Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Phase 1: Completed

I take a deep breath and then sigh in relief, I have completed phase one of my treatment. Two months of inpatient chemotherapy and all the fun and fantastic side effects that came along with it are finally behind me. The last round in the hospital went just as I could have expected, exactly like all the others. It is funny that of all the treatments, this final visit was the most dreaded. I had so much difficulty focusing on the fact that this was going to be the end of a very rocky road. I guess I was just thinking about all of the crazy side effects that were inevitably going to happen, or possibly I was just so eager to be done that time seemed to stand still. The nurses were all so great and did everything that they could to make me feel comfortable and got me anything that I needed. Perhaps that is why it was almost sad leaving the hospital that Monday morning. I developed friendships with a handful of my nurses and it was somewhat bittersweet to say goodbye. I can’t say that I am going to miss a single element of the chemotherapy, but I know I will never forget the experience. Thinking back at all the curve balls and strange and unexpected surprises I endured, I have to say that I am proud of what I have accomplished up to this point and I am eagerly awaiting phase 2 of my journey.

September 20th marks the first day of radiation treatments, which will be accompanied by daily oral chemotherapy. The doctors have warned me not to take the new chemo too lightly, though. They described the pills as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I won’t actually know for a few more days just how the new drugs will affect me, but I’m hoping the lower daily doses won’t slow me down nearly as much as the stuff in round 1. It is incredible to me just how far science has come and the amazing treatments that are available today. Just a few short years ago when radiation was administered, it was directed at the affected cancerous areas, but anything in the line of fire, healthy or not, would also get zapped. Think about all the goodies that are down in your lower abdomen and pelvic region: bladder, intestines, etc . Thank goodness for new age technology, hopefully now I won’t have to borrow any of Hudson’s diapers. Today they can actually avoid causing collateral damage to healthy tissue and focus the radiation on just the cancerous cells and tumors. Hearing that was sweet music to my ears. As you might expect, this phase of treatment is very precise. As part of my initial consultation and dry run of the radiation procedure, they made a body mold from my pelvis down and actually gave me three little tattoos as reference markers to ensure that my body will be positioned exactly the same way each day when I come in for treatment. I am told that radiation really doesn’t cause many side effects of its own. If anything, I may experience something like a bad sunburn on my keister where the radiation passes through the skin.

When this whole thing started, I was in so much constant pain that I couldn’t wait for the next time I could pop in another pain pill. Times were really tough and each day was a struggle. Over the past couple of months I have been feeling better and better. The pain is slowly diminishing and I have been able to become more active, which has granted me many more opportunities to play with my baby man. He is almost 10 months old now, which means he is changing every day and having many “firsts.” I am so grateful that I am able to spend more time with him and my lovely wife. It may not sound like a gigantic triumph to you, but this week I was actually able to take a walk around the neighborhood with my family for the first time. Other than my routine daily pills, I don’t take any additional breakthrough pain medications and haven’t done so for about two weeks. I believe that the chemotherapy has been destroying Trudy, and I know that the Lord has his healing hands upon me working miracles in my life. Yesterday morning I got up before the sun and headed down to the cancer pavilion for a PET/CT scan. It is time to see just how effective all the drugs have been over the past two months. Unfortunately, the results won’t come in for a few more days, so we will all have to wait for the verdict.

Even though I feel so much better, I haven’t forgotten about the bad times. I bring this up for a very important reason. When you are in constant pain or are constantly feeling like dog dookie, it is extremely hard to focus on anything else despite your best efforts. From the beginning, I have been showered with warm wishes and prayers from friends and family, which has meant so much to me. Often times people would state that they wish they could do more. I have to say, those emails and prayers were so much more than you could imagine. Every time I would read a message, even though it may have only taken a few short moments, I tried to think of a funny story or experience I had with that person. Sometimes those short one line “I am thinking about you” messages would lead to 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or even an hour or so of great memories. This is so important because for that period, I was able to think about something other than being sick or being in pain. I don’t know how else to explain it, but those words got me through what has been the toughest time in my life to date. Thank you so much!


  1. We all pray for you, Errick....but to hear your great story in your own words gives back to us.We all get stuck in the bitching and moaning of everyday life. We all need to be reminded about the power of prayer and how family and friends are our number one priority. Keep up the good fight and the blog...we need it as much as you do!

  2. I am learning so much from you, Errick! Thanks for taking us along on your journey. Best Wishes, Margot Shirley

  3. Errick, Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey. You have helped my daughter and I to daily "give thanks with an open heart." Your battle has reminded us to be appreciative of all the little things in our lives that Our Lord and Savoir Jesus Christ has given us. You are such a powerful witness and we feel so blessed that you have shared your experiences with us. Our walk with Christ is becoming stronger daily as a result of you.

  4. I am so glad you are feeling better. Less Pain = More Fun!!! We are thinking about you and you and your little family are in our prayers. Thank you for keeping us up to date and I pray your results are awesome! God Bless you and yours.

  5. oh my goodness, you journey mirrors my husband's fightwith cancer so much. We were sent an email today from a friend in Florida writing of your story and asking for prayers. If David wasn't sleeping right now I would wake him up to read this and share with him. He is 34 and 10 months ago was diagnosed with what they considered stage IIIB or IVa thymic carcinoma which is a very rare and very aggressive for of thymic cancer. He has undergone chemo, radiation,open heart surgery, removal of his right lung and part of his heart and more chemo. He was just given the news of remission this past Monday. We know that prayer, friends, family and his awesome drs are the reason he is still here and fighting. Please know you will be in our prayers and I have reached out to your sweet wife if she needs anything. I wish we lived closer but thanks to the lovely technology we can keep up with each others families. Fight and pray that was David's words and that is what he did. You will now have lots of people praying for you in the south :) Here is our story http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/davidpugh76

    God Bless,
    Alicia, David,Drake Pugh
    Charleston, SC

  6. You are truly inspiring and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife and baby! Hope you enjoy the quilt Lucia put together with the help of us virtual quilters! I was happy to sew up 5 or so blocks in your honor. I can see my birch tree block in the bottom row and hope it brings you much warmth, love and comfort!
    God bless you!
    Ellen B