Today I am proud to say that I am a Cancer Survivor of 1 year.
As summer is in full swing, today is a day that will forever be etched in my mind. One year ago today July 18, 2018, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. This past year has put me on a journey that nobody wants to go on. However during this process, I have learned so much about myself, my family, the EGR community, and friends. So many positive things have come out of this. I have mentioned that before but it’s so true.
This past year has been a challenge in many ways. The physical challenges have pushed me to a level that I never imagined. When you are used to doing as much as possible and staying busy, it’s been a challenge to slow my life down and not do as much. That has been a difficult pill to swallow. The side effects can be brutal some days to be honest. I try my best to not them interfere with life, but sometimes it is just not possible. I mention to Jill many days that I want my life back, but I remind myself that this is life currently and I just have to fight through it.
Another challenge has been keeping a positive attitude. I would say that most of the time I have been positive about my journey but some days the battle feels a lot harder and the negativity sneaks in. It’s during these times when I lean on family and friends to help get back to my positive attitude. This goes right along with being mentally tough. Mental toughness is a point of emphasis each year that I coach and teach and it has been something that I have had to remind myself of each day. It would be easy to just say this is too hard or too painful or too difficult but I think about how I would push my students to be successful and I would remind myself that I need to take my own advice.
Even though that I am going through chemo and all its side effects, the hardest part for me is seeing the impact on my family. They live this nightmare every day and it’s so hard to see them struggle and hurt and there is not much that I can do or say to help them.
As Jill mentioned in her most recent post, our latest trip to MD Anderson for tests and scans was very positive. The tumors are stable with many of them being reduced in size. The mass on my colon is stable. My team at MD Anderson was very happy with these results. The plan is to continue this line of chemo. As Jill and I walked out of the office, we were thrilled. I was able to make phone calls to my family to let them know the news.
The trips to Houston put Jill and I through the wringer. The anxiety begins a couple of days before we leave and lasts until we get home. We are both physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted by the end of the trip. After hearing such good news we thought we would celebrate this little victory but we were so drained, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back to hotel to get some rest.
As we begin year 2, I will continue on the same treatment plan with chemo every 2 weeks and trips to Houston every 10-12 weeks until this chemo stops working or a change is necessary. At this point, the biggest issue is how my body can withstand the chemo. Many times they will have to change some of the dosage or the mixture to make sure that I can stay on the treatments. As the chemo has a cumulative affect, I am seeing that the side effects are a little more intense and learning to deal with these is a difficult task. As I tell many people, this pain is a lot better than the alternative. I have a lot of people ask me how many treatments I have left and the answer is I don’t know. We just take it one trip to Houston at a time.
I also need to mention a few others that have made this journey a lot easier. First and foremost is my wife Jill. She has been my rock since day 1 and I wouldn’t be where I am without her. My 3 kids Jake, Maddie and Z have provided me with motivation to keep battling. Our immediate family has provided us so much support. To mention all the ways they have helped would make this post very long.
Many other people have been a huge support as well. All of out extended families near and far, friends, the staff at EGR schools, New Heart Church, EGR football coaches both present and past and the EGR community. This list could go on and on but I just want everyone to know that many people have played a huge role in getting me to year 2.
As I wrap this up, remember to enjoy every day and live each day to the fullest. Don’t let the little things in life drag you down and cherish your time with family and friends.
Thank you all for the support, positive vibes and prayers that we feel every day. It’s going to be a long journey but having all your support is a huge help
Enjoy the rest of your summer.