I hope you will take a minute to read my Christmas Story.
A recent trip to Cabo San Lucas found Barbie and myself enjoying four nights in a paradise! Gourmet food, infinity pools, a luxury hotel suite overlooking the crashing Pacific surf. Life felt great and we felt this trip was a reward for the blessings that had been bestowed on us.
The trip was a celebration of an initial six-week inhibitor treatment that had reduced the size of my cancerous tumors by over 50%! To describe my wife and I as happy with the results of our prayers, new-found faith and hundreds of friends who had prayed for my successful treatment would be a gross understatement. The results almost started me feeling like I had passed the hurdle of death for a little bit. God was providing us with a life saving result of my cancer treatment. Began to feel like superman.
We returned to Las Vegas for a few days and then headed back to Normal, Illinois to share our joys with friends and family. I was feeling strong and better than good. Stupidly, I was starting to feel invincible to this stage- 4 cancer.
After returning to Normal for a two-week visit, I went to sleep for my first nights sleep in our old comfortable bed. As I sank into the comforter, I felt the cool air-conditioning all night blowing on myself and thought that this was nice compared to the 110 degree plus temps we had been used to in Vegas. I woke up the next morning with a chill, slight temperature and my voice was very hoarse. To me, no big deal since I had slept under an a/c vent all night. I then spent approximately four hours completing an anticipated legal deposition on Monday. When I got back home Barbie insisted that we see a doctor immediately because of my elevated temperature.
Initially I ignored this and thought I had set the a/c a little too low; however, I was sure this symptom would shortly disappear. Barbie immediately disagreed and reminded me that I had been losing my voice for a few days. She also didn’t believe the air-conditioning draft was the problem. When she took my temperature she saw it was 102. She then wanted me to go to the emergency room to check it out. I informed her that I would likely get sick from being in the emergency room waiting area more than sleeping under a cooling vent. I even spoke with a physician who I convinced that I should wait until the next day at least. I went to bed. The next day, by four o’clock I was becoming progressively worse. I finally agreed to go to the hospital. To my surprise they immediately placed me in intensive care and started to monitor my condition closely, after 10-hours they put me in a room. I was slipping into septic shock, Barbie had been correct, should have went to hospital the night before! I was feeling progressively worse.
When I woke in the hospital the next morning I commented that I felt like I was dying. I had lost all appetite, had my temperatures fluctuating to 103, my blood pressure had dropped like a rock and I realized I had made over 20 trips to the bathroom the night before. I was on two-iv delivered antibiotics and continued to feel worse. The iv’s were not working and I was going into septic shock. (I know realize over 50% of those who encounter septic shock die.)
After days of tests, while a few of the nurses considered this Montezuma’s revenge, an infectious disease physician, hospital doctor and my oncologist knew better. I didn’t even realize what septic shock was or how serious it might be. I did think if I could beat an aggressive cancer, I sure could shake this Montezuma’s revenge! Then my doctors stopped the two antibiotic drips and changed to a different antibiotic, within half an hour I started to respond; however, I had another rough night. By the morning I was getting my appetite back and even commented how “good” the hospital food was!
I’m lucky for one thing, a wife who is watching out for my well-being. Unlike me, Barbie listened to every doctor and nurse and sat with her phone googling every symptom. Barbie’s actions saved my life. My ignorance of the symptoms and my initial refusal to seek medical assistance nearly cost me my life.
After this colitis and an infection in my kidneys, I guess it was Montezuma’s revenge in it’s purest form. Next day I walked out of the hospital, turned up temperature at home. I felt great again and ready to continue this fight against cancer.
I do realize that my next full-body scan is early August and the third scan in October; however, I am pumped and have four things to be grateful for.
- Everyone’s prayers that I would qualify for a continued, successful experimental treatment along with God’s answer to these prayers.
- The remarkable research team at MDanderson Cancer Center in Houston who created a new drug that attacks bladder cancer and everywhere that it spreads.
- More time to love this great life and those who are important to me. I now consider that the most valuable part of my life.
- A loving wife/partner who constantly watches for my best interests, both medically and spiritually. (It’s sometimes a bitch to realize your wife might know more than you do!)
Here is a tip for all of you who have a loved one or friend suffering from late stage cancer, we do appreciate your prayer and the renewal of our faith; however, don’t tell us how sorry you are we have cancer. Afterall, you don’t have cancer, we do.
Another takeaway for myself, time to make my next adventure in the USA, I hear Glacier National Park calling my name.
Don’t wait til tomorrow to enjoy your life and family. I now realize that no one is guaranteed anything more than the day you have today. Tell your children that their life is what they make it. Illustrate your life as a guide to others, do what needs to be done. You will be remembered by your actions, thoughts and words. Time to be kind. (Also time to drop the guy knows more than his wife attitude constantly.) God Bless
Incidentally, the six weeks of treatment cost $14,000.00 for each treatment. (Times 6 equaled $84,000.00!) Unfortunately these treatments had little effect on my aggressive bladder cancer which had spread from my bladder, to both kidneys and to my lungs. I could spend quite a while discussing the excessive costs of chemo, but that would be another blog for another time.
- How do you define happiness? For years I felt happiness would come with the accumulation of money and wealth. While that concept drove me to work not harder, but really smarter, I kept coming up a little short on the bliss part until around 15 years ago.
- Earlier in life I also got my house repossessed, got divorced, went bankrupt, gave up and decided that I needed to return to one of the first job I ever had, a magazine salesman. Of all the places I thought I could make it big, this was not on the top of my list. I was mistaken.
- Don’t get me wrong, the money provided me with what I understood as happiness.…first the ability to provide shelter and food for my family, then by buying up a little bit, of a then decrepit downtown Normal, traveling to Europe on a pretty regular basis to pickup a few German cars and cruising around normally ending in Amsterdam was el mucho fun.
- The real fun started to happen when I met this girl pictured above and below. The trips to Spain, France, Italy, Monte Carlo, Germany and all over the USA started to become an almost insatiable desire to experience new places together. Funny thing is neither of us really have any demands on the other, I know we both enjoy each other’s company. While we have opened and started a few companies, one big thing came out! Neither of us had any desire to outdo or control the other one. The main goal was, let’s get thid job done and keep the fun coming along the way. Laughing everyday at our success and our failures is what bound us together. Have faith in your partner, or find someone you can trust and love. You might even be able to find yourself and keep the same one!
- Must’ve been love when I signed over the controlling interests for all of my properties,investments and my health directives a short while ago. (Also note I had kept everything in my name, had a prenuptial agreement and now realize that this alone might have cost me the most important person in my life). She didn’t care about the prenuptial, says more about Barbie than me!
- More than a few friends have told me they are amazed how a guy with such a bleak medical prognosis can be in such a good mood? I’ve told most of you that I used up all my tears, along with Barbie’s tears, on a seemingly endless drive from USC in Los Angeles to our home in Las Vegas. (A 4-4.5 hour drive, depending on your radar and radar jamming equipment built into your car. (best $2500 option to put on any Porsche product that will fullfill your need for speed)
- Then I woke up the next morning in our own bed in Las Vegas. As I looked at my sleeping wife and walked out to grab a cup of coffee to watch the sun hit the mountain tops I felt an odd sense of relief. I was glad I was lucky enough to have a few nice homes, a few nice cars, a lot of global exploration travel, a wonderful, loving wife and one other thing that the doctors gave me the day before in Los Angeles, an expiration date for my milk carton of life! More than a few of my friends have dropped like rocks with massive heart failure or a stroke that left them disabled. They never had a chance to say goodbye to their families, all their feelings and concerns were left on the table and possibly unsaid. Some had made plans for their loved ones, most had not. I can remember a time that I had to sell my wedding band at Sears to get enough money for baby formula, not bitching here just sayying I understand desperation and what it does to a soul.
- This is about the time I punched up a little Lucky Man from a favorite ELP tune. It just about summed up my feelings and from that moment forward I determined that I would continue to do what needs to be done. I’m certainly concerned with my medical future; however, the 2nd massive 8 hour chemo treatment has left me with no side effects. I still feel great physically. I appreciate everyone’s prayers and I think they might be working! I’ve got my second interview at MDAnderson in Houston, Texas April 19th, 2017. Not sure how the genetic modification of my genes will work out. I’m hoping for a 50/50 chance of gaining an additional 24-60 months of symptom free living because as the song says, “what a lucky man he was”. (the other 50% not such a positive result, that’s where prayer comes in)
- Here is one takeaway for all of my friends, if you don’t have a ton of cash and equities, purchase enough term life insurance to protect your spouse and loved ones in the event of hour untimely departure from this world we live in. As I have spoken with a few more people who are knocking on death’s door, their fear of leaving their family unprepared to carry on financially is more devastating mentally than death itself. (I.e. Breaking Bad)
- Next blog about some memories of one thing I do love-different cultures, travel and why my wife and I love to explore this wonderful world. Later and have a great day, it could be your, or my, last. Imagine it is your last day on earth and you are ready to let your loved ones hear what you already know, tell them you love them.