Friday, July 22, 2011

22nd - An "A+ Scan"

Quick update...I received great news on Wednesday morning regarding my first quarterly CT scan.  Dr. Frenette said everything looked great and called it "an A+".  As a constant competitor, that was music to my ears.

For the first time since early-April, I am back at full-speed at work and at home and feel positive mentally.  More to come soon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

13th - My First Time

Thank you to Sonja and Matt Wagle for sending us the delicious cupcakes from New Jersey.  Thank you, as always, to Bridget Ruller for watching Cooper this morning while Stuart and I went to see Dr. Frenette.

Despite all my positive posts in the past, today was the first time I really felt free of cancer.  As you know, I had my "end of treatment" PET/CT Scan on Monday morning.  Dr. Frenette shared the good news with Stuart and I this morning that the scan was "clean" (no evidence of disease).

So what is the plan from here?  From a medical standpoint, I will have my port-catheter removed shortly, then have nothing to do until July.  At that point and on a quarterly basis for the next few years, I will have follow-up CT Scans.  That is noteworthy, as it marks the end of my affair with nuclear medicine.  On the personal front, I will be focused on becoming Stuart's husband again, rather than one of her children.  I mean that in all sincerity, as the cancer journey is hard on both the patient and the spouse.  Finally, I returned to work last week and I really do not feel like a missed a beat.  I have a great team and work for a great company, both of which have welcomed me back with open arms.

I will leave you with one funny story.  As I started to contemplate returning to work, I realized that I had lost so much weight that none of my clothes fit.  Sadly, the picture of me standing in my closet in my big boy suit and tie did not turn out well.  Instead, I will paint the picture using this shot of Tom Hanks' character, Josh Baskin, from the 1988 hit movie "Big".  The premise of the movie is that Josh, a 12-year old boy, wishes he was "Big" and wakes up one morning in the body of a 30-year old man.  At the end of the film, as an adult Josh starts to walk away from his tearful girlfriend (who is releasing him back to childhood) he begins to shrink and ends up looking like this...

Fret not Josh, if you are willing to spend $400 at your corner alterations store, you can have all your clothes cut down to size and you will look sharp...until you get big again!

Friday, March 18, 2011

18th - Treatment #12 of 12 Done

Pending a clean/negative PET&CT scan on April 11th, my treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma is 100% complete.

My sincere thanks to all of you for your support throughout my treatment.  I would not have gotten through it in such a positive way without you.  Thank you also to Ray Tavares and Moe Cieri for taking me to lunch this past week.  Being with friends is always helpful and appreciated.

Before I sign off, a few statistics from the last couple of weeks:

7 lbs 9 ounces -
My younger brother, Doug, and his wife Samantha welcomed their second child into the world on March 11th.  Beau Dillon Deets was born at ~7:45 AM at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC.  One of the big questions with Deets Children is whether or not they will win the recessive gene lottery and have shocking red hair or not.  So far, it looks like Beau may take after his mother and have brown hair.

1 in 20 -
The number of Americans that is a cancer survivor.  This number has thankfully been rising over the past decade, due to improved early detection, better treatment protocols and I believe the shrinking stigma associated with having cancer.

1 in 1,000,000 -
The odds of my Virginia Tech Hokies ever making the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.  Sadly, the Hokies were left out of the field for the 4th year in a row, despite having a pretty good resume.  Good luck to the team in the NIT (a.k.a. Not Invited (to the NCAA) Tournament).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2nd - Bald Heads and Cleavage

Stuart and I got to see Dr. Frenette today and talk a bit about what to expect from the coming weeks as I complete my treatment.  I will share some detail with you on that topic, but first I want to say thank you to a few people and share a few of my more notable recent experiences.

Thank you to the Freemans for bringing us a wonderful Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce.  For those of you who know the Freemans, this is their signature dish and it did not disappoint.  Thank you to Bridget Ruller, for watching Cooper this afternoon.  You should all know Bridget by now, as I thank her just about every time I write, which might explain the toy she sent home with Cooper today.   Picture our four year-old sitting in the kitchen playing the loudest portable Spiderman pinball machine you can imagine.  Bridget, it is coming back soon!  Lastly, thank you to the Clarkes and to my parents for visiting and helping around the house, it helps more than you know.

Since I have last written, one of my favorite pasttimes has been watching college basketball.  My alma mater, Virginia Tech, has a slightly above-average basketball program.  Watching them is great fun, although it is an emotional roller-coaster.  As a case-in-point, these underdog Hokies beat the #1 team in America (Duke) on Saturday night and then quickly followed it up by being soundly whipped by Boston College last night.  I do love them anyway and will watch anxiously as they play in the annual season ending tournaments.

Watching those college athletes has kept me motivated to continue my endless walking loops around the neighborhood trying to stay in shape and keep my heart beating.  Going for speed is really no longer an option, so I tend to breath in fresh air and appreciate my surroundings more than anything else.  This past weekend was particularly nice, and I found myself appreciating the landscape and thinking of the coming Spring.  There is a certain parallel between the arrival of Spring and my completion of treatment that lifts my spirits.  As I was walking, I saw quite a few planes overhead, which made me think of traveling and returning to work.  I have missed my extended family at Bank of America quite a bit while I have been "grounded," and I am certainly looking forward to reconnecting with everyone very soon.

The last notable experience that I have to share came in a normal conversation with a woman.  She could not help herself from taking in the beauty of my now completely bald head.  Her eyes met mine during the conversation, then they went to the head, my eyes, the head again and so on.  It dawned on me (as I ignored whatever it was she was saying) that this is what a woman who shows too much cleavage feels like when talking to some men.

Are bald heads like too much cleavage?

So, on the appointment with Dr. Frenette today.  The biggest question on my mind was what the odds of a recurrence are and what the course of action would be if it happened.  The short answer is that the odds are relatively low, and in that unlikely event, the next step is to have one huge shot of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant.  Dr. Frenette and I both feel very good about my prognosis, so this will be the last you hear me talk about recurrence. 

We also spent some time discussing what the next steps are after my final treatment on March 17th.  There are a few items scheduled to wrap-up the treatment, including a final PET & CT scan on April 11th, an appointment with Dr. Frenette to get the results on April 13th and a small surgery to remove the port-catheter in my chest shortly thereafter.  For those that may be reading this to understand "the Hodgkin's experience", I finally did post a picture of the port-catheter in an old posting (click here).  After my April 13th appointment, I will see Dr. Frenette for a follow-up CT scan every 4 months for the next couple years and then slightly less frequently for another few years.  At that point, the likelihood of recurrence is so small, that you begin to use the word "cure".

Treatment #11 is tomorrow morning, wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

8th - Treatment #9 of 12 Done

9 down, 3 to go.

I actually felt better this time around, likely due to a good mental state.  More soon...