Great Day

So, today was a pretty great day. To start, I finally got to meet and run with a great guy, local ultra runner and   my “virtual” friend, Masumi Herota. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the conversation and the company as I ran the bridge for the first time since this whole “cancer thing” started. 

Masumi and I had met in passing at a few races in the past, but had only spoken through FB before today. I’m talking about this because Masumi is doing something that means a lot to me. He has organized a 72 hour run to raise money for the American Cancer Society. 

Here’s the website:

Masumi’s American Cancer Society 72 Hour Park Circle Run

and the Facebook page:

ACS 72 Hour Park Circle Run Facebook Page

It is amazing and generous what he is doing. Please donate to and/or support this event!

The rest of the day was great as well. I got to spend some more quality time with my wife. I took today off from work to celebrate our 20th anniversary (which was Wednesday). We did a little walking and shopping downtown Charleston and then got some dinner and watched a movie. 

All in all, a pretty great day!

Until next time!

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

kp

Random Update….Update

So, most of you who know me, know that I am an eternal optimist. I always try to offer hope and encouragement to people no matter the circumstances. This is true about most of the things I put on social media, and even in my conversations with people in the “real world”. 

Having said that, I promised when I started documenting this journey that I would give you the good, the bad and the ugly…so when my wife read my last post, she called B.S. on me. 

First off, let me say, I love that about my wife. She is just awesome that way. Secondly, let me clarify…I did give you the truth, but not the whole truth. I gave the Facebook, positive slant, “here’s the face I put on for strangers” version.  So, in the spirit of full disclosure, here’s the real deal;

I’m still on a pain patch that gives me constant narcotic pain medicine. I change it out every three days, but it wears off in about 2 1/2 days, so the last twelve hours before I change, I am pretty miserable. I am dreading when the doctor tells me there are no more refills.

Even with the patch, I still have a good bit of mouth pain, especially when I eat or when I talk a lot. The side of my mouth where my gum used to be attached, is still very tender. That also is where my dental prosthetic seats, so there is constant pressure and rubbing, especially when I talk or chew. It truly sucks. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m going to beat this, and I know I’m getting better every day, but it is a painfully slow process. I do really hope to be run/walk/running in a couple of weeks, but the reality is it will probably still be mostly walking. It will come in time, but probably will take more time than I want.

So, if you are reading this and are fighting your own health struggle know this, you can persevere. You can make it. It will be harder than you think, and it may take longer than you think. Hang in there, you’ve made it this far. You can do it!

kp

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

Random Update….Cancer still sucks!

Hey everyone!  I know it has been a while since I posted an update.  It has been a pretty tough go for the past month.  At my last post, I still had about two weeks to go in radiation.  Everything I was told about the last two weeks was pretty accurate.  It was awful.  The sores in my mouth and the pain from my prosthetic really took a toll on me, not to mention my energy level was the lowest its ever been.  For the last week, I was not even able to drive to work.  I managed to work from home for 4-5 hours a day, but I was sleeping about 12 hours a day.  The good news is, I finished it!

These technicians, were awesome!  Every day, for 6 1/2 weeks, they greeted me with a smile and a handshake and and upbeat positive attitude.  They really helped me to keep a positive outlook on things through all this. I am so grateful for the good work they do.

Having said that, I hope I never see them again!  It was so great to ring that bell, and know that, for now at least, it was over and that every day forward, I had the possibility of feeling a little better instead of feeling a little worse. So it’s been a couple of weeks now since I’ve finished treatments, and I’m finally starting to feel better.

This week, I have been able to get back to work in the plant for 5-6 hours a day.  I have been able to get out and walk for a mile and a half most evenings with my lovely wife Tania. A week ago, I got re-fitted for my dental prosthetic, which made a huge difference in my comfort level while talking and eating.

I have been able to eat a little better this week as well.  I have lost a total of 42 lbs, and to be honest, I probably needed to lose half of that, so that’s one positive thing.  I saw a guy at work that I haven’t seen in a while.  He didn’t know about the cancer, and he said “Kit, you’ve lost some weight, you look great!”. I laughed, thanked him, and told him not to try my diet plan!

So now, I am finally starting to feel human again.  There are still days when I feel lousy (usually from overdoing it).  There are still days when I miss how easy it used to be to eat or drink, or just chew gum.  It still sucks, and it is frustrating that I have to cut my food (even sandwiches) into tiny children’s size bites to eat, and it takes me forever to eat a small meal.  If I’m not careful, drinks still come out of my nose, but I am told with time, those things will sort themselves out.  Mostly though, I miss running.

I miss the time out on my feet.  I miss the leg burn.  I miss the trails.  I miss the feeling afterward of accomplishing a goal, and the endorphin rush. I really miss it! I’m hoping within the next couple of weeks, I will be able to start back again.  I’m planning to follow the Maffetone method to get ready for the Savannah Rails to Trails 50K on January 9th.  I’m registered, and hoping in 27 weeks, I can get ready in time for it!  I’ll keep you guy updated as I move forward.

Thanks again for all of your support!  Until next time…

kp

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

Radiation Treatments (Day 23)

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. 

Yesterday, I had a tube put in my right ear to relive the fluid pressure behind my eardrum. Instant relief…although I can’t believe cutting on my ear drum without anesthesia would have hurt more than the numbing drops they used! Now, the roaring is gone and I can actually hear a bit out of that ear!

Afterward, I saw my dental prosthedontist. She found a bone chip (from the original surgery) that was working its way out through my gums. It was causing some pain with my prosthetic. She promptly removed it, without warning or local anesthesia. I was like, “Come on people! You are killing me today!” All in all though, I am feeling some better from those two procedures. 

Today, I had my 23rd treatment, and saw the Oncologist. Found out I have gained 3 lbs since last week!  This is the first time I’ve gained weight since my surgery in early March. 

Still have nine more treatments to go. Lidocaine gel is my BFF. Grateful to my friend Chris for driving me some this week. 

I know I can. I know I can. I know I can. 

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

kp

Radiation Treatments (End of Week 4)

Another week down, and it was another doosey!  Lots of stuff going on at home and work. To be honest, I am struggling to stay on top of it all.

Thankfully the infection in my mouth is, for the most part, healed up. However, it has been replaced by several sores on my tongue and cheek. They are painful, but nothing like the thrush infection I had. At least with the sores, I can numb them with lidocaine so I can eat without too much pain. I am still having to eat soft foods, and I have to eat fairly quickly because the numbing effect only lasts for 10 minutes or so. 

Even though I can’t taste anything due to the lidocaine, I’ve been able to get some calories down and that what I need to focus on for now. I was a bit shocked when I went to my weekly checkup with my Oncologist on Friday to find I am still loosing weight. Right now, I am down 39 lbs from where I was before the surgery on March 3rd. This is not a diet plan I would recommend to anyone!

Having said all that, the real issue I have been battling is fatigue. When my treatments started, I really thought I was going to be able to run through them to the end. I know others have done it, and considering how well I did recovering from my surgery, I expected to exceed the doctor’s expectations with this as well. On the contrary, these treatments have knocked me on my butt! I haven’t been able to run for the past couple of weeks and have only managed a few walks. My one act of defiance is that I take the stairs (up & down) in the parking deck when I go to my treatments. I normally park on the 5th or 6th level. It may be silly but it’s just my way of giving cancer the middle finger every day. 

This week also had some good points as well. I am very grateful that my sister Kim Cook was able to come down from North Georgia to stay for much of the week. It was so good to see her (and my niece, Joy). She was also a huge help taking care of meals and shuttling kids around, not to mention driving me to my treatments. It was great to catch up with my sister, and she helped me get some much needed rest as well.

So, here’s to another week down. Only two more full weeks, plus two days to go! Thanks again for all the support, encouragement and prayers. I can’t put into words how much they mean to me and my family. Until next time…

Relentless. Forward. Progress. 

kp

Radiation Treatments (End of Week 3)

Hey everyone!  I’ve been a bit “radio silent” this week.  It’s been a rough one…the hardest yet, but at least week three is in the bag!

Over last weekend, I came down with a bad case of thrush.  By the time I got to the doctor, it was really bad, which led to two days of not eating, drinking or sleeping.  Thankfully, things are getting better, but I still can only eat if I use lidocaine to numb my mouth, which means I can’t taste anything. Given the fact that I’m down 36 lbs at the moment, I’m doing whatever I can to get some healthy calories down.

One of the places that I have drawn a good bit of motivation from through all this is my friendship with Doug Emerine.  Doug started working as Supply Chain Leader at our plant about 5 years ago, and over the years he has become a good friend.  For the past 3 1/2 years, Doug has been fighting his own battle with cancer.  Through several rounds of chemo and radiation, Doug defied the odds and stretched his 1-5 months diagnosis further and further.  He was incredibly encouraging to me when I got my diagnosis and spent a good bit of time preparing me for what to expect from the radiation treatments.  Even after I started my treatments and his health took a turn for the worse, he always asked how I was doing first whenever we saw each other.

I found out Sunday afternoon that Doug had passed away from complications due to pneumonia he had been fighting.  I had just seen him two days before, and he was not doing well, but when I spoke to him on the phone the next day, he said he was feeling better and talking about getting to go home in a few days.  I was not expecting it to be so soon, and it really shook me a bit.  After a good bit of reflection this week, I think I’ve come to peace about it.  Doug, I love you my friend.  I’m fighting this fight for both of us now.

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

kp

Radiation Treatments (End of Wk 2)

Another week down!  It’s been a full one.  Even though I’ve had a couple of bouts with insomnia this week, I’m finally making ground on my back log at work. I have definitely notice my energy level dropping a bit this week.  In spite of that, I did manage to get a couple of run/walks in.  Not my best week, but I’m glad to keep a little bit of activity going.

I met with my Oncologist on Friday.  All my physical stats looked good.  I’m holding pretty steady at 182 lbs, which is 28 lbs down from my pre-surgery weight.  I also go the results of my chest CT scan.  Everything is clear!  I will still have to be checked every 6 months for the foreseeable future, but I’ll take the good news for now.  The Oncologist also gave me something to help me sleep, so hopefully, I will get some better rest this week.

My sister started a GoFundMe.com campaign to solicit support for me and the family as I go through the next several weeks of treatment.  I am very grateful to her for doing that and also to everyone that has given.

Today, I have started having some issues with pain in my mouth, so it looks like the radiation symptoms are starting to appear.  So far, food just doesn’t really taste right and my tongue feels like it has been slightly burned.  Hopefully, I will get some “magic mouthwash” on Monday to combat that.

So, similar to last week, there’s been some ups and downs but altogether, things are ok.  Thanks again for all of your encouragement and support, here and on Facebook.  Until next time!

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

kp