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 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.


'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.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


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. 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 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