Here we go….

Yesterday was my last planning appointment prior to starting my radiation treatments (for some reason, I have an aversion to calling it “therapy”).  They fitted me for my targeting mask and pillow, neither of which are as comfortable as they may sound.  The mask is a resin mesh that was heated and formed to the contour of my face.  It also has a mouthpiece to position my jaw.  The pillow is made out of some type of hardening foam that was contoured to the shape of the back of my head and neck.  Both of these are bolted to the table and ensure that my head is positioned in exactly the same position for every treatment.

These are not mine, but give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

      

I’ve never been claustrophobic, but the mask gave me a few moments of concern when they first pulled it over my face. After fitting me for all that, they performed a CT scan and sent me on my way.

Today, I got a followup call from the oncology office.  They are finally ready to start treatments next week.  So what is hopefully the last procedural phase of this ordeal begins Monday at noon.  I will be having a total of 32-34 treatments (to be determined by the oncologist by Monday).  These will be administered 5 days a week, for 6 1/2 weeks.  The logistics promise to be as exhausting as the treatments.  I will be driving 45 minutes (one way) every week day for over 6 weeks and paying $3 to park each visit, all for a 10 minute procedure.  The last piece to the puzzle is getting a time slot early enough in the afternoon each day that will allow me to work in the mornings, get to my treatments in the afternoon, and get out of Charleston ahead of the rush hour traffic, which could add another 30 minutes to my drive home every day.

The good news is, I am finally getting this thing started. That gets me one step closer to getting it over with, and on the road to recovery.  Everyone I have talked to  (doctors, nurses & friends who have gone through this) are telling me the same thing:  the first two weeks are pretty uneventful, the second two weeks are fairly tough, and the last two weeks are miserable.   The most likely side effects for me are fatigue, difficulty eating, and skin irritation on my face and neck.  One of my favorite sayings is, “Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.”  That is exactly what I am doing in this situation. I am praying / believing that I will come through this as I have the other portions of this adventure, better than expected.  I credit that in large part to your faithful prayers and encouragement, which I am shamelessly asking you for yet again. I know with your prayers and support, I’ll get through this!

While were on the subject of prayer, I would also appreciate your prayers for my wife, Tania. She will be having surgery at MUSC this Friday.  Although it is day surgery, it will be about a five hour procedure to revise some significant scarring from a previous surgery as well as performing a procedure to hopefully reduce or eliminate her migraine headaches. We were told to expect 3-4 weeks for full recovery and are praying everything goes better than that with the overlap with my radiation treatments.   Again, thanks for your prayers!

One last thing…a little positive motivation for you all today.

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

kp

 

Long Week, Getting Ready

Wow.  This has been a pretty hectic week for me!  It was my first week back to full days at work, had a couple of doctor appointments, my wife and two of our kids have been pretty sick with respiratory infections, I’m gearing up for starting radiation treatments next week, and my wife has surgery to help reduce her migraines on the 24th!  With all that going on, it has been tough to fit in any running, but I did manage to get a couple in this week, one on Monday with my son Christian and one today with my daughter Michaela (I may even manage to get another in tomorrow…we’ll see).

So in prep for my radiation,  I have been doing a good bit of research and it seems to come down to common sense.  Eat well, stay active and get plenty of sleep.  I’ve got the staying active pretty well dialed in…running or walking 4-5 days per week (for the most part).  Sleeping is a challenge only because there’s so much to be done.  It is hard to get to bed by 9, but I have to in order to get 8 hours of sleep.  Eating well is the part I am really trying to up my game on.

For the better part of the last 5 years, we have been eating relatively healthy.  We mostly eat whole foods, basically only the items you find along the walls of the grocery store, with a few exceptions in moderation. Since learning that I have cancer, I have been toying with the idea of going vegan.  I have read a lot of info and only see benefits from doing so from a heath perspective.  I realize, it will be more work, and possibly more expensive, but the health benefits especially against caner is undeniable and important to me, so I am starting here with The Forks Over Knives Plan.

Hopefully, the family will be on board with it.  I eat meatless meals a few times a week already, and they are good with that.  If not, many of theses meals can be paired with a piece of grilled fish or chicken from time to time.  For me, the only thing I am worried about is giving up eggs and cheese.  I eat omelets at least twice a week.  It is one of my favorite post morning run meals.  At this point, I am not even sure that I will go 100% vegan, but I expect to be at 90% or better.  In addition to the FOK plan, I have also pre-ordered Rich Roll’s new book “The Plant Power Way“. I am hoping that these two books will help jump start my move to removing animal based protein from my diet.

I realize that there is an entire other side to the vegan diet that has nothing to do with our health, but the deplorable conditions that most meat consumed in the US is raised in.  I personally don’t have an issue with using animals for food, but for the most part, the beef, pork, poultry & dairy industries have crossed a moral line for the sake of efficiency and profits.  Economically, it is also a very costly use of land and water resources to raise livestock instead of growing food for consumption. So, I my mind at least, there are a lot of good reasons to make this change, and darn few reasons not to, so I’m going for it.

So let’s hear it!  I already subscribe to Thug Kitchen.  Any other Vegetarian/Vegan resources out there that you guys recommend?  Blow up the comments!

Until next time.

kp – Relentless. Forward. Progress.

The Toughest Person I Know

Throughout this journey of overcoming cancer, I have been so encouraged by the outpouring of support and encouragement from friends and family.  Beyond that, even people that I know only casually, or barely at all through social media have told me that I inspire them, or even used the word “hero”.

I have to say, that makes me a bit uncomfortable.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to be seen that way.  I’m sure most people want to be admired for something they’ve accomplished.  It is at least a small part of what motivates me to run ultras. It’s just that I am just not sure I have earned it.

When I hear terms like “amazing” or “hero”, I normally think of someone like Winston Churchill or Albert Einstein or Mother Theresa.  I would even include people like Dick Hoyt, or Erik Weihenmayer in that category.  But if I bring it closer to home, to people I actually know, I still wouldn’t include myself in that list.  I am just a guy, who loves his family and running, that is doing the only thing he knows to do in this situation.  There is someone else that I would put on that list though:  My wife, Tania.

Now, Tania would probably say the same thing I did above.  She would say she is “just a woman, who loves her family that is doing all she knows to do, given her situation.”  However, here’s the difference:

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor growing in the roof of my mouth.  I was given a pretty straight forward path to get well again.  Invasive surgery, radiation therapy and some minor, albeit life long changes to how I eat and my oral care routine and there’s a good chance life returns to a new normal.  It has been and will likely continue to be an extremely tough road, both physically and emotionally. However, there is an expected time frame and an expected outcome.  Although there are no guarantees and I may have to deal with other unforeseen results of this down the road, that’s really no different than the uncertainty that we all face every day.

When my wife was a teenager, she became extremely sick for several months following a missions trip to Guatemala.  The doctors never figured out what was wrong, and although she eventually got back to a level of health where she could function, her health never returned to normal.  About a year or so after we were married, her health began to decline again to the point she was no longer able to work as a dental assistant.  Over the next several years, as we began to build a family, she again was able to adapt to deal with the chronic pain and fatigue that she experienced daily and managed to be the most loving, caring and engaged mother I could have asked for.  Seven years, four kids, and countless tests later, we still had no idea what was causing her symptoms, but she continued to face every day with hope and determination.  Over the past 9 years, I have watched with both awe and desperation as my wife’s bad days have slowly become more frequent than her good ones.  Yet through it all, she continues to face each day with resolve to be the best mom and wife she can, and continues to find creative ways to do that despite her limitations…all the while having no end in sight to her situation.  On top of all that, she has faced the uncertainty of my situation with a unwavering faith  and hope, that I was surely lacking in the beginning.  It is her faith that has fed mine over the past several weeks.

 

So  this post is dedicated to my hero, my best friend, my lover, for sure my better half, Tania Palmer.  I love you babe!  Thank you for being all that you are for me and our kids.  You are amazing!

It is Easter!

Originally posted on Facebook April 5, 2015


On this Resurrection Sunday, I am reminded of the hope that sustains me through all trials. All healing is temporary unless the Lord returns, but His resurrection is the cornerstone of my faith that no matter what happens in this temporal life, my future is secure and His grace is sufficient.

Happy Easter everyone!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

A Day at the Beach!

Originally posted on Facebook April 5, 2015


Fun day going to the Isle of Palms with my daughters (and one of their friends). Even though the weather was cool and cloudy, it was great to get out and enjoy the beach air.

  

However, today was not quite perfect. There are some rough side effects to the pain meds that I am on. Had some pretty gnarly GI issues this afternoon. It was a long ride home from IOP…and a long couple of hours once I got home. This brings me to another point I think I need to make.

I have noticed that I tend to post when I’m feeling positive, conquering foes and overcoming the odds, but not so much when things are going poorly. My hope is that my posts about my journey will serve to encourage others going through difficult things and offer them hope that if I can do it, so can they.

My fear is that if I only post the positive things , it may give people a false expectation of what it’s like to go through something like this. That’s the last thing I want, so I’m planning to post more often and regularly, the good, the bad & the ugly.

Thanks again for all of your encouragement so far and for hanging with me through this journey. Talk to you guys again soon!

Relentless.Forward.Progress.

kp

So…what’s next?

Originally posted on Facebook March 24, 2015


Update: Ok, friends and family, we met with the oncologist and dental prosthodontist today. We are ready to begin the next phase, which is to prep for radiation. Unfortunately, due to the intensity and field of the radiation, I am going to have to have my remaining three wisdom teeth extracted as well, as these can cause some significant complications down the road. That will happen sometime early next week as well as the scan to ensure the cancer has not spread.

The treatments will start within the next 10-15 days. I will have treatments 5 days/week for 6 1/2 weeks. The treatments are only about 15 minutes, so I will spend more time driving to and from the treatment center than actually there.

It’s going to be a long couple of months. I and my family continue to appreciate and rely on your prayers. Thanks again for being so epicly (is that a word?) supportive. I will continue to keep you all informed through FB and Spreaker. Love you guys! Keep being awesome!

kp

Relentless. Forward. Progress