Happy as a monkey in a monkey tree….

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Traveling to the end of the line one day at a time.

I’m a 67-year old guy who has a few thoughts concerning life and also concerning life’s conclusion.  Having stage-4 bladder cancer and the life changes that come from this experience.  I was “given” 4-6 months to live few years ago!

Everyone I spoke with said how sorry they were, pity was not what I sought.

I wanted to talk with someone who had, or was, experiencing this strange trip.  Not really satisfied by standard doctor pep talks, the unanswered questions started to create an anxiety like I had never experienced.  As a form of therapy for myself I decided to start this blog.  I’ve met with a number of other cancer victims and survivors.

I had so many questions:

  1.  What does chemotherapy feel like?
  2.  What is targeted immunotherapy ?
  3. How does radiation work?
  4.  How can I shake this fear of death and related anxiety?
  5. What expectations should I have?

These questions are very similar throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Iceland, Germany and around the world.  I soon realized that other people had many of the same questions as did I.  As I started blogging I soon realized that I was not alone on this cancer trip.  I guess what I’m saying is, nobody really knows much about our body and exactly how it reacts and really operates for sure, except for God.  While this is not a religious blog,  I do absolutely believe that God can, and sometimes does make medical miracles happen.  The medical community does have knowledge about cancer, but often when a complete remission or cure actually happens they are often awestruck themselves.

A life-saving drug trial at MD Anderson had been reversing my aggressive cancer and provided me with an opportunity to smell the roses for a while longer.  Very few symptoms, almost no pain and a renewed interest in leaving this world with a changed impression of my life, actions, goals and thoughts.  This all went good, until it didn’t January 25th, 2018.

I watched, via CT scans, my bladder cancer shrink for nearly 10 months, along with related tumors in my lungs and kidneys.  Just as I was starting to think, this shit is working, it stopped working!

Feeling as if the curing rug had been pulled out from underneath me; however, I was able to gain my emotional footing much quicker this time around.  After a 30-day cleansing of my system from the MDanderson wonder drug,  I decided to directly target the unstable tumors in my lungs with a drug called Keytruda.

To that end, I started a drug trial of Keytruda on March 9th, 2018.  I liked this therapy because it only required a 32 minute infusion every three weeks.  Another plus was I could get this infusion at home here in Las Vegas or back in Bloomington, Illinois.  The initial CT scans were every 6 weeks, now every three-month scans.  So far, so good, the Keytruda therapy appeared to be addressing the lung tumors and even showed improvement in kidney tumors!

Here is part of my ongoing story, the good news and a little bad news.  Good news is that lung tumors were shrinking and my doctor was ready to send me in for a 32-minute Keytruda treatment before I had to stop the good news celebration.

I showed my doctor a set of progressive pictures of my massive blisters on both feet and the end result of a trip with a foot surgeon.   I also had some issues with my hands.

The Keytruda  has worked great for around 7 months and then it didn’t!

I now realize that the CT scan is a measuring stick and it was at least providing me with a type of tumor growth or shrinking  yardstick.  Anxiously waiting for what every scan will show is an understatement.  This cancer thing is a strange trip that travels down a long, long road and often we don’t now what lays ahead.

Just got my most recent CT scan at the end of February 2019.  The tumors in my lung had began to grow again, bladder cancer was also back.  Currently looking at several alternative treatments and other available drug trials.

I am now eight months out of any cancer treatment! Still kicking so far.

As with any trip, the truth be known when the rubber hits the road.  What if we could replace our fear with faith?  How about releasing your anger with gratitude?  The reality is that we can make our own path.  I’ll give you a summary of my trip so far; however, if you  follow this blog I hope you will find a little straight talk is often a positive therapy with no doctors bill attached.  Take a minute to hit the plus sign at the top or this page and subscribe to my blog.  Also feel free to post your opinions and thoughts whenever it feels right.

I am grateful I outlived the initial 4-6 month prediction of my death; however, the abject fear that I experienced with my initial diagnosis was gone.  I have found, that while tears of anxiety are cleansing those same tears can be draining.  Myself, I don’t have time for that whining crap anymore.  That said, I do understand it.

After meeting more than a few cancer patients I found a somewhat  common phenomenon and that was a return to faith, the power of prayer and positive thoughts.    While some people don’t believe in miracles those who do are often the ones who wake up one day and the cancer is gone.  One must think it is going to happen to make it happen!

Those I have met without any, or very little,  faith unfortunately,  often live out the balance of their life eaten up with anger of a failure to “do what needed to be done”.   The anger may come from a lifetime of failing to live a life and the ultimate penalty for this failure is a misery only they are able to truly comprehend.  

This journey has created  many new friends and acquaintances who are sometimes also experiencing cancer and on this journey of life, what a trip it can be.  I find it easier to relate to someone who is also experiencing this sometimes mind-numbing trip.

If you have an idea on how we can all leave a positive impression on our lives, I’m interested.  That’s the story, you can change the ending!

Spending some time traveling, enjoying each day and also appreciating the joy of a great partner is the goal.

harry@thefullers.me

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Two happy monkeys along with my wife! More than a fifteen years ago.

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Greek Isles, Santorini, Greece fall of 2018

A recap of some travels, fun, life and death , hopefully later than sooner!  Wanted to recount a few stories I picked up along the way, most are pretty damn funny.

From driving through Europe a few times,  often when picking up new cars in Germany,  I have met more than a few people in far-away places and they nearly all had at least one great story.

The travel became more intersting with my second, and final, wife.  Exploration while sharing the experience with one you like and love has created  Never stop exploring your relationships with family, trips at home and abroad.  The old adage of enjoying the trip sometimes more than the actual destination is how we roll.

If we are aquainted you might see something you said, hopefully get credited for, and remember it as well as I do.  If you worked in one of my companies you have likely made a contribution to my life experience.  For that I thank you, the best gifts I every received are that of interactions with people wherever I go.

Home is now Las Vegas, great place to travel to and from.  I’ve still in the process, for the last 10 years, of polishing off my bucket list.  By the way, I intend to allow just about any comment, negative or positive, as long as it isn’t racist, offensive or the such.  Not to interested in politics lately, last involement was as a precint captain for Bernie all I got of that was a lousy tshirt and a very lively Nevada Caucus meeting, but,  we all know how that turned out.  At this time I’m paying attention to the political scene; however, I willing to wait and see.  No time to protest now, did that in the 60’s and 70’s.

I keep on searching for a heart of gold and I’m getting old.…………Neil Young

2 thoughts on “Happy as a monkey in a monkey tree….

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