Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Me, a supermodel?

Well, not quite. But, as many of you know I applied to be in "The Colondar." It's a calendar for colon cancer survivors where they show their scars.

Today was a nice way to end the year. I got a message that my application was accepted. I'll do a photo shoot in NY in June and then the calendar will be online for purchase about September or October. Autographs are free...I'll have a signing at Borders. :-)

Here are a couple of the application photos that helped me get accepted:



Monday, December 29, 2008

Best and Worst of 2008...

I can't write this post on New Year's Eve because I'll be in El Paso, Texas at Pitt's Sun Bowl game. So, I'm doing it a couple of days early.

The Worst of 2008:

February: Oncologist said "You have too many tumors, so you are inoperable. We are just going to keep you alive as long as possible."

The Best of 2008:

August: I know the best part of the year is no longer having cancer, but that was a gradual process, so there was no real "moment" when it just happened all at once. So, I'm going with my happiest time this year: Pitching the entire alumni softball tournament five weeks after removing half my liver and having my team coming in 3rd out of 70 teams. It was so unbelievable.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas wish...

I would never wish cancer on anyone...except the person who broke into my car on Christmas night. The car window that was broken cost more than the stolen items.

This perp stole a broken satellite radio (I was about to buy a new one), a bunch of CDs that no one would want (I'm weird, so I had Air Supply, Celine Dion, Elvis, and a bunch of home-made ones), some clothing (scarf, hat, gloves), and about $3 in change.

But the criminal left behind the $100 sunglasses and $300 softball bat in the trunk. Smart guy!

If my wish comes true and he does get cancer, I wonder if that crap he stole would pay for his chemo treatments. My guess is not...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Flash back: 19 December 2007

One year ago today, I was sitting in an oncologist's office at Georgetown as the doctor was saying the biopsies from my colonoscopy confirmed cancer in the colon that had spread to the liver. He went over the options for me. I don't really remember the conversation. It's mostly a blur as I either blacked it out or my mind was thinking about other things and not listening. It was a day I wish no one would ever have to go through again.

Today, one year later, I will be back at Georgetown for my 14th chemotherapy treatment. Last year I was a week away from my 1st and was fearing the unknown. Now, the 18th and final treatment is in sight and not much fear surrounds me. Sure, the cancer could return. But if it returns to my liver, I'll just get it cut out. The liver grows back. If it returns to my colon, I'll just get another piece snipped off. Even removing the entire colon won't kill me...just not the most pleasant idea.

I'm more worried about how I'm going to find tickets to the Big East Basketball Tournament this year with all the teams being so good!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flash back: 17 December 2007

One year ago today, I was undergoing a colonoscopy. It didn't last too long because the G.I. doctor could not get his camera past all the cancer almost completely blocking my colon.

Let's hope tomorrow's colonoscopy is much better!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tough stretch...

I am about to deal with a stretch of days that isn't pleasant. Tomorrow I have to fast (only soup broth and Sprite) and then in the afternoon, I start taking exlax pills. Once the pills start working, I have to down a half gallon of the worst-tasting slop you ever could put in your mouth to totally clean me out.

Then on Thursday, they'll poke my arm with a needle for an I.V. and jam a long camera in somewhere I don't think it was intended to be. I'll be doped up the rest of the day and not really hungry.

Come Friday, as I'm all weak from not eating much for two days, they will once again stick a needle in me and this time they will pump killer chemicals into my bloodstream for three days. I probably won't vomit much because there will not be much in me. That won't stop the nausea, though.

If you are expecting a holiday present from me, unless I can find something for you on the operation table on Thursday, you're out of luck.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I like to re-read my blog...

I noticed that I posted this on 1 June:

"If everything goes perfectly, I could be cancer free by December. I'm not celebrating yet, but there is hope..."

Well, I do like perfection! :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sleeping and napping...

My first cycle of the last six chemo treatments is behind me. As I sit around here feeling rundown, I'm thinking about all the texts and emails I got last week when I said there were no signs of cancer anymore.

A lot of you said "you did it" or something to that effect. I'm not really sure I did much of anything except take what was dished out to me. I mean, the surgeons and oncologists did their work and I just recovered from any and all effects from it.

About the only thing I did was say yes to surgery and yes to chemotherapy. But, given the choice I had, any of you would have done exactly the same thing. There wasn't a choice.

It's like being in a bar fight. Some guy punches me in the face and I fall down. Later, I go home and recooperate. Did I really do anything besides heal?

Don't get me wrong... I'm super happy to be getting better, but I'm not sure how much of a role I played. The researchers for drugs and procedures are the ones who did it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I was in the shower today...

And I was looking at my stomach thinking about how there is nothing in there (besides the sandwich I just ate.) This was the first time in my life I was thinking about that. All year, I would look at it and think about the crap that's in there. Prior to be diagnosed, I would never even think about anything.

I wonder how long (if ever) it will be before I can look at my abdomen and not think about anything...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NO SIGNS OF CANCER!

The CT scan results came back and part of it read, "new pulmonary nodules." That actually means "new cancer tumors." When my oncologist read that, he immediately called the radiologist who wrote the report. "Oh, that should read, NO new pulmonary nodules," he said. It's just a tiny, little, two-letter word, but that NO is very important! :-)

It reminded me of Seinfeld: "This is George Costanza, I'm calling for my test results. Negative? Oh, my God. WHY! WHY! WHY? What? What? Negative is good? Oh, yes of course! How stupid of me. Thank you. Thank you very much."

So, what now?

Well, the scan showed inflamation in the one side my colon. It's most likely my Crohn's disease acting up. I've dealt with that for 20 years, so no biggie. I have to schedule a colonoscopy within the next month to see what's going there. I haven't taken any meds for Crohns in a year, so I might have to start again. Also, any polyps that may be in there can be removed before they have a chance to turn cancerous.

My spleen is also slightly enlarged. That could be a side-effect of the liver resection. My oncologist has to check with other specialists to see if that's normal. Btw, the doc showed me the CT scan of my liver. He said if he didn't know I had half of it cut out, he wouldn't know from the scan. It's back to normal! Where's the nearest bar???

I will continue on with my next six cycles of chemo as normal. After that, I will switch to a pill form of chemo for the next two years. This involves taking pills twice a day for 7 days on and 7 days off. There should not be any side-effects with the pills and if there are side-effects, he'll reduce the dosage.

I texted a bunch of people today after I received the news. Here are some responses:

"Yeah!"
"Yay, where's the party?"
"Kick ass!"
"Yes!"
"Wow. Amazing news. Lets win a (softball) championship" (This is my personal favorite.)
"Awesome!!! I am so happy...Miracle"
"Awesome, such great news"
"YEAAA!!! Awesome."
"U R a walking miracle. Truely inspiring"
"Gik" (My uncle who is trying to learn to text message.)
"Yahoo!"
"Gittxuy up" (My uncle getting a little better.)
"That is GREAT!"
"Woo Hoo!"
"Yahoo! What about the baby?" (See two blog posts down)
"Wooow! Good news! Im happy 4u!"

Jimmy V. Week (3-9 Dec)

If you have never seen "the speech," you should:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePXlkqkFH6s

"Don't give up...don't ever give up..."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Scan completed...

The last time I was at Georgetown for a CAT scan, they had me use all three methods of administering contrast. This time I only had to do it orally and via I.V. They spared me the enema. Whew! But, the I.V. is the one that makes you feel warm in your groin area, so I wasn't sure if I pee'd myself or not until afterwards (I did not.)

Anywhoo...here is a photo a tech gave me from my scan. As you can see...the hands and feet are starting to develop. Wait a second...this can't be my photo. I'm not even dating anyone. There had to be a mix-up. I'll ask my doctor tomorrow when I have my appointment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Scan me...

Tomorrow will most likely be my first CAT scan since my surgery. I say probably because it was supposed to be weeks ago, but there were mix-ups at Georgetown. We'll see.

I'm not too nervous right now, but after the scan I have to wait to see my doctor the next day. Tomorrow night could be a little tense for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bedside manner...

In the past few days, two of my friends have asked me if I would mind talking with their friends who have cancer. Both of them are around my age, play sports in my alumni league, and could use some encouragement. Of course, I am happy to talk with them. If either of them are reading this...hi! :-)

It feels weird being the one to be offering the encouragement instead of the one receiving it from all of you who read my blog. But, it's a nice feeling. It'll be even nicer when these two girls go into remission and take over my role with "patients" of their own. Keep the pattern going, until that day when cancer goes the way of Polio. (Btw, you know where the vaccine for Polio was discovered, right? That's right...the University of Pittsburgh! :-) )

I wish there was no one for me to talk to, but since there is, it's nice to help...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Competitive eating...

You know those guys who win the hot dog eating contests by downing 60 in 3 minutes or whatever? Yeah, I could down MAYBE three in an hour. MAYBE! Probably not.

This week, I lost a couple of pounds. I wasn't sick or anything, I just got lazy. You see, for the past 8 months or so, I have been focused on counting my calories every day. I have to make sure I get 2000 a day. This week, I probably averaged 1200-1500 or so. If I don't make an effort, I forget to eat. I could go a week with eating a total of three or four meals and not even feel the slightest bit hungry. I get thirsty, but my entire life I was never hungry.

If my grandma would not have constantly yelled to me in the yard or the basement to come eat, I would have graduated high school at 75 lbs. (Instead I graduated at 110 lbs.) The same is true today. When my mind is focused on other things, I don't even think about food. If you couple that with the fact that I hate the taste of food and hate eating, it makes eating meals a big chore.

My task at the grocery store is to find the smallest amount of food with the highest calorie content. I don't want to have to eat a meal for more than 10 minutes or I get sick of eating and quit. So, small quantity is the key.

Any ideas on foods I might want to try?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Well, I'm not a wimp...

I emailed my doc and told him that I was sleeping for about five days after my treatments. He said that is WAY too much and insists that I stop treatments for now. So, I'm on a break from chemo! I can start going out to dinners with friends or whatever, soon. It's been a while since I left the house much. We'll play it by ear as to when I'll start back up for my final chemo treatments.

Uncle...uncle!!!

Back in August when I started my chemo again, my doctor said he likes to do 6 months of chemo with his patients. I had already done 3 months over the winter, so that would be 3 more. Cool. But, no. He said he wanted to do a full 6 months more with me just to be sure. I couldn't argue that.

He did, however, say that I could take a break in the middle if it got to be too much. No way did I ever think I'd take him up on that. The last thing I want to do is push back my end date (currently 30 January). But, I just emailed him today asking to take that break. It probably makes me a wimp, but the last couple of cycles have put me in a "chemo coma" where I just sleep for 5 or 6 days after treatment. I'd like to do my next cycle (next week), take a break, and then finish the final 5 after that. It would be nice to have the holidays off from chemo.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Basketball tonight...

Tonight is the first college basketball game on the ESPN networks. Duke is one of the teams playing. If you remember, last December, I had tickets to see Duke play against Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden. But, it was the day after I was diagnosed, so I wasn't in the mood to go to the game.

I think it's appropriate that tonight's kickoff game is part of the "Coaches vs Cancer" tournament.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tomorrow is chemo # 6 out of 12

I know I should be happy that I'm about to be half-way finished with chemo. But, the truth is I'm just sick and tired of this whole year. Literally...SICK and TIRED.

:-(

Monday, November 3, 2008

No scan today...

You know, I have not had a procedure done at Georgetown were there wasn't a problem. And I have not had a procedure done at Johns Hopkins were there WAS a problem.

I showed up at Georgetown for my CAT scan this morning and they didn't have my orders for it. They asked if I had them. Now, maybe my doctor gave me the orders, but that was over a month ago and I have chemo brain. Why should a patient have to be responsible for hand-carrying paper orders? There is a computer at everyone's desk at G-town. Why aren't the orders on the computer? At Johns Hopkins, I don't have to do anything except show up.

An option today was to wait around a couple of hours for my doctor to arrive and then try to get new orders. I decided to eat a donut and go home instead. I have a call in to Johns Hopkins to get my scan done up there sometime. They know what they are doing.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

CAT scan tomorrow

At 7:30am, I go to Georgetown for a CAT scan. This is my first scan since being declared in remission. We have to see if any cancer returned. I know I'm on chemo, so the chances are minimal, but it's still kinda scary.

I meet with the doc on wednesday to talk about the results. Wish me luck...

Barely noticed...

Over the weekend, I was in South Bend, Indiana for the Pitt vs. Notre Dame football game. The game went into FOUR overtimes. It was insane. It was the longest game for both schools ever. Very exciting.

One play stood out to me more than any. Although, I bet not many even noticed it. After Pitt's last touchdown, they kicked-off and Dan Carafo made the tackle. Why do I like that play? Dan Cafaro is a cancer survivor.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last softball game tonight...

My fall softball league ends tonight and that will wrap up my softball year that started back in late March. I was on chemo then and I'm on chemo now. I didn't get to play as much as I wanted to this year with the pesky surgeries getting in the way all the time. But there were some great moments. My Pitt teammates will remember me being cleared after my first surgery and pitching a couple of innings about 6 hours later. I fell down fielding a ball. Smooth... My Darwin team will remember me gasping for air after only pitching a couple of innings. I just can't get into shape while on chemo. My work league will remember me not being there. (Hey, I can't play every game while battling cancer!)

It's been a really frustrating year, to say the least. I just never was able to get back to full strength to play the game the way I know how. Don't get me wrong, I did well...damn good under the circumstances, but I watch my teammates hitting homeruns as I struggle to hit the ball out of the infield.

Next season is less than six months away and I so want to be healthy all year. I mean, I can take a scraped elbow or a bruised knee or a punctured lung or a broken collar bone or a blister. You know, something easy to deal with. Just no more cancer crap, please!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can't sleep...

Since I'm having my usual insomnia after a chemo treatment, I thought I'd take advantage of the time awake and write a blog entry.

It was just about a year ago when I started feeling badly. I don't know the exact date, but it was around Halloween week when my low-grade fever started and it didn't stop for about two months. Finally, in mid-December, I checked myself into the E.R. with a high fever. About 14 hours later, I left the hospital with abnormalities on my CAT scan. They didn't "want to scare me, but it could be cancer." The strangest thing of all was that my fever disappeared the day my CAT scan showed cancer. I didn't take any drugs and wasn't treated at all. The fever simply went away on it's own. It was almost as if my body was screaming for two months, "hey, look here!" and once we looked there, the screaming stopped.

Even with all the crap I am going through, now, in regards to chemo, I guess it beats constantly feeling sick and not knowing why. At least now I know what I'm up against and I have a time-table for the end. If all goes well, my last chemo will be on 30 January 2009. The party will be a few weeks later. Be there! :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

5 out of 12 down...

Ugh, these are getting tougher. My vomit streak ended at about four weeks. My neuropathy (sp?) is getting worse. That's the damage to my nerve endings...where I can't control my fingers or toes and they are really sensitive to coldness. I also am SOOOOO tired. It's only 2pm today, but already I've taken two naps. I could barely keep my eyes open to drive to the hospital today for my booster shot. Next time, I might need a ride to hopsital.

Keep counting down with me...we'll get there! :'-) Seven more to go...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm fat again?

I was at Gold's Gym the other day and had my "percentage body fat" calculated. It was almost 16%. The chart said that under 10% is athletic. I used to be that, but I understand I'm not back to it, yet. But 10%-15% is "lean" and I'm not even lean???!? I'm in the "average" range.

Now, for any of you who have seen me...who in the world would say I'm average body fat or weight? There is not enough of me to be average body fat!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I didn't vomit during this cycle!

For the first time in four rounds of chemo, I didn't vomit at all. That's a relief. You know what else I didn't do? I didn't: puke, barf, heave, ralph, yak, hurl, spew, blow chunks, up-chuck, emesis, shout groceries, train to be a supermodel, technicolor yawn, pray to the porcelain god, toss my cookies, whistle beef, or have morning sickness...

Well, I did feel sick some mornings, but not in that way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Anyone get the license plate...

For the first time since my chemo back in the winter, I was totally wiped out by it. I was in the hospital on Friday and everything was okay. Saturday and Sunday had me connected to my "take home" chemo IV pack. Saturday evening was fine...I was over at a friend's house for dinner (yummy filet mignon) and wasn't doing too badly. Sunday was even okay for dinner (this time pork chops and applesauce)...until later. I was planning on seeing a movie, but I couldn't. I was simply too tired. That tired feeling lasted the next two days. I was not really able to get off the couch much. I was tired but not sleepy, so I was on nerve pills. My sleep patterns were all messed up.

Tonight was a meeting of my running group. I did NOT feel like going at all, but I went anyway. Instead of running, I walked a mile and a half. I actually felt a little better after the walk than before. I hope this means I'm on my up-swing and I'll be good for the next nine days! Need I say it? Chemo sucks...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

33% done...

Well, I'm completed 4 out of my 12 treatments. This time there weren't too many side effects, except one that has me worried a little. Over the winter, I had a side-effect where I was jittery and couldn't keep my leg from tapping a mile a minute. I had that same feeling earlier tonight. I went for a walk to "walk off" my nervous energy and it seemed to help a little. But, I had to come home and take a sleeping pill. I just wanted to wake up and have it be gone. For the most part, it is gone (my nervous tapping, not my leg).

The sleeping pills are scary, though. The last few times I've taken them, I have had dreams about scary clowns trying to kill me. That's not exactly relaxing sleep! This time...no clowns! There has to be a joke about "how do you kill a clown?" If anyone knows, let me know so I can use it in my next dream, if need be!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Over-doing it?

4:30pm - 5:15pm -- lifted weights

5:15pm - 5:45pm -- 30 min run (I ran the entire 30 minutes! Slowly, but I never stopped running.)

6:30pm - 8:30pm -- two softball games (Our team had two extra players tonight, so everyone could rest a couple of innings. That is, everyone except me. I was the only pitcher. They say "there's no rest for the weary." Well, there is no rest for the guy on chemo, either!)

I have the whole weekend to "flop" as it's my chemo weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

meow...Meow...MEOW!

That's the sound of an approaching CAT scan. I had an appointment with my oncologist today and we scheduled my first CAT scan since I was declared in remission. That will be on 3 November. It's the day before Election Day, so I suggest you vote "No" to cancer.

It'll be four months since my last surgery that removed the remaining tumors. So, there has been time for other tumors to grow inside me. But, I've also been on chemotherapy, so that should have killed anything in there. Anyhoo...it just makes me a little nervous...or maybe more than a little...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not a slug!

Well, I'm no longer a really, really slow slug. I worked out tonight with my "Cancer to 5K" running group. For the first time in five weeks (since the program began), I finished the entire workout. Other times, I wasn't able to run during all of the workout and had to walk because I was so winded.

I'm not 100% sure, but I'm fairly certain it has to do with my iron level in my blood. Last week, I started taking iron tablets and I have seen drastic results. I'll know more on Thursday when I play softball. If I can hit a triple and still talk to the 3rd base coach after sprinting, then the iron is helping. Hmmm...I haven't hit a triple all year during treatments. I'll just have to suck it up and be a hitter...just for scientific reasons!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Army 10 Miler...

Yesterday was the "Army 10 Miler" race in D.C. I woke up early (very rare) to head downtown to cheer on some friends. I was looking for seven people, but in the midst of 26,000 runners I only saw three of them. It was like needles in a haystack, only needles don't usually wear jogging shorts. Wait...maybe they do. I don't know...I make it a point never to look at the needles my nurses use on me.

Anyhoo...the race was very inspiring. Wounded soldiers from Iraq were running on prosthetic legs or using hand-operated, three-wheeled bikes. Others were running with shirts reading "In memory of Sgt ____." I saw many "Live Strong" and "Stand Up 2 Cancer" shirts. So many emotions were churned up.

Later in the day was *supposed* to be my light running day for my "Cancer to 5K" training. How the heck did they expect me to only run lightly after witnessing what I had? I ran more than I had any day in many months. I just had to...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The mail must go through...

This afternoon I wrote a letter to the football coach of the University of Pittsburgh thanking him for signing a football for me at the beginning of the year. Then later tonight, Pitt knocked off # 10 South Florida in a great game. The win made the letter all the more appropriate. So, I thought I'd share it with you:



Coach Wannstedt,

In January of this year at the request of a friend of mine and fellow Pitt alum, you autographed a football for me in support of my battle with cancer:

"To Shawn,
Always keep the Faith
Dave Wannstedt
Hail to Pitt"

Well, I never lost that faith and after months of chemotherapy and a couple of surgeries, my cancer is now in remission. I just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you and tell you how much your message has meant to me. The football rests firmly on top of my television stand as a constant reminder that anything is possible.

I know this football season did not start out as planned, but unlike some of my friends, I have not lost that faith. I calmly tell them that my year started off pretty bleak, too, and look what happened. Things can always change for the better.

I am still undergoing chemotherapy to make sure the cancer doesn't come back, so I am not able to make the trip from Washington, D.C. for all of Pitt's games, as I have done for the past seven seasons. I get to the games when I can and I am glued to the TV when I cannot.

Keep up the good work! I know you’ll make me and the University of Pittsburgh proud. Thanks again…

P.S. When you see Dan Cafaro on the practice field, tell him that he has a fellow cancer survivor in the stands rooting for him.

La La La...

That's the sound of me being happy. :-) I just weighed myself...139.5 lbs. I'm only down 10, now! La la la...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pretty consistant...

I've had three rounds of chemo and each time I've thrown up exactly one time. I can deal with that. At least they have all been at home in the comfort of my kitchen sink. blah!

Monday, September 29, 2008

25% of the chemo down...

...75% to go. I was disconnected from my pump yesterday and I should be on my 1.5 week road to recovery until the next treatment. Only a few side-effects: soreness in mouth, sensitivity to cold, and a new one...nose bleed. I have no idea if that was related, but I wasn't at any football games sittig high in the rafters, so we'll see if it comes back at all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Strongest Man competition...

Well, I won't be winning that any time soon. But, for the first time in about 10 months I was able to bench press my body weight. I know, I know...that's pretty sad. But, it was much more sad earlier this year. I'm getting there, slowly!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More cowbell !!!

"I got a fever that can only be cured with more cowbell." Someone find me a cowbell, por favor!

On sunday night, I came down with a fever. (99.9) It broke, but the next morning I had a sore throat and stuffed up nose. I need to get rid of this by Friday so I won't delay chemo. Today I feel somewhat better. The throat is almost fine...but still nose issues. Luckily, it's not in my chest at all. No coughing. Cross your fingers for me...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hungry?

My friend, Molly, found a way to celebrate my cancer remission and add a few calories to my diet. You can't help but laugh at these. Check it out...tiny little colons! Obviously, these are based on someone else's colon because I am missing parts of my traverse and descending. But, they're still delicious!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Text Message...

The other day I got a text message. I'll just type it word for word. Note: the gold armband is in reference to the gold armbands that were passed out in my honor at the softball tournament.

Hey Shawn. How r u? I played QB on the Pitt flag football team sunday. we had the plays tucked into the gold armband. it worked and we won. ur with us man.


:'-)

Running, running, running...

Last night I went to my running training for "Cancer to 5K." The last day I ran was this past Thursday and that day everything went smoothly with my scheduled workout. Last night was not so easy. I had to take Friday through Monday off because of chemo. So, when I went to run yesterday, I was dead. I could not do the workout. I was supposed to run a minute, walk a minute and continue that for 24 minutes. After a few cycles, I had to resort to running one minute and walking 2 or 3 minutes.

I know, I know...I just had chemo. But, I hate not being able to do what I want to do. It sucks. I hate being out of shape.

On the bright side, the chemo is not really taking away my ability to gain strength. I can lift weights at the gym and I'm getting stronger there. The chemo is only taking away my endurance.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Other cancer blogs...

Over the last couple of days I've been reading the blog of a girl in DC who was diagnosed with breast cancer almost at the same time I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her stories are just as touching as mine and I'm torn. I feel sad that she has to go through this, too, but I take a little comfort in the fact that I'm not alone. I won't post her blog here for privacy sake, but if she says it's okay, I will.

We are going to try to meet up sometime for a drink and talk about things. Maybe alcohol isn't the best for me...hmmmm...lemonade!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Remember the happy hour?

I went to a happy hour the other week for cancer survivors. Well, one of the girls there produced a couple of videos to promote the bill in congress (supported by Kennedy) to get more clinical trials for cancer.

Check them out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-L_u6dsVBQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8307O2GYf8

Two chemos down the hatch...

The regiment is 12 cycles of chemo. This afternoon I was disconnected from my portable IV and that completed my 2nd cycle. Only 10 more to go. (21 weeks if my blood counts cooperate each time.)

I have a little nausea today, but I totally forgot to take my meds for it this morning! I guess that is probably a good sign. Over the winter when I was on chemo, I was thinking about my medication constantly because I was always feeling sick. Today, I was more concerned with watching football highlights! :-)

Some hiccups, some nausea, some soreness in my throat, and some muscle spasms, but that's all so far this time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cross your fingers...

I'm scheduled for chemo for tomorrow. Let's hope my blood counts are good. I just want to get this crap over with! (Oh, I shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition.) I just want to get this crap over with, people! :-)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Run, Forrest, run...

Yesterday was my first training for a 5K race. I attended a start-up meeting on Saturday morning. Saturday was supposed to be our first day of training, but the monsoon weather made it better for deep sea fishing or staying indoors.

The workout was "easy"...30 seconds of running, 1 minute of walking and repeating that for 10 minutes. But, I needed an easy start because I have not jogged for the better part of a year. (Having major organs removed tends to do that to a person.)

Let's see if I can stay healthy enough to race in 12 weeks. (Shut up, Erin...my body is not constantly falling apart. Well, okay, maybe you have a point.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

No chemo today...

I went for my second cycle of chemo today and my white blood cell count is extremely low, so I wasn't able to do it. I'm post-poned at least a week. The low count means I could catch any type of infection because I don't have the means to fight it off.

They said in the meantime, to constantly wash my hands, stay away from crowds and obviously sick people, and to "make sure I wipe my bottom good." She actually said that. With her accent it sounded funny. Well, I guess it would sound funny in any voice!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy Hour tonight...

I went to a happy hour tonight that was part of "I'm too young for this." It's a group of under-40 cancer survivors. There were only seven of us there, but there was one thing that made me take notice. I'm not the only upbeat person with cancer (or in remission)! These people were all full of energy...each and every one. One is doing a tri-athalon next week. Another is working on a film project for Ted Kennedy's bill to get more clinical studies for cancer. I was impressed by the group.


TV VIEWING NOTE: "Stand Up 2 Cancer" is Friday night (today for you, maybe) at 8pm on NBC, CBS and ABC. It's only an hour, so don't miss it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Phone call...

I picked up the phone tonight...

"I have the best news, ever!"

My reply: "Better than my cancer remission?"

I could hear her smile fade away.

"Ummm, no..."

:-)

Monday, September 1, 2008

The grid-iron

Over the weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh to see the opening football game for Pitt. That was the longest drive that I've driven "since." Back in the winter, I wasn't so sure if I was going to be able to go to the games like I have for the past seven seasons. So, it was a triumph to be there.

The game didn't turn out like I had hoped. But, like I told a friend of mine..."my year started off pretty bleak, too, right?" :-)



Me outside of Heinz Field in Pittsburgh

Friday, August 29, 2008

My baby takes the morning train...

Yesterday and today are my first two full days of going to work since December. I guess I should be well-rested after having 8 months to simply lay around. Somehow, I'm not!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leave from work...

I received some not so great news today. Apparently, there is now a cap on how much leave I am allowed through the program I've been using this year. My leave runs out 16 September. So, for 3.5 months of chemo, I have to somehow be at work, if I want to get a paycheck.

Every two weeks, I will have to take 3 days off to receive my chemo and I'll only be earning 1.5 days of leave during those two weeks. During the rest of the time, I hope I feel somewhat okay.

Do they care if I spend my day in the restroom throwing up and other stuff?

I do have one thing I can do. I can apply to have specific people at work donate days off to me. I guess I will find out how many people really like me there. :'-)

Also, my doctor did say that after so-many treatments, I could take a break from chemo and then start back up. Maybe I could take December off and then when 2009 starts, I won't have a problem with the leave program.

Monday, August 25, 2008

&%$*!!!!

So, I was throwing up tonight and I think I now have another (my 4th) incisional hernia. Yep...I might have popped a stitch. I can't win...

Losing my mind -- and other things...

I left the softball field the other day without my bat. Luckily, a teammate picked it up for me. Then I lost my car/house keys for a couple of days. Yesterday, I lost my cell phone for most of the day.

I guess chemo brain is in full effect. Lovely.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Side effects so far...

I'm a little tired.
Slight nausea
It hurt this morning when I pee'd. (That's a new, fun one.)
And the damn hiccups are back!

All for now...

10 hours in the chemo bed...

Yesterday was a fun day. Since it was the first time I was getting this combo of drugs, they administered the IVs really slowly to make sure I would not have a bad reaction to any. Had to be done, but not fun.

I thought for a second that one of the drugs gave me a new side effect...hallucinations. I was watching the Olympics on my personal tv in the room and during the break, I thought I saw a guy I knew in a commercial. Suddenly, everyone in the commercial were people I knew. I soon realized they were the members of Washington Improv Theater -- an improv group I've known for years. Thanks for freaking me out, WIT people! Whew...I wasn't hallucinating.

The tv didn't stop messing me my emotions. ESPN ran a segment on John Challis who I blogged about a few months ago. He is an 18 yr old Pittsburgh kid with cancer who was put into his high school's baseball game. He got a hit and the other team stopped to applaud him. The ESPN show was detailing how positive he is. Inside his hat, he had written "Courage + Belief = Life". The segment ended by saying he passed away yesterday. That's the moment my nurse decided to check on me. I worried her as she saw me in tears...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Running program...

I came across http://www.cancerto5k.org/ It's a training program for cancer survivors who want to run a 5K race. (Which I mentioned, several blogs ago, that I do.)

The description on the website:

The CANCER to 5K Training Program ™ is a free 12-week training program designed to introduce and/or reintroduce cancer survivors to physical activity by providing them with the training program, coaches, encouragement and support necessary to complete a 5K (3.1 miles) distance road race.

Perfect!!!

'Twas the night before chemo...

'Twas the night before chemo, and all through each cell
Hopefully no cancer was stirring, it's hard to tell;

The IVs were hung by the hospital bed with care,
In hopes that Shawn soon would be there;

The other patients were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of nausea danced in their heads;

And my nurse in her scrubs, and I with my catheter port,
Would soon settle me in, but this ain’t no resort.

The next day in the ward there arose a fullness in my bladder,
I sprang from the bed to take care of the matter.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a lunch cart with crappy food, oh dear.

With a little hospital helper, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment that food would make me sick.

More rapid than eagles the side-effects they came,
The nurse whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, hot sweats! now, cold sweats! now, hiccups and pain!
Oh, diarrhea ! oh vomitting! oh, numbness and and losing your mane!

As I laid in bed and was turning around
Down the hall Dr. Oncologist came with a bound

Bundles of prescriptions he had in his fists,
I can deal with the chemo just keep away the cysts.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled out all the charts; then turned with a jerk,

But I heard him exclaim, ere he walked out of sight,
"Happy Chemo to all, and to all a good-night."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Photos from softball...


Top photo: Me taking the field for the first time with my cancer in remission and hugging one of my two favorite first base girls


Middle photo: Delivering a pitch...can you tell I'm just a little happy?


Bottom photo: Me batting...notice all my teammates in the background wearing the gold sweat bands in my honor

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chemo starts again in one week...

I start my chemo treatments again on the 20th. Is it possible that one of you could drive me to Georgetown Hospital by 8:30am that morning? I have a ride home, but I need a ride there.

Thanks,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

T-shirt


I think I'm going to order this shirt...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Email from December...

Back on 19 December (the day I was diagnosed), I wrote an email and sent it to most of my friends. After this weekend's softball games, I thought I'd share part of that email with everyone again:

"Recently, I have been feeling sick (a low fever for 7 weeks), so I underwent all kinds of tests over the past weeks. The results...colon and liver cancer. Sorry to lay it out like that... The colon is in stage 4 (out of 4), so its not great. I'm looking at at least a year+ of chemo and surgeries.

It'll be tough, but I'll get through it.

Softball people -- I wouldn't expect me to be making any all-star teams this summer. But, on the other hand, would you bet against me?"



:-)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Softball tournament -- day two

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, our coached told the team, "If we all play with the amount of courage and determination Shawn has shown in the past eight months, we'll do really well in this tournament." And everyone on my team did play with that courage and determination this weekend.

We started off the day by playing our rivals, West Virginia, in the morning. The defense behind my pitching was remarkable as we turned three double plays in the first three innings. In those three innings, they sent nine people to the plate and nine people were out. And it wasn't just defense that Pitt played...we did not let up at all while hitting. Final score... 20-0. (I was told that this was the only shutout in the entire tournament...but I haven't verified that.) We were on to the final four of the winner's bracket.

There we met last year's champions, Maryland, who was undefeated this season. Their team is full of excellent hitters and averaged over 23 runs a game this year. We battled them back and forth for seven innings and at the end of seven innings, we had to play another inning because we were tied at 8. The rule in extra innings is that it's one pitch. A strike and you're out, a ball and you walk, or you hit it. Pitt scored one run and we had the lead. Then we got two outs on Maryland. With a girl batting, I threw the pitch short and she walked. The next hitters were good and we ended up losing by one run. We were that one pitch away from a big upset. :-(

Now, we were in the loser's bracket facing Auburn. My coach decided to rest me for future games and put in a different pitcher. After the top of the first inning, we were down 7-0. So much for resting. I was back on the mound in inning number two. I guess the softball gods figured coming back from cancer wasn't enough of a challenge for me...I had to spot the other team some runs and then try to win a game. And my team backed me up...they hit the ball well and we ended up winning 15-10.

On to the next game vs. Tufts. Tufts was a good-hitting team (normally), but after 5 innings, we were winning 8-0. Again...my team was playing exceptional defense. We caught every fly ball and fielded every ground ball. I can't say enough about my teammates. We ended up winning 9-2.

Now, we were in the championship of the loser's bracket vs Maryland once again. This time I felt more at ease versus them because I had already seen them bat a few games ago. As I mentioned, Maryland averaged 23 runs per game this year. In this game, they scored 4. Unfortunately, we didn't score any and that was the game. We were out of the tournament. Losing two close games to last year's champions is nothing to be ashamed of. And we finished third overall in the entire tournament (out of 70 teams). That's pretty damn good.

I cannot thank my teammates enough for giving me my best weekend of 2008. They all gave it their all and they all played great. I had so much fun and it felt just like old times. There was no cancer patient out there on the mound this weekend. Instead there was a darn good (albeit scarred-up) player just playing his game. And the support didn't just come from my teammates. Players from other teams came up to me to tell me that they were in awe that I was even playing, let alone winning games. I heard people from the stands yelling out "go # 1" (my number) as I pitched. I couldn't have asked for anything better this weekend. Every muscle in my body is sore, now. But, I'll take it!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Softball tournament -- day one

Before our first game today, my coach passed around gold (Pitt color) sweatbands to the entire team. As he was passing them out, he was talking and I'll have to paraphrase as I was tearing up... "I want to pass out these bands to show our support for Shawn. If we all play with the amount of courage and determination he has shown in the past eight months, we'll do really well in this tournament."

Our first game started and I was pumped up and nervous at the same time. I walked a batter and I never do that. Illinois ended up scoring 5 runs in the first inning and we were behind. We battled back to tie the score at 5 after one innning and ended up winning the game 11-9. It felt good to get the first game in the books. I even batted well, going 2-2 with a double.

The next game was versus Wisconsin. We watched them score 23 runs in a game earlier in the day. Their entire team hit well. And they started off well against us, too. They scored 4 runs in the first and once again we were down. But, in the 4th inning we exploded for 11 runs and cruised to a 17-8 victory. I was so emotional...I cried shaking hands with the other team after the game (they were probably thinking "who is this idiot?") And then I must have hugged all the Pitt players as I was still in happy tears. It felt so good to be able to help us win.

So, we are now in the final 8 (out of 68 or so teams) and play our rivals West Virginia tomorrow morning. That won't be easy. But, then again...has anything been easy this year???

Friday, August 8, 2008

Date on the calendar was circled...

To those of you who don't know me this might sound strange, but since the day I was diagnosed with cancer, I set one goal. That goal was to be out of chemo and done with surgeries by tomorrow. Why tomorrow? This weekend is the annual softball tournament for all the DC alumni teams. There are over 65 teams (Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, UConn, everywhere around the country). We play in a double-elimination tournament all weekend and it's so much fun! Hundreds of players all playing, eating burgers, drinking beer (Gatorade for me).

Last year, my Pittsburgh team went into the tournament as the # 1 seed overall as we were 14-0. We won our first four games and then I injured my leg and couldn't pitch as well. Being our only pitcher, we lost the next two games and were done. We finished 5th out of 65 teams, but that hasn't sat well with me and I want another chance.

Normally after liver surgery, you're supposed to wait six weeks before physical activity. The doctor cleared me at about 4.5 weeks. So, I had this week to lift light weights and actually pick up a softball and a bat. That's it...one week to get ready after major surgery. Great. The pros even get a month of spring training!

Tomorrow, I'll be Pittsburgh's starting pitcher and I can't tell you how good that feels. I've cried several times this week just thinking about it and everything I went through to get to this point. It's going to be so great to be out there helping my team. Surviving cancer and coming back to play is a nice story, but once I throw the first pitch, none of that counts. I'm simply a player who needs to play well no matter what has transpired.

Even though most of you won't be there, I know you will be cheering for me. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Visit with my oncologist...

I went to see my oncologist at Georgetown today. As he walked in, he was reading the reports from my surgeon at Johns Hopkins. He said, "you're living data." It turns out that the surgical procedures I had done the past few months were invented by French doctors only a couple of years ago. Not a lot of people have had this done. What if I had developed cancer at age 34 instead of 38? wow...

Up until today, I was being told that the normal routine for chemotherapy is to receive 10 to 12 cycles (5 or 6 months) total. I did six cycles from January thru March. So, I was geared up for only two or three more months and finishing by Halloween or Thanksgiving. but, my oncologist said he wants to give me a full six months more starting this month. I was not mentally prepared to hear that. A few extra months may not seem like much, but unless you've been on it, you can't relate. I really need to psych myself up for this and get mentally tough. It's going to be very hard at times.

On the bright side, I will be receiving some different chemo drugs this time. The one that caused my hair to fall out is no longer in the equation!

=:-) <--- me with hair

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

REMISSION!

I had my follow-up with my surgeon today. He said that because there is no visible cancer, technically I'm in "remission." It's not "cancer free," but it's headed in the right direction.

He's going to talk to my oncologist at Georgetown this week and they will decide my dosage of chemotherapy for the next 3 months or so. I imagine that the dosage will be reduced from what I had over the winter because back then I was trying to shrink tumors. Now, I'm just trying to kill some cancer cells that may or may not be in me.

Not there yet...but inching closer. :-) Strike that... :'-)

Something to avoid...

If ever you find yourself in a situation (maybe at the grocery store or at the zoo) where your internal organs are trying to settle back into their proper places, I've discovered it's best to avoid something. That "something" is having immodium stop you up so gas builds up and can't escape. This causes your intestine to over-inflate and push your other unsettled organs even more out of place. It hurts somewhat...no, I mean kinda...no, I mean a hell of a lot!

Stick it...

Yesterday I gave myself my last shot of blood thinner in my belly. As you know from earlier posts, the chemo caused a blood clot in my lung. So, from February until now, I had to give myself a shot every day. I was supposed to go until Labor Day, but the clot is gone and the scare of it re-occuring after my most recent surgery faded. So, I'm done! :-)

Monday, July 28, 2008

SU2C...

I went to the movies last night (Hancock was decent) and during the previews they showed a short film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kOfYLDijy8

(Gotta love any film that starts with Christy Turlington!) :-)

Before last night, I didn't know anything about this. "Stand Up 2 Cancer" was formed to help raise money for cancer research. On 5 September at 8pm, all three big networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) will broadcast the same fundraising show.

More info can be found at:

http://www.standup2cancer.org/theshow/press

On the right-hand side, click on the orange "+ more" and you get an in-depth press release on what it's all about.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

3 miles...

This post is mostly for me. Next March, I want to run the "Scope it Out" 5K race instead of walking it like I did this year. Well, I started training for it, now. I figure if I post my training data, it will keep me motivated to do better. Right now, I can only walk the three miles, but I should be cleared for some light jogging in a couple of weeks. Then I'll have to battle through the fatigue of chemo, but...oh well...

20 July -- 3 miles -- 48 minutes
21 July -- 3 miles -- 49 minutes
23 July -- 3 miles -- 46 minutes
24 July -- 3 miles -- 45 minutes
26 July -- 3 miles -- 44 minutes
27 July -- 3 miles -- 45 minutes
28 July -- 3 miles -- 42 minutes
1 August - 3 miles -- 44 minutes
2 August - 3 miles -- 43 minutes

(break for lifting weights and softball)

16 August - 3 miles - 44 minutes

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Medical appointments...

Yesterday, I made three medical appointments. On monday, I have a routine appointment to have my I.V. medi-port flushed with saline. That happens every month when I'm not on chemo. Then on Wednesday the 30th, I meet with my surgeon for a follow-up visit. He'll be able to tell me when I'm cleared to start exercising again. Then the following week (the 6th), I meet with my oncologist to discuss when I'll be starting chemo again and for how long. That's all I know for now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The water weight is all gone...

I finally lost all the water weight I gained from surgery (about 25 lbs.) That's the good news. The bad news is that I didn't stop and now I'm down 10 additional lbs of muscle. This just sucks! In the past 10 months, I have lost 75 lbs. 15 with this surgery...15 with that chemo...etc. Besides Jared from Subway, who loses 75 lbs in 10 months???

I got on the scale last night and found that I was down 5 lbs more than I even thought. I immediately cooked a box of pasta-roni (700 calories) at 1am. I almost threw up eating it. My body is still not back to normal from the surgery, so I can't eat much. That doesn't help. Plus, it will be another two weeks until I can lift weights and run to make me crave more food. It's killing me! I cannot gain weight unless I am active and I'm not allowed to be.

I think I'm going to spend 23 hours a day in the gym once I'm cleared...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Feeling sad tonight...

It has yet to sink in that I no longer have any visible cancer in my body. (I still have to do 2 or 3 months of chemo to kill off any stray cancer cells.) But, there is a huge light at the end of the tunnel for me. And just as I'm feeling pretty good, I attended my Arlington softball team's game tonight. It was nice seeing everyone for the first time since my most recent surgery.

My coach, Randy, came up to me and told me that his wife was diagnosed with cancer today. I got a lump in my throat. I remember how I felt when the doctor told me back in December. It's such an overwhelming feeling. Somehow it's almost easier to have it happening to you then someone else you know. You don't feel as helpless when it's you. I feel so badly for them and their kids. :-(

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Homo-Erectus

I am *almost* walking totally upright today! I've been off the pain meds for the past three days (thank god...I hate drugs). I think yesterday's big walk really helped loosen things up in there (hopefully, not in a bad way).

By the weekend, I should be stir-crazy enough that I'll want to do things. So, if you have an opening for me, let me know!

I'm glad I feel a little better today. It gives me hope that I'll be ready to play in my season-ending softball tournament in about a month. I'm going to have to push myself pretty hard to be ready, but I think I can do it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Out of breath...

Because of the incision around my rib cage, it's difficult to breathe. Each breath is painful, so I take small breaths. I am sick of this, so I just went for a walk somewhere between 1.25 and 1.5 miles. Man, was that hard! My feet are swollen and numb due to the water weight and my hips hurt on each stride due to the water weight, also. Painful fat is so weird!

I'm giving myself until the weekend to build back up to my 3-mile route around the neighborhood. I can't stand this and exercise seems to be the only way to fix it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I see London, I see France...

Yesterday, for the first time in a week, I was able to put on my underwear. I had gained so much water-weight and my whole body was so swollen that I couldn't fit into them before. A couple of days before that, I started eating small amounts. Over about 6 days, I had one banana and a cup of applesauce. That was all I could manage without gagging. I'm still queasy around food, but I'm getting better.

I'm still in pretty much pain...but things are easing up ever-so-slightly. Hopefully, by next week I'll be well enough for visitors, leaving the house, or at least talking to people on the phone.

This surgery has not been easy at all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quick update...

Sorry for the delay in posting since I got out of the hospital on Saturday, but I have an excuse. Sometime between entering the hospital and leaving, I GAINED 20 pounds of water weight. The docs said "it's normal." Well, this is my fifth abdominal suregery and the only time I've gained weight...how normal can it be?

Anyhoo...This water weight is painful. Of my entire year of crap, this is the worst of it so far. From my incision to my toes, I looked like Mike Myer's character "Fat Bastard. I could barely stand in the shower yesterday. Without seeing it, you can't believe it. (I almost wanted to post a naked photo because it's so unbelievable.)

Finally yesterday, one of my nurses gave me some advice and I was able to drop a couple of pounds. So, now I'm only bloated from my incision to my knees. The painful part is at the incision. Not only is my rib cage area (and liver) healing from surgery, but they are being squeezed in there so damn tightly because of all the liquid. So, I feel pain with every breath.

Don't worry...it's only pain. None of this is long-term.

Please...only good *thoughts* for now. No calls. I need to rest. Texts are okay...but only to say things. Don't ask questions...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Breakfast is the most important meal...


Check out my breakfast for today. Mmmm! I get to follow that up with clear liquids for the rest of the day. I might get solid food again on Friday. Yay!

I was just weighed today at the hospital...139.5 lbs (I almost made my 140 lbs goal by surgery.) The bad part is that I'll lose weight this week by not eating. I lost 8 lbs last surgery.

Think of me while you're eating lunch today. I'll be in the outhouse. "Gotta go..."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Last man standing...

Last night I pitched in what might have been my final softball game of the summer. In between chemotherapy and surgeries, I managed to pitch in 10 games. I was the winning pitcher in seven of them (two losses and one no-decision). Not too bad under the circumstances...but I hope to do better next year!

After the game, a lot of my team when out to the bar. They played "flip-cup", but since I'm not a beer (or any type of alcohol, now) drinker, I just drank my pitcher of coke. I downed the whole thing. My god was I wired! I didn't leave the bar until after 1am and didn't fall asleep until after 3am.

That was my latest night out since being diagnosed. Almost all of the softball people had left by the time I left. The bar (by then) had turned into a college scene. I did get a smile from a girl who was either 21 or underage and had a fake ID. Like Ralph Malph used to say on "Happy Days," "I still got it!" (Of course, had I actually talked to her and mentioned "Happy Days" she probably would have introduced me to one of her aunts.)

Oh wait...I must mention the waitress at the bar. Apparently, it was her first day and she was by herself with a group of softball teams. I ordered "chicken cheesesteak with no onions or green peppers. And can I substitute broccoli for the fries?" Well, my entire table had about finished eating and I still didn't have my food. Then the waitress re-appeared. Not with my food, but with the mushrooms that my friend didn't get on her hamburger. Of course, the hamburger was now eaten and she was left with a bowl of mushrooms. Later, I did get my chicken cheesesteak...and FRIES. It was chicken and cheese on a plate. "Umm..can I have a bun?" "You want a bun?" "Yeah, that would be helpful." Judging from the mushroom incident, I decided to eat my food without the bun. After I finished, the bun arrived. Later in the evening, a plate of brocolli also arrived. So, basically, I had a 3-course meal...chicken and cheese on a plate, followed later by a bun, and topped-off with a lonely plate of broccoli. Classy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Going my way?

There is a possibility that I will need a ride home from the hospital (Johns Hopkins in Baltimore) next week. I should get out on the 4th or 5th of July. I realize it's a holiday, but if someone is free during the day, let me know. Most likely, I'll be released between noon and 2pm on one of those days.

No balloons or flowers, please!

During my last surgery back in April, I must have had 15 balloons in my room. They were too much of a hassle to bring home, so I left them there. So, if you were thinking of sending some for my surgery next week, don't worry about it! Also, I'm not a flower guy...they annoy me. If you want to send something...send...ummm...I don't know...a slurpy. I love those!

Also, I decided to donate the crappy part of my liver to science (like you didn't know I would). But, for those of you who worried about the rats starving because they wouldn't get it...I found out that it would have been incinerated anyway. So, I won't be harming any rodents in any way.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Most recent CAT scans...

The past six months have been filled with CAT scans. Every doctor wants to constantly see what's going on inside of me. As I've mentioned before, there are several ways to administer the contrast needed for the images (by mouth, IV, or enema). Let's review the "by mouth" part in my most recent CAT scans...

February -- drank two big cups of chalky, thick...gross, crap

April -- drank two big cups of crap mixed with Crystal Light. Not great, but at least no vomiting.

May -- drank two big cups of water. That's it...just plain water! Wow.

Today -- as I walked in, the technician said, "why don't you just chug that bottle of Gatorade you have?" (I brought it with me for after the scan.) What??? Drink the orange, wholesomey goodness known as Gatorade??? Those of you who know me, know that this was not a problem!!

Judging by the progression of my scans (by my calculations) my next CAT scan most likely will consist of me being served a couple of Captain Morgans and Coke as Ashley Judd and Keira Knightly operate the CAT scan machine...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What to do...what to do?


This week will most likely be the best I'm going to feel for the next five months or so. (I'll have six weeks of recovering from surgery, followed by three months of chemotherapy.) So, I decided to do something fun (instead of going to work). I had never been to Antietam Battlefield and being a Civil War fan, why not go?

I don't know a lot about that battle, but now that I've seen the battlefield, I can do some reading and understand it better. It was a great day for site-seeing (except for the millions of gnats in the fields.)

On the way home, I drove through Leesburg. I was stopped at a stoplight in the left lane. Something on the median moved and caught my eye. It was a rooster! What the? I wasn't next to a farm or anything. Now...we all know the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side. But, why did the rooster cross the road? We still don't know because he wasn't very responsive to my interrogation.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Clinical Study

I volunteered for a clinical trial during my last surgery where they used a new ultra-sound machine on me. That machine gave the doctors a higher resolution picture of my body. It allowed them to better know where the tumors were. Why wouldn't I agree to use that?

I got another call from someone at Johns Hopkins the other day and she asked if I wanted to be part of a clinical study during my next surgery. The surgery will be the removal of part of my liver that has tumors in it. A portion of the removed liver will be sent to the lab to be tested. The remainder is thrown in the trash can.

Johns Hopkins wants my permission to use the garbage part of the liver in medical experiments on new medications. Hmmm...let's see... Either throw out my liver and have the rats eat it at the dump or use it in experiments that could save lives in the future. This decision could take a while!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Scans/Needles/Thermometers/etc

This past Friday, I went to Georgetown for a PET scan. The guy inserted the IV and started me on saline solution. That was fine. He then injected me with the radioactive material. I started thinking about exactly what was happening inside of me...

"I don't feel so good."
"Do you need to lie down?"
"Yeah, I probably should."

He started walking me down the hall and while my eyes were still open, the hallway went dark. I couldn't see a thing. I laid on a table for about an hour before they scanned me. While I was on the table, he came back in with a treat! I was required to drink a liter of crap that was supposed to taste like "berry." Riiiight. I got less than half in me and now I was dizzy AND sick in my stomach. Fun.

Then, this past Monday, I was at Johns Hopkins for my pre-operative tests. My pulse, temp, and pressure were all good. I even gained two pounds in the past few weeks. The really good news is that my latest CAT scan showed that my blood clot has disappeared! I still have to remain on the blood thinning daily shots because I'll be more at risk for another clot after my next surgery. But, I should be able to stop them in a couple of months. I'll do a dance then. (Just in my room...no one can watch.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Upcoming Friday the 13th...

Are you superstitious? Even if you aren't, there are certain things to avoid on any given Friday the 13th:

-- walking under a ladder
-- letting a black cat cross your path
-- breaking a mirror

You all know the basics. Well...I've been on google all morning and the one thing I can't find to be unlucky is shooting radioactive material into your bloodstream. So, I'm going to do that this Friday the 13th at Georgetown Hospital.

Stay tuned for PET scan results...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cut it out...

I had a couple of firsts (in a while) today. I got a regular haircut. My only haircuts in the past six months have been me shaving my head because most of the hair had fallen out anyway. This was a lot nicer...they shampoo'd me and everything. I think it looks okay...its still pretty thin, but that'll take a little while for all of it to grow back. Lucky me...I'll have chemotherapy in a couple of months and be back to shaving my head again.

I also went to the gym and lifted weights. VERY LIGHT WEIGHTS (so relax people...you know who you are.) By the time I'm able to get back in a groove at the gym, it'll be 1 July and I'll be under the knife again. Ugh...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

CAT scan/ next surgery

Earlier this week, I had a CAT scan before my follow-up visit with my surgeon. Its been five weeks since the surgery and the good part of my liver has gotten bigger. That allows us to have my next surgery to remove the bad part of my liver. Surgery date has been set for 1 July. No new tumors showed on the CAT scan, either, so that's also good news.

Sadly, this will be the first time in about 12 years that I will not be down on DC's National Mall for the 4th of July fireworks. :-( I *might* be able to leave the hospital on 4 July, but it'll be close. The plan is: 1 July - surgery; 2 July - ice chips; 3 July - liquid diet; and 4 July - regular food and go home.

I guess if over 100,000 guys could fight a battle in the 90 degree Pennsylvania humidity on 1-3 July back in 1863, I can do this.

In theory, this surgery could remove the remainder of my visible tumors. After I heal, I will go back on chemotherapy for three months to hopefully kill any and all cancer cells that have yet to form tumors. If everything goes perfectly, I could be cancer free by December. I'm not celebrating yet, but there is hope...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In the round...

99 hypodermic needles of blood thinner on the wall
99 hypodermic needles of blood thinner
You take one down; shoot it into your belly
98 hypodermic needles of blood thinner on the wall

I now have 99 days of blood thinner remaining in my program of six months to remove the blood clot in my lung. I hate doing it each day, but there's no other choice, so...oh well. It's getting harder in the past few weeks because the months of shots have now developed hard lumps of black and blue in my abdomen. The hard part is finding a soft spot somewhere.

I'll be glad when this is all over...looks like right around Labor Day. Let's see...this is Memorial Day weekend. So, I guess I'm allowed to wear white pants for the entire duration of my shots!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Where am I? Who am I?

In the late years of my grandma's life, she lived with dimentia. She had almost no short-term memory, it seemed. One thing she loved was watching the Philadelphia 76ers play basketball. She couldn't get enough Charles Barkley. So, we video taped some games and she could watch them all year 'round. It was always a new game to her. She was happy, so it wasn't mean or anything.

Recently, I've had one of those moments. Back in January, I blogged that I was doing okay on chemotherapy and I made it out of the house to go to the movies. This week, that movie (National Treasure 2) was released on DVD. I watched the trailer on tv and I have NO memory of any of it. I read the back of the DVD box and it says that the plot has to do with the president being kidnapped. What??? There's a president in it?!? I'm so confused. Its actually kinda scary that I have no recollection. I guess that is what they mean by the term, "chemo brain."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weight...don't go! Come back!

Having Crohns Disease and now Colon Cancer has definitely not allowed me to gain weight like a normal human being.

Things started out pretty good...I was a sophomore in high school playing football at 132 lbs (I was 5'4" or 5'5" at that time). I was pretty strong, too. Pound for pound I was the 2nd strongest on the team. Of course, a 215 lbs fullback didn't need too much strength to knock me into tomorrow on a sweep play where I was the cornerback.

During my junior year, I contracted Crohns and dropped to 96 lbs. Football was pretty much over, but the tennis coach convinced me to pick up a racket for the first time ever at the tryout. (I made the team and during the course of the season moved from #20 on the team to #12. I'm a quick learner.) :-)

The doctors put me on steroids to gain weight. That was lovely...I had this phobia about swallowing pills, so I had to crush the steroids in chocolate ice cream. Talk about gag-reflex! But, the steroids worked...somewhat. I graduated high school and started college around 110 lbs. Throughout college I weighed somewhere around 115-120 lbs. I looked like I was a sickly 12 yr old. That's just what the college girls wanted. (Did I mention I only had two dates in college?)

From the time I was 22 until I was 32 I weighed a constant 122-125 lbs. (Need I say that I didn't date a lot then, either?) Then when I was 33, the doctors found "weird cell formations" in my colon. These weird cells could cause cancer, so I had a few inches of my colon removed. The operation caused my Crohns Disease to flare up and I started losing weight again.

Over the next 6 weeks or so, I tried a different medication every week. Nothing worked. Finally, when I had dropped to 108 lbs, we found a miracle drug called Remicade. Remicade is administered via IV infusion. I got better THAT week. Not to be gross...but I went from 12 or so bowel movements a day to one every other day. I was finally able to put on weight.

During the next year, I bulked up to 140+ lbs. My one softball coach told me that some players were asking if I was on human growth hormones. (This came after I hit the fence on a few of my softball hits.) Nope! Just a well-working colon for the first time in 15 years!

Over the next couple of years, I reached a max of 148 lbs. Unfortunately over those years I had two hernia surgeries that caused me to drop weight each time. I could not seem to win!

This past winter, I reached that peak of 148 lbs again, but then the cancer was diagnosed and chemotherapy came. Ugh! I dropped to 128 lbs in seven weeks. Can a guy catch a break???

My chemo nurse, Marion, is a life-saver. She convinced me to try Ensure milk shakes (350 calories in an 8-ounce bottle.) For four weeks leading up to my most-recent surgery, I supplemented my diet with two of those a day. I also lifted weights like crazy. I gained 10 lbs in a month and went into surgery at 138. Three days after surgery I was at 126 lbs. (All together now...UGH!!!)

Anyhoo...today I was at the hospital and got weighed. Its been four weeks since surgery and I have not been allowed to lift weights during my recovery, so I wasn't looking forward to the scale. Drum roll please...136 lbs! Not great, but a good start!

Now if I could just quit having surgeries, I might be able to look normal. Oh...will you look at that...I have a dying, tumor-filled lobe of my liver that needs to be removed in the near future. Isn't that special? :-)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lights, camera, action...

As I mentioned in a previous post, I participated in another 48 Hour Film Project last weekend. (see more about the film project at 48hourfilm.com ) Our film screened at the Silver Spring AFI Theater on Friday night and I think it went over fairly well. So, we have a shot at making the 20 "best of" to be screened later this month. (Our film made the cut last year.)

After our screening on Friday, I was walking back from the restroom and I was stopped not once, but twice by a lady and a girl who both wanted to tell me that they thought I was "creepy" in my role. Gotta love that, I guess... I only had three lines...how creepy could I have been? Maybe I'm creepy just normally! :-) See for yourself, as the film can be viewed online at:

http://www.tohubohuproductions.com/all_roads.html

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Touching story...

I emailed this out to a few of you. But so everyone can see it I'm posting it here:

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/08125/878966-85.stm

This kid is18 yrs old and 5'5", 93 lbs. When I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in high school, I was 5'6" and dropped to 96 lbs.

I don't have it so bad...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Two weeks since surgery...

Well, its been two weeks and I'm healing. The incision is not nearly as gross as it was right after surgery. I can stand up without much pain. Most of my pain came when I had to burb, hiccup, or simply digest food. My abdominal cavity had no idea where things should be, so it raised heck when I did anything! Now, my organs are starting to find their new resting place and it feels better.

Also, I'm slowly becoming able to eat enough to keep me from losing weight. (I can't wait to get the go-ahead to head back to the gym in another month or so. That's the only way I can gain weight.)

I'm trying to get out and do stuff. Last Thursday, I watched my Arlington softball team play. On Friday, I took my mom to a happy hour (only coke for me). On Saturday, I acted in another one of those 48 Hour Film Projects. If anyone has seen "Just Shoot Me," my character was a lot like David Spade. I was hitting on someone's girlfriend in a sleazy way. :-) On sunday, I went to a softball practice (just to watch...settle down people!) But I ended up taking the mound to throw one pitch. It was a strike. I still got it! :-)

I'm also trying to walk at least a mile a day. I'll build that up over time.

My follow-up with the doctor at Johns Hopkins is in two weeks. At that time, we'll decide when to do the next surgery and when I'll be doing some more chemotheropy. So, I don't have any news on that yet.

All for now...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Home after surgery...

I returned home yesterday after about six days in the hospital. The surgery accomplished it main goals: removed the colon tumor; removed the tumors in the better half of the liver; and cut off the blood supply to the bad half of the liver. At a later date, I will have a second surgery to remove the bad half of the liver. In the meantime, I will heal from this surgery and (hopefully) my good half of the liver will regenerate and grow bigger.

I have a scar about 8 inches down the middle of my abdomen, which is still pretty sore. Actually, the incision spot is not what hurts the most...since my organs were moved around, they are still trying to heal and settle into place. That is what hurts. If I'm laying down, its hard to get up. If I'm standing, its hard to sit down. But if I stay in place, its not too bad.

I'm not allowed any heavy lifting for a while and I can't drive for another week. But, I'll heal up quickly and be back walking normally soon!

Thanks for all the people who called and texted in the hospital. I wasn't in the mood to return most of them, but I did appreciate them.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Birthday celebration...



Thanks to everyone who was able to come out and wish me a happy birthday/good luck in surgery on Saturday. I didn't count, but I estimate about 40 people were there. I had a lot of fun and was glad to see everyone.

I didn't expect gifts, but some were really nice. My friend, Kevin, got me a basketball signed by the head coach at Pitt. He also got me a football schedule signed by some of the best players. I didn't know what to say.

A new guy to the Pitt Alumni Club, John, gave me a CD of songs he had made for his fiance who is also battling cancer. Thanks, John...I listened and its great!

My Air Force base softball team chipped in to get me something, too. Last year they went to play in the military softball world series in Florida while I was recovering from a knee injury. They ended up winning the tournament. They all chipped in and got me a world series ring. I cried.

Jen supplied the cake and cupcakes (as well as getting the bar to supply all the food), so I was able to enjoy my "last supper" before two days of fasting.

Thanks to everyone for all the cards, well-wishes, and just for the support in general. I'll carry that with me to surgery tomorrow.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A thank you...

I want to thank "Gina's mom" and "Gina's dad." They have sent me a greeting card of encouragement practically every week since I was diagnosed. The cards always bring a smile to my face and that always helps! Thank you. (Oh, and happy birthday, Gina!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Birthday/Surgery/Pitt

Hey everyone! Come out and wish me a happy birthday/good luck in surgery/rah-rah for Pitt football on Saturday, 19 April from 5pm 'til at least 9pm at "Top Shelf Bar and Lounge" in DC. We have the upstairs reserved for a group.

http://www.shelfdc.com/

My birthday is the 23rd, the surgery is the 22nd, and Pitt is on the NFL network during part of this gathering in their spring (practice) football game. Even if you are not a Pitt fan, come out...I'd love to see you!

If you plan on coming, send me an email or post a message here. (We want to give the bar an idea on number of people.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Surgery date set...

I met with a surgical oncologist at John Hopkins today. According to all the preliminary reports, I'm a candidate for surgery to remove the tumors in my colon and liver. This isn't 100% certain...they need to keep checking things to see if I have other tumors elsewhere in my body. I did another CAT scan today, so that will be another chance to check for other tumors. The surgery will also consist of more searching. If any other tumors are found during surgery, then only the tumor in my colon will be removed. Removing the tumors in the liver is more involved and more risky. So, there is no sense putting me at risk if I'll have to continue chemotherapy anyway.

The date of the surgery is Earth Day...22 April. (Note: back on 17 February, my blog asked you to guess the date of surgery and my friend, Fish, got it exactly right. He wins a $400 check! Not surprisingly, that is the same amount I owe him for Pitt season football tickets.)

I feel good that surgery is a possibility. No one wants to keep cancer in his/her body. But we'll need some luck even with surgery. Keep your good thoughts coming!

After the meetings at the hospital today, Jen and I ventured over to Fort McHenry in Baltimore. That is where Francis Scott Key witnessed the British attack in 1814 and it inspired him to write the national anthem.

It was the end of the day and the park rangers were about to close the fort. I was "volunteered" by the park rangers to help lower the Star Spangled Banner replica (30 feet x 42 feet) and fold it up. It's a really cool view from Fort McHenry. If you get the chance, stop by.

As we left the parking lot, there was a squirrel gathering nuts. I couldn't resist, so I rolled down the window and said, "Bye Mr. Squirrel. Hold down the fort!" :-)

Oh and I get to play in one softball game on 18 April!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Back to playing softball...



Over the weekend, my Pitt alumni softball team had a scrimmage vs. Colorado. Yours truly pitched over half the game. At first I struggled to get the batters out, but after the first inning, I settled in and pitched similar to the way that led us to 14-0 last year. I felt good to be out there playing. I'm not in the shape I was in previous years, but I'll work on that.


After the game, Jen and I were walking with our Pitt shirts on. A lady yelled out of her car window, "go Pitt." We stopped to talk to her and it turned out that she was Sam Young's step mother. (Sam Young was the MVP of the basketball tournament I went to in NYC last month.) For you Pitt insiders...she and his father want him to stay in school and not go pro this year.

Back to softball... Today was supposed to be our first alumni game of the season, but because of the rain, it is postponed. :-(

I hope to find out this week if I'm going to have surgery. If surgery happens, I might not get to play softball at all this year. Tonight might have been my only chance at a real game. Double :-( :-(

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Happy birthday!

...to my Aunt Jeanne.

Side note: I was stunned to find out during the Big East basketball Tournament that she watched all the Pitt games and rooted for Pitt!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm having surgery tomorrow...

April Fools! :-)

Actually, tomorrow I'm having a PET scan (positron emission tomography). It's a type of nuclear medicine imaging. It uses very small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose abnormalities within the body. I'll then have a map of my body sort of like an MRI.

Johns Hopkins is asking for the PET scan to be conducted so they'll know if I have any tumors outside of the colon and liver. If not, I'll be eligible for surgery on those organs. If so, I'll have to stay on chemotheropy until something changes.

Keep your fingers crossed for no tumors outside of the colon and liver!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Scope It Out 5K Run/Walk is behind us...




Yesterday, my team, "Never FELT Better," had the most participants of any team at the race (76), as the MC announced. I didn't even recognize some of the names of people on my team. It felt good to be so supported in the/my cause. I got choked up sometimes...especially seeing people wearing signs "in memory of". I don't like thinking about that stuff at all.

"Never FELT Better" finished 3rd in the racing part of the day. (They added the times of the best 3 males and 2 females for each team. Congrats to Cory C. (who I don't think I know) for finishing first among our teammates. Another big congrats to Mary Z. for leading the ladies of our group. The top five were rounded out by Jason K, Robert M, and Michael U. (Hey Mike...sorry I didn't see you there, but a big thank you for coming out!) My personal time was over an hour for the 3.1 miles because I walked the entire thing. Also, a big congrats to my uncle, who at 62 ran the race in 28 minutes. Actually, my cousin ran it in that time, but I switched their computer chips by accident, so my uncle looked really fast!

I want to thank everyone for coming out and running or walking and also thank those who donated money to the event. I appreciate each one of you.

The photo is of part of our team who remained after the walkers finished...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Long time, no blog...

Many of you have been calling and emailing to see if I'm okay and ask how things went during my second opinion consultation at Johns Hopkins. Well, sorry for the delay...I had an aunt, two uncles and a mom in town over the past week, so I was having some good visiting time with them.

During my consultation, the doctors seemed upbeat. They agreed with the type of chemotherapy I'm receiving. This week, they are going to take a copy of my latest CAT scan to their review board to see if I'm a candidate for surgery at this point. This brings into question those "floating tumors" again. If they come back to me and say that I'm good to go for surgery, then I won't be sure if they saw those "floating tumors." Afterall, my doctor at Georgetown didn't see those tumors at first, either. The radiologists saw them only after further review.

I get another CAT scan in about five or six weeks. That should tell us more about what time-frame we are looking at for a surgery.

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good lately. I'm slowly increasing my weights at the gym, I'm throwing up less (always a good thing), and I feel more normal as a whole.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Champions!

You may have watched it or maybe looked up the score the next day, but Pitt beat Georgetown to win the Big East Tournament!

I got teary-eyed sometimes during the trip to NYC. Those times included walking on the streets of Manhattan...and also while they were playing the national anthem and announcing the starting lineups. I was just so happy to be there again for the tournament. It gave me a feeling of being normal. It's probably hard for most of you to understand, but feeling normal is no longer routine. But I was really happy. I owe a great deal of thanks to one of my best friends, Fish. Without him, I probably would not have gone to NYC for the game.

Back to the game...I was nervous the entire time. I guess I assumed Georgetown was better than they were. It was exciting, to say the least. In the end it all worked out in my favor (is that a sign of things to come???) ;-)

After the game, Fish and I stayed to see the trophy ceremonies and the cutting down of the net (a basketball tradition, for those who don't know, where each player and coach climbs a ladder and cuts off a piece of the net). While I was watching, I noticed another friend in the stands. It was a guy from my DC Pitt alumni club, Kevin. He was down lower than me and was shaking hands with some of the players.

When all the players had left the court, I circled around to Kevin. He was in the midst of happily telling his group of friends how one of the players gave him a piece of the net. He saw me and stopped his story. His transition:

"Hey everyone, I'm going to give this piece of the net to my buddy, Shawn, here." (And he told them why.)

I lost it. I couldn't even talk as I could no longer fight back my tears of joy. All I could do was get out a faint, "thank you" and give Kevin a hug. I even hugged his one friend who I didn't know.

I returned to Fish who was in the gift shop and told him the story of what just happened. He could see that I was crying, so he put his arm around me, too.

So many people are doing such great things for me, I can't even begin to thank people.

I'll leave you with one last thing...I won't turn down a hug whenever you see me. They really help me get through this. :'-)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Heading to NYC!

Pitt won!!! They are in the championship game of the Big East Tournament for the 7th time in 8 years, now. In the morning (its now Friday night), I'm driving to NYC with my friend, Fish. We have a hotel two blocks from Madison Square Garden for Saturday night, but we still need to find a scalper for tickets.

Go Pitt...Beat Georgetown!!!

The first time in 7 years

For the first time in seven years, I am not in New York City for the Big East Basketball Tournament. I have gone every year and scalped tickets for every game that Pittsburgh has played. They have 12 wins and five losses in those 17 games over the years. Out of the seven years, they have been to the final championship game in six of those years.

The reason I didn't go this year is because I was scheduled to have chemotherapy this past Wednesday (the first day of the tournament). Well, my blood counts were too low and I ended up not being able to have chemo (it will be on Monday, now). So, I missed the tournament for basically nothing.

The good news is that my friend from college, Fish, came to visit me. So he and I have watched the Panthers win two games and get to the semi-finals tonight. I am really happy he is here with me...it makes it easier to take.

Everyone cheer for Pitt tonight against Marquette!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Past two days...

For the past two days, I have gone to work. I cannot work a full day because of the fatigue, but it just feels so good to get up in the morning and have *something* to do. Yesterday, I did 4 hours and as soon as I got home, I was out like a light for a two-hour nap. Today, I want to go to the gym after work, so I am going to push myself to not nap. We'll see what happens...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Repost - Colon Cancer 5K Run/walk

Hey everyone! If anyone is procrastinating in supporting me during a 5K run/walk in the end of March, here is another chance to get on the stick. :-) The "race" partially benefits the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center (where I go for treatments). Below is all the info you need.

We're forming a team to run/walk in the 'Fourth Annual Scope It Out 5K' race in Washington, D.C., and would like to invite you to run or walk with us (Team Name: "Never FELT Better"). You can also volunteer and donate to support the fight against colon cancer. To register to run or walk with our team, follow this link: http://www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?CHECKSSO=1&EVENT_ID=1489810&RESET=0

Make sure to indicate when you register that you are participating with team "Never FELT Better". Registration is only $20 before February 1st! Race Details: The race will be held at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 30, 2008, in West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To date, Scope It Out 5K has raised over $185,000 to further colorectal cancer research and awareness. Proceeds will go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Colon Cancer Alliance, and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital (where Shawn is currently getting treated). Official race website: http://www.scopeitout5k.com/ScopeItOut.asp?page=Details.html&hgt=740

There are other ways to support this effort besides running or walking the race: 1) Volunteer during race day, and do things like register participants and hand out water. Volunteer information can be found on the race website. 2) Donate to help the cause. Donations can be made in support of "Never FELT Better" at

http://www.active.com/donate/scopeitout/neverfeltbetter (Thank you!!)

We would like to keep track of who is participating in the race or volunteering. Please email your information and any questions you may have to Anne Dilger at annied26.2@gmail.com or Carrie O'Brien at carrieob@verizon.net. Hope to see you at the race! Remember - feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested in supporting Shawn!

Change in 2nd opinion...

We have decided to go to Johns Hopkins University for my second opinion. Johns Hopkins has been rated in the top three the past 20 years or so in cancer care. Can't beat that. Plus, its only in Baltimore...which is really close compared to Chicago or Philly. I can drive it each time I would need to go.

My consultation visit is scheduled for 21 March. Stay tuned as I may need rides to and from Baltimore, if you want to help out.

In the meantime, I have to collect all my medical records and I'm also continuing my chemotherapy at Georgetown. Its not like I don't like the care at G-town...I just want to know what else is out there. Maybe Johns Hopkins has treated people just like me. You never know...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Basketball this time...

Okay, who was it this time? I received an autographed photo and media guide from the Pitt baskeball head coach. Which one of you guys had a hand in that? Thank you! :-)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is leap day and that happens to be my uncle Paul's birthday. So, I guess he is technically only turning about 18 today. He can now vote! :-)

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sorry for the delay...

its been a week, so I didn't want to leave you hanging any more. I received some news that wasn't so great. Along with my shrinkage, there are also some other small tumors they discovered. These tumors are basically floating in the abdominal cavity near my colon. But, because they are not attached to anything, they can't be cut out of me with an operation.

Not good news.

So, I'm going for a 2nd opinion at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in either Philly or Chicago. They do a 3-5 day examination on me and we'll go from there.

I'll have more later...but now I just need your thoughts and prayers. Thanks! :'-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

WE HAVE SHRINKAGE!!!!

The doc just said on the phone, "everything seems to be shrinking." He'll have the %'s once the radiologists look at it more in the next few days.

:'-)

Who said I wasn't thin enough???

I got partial results from my CAT scan yesterday. Still no results about the tumors, but I have an addition to the mix...a blood clot in my lung. Again...lovely. So, now I have to be on blood thinners. Can't we get me something to "thicken" me up?

I have to give myself a shot in the stomach each day for the next several months (up to six months, they say). And if any of you know about me and needles, I'm not looking forward to it. I did the first one today by myself...and I got through it. They (again with the "they") say it will get easier and I'll "become a pro" at it. If I was going to turn pro in something, why couldn't it be something that woudl make me rich?

Rebecca -- You are now my support group for this!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In stark contrast...

Whenever one has a CT (CAT) scan performed, the medical technicians need to use "contrast."

Medical note: Contrasts are pharmaceutical agents (liquids) and are sometimes referred to as "dye". Contrast is used to make specific organs, blood vessels and/or tissue types "stand out" with more image contrast to better show the presence of disease or injury.

How many ways can one administer a contrast into the human body? Well, the first way is to have me drink this crap. Today's crap was a chalky milkshake that can only be described as "liquidy thick." Not good when it tastes horrible. I gagged about 75% of that down.

After putting on my nifty hospital gown, I was able to have the nurse stick me for my IV contrast. This is the one usually referred to as "dye." When this dye is shot into you, you feel warm all over...you get a warm chest like you just drank a shot of brandy...and you get a warm pelvis like you just pee'd your pants (which you aren't wearing.)

I thought I was done. Nope. They needed to see the lower end of me. So, a huge IV-like bag of milky stuff was hung. The tube dangled down. Then the other end was inserted in my other end. Lovely. They had exhausted the ways of injecting contrast into a person. I win!

Stayed tuned for the results of the scans...