Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just noticed... I'm out of Cadbury TimeOuts...

Day two felt productive so I can't complain. Thankfully thanks to Brea's side of the family we have some fantastic contacts and crashpads. Since we had an early appointment today, cousins Chris & Courtney let us stay with them at a place that you can literally see the hospital complex from in the distance. Cancer I can take, just don't throw me to Houston traffic too!
Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration but it was awesome to have that advantage in getting in on time without waking up at 5am again.

Whereas yesterday was a bunch of small stuff (blood pressure, temperature, height, weight, and blood work) and waiting, today I got into some of the cool tests. I got my first ever CT scan and then a chest x-ray! It was actually really quick as best I could tell. I didn't even have to get into a gown and risk accidentally seducing any nurses with my chiseled abs and stunning features (Zoolander reference).

The attendants were really nice and friendly and I wound up chatting with one lady for a while that is a survivor and former designer. I'm guessing they were monitoring me for any potential ill effects from the IV tracer or something but we still had a good conversation about networking and business and all that good stuff. Good times.
I still need an MRI and ultrasound and at least the ultrasound is scheduled for tomorrow. The MRI was initially set for next Thursday which wouldn't exactly be ideal so they're looking into bumping it up if at all possible.

Anyhow, that aside, it's been an interesting couple days. I was talking to Brea over some Whataburger a few hours ago and she was checking up on my seeming lack of concern over all this. I told her like I'd mentioned to Roger (rock'n dude) that frankly all this business dealing with mortality was actually (arguably strangely) energizing. That's not to say I'd prefer not to have to lose anything but frankly I feel like this is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself and those are opportunities you don't want to miss. You might ask, "How in the world is having cancer a good thing?", and that's a great question.
It helps bring it all into perspective for one. It also helps highlight how little control we actually have in the grand scheme of things. Probably not too surprising is the increase in prayer and all that too. Basic important stuff like "I'm relying on You, please give me the strength " is a common one these days, not that it wasn't there before with me quitting a steady paycheck for my business start-up.

Also, I've tried to go over all the possible scenarios I could think of to prepare for. From a minor diagnosis and surgery to something terminal, I've tried to consider it all and yet still realize it is out of my control and be ok with that. There's no point in candy-coating anything for myself. Perhaps the toughest thing right now is not knowing a whole lot about this cancer for sure. My mind has already traveled the darker possibilities and as such tons of very big dramatic stuff comes to mind but in the event it is a pretty easily treated thing, I don't want be an over-reactor. Still, it is worth mentioning that worst-case scenarios are a lot less scary when you know what's coming after.

So how is it going? It's good. There are challenges but I'm focusing on what I can do. The objective is to take it one day, one task at a time. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
The Australians have it right with that "no worries" thing. :)
And that reminds me of something else... and that's going to be this blog's title. Nice.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And so it begins...

Some titles we considered for this blog were:
Giving Cancer the Finger
C is for Cookie, I don't care what they say
172 + C

So here is the back story.

We noticed a weird bump on Eric's left middle finger many months ago. It took some prodding but he finally went to the doctor and was told it was just a ganglion cyst and that it should go away on it's own. Over the past 6 months or so we noticed that it was growing in size and eventually began to have minor discomfort which is not consistent with a cyst. After lots of harassment he finally listened to his wife and went to a hand specialist, that was on Tuesday Sept 7th. He was told that it was not a cyst but actually a tumor and that he should have it removed. So on Friday Sept 10th he went in to have "a professional stab him" as he likes to say. The tumor was sent in for testing, which I believe is pretty much always the case when some kind of growth is removed from your body. We weren't worried at all. The doctor was going to give him the biopsy results when he returned for his stitches to be removed on Tues Sept 21st. To our complete surprise she actually called on Thurs Sept 16th and said that the initial tests had revealed that the tumor was malignant and that he has a rare form of cancer called synovial sarcoma. (He told me this on instant messenger...Men don't do that to your wife if you find out you have cancer!) And then he sent me this link that tells a bit about it:

At this point, I was freaking out and Eric was totally chill. I'm sure that is totally a surprise to all who know us...NOT. He said that the full test results had not come back from the Mayo clinic yet but that they should be in by the time he was to get his stitches out and that they were going to refer him to MD Anderson. So while we were alarmed we didn't have too much to go on and at least in my mind the results were not 100% official. So Tues the 21st rolls around and he goes in to get his stitches out and find out more. This time he called with the news, he very calmly said "I figure going down to 9 digits ain't too bad". My mind raced trying to figure out what digits he was referring to and then I realized he was referring to having a finger cut off!!! So that is really when my imagination turned on and the fear, worry, and such kicked him. Eric remained totally chill. The hand doctor didn't have the full results back still but after researching it some more herself she thought there was a fairly good chance he would at least need to have his finger removed. I told him that I didn't want to hear anymore of what the hand specialist had to say I was ready to hear treatment options from a cancer doctor, I mean at this point we didn't even have the official results back from the Mayo clinic. On Wed, Sept 22nd, MD Anderson called and said that he would need to make plans to come to Houston for 5 business days for testing and that they would call back within 48 hours to tell us exactly when that would be. So it got a lot more real at that point. Now we needed to rearrange our lives to leave town for a week, so that involved telling people what was going on. Eric also revealed that when they tested the edges of the growth for cancer cells that they discovered there were still abnormal cells on the edges, not cool!! So at this point we started to tell family and friends what was going on. That was hard, repeating the details that I did have and trying to not let my imagination take me to the wrong place for all the details I don't have was difficult every time. Thursday I started to make arrangements at work so that I could be with Eric and we just waited for MD Anderson to call back. Thankfully they called early Friday morning to tell us to be there on Wed Sept 29th at 12:15 p.m.

Thankfully Eric has remained courageous and calm with every little step. I did not start on that path but have now found my feet firmly planted there. I'm confident that is an answer to the many prayers that have been lifted up for us. While processing through what has happened thus far we are so thankful that God is in control and that He has made that obvious to us in so many ways. We know that God has carefully placed us exactly where we are and by whom we are surrounded.

My loving Aunt Loretta who is very familiar with MD Anderson went with us to our appointment today. She was such a blessing to have with us for all the waiting and to help us know where to go and what questions to ask.

We have brave friends that are battling cancer, The Mommaerts, that are such a source of encouragement and support. It's amazing to me that God has provided us friends with whom we are close relationally and geographically that are in the same life stage that also share a common struggle. Roger and Holly are brave, loving, open and honest in the face of Roger battling brain cancer for the second time.

We also have wonderful family that live near the medical center so we have a place to stay for multi-day trips such as this one. We have just arrived at my cousins apartment for the evening as I finish typing this up. Thanks Chris and Courtney! And thanks to Stephanie for the nights that are to come and also to Rob. God has provided in this area abundantly :-)

Okay on to the news we got today.

We had expected lots of testing and insight to the reality of the situation we are facing but instead we had LOTS of waiting. Dr. Lewis has ordered a few tests to be done tomorrow and in days to come. Since the cancer that he has is considered aggressive the primary concern is making sure that it has not spread to his lungs. So he will be having a chest CT scan and chest x-ray tomorrow and then an ultrasound of his upper torso that is not scheduled quite yet. Our biggest prayer is that all those are clear. If those are clear then we have a huge praise that this was caught early. Unfortunately regardless of what the tests to come reveal he will need to have his finger removed. This is mainly a safety precaution to prevent the cancer from spreading anywhere else in his body because after examining the growth that was removed it was discovered that the margins were not clear. That basically just means they didn't get all the cancer. If the tests don't come back clear then he would have to first undergo chemo and then have the surgery. But for now we are just focusing on what we know the future holds and praying there is nothing more to discover. So please pray for a clear chest CT, chest x-ray,and bicep ultrasound.

The doctor says that the hand surgery should have a pretty quick recovery time and within about 3 weeks he could even be back to playing the drums again.

So that should bring you up to speed. We are so thankful to be so covered in prayer. Thank you all so much for your text messages of support and encouragement today, it was so great to have them come in throughout the day as little reminders that we are covered in prayer and love.

And now to rest our weary heads....