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Friday, December 28, 2018

Cycle 4 Infusion

Cycle 4 was cut and dry. It's kind of routine now. It's sad for cancer treatment to be routine in a person's life, but that's how it goes. It's also made me realize that most of the complaints I hear from other people are trivial and irrelevant. Sometimes I think "try doing that with cancer like I do". It's crazy scary every time, knowing that each infusion I have can kill me on the spot. That's how experimental drugs work, though, and immunotherapy at that.

I was fortunate to have Mason, a wonderful new friend, go with me. On the way home I thanked him again and mentioned that it might have seemed silly to him for me to want someone there for that. He exclaimed that he understood completely, and any normal person would want someone supportive around for that. It sort of validated my fears, coming from a person who is not related to me or hasn't known me for 30 years. I believe that when someone goes to a chemo infusion with a cancer patient, they come out a different, better person. It shows them the reality of what is happening. It helps put their problems in perspective.

This cycle will involve weekly trips for labs and twice on week one. The good part of this is that all cycles after this will only involve the infusion, with no extra trips for labs. My next CT scan will be when Cycle 5 starts in 3 weeks. The doctor said that if the cancer is not shrinking, the scan will give us an idea of how fast it is growing. She said in the meantime to keep focusing on my greater quality of life due to not having so many side effects, like before. And even though the treatment has not worked does not mean it won't. The nature of immunotherapy is that it can start working at a later point.

I'm still terrified. FIGHT ON!
trying to read amid all the blood draws

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Fort Benning, GA

I was able to travel to Fort Benning to watch a great friend graduate from Basic Training. It was a big deal to make this trip to watch all the soldiers graduate. The place is beautiful. The tanks were spectacular. The families and graduates were elated!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Cycle 3 of Clinical Trials and CT Scan Results

Well the scan results were not so good. The cancer has grown. This is very distressing, but there is nothing we can do about it. The doctor suggested we continue with the treatment and finish out the trial. I don't know what will come after that. For the time being I just continue to go about my life as before.

We went ahead with my third infusion. I was there on a Thursday this time, so that I could have my lung biopsy on Friday. I found out that Thursday is the busiest day. My goodness. The place was full of people in every waiting room and lounge.

My lung biopsy was on Friday. It was not as painful this time as is was before. Maybe she didn't have to go as deep this time or something. The whole trip was exhausting, with a lot of activity. It's good for it to be over and be back home.

My mom and stepdad were with me this time. And it was so cold outside on this trip.

P.F. Changs

Friday, November 16, 2018

Cycle 2 of Clinical Trials

Cycle 2 was a little smoother than cycle 1. My portagram showed that my port works fine, so they can use it from now on.

I'm finally learning the routine around the place. I enter the main lobby and sign in. Then get called in to weigh and have vitals. Then sit on a couch in the hallway. After that I get called in for the blood draw and possible EKG tests. At this point I get my port accessed and the blood it taken from that. YES! Then I go to a patient lounge, where I wait on the blood tests to be done. Later a nurse comes in to talk about the blood test results and gather information about any side effects or other concerns. After that I can wait in a larger patient lounge for the drug to be readied. When all is ready I go to the infusion room for the big guns.

Still not many patients there. They said that Friday is the slowest day, with hardly any infusion. There was only one other person there this time. Plus a couple of other people in the lounges. I made some popcorn while I waited for the infusion. The lounge is made for comfort, with plenty of drinks and snacks. There are also recliners to sit in.

I got to work in a trip to the museum at the Parthanon this time. It was a nice, relaxing evening the night before treatment with my friend Jeff, who accompanied me.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Cycle 1 of Clinical Trials

The first infusion went well, but was a very long day. It's difficult getting into a new routine. Even though my port works, they were not allowed to use it due to it not giving a blood return. They require a portagram to confirm the port works okay first. So there were many sticks in my arms also. The infusion was given in my left arm, using a giant syringe. It was given over a one hour period. My right arm was used to draw blood for the drug company along the way. There were lots of blood draws over the weekend.

As usual I felt nothing of the medicine going in. It had no smell or taste and is a clear liquid. There were also no immediate side effects over the weekend. I was able to go about as normal (new normal) in between sessions. Maybe this won't be so bad after all.

It was not crowded at all. There were only a handful of other clients around there. Only two other infusion chairs were being used.

My mother accompanied me on this trip. We were able to work in a visit to Centennial Park and visited the train that is being restored. This turned out to be the one day a year that the train is opened up for visitors. It was a big event.
view from the hotel room
Sarah Cannon Research Center & Tennessee Oncology
the giant syringe behind my arm

Thursday, October 25, 2018

At the Hotel awaiting first treatment at Sarah Cannon

I'm at the hotel room the night before my first infusion. Today was lots of tests and blood draws and signing papers. I met some people going to a halloween party. One was dressed as nursey nurse!

Nursey Nurse & Curtis

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Screening and Lung Biopsy

My screening and lung biopsy went well. Even though the biopsy is minimally invasive, it still takes days to recover from it. Taking 3 cuts from my lungs is harsh. The worst day was the day after arriving back home.

Okay. So I'm all set. I'm enrolled in the clinical trial. I start treatment next week.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Coming Home

The trip home was way better than the trip out there. For future reference this road map is the way to go when going to Oklahoma. The roads are much better. There are also plenty of towns to visit along the way, including state parks and national forests.

Click Here to See Photos and Video Clips

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Drumright & Cushing, Oklahoma

We went to Georges hometown, where he grew up for a day trip. It was a fantastic trip through the Oklahoma country. Drumright was a very small town that seemed to be almost closed down. At Drumright there was a train station with a museum that was fascinating.

Then we went to Cushing and saw the largest oil tank field in the nation. It's miles of big oil tanks spread across the countryside. We ate lunch at Mazzio's pizza before leaving back to Tulsa.

Click Here to See Photos

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The day trip to Pawhuska was fantastic! We shopped at the Mercantile for hours and had pastries and coffee upstairs. My sister said she completed her Christmas shopping there. She also walked through town to a quilt shop, where she bought some stuff. 

We went out to the lodge, where the Pioneer Woman is filmed. It is a breathtaking place way out on a ranch. We arrived there after driving miles and miles on a gravel road. From the deck you can look over the ranch property and see homes of the Cowboys who work there.

What a great trip. We all decided we want to go back there again for another tour.

The Drive

Arriving in Pawhuska

Arriving at The Lodge

Click Here to See Photos

Friday, October 12, 2018

Road Trip and Tulsa, Oklahoma

So I'm taking my first road trip since - well - a long time. I'm finally feeling better than I have in 4 years. I start chemo again in a couple of weeks. So I'm headed out to Oklahoma with family to visit the Pioneer Woman! My sister are driving out to Tulsa, where we will meet our parents and get a hotel. We also plan on working in some road trips to my stepdad's place of origin. I've been wanting this for a long time.

Click Here to See Photos

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

New Treatment Plan

The latest CT scan showed growth on all my cancer nodules. This is a first. The doctor thinks they have become immune to the chemo I've been on for so long. We've been running through the various treatments, so the options list is getting smaller.

I went to Sarah Cannon Research Institute and spoke with the doctors in the Drug Development Unit. I am a candidate for one of the studies going on there. I will be among the first humans to take 2 test drugs together. They don't have names, just numbers. My understanding is that 50 people have already taken the drug to find tolerance levels. I will be in the next group to see how the body deals with it and if there is any effect from it, as well as symptoms.  It comes with lots of blood draws and scans.

It will be grueling and harsh and will require many long trips to Nashville. I think it comes along with all the usual side effects I've had with the others: diarrhea, nail problems, hair loss, fatigue, etc., etc., etc. There may be other added problems such as acne, rashes and peeling skin. Uhm.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

National Rolley Hole Marbles Championship 2018

Just got back from Rolley Hole National Championship. I scored two brand new handmade flint marbles! I also saw my old buddy Travis, who was a ranger with me at Fall Creek Falls.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Infusion at Tennessee Oncology!

I had chemo today. Things were much better this time. My insurance was approved (after 3 years) for me to have my Avastin infusion at Tennessee Oncology, where I see my doctor, have my tests and all my other infusions. So I didn't have to leave there, go to the hospital, register, wait and get the infusion there, in a lonely little room by myself. I liked being back at Tenn Oncology, the large room and all the nurses I have come to know and love. I got hugged all morning, got my treatment and was out of there by noon, a good two and a half hours sooner than when I go to the hospital.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

New Scan Update

My latest CT scan showed no growth of the places in my lungs! YES. I'll take that all day long. Meanwhile summer is on and the grass is growing.

I've lost 20 pounds in the past 6 weeks. I know this is because the lower dose of chemo is allowing me to get out there and do more things. Man I love mowing the yard. It's a walk behind push mower. Whew hoo!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Chemo Day

Today was chemo day. I started out at iHop as usual. Got my favorite waitress there again. She's older and very sweet and attentive. There were some guys there in uniform from the National Guard office down the road. As they left one of them decided to stop off at my table and chat a minute. 

Then at the doctor office I saw the nurse practitioner. She was impressed with how improved my hands and feet are. I told her I am using the urea cream she suggested. The rest of the visit was the same old song and dance. I also went into the chemo room and stole a couple of hugs from some nurses.

Avastin infusion at the hospital took it's normal couple of hours and more. I had to lay on the bed, because the chair was in use. The room master had taken the day off, so there was no music. I threatened to start singing, but didn't. The infusion went well. The injections they give me in my port had delayed effect. I didn't start tasting and smelling it until later. Then it lasted for a long time before the taste went away. 

I had a short stop on the way home for some pizza and Moosehead when I filled my tank. I'm getting 24 mpg at the moment!

Last Saturday I mowed the entire yard with my self-propelled push mower. It was the first time I have been able to do that in 4 years. I was so happy about it. I love to mow and look forward to doing it all summer. FINALLY. I feel better now than I have since going stage 4. The last 3 years have been so trying and dragging me down.

Here is a little bit of Supertramp

Friday, April 6, 2018

Another Cancer Update

I had my CT scan this week. Everything is still the same. No growth or shrinkage of the places in my lungs. The doctor is dropping one of my night chemo pills. So I'll be doing 4 in the a.m. and 3 in the p.m. This is to help reduce the skin symptoms of that drug. I'll continue the same with the Avastin infusion.

It was a long infusion day. The room master had Jimmy Buffet playing. It was busy in there and turned out a real party so to speak. Of course it's full of sick people, but it's nice of the staff to try and make everyone's time in there as pleasant as possible. I hurt inside for everybody and hope that all of them are healed.

Last Sunday I watched Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on NBC. I have watched it again since then on It was a fantastic show with amazing talent. I was blown away about Alice Cooper's performance as King Herod. So far everyone I have asked did not watch the show. I guess I'm the only person in my life that loves musicals. I would have thrown a watch party if anyone would have come over.

Watch it here.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Surprise Visit

I got a surprise visit today from my cousin Shane and two of his boys, Jack and Paul. It was a great visit. At the end Shane said he forgot a photo he wanted to share with me. I knew what it was before he even told me. This is from the 1980's!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Another Treatment

I finished another treatment today. My hands and feet were having one of their rash attacks. It's a side effect of the Xeloda. The doctors always want to see my hands, and this was the first time they got to see the breakout in all it's glory. It usually happens a couple days every 3 weeks.

I met some really groovy people at the infusion center in the hospital. It was a good day overall and a nice ride home.
Fight On!
Here is Tom Petty.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Memories from Tennessee Tech

Here is a photo from a Tennessee Tech University annual. Dancing here on Parents Day are my friends Patrick Flanagan and Milton Stanley. Thanks to Jeff for sending me this picture


My uncle Phillip sent these photos he took in Vietnam.