Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cancer, a gift...

A year from now when I look in the mirror at all the scars on my torso and think back to this time in my life I am going to thank God. This isn’t something that I have to go through, it is something that I get to go through. This opportunity has already been such an amazing learning experience for me. I have learned so much about who I am and who I want to be. Proverbs 3: 5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” I can remember times in my life where I felt as if I was just going through the motions, just kind of wandering around aimlessly. I don’t know what the future holds in store for me; however, looking back over the past couple of months I can see clearly how God has paved this perfectly groomed path for me to be exactly where I am today. Thank you Lord. This experience is going to give me a second chance on life as well as the opportunity to be a better Christian, a better Husband and Father, and a better friend.

I have focused my writings mostly on the physical aspects and have spent little time describing the mental and emotional components of this roller coaster. I have really struggled with my own perception of my value to my family. The various surgical procedures and the relentless pain Trudy has gifted me has really limited the amount of time I have been able to spend with my family and has made me essentially useless with regard to everyday tasks. As a man, I feel needed when I am doing things and I feel worth when I am able to contribute. Being held captive by pain has stripped me of those opportunities to do things for my family, which in turn has given me a sense of worthlessness. It is extremely difficult watching my wife shoulder all the responsibilities and take on the duties that I would typically handle. I don’t know how to express to her just how grateful I am for all the effort she is putting forth daily.

One of the sweetest sounds in the world is hearing my son laughing and it breaks my heart when I know he is just a room away yet I am physically unable to play with him at times. I know that he won’t remember these days when he is older, but not being able to spend more time with him is so difficult for me. All I have ever wanted to do is be the very best father that I could be. I want my son to know that I love him more than anything in the world and that I will be there for him and I will do anything within my power to make him happy. These are precious moments and I hate feeling like I am missing them. I want to make my wife and son feel special. I want them to be proud of me. I know that they understand what I am dealing with right now and that they don’t think negatively about me and my contributions; however, that doesn’t keep me from judging myself.

I know in life it is so easy to get caught up in work, finances, or so many other issues that we sometimes lose track of the most important things in our lives, our families. As unintentional as it may be, we take what we have right in front of us for granted. We just assume that there is going to be a tomorrow, we assume that we will have another chance, but tomorrow is not a guarantee, it is a gift. I pray that this stays in the forefront of my mind for as long as I shall live, and I hope that all of you will pause for a few seconds each day and count your blessings. Take a moment to really hug your spouse, hold your children next to you where you can feel their hearts beating, and just say thank you.

I just returned home from completing my second round of intravenous chemotherapy. Given the fact that things didn’t exactly go as planned the first time, I decided to try my luck as an impatient for this treatment while also testing a few tweaks in my meds. As if dealing with the boredom of being confined to a bed in a small room with only a few TV channels to select from and having to eat hospital food for 5 days isn’t enough, I was unable to avoid a repeat of the previous chemo reactions. Despite our best efforts to prevent the re-emergence of Dumbo, the chest crusher, we were unsuccessful and I felt his wrath four times in a 12 hour period. Having the nurses a push of a button away did minimize the severity of the situation, though. The pain got pretty sporty at times, but I would say the quick responses from the staff really helped downgrade the intensity and duration of the attacks. Of course I had a gazillion wires hook up to me and the physicians were watching my scans and heart actions like hawks, but there is a silver lining. My oncologist still has concerns, but the cardiologists don’t believe that these episodes will cause any permanent damage to my heart or surrounding tissue. This is significant because it means that we can remain on the current chemo cocktail without making any major changes, giving me the optimal drug therapy treatment. All in all I would have to say that this treatment went much better than the first. Nausea did slap me in the face this round a lot more than the first, but I will take that over ambulance rides and a bursting catheter site in my leg any day.

2 rounds of straight chemo, 6 weeks of daily radiation and chemo, 6 weeks of recovery, and 3 major surgeries away from being a cancer survivor. Don’t give up…DON’T EVER GIVE UP!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Wife Chimes In

“Faith makes things possible, not easy.” I bought a plaque with this saying on it awhile back, which got me a good eye-rolling from the hubby (not the saying, but because I bought ANOTHER item for our house). Little did he know just how meaningful this plaque would become to us…

Errick and I met in Los Angeles in 2004 where we worked at a fitness club together. Started out as friends that turned into something more. That friendship has proven to be such a key in our relationship currently. We have to make each other laugh, lean on each other for comfort, and just sit with one another for long periods of time. I love that we don’t have to say a word all day to each other. Just his presence can rock my world. Errick and I have grown together in so many ways over the years, and one area specifically is in our faith. Many people and factors have brought us to the point we are today, the point of recently growing from baby Christians to toddlers. We have leaps and bounds left to grow, heaping loads left to learn, and an enormous amount of works left to witness. But one thing is very certain about this experience so far… God has a plan… and it’s so good. {Proverbs 19:21 – You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.} God’s timing can occasionally be confusing, but tests of your faith can be incredible, truly incredible. Allowing God to take on your worries, frustrations, burdens, concerns, fears can be really tough, but I’ve felt very little worry, less frustration than expected, not much burden, only a few concerns, and hardly any fear. {Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.} I keep asking myself why I’m not freaking out more, but the answer is simple. God. I have God.

Everyone keeps telling me how strong I am, how inspirational I am, what a great wife I am… Wouldn’t you do it, though? Do everything you can for your spouse and child? I tell people that it’s his job to deal with the pain, endure the meds, suffer fake heart attacks, etc. It’s my job to do the rest. Find the docs, make the appointments, fill the scripts, take care of Hudson, update friends & family. Who has the tougher job? Seriously. And I came home from the hospital after the first round of “heart episodes” and told my mom, “I honestly think I could take on more if God needed me to.” Then bam, cork in the leg burst… hematoma. Sometimes it might be best to keep those comments to myself. Sorry, babe, I may have caused that one.

I wanted to take this opportunity as you all wait patiently for Errick’s next blog entry to thank each and every one of you for every single thought, prayer, kind word, offer, nice gesture. The outpour of support has been overwhelming and I know what it feels like to want to help, but be helpless. Please know that just being here with us as we travel down this path is enough. It’s more than enough. I would also like to thank my husband. Thank you for being an even better version of yourself. Good ol’ Trudes has provided us some serious laughter. Trudy in the Booty. Could there be a better name? Thank you for opening up this very personal part of your life.

Faith is what’s allowing us to get through this, what’s allowing us to hope, dream, and make “positive goals” (i.e. a trip to Florida before surgery!)… I have faith in many things: my family, my friends, my marriage, but best of all God. As mentioned in the beginning, faith makes things possible, but it certainly does not make things easy. I love you, sweet husband. We all love you. Most importantly, God loves you.