Don’t Mess With Texas – or Nancy!

I hope everyone who is fighting cancer is a lucky as I am, in that Nancy, my wife of 34 years (at least until she reads this post!) has been by my side as the best caregiver a person could ask for.  I truly, truly love her and for the life of me I can’t figure out why she has put up with me for all these years – but I am so grateful she has! Having someone next you through your treatments is critical.  Unfortunately I’ve seen several marriages break up over cancer diagnosis-es and treatments  because it was much harder than what they expected when they vowed “in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”

But Nancy also has a very tough side and she does not suffer fools lightly.  I still remember when she was pregnant with our third child, she took an AFP test that came back showing that our baby might have spinal biffida or Downs Syndrome.  And it was going to be two weeks before she could have an amnio centesus test to confirm if our baby was going to be alright or not.  Those were the two longest weeks of our lives!  All that time to think about the “what ifs.” It was really, really terrible.

When we finally got in for her amnio centesus appointment, the doctor sat us down in his office and tried to reassure Nancy that “this wasn’t going to hurt.”  Well, Nancy would have none of that.  She snapped back “oh yeah, have you ever had that long needle shoved into your stomach?  You’re just a stupid man, a stupid, stupid man!”  As the doctor’s jaw hit his desk, I shrank down to about two inches tall in the chair next to Nancy.  Fortunately, our daughter Emily was, and still is, healthy and perfect in every way.

To this day I still live by the mantra “Don’t be a stupid man!”  I don’t always succeed, but I try – I am a man after all! I love you, Nancy!

Let’s do this!

It all started in a corn field in Iowa.  Well, not really, but close and we’ll save that for a later post!

In 2002, a few days after my 45th birthday, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (bone marrow cancer).  Happy Birthday!  When I got the phone call from my oncologist informing me of the diagnosis, I had learned just enough about Myeloma to ask “what stage was it?”  When he told me it was stage 3, I said “well that’s not so bad, what out of 10?”  To which he replied “no, out of 3.”  Well, I thought that was hilarious and cracked myself up.  I think that was the point that I became good friends with my oncologist.

Multiple Myeloma is not a particularly cheery cancer.  It is a terminal cancer with no known cure – YET!  At the time I was told that I would be lucky to live three years.  After some pretty intense treatments (more of that in later posts) including a stem cell transplant using my own “cleaned up” stem cells, I am now going on 16 years being pretty much Myeloma-free.  And for the most part they have been GREAT years.

That is, except for the year and a half starting on November 30, 2016 when my oncologist informed me that I had a full blown case of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  He told me I had to go into the hospital the next day where I would be for a month starting my intense treatments.  I said “come on, really? Drop everything and go in for the month of December?”  He told me that if I didn’t, I would be gone in two weeks.  Well, guess who dropped everything and went into the hospital the next day?  Merry Christmas!

I’ll talk more about the cause and treatments for my Leukemia in some later posts, but suffice to say it was a heck of a lot tougher than my Myeloma treatments.  It included another stem cell transplant, this time using my brother Kyle’s donated stem cells (love that Kyle!!!) and a much longer and tougher recovery period.  The good news is I am now 14 months post transplant and at this point there are no signs of Leukemia in me!  While they are all very happy, I don’t think my doctors quite know what to do with me.

Anyway, as most cancer patients who are undergoing treatments know, “see you in thirty days” is usually the time between appointments.  You have thirty days to worry about if the other shoe is going to drop, or you can try to live your life.  Learning how to live your life in thirty day increments is a process and it takes awhile to move through it and get to the point where you can accept your situation and strive to make the best of it.

Hopefully my experiences can be an encouragement to others, and my crazy life can add a few laughs along the way.

PS: Please add comments as you feel like it, and subscribe to this blog.  Or you can bookmark the page address and come back later to check out any new posts! Thanks!