Wednesday, 31 December 2014

And it begins

So I have begun chemo and with it the true fight against cancer. On December 19th I had a port put in. This was actually a very quick procedure but when the nurse started to describe it to me I told her she could just skip to the part where I sign off on permission.

This port means that I don't have to get poked constantly to get my chemo drugs put in and makes it a very simple procedure. The surgery itself was only about 8 minutes and the doctor was very good and actually quite hilarious. I was tented off so that only my neck and right chest were exposed and they let me wear my headphones with my music on low so that they could still talk to me. 

A small (about 1 1/2 inch) incision is made and a triangular bubble was inserted above my nipple. Then a catheter (tube) was fed up to my neck where another incision was made and it was inserted into my jugular vein. Then I'm closed up and sent to recovery for a couple of hours. This was all done just with local freezing. The nurse asked if I wanted some numbing and I said yes so she leaned down to my ear and went "num num num num." (not really but that would have been awesome). The nurses were just awesome and after my surgery took some pictures for me.

After looking at the photos I noted a major mistake in my photo prep. When wearing yoga pants I need to hike them up and not slouch because the resulting muffin top is just too much.

The nurses were also smart and told me to take a sympathy photo just in case I needed it later. 

This needed to heal before anything else could be done but in that time I received a package that meant a great deal to me. It was from Fireman Rob (@teamfiremanrob). Rob is a firefighter and USAF vet from Wisconsin that competes in Ironman triathlons. However, to raise money for ailing firefighters Rob does the marathon portion of Ironmam in full bunker gear with helmet and Airpac. Seeing Rob out on the course in all that gear is truly inspiring and I've lived chatting with him a little the few times we've shared a course. After my diagnosis I messaged Rob on Twitter and told him how inspiring I found him. He responded by sending me a running hat from his charity. But the other item in the package brought Kim and I to tears. It was Rob's race bib from Kona (Ironman World Championship 2012) with a note on the back telling me to stay strong and that I'd earn my own. Triathletes will understand that this is a treasured item and so to give it to someone is really an incredible gesture. I framed it and went to Michael's craft store and put ánimo on the front. Thank you so much Rob.

On December 30th we got to meet with Dr. Michael Sawyer. He's an incredibly nice man but what was most impressive was his astounding knowledge. He sat with Kim and I for an hour and a half and although the prognosis is not much different he gave us some hope. He said no one can predict when any of us will go and that I shouldn't discount my physical fitness. He wants me to continue training as much as I can as, in his words, "we have no idea why Lance Armstrong is still alive." We asked about me planning to complete an Ironman in August. His response? "Go for it!" Awesome. Additionally, he also mentioned that there are drugs in the works that may be incredibly successful in the future. So although I was hoping he would sit us down and apologize because they were wrong and, in fact, I didn't have cancer I am very happy in his care. As we left he told me I would be starting chemo the next morning at 8:15am. This was great as I didn't have much time to fret, although I didn't sleep well.

They warned us to not arrive early as the doors don't open until 8:15 and they weren't kidding. A group of us huddled in the entry way to the room and at exactly 8:15 the doors opened up and we shuffled in. I was escorted to my chair and my nurse Paige asked if I had a port. I told her I did and this made her very happy as it is very easy to hook me up, and she was right. Rather than a standard needle the drugs are given through a device that can best be described as a power plug with a single pointy prong. This prong is pushed through the skin and into the bubble. That's it. 

The nurse was awesome and made me very comfortable. She explained all of the possible side effects and what to watch out for and fortunately I only experienced one of the very minor ones. My head and hands began to sweat excessively so I was given a shot of Atropine and it fixed itself up. As the nurse promised chemo was actually quite underwhelming. You sit in a chair for 3 hours and then you leave. That's it. 

Well, that's not totally it. For the next 46 hours I get to wear a very functional yet stylish fanny pack with a bottle of chemotherapy that pumps into me at a slow rate for the next 2 days. It's a bit of a hassle, but you know what REALLY sucks? Dying sooner.

I truly hope everyone has an amazing 2015 filled with incredible experiences and wonderful memories. You only get one shot and none of us know how long it will be. Ánimo


  1. Your attitude never ceases to amaze me; no wonder you and Kim are such a dynamic duo! Many prayers of blessings are being prayed over your family for this New Year! Deep breaths and round-house kicks - you got this, guys!

    Love from Oregon!

    Karey (and crew)

  2. So nice to read your blog. The nurse from CT:)