Saturday, February 9, 2013

Every day is a gift

I haven't posted anything for a while.  I guess the adage, "no news is good news" applies here.  Yesterday I completed my 20th radiation treatment.  That means I now have only 13 remaining.  February 27th will be my last day of treatment.  Monday I will spend most of the day getting my last dose of chemotherapy.  I informed my doctor yesterday that I would like this to be the last chemotherapy that I receive in my mortal life and I plan on having a long mortal life.  He just laughed and said that he would be okay with him as well.  It has been a journey.

Whenever I get discouraged I just think of all the blessings I have had along the way and it makes me feel better.  Radiation for the first two weeks was not too hard.  That is what they had told me to expect.  After two weeks the problems begin.  For those of you who have experienced head and neck radiation you understand what I am talking about.  Sores break out in your mouth and throat that make it hard to even talk let alone swallow.  Your taste buds cease to work entirely so everything tastes like straw.  Your saliva all goes away and that doesn't help the swallowing either.  By about 2 and a half weeks into treatment that is where I was at.

I am usually pretty good about dealing with pain but it was getting past my limits.  I don't take medications when I can avoid them but I was finding it necessary to take 800 mg of ibuprophen three times a day just to function.  Even with that it only took the edge off of the pain.  I should have been more proactive in addressing the mouth sores from the start but I wasn't.  I meet with the doctor every Wednesday.  I remember going in and expressing my concerns.  They were kind but didn't have a lot of good solutions.  I asked if there was any chance I could get over the sores and they said that they hadn't seen that happen.  They said I would be lucky if the sores stayed only at that level through the remainder of treatment.   They told me that I could have round the clock narcotics or possibly an NG tube to allow me to continue eating if things became worse.  My mouth looked like one big canker sore.  It felt like the sores were in my ear, throat and sinus as well but I couldn't see those areas.  I left feeling pretty discouraged.  About a week before I had made a few changes in my protocols in my mouth and throat care but so far it wasn't helping.  I really didn't want to spend the next four weeks on narcotics.  That night I went home and in my prayers I plead with Heavenly Father for an answer about what I should do.  There was a sense of peace but not much more.  Thursday I woke up with a slight decrease in pain.  This was the first time in a week that the pain was less instead of more.  I got up and took my ibuprofen.  This time it more than took the edge off,  I almost felt human again.  It felt like a miracle to me.  I was still in pain but it was manageable again.  I cried off and on all that day, tears of gratitude.  (I think my office staff think I am an emotional mess.)  I didn't need all the pain removed, just enough that I could deal with it.  I felt like that prayer had been granted.  The improvement continued through the next 6 days.  When I met with the doctors the next week they wanted to know about my pain levels and if I was ready to move to higher levels of medication.  When I told them that I was feeling better they were somewhat incredulous.  I am just grateful.

Well, two and a half weeks will soon be done with.  I am praying for a life free from cancer from this point onward.

We have been so grateful to be able to be home while I am receiving my treatments.  In January my sweet daughter Elizabeth turned 12 years old.  She was pretty excited.  It was a great day.  We only let our children have a "Friend party" once every four years.  This was the year for her.  She loves Dr. Who so she planned a Dr. Who theme party.  It was cute.  Our son Peter, who is preparing to leave on a mission to Spain went through the temple for the first time.  Words cannot express how I felt.  What  joy to be in the temple with him and all our older children.  I hope it is symbolic of a day when we will all stand together in God's presence worthy and full of joy.  Watching my grand daughter discover her hands and learn to sit up is irreplaceable.  I know I would have received great care at Mayo but I am grateful that the doctors at Mayo were willing to work with the doctors here so that I could stay home.  Every morning I wake up and think of each day as a gift from God.  None of us know how long our mortal journey will last.  We should relish every day.  Take time to enjoy a child's laughter, to watch a sparrow at your bird feeder, to enjoy the warmth of another person's embrace.  I am trying to live that way.


  1. We love you Dr. Vogel. You may sense something of the depth of that love, but it's more, much more than you know. Yet, all in all it pales in comparison to the love the Father of us all. God bless.


    Bob and JaNeal Freeman and family

  2. Thinking of you and praying for you. So glad to read things are looking up. Nancy Dyer

  3. Oh, Eric - Kent and I love you and your family so much! You are a most amazing man and an inspiration. We continue to keep you in our prayers.


  4. Eric, We have had you in our prayers continually. Jay said he has been thinking about you all day. As we just re-read your last blog, we had forgotten that today was your last radiation day. Hooray! Hopefully you will be done now with all of your treatments. We will continue to remember you and your family in our prayers. We love you guys.
    Jay and Rhonda

  5. Eric,we pray for you often, and am concerned about you but don't want to add to your burden. Sometimes I feel like Charlie pushing a big rock up the hill. I find myself sweating, crying, praying and just concentrating on my rock. Then I hear from my brother pushing a rock twice as big as mine and saying, hey Roland look a the beautiful flowers on this hill. My rock is starting to roll up the hill now but I'll try harder to notice the flowers and others with their rocks as well, like my brother Eric

    Love Roland