Sunday, August 28, 2011

What it's like to walk in my shoes

I am in the middle of my 2nd chemo session. I think this makes the 10th session I have had overall. This counting the 8 months I did last time I was battling a brain tumor. I guess this makes me kind of an experienced hand at all of this. Let me make something clear: THIS SUCKS!
I’m sure I didn’t really need to tell anyone this but I just want to make it crystal clear how bad this is. I generally only share as much as I think people can handle because if every time people checked in on how I was doing, I actually told them I feel like people might stop asking.
A lot of people are curious what it feels like to go through this. It is an experience that I would not wish on the people I think the least of. The best terms to put this in is to compare it to a condition that almost everyone can relate to. I am fairly certain that almost all of us have had a few hangovers in our lives. It is the equivalent to having a hangover that makes you swear you won’t ever drink again. You don’t get the fun of the night before though.
The night before consists of timing your dinner so that you can take your pills on an empty stomach to avoid throwing up while you’re asleep or while you’re trying to go to sleep. You also are trying to time the taking of the meds to a moment when you can fall asleep quickly so you won’t have to be awake when they really take hold. When you take the Temodar you get a taste in your mouth as if you have swallowed some sort of toxic chemical concoction, because you have. You wake up with a headache which you are not sure how to get rid of. You feel like you’re on the verge of throwing up but you haven’t gotten to eat since about 7 the night before. This means that if you try to throw up you’ll get nothing but dry heaves. And throwing up will not make you feel any better anyway because by this time the chemo drugs are no longer in your stomach but have been absorbed into your body. When you finally feel as though you can peel yourself out of bed without having your legs buckle from being dizzy, you have a debate with yourself about whether eating something is a good idea. Throughout the day you feel as though you haven’t slept for days and you get angry with yourself about how little you feel you can accomplish. As the day winds down you start anticipating your next dose and realize that tomorrow is going to be worse than today because the effects are cumulative. The closer you get to the end the more the drugs have built up in your body and the worse you feel. So in effect the closer you get to the end of the 5 days the harder it gets push through.
The entire week of treatment you're terrified about ending up some place where you might vomit and not have access to a bathroom. The treatment also throws your digestive tract into a tailspin. The naturally occurring bacteria which helps with proper digestion is killed by the chemo drugs. This persists into the next week without drugs.
I feel better each day that puts me further from my last treatment. The catch 22 of the situation is that the better you start to feel the more the clock is ticking in your head. The better you feel the closer you are to the next round of treatment. You will never get back to the 100% that you once knew and always took for granted.
This description is not to conjure up pity or praise from people, but rather to make sure everyone understands why it is important to support research to find better solutions. I hope that I’m around to see the day when solutions like surgery and chemotherapy and radiation are thought of as archaic routes to take in the treatment of cancer.
As I said I would not wish this on anyone but unfortunately all of you will know or already know another person that has to go through something similar or something worse. In some cases some of you will have to go through something like this. Right at this moment we all have the opportunity to try to get ahead of this. The amount of the donations is not what’s important to me. As I said previously, I would prefer a million small donations to a few large ones. In order to donate you can send cash or checks to me at 506 S Curley street, Baltimore Md,.21224. It is probably easiest for people to make donations on:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cancer can take so much from anyone but it can only take Hope if you let it!

I attended a the 4th annual survivor's luncheon for Dr. Quinones today. It made me realize how fortunate I have been so far. You may read that and think that I have finally lost it. How does a guy who has had two brain tumors in three years say he is fortunate? I looked around the luncheon and realized that some faces from previous years weren't there this year, and its not because they were on vacation. Some individuals can barely work or have trouble speaking or seeing. Some people were wheel chair bound. One woman there had gone through some 30 different surgeries. I have graduated from law school and will run in my 3rd consecutive Baltimore running festival.

All of us at the luncheon have the pleasure of having the best surgeon in the world. But what I have is the best family and friends that anyone could ask for. Which is why I am not afraid to issue a challenge which I will explain later on.

While I have been fortunate, I will never be able to fully explain the sacrifices I have had to make in order to deal with these tumors. Among other things, I have had to give up graduating on time from law school, having the freedom to go where I want when I want, I have lost or failed to be able to earn an unimaginable amount of money through missed time or lost work opportunities, and finally I may end up losing my life. This is just the beginning of the list and I'm positive I'll have to give up more, but what I refuse to give up is hope. My hope is that we find a cure for this. Maybe it is a fool's hope but I wholeheartedly believe that there will be a cure for cancer in my lifetime; I have to. My hope is based on the research and the advancements I have seen happen in cancer treatment and the research I have witnessed in Dr. Q's lab. I watch these brilliant minds give up a plethora of opportunities to spend endless hours doing research in this lab.

Basically, I am asking that from now until race day you give something up or take a moment to put a small amount aside each day, or each week and then take that and donate it to the lab. So, the challenge that I am putting to anyone who is reading this is to give something up which you do daily or weekly. This could be getting coffee at Starbucks instead of making it, or packing a lunch instead of eating out, or taking a night off from going out. I honestly do not care how much the final amount ends up being. My surgeon says that he would rather get a million $1 donations then get a few large donations and I completely agree. I realize these are tough times for anyone and I don't want anyone putting themselves in financial trouble but setting a small amount aside each day, even if it is just the change from your pockets adds up. It could be the $5 you donate that puts the lab over the top to purchase equipment, or samples, or pay a lab assistant for their time. If this seems like a lot just think of the sacrifices I have had to make in my life at 27 yrs. old and weigh it against giving up $.50 a day or whatever you may decide to do.

I appreciate you sticking with me and all I can offer back is my friendship and my comitment to never quit trying to beat this