Category Archives: Chemotherapy

Positive Thoughts Helps Ease The Diagnosis


Today we had our second visit to the radiation oncologist to secure images on TLO’s spine in order to determine the course of action for the upcoming radiation treatments. We were so pleased by the experience we had today because of the care and concern showed to us by the technician who was taking the images.

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Luis was a class act today. He took the time to thoroughly explain to us the procedure, what to expect and when we would know of the results. He listened attentive to our questions and made us both feel at ease. But I think what set the positive tone off was the way he greeted us in the waiting room. He went right over to TLO, extended his hand and introduced himself, then turned to me with the same warm welcome!

His approach was truly an ice breaker!

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Luis’ style today was not only professional and friendly, it was therapeutic! His demeanor today completely put TLO at ease, which has lasted the rest of the day.

“I really feel good today” said TLO after dinner this evening. “Was my cooking that great tonight I asked?” “Don’t kid yourself” he said. “I really came away from our appointment today feeling good about the how I was treated and the whole environment of the office. Luis was so nice to me and listened, that does not always happen in these settings. I am so glad that we are going to this office for treatments, I feel safe, secure and appreciated!”

I agree with him 100%!

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As the night has progressed, TLO is resting comfortably and we are both at peace thanks to Luis’ excellent care today. We don’t look at the future as being bleak, we look at each day as a blessing to share with each other, to care for each other and to be open to the days ahead.

We’ve had our cries; we’ve had our frustration and now we just deal with the reality of what is in front of us. One simple act of kindness by Luis today help alleviate 10 days worth of fear and frustration. Our hats are off to Luis!

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You see… We might have cancer…but cancer does not have us!

 

 

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Filed under Cancer, caregiver, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, Esophagus Cancer, LGBT Couples

‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio Every Tuesday at 1:00pm


Blog Talk RadioJoin us this Tuesday, December 18th at 1:00pm for ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio with our special guest, acclaimed Caregiving author,  Rob Harris.   You can listen live on Tuesday or at a time that is convenient for you by simply clicking here 

Rob’s book, We’re In This Together: A Caregiver’s Story and the 70 Caregiving Tips that he included, has been a #1 Amazon.com bestseller in the Physicians & Patient Caregiver category. Celebrities, the media, and some of the leading oncologists, surgeons and doctors in the United States and abroad have praised it. Excerpts of his book, along with many of his Caregiver Tips will soon appear in one of the nation’s leading magazines and websites: Coping With Cancer.

robharrismuralHis book has inspired many, including two songwriters that produced a song and had it recorded by an up-and-coming recording artist. The song, We’re In This Together, will be made available in the near future.

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Rob enjoys writing, blogging, and speaking in front of audiences, but gets the most pleasure from helping caregivers, patients, and those within the medical community. In whatever free time remains, he enjoys visiting with family, friends, and spending time at the beach.

If you would like to be a guest on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ contact me direct at Chris@thepurplejacket.com

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Filed under Be A Healthy Caregiver, Blog Talk Radio, Bow Tie Guy, caregiver, Caregiving, Chemotherapy

What A Difference A Year Makes


Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. Helen Keller
It was just one year ago that ‘The Little One‘ started his chemo and radiation treatments.  I remember one of my early blog posts during that first week of treatments entitled;  I’m Radioactive!  where ‘The Little One’ said ” I don’t care what you put into my body as long as it is going to help me beat this cancer.”

We learned that the first week of treatments is usually the easiest; we also learned six weeks later just how difficult chemotherapy was for  ‘The Little One.’  What they put in his body was dreadful, yet it helped stop the spread of his cancer cells. Now a year removed from the start of his treatments,  ‘The Little One’ still has his ups and downs, his good days and his bad days; we are enjoying life in the moment!   According to the American Cancer Society “Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen to any particular person.”  (“Survival rates for,” 01).

“The Little One” was fortunate that the cancer was local and had not  metastasized. We live life in the moment, enjoying each day as an extended stay, not worried about tomorrow. Given three to four months  to live, ‘The Little One” has far exceeded anyone’s expectations (except ours!).  In 6 weeks, we will be one year past that diagnosis! He has already beaten the first survival rate indicated by the American Cancer Society which is quite an accomplishment for someone of his age.

Through our Caregiving journey we have  learned the meaning of true friends, and what is important in life.  While each one of us deals with the reality of cancer in a different way, each one of us wants to look on the bright side of life. Yesterday is gone, today is here, not sure about tomorrow. It is our hope that lets us withstand problems; it is our beliefs that let us find solutions.

Phase II of our Caregiving journey starts this September as I will be learning  a new chapter in my life;  How to take care of me!   Sounds selfish, but it is the reality that I must face.  Each one of us deals with stress in different ways.  I dealt with the stress of this past year by over eating and over thinking.  I thought I had it under control, but I was in too much control. In many ways, I am better at taking care of others than taking care of myself.  That is a paradox and may be a bit overstated, but that is my reality at the moment. Thankfully I am in a place to deal with it and fix it.

Caregivers are so focused on taking care of their loved one (caree), that we as caregivers often lose sight of self.  To be a healthy caregiver, we do not have to surrender our individuality, we have to  celebrate it!  

What are the (my)  keys to being a Healthy Caregiver?

  • Health < Healthy Caregiving Starts With You!
  • <  Eat Healthy
  • A Achieve Your Personal Goals
  • L Live, Love and Laugh 
  • < Take Time for Yourself
  • H < Heal Your Soul 
  • < Yearn To Care For Yourself As You Care For Others

Checking in at 250 lbs on September 1, 2012 means that I have gained 25 lbs since arriving in Florida in March and have put on almost half the weight I lost 10 years ago.  There is no blame to go around, just a stark reality of a life lesson learned.  The Helen Keller statement is so true! “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

A lesson learned is just shelf-life if the lesson is not put into practice! 

In order to be a Healthy Caregiver, I have no choice but to take better care of myself.  There is no better way than to own it, realize it and blog about it.  As The Bow Tie Guy transforms into The Healthy Caregiver;  the lesson that  I have learned is that I have to practice what I preach.   As a proponent of a holistic life of body, mind and spirit, I must apply those principles to myself, too…DUH!

What good am I to myself and the one I care for if I allow my  health  to fail?   

I hope you will continue to join us on our new Caregiving journey!

Remember…

…We might have Cancer; but Cancer does not have US! 

 Survival rates for esophagus cancer. (01, 2012 11). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/EsophagusCancer/DetailedGuide/esophagus-cancer-survival-rates

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, Esophagus Cancer, Gay Caregiving, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Seniors, Spirituality, Unconditional Love

Make an Oncologist Smile.


The trip to the oncologist brought a big smile to everyone face. Amazed at the progress of ‘The Little One’ the doctor encouraged us to continue on this smooth path and don’t come back for six months!

Now seven months past the diagnosis and five months past the last Chemo/radiation treatment, we find ourselves on an upwards swing. We have much to be thankful for…

Wonderful family…

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Fun times…

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Great Friends…

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Love comes in all shapes and sizes: don’t let love pass you by because life can change at a moments notice.

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You see, we might have cancer… But cancer does not have us!

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Filed under Advocate, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, Esophagus Cancer, Humor, LGBT Couples, Life after Death

Anticipation


That Carly Simon song in the late 70’s ‘Anticipation’ comes to mind this evening as we prepare for our 9:15 am appointment with the oncologist on Friday.   We’ve done all the rounds this week: PET Scan on Monday, Cardiologist on Tuesday, Primary Care Physician on Wednesday we have been on the go constantly since we left St. Louis last Friday.  Today, we rested!   Yet the appointment with the oncologist is ‘the big one’. ..’Anticipation…it’s making me wait!’

While all the doctors we’ve seen this week have given us high marks, the Primary Care Physician was steadfast in her recommendation.   “Focus on your cancer treatments, everything else looks great.”

The human body sure is a funny place to live.  One of the positive outcomes of this experience is that ‘The Little One’ is off his diabetic medication.  So in essence, we’ve made a trade…Diabetes for Esophagus Cancer!   Tomorrow we’ll see just where we stand in this ‘trade’.  This ‘trade’ can prove to be beneficial with a good report on Friday from the oncologist.

“Anticipation…it’s making me wait!”

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Filed under Advocate, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, PET Scan, Uncategorized

November – National Care Givers Month


November is National Care Givers Month!

 We all know some one who is a caregiver, whether we find ourselves taking care of a loved one, know someone who takes care of a loved one, or even if we have heard an inspritational story on the news.

 In today’s busy world it can be easy to forget to show our appreciation to those who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others everyday. As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to those who choose to spend their days serving others.

“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”
Alan Cohen

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Downsizing


While we know that the tumor has been downsized by the radiation and chemotherapy treatments, we have taken a long look at our personal belongings and have started the process of downsizing in this area too.  So far, the experience has been quite cathartic.

How much ‘stuff’ does one really need to be comfortable in life?  China that has never been used, kitchen gadgets (well, except for the Tumor Extractor!), glasses, roasting pans; yikes where did all this stuff come from?   And better yet… what really is the need?

Funny as it seems, when I was in the seminary those little rooms we lived in seemed so small…now as I look back at that experience, living austerely has its benefits.  Thomas Merton does know what he is talking about!

Cancer is a life changing experience for all who are involved in it.  We have grown closer because of the disease and have I have come to a reality check with my life.   You see, what is important is not how many items you collect, rather what is important is how many lives you touch.   The last few years I have lost touch with my own reality; cancer does have its peculiar benefits.

As the green leaves transition to beautiful autumn colors, we are in a transition mode as well.  What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others will ever be immortal.  I am honored and proud to be a caregiver, it is one of the most remarkable experiences in life.  I am also grateful for the reality check that our downsizing has provided to us.  May the ‘Little One’s’  health continue to improve; let the downsizing begin!

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The Tumor Extractor just $19.99


We have all seen those gadget that they sell on TV… It seems that all those gadgets sell for just $19.99 and better yet, all these gadgets are a must need for every household!

As I was preparing waffles for breakfast this morning I came across a new product called ‘The Tumor Extractor’

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Simply apply to the area of the tumor and all your troubles will be gone!

‘The Little One’ and I enjoyed a great laugh when I presented him with our new ‘Tumor Extractor’ for just $19.99 and just think…we only spent $10,000 on chemo and radiation! (Of course Monty Python’s Spamalot is playing in the background.) Every cancer patient and caregiver wishes there was something as quick and simple as ‘The Tumor Extractor’ to remove cancer from the body. But what is available to every cancer patient and caregiver is hope, love, support and humor. That is the true Cancer Extractor!

While Each one of us deals with the realty of cancer in a different way, we want to look on the bright side of life!
Yesterday is gone, today is here, not sure about tomorrow. Today we are enjoying our new ‘Tumor Extractor’ even if it will only help us make waffles.

It is hope that let us stand problems…but our beliefs let us finds solutions.

Happy Sunday! And remember… ‘Always look on the bright side of life!’

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In Medicine…East vs. West


As ‘The Little One’ continues to show signs of regaining his strength, we decided to take a detour and visit Dr. Mo this past Saturday.  Who is Dr. Mo you might ask…well Dr. Mo specializes in eastern medicine, specifically acupuncture.   We visited Dr. Mo earlier this year for treatments of sciatica and after four treatments we were pleasantly surprised at the relief ‘The Little One’ received from the acupuncture.   ‘Why not consult with Dr. MO’, we both asked each other this past week. 

While we will not know for a least another month what effect the radiation and chemotherapy has had on the tumor; we know very well that the chemo and radiation has ravished his body, zapped his strength and pretty much turned his life upside down.  Traditional medicine, while proper seems to have a wait and see attitude during this ‘down time’ before the next PET scan.

This attitude was confirmed during my phone consultations with the oncologist and primary care doctor this past week.  The nurse for the oncologist told me over the phone that ‘The doctor normally does not call patients back’…my response to that was simply…’That is odd, don’t you think?’   The primary care doctor referred me back to the oncologist…(they share the same office!).   My response to the primary care doctor was just a tad more direct…”In the patients best interest, one of you needs to be taking the lead in the decision-making.’

That comment rang a bell with me.  The ones who need to take the lead in the decision making are the patient and the caregiver.  While we are all striving for excellency, when it comes right down to it, we are the captions of our own ship.  Authority while respected, is not all-knowing.  There is a reason that medicine is a science.  There are no two bodies alike!

We both know what we are facing with this disease, sometimes you just have to think outside the box.

What do we expect to gain from Dr. MO?  Alternatives, options, hope…just as we expected to gain from the traditional forms of medicine.  Yet not to pursue all options available to us, does not give life a chance.   We both saw the results of the acupuncture in March and April of this past year…why not give it a chance? 

In life…there are plenty alternatives, there are plenty of options, and there is plenty of hope…we just have to engage these options ourselves….rather than waiting for that call to be returned.

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Filed under Acupuncture, advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, caregiver, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, Eastern Medicine, Esophagus Cancer, Health, Humor, LGBT Couples, Live Love Laugh, Looking into the future, Love, Medical Office, My Life, oncology, Personal, radiation, SAGE, Spirituality

Meet Me In St Louie, Louie…


The ‘Little One’ heads to his final radiation treatment this morning. We are both thankful this chapter has come to an end. Yet in retrospect, there has been some bonding with the other patients who are scheduled at or around the same time.

Whether it is a gentle hello, a wave of the hand or just a simple jester, there is a bond with these patients that in undeniable. It has been an honer to be in their presence.

We will be motoring up the road today to St Louis. We are looking forward to the trip as a change of scenery will do the Little One some good!

Meet me in St Louie, St. Louie!

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, Esophagus Cancer, radiation, Senior Housing