Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Sadness and Christmas Gladness

The Christmas season can bring about some tough situations and this Christmas has been no exception. I got a call from my oldest daughter on Christmas Eve morning telling me that Vicki's Mom had passed away that morning. I sat Vicki down and told her the news.

She cried uncontrollably for some time. The best I could do was just hold her. I had an appointment with my chemo Doctor that morning, so we went to that first before going to the nursing home. At the Doctor's office I learned I will be taking more chemo after the first of the year. This time I'll need a port and have the infusions done at the Cancer center.

From there we went to the nursing home to see Vicki's Dad and the rest of the family. Since her Mom would be cremated they decided to having a viewing on Friday, the day after Christmas.

Christmas day we had kids and grand kids at our place for Brunch and present opening. Our oldest daughter Bridget told us that she had ordered our present and it wouldn't be in till Friday and that she would bring it to the Viewing.  We talked to our middle daughter  in Enid on Christmas morning on the phone and told her we wished we could see her face. I even suggested Skype. 

After the kids left on Christmas Day we watched a movie, napped and prepared ourselves for viewing Vicki's Mom on Friday. Vicki confided in me that she was scared to see her Mom and was worried that she might not be able to keep it together. I told her that I'd be there for her and I was sure she'd be OK.

Friday afternoon we left the house around 2:00 PM for the 3:00 PM viewing at the funeral home out in East Mesa. We had a little trouble finding the place, but when we saw most of the family standing out in the parking lot we knew we were at the right place. We pulled up and parked. As we got out of the car I noticed that some of kids were recording us on their phones, but then didn't think any more about it. 

We hugged our friends and relatives as we progressed toward the entrance. Bridget met us at her car and said she had our present. At that point our middle daughter Jamie emerged from Bridget's car and both Vicki and I just stared in shock. The two girls had given us the best Christmas present ever. It reminded me again what great kids we have.

Jamie will be staying with us for a few more days. Her being here has been such a blessing. Right now as I write this the girls and Vicki are out at the Mall shopping. Vicki is getting a great deal of help dealing with the loss of her Mom by having her daughters with her. I am not immune to the effects of having Jamie's sweet face here to see either. 

So... this Christmas has brought both sadness and gladness. 



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Post Surgery

I was released from the hospital on the 17th. The surgery was a success in that it got all the tumor and the re-hooking up of my colon seems to be doing OK.

Unfortunately they did find live cancer cells in the lymph nodes at the margin of the excised tumor, so I am in for more chemo. I'll know more after my appointment with the chemo oncologist on the 24th. That's right, I have a doctor's appointment on Christmas 
Eve. I guess cancer doesn't take a holiday.

These first few days at home have been rough. I don't have a lot of energy, the incision hurts like hell and the pain drugs made me throw up. I called the surgeon today and told him my predicament and he told me to stop taking the narcotic pain killer and try ibuprofen. 

I was able to keep a couple of small meals down today and that's great news. The ibuprofen seems to be working well enough on the pain as well.

I learned today that we're having Christmas Brunch at our place. I will enjoy seeing the kids and grand kids.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.


Monday, December 8, 2014

A Date for Surgery

My surgery is scheduled for Wednesday the 10th. I am hopeful it will go well and that the biopsy of the tumor will show that I am cancer free and don't need further treatment.

Tomorrow is prep day, I don't want to say anymore than that, cause it ain't pretty or fun.

I may be in the hospital a week or more.

That's the news.


Sunday, November 30, 2014


Well, it's another wonderful Saturday night. I had Friday off, so I started putting up the Christmas lights and was able to get most of it done. I finished today and did the grocery shopping as well. Vicki worked on the inside and the whole place looks like a Christmas wonderland.

As is my wont, I made a fire tonight in the fire pit and had a couple of Whiskeys and a cigar while I enjoyed the light show.

Tomorrow we will take it easy.

Monday we get Vicki to EVDI  in the morning for a Sonogram and then see our family doctor in the afternoon.

Then we wait for the results for her and also wait to hear from my surgeon.

At some point we may both need surgery before the first of the year. 

I do not like waiting, but that's where we're at.

Wish us luck,


Thursday, November 27, 2014


I hope your Thanksgiving Day was as nice as mine. There are so many things for me to be thankful for this year. First, I am very thankful to be done with chemo and radiation. I am also very thankful to have my wife at my side these last 30 plus years. 

We have both grown to appreciate and love one another more and more as we have fought through our separate and combined travails. 

This last bout with my cancer has been tough, but so far not unbearable. 

So... today I am most thankful for still being alive and with Vicki.

Each day is precious. Today was a little more than most.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Saturday, November 22, 2014


We had another wonderful Saturday with both us having the energy to do what we needed to get done. I did early Christmas shopping so I won't have to worry about being in the hospital and not having my shopping done.

I shopped for Vicki and then did the grocery shopping and Vicki cleaned the house. Both of us had medical appointments on Friday. Vicki had a CT scan and I had my tumor tattooed.

I should hear from my surgeon next week and possibly have surgery shortly after Thanksgiving. Hopefully Vicki's CT scan will tell us good news.

Tonight we had a fire in the fire pit and I had a couple of whiskeys and a cigar. Vicki made s'mores. I managed to get most of the s'mores in my mouth.

We are both looking forward to Thanksgiving  at our granddaughter's house this coming Thursday.

I  hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Now I know more

So....... I have a time this coming Friday for a FlexSigmoidoscopy. This will be a procedure that marks the tumor for the surgeon. Then I will hear from the surgeon on when he will do the surgery. Although my last CT/PET scan showed no active cancer cells, the only way to know for sure is cut out the tumor and biopsy it. That will allow the doctors to determine the staging of the cancer and if any more treatment is needed.

My wife thinks the surgery will be the week after Thanksgiving. I am not so sure, but I'll know by the following week I guess.

In the meantime I am eating as much as I can, working in the yard this weekend and enjoying a nice fire in our backyard fire pit and a whiskey and a cigar tonight. Tomorrow (Sunday) we'll sleep in and I'll do some more yard work if I have the energy. 

Monday we see Vicki's oncologist to get the results of her last MRI. We'll work the middle of the week, then I'll be off Thursday and Friday.

It feels good to be off chemo and getting my strength back. I am hopeful that the coming procedures and surgery will go as well as the rest of treatment has gone.

Wish me luck,


Sunday, November 9, 2014


I met with both my  chemo oncologist and surgeon this last week. The news was good from the the chemo guy. They did not find any sign of cancer in my lastest CT/PET scan. The question now is when I will have surgery.

The surgeon wants to see exactly where the tumor is located. This may require another procedure where the gastro enterologists will tatoo the tumor from the inside allowing the surgeon to see the tatoo from the outside when he opens me up.

This may require another colonoscopy prior to surgery. I will find out more on Monday.

Still, I am feeling pretty good. We took a trip to Payson this weekend and had a great time. We left Ft. McDowell Casino with some of their money and spent it on a fabulous steak at Fargos in Payson. Then we played the slots at Matazal Casino till we were sleepy.

I hope to have many more weekends like this with Vicki  before my time is over.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Great Weekend So Far

I am posting on Saturday instead of Sunday because today was so good. I did some yard work, went on the roof to see if I could determine how a cricket got in our ceiling. No luck there, but I had the energy to do it and that's what important.

Later I went grocery  shopping. Bought steaks for dinner with our oldest daughter and then came home to find her already at our house. It was awesome. We grilled steaks, ate on our patio and sat with her and my wife around our firepit and talked. I cannot express how wonderful it was to spend time with her.

As a surprise for us she brought her little dog Sadie. It was a lot of fun having her and Sadie here. 

I even managed a couple of whiskeys and a cigar. 

Great Day and even better night.

I have hopes that things are getting back to normal for me, at least for a while.

I find out next week the results of my last Cat Scan and when my surgery will be scheduled. 

Wish me luck.


Sunday, October 26, 2014


Well, I thought I had it whipped. I went to work this last week and made it to Thursday, but by Thursday afternoon I was exhausted. So, I stayed home Friday hoping to rest up and regain my strength. My digestive system was coming around as well. I am taking pro-biotics in an attempt to rebuild my stomach bacteria necessary for digesting foods. I felt better than I had in months.

When I woke up Friday morning though,  I knew something was wrong and then Monkeys flew out of my butt and I was back where I was three weeks ago when I was still having chemo and radiation every day. The rest of the weekend was spent like many, many of my previous days, just laying around feeling tired and sick. At least I didn't fell as sick and icky as when I had the chemo drugs in my system.

My dreams of a whiskey and a cigar will have to wait till I'm better I guess. So... I remain hopeful I'll be able to get to work on Monday, but realize I may have pushed coming back too soon. 

I'll know more in the morning. 

Wish me luck.


Sunday, October 19, 2014


It's been 12 days since my treatments ended. I will go back to work tomorrow. While I am still weak, I believe I am up to it.

The hardest thing will  be getting ready and driving in to work. I admit  I'm looking forward to seeing my workmates again. And that brings me to the "Thanks" part of this post.

I received a nice surprise last Thursday. The folks at my office sent me a card. See below.

 It's hard to express how much this helped my moral. All I can say is Thanks, Thanks, Thanks.


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Aftermath

It's 5 days since I stopped chemo and radiation. Today is the first day I didn't need to take the anti-nausea meds. It will take some more time to wash the chemo drugs out of my system. 

Instead of reporting the remaining  side effects and symptoms I thought a top ten list of my least favorite side effects of the chemo and radiation  would suffice.


#10   Loss of Appetite
#9    Neuropathy of Hands and Feet
#8    Rashes
#7    Dizziness
#6    Loss of strength
#5    Burning sensation when peeing
#4    That icky feeling of just not being right
#3    Radiation burns
#2    Vomiting
and the number 1 thing I will not miss about cancer treatments is:  Continous Diarrhea  

If it sounds like I've been a bundle of joy for the last month or so you can see why. I am still experiencing some of the above mentioned maladies but hope they will dissipate soon.

Today was better than yesterday and I am hopeful that tomorrow will be better still.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Down to the wire

This week's blog is proving my most difficult to post. It's almost 11:30 Sunday night and I'm still trying to get my side effects under control enough to attempt sleep. I have medication for the tumor pain, but this weekend has been all about stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting. 

I spent last night and this morning (from 10:00 pm Saturday night to 5:30 AM Sunday morning) sitting in the easy chair in the living room with severe cramps and stomach pain.

Today I've tried some different meds and foods, but still have the stomach pains. They are less severe than yesterday, but still enough to keep me awake. A search on the Internet led me to bananas as a soothing food. So ... I am tentatively munching on small bits on banana in hope it will ease the pain.

I've had to resort to pain pills for most of last week, but I am attempting to stop taking them. They won't help with the stomach issue anyway.

OK, enough about the past. Here's the good news. I have just TWO chemo days and radiation treatments left. It can't come soon enough for me.

I continue to work the problem hour by hour and I continue to  hang in.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

When Monkeys flew out my butt

OK, so no actual monkeys flew out of my butt, though on a couple of days this last week it did feel that way.  

The chemo and radiation is intense, aggressive, and cumulative. This last week I received some new side effects. The bottoms of my feet hurt, like someone had beaten them. I awoke Saturday morning feeling like I'd been in a fight in which I was repeatedly hit in the family jewels and the area directly north of my family jewels was a nice rosy red from the radiation. The nausea continues unabated. All in all just another regular week for a cancer patient. 

I am not complaining as much as reporting. My oncologists tell me some of their patients have it much worse. I believe them. I remain is survival mode, taking it hour by hour. 

The good news in all of this is that I am in the single digits for the number of remaining treatments. That number is 7. 

I am hanging in.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Past Midway

This last week marked the halfway point in my treatments. Wednesday was day 14 of my 28 day treatment regimen. I didn't go in to work this week. The side effects have finally taken over.
Now, my main objective is to make the best of each day. 

Small things count. I view feeding myself, bathing, and occasionally shaving as major achievements.

Twelve treatment days to go. That's 2 &1/2 calendar weeks left. 

I continue to hang in.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

My first full week of cancer treatments

So, I completed my first full week of chemo and radiation this Friday, five days of afternoon radiation treatments and chemo pills morning and evening. By the end of the week I was pretty wasted, but not in a good 60s kind of way, more in an old man with no energy kind of way.

Work was tough this week as well. I  only managed to go for 3 days of the five. Some mornings there just isn't any energy to get ready, or worse, I'm having issues related to the treatments that make me hover around the bathroom. 

This weekend is going to be a total rest event. If I do good, then maybe Monday morning will find me on the commute to work. I've just been reading, fixing something to eat and watching the tube. We don't have cable, however we get a bunch of HD channels. One of the movie channels is sponsored by the Ironwood Cancer Research and Treatment Center where I am being treated. It feels a little creepy hearing their commercials over and over again. In the end I started changing the channel rather than be reminded that I have cancer time and again during the movie.

There is good news here though. I have now completed 11 of the 28 treatments I will be receiving. That leaves just 17 to go.

A website I read frequently had this video posted. It struck home. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

My current Existence

OK, I completed treatment number 6 this last Friday. My world currently revolves around my butt and not to put to fine a point on it, it's a pain in the ass, literally. 

For the first time since starting the daily chemo and radiation treatments I felt the results of the radiation. It was not a comfortable or pleasant sensation, but I was reassured to know it was definitely doing something to the tumor.

The mornings are the hardest part of the day for me. I struggle to get ready, eat breakfast and make it to work. Lack of energy and nausea are my problems these days. I am getting as much sleep as possible and taking medication for the nausea, but both problems are getting worse as the treatments continue. 

The weekends are a break from the chemo and radiation. On Saturday and Sunday I get as much rest as possible and prepare for the coming week.

It's not clear to me how long I can keep working. I am taking it one day at a time now.
Hopefully the treatments are killing the cancer. That is the most important thing.

22 treatments to go.



Sunday, August 31, 2014

And then I threw away her mask

It's been just over two weeks since I had my gall bladder removed. I am healing nicely. The two weeks coincided with the start of my chemo and radiation treatments. I was supposed to start last Monday but encountered trouble with the Specialty Pharmacy that my insurance uses for chemo. Because my chemo is administered by pills I had to order them myself. It seems a little crazy. It has to do with the insurance getting to charge me more for the pills. Anyway, that's done and I have had two days of treatments. 

The effects of the chemo are slowly making themselves apparent. I am more tired and my stomach is a little more queasy, similar to the way it felt after my surgery. This 3 day weekend should give me a chance to rest up since treatments won't start again till Tuesday. I only take the chemo on the days I get radiation which will be Monday through Friday on regular weeks.

The first radiation treatment was surreal. I found myself thinking about what it must have been like for Vicki when she had hers. Because the cancer was in her head they made a form fitting mask and locked her head in place. It freaked her out so much she had  to take Valium for each of her thirty treatments. I didn't understand until that moment what she had gone through. Now I know. 

It feels so strange when the machine makes it's beeping noises while the radiation is being directed into your body. You have to be perfectly still. After all, you don't want the deadly beams going astray and frying your naughty bits. So, understanding how she felt and still feels about the mask I saved to someday make a wall plaque of her face, I threw it away.

The last thing she needs to recall is the strange feelings and anxiety associated with cancer radiation treatment.

I have 26 more treatments to go.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

In and Out Surgery

It turned out that my Gall Bladder needed to come out before I started cancer treatment. I had the surgery on Thursday. We went to the Hospital at 10 AM and were out by 2 PM.  They don't mess around.

Three days after the procedure I'm starting to feel human again. The surgery might be fast but it still takes a while to get over it.

I look forward to missing the assorted pains and maladies associated with gall bladder problems. 

My treatment will be delayed a week or so till I heal up enough to take the chemo and radiation. With luck I'll be able to start before the end of the month.

For now I'll just concentrate on feeling better and getting back to work.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Good News about Bad News

I'm one of the worst procrastinators when it comes to medical tests.

So.... after 18 months of putting off something I never wanted to do, but really needed to do, I had a colonoscopy. I took Wednesday of last week off to take the prep and had the tests on Thursday. Since I have GERD, I also had an Endoscopy. The results were interesting and scary.

I found out I have a hiatal hernia in my esophagus, I have gall stones and I have Cancer.

That's the Bad News.

The Good News is that in spite of the seriousness of the cancer it is treatable. The oncologist says there's an 80% chance of success. I like those odds.The CAT scan I had Friday didn't show anything in my organs, so that's more good news.

Monday we will get the results of the biopsy. There are at least two different kinds of cancer that can occur in the area they found mine. Once we know, the oncologist will be able to prescribe the proper chemo. 

Due the size and potential stage of this cancer it will be treated with radiation and chemo in tandem. 

I have appointments with the radiation people, the surgeon and oncologists next week to finalize the treatment plan. I'll also need to get a PET scan as well. The radiation folks are picky about where they send their deadly beams.

By the following week I should start treatment. As it was explained to me on Friday it will be six weeks with radiation and chemo five days a week for that period. Then a month or so for healing and then maybe a surgery or not or two. There are some variables here according to the stage of the cancer, the type, my reaction to the treatment, the cancer's reaction and just plain luck.

I admit to spending one sleepless night contemplating my eminent demise before I met with the oncologist. Vicki and I were much relieved after our visit with him. If my radiation people and my surgeon are anything like my gastro and chemo guy then I am truly blessed. 

You see that's the really Good News about the Bad News.The doctors who are treating me really care. It is awesome to deal with folks that give a shit and who get it. 

What's your good news about your bad news?


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Road Trip Vacation 2014

Well, we finally made it to South Dakota. I've only been promising Vicki that we'd get up there for the last 30 years or so. Life and other stuff kept getting in the way, priorities changed, Parents died, Sickness and ill health crept up on us and we just plain didn't get it done. Till this year that is.

Pictured at the right is Mount Rushmore from the terrace at the park. If you're going to South Dakota then a visit to Mt Rushmore is a must. The park is really something and the views of the mountain are great. It was relatively good weather the day we were there. The sun was out, the wind blowing and the temperature in the mid 40s.

The next day it snowed and I took this next shot from a viewpoint that allowed a side view of George Washington. 

Mt Rushmore is located in the Black Hills, an area a little more than 60 miles long and 40 miles wide. To the north is Deadwood, an old western town full of casinos and to the south is Hot Springs, the site of an active Woolly Mammoth dig. We spent 3 days in the town of Keystone, just 4 miles from Mt Rushmore and traveled the roads in the Black Hills every day, even in the snow.

One day when we were coming back from the Mammoth dig in Hot Springs we had to stop to let a herd of buffalo cross the road. This was in Wind Cave National park at the south end of the Black Hills. Vicki rolled down her window and took a few shots of the young bison grazing at the side of the road.

We went this time of year to avoid the crowds and in that respect we were successful. While there were quite a few folks at Mt Rushmore and the Mammoth site there was easy access to all the sites we visited and the crowds small.

We also saw our daughter and grand kids in Enid, Oklahoma, Vicki's cousins in Sioux Falls, her Uncle in Keystone, and spent a couple of days in Deadwood in the Casinos. All in all a fantastic road trip totaling just over 3900 miles in 14 days. 

We're home now and a little tired, but we'd pack up and  go again if we could. 

What do you have planed for your summer travels?


Thursday, April 3, 2014


Later this month when I turn 65 I will be joining the 9% club. As of the latest statistics in 2012 there were 43 million and change people in the "Good Ole USA" over 65. Of those about 4.3 million held full time jobs; 9%.

I am unsure if I'm in the top 9% or the bottom 9%. 

Many days at work it seems like I'm in the bottom percentile. Today was one of those days. I can understand why the great majority of my age group do not work full time, but it saddens me. We have an experience gap in industry in this country and it is growing. There is little if any benefit from having experience in your field if you're not listened to, aren't paid for it and get no respect for it. That's the situation where I work.

The generation gap, the changing workplace and technology aren't the only reasons we over 65ers have left the workplace. The recession forced millions into early retirement. People in their 50s are having trouble finding work, much less folks my age. The economy has bounced back for the few, but not for the average working Joe and certainly not for the older average working Joe.

My company is being sold, the buyers are in the building every week now, it's just a matter of getting all the conditions satisfied for both parties. The company is an LLC and the investors are going to want their money, the owner wants his and the buyer wants to make sure they aren't being taken. In all the other company sales I've experienced we were kept informed and of course kept our customers up to date. It is the exact opposite here. 

I am hopeful I can hang in there without getting fired or getting mad and quitting before the takeover.

It is an ongoing lesson in humility.

How's your job?