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HammerOn - The Story

I wrote back in November 2018 about my battle slogan, "HammerOn."  I was actually in the process of repairing my fence in Arlington in late summer of 2018 when I was diagnosed with cancer.  Working on the fence helped me take my mind off the diagnosis, combined with my childhood memories of rebuilding fences with my Dad, really got the idea into my head from beyond board and nails to a work ethic instilled in me to keep getting up and hammering on.  The symbolism of the HammerOn logo was cemented when one month into chemotherapy my cousin Andrew brought me two hammers, a ball peen hammer belonging to our grandfather and a framing hammer belonging to his dad which were used to hammer on metal and wood.  I instantly felt connected to the hammers, through the spirt of my Dad and Andrew's Dad whom both died of cancer. 
     My cancer experience while positive was emotionally difficult, in fact I didn't think I would still be alive post surgery so I didn't pursue b…
Recent posts

Radiation - Beam On

Radiation for me hasn't been so bad, bad meaning, I've been through worse, or perhaps my mind has gotten used to pain, used to the flows of this entire experience.  I mean if you think about it, I'm laying down in a machine in a concrete vault and having radiation beamed through my body... yeah that sounds really scary, but what does freaking out get me, nowhere.  That's a big cancer lesson that I have learned, all this freaking out, losing your shit, it doesn't get you anywhere.  In fact the mindful meditation classes I've been attending at the Sibley Hospital has gone a tremendous way.  Now when I lay down for Radiation I focus on my breathing, letting thoughts come in, pass by and back to my breathing focusing on myself and the moment at hand.  Below is a picture of what it looks like on the other side of the concrete wall, yes, I'm getting radiation at the moment, my wife snapped this picture.

    I last wrote about 9 days into Radiation, and while …

Radiation

Radiation, Part 3 of my treatment has arrived - April 30, 2019.  Can't believe I have already had 7 months of treatment, all healed up from surgery, and now ready to Hammer On with the next thing up.  I feel pretty good, sure I have the pain of two 10" plus scares across my chest and I've been attending physical therapy to regain motion of my left arm, but my mind is focused. 
   I've met with my Radiation Oncologist and another round of people added to my cancer team.  First up is "Simulation" in which they get me into the position I will be in with arms over my head, form an air cast around my body and make a series of 3D scans and CT like slices through my body to be able to plan the radiation.   I'm also introduced to the "ABC" technique in which I take a deep breath, this allows my diaphragm to pull down my heart away from the chest wall and while I hold my breath for 30 seconds, the radiation beams hit my chest wall.  O'h I also got t…

The In Between

I've accomplished Chemotherapy, 133 Days / 5 Months - DONE, but not done, I look forward to Part 2 - Surgery.  The surgery was scheduled for March 28, 2019 right at 5 weeks post chemo.  Mentally I thought Surgery was the easiest because it was one day, then maybe some PT, but not something were I had to endure 5 months of chemo pain.  In the weeks leading up to Surgery, things were pretty much chill for doctors visits;  a sleep study, labs and a few follow up appointments, and I had returned to work about 4 hours a day, but the days "in between" were taking a toll emotionally.
    I actually missed going to the hospital on a weekly basis as I did for chemo - a part of me had gotten into a habit more or like, or perhaps it was the healthcare interaction with people.  I also had been putting together a "if something should happen" booklet, it's called Five Wishes, writing down passwords and thinking how I wanted to be remembered.  I thought of dying, of h…

Day 133

Day 133 - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - Number of days from Infusion 1 to Infusion 20.  Like one of my favorite EDM songs by No Mana called "Over and Over" - that has been the pattern of my life for 133 days, a pattern of repeated tasks every week to put my body through chemotherapy treatment.  I've grown to live with it you might say.  It's the first part of treatment, the first hurdle, 20 side affects long including death.  It all fell into my lap - I walked out of Infusion for the last time, hugged my nurses and I couldn't hold anything back, my eyes flowing with tears.  Tears of celebration that I just accomplished this and tears of this struggle with life and treatment all at the same time.  What kept me going?  All of it and especially People.  Prayers and the shear gratitude of others, the internal will to fight on, to Hammer On.  The other moments, all equally important; 384 miles of driving trips from home, 40 vitals, 17 blood lab tests, 20 infusion…

Thumbs Up!

The day had come, Feb 6, 2019 - 5.48pm, my first breast MRI scan since I began my treatment in October 2018 for Stage 3 male breast cancer.  This is what they call the "scan" it's pretty huge for cancer patients as it shows how the cancer is.  I had had trouble with the first scan, getting overly hot as I lay face down wrapped in blankets in an MRI that I didn't lay on my back for.  So I knew going in, I would just be wearing a gown and try to get as much airflow around my head to make me more comfortable.   I had just finished my 14th cumulative chemo about 1 hour before, armed with another IV stuck in my hand right hand for the MRI contrast, I had the technician snap this photo of me standing beside my machine, with my cell phone on the safe zone as no metal is allowed in the room.  I gave the "Thumbs Up" with my left hand. 
   The scan, went great well sort-of, I was definitely cool and had good airflow around my head, so I didn't have to stop the…

Chemo 5, 6 & 7

In December 2018, I started the second part of my chemo treatment, "T' known as Paclitaxel or Taxol.  The big change from the "AC" treatment was it is a weekly infusion for a total of 12 treatments.  As I imagined, the month of December flew by as my mind was excited about Christmas and by the day after Christmas I have completed chemo 1, 2 3 & 4.
   While it's not not been smooth sailing, I do feel like it's been gentler on my system than the AC treatment.  I have Neuropathy just about every day in my fingers, a numbness where sometimes I can't even feel keyboard while typing.  But I haven't had the Nausea like I did on the AC treatment and that has led to me eating more, cooking which I enjoy, and going grocery shopping, as I didn't shop for 3 months.  Physically I've dropped another 10 pounds, peach fuzz has started sprouting in my scalp and some whiskers have returned, as I haven't shaven in 3 months.  Mentally I've continu…