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 However, it has been replaced by several sores on my tongue and cheek.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

Radiation Treatments (Day 6)

Well, I promised to give you the good, the bad and the ugly.  This weekend was bad and ugly.  I’ve felt pretty well during the first week of treatments, but I didn’t follow the good advice I got to try to get a couple more hours of sleep per night than normal to stay ahead the fatigue.  Well, by Friday afternoon, I was starting to feel pretty tired, but I pressed ahead to take my youngest son to BSA night at the Charleston Riverdogs Game.

  

 

We had a great time!  The Riverdogs won, we had a fireworks display after the game and then, we got to camp out on the outfield in the stadium.  We even got to watch Space Jam on the Jumbotron.  It was a lot of fun, but by about the middle of the game, I knew I was running out of energy.  I made it through the camp out, but basically spent the next two days in the bed.

It was unfortunate, because this weekend was also my older twins (Christian and Johahna) 17th birthday.  I managed to work up enough energy to take them to the new Avengers movie on Saturday evening, but other than that, we cancelled the other festivities and I pretty much laid in the bed all of Saturday and Sunday.  To add more fun to the mix, I also have started developing sores on the roof of my mouth (apparently from the radiation), which made wearing my obturator fairly painful and swallowing anything other than liquids close to impossible.  It was a pretty miserable time, but amazingly this morning, I felt much better, although a little tired still.  The sores are still there, but not as painful, so I’ve been able to eat some today.  At my lowest point of the weekend, my wife came to my rescue to hold my hand, pray over me, and give my some amazing words of encouragement.  I don’t know what I would do without her!

Today, I started my second week of treatments.  Hopefully, if I do a better job managing my rest, this week will be better.

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

kp

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radiation Treatments (Day 4)

So, yesterday, one of the technicians that helps “load” me into the Gamma Knife noticed my ultra-tattoo:

Came to find out that all three of the technicians working that day are runners.  None of them have run further than a 10K, but one of them was training for a half marathon.  It’s kinda funny that I found myself in the position of being a 45 year old cancer patient trying to convince three healthy, fit, 25-30 year old runners that they could run a 50k if they just trained for it!

So today, we did a little photo shoot just to show my family what it looks like in “the room”.  The lighting looks a bit weird because the alignment/targeting light was on:

         

They are surprisingly efficient at that office.  My treatment lasts almost exactly 10 minutes, and they get me in and out of the office in under 20 minutes…that’s from the time I check in (electronically) change, have the treatment, re-dress, and exit!  Somehow, they still find the time to talk to you like a real person, ask you about your day, and remember details about you.  It is truly a great group of people working there, and I am grateful for them.  I expect we’ll get to know each other pretty well over the next 6 weeks or so.

Radiation Treatments (Day 2)

Well today was a little less anti-climactic than yesterday. They double booked my dental appointment for the same time as my radiation treatment so they told me to come early and they would fit me in.

Well that didn’t work, and I was 40 minutes late to my treatment, which made me late to my weekly follow up with the Oncologist. Long story short, left Charleston at the peak of rush hour, got home and hour and a half later!

The good news is, by the time I got home, I no longer had the lizard skin from the target mask:

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And I get to spend 10 minutes giving myself a fluoride treatment every night….for as long as I have teeth.

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Yay!  In all seriousness though, it’s not so bad, but it will take a while to adjust to the new “normal”. Was bummed that I didn’t have time to get a run in today, but there’s always tomorrow!

Side note:  Also found out that I’m holding at 183 lbs, so although I’ve dropped about 27 lbs since my surgery, I haven’t lost any more in the last few weeks. Also, my BP was 120/75 and my resting heart rate was 49!  Feeling pretty good about that!

Relentless. Forward. Progress.

kp