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I’m done with the cancer, but the cancer isn’t done with me

October 16, 2015 | Cancer, Life

I hate this.

In two weeks I go in for an Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection (RPLND). Not something I’m looking forward to.

The verdict is that the masses I have left are either:

  • scar tissue
  • teratomas
  • still tumors

The docs are concerned that the tumors are putting too much pressure on my kidneys and could also interfere with other organs by means of compromising blood flow and possible invasion.

So, that means that I get the big nasty surgery that I didn’t want. The surgery is a hefty one. It’ll require resting my intestines on my chest while they take out the tumors. The tumors are close to major arteries, nerve centers and my left kidney. I’ll be in the hospital for 5-7 days. Suggested recovery time is another 3 weeks beyond that.

As of now they’re after only 2 tumors, but they’ll remove anything else they see that concerns them. The tumors look HUGE on the PET scans. The size of my fist or larger. I thought they were smaller than that.

There’s a possibility that several different sexual functions can be impacted by the surgery. But we won’t know what’s impacted until afterward, unfortunately.

Either way it won’t be fun. I’ll get an epidural, a catheter down my nose and in to my stomach, and a urinary catheter. No food for 2-3 days. Feeding will be intravenous. Then the doc said he’s gonna kick me out of bed and make me walk around as soon as possible. I’m gonna be one grumpy asshole (ok, so this isn’t new).

So, yeah… I need a drink.

So much for normalcy

I’m let down by this news. I let myself get too comfortable with the thought that despite the tumors showed no change in size from the chemo that I could relax and call it done. I feel like my oncologist could have better prepared me for the reality of my situation. But that’s neither here nor there.

The reality is that this was always a possibility and reality likes to bring ya back down to earth with a resounding thud sometimes.

This is particularly tough because I’ve been struggling as of late. The neuropathy is driving me crazy. Among the physical issues that it has brought is also a mental issue. I’m not all here. My ability to focus is shot and I can’t get productive at work. This has been going on for a few weeks, well before the word came down that I’ll be getting surgery. It is making me grumpy and overall I’ve got a pretty bad attitude towards work.

I do enjoy being back at work. I like my work and I like who I work with. But my ability to concentrate on the task at hand or sometimes even properly conceptualize the solution needed is severely compromised. I take a long time to do what I used to be able to crank out. A lot changed while I was out and every day I find something that I used to know that I no longer have any scope on. I don’t feel like I’m contributing. And I feel like my relevance to the team is waning.

Another 4 weeks of being on the sidelines isn’t going to help that feeling.

Goodbye, my dopey dog.

October 1, 2015 | Dogs, Life

Dozer relaxing on the couch.

Last night our dopey little boy passed away. It happened very quickly.

I arrived home around 7:30pm to find him immobile. He tried to stand but couldn’t.

I took him to the veterinary hospital where by 12:30 he had already deteriorated in to labored breathing. The diagnosis was a lump on his spleen, probably cancerous, that was bleeding internally and that had either grown in to or bled in to his spinal chord, thus causing the problems with standing and coordination.

We elected to put him to sleep as anything we did to prolong his life would just be pain and confusion to him. He was gone by 1:30am.

The horrible part about this is that my wife is currently in the hospital after having surgery on her knee. She had to endure this from afar and without actually getting to say goodbye to Dozer in his final hours. She’s lucky that she didn’t get to see him at the end, but I know how hard it is not to be able to say goodbye and be there.

Funny Mutt.

We’ll always remember Dozer as our dopey boy. Happy, goofy, and always energetic. He was often times annoying when he just wouldn’t sit down or couldn’t decide where he wanted to be. But he was always a happy dog.

He was sad when we left for work in the morning. Often times shunning us, refusing kisses or attention because he didn’t want us to go. And at the end of the day he’d shower us with love and kisses when we got home.

In the last few years he had really bonded with my wife. He was her little shadow. He and his brother always wanted to be with her. I’d often times find myself alone in the house while she would have the company of the dogs.

Lap Dog

Not to say that he didn’t like me… I got my fair share of cuddle time.

Are you ready to play?

He loved to play… oh, boy, did he love to play. Wether playing tug of war or just hiding under the covers on the bed he never needed much convincing that it was play time. You had to watch your hands, though. He’d work his way up that toy and bite ya! Dopey, dopey dog.


I wish he could forever be a puppy. We picked him and his brother up at a very young age. My wife and I have known no other pets in our life together. These are our dogs and losing Dozer hurts.

I wish we had just a little more time to spoil him on his way out. We always talked about pampering him with all the foods he wasn’t allowed to have in his final days. Let him go out in style. But we didn’t get that chance. I wish my wife didn’t have to say goodbye through me. She deserves to say goodbye to him, not just the thought of him.

We’re gonna miss you, buddy. ❤️

So long, Alex King

September 28, 2015 | Cancer, Life

Alex King in New York

We lost a good one yesterday. My friend Alex King passed away after a long fight against cancer.

My life is better off today for having joined Alex at Crowd Favorite back in 2008. He was always the perfectionist, sometimes slave driver. He demanded a level of quality that only doing things the right way could accomplish. But it was nice to know that when the job had his seal of approval that it was good.

On top of that he was a nice guy. He’s the kind of guy that you measure yourself against, hoping that you find some way in which you favorably compare. Not to bring him down, but rather in an attempt to elevate yourself.

We shared interest in a lot of things. Among them were photography and general nerdery. But we also shared one unfortunate thing in common. Cancer. His was much worse than mine and he fought hard. And again I had a positive example set by Alex.

My life is better in so many ways for having known him. I’m very grateful for it.

Our hearts go out to Heather and Caitlin as they deal with his departure.

Thanks, Alex.

The best day of my life this year!

August 28, 2015 | Cancer

So, today is a good day. Earlier today I had a PET scan to evaluate the status of my tumors. And the news came back positive. The release of stress that came with this news is unbelievable.

Overall there’s no real activity within the tumors. They look dead. There’s one small spot on one of them that appears active, but its so far below the levels of being concerned about that my oncologist, and the doctors that he consulted with, are comfortable in calling my chemo a success.

We’ll obviously be keeping an eye on it. My next scan is in 5 weeks. But all in all I hope to no be lying when I say that I’M DONE WITH THIS SHIT.

Unfortunately I’m still on antibiotics for a c-diff infection (an ordeal that I was so broken down about that I didn’t write anything here on it) so my urge to break out the whiskey bottle will have to wait.

For now, though, I’m just happy that life can now begin to get back to normal. The wife and I can start looking forward not at more treatment, but at me getting stronger and back to my old self. I’ve spent too much of the last few months either asleep or just trying to get through the day. I wasn’t able to get out and be a part of anything during my chemo. It is still day to day as I get my strength back and I reintegrate back in to work but I’m looking forward to it and to getting back in to the world.

Most of all, though, I’m looking forward to planning some quality time with the wife. We both need it. While we’ve spent so much time together lately we really haven’t been together in any real sense. I’ve just been absent. I’m glad to be putting this behind me.

Progress scans are inconclusive

August 15, 2015 | Cancer

It has been 4 weeks since my last chemo treatment and so it was time for a CT scan to look at my progress. I had the scan last Thursday (Aug. 13) and got the results yesterday.

My tumors haven’t shrunk. In fact, they appear larger in some ways, though its hard to tell as we were comparing an MRI to a CT scan.

Needless to say I was, and still am, simply dumbstruck.

The Oncologist said that while this isn’t abnormal, it is rare. That it could be the tumor is actually dead and will shrink slowly. As we can’t glean any more information from the CT scan we’ll be doing a PET scan in a few weeks. PET scans use a radioactive marker to measure activity at the cellular level so we should be able to see wether the tumors are active or not. Maybe they are teratomas?

Why a few weeks and not right away? I’m not sure. Why not try to biopsy? I don’t know. I left the doctor’s office in a bit of a funk. My wife couldn’t accompany me so I didn’t have her level head there to ask more poignant questions before I stumbled out.

So, What’s Next?

Now we wait for the PET scan results. This isn’t the end of the line. There are 2nd line chemo treatments and possibly surgery available if the tumors are still active. If they’re not active I’m not sure what we do. We wait and monitor? I forgot to ask that question.

The thought of more chemo is horrifying at this point. Granted, I don’t know what the schedule for the 2nd line treatment would be, but I just can’t fathom more going through chemo as my only experience has been with a heavy treatment regimen. The thought of surgery isn’t that much better as the location of the large tumors is riddled with major nerve centers and arteries. Screw ups could have monumental effects.

Should the PET scan come back with active tumors we’ll be seeking a 2nd opinion from a more prestigious cancer center. It won’t be cheap but it’ll help with piece of mind. Should the solution come up as surgery we’ll be pushing hard for Kaiser to send us out of network to one of these specialized centers.

So as of right now it is hurry up and wait. Something that I’m not very good at…