Sunday Reminder

Hi All,

get fuzzy shirtWe are so excited to see everyone at the Breath of Hope Walk this Sunday. Fun Fact: Team Craig- Get Fuzzy has raised over $17,000 to fund research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Amazing!

A reminder to all of those who are joining us Sunday morning: Please wear your red Team Craig – Get Fuzzy t-shirt if you have one already. We will have more t-shirts for those of you who don’t have one yet (first come, first serve!)

Details about the walk and Sunday evening’s service are below:

breath-of-hope-logoBreath of Hope Lung Cancer Walk
Sunday, May 1st, 2016 at 9:00am.
Registration begins at 7:30am
Cancer Survivors Park, Harbor Island Park
4100 North Harbor Drive, San Diego

Celebration of the Life of Craig Blower
Sunday, May 1st, 2016 at 5:00pm
Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park
Pan American Road E, San Diego
Aloha attire requested by Craig
Reception to follow at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Business as usual, day at a time.

-Bradyn (Blower) Miller

Celebrating Craig Blower

May 1st will be a special day. We hope to see you at:

Breath of Hope Lung Cancer Walksurvivor park
Sunday, May 1st, 2016 at 9:00am.
Registration begins at 7:30am
Cancer Survivors Park, Harbor Island Park
4100 North Harbor Drive, San Diego
Click HERE to sign up; join “Team Craig – Get Fuzzy”

Celebration of the Life of Craig Blowerpavilion
Sunday, May 1st, 2016 at 5:00pm
Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park
Pan American Road E, San Diego
Aloha attire requested by Craig
Reception to follow at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

In lieu of flowers, donations (or your time) can be given to the following causes:

plumeria

If you are interested, Craig’s obituary is below. It is listed in today’s San Diego Union Tribune. Per Dad’s request, I have been (oh-so-rudely) cropped out of my wedding photo to be used for celebration purposes.

-Bradyn (Blower) Miller


Craig Blowe Obit PhotoCraig Alan Blower Feb. 6, 1953-March 16, 2016 passed away at the age of 63 in Scripps Ranch, San Diego after battling cancer. He was born to Albert & Sara Blower in Montebello CA, and graduated from Alhambra High School & UCSB.

He is survived by his wife, Kim, children Bradyn Miller (Monte) & Brett Blower, and Bill the dog. He is also survived by his brothers Mike (Sharon), Kirk (Teresa), Brant (Joanne) and sister Janice McCarthy (Kelly) and their families.

Craig served as the COO at the Rueben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park and spent much of his time volunteering in the community. Some of his involvements included Rotary Club 33, Rady’s Children’s Hospital, Summerbridge San Diego, and Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times.

 

March 16th, 2016 (Wednesday) – Aloha

Dad Aloha.jpgWith great sadness, I announce the departure of Craig Blower.

He passed away peacefully this morning and was very comfortable in his last days.

Thank you for all of your support and kind words. Please raise a glass to Craig tonight to celebrate his inspiring life and to wish him well on his journey.

We will be in touch (via blog and others) regarding future celebrations.

Until then, we will be handling business as usual… one day at a time.

-Bradyn (Blower) Miller

 

March 15th, 2016 (Tuesday) – “No Pity Parties,” he says – From the Daughter

As mentioned in Craig’s last blog post, his daughter (me) has taken over the responsibility of keeping his blog readers updated.

A few days after his previous blog post, Dad went to the Emergency Room with shortness of breath and was admitted to the hospital later that day. Dad’s onc-doc recommended he cease cancer treatment, as any further treatments, like Keytruda, would only make him feel worse, with very little benefit. That includes forgoing the trial in Boston.

When I asked him what he wanted me to mention in his blog, Craig said, “don’t let people think I’m just giving up.” The fact is, he’s already been through all the treatment options, and we are changing gears. As a nurse in the hospital perfectly explained, “we have stopped treating the disease, and have begun treating the person.”

pillow mountainCraig came home to his favorite recliner, under the wing of in-home hospice care and propped up on what I like to call, “Pillow Mountain.” His pain level is fairly low, but the constant sitting caused him to have a sore butt, so we’ve since moved him to a more comfortable bed. He remains surrounded by our family and, of course, Billy Bigdog.

Our friends and family have been incredibly generous with their time and support. Neighbors have run errands for Mom, and we’ve even had a wheelchair and mobile commode loaned to us. Not sure they’ll want the latter one back. (Yes! I got a Dad-approved potty joke into the blog!)

A lot of people have been asking how they can help. We are truly touched, and we are overwhelmed with the generous offerings of hospitality and nourishment.

As a family, we have decided to direct friends and readers to help in different ways:

1. Support “Team Craig – Get Fuzzy” at the Breath of Hope Walk.

breath-of-hope-logoYou can walk in the 5k event on May 1st in San Diego, donate to support the Moores Cancer center, or both.

To sign up and/or donate, visit the Breath of Hope Walk website.

Click on ‘Register Now’ and choose “Team Craig – Get Fuzzy” from the drop-down menu as your Team Name.

If you would prefer to donate to the cause, enter your donation amount in the ‘Additional Donation’ box on the registration page.

We hope to see you there.

team-craig-logo-final-small

2. Donate to the Craig and Doug’s Excellent Science (CADES) Scholarship through the Rotary of San Diego.

This Rotary scholarship was formed in honor of my father and his fellow Rotarian, Doug Arbon, who have both done so much to instill the love of science in students. The program is in partnership with Hoover High School.

The mission of the project is to establish an annual, multi STEMdistribution scholarship to under-served high school seniors who have shown aptitude and interest in the field of STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math).

If you would like to donate to this cause, you can send a check to the address below. Be sure to reference CADES on the memo line.

San Diego Rotary Club Foundation
2247 San Diego Ave., Suite 233
San Diego, CA. 92110-2943

To learn more about this scholarship, you can read the Project Overview here.

3. Volunteer at (or donate to) some of Craig’s favorite organizations:

Dad has spent countless hours serving others. From leading a pack of elementary school students in science experiments to fixing Nana’s VCR, he has never hesitated to offer his time in order to help someone else.

Below are just a few organizations Dad has volunteered for, if you are interested in filling some really big shoes or donating to their cause.

Camp Ronald McDonald for Good TimesSBSD.jpgradysRotary logo

If Craig has inspired you to serve your community in any way, please share your stories with us. We are so proud of him, and would be thrilled to hear how his legacy is been carried onward.

My family and I personally want to thank each and every one of you for the constant encouragement Dad has gotten through his blog. As a reader myself, the comments have always filled my heart and made my day brighter.

For those of you who are fighting a similar fight, Craig wants you to stay positive. As a family, we remind ourselves that because Dad took part in trial medications, he has been a part of a very special process that will help other survivors in the future. I’m sure Craig would encourage you to do the same.

Business as usual, One Day… we will find a cure.

-Bradyn (Blower) Miller

 

February 18, 2016 (Thurs) – When it Starts to Go….

image…it really goes fast.

I wish I was referring to my bladder or bowel functionality as that would be a good thing to go fast.

So obviously I’ve set the tone, and probably weeded some of you out with TMI, but trust me – it will get worse, so be forewarned.

Let’s start with the results of my PET scan from the 5th. I’d prefer to skip the report entirely but I gotta step up to the plate. Bottom line, the results stunk. I was not surprised in the least based on how I had been feeling. Essentially it shows the chemo treatment I’ve been on since early December has done little to nothing to help. Prior areas have progressed (still hate that term) and lots of new locations have popped up. So we have stopped chemo for now.

image

Before we go any further, my 3-year Cancerversary just slipped by (on lucky February the 13th) so Happy Anniversary to  me. The odds were quite a bit against me reaching this far so the fact that I am typing this blog is a testament to science and to the incredible support I’ve had from family and friends. Thank you!

imageLast week I realized that I had not been staying hydrated so on Friday afternoon I started loading up on liquids and continued this through Saturday. I started really getting bloated and on Sunday we realized that I had not urinated in two days (warned you about TMI. Bail now if that bothered you because it’s about to get worse).

imageSo we went to the ER (4th time in two months and on Valentine’s Day – of course) and were greeted with hugs and kisses because they had missed me. Not really but I’m sure I was recognized. Turns out I definitely had some kidney failure happening. So of course, how do they empty a full bladder when the patient can’t do it on his own? You get catheterized. I keep thinking of of the word cauterized but that would have been a whole lot worse, especially if we are talking the same body part.

If you don’t know what a catheter is or how it works, click here, otherwise this won’t make sense, but even I have too much modesty to describe the procedure.

imageYou all know how much luck I have with with needlesticks, and multiple attempts are often required. Drum roll please. You guessed it. However, multiple catheter insertions is not want what you want, especially if you are a guy, so when during the first attempt, being done by a female nurse of course, I hear an uh-oh, my heart sank and my pulse raced. Knowing I was going to have to repeat the procedure sent shivers down my spine. Apparently they did not have a catheter long enough or wide enough to accommodate me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, it is now Thursday and I am still in the hospital, leaving tomorrow as it stands now. So that will explain why this post is mainly text. It’s so much harder doing this on an iPad. And what is the worst part that I have had to deal with, all things considered?

These damn hiccups.

I’ve had them on and off for a couple months now and they were mainly an annoyance. But about a week ago they came on full steam and have been mostly full time. Not fun. They’ve tried two different drugs to knock them down but no such luck. Another thing I have to live with I guess.

Unfortunately, when I leave the hospital, I will need to take my cath buddy home with me. They want all my functions to kinda settle in a bit before they remove it, otherwise we run the risk of having a 3rd attempt. No-thank-you-very-much. I have also been on oxygen most of the time I’ve been here. We will see if I need to continue that at home. I was also on heroine, er, morphine, because of the pain for the past few days but they are weaning me off that onto something not at all potentially addictive (yeah, right) – hydrocodone (Vicodin).

image
Where does that put me? I was supposed to leave this coming Monday for my visit to Boston to look into that drug trial. Right now I do not see that happening under my current status. So I will be contacting them today to get more information on my options. The other (last?) option if Boston does not pan out for one reason or another, is switching to a different chemo cocktail that includes the immunotherapy drug, Keytruda. None of my onc-docs are very optimistic about its potential benefits, plus it will eliminate my eligibility for the trial, so I need to be sure that is what I want to do. But I also don’t want to go too long before I do anything because we know what’s going on in there, so doing nothing is essentially signing me up for hospice care. Hopefully I can emulate my wife’s uncle who was in and out of hospice multiple times over 10 years. While I’m sure that is in my future, I don’t just want to throw in the towel yet either.

I should know better in 7-10 days so keep an eye out for another update. I may have to have my daughter guest-write my next post,  depending on my status at the time. However, you may like her writing style better than mine so I need to be careful.

Returning to work looks even more iffy at the moment, but we will cross that bridge sometime in the near future.

Business no longer usual. But always day at a time.

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January 25, 2016 (Mon) – Groundhog Day, Revisited…

Groundhog DayThose of you that are fans of Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray movie, will get many of the upcoming references. If you are not a fan, or even if you are not familiar with this US-made movie, you’ll probably be scratching your head. But click here if you want a quick synopsis before I totally lose you.

Suffice it say, reliving the same day over and over (in his case for many, many years) is the general theme of the movie. Neverending stairsKinda like the instructions on a shampoo bottle: “lather-rinse-repeat.” Never-ending. This has also been the general theme of my life of late, although in my case for only 6-8 weeks or so. One of the differences is that Phil Conners starts off as an assh…er, jerk, and slowly comes around. Hopefully I Circle loopdidn’t begin that way. Plus, I won’t be buying any whole life insurance policies from Ned Ryerson, or anyone else for that matter. Somehow I don’t think I would qualify at this stage. And no, I am not an expert ice sculpturer, speak French, nor play jazz on the piano. But I do wield a mean remote control that I am gaining additional expertise on every day.

Leather ReclinerNow my recliner definitely has permanent butt cheek marks embedded in the soft leather. This is a result of spending about 95% of my waking hours, day in and day out plopped accordingly. Each day I wake up to the hope that things will have changed and that I will feel incrementally better to where I can begin to get out and around a bit more. And C squaredthen I get up out of the recliner to head back to the bathroom and run out of breath. Unfortunately that is about the extent of my energy level which is being affected by the big C, or the big C plus the other C (chemo). Some days it feels like they are ganging up as C-squared. Hopefully one of these days the 6am “I Got You Babe” alarm will change to “Happy” and things will fall into place as they should.

I have been able to get out on a not-so-regular basis to walk laps around my cul-de-sac. I don’t do so well with hills soWalk cul-de-sac I am sticking to flat terrain. Talk about Groundhog Day, going around the same block lap after lap. However, don’t let it be said that I allow myself to get locked into such a tight regimen. Occasionally, now don’t faint, I shake things up by, ready for this? – turning around and walking in the opposite direction. I know, I’m just a risk taker. Here was my pattern after one day when I really pushed myself for over a mile. Click on the picture for the incredible full effect.

One of the regular daily occurrences is that my buddy Mr. Nausea, seems to want to be my best friend and hang out in the Lurking in the shadowsshadows everywhere I go in the house. Kind of like our dog Bill who follows my wife everywhere. Just when I think I’ve lost him, he taps me on the shoulder and says, “eh, not so fast buddy.” Funny how (OK, maybe not funny) the day of and the day after my chemo treatment seem to be the best days. Mr. N doesn’t seem to join the party until a few days after, and then like any unwelcome guest, never seems to know when to leave the party. I can deal with him but it’s the lack of appetite that seems to follow him around that is more of a challenge. I’m still struggling to at least hold my weight steady, even at 30 lbs less than normal. But forcing myself to eat seems to bring Mr. N out of the shadows and in my face. It’s a delicate balancing act.

DraculaA week ago when I had my regular blood work done just prior to my chemo, the onc-doc was going over the results. He asked me if I had been bleeding a lot somehow. Despite being on Lovenox and susceptible to bleeding, my answer was a negatory. Apparently I was a quart low Blood drawand anemic. I’m guessing Dracula was sneaking into my bedroom in the middle of the night for a little snackie-poo. So, they arranged for me to come back the next day (now two days in a row) for a blood transfusion. Never had one of them puppies. They had to cross match my blood to be sure I wouldn’t reject what they were going to give me. BC (before cancer), I used to donate blood regularly and I was up to about 8 gallons total. I guess it was about time to get some of that paid back. Unfortunately they must have had a donor with regular headaches because that has been added to my daily regimen ever since.

On the good news/bad news and good news but bad news front, I contacted Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston regarding the EGF816 clinical trial they have going on. Initially with my history they feel I might qualify for the trial and have invited me back for a consultation Boston snowwith the onc-doc running the program. This was the same doc I was trying to get my insurance to cover to visit for a second opinion, which they denied. So now, because of the trial, I get my free consult whether or not I end up in the trial. So that is pretty darn good news. The bad Boston flynews is that it is in Boston. In the winter. The other bad news is that I am not quite travel capable right now with my energy level but I am hopeful I’ll be able to at least build up enough energy for the trip and try and time it so they are not getting 2 feet of snow. Possible good news is that I might qualify for the trial. The bad news? You guessed it. It’s in Boston. And if I qualify, it will mean many trips out there for the duration of the trial. Guess I got spoiled with my last clinical trial being only 20 minutes driving distance away. I wonder if the airlines offer discounts for bulk purchases?

GlowbodyNow halfway through my 6-cycle (once every three weeks) chemo treatment regimen. And I have my glow-in-the-dark PET scan scheduled for Feb 5th, the day before my birthday. We’ll see what that shows. And the week following that will be my 3rd Cancerversary Celebration. Lots happening. Oh, and probably with my next blog, I’ll be posting a link for those of you that want to support Team Craig – Get Fuzzy again this year at the Breath of Hope Walk, either by walking and/or donating to support The Moores Cancer Center. Stay tuned.

Definitely business as usual for now and assuredly day at at time.

December 20, 2015 (Sun) – Yippie Ki Yay – What a Ride

Throwing riderThose that know me really well would certainly not classify me as a huge fan of country western. Sorry Courtney. But just not diggin’ the twangy parts. The rest, not so bad.

But as I was trying to come up with a theme for my very overdue blog post, I could not get the image of a rodeo cowboy riding a bronco, especially to describe the last 6-8 weeks or so.

Unfortunately this wild ride has been anything but fun. And you’ll understand reading below why this blog post will be more of just a short health update than any deep philosophical blog endeavor like most of my posts. Yeah, right.

LCAM all whiteBack in early November, yes, that’s how long it’s been since my last personal post, we were in the middle of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Unbeknownst to me, my wonderful Rotary club conspired to have as many of our members as possible show up for our luncheon all wearing white in honor of the occasion. Here’s an awesome shot of that day. What an amazing group of people.

Back on November 11, I began a 15-day course of radiation to my pancreas. While I had little difficulty handling previous radiation treatments (brain, lung, hip, sacrum etc.), they warned me that this would be different. Boy, they were not kidding. It started ominously as I had to switch to another hospital for the treatment because my regular radiology center could not get me in for two weeks due to “staffing issues.” And three days into treatment Radiation symbolat the other location, I showed up one morning early and waited and waited. Eventually they came out and told me there was a technical issue and they were not sure when the machine would be back up. The technician even went as far as to tell me she wasn’t sure if the problem was a technical problem or just “operator error.” OK, that just instilled an overdose of confidence in the process. I came back later in the day once they got it figured out. Of course deja vu struck the very next day with the exact same scenario. Finally, because of the Thanksgiving holiday, one of my treatments was on a Saturday to make up time and the unfamiliar technician was working solo because of limited staff. No big deal until after the procedure when she asked me if the machine had sounded “normal.” Apparently she wasn’t as familiar with the machine being used and couldn’t remember what it was supposed to sound like. Wow.

Joachim Alcine, of Canada, lies on the canvas after a sixth round knockout by Daniel Santos, of Puerto Rico, during their WBA light middleweight title fight Friday, July 11, 2008, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

Finally I finished my 15 day course and what can I say? It. Knocked. Me. On. My. Butt. I was warned about the side effects, especially nausea and loss of appetite but little did I know what was in store.

My last radiation treatment was on December 2nd and I began my first cycle of chemotherapy a week later on the 8th. Because the after effects of radiation can hang around for several weeks, it was difficult to separate out what symptoms were being caused by what.

ERSo in the last few weeks I’ve been to the ER twice and the main hospital twice. The hospital visits were planned with the lung biopsy one day and a chemo port installation just this past Friday. The ER visits were not on the agenda as you might imagine. The first was near my final radiation treatment when I was experiencing increased shortness of breath. Although I am on Lovenox blood thinner, there was a minor chance I might have developed another pulmonary embolism. However, all tests came back OK and it was just chalked up to everything that my body was being put through. The other ER visit was due to some major plumbing issues. Eventually it all worked out. And for your benefit and mine, that is all I’m going to say about that.

No foodAs for the challenges, I not only didn’t have much of an appetite, I had an anti-appetite where even the thought or sight of food started to make me nauseous. Hmm. Maybe I’m pregnant. There was a span of almost a week where I ate virtually nothing other than a fruit smoothie my wife made up. We even doctored it up with some appetite enhancing ingredients that I may have have partaken of 45 years ago in college. Had some limited success. But overall I’ve lost 30+ pounds in the past 8 weeks. Good thing I saved my “skinny” clothes. My wife is a wee bit jealous.

But now two days after my port placement, I have turned a tiny corner not having barfed for three days. And for the past two, I have actually eaten solid food with my goal of increasing my intake just a little more each day. So far so good. However, I am still extremely weak with most of the day spent on my recliner. I even had to borrow a walker for the hospital visit Friday which entailed about a 150 foot walk. Yesterday I walked to the end of our driveway and back twice. Small steps. Tomorrow it will be an entire loop of our cul-de-sac. At least that is the goal. Small steps turning into bigger ones.

So, right now I am much better than I was just less than a week ago. My next cycle of chemo is on Monday the 28th. At least now I have a port they can use instead of using my arms as dart boards to find a vein. The intent is for the chemo to hold things at least in check until the results of the biopsy come back that might point to some other treatment options whether it be a certain drug combo or another clinical trial.

This will most likely be my last post until after the new year. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. Here’s to next year.

Business as usual. Well, maybe not at the moment. But definitely – day at a time.