As the title says this blog is one man’s effort to make sense out of his journey fighting melanoma. I have enjoyed reading some of my fellow melanoma warriors’ blogs and thought it might be an interesting way to share what this journey has been like for me. If you find this interesting great, if not that’s great also. Selfishly this is more about me getting this out and moving on from being a cancer patient to being a cancer survivor.

Let’s clear up a few things. Yes, I know how to use spell check and no I don’t always use it. I majored in accounting, not english. I have always been a below average writer, which is why I find the therapeutic value of doing this surprising. I think for this blog to make any sense you pretty much have to go to the archive and start from the beginning which is titled “Life Is Good”

I am not a doctor or medial professional of any type. My blog is not endorsed by any medical professional or facility mentioned in it. Every decision I have made about my care was done after careful consultation with my medical team. Decisions I have made were right for me but should not in any instance be considered right for anybody else. I don't recommend taking medical advice from an accountant.


Key West

Key West
Sunset

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Catching Up

I recently finished reading Lance Armstrong’s book titled It’s Not About the Bike.  It was an amazing read by an amazing man telling an amazing story.  If you want a glimpse of what it is like to go through this battle I highly recommend reading this book.  I think people see what this disease does to us physically but that’s only a part of the battle.  I have always been a Lance Armstrong fan only knowing part of his story.  I knew he had cancer and won ton of races in France but really didn’t know the details of his story.  I don’t know how many times I read something and thought to myself that I felt the same way or had the same thought.   I passed it on to another warrior who I think already has plans to pass it on to another. We are not helping Lance’s book sales numbers but we are sharing his story.  Lance has been in the media again lately over allegations of performance enhancing drugs use.  Depending on the day I feel differently about this.  I have a ton of respect for what Lance has done with his fame and fortune.  He just as easily could have taken his money and new found fame and done many different things.  He started the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Livestong which has done amazing work supporting people affected by cancer.  After over 500 different drug test he has never tested positive for anything.  The latest reports are that he failed two different tests and somehow was able to cover it up or buy his way out.  I have a hard time believing this.  For an anti doping agency there is no bigger fish to catch than Lance Armstrong and I find it hard to believe any agency would let him off the hook.  Livestrong is now a worldwide movement and offers support to the 28 million people who have survived a bout with this disease.  Cancer made Lance put all his chips in the middle.  His career, his fortune, and his life were all in play.  After treatment one of his doctors confessed to him that his chances of survival were about 3%.   The chemo he endured was horrific and I find it hard to believe that he would go and put a bunch of chemicals in his body after that experience.  I also am not naive.   This guy is knocking off Tour De France titles one after another during an era when riders are failing drug test right and left.  It certainly looks questionable.  Lance gets the benefit of the doubt from me however. Reading his book reminded me how much better I have it than others.  His chemo was brutal compared to what I went through.   



Earlier this year my nephew Jeremy was asked to sing the national anthem at Kansas Speedway before the NASCAR truck series race.  This is the second year he has been asked to do this and this year he asked me if I wanted to join him on the day he sang and also the following day for the sprint cup race.  At the time I was still taking Interferon and I told him yes but was sure that I wouldn’t be able to go.  Since I am no longer taking interferon I was able to go both days.   I think most
people who read  my blog are also Facebook friends and I have posted a bunch of pictures from the weekend.  It was a blast but if ever if there was a crowd that needed some skin cancer prevention education it’s the NASCAR crowd.  Lots of bare red skin everywhere.  Ironically a year ago I would have been one of them.  Not this year, pants, a collared shirt, a hat, and lot and lots of Sunscreen.  We had passes that allowed us to go just about anywhere except drive on the track.  We saw a ton of drivers and owners up close and even had a brush with the king himself as well as Roger Penske. Jeremy got to meet Jeff Gordon who he is a huge fan of which was one of the highlights for me.  Being in the pits during the race, being in the garage before and after the race, and having full access to the media center was great.  We ate and drank for free and could retreat to the air-conditioned media center anytime we needed to cool off.    Jeremy knocked out the national anthem as I knew he would, all while rockin the Livestrong band in support of among others me which was by far the coolest part of the weekend for me. I posted a link to the video of him singing below.   He is a great kid and extremely talented.  Luckily he gets his musical talents from his mom and dad and not his uncle Paul.   I am blessed with wonderful nieces and nephews and their support during my trials this last year has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.   I have said it before but I will say it again I have no idea how people get through this without the support of their friends and family.  I spent my first national cancer survivor’s day as a cancer survivor hanging out in the pits with Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr., I got to see Richard Petty and Roger Penske, and watched most of the race from pit road.  Take that cancer and I hope you could feel the collective energy of over 28 million cancer survivors all flipping you the bird on the same day.
 

  I physically feel great.  I put 20 miles on the bike yesterday and if the weather clears plan to go and ride some hills today.   I am home for the full week which I think is the first time since early April that I have had a full week at home.  I am really looking forward to being here but will miss my friends on the project, and not having to make my bed.  I was trying to explain to somebody earlier this week how I feel mentally and it’s hard to put into words.  I just feel a little off still.  My memory is getting better and some of the chemo brain symptoms are starting to slowly fade.   I want my old life back but either can’t or won’t go back to it.  I know its all part of the process but that’s where I am at now.  I’m not taking any kind of treatment any longer and the constant Dr appointments and test have come to an end for the most part.  One day you are just another stiff trying to make a living, the next you are a cancer patient and things come at your so fast.  Decisions have to be made and there are a constant flow of Dr appointments and test and procedures.  It’s just a crazy pace.  Well now it has all ended almost as fast as it started and I guess I am “Cured” or at least as close to cured as a melanoma patient can be.   Again it’s hard to put into words, I just feel a little off for some reason.  I am sure my kids and co workers would tell you that I have been a little irritable lately but ironically I feel great both physically and mentally.  I am enjoying feeling good and know how lucky I am.  I have regained my taste for food, beer and good wine so what’s there to complain about.  I will just keep moving forward and figuring it out as I go.  I have an appointment with my surgeon this week so maybe that will make me feel better, ha ha.   I want to ask a favor of everybody who follows my blog or reads my post on Facebook. One of the first blogs I followed is called Pale Skin Is In (http://www.paleskinisin.com) and it is written by a lady named Tina.  She has been struggling lately and just this week moved from the hospital back home with the help of hospice and will continue her battle there, a battle that began in April 2006.  Please include her and her family in your thoughts a prayers this week.    

Paul