him on March 30, 2010 and as I explained to him what was going on he very firmly said, "you need to see a urologist tomorrow". He put me in touch with a urologist in Hopkinsville, Dr. Franke, who was able to see me on April 1. Dr. Franke was a female doctor, but I was told she was one of the best. As Dianne and I walked into the doctors office, I tried to act as if I wasn't nervous for Dianne, but I had never been more nervous in my entire life. The wait in the waiting room was probably only 20 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. They called my name and I sprung out of my chair and looked at Dianne smiling to give her some reassurance that everything was going to be ok, even though I had no idea if they were or not. As I went back they did the typical height and weight check as well as getting a urine sample. I was then brought back to the exam room only to wait some more. She came in within a few moments of me being brought back. The first thing she asked me to do is drop my pants, and this is when I knew from here there was no turning back. Hope for the best, expect the worst. After she did a physical examination, she decided I needed an ultrasound. So she gave me the ultrasound and explained to me that the scenario didn't look good so she wanted me to go across  the street to the hospital to get blood work done and they would give the results to Dr. Franke as soon as they were available. As I made the walk back over to Dr. Franke's office, she sat us down and explained to Dianne and I the situation. She was almost 100% sure that I had testicular cancer. Luckily, I had already expected the worst. Unfortunately Dianne hadn't and it shook her up pretty bad. Dr. Franke then explained to us that I needed to have a radical orchiectomy (a fancy way of saying left testicle removal).

The drive home was excruciating. Having to call my parents and explain to them what was going on was painful. It was so hard for me to tell them that I had... cancer. I was too young to have cancer. I had too much going for me. Dianne and I were both about to graduate, were in the middle of planning our wedding and I had a job waiting for me. Now what were we going to do? Were we going to have to put everything on hold? Only one person knew. 

To be continued tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time"

Well here I am at Vanderbilt for round 3. But, for those of you who haven't seen the news on Facebook; my tumor markers have dropped from 380 to 66. Once again another significant drop. My oncologist also explained to me that since my numbers are responding so well, I will not need to undergo stem cell transplant chemo. She did say that I will have to have surgery post chemo, which I was prepping for from the beginning. I asked how much the tumor had shrunk, and she said that it had shrunk 1cm in 2 dimensions (not sure what that means). I then was curious as to why my numbers dropped so much, yet my tumor barely shrunk at all. She explained that just because the numbers are dropping, doesn't mean that the tumor will shrink at the same rate. She believes that the bulk of my tumor is made up of teratoma (only look up if you have a strong stomach) which doesn't respond to chemotherapy. But overall I am excited about what's to come.

Knowing that this could all be behind me by summer is a great feeling. The thing that excites me the most is being able to have a normal life. Being able to golf whenever I want to, live a normal life with my wife and finish working on my house is awesome. I also can't wait to figure out God's plan for me. In reality, that is really what excites me the most. It's funny, my dad was with me on Monday when I found out my tumor markers had dropped substantially yet again, my dad gave me a hug and whispered to me, "you see, God has some big plans for you". I have no doubt that he does, and I cannot wait to find out.

I guess I will go ahead and give you a preview about what tomorrow's blog is about. I've never told you all about me finding out about cancer, or my treatment over the summer. So, I would like to tell you about my experience over the summer so that you can have as the late Paul Harvey would say "The rest of the story". Good night and God bless.

My title was taken from The Beatles "Getting Better" from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Prepping for Round 3...

Well folks, I'm headed to Nashville on Monday to start my 3rd round of chemo. And after this past week and the fact that my parents are coming in this weekend couldn't pump me up more. This week has been amazing. I have felt well all week, therefore I've been able to spend time taking care of paperwork that has needed to be done for weeks, cleaning my office, getting the garage ready for the arrival of my toolbox and most of all, getting to spend quality time with my wife.

It seems like lately, everything Dianne and I do together involves something with cancer, bills, or something else that just leads to stress. This week we got to just have fun and enjoy each other. We have been working through a devotional and Dianne has been getting caught up on her photography as well as getting her office/ studio in order. It has been nice just to spend a week doing normal things. It makes me feel less sick.

My parents are coming in this weekend to do a couple errands and help out around the house. I can't wait to see them, because that means that I get to hang out with little sister as well as Lucy (her new puppy). My parents are so awesome. They're coming in to paint our dining room as well as install better lighting in the garage. I'll be glad when I can supply them with an adequate bed to sleep on. But, I suppose their air mattress will suffice :-).

Well, I've had a few requests regarding me posting some wedding pictures, so I'm gonna close this post with just that. You all have a blessed day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hey, there you are...

First off, I'd like to apologize for my 9 day hiatus. But, unfortunately it was not under the best circumstances. This past Thursday morning, I was hospitalized again for blood complications. I won't go into too much detail, but it wasn't as bad as the last time I was hospitalized. Luckily, Dianne and I were on top of it and the second that my fever started to get weird, we went to the hospital.

I got admitted to the hospital here in Murray. Which was nice because Dianne could sleep at the house at night and I wasn't so far away from everybody. It made being in the hospital a little more homey. Besides, Murray- Calloway County Hospital recently had a renovation, and their rooms are NICE!

But getting back, my WBC (white blood count), was 0.3, which was next to nothing, again. We were fortunate that since we have already been down this road before, we were able to get right to fixing the problem. So I spent all of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and most of today; getting blood transfusions, fluids, antibiotics and a number of other medicines.

So here I am on 9:30 on a Sunday night posting you all on my happenings. I'm feeling much better now and thankfully I have a week here at home to FINALLY catch up on things.

Wish me luck...