Monday, December 12, 2011

Cancer must be catching

Just a few empty seats

It has been a little over a week since my last post here.  I really should have written sooner  It was a wonderful week.  I am learning through personal experience more about this chemo business.  Hitting your "low" is no fun and feeling good thereafter is amazing.  Boy it brings that "opposition in all things" scripture to life in a very real way.  

Last week JoLynne and I traveled back to Minnesota again for follow up visits with the surgeons.  Mayo clinic will always be a place of miracles to me.  The surgeons were delighted to see how I was progressing.  As we visited with one of the surgeons, an LDS man, he said, "You know, I can always tell when we operate on someone who is being prayed for.  Things just go differently in the operating room."    He then told us that a number of such miracles occurred during my surgery.  I think we are aware of many of them but he told us something that we hadn't heard.

Apparently, when the tumor was removed it was given to the pathologists who were in the operating room.  While they began their initial analysis, the surgeons proceeded to take out borders around the tumor to make sure that the cancer hadn't spread into adjacent tissue.    After a bit, the pathologists announced that my tumor was benign.  (They changed their mind later, as you may remember).  Our surgeon told us that the normal protocol at that point would be to discard the borders that had been harvested.  It makes no sense to analyze the borders of a benign tumor.  He said that they were about to throw them in the garbage can when one of the surgeons said, "I just don't feel good about that.  I think we need to have the border evaluated still.  Send them to pathology."  They proceeded to send them to pathology and, as you know the tumor later proved to be malignant.  The borders that were sent and reviewed were all clean.  If they had not analyzed the borders they would have had no way of knowing that it hadn't spread and I would have had to go through radiation therapy as a precaution.  It would have made my recovery much more complicated.  So, for those of you who have been kind enough to pray for us through this challenge, THANK YOU AGAIN! Prayer really makes a difference!

Our trip home was also good.  We had a little extra space on the airplane, as you can see.  My guess is that there are rumors going around that cancer is contagious.  With those kind of rumors we may have trouble getting plane tickets in the future if the airline industry sees a pattern.

Well,  on Wednesday I began another series of chemotherapy.  I felt well enough today to go into to office.  I was grateful.  I was able to provide some services to some of my sweet patients.  We will see what tomorrow brings.  "One day at a time"; that is my motto these days.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Just a little bump, probably the onion rings
So, it has been a busy week.  I have felt great and as a result I have been able to work more.  In addition we have had a series of social events.  Friday we had an open hours for the office to let everyone see our remodel and wish them a merry Christmas.  Last night was the Stake Christmas open house and today is our family Christmas party.  It just seems like I have been "running".  It is so nice to feel better and able to do more.  At our office open house I was not very good and shook hands with lots of people.  That got me in trouble with my guardian angel (JoLynne).  My friend, Rella Christensen, a pHd microbiologist who has been looking out for me is going to give me a scolding too.  So last night JoLynne and I made a bet that I couldn't go the whole night without shaking someones hand.  We usually bet a kiss or something so I always win either way but there is the moral victory of course.  Anyway, I won the bet last night and went the whole night without shaking a single persons hand.  The real prize was having JoLynne be happy and not worried.  When we got home from the party neither of us had eaten much.  I just can't figure out how to get food in my mouth with a mask on.  So, it was 9:30 pm and we hadn't really had dinner.  JoLynne said, "so, what do you want to eat?"  I was kind of embarrassed but I told her I was really in the mood for onion rings.  She just started laughing, "You are so pregnant!" she said.  For years I always offered to have the next baby.  I always thought it was a safe offer.  Little did I know.  I'm not showing yet by the way. (okay, maybe a little)

I have always appreciated having good health.  As a matter of fact I always made a point of telling Heavenly Father how much I appreciated my health in hopes that He wouldn't feel the need to take it from me.  Well, that trick doesn't work.  This week, feeling better, has truly made me appreciate how good it feels to feel good.  I'm not looking forward to the next round of chemo starting Wednesday, but it helps to know that after a few dark days that I will have days when I feel well.

We are leaving for Mayo Clinic on Monday.  We have appointments all day Tuesday and then we will be flying home Tuesday night.  I am excited.  One of my appointments is with physical therapy.  They have some electrical methods of accelerating nerve recovery.  They call it "facial animation."  Usually that is what happens to my face when JoLynne walks in the room.

I love visiting with cancer survivors.  Some dear friends came to the open house.  I remember feeling my heart go out to my friend while his wife suffered through cancer.  On Friday I looked at her with her beautiful hair and a smile that spoke volumes about her courage.  I have to admit I ran my fingers through her hair just for the joy of seeing her so normal.  It makes me think, "I am going to get there."

I have been so grateful for countless acts of kindness.  I could never name all the people who have reached out to us with helping hands. This last week, a friend came by while I was taking care of patients.  We have been friends for many years.  He somehow knows my situation better than some.  Anyway, he was so kind and caring.  He offered some help that was deeply meaningful to me.  I couldn't stop crying after he left.  I think I cried for two hours.  He isn't alone of course.  Every time I turn around someone is lifting and helping.  I've notice that since my diagnosis I never have anything in my inbox at the stake center.  Last night I confronted the other counselor and said "Why is there never anything in my inbox anymore?"  He just smiled and said, "Eric, we are going to get through this thing together"  People are so good and I am so grateful.