Tuesday, March 27, 2012

House of Cards

It's your favorite guest blogger; Pete! Here for another installation of my musings and dark ramblings. This one's been a long time coming, but alot, and nothing has happened since my last post. So some changes in perspective and a little help in the positive thinking department from starting Qi gong (chinese breathing & healing meditation techniques used in Kung Fu):

My life feels like an Allstate commercial. You know, the one with the animated car driving through various hazards that appear; wicked storms, avoiding falling rocks, trees, power lines, maybe a squirrel or two. I didn't get any warning that said 'Hazards Ahead' in my life. More like bad MapQuest directions that take you to the middle of nowhere on a windy mountain road that dead-ends, leaving you wondering; "How the Hell did I get here?!" Navigating life's obstacles had typically been fairly straight forward till now: hit obstacle, devise plan, execute. It's even still felt that way since my diagnosis; this is what it is, this is what we can do, this is what we can't do, ready... go! That is until 2 weeks ago, sitting in another oncologist's office, this time down near Phoenix at the Western Cancer Treatment Center of America. There I heard the first realistic perspective on this whole thing since my primary Dr. told me back when I was first diagnosed, "Now you'll be fighting for your life." The Dr. at CTCA more recently was giving me their treatment plan after being evaluated and bluntly stated that "at this stage, we don't talk about a cure, we talk about remission, about managing it and controlling it. I can't guarantee you'll die at 80 from being hit by a truck." Until then, I had been visualizing the treatment as a flow-chart, like milestones to meet and move on to the next or go a different direction, but with a definitive end objective: be cancer free. I know there's no cure, but being over and done with it, totally free so I could go on with my life, that was my successful mission ending. I realize now that this is my life, it will be with me in some form for the rest of my life. There's no 'conquer and move on'. The hard truth is that it will shorten my life, sooner or later, and that pisses me off. Worse things could happen however, more sudden things that wouldn't give me the chance to do or say the things that have needed doing, or saying. On the flip side, now there's a black cloud following me around, whether present or not, it's in my head, always looming as a dark reminder. It follows me as I navigate my new life as if i'm driving that cartoon car through a giant house of cards wondering when it's all going to crash down on me, if one wrong turn will bump the wrong card and bring the whole thing down.

This isn't a defeatist attitude brewing, it's merely another challenge: master the maze, learn the tricks of getting through it stealthily and confident that I won't disturb the delicate balance that exists around me. Making informed decisions about treatments, seeking the most productive methods for addressing each facet of the problem, not just medically, but nutritionally, mentally, emotionally & spiritually. That's our tactic, and like the Rodney Atkins country song goes: "If you're going through Hell, keep on going. You might get out before the devil even knows you're there." That's my new motto... that, and "Everybody Wang Chung tonight." 


Monday, March 5, 2012

Oh the Unknown

So, I've been up since 3:30 a.m. with a heavy heart. The moment my shoulders started to ache with tension and pent up anxiety I decided I better get out of bed and get moving. Do you ever wonder why bad things happen to good people? That's the age-old question, isn't it?
This morning I have been overwhelmed by the hurts of not only our family but those of others. For example a friend of mine whose precious two month old baby has just been readmitted to the NICU. My mind has been overwhelmed with prayers for their little family. How does this happen? How does such an innocent, helpless being become so sick? And how do my friends continue to trust in the greatness of our God as they watch their little one suffer?
Last night I was enraptured by one of those investigative news shows. The topic was none other than,  drug trials. Pete got up and left the room the moment he knew what it was about. However, I kept watching. As it unfolded the reporter revealed how people in the poorest countries are being used for these drug trials. In their desperation they are lured in by the high pay ($150 to $400 per trial) and many times are not fully aware of the risks. They interviewed people in the slums of India who had taken part in the studies and many of them could not even read. The injustice of it all was so overwhelming.
And sometimes I feel the same about our situation. My mind can inevitably go to the darkest places if I allow it to. Yesterday, Pete was on the phone and I heard him say something like, "Everyone here is just talking about quality of life instead of the fact that they're going to cure me." He was referring to the attitude of the physicians here verses the hope we have for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. When I heard that I immediately thought, "Wait, I thought you were convinced you were going to beat this?" And then I realized maybe he wasn't as convinced as I thought he was. For a split second, I looked at Izzy and thought, "What would I do if I had to tell her that her daddy went to be with Jesus? How would we move on?" It would just be so unfair, wouldn't it?????
I would typically end this post with some reassurance, but I'm not sure how to this time. So how would you remind someone of the goodness of God in these situations? 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cancer Treatment Centers of America: Goodyear, AZ

So, after not being so happy with the choices given to us by the local specialist, we have decided to take it up a notch! We'll be headed to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Goodyear, AZ for 5 days on Wednesday March, 7th. My mother-in-law had originally suggested seeking treatment at the center but we  declined due to our desire to stay close to home. However, as we move further into this process, we have come to the conclusion that a more advanced, integrated approach to care is necessary for Pete's specific case. The center in Arizona is an all-in-one stop for cancer care and we are very anxious to see what it has to offer Pete once we are there in person.
During our five day visit at the center we will be visiting will all the specialists including an oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgeon, nutritionist, and naturopathic oncologist. In addition Pete will have the port placement and receive his next round of chemo all before we return home. The fact that we will be meeting with everyone in one visit will hopefully eliminate all the "sit and wait" that we have been experiencing with the local specialists.
Please pray for us as we take this next step towards full recovery. We are very nervous about leaving the kids as the most we have ever been away from them is one night. They'll be cared for by my mom and step-dad so we know they'll be in great hands. Thank you again, for all your prayers and support.

With love,