Monday, June 15, 2009

I think I am done with this blog . . .

So, the good news is that I am done with writing about my cancer treatment because I am done for good with the disease as it applied to my nut . . .
It is 4 years past diagnosis, so I am almost in the clear according to the docs . . .

A little Multimedia progression:

1.  I got done with Chemo and lost a bunch of hair 
and was anemic . . .
2.  Started working out a lot more

3.  Lost a bunch of weight after gaining it back after chemo (this was good)

4.  Did the Triple Bypass (3 mountain passes and 
120 miles of biking in a day)  you can see me right after finishing with Sarah and both of us wearing blue shirts.

5.  Did a 1/2 Ironman as my First Triathlon!  ha!  Take that Chemo!

6.  Finished the 1/2 Ironman in a respectable time and didn't walk at all on the run!  
You can see my slow running after swimming 1.2 miles in the lake and riding my bike 56 miles.  I believe I was about 1/2 way done with the run on 
this video shot.
You may ask-- what next?
Well, lots more!  Life goes on and I had some ups and downs like lots of other folks.   broke my collarbone, had more surgery, changed jobs, watched my kids grow, competed in a bunch more triathlons, and and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!  Life is something that should be appreciated for all of its interesting turns.

This year, I will be doing many more triathlons, and I am finding that I enjoy the preparation as much as the events.  My newest physical challenge is going to be on my 40th birthday  -- goodness the years do fly by . . .  I thought I was still somewhere in my early twenties!
I am excited to be in good enough physical health to be attempting a 40 mile contiguous run on my birthday.   Wish me luck!

New nerdy blog can be found at



Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chemo is Over! (By Sarah - Rick's wife)

Hi Everyone! I wanted to give you a quick update until Rick has the energy (& time) to complete his chronicling of the journey.

As of Tuesday August 23rd Rick has officially finished him chemo treatments. This second round of treatment was definitely much tougher on all of us. Rick was definitely sick and worn down by it all. His white blood cell count got extremely low and he has to take a shot called Neulastra that cost $6K! Youch! The shot was to increase his count. It definitely helped his immune system but was very painful for him as it made his bones ache causing terrible muscle spasms. He needed to take some painkillers and muscle relaxers (valium) to ease the pain. This was tough for all of us, watching him in pain. Hannah has taken it particularly hard not really knowing what was going on.

The day Rick finished treatment I traveled to NH with Hannah and Jack. I felt terrible leaving him but really wanted to be at the wedding of my good friend Wendy. On the plane ride east I had time to reflect on our experience this summer. I found myself thinking about how bad it sucked having to face my husband's mortality. I can't even type about it without tears running down my face. It's still all so terribly surreal. I must say I'm still scared for the coming months/years of follow-up tests. I've kept so much bottled up this summer trying to keep things going distracting us with various activities that until the plane flight I hadn't really allowed myself to sit and think about it. But as I sat with my daughter sleeping to my left and my son sleeping on my lap I just let the tears stream down my face finally allowing myself to succomb to all the emotions I was feeling, sadness of what Rick had to go through, stress of dealing with it all; the illness, taking care of the kids, house, etc.; fear of the future unknown. I know we never know what could happen regardless of cancer but man does this make you ponder the reality of it all. I can't imagine my life without Rick.

He is slowly feeling better as the toxins leave his body. He is pretty anemic right now which only time can help but I was encouraged to hear he went on a short bike ride today. We fly back to CO tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how he has changed in a few short days.

He will definitely update you all on his progress soon and recount his last few weeks.

Again, thank you to everyone who helped us make it through this. Everyone's kind words, thoughts and gestures have been more encouraging than you'll ever know. It definitely helped keep Rick's spirits up and helped me keep it together.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Letter from Nancy -- cancer survivor

I found it encouraging that someone who had a tough go of it was giving me so much encouragement. Nancy-- You are a trooper and I have it easy comparatively, so congratulations on fighting such a good fight and making life as a survivor so fulfilling! You are an inspiration and I hope to keep my positive attitude like you as I go through this journey!
The letter:

Hi Rick,

I was so sorry to hear from your mom earlier in the summer that you had to face the ordeal of cancer. As a survivor, I know how devastating that initial diagnosis is and how difficult the curative process is. But with a perspective from “life after,” I can tell you with confidence that all you are going through is worth it, and you will be so glad that attacked the disease aggressively when you return to health. I know you realize that intellectually, but emotionally, the surgery/chemo journey is pretty debilitating while you are going through it.

One thing that was so hard for me was that when I was diagnosed w/colon cancer, I felt fine. Then the surgery, radiation, and chemo made me feel awful, sort of forcing me to realize that I had a serious illness. Also, it was so hard for me to accept that I did not have control of my life and that there were no guarantees. It really rocks that feeling of security. That, along with the roller coaster days of feeling good and bad made it a tough time.

I wish I could offer some magic advice that would help you through your treatments. I guess we all just do the best we can each day, and that is good enough. I hope you will let others help you – in addition to making some things easier for you, it lets those who love and care about you do something - they want to be helpful in anyway they can. I know I would never have made it emotionally if not for people at school like your mom helping me out when I couldn’t perform at my usual level. Needless to say, my family was my rock – they kept me going. I was told that my “job” was to get well – how true. Also, allow yourself to have some bad days – you are allowed to be grouchy, picky, lethargic, to feel sorry for yourself, etc. Those are all healthy, appropriate emotions. I found that many nights I couldn’t sleep, so I ditched my opinion that sleeping pills were a sign of weakness and used them when needed.

This is probably the toughest task of your life, and it sounds as if you facing the challenge with courage. That is why your parents have always been so proud of you; not because of what you have accomplished – tho’ that is considerable, but because of the kind of man you are. I know, too, that you are fortunate to have a wonderful wife like Sarah to help you – these times make you realize what marriage is all about. Getting well is so much easier when you have the home team working with you!

I wish you WELL as soon as possible. This time next year you will find it hard to believe that you felt so terrible this summer. Life will be very sweet. Keep the faith – I will be thinking of you and Sara and the children, and you, especially, will be in my prayers.


August 9th -- Chemo Round II

Mom took me to Chemo again today--- We had a nice dialogue with Mike and Kelly (Mike's wife). Mike and I are on the same schedule, so it is great to have others there to share the experience with. My mom had a great conversation yesterday with a Breast cancer survivor (I am unsure of her name), and it was great to see her positive attitude and hear about her individual story-- We are guessing that this nice lady was in her mid-forties. Her mother had died from breast cancer when she was 48, so it is great to see the great progress we have made in treatments and likewise our ability to find and cure this disease. Her prognosis sounds good, and I am sure she will have many more enjoyable years with her four kids once this treatment is over.
I also got a great letter from a family friend who is a survivor of colon cancer. Again, a great encouragement to those of us going through the disease. Also, it is great to see so much support during this challenging time. I hope everyone else who is going through this can feel the same level of encouragement and support!
On to my daily feelings . . .

Yesterday after returning from my "rest" weeks, I had a bit of nausea and fatigue. This is expected and Mike and I shared this feeling. I feel a bit better today, but definitely have had a bit more of an aversion to food than last week. I had a little bit of egg noodles and some teriyaki beef (extras from Sarah's lunch) and was not totally turned off by either food, but I was fighting off some light nausea while eating, so I was shoving stuff down a little bit. At least I don't have my aversion to cheerios yet!
On the positive sides, Linda (one of the nurses) said that my bald head looks great and gave it a kiss yesterday! Bald is cool!
Diana (one of the schedulers at the center) is a great personality and has given us some great advice for if/when we travel to Hawaii.
Hannah (our 2.5 year old daughter) seems to be a little under the weather today with a mild fever-- hopefully she will be better soon, and feel better. I also hope that any infection she might have will not travel over to me since my immune system is so degraded. Under the advice of the Oncology team at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center I will be having a shot of neulastin (a boost for my white blood cell count) on Saturday. Apparently this one shot costs in the range of $6000-- thank goodness for insurance! What is up with that?? how can one shot be six thousand dollars!!?? I am sure it is a reflection of the litigious nature of our society and all of the costs associated with development of the drug, but who can afford this on their own! Enough ranting, I suppose, but it sure would be nice to have a good solution to rising insurance and healthcare costs!

One Day Closer to Cured!

Monday, August 08, 2005

August 8th -- Chemo Round II

I am about to leave for the beginnings of my second cycle. I feel pretty good today, but am having some digestive issues as a result of the antibiotics I am on. I had to start a cycle of powerful antibiotics because as my white cell counts drropped with the last round of chemotherapy, I developed an infection around the entry point to my Hickman catheter. My chest had a little redness in the area of the incision, and my lymph nodes under my arm and in my neck became a little inflamed. So, prior to having a fever and a visit to the emergency room, I got the drugs and have been fine since then. It has been quite slow to eliminate the infection (compared to my normal ability to fight infection), but it does seem to be progressing in the right direction. I will say that these antibiotics (cephlaxin) are amazingly stinky. I feel like I am eating a fart pill every time I have one . . .
Anyway, it is time to go, and i will write more when I am back at home later today.

One Day Closer to Cured!!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

August 6th -- Weekend Rest

It has been a nice week. I worked a few days and have been the recipient of more generosity. Sarah's mother was in town to help last week and my mother came into town to do her part on friday. It has been a miraculous tag team effort to make our house normal in this flurry of strange happenings. My friend Nate is also coming out next thursday, and this will be great since it is at the tail end of my last full week of heavy Chemo. To top it off, this is also Nate's 35th birthday. I am honored that he has chosen to spend it with me in leiu of something fun and exciting. I expect our level of activity will include some movie watching and me sleeping a bit, so I am not really sure what to say except "thanks!"
I am not planning to work much in the following week and I am a little stressed out about how to take care of some outstanding issues I have. I have written a few mails and can do some things remotely, so I suppose all is fine. I am a little worried about the cumulative effects of chemotherapy on my energy level and immune system though. I just need to make sure that I keep in touch with everyone and make sure that no balls are dropped . . .
Otherwise, I am looking forward to meeting up with my pals in chemo and hope that everyone has been feeling well since I saw them on Tuesday. I believe my mother will be taking me to Chemo this week and this will be nice for her to see what I am going through and share some time together during what is normally non-interactive with folks who are not patients themselves. During the times when it is just us cancer patients in the room, I am hoping that maybe Mike and I can take in a movie or two.
I am looking forward to a big party to celebrate the end to my cancer. I am hoping that many of the people and acquaintances that I have made through this experience will be able to join me for the same reason!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

August 2nd -- Bleo Day, Week three

All was pretty uneventful today--- I chatted with the doctor and found that my blood counts (white and red) are expectedly down as a result of treatment. I suppose the only interesting thing about this is that I have a skin infection and have had some steroid induced acne in several places. Sarah picked up my antibiotics at the pharmacy today and I should be back to normal in a few days. Also, since I have shaved my hair, some hair has fallen out of places other than my head-- i found out that this is normal, but found it quite surprising when it happened. Everyone is different and may see different results from treatment, but I will say I was surpised at the location on me (use your imagination). I suppose that this is further evidence that Chemotherapy is downright strange!

The treatment itself went fine-- there was a bit of difficulty flushing my catheter lines, but all was fine after a fluch of saline, followed by heparin and another try. Bleomycin is pretty simple and fast treatment and for some reason today, no nausea, so I am happy about this! My great friend Brett stopped by again today to hang out and chat-- This is such a nice thing to have, and I really appreciate this interaction. I also chatted with Mike (who is looking great, FYI), and Norm (also seems to be doing well with his response to treatments!) All of us young guys that chat in the treatment room are keeping a pretty positive attitude recently and we even ventured into political discussion today. I was pretty excited in my discussions of my new iPod, and showed off some ot the apparently 6000 pictures I already have on the thing.

After treatment, I went home and Brett and I had some Excellent Philly steak sandwiches from Deli Zone. Yum! I was a little tired at this point and rested for much of the afternoon. I plan to go to work tomorrow and am looking forward to the stimulus. Rest is good, but feeling productive is better!

I need to sleep tonight, so hopefully this will go well.
Off I go to take a sleeping pill!
One day closer to Cured!

Monday, August 01, 2005

July 30th -- More sleep needed (donations accepted!)

It happened again!! I was really tired but found it impossible to fall asleep again-- to make things worse, I was getting up this AM to go on a bike ride with a neighbor, so I got about 2 hours of sleep again. Later today when i tried to take a nap, that didn't work either. hopefully I will sleep a little better tonight! when I am this sleep deprived, i feel like i am falling apart a little. My throat is sore, and I feel a lymph node getting a little inflamed . . .
Hannah and Jack have had sniffles for a few days, so maybe I am getting something from that germ factory we call our house . . . On a positive note, I did have a nice bike ride and conversation with my neighbor, Jason. we rode to a local coffee place and had a cup o joe, talked about kids, bikes and most other things under the sun-- it was a great aside from the focus on my diseased nut removal incident . . .
If I feel up to it, I want to do this a lot more.
One day closer to cured!

July 29th -- 5 years of bliss!!

Sarah and I have been married for 5 great years, and we are going out sans kids to celebrate tonight. A great friend of Sarah from the gym is going to watch Jack and Hannah tonight, so it will be a great bit of alone time for us.
I did finally sleep last night, but not as well as I would like. Hopefully this insomnia thing is not a lon lasting side-effect of the chemotherapy.

July 28th -- Sleep is optional!!

I had slept really well throughout this whole process . . .
I took a sleeping pill after my puking incident and it appeared to work pretty well, so I decided to take another last night and it had the opposite effect as far as I could tell. I ended up getting about 3 hours of sleep, but i didn't actually shut my eyes until about 5:00 AM. I have never had innsomnia, so this is a new experience for me. I was completely exhausted at a normal time of day (10PM, I believe), but I was completely unable to sleep. I think i am going to bag the idea of sleeping aids before i even start . . .
I am two pills in, but I have no confidence that an additional one at any later date will actually help me in any way.
On another note, I am excited to learn that My mother in-law and mother are planning on travelling here in the next few weeks to help with things. Tomorrow is my 5th anniversary with Sarah, and I am looking forward to going to a great dinner together. The nausea has completely passed and I feel both energetic and digestively stable. other than the sleep, everything appears to be working as of right now. I still have all of my hair. Must get rest!!

One day closer to cured!

July 26th -- Bleomycin day

Today was a surprisingly tiring day! I was feeling pretty good all weekend, and then I went in for today's treatment . . .
It was pretty low key actually. i didn't have to show up at the cancer center until 9:00 AM. I had some blood drawn for blood count statistics, etc. and then met with Monica, the nurse practitioner. I told her how I had been feeling (mostly tired and constipated) and she gave me some good advice on exercise and herbal remedies. FYI, "Smooth Move" tea works well apparently and is available at Whole Foods and other such stores.
After the nurse meeting, we determined that I was looking good after the first week of treatments and that there would be no changes in the schedule in the near future. I proceeded from there into the treatment room, saw my friend Mike and was promptly plugged into my Bleomycin drip for the day. I was super-tired, but managed to have some good conversations with Norm, Mike and some new guy with a lot of enthusiasm for fishing, crawdads, and conversation. I somehow never got his name to sink in, but he made an impression on everyone in his efforts to be generous to all. Mike had good news today in that his tumor markers are in half yet again-- this is a sure sign of marching towards a solid recovery! I am keeping my fingers crossed for him and his lovely famimly in hopes that things continue to go so well!
For me, my fatigue level continued to stay pretty high throughout the day, but I did get to hang out with my great friend Brett, who came by the center to spend time with me. after the uneventful treatment was over, we grabbed a coffee and he took me home. This was great since it saved Sarah a trip back to the center to pick me up after a busy day with playdates and other kiddie stuff.
Later in the afternoon, I started to have some discomfort. I decided that going with Sarah to get some coffee might be fun, so we took Hannah and Jack over to a local coffee shop and I had a chai latte. Mistake!! I started to feel pretty nauseated right away, but chalked it up to the earlier treatment. Sarah later went to a class at the Gym with Hannah in tow, and I stayed at home with Jack. Of course, Jack was a little grumpy for a while with his food supply out of the house, but after I got that under control, I started to feel bad again . . . followed by really bad, followed by the innaugural puking episode of my chemotherapy!!
So, that happened a few times, exhausted me, and I slept well that night!
One day closer to cured!