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.

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31 thoughts on “December 20, 2015 (Sun) – Yippie Ki Yay – What a Ride

  1. Hang in there Craig – if anyone can bust that bronco ‘Big C’, it’s you. Wishing you and your family a restful and joyous holiday, and all the best.

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  2. Oh my, not the Yippie Ki Yay I thought this was going to be. Even the Broncos lose some, like today, but they can come bouncing back too. You are a tough old fart Craig and as you advocate for the best treatment you’ll get your swag back, hopefully soon…and hopefully get a few pounds back on or you’ll make us look like real fattys! Hopefully some Christmas fruitcake can do the trick….ugh, sorry, that probably makes you want to barf! Hang in there Craig. You are always in my positive thoughts and prayers.

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  3. Craig, it sounds like you are going through hell right now. My thoughts are with you. Take good care and maybe don’t worry if you can’t walk too far. Just get outside and smell the fresh air and enjoy the sound of the birds and the blue sky. I guess I don’t have to tell you this. Just feeling for you. Mike and Sharon will be with us for Christmas. We will say a prayer for you at the table. Love, Lynda

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  4. What a roller coaster ride for you! You are always in my thoughts and prayers. Happy to hear some improvements lately. Now time to get back to eating and putting those 30 pounds back on. I must say even though you looked weak the last time I saw you, you still looked good. You are amazing. Love, Annette

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  5. Craig- Howard and I are so sorry to hear about the tough times you’re going through. Thank you for making the time and effort to let us all know what’s happening. You remain in our thoughts. Sending healing hugs, Michele

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  6. Hi craig,
    Reading your post was like reading something from my own life. I was on chemo docatoxel and ramicirimab.it was so bad I couldn’t even finish thee treatments after 4 rounds I said I am done. I am now waiting for insurance company’s to fight it out so I can start the AZD9291 drug that is now FDA approved. I am running out of options so I am hoping it works.I also just had a liver biopsy to look for new mutations. Hoping for better days for you.

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  7. Craig,
    My heart ached reading your post. I have always known your strength of character but your current trials just blow me away; I would not be able to handle it. Hang in there Craig, you have hundreds of people praying for you. Thanks for continuing to post and letting all your friends know what you are doing. I hope that this Christmas week will provide you with some rest and a spiritual lift. God bless you and your family my friend.

    Wes

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  8. first the Cul-de-sac then the world! Stay strong, you are the strongest man I know. Hang in there and hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. See ya next year!

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  9. So sorry Craig – chemo is not fun and I empathize – however, it usually does a good job of killing those cancer cells. I hope you get to enjoy the holidays and time with your family. Good thoughts for the next round! All the best- Janine

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  10. Your positive outlook and determination are so up-lifting, Craig!! Keep fighting the good fight. Glad to hear you can eat a bit again.
    Merry Christmas and God Bless.
    Lori and Bib Cotterell

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  11. Craig! Thanks for the update. (I was in white too but in the Camp E meeting!) My brother just finished his first round of chemo and can’t feel his feet. The fortitude you guys address all this with is amazing. You’re on my prayer list. Former ex-CEMA member, Mark

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  12. Craig
    I sure hope you start feeling better for your Christmas week. I can imagine how hard all these treatments are on your body but as you well know you have to do what you have to do.
    Know I’m praying for you and your family and hope you feel better this week for Christmas. Merry Christmas.
    Martha in Iowa

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  13. Craig, you are one of the Good Guys, so like everyone else, I flail my arms at the world at large, saying, “This shouldn’t happen to the Good Guys!” I just wish you complete and total health down the road, and eventually getting back those 30 pounds (so Kim won’t be jealous-wink). As to the world of medicine, my husband and I have recently been through it ad nauseum (it fits, doesn’ t it?) and we understand your dilemma entirely. Love and best wishes to you and the family from your second or third cousin a few times removed but who’s counting – Marilyn

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  14. Years ago your sweet Brett put me on his top ten teacher list! You are high up on my top ten prayer list! I pray you are feeling better and stronger each day. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  15. Revel in this holiday season Craig, an give big hugs to my cuz, Kim. Stay strong … We have a good friend battling mid stage pancreatic cancer since summer of 2014, with very similar “complications” … He is doing much better. Stay hopeful, purposeful … There’s a new treatment around every corner. Hang in there and have a very Merry Christmas!!

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  16. Craig, I hope that all of you can have a wonderful Christmas and get the family together. I hope that the combination of treatments works, and that you’re much stronger very soon. You are in our thoughts. Mike and Deb

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  17. Kim and Craig, you two have set an example to many on how to be loving and brave in the face or cancer. We love you , Dave, Ilene and your other daughter, Kerri.

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  18. Hi, Craig! I don’t know how you do it, but you manage to make me laugh with almost all of your posts. Thank you for that! You are the inspiration that helps keep me going. I’ll be thinking of you 12/28 as I go through my second round of chemo at SDNMC. I’m glad they implanted my port before the first infusion. Still going through daily radiation and making numerous trips to…the facilities. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers! May the New Year bring healing and joy to you all.

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    • Kathy, thank you. Hope you are holding up OK. You and I both know it’s not an easy battle. Yeah, I very much appreciate my port as well by now. I’m a tough stick and this has saved lots of pokes.

      Take care and keep in touch.

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      • Craig, So glad to hear from you! I’m just really starting the journey and hoping for a good outcome. I’ve had surgery, and I just completed 6 weeks of radiation and my first 2 infusions, but the rough stuff comes next – 4 infusions with Taxol. This is nothing compared to what you’ve been through. I will continue to look to you as a constant source of inspiration, hope, and a good laugh now and then. Laughter truly is the best medicine. I’ve told my Dr.’s, as well as some of the patients I’ve met, about your blog and what it’s meant to me. I hope they check it out. You are amazingly tough! I know you’ve given hope to many. My best to you and yours! Take care and post when you can.

  19. Criag, doing some research on the web, came across someone who had written about their mother and that YOU had given them some inspiration about this journey that they were going through. You have always been there for everyone and helping others, you truly are a remarkable man. You and Kim will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

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    • Thanks Susie, I came across the same blog by accident a long time ago and hooked up with the writer. It was a very humbling experience.

      Take care. Miss you guys. BTW, You wouldn’t recognize your house.

      Craig

      Reply

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