Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Best Pictures Ever!

Today sucked...But today will be the most important post to date.

I woke up with a head cold...not too severe, but considering the circumstances, I wasn't very happy about it. In addition, I had some nausea - those two don't mix well. I was able to take some Advil cold and sinus and some ativan. A few hours later I took a 2 hour nap and woke up with the nausea and head cold symptoms again. Diletta was able to get a hold of Pam (Dr. Hamm's Nurse at the cancer center) and she sent in a prescription for Azythromycin. Great, more drugs.
This all set off a weird feeling for me, which is likely a combination of drugs (or lack thereof), sickness and bad timing. Then to boot, my cousin Erin had been scheming to come up with a unique way to take a picture of herself wearing the "My Cousin Kicks Ass" shirt...and she finally sent me the pictures today. Amazing. Which leads me to the basis for this post.
Erin, Paul and Kathy took some pictures at the Cancer Survivors Park in Ottawa. What a great idea. I know that I will soon be a survivor, but this certainly hit an emotional cord for me.
This one looks like it could be me, Isabella and Diletta!

The 3 pictures above depict the sculpture "Cancer: There is hope" and shows 8 figures at different stages in dealing with cancer. At the beginning are people beginning to deal with it, in the middle is a woman in the midst of moving through the treatment maze and finally, a family of 3 who have survived. Man this hits home.
The next set of pictures cover two other sections of the park. The "positive mental attitude walk" and the "Road to Recovery".
The statements here mean A LOT - I cannot express to those reading that have not dealt with cancer how much these mean. I have heard them many times and DO realize that they are essential to mental and physical health.
I can't get my head around this one. When will that be? if ever? If I get told that I am in remission at the end of CHOP-R, I will still be going through maintenance Rituximab - so is it after that? Or, at the 5-year remission mark, which seems to be so important to so many people.
I am constantly working on this and it helps! I think the overall concept regarding cancer should be to leave the place better than how you found it. In terms of your own goals to accomplish, take your time and ensure that what you are doing will make you happy in the end. You don't have to put up with the bull shit.

I have done this very well. I don't think everyone agrees with it...but I have certainly put myself out there. As a result, I have a physician helping me in BC, a friend helping me find my slides, a contact at Rituximab, constant emails and messages providing support. Putting yourself out there is hard but rewarding.

...and a 3rd if you can. A doctor should not make you feel guilty about getting a second opinion. I did not run into this.


This sounds like a no brainer - but you have to overcome some mental barriers to push yourself to keep seeking information, from the right place, to get the right answers. Then you have to question them. Sometimes twice. I've met people that don't even know what they have and they have been getting treatment for months.

Although these two can go hand in hand - but they should be separate. Having a positive attitude is paramount to everything. Treating your cancer promptly, properly and thoroughly is obviously important.
This speaks to having a positive attitude - you truly have to believe that you will survive.
I learn about new stuff all the time. People are working working working on finding causes and cures. It is important to stay on top of these things. Cancer can change at a moments notice and you have to be prepared to deal with it.

I did not know this.
Commitment, Knowledge, Treatments, Physical Welfare and Mental Welfare

We have to get the people the RIGHT information. There is a lot of bad info out there that can easily be mis-interpreted.

A lot to read - and all of it summarizes in a basic way what I have been dealing with in some form. I hope you are able to read this and take a more broad understanding of what dealing with Cancer entails.
This has been the most important thing I have written so far.
Thanks for reading!


KJR said...

Very Very Powerful! I LOVE that park. It is a place the exudes hope and survival. As I read this, I said to myself "wow Jeff has done that, and is doing that, and has done that too!" It was like you have wrote all of those things! That must be very comforting for you to know that you are doing EVERYTHING right to get you through this and yes........ be a survivor!

As I read this I also was thinking about my experience and how I dealt with each section. So here is how I felt I did..........

1) "Make up your mind once your cancer is gone, you are through it." Here I fail miserably. There are times I feel that my cancer is gone and then there are times I do not, that the other shoe is about to drop. Even 6 years 6 months and 24 days later.

2) "Have plans for pleasant things to do and goals to accomplish" I am good at this. I do lots of fun things and try to have fun as much as possible.

3) "Seek and accept support" Wow, here again I failed miserably. The only one I seeked and accepted support was from Brian. He gave me everything I needed in support, knew exactly what to say, what not to say, when to say it and when not to say it. For me, at the time, the less people involved the better. I am not sure if this was good or not, but that was my way.

Prayer was very important to me. I got a lot of support through this. I had a very powerful experience through prayer that I would love to share with you personally some time.

One good friend of mine did say something that was very powerful to me........ "do not let cancer run your life. You are in charge"

4) "Get state of the art treatment information. Know all of your options. Knowledge heals." I think I did well with this. I spoke to two different doctors about two different treatment options. I was amazed that for my situation, the doctors gave me treatment options and I was to decide what I wanted. I found this to be very difficult. I thought they would tell me what to do, not let me decide!

5) "get a second opinion" I did this well. I spoke to a radiologist, my oncologist, (who also took my case to her panel of doctors) my own family doctor, the local surgeon and also a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. All helped me with my treatment decision.

6) "Find a qualified Doctor in whom you have confidence in and who believes you can be successfully treated" This is a bit iffy for me, since I only saw my oncologist a few times. But my cancer was caught early, and all felt my prognosis was excellent.

7) "Make a commitment to do everything in your power to help you deal with your disease". Brian and I did this together. I could have done better in getting support outside of Brian, but I was not open to this at that time. Dealing with a mastecomy is tough, and I did not consult any outside help for this. Sometimes I just put my head in the sand. And I still avoid the mirror after a shower!

8) "Treat promptly, properly and throughly." Here I get an A++++. With Breast cancer, I was given the option of lumpectomy or mastecomy. TAKE IT OFF!!!! WHO NEEDS EM!!!!! HAHAHAHA. With this choice, there was no room for re-occurance in that area. That gave me peace of mind. I also had the second breast removed a year later, just in case.

9) "Understanding that cancer is a life threatening disease and many have conquered it. Believe that you too will be one of them" Here I think I also did well. As I have said B4, my cancer was caught early so that helps. And Brian would tell me every minute of every day that I was going to LIVE!

Although this takes me back to #1 above and it is still a struggle.

10) "Majority of people live." Lets all shout this out as loud as we can!!!!!!

11) "There are treatments for every type of cancer". Surgery is the only treatment that I had. Thankfully! Although there is a story behind this that I would like to share at some time. (too long for this blog)

12) "Cancer is most curable of all cronic diseases" Wow I did not know this and again, lets shout this out as loud as possible!

So that is it.

Jeff, this entry is by far the most powerful and thank you for sharing this, and everything you do share with all of us.

You are a survivor, you just don't know it yet!

Love Kym

Jim Hughes said...

Great post. Thanks.

Justin and Melanie said...

Case I drive by that park frequently, it is about 5 min away from our house... it has new meaning for me now. Great Post.


Dora and Dave said...

Great entry Jeff,

Even though I've worked on cancer for 9 years, your entry gave me a totally new perspective.

Thanks, Dora

Anonymous said...

Awesome Jeff!

This post couldn't have come at a better time this week. Post-treatment anxiety has officially kicked in and I needed to read and digest all of these points to remind me that I am a survivor and to return to a peaceful frame of mind. I will be sure to share this post with my two friends who are currently dealing with a relapse, as well. Thanks for the shot of power!!!
Viva la Cure!!

Anonymous said...

every person from the moment of diagnosis is a survivor. many blessings to you and your family, as well as to all other survivors out there. Be ware of the nay sayers, they don't have anything but negativity, just walk away from them.
debb harelik r.n. austin texas