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Lifetime Radiation 33

   How did I get here - 33 Lifetime Radiations to treat my Cancer?  Looking backwards, my 30th Radiation was on June 11, 2019 and then my 31st Radiation was on March 15, 2021 or 643 days in between.   I began three days of intense CyberKnife Radiation at John's Hopkins Baltimore or known to me as the "Mothership" to treat the tumor on my spine that I wrote about in my "3 Sentences" blog post.   What exactly is CyberKnife Radiation?  Good question let's compare treatments - my 30 Radiations were at John's Hopkins Sibley Memorial Hospital which involved walking in a concrete box, turning on some tunes, holding my breath for 20 seconds, lying still between breaths all lasting about 20 minutes each treatment.  CyberKnife, well, it's big fucking time, still walked into a concrete box, still listened to tunes, but I'm bolted to the table with my custom mask and have to hold still for 90 minutes and treated with a very high dose radiation.  I heard that
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3 Sentences

            Sunday, February 07. 2021 - Super Bowl Sunday, I went to the ER for a pain in my right lower abdomen under my rib cage, thinking I might have a pulmonary embolism.  So to check that out, I underwent a CT (scan #1) of my chest and top abdomen and ultrasound (scan #2) to rule out PE or gallbladder.  After a couple of hours, I got the results: no PE and nothing wrong with the gallbladder.  What I got instead was three sentences on a discharge document:     ER Report 02-07-21  Impression "3 Sentences"   Osseous metastatic disease with new T5 vertebral body lesion demonstrating epidural tumor extension. New lung nodules consistent with metastatic disease. Small right pleural effusion. Nodularity along the major fissure.  Findings concerning for malignant effusion , What followed was a TIDAL WAVE of EMOTION - WHAT? - YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME.  After several choice cuss words and a few hours of not being able to comprehend these 3 sentences, I sat down and wrote an ema

Go 1-0

   On June 11, 2019 I completed 278 days of cancer treatment with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.  Earlier that morning my wife gave me a Stand Up 2 Cancer t-shirt with big yellow letters across the front reading "Survivor."  She asked me to wear it on my last day, but I did not.  I put on my go-to, a worn down red t-shirt that said "Mr. Incredible" - in my mind I was not a survivor until I completed that 30th round of radiation and rung that bell.  As I rung the "finished" bell, I was immediately overwhelmed with sadness, joy, gratitude, all of the above and I paused there standing weeping in my own tears.  As I looked up towards my doctors and my wife, a little boy on a hospital bed wheeled past me, with his 4 doctors in toe and a crash cart.  The patient had been in the adjacent radiation room getting treated for brain cancer, he couldn't have more than 7 years old.  Here I was finishing my treatment at age 42, there he was at somewhere on his

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 o ne 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 backyard fence at time of diagnosis - Aug/Sep 2018       My cancer experience while positive was emotionally difficult, in fact I didn't thi

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. on the other side of the concrete wall     I last w


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,