1 Year

1 year ago today I had my world turned upside down

1 year ago today I received the toughest news of my life

1 year ago today I had to do the toughest thing of my life to look my kids in the eye and tell them that daddy is not ok.

It’s been a year since I’ve felt normal and know it will never come completely back

It’s been a year since I’ve had a good night’s sleep

It’s been a year since I’ve been able to exercise like I want

It’s been a year since I started the toughest physical process I’ve ever had to do

It’s been a year since I’ve started the most rewarding journey I’ve ever had

Since last year I have cried the hardest, laughed the hardest, feared the most, and cheered the most.

Since last year I have met more great people who have enriched my life than I ever could have imagined

Since last year I have learned more about myself and realized I know less about myself

Today I enjoy my job more than ever which I didn’t believe was possible

Today I enjoy my family more than ever which I didn’t believe was possible

Today I enjoy my life more than ever which I didn’t believe was possible

Today I live as a Cancer Survivor, which was only made possible by faith, love, support, science, medicine, patience, endurance, and the grace of God.

Update

I haven’t updated in a while because I’ve been busy living life which I know is what everyone wants for me.

I’ve taken a few trips for vacation and for Bradley playing basketball. We have bowling passes for the summer so we’ve been doing that as well as going to the Country Club pool most days.

I got back yesterday from a basketball camp that I worked in Georgetown. I left last Sunday and basically worked everyday from 8am to 10pm. I’ve done this camp for the last 5 years or so and many of the other workers are some of my closest friends. The guys in charge told me to work as much as I could but stop and rest at any point and they would cover me. It was 2 camps back to back, the first one went nice and smooth, while I was extremely tired each night but felt good. The second camp we had almost 300 campers, we were packed to the gils with kids. One of them was Bradley.

I got to Coach Bradley’s team which was special as well as fun. He did really well and I was a really proud dad the entire time when all of my buddies were impressed with his skill and especially his attitude and effort.

I have been in bed all day because I pushed myself as much as I could and overdid it a few times. I rested when could, was at the trainer often to help stretch me out, and made sure I stayed hydrated. Still my body broke down, my scapula has a big knot on it, my right quad is strained and my calf’s have charlie horses in them.
I say all that to tell you it was absolutely worth it.

Our last morning there I got up and spoke in front of the coaches things that I had been thinking about and writing down since I got there. This is what I had written down and what I said to them that morning.

“One year ago at this time, I was finishing up camp after a fun and exhausting week. At that time I was in the best shape of my life, and things were really going great and smooth in my life. In the 12 months since then, I have found out I had cancer, have had 4 ct scans, 2 pet scans, and 3 surgeries. I have gone through 12 chemotherapy treatments, many infections, several sleepless night and some very dark moments.

The darkest moment I had was on May 4th laying down in the tube for my pet scan. I sat there for 2 hours knowing that the results of that scan I was having could change my life. The fact that this result could lead to me not being able to coach next year if ever really had me in a dark place. The thought of never being able to coach again has probably been my biggest fear though out this
process.

When deciding whether or not to come to work this camp, Kenny, Dean, Josh, Donny and Jamie all reassured me that I could do as much as I could and rest when I needed to. It really helped me make the decision to come. Even though I see some of you only 2 to 3 times a year, I know that if I needed it, many of you would drop what you’re doing and come help me out.

This leads my to my overall point.
I am a cancer survivor, it is a fraternity that I did not choose to be apart of, but I will be for the rest of my life, with that comes duties and responsibilities that I haven’t even begun to understand.
We are part of this coaching fraternity that we have chosen to join. This is a powerful group that can do many great things. This camp has been physically tough on all of us, but I have had sauce a great week because I’ve gotten to coach kids, that’s something I haven’t gotten to do much in the last 12 months. Moreover I’ve gotten to coach my son the last few days, and that’s something that was a possibility of never getting to happen again.

One of the main thing that helped get me through the bad times was all the lessons I’ve been taught playing and coaching sports as well as all the love and support I received from coaches, former and current players, and former coaches. I truly believe that basketball has helped save my life.

We have the best job in the world and I urge you to appreciate what we are apart of and challenge you to enhance our reach and influence throughout the state.”

5-27-12

I have probably written and rewritten this post about 30 times. Its been difficult to adequately describe everything that has gone on. I’ll write something down, then I’ll have something happen that takes me down a different path emotional so I’ll erase it.

First off everything has been great and really positive. I’ll try to describe the last week in a few phases in upcoming posts because I’m still dealing with a lot of it in my head and don’t think I’ve properly processed everything.

As an overview it has just seemed like I’ve had a lot of emotional situations come up that I not prepared for and adjust slowly to. Its not a bad thing, just a little taxing mentally to deal with. I feel like I’m on sort of a remission celebration parade that has not slowed down. I’m not complaining, but it is like I’m on a trip that I’m not sure of when the end will come.

Because I was out of town, Monday was the first time I went to school since I heard my news. I sent a detailed email to the entire school thanking everyone and specifically those directly involved in helping me in my recovery. Obviously I received many responses and heard from many others that I didn’t know about who were keeping up with me.

Thursday was our last day. That was a day that I looked forward to for a long time. I’ve never been too excited about school ending, I love teaching and coaching, but this year couldn’t end fast enough. But of course kids love to be unpredictable as usual. My 2nd period gave me a card signed by everyone with very detailed messages, I really got choked up reading it.

I had to leave early because I had my follow up appointment with my doctor that day so I got out early on the last day, what could be better. I found myself dealing with an unexpected sadness of it being finished. I guess because I wasn’t really prepared for it even though I thought I was.

The doctor visit was great, he agreed with the prognosis of no radiation. He told me I didn’t need to come back for 3 months! I will probably do a CT scan right before then and have a check up. At that point I will probably get the port taken out of my chest. If everything goes as planned we’ll wait anywhere from 4 to 6 months and do another PET scan to see if any activity has started back up.

The goal is 5 years without activity, but he told me that with Hodgkins, the first 2 years are by far the most important, most of his patients who go 2 years without activity don’t have it come back.

He told me I can pretty much do what I want for the next 3 months. He wants me to take it easy on exercising and to understand that I will probably take me a year to get back to what I feel as being comfortable, and could take 2 years. I’m ok with that because I have no other choice.

He told me my immune system will be out of whack for the next year but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be more susceptible to getting sick.

I’ll tell more later, my tour is going to San Antonio tomorrow for a little fun with the family. We just got back from College Station from the funeral of my grand aunt June Dowell who was 93. It was a good trip and great to see a lot of family. She truly lead a great life and effected many lives throughout her journey.

5-20-12

I am on my way back from San Antonio from a wonderful weekend spent with lots of friends and met more people who have shared my struggles and are instantly my brothers in life.
I am still in an excepting process of change. I took me a long time to truly accept that I was a cancer patient because it was different from my normal life. I eventually did accept it and adjust my life style to that. It is hard for me to fully accept that I am a survivor now and that I do not officially have cancer. It will take a little bit to adjust but it will happen.
I really didn’t realize how tough the last two weeks have been on me emotionally until now. The anticipation really effected everything about me. I have done more this weekend than I have the last 3 months combined but I feel better than I have in months. Its part of getting better physically everyday away from my last treatment, and part the emotional burden being lifted.
I am still amazed by the response of so many people, I have received so many texts, emails, and responses to my blog that my head is still spinning. I have given and received more handshakes and deep hugs this weekend than I can count. I haven’t even seen my kids yet since I found out. I am overwhelmed and overjoyed at all the love, thought and prayers that I have received this year. They were truly the difference in this being a bad situation to this becoming a defining wonderful period of my life.
I still have a lot of work to do before I and my family can get back to normal but I am excited about the work to be done. I have several more dr appointments I need to schedule, I have to get this port out of my chest some time in the next 6-8 months, but that will all work itself out.
I am ready for school to end this week so it can mark an official new beginning for me professionally and personally.
I know there is more to come for me and I can’t wait to see everybody for the first time as a Survivor.

Dallas

I try not to post when I’m emotional but I know a lot of people are waiting to hear about today.

The official diagnosis I AM IN REMISSION.

As of right now I am not going to do any other treatments or radiation.
The CT scan shows a few lymph nodes are larger than normal, but it is the result of scar tissue and they may stay that way forever and its harmless.
The PET scan shows no cancer activity in any node which is the important thing.
He is going to do one more thorough look at both pet scans from before and after in early June and then give me a call, but from everything he has seen, he really expects me to be done for now.
I still have to meet with DR Hirsch and discuss this visit as well as his assessment and have a plan of action for the next year or so, but all signs lead to success.
We discuss what would happen in the case of recurrence, which would be a stem cell transplant which is not fun, but I know what to expect now if this were to happen.
I’m obviously flooded with emotions right now, I can’t say how grateful I am to everyone. I still have some work to do to get back to normal but it seems that the worst is behind me.
I’m about to fly to San Antonio to go to a basketball clinic for the weekend and while I’m excited to go and celebrate with many friends, I’d almost rather go home and just spend the weekend alone with my family, they’re all I can really think of right now. I can’t wait to celebrate with them.
I will continue to update my progress for the next few months as all of the details are finalized, but right now, its time to celebrate and enjoy the moment.

5-11-12

I haven’t posted in a while for several reasons. None of them are necessarily good excuses but are reasons just the same.
I have been busier as the days and weeks pass. While I’m no where close to back to normal, I am getting and doing better physically a little more each day. I am carefully pushing my limits to see what I can and can’t do yet. I’ve been to several of the kids events and games and currently am at a hotel for a basketball tournament for Bradley.
I did my CT scan last Monday (30th) and did my PET scan last Thursday (2nd). I won’t know my results until next Wednesday when I go to Dallas for my appointment. It will be there that I will know my progress and talk about radiation/ any other option. My Dr in Abilene wants to wait and see what he says before I go to him and talk about treatment.
While Wednesday is a big day for me, I’m not gonna lie, I was an emotional wreck during my Pet Scan on Thursday. Most all of us can point to a turning point in our lives, but rarely do we actually know it in that exact moment. I had the experience of knowing at the time about my life altering moment. Whatever that scan shows is going to dictate at least the next year of my life and possibly the next few years, positively or negatively. I really am calm and ok now and was before hand and will be until wednesday, but at the time it was really getting to me.
I know that I was fretting over something I have no control over, but that might be the most important thing I have ever done for my life. If by some small chance the treatments didn’t work and I have to do more than radiation, I will have to alter my lifestyle.
While this has been one of the most rewarding years of my life, I can not and will not go through it like I did this time. I would have to give up a lot of who I am and what I love, which I am willing to do if necessary, but really don’t want to happen.
So I guess that’s why I’ve avoided updates for a while. I haven’t thought about any of this except for the day of the scan and right now when I’m writing this. I’ve kept myself busy and distracted because it does no good to dwell on any what if’s until after wednesday. While a lot of times it is best to deal with your feeling and think about them, I think in this case, right now, I need to keep them in until I know results.
Please do not feel sorry for me or feel like you need to say anything to help ease my burden. Everyone on here and around every aspect of my life has made this as easy as possible for me. I could not have asked for anything better short of it not happening at all. From the moment I was diagnosed, it was inevitable for me to go through this period I am in now and I accept it completely. There is nothing that can be said or done that will really give me relief until after my appointment. Luckily I have the kids to keep me BUSY until then. I will be running around this whole weekend watching basketball, monday we have a band concert and another school presentation, and tuesday night I’m coming to Dallas to stay the night.
I know that Wednesday will be a great day for me no matter what because out of the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life, I have received more grace, honor, love, affection, attention, and wonderful experiences than I would have thought possible in my lifetime. I walk by faith and not by sight (Rom 10:17) and I know that whatever happens Wednesday, it will be for my betterment.

4-29-12

I’m not sure exactly what info I put in my last post and to be frank with you I’m too tired and lazy to look it up right now even though its just a page away.
I had my CT scan this morning. It took a while to get in and get it done but other than that it went well. I’m not sure if I’ll find out the results before my appointment on May 16th in Dallas. I have a PET scan on Thursday.
Last week was pretty good. We had testing at school which jumbled my schedule around which made it a little tougher for me but not too bad. I went to Bradley’s baseball game Thursday night and tried to do a lot more than I’ve been doing. It takes its toll but I’m not pushing too hard. My blood counts were good on Thursday.
I went out of town to Arlington because Bradley had a Basketball tournament. It was fun. We saw a few friends and family we hadn’t seen in a while and that is always uplifting for me.
Physically I’m slowly getting better. I am pushing myself but not too much. Its causing my body constitution to flutter around but that’s what is going to happen for now. I’m being patient and smart and trying to pick my moments.
Of course I get frustrated and stressed at times when my physical condition does not react like I would want it to or gets to where I think it should be. Yes I am anxious about the results of my CT scan and of my PET scan. But these times don’t last very long.
It is because I believe in God and his son and my Savior Jesus Christ. I believe he is the way to salvation and eternal life. He has never promised me one good day here on earth. Yet I have lived 11832 days and most all of them have been great. If I died tomorrow I will have lived a better life than I deserved. If I were born several hundred years ago, I would be close to the end of my expected life. If I stay healthy enough, I may not have lived a third of my life yet. I am truly blessed.
Again I’m not going to pretend that everything is always sunny and easy going with me right now. I have my emotional moments. But I do have an inner peace that I rely on when things get down and it quickly lifts me up.