2019 Resolutions

I am not one to draft a lot of resolutions about starting to exercise, eating a healthier diet, quitting smoking, losing weight, etc., etc. In fact, I believe it has been years since I have written resolutions. BUT as a cancer patient I sort of feel a sense of urgency here. So today I am offering a few resolutions that are important for me. I hope they inspire you as well.

Number 1 – I resolve to try to be brave and complain less about whatever physical problems that I have from the cancer and/or treatments. I am not normally a complainer anyway, but I can see how I could slide into that role when and if things go badly. I hope not because people want to see you being brave and positive. I want that too but honestly after reflecting inside my mind some days, I don’t know if I can be as brave as the Redhead (Teresa) was. She was so strong all the way till the and I admired her more that I can articulate.   I have to work on my inner peace and self-talk.

Number 2 – I resolve to try to love everyone unconditionally. In my opinion, this is not possible as a human unless you are enjoying a little baby or a very old person who is slipping away intellectually. With everyone else we are continually making judgements of some type or another. Pure souls (angels) in the spirit form have complete understanding and unconditional love for each other and their human counterparts here on earth. My plan is to look at others and not apply for pesky filters. I hope I am more successful that in the past. I need to love as deeply and completely at this point because I know people love and support me like I have never experienced before. And I need to tell people just how much I love them!

Number 3 – I resolve to continue to do the things that can potentially help me in my battle. Eating healthy, exercise when I can, work on calming my mind, and be as social as my energy will allow. All of these will help my body and my attitude.

Number 4 – Surrender my outcomes to the spirit world and all my angels in the light. If this is the time for my transition, then I need to accept that as thoroughly as possible. We all are born and we all will die. Everyone has a time that they will transition to the spirit world where there is no pain, no anguish, no regrets, and no fears. Only pure unconditional love. I think this is the hardest one of all since even though we have those beliefs,  as humans we always want to complete something while here on earth. Maybe a legacy of some type. But we all must realize that we have already created whatever legacy we were supposed to create, and we will live on in the memories of those left behind. That should give us all a measure of comfort.

None of us know what new adventures we will have in 2019 but I can predict that some will be glorious, and some will be devastating. Some will be expected, and some will be a surprise. Some will soar us to the greatest heights and some will slam us into the ground. But this is what our human experience is all about. And this is why we are here in this harsh physical world.

For each of you I hope your good experiences will overshadow your bad experiences and when you do have those troubled times that you are able to overcome your sorrows and fly.

Love, Jim

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Tis the Season – Bah Humbug!

Gentle Readers,

Let me say up front that I am not against Christmas in any way, shape or form. Some of the best times of my life have been around Christmas. Its just that last year and now this year we have had the specter of cancer hovering around us. Last year it was the Doll and this year me.

Both years we have been able to decorate inside but the only outside decorations are the wreath on the front door. This is vastly different than when we had all kinds of lights, blow-ups, and music all over the front yard. It was awesome, but it doesn’t look promising with the big day a little over a week away. The good news that between me and the Doll, we have almost finished our shopping. Thank Goodness for Amazon and gift cards.

We are planning for some Holiday gatherings for both Shelia’s family and mine, so it should be some fun at least. Humans need to make the best of things when possible. Lately it seems like I am faking it until I make it more often. But then again, I do it well.

We also were able to plan and attend the Combined Holiday Gathering for the Pellissippi and Dowell Springs Toastmasters Clubs at the Carolina Ale hoys on Thursday night but cut it a little short, so we could attend Granddaughter Rose’s Holiday Concert at Bearden Middle School. Its been almost 30 years since Tony, her Dad, went to school there. Oh, my how time flies!

Our social life sounds exciting but truthfully my fatigue is not better at all. Some days I can do more than others, but I must push myself more often than ever in my life. Fatigue can be either from the radiation or the cancer so that does concern me that it is more from the cancer which may mean that the treatment is not effective.

But that is what consumes the cancer patients mind for so much of the waking period. As much as I try to stay in my active mind by focusing in on daily activities and social functions, the fatigue makes me tired and lets me slip back into my default mind which is typically negative about the outcomes of my battle.

I attended a Mindfulness and Meditation Class at the Cancer Support Community on Saturday morning and it was nice. The leader was excellent, and the attendees were all very nice and friendly. I was reminded that I do have a problem with Meditation. Even with guided meditation and guided imagery I seem to be at one of the two extremes. Either I am so sleepy that I drift off or my mind races from one thought to another one and it is usually something I feel must be done. Occasionally, I can meditate effectively and when I can it gives me a temporary peace at least.

Speaking of things that must be done, ever since I have been diagnosed, I have had an ongoing list of things that are important to getting my affairs in order no matter if I transition in a few months or a few years. I have been obsessed with putting things right and I have been pretty good about being objective in what the priorities should be, and I have completed a lot of stuff on my list.

There is a sense of urgency on my part. So much stuff to do. Redraft my suggested obituary, write the dreaded final letters to many of my loved ones, finding appropriate pictures and music for my celebration of life, etc, etc, etc. The list is long my friends.

Shelia and I and the kids went to Pineville Kentucky on Saturday evening for the Celebration of life for Shelia’s best friend Sharon’s Mom. It was a nice little celebration, but it got me to thinking that if my cancer advances and it becomes clear that I won’t make it make much longer perhaps I should have my planned celebration of life BEFORE I die. I suspect it would be more of a roast, but it would be cool to be present when people tell the big stories (lies) about me.

I can attest that whether I am alive or have transitioned to the light I will be present, so I am looking forward to hearing all the good stuff that people say about me. Most of it should be funny too! LOL

This will be a busy week so I trying to figure out how to pace myself effectively. On Monday Shelia goes back to the orthopedic surgeon who put the plate and screws in her arm to see how she is doing, then I have a Toastmasters meeting, and finally a Doctor appointment for me.

On Tuesday I go to the Dentist and Shelia has a Dr appointment and after we both have an appointment with Dr Clayton Bell, an Integrative Medical Doctor to get some strategy on complimentary medicines and supplements to help us with our respective cancer battles. Sheila has seen him before, but this is my first appointment. What I like is that he promotes a plant-based lifestyle which falls right in my lane. I am excited to consult with him.

On Wednesday, both Shelia and I have a writing class at the Cancer Support Community I suspect that it will be like last month’s class. I may even put one of my stories or possibly one of Shelia’s on the Blog soon. The Doll is a good storyteller.

On Thursday we have Dowell Springs Toastmasters and that evening we have the Relative Caregivers Support Group. In between Haylee has a Dr appointment.

On Friday I am hoping to attend the Gentle Yoga Class at the Cancer Support Community. I have tried to attend the last 3 weeks but for various reasons I haven’t made it. A little later I have the ETMP Combined Board Meeting to set strategy for 2019.

On Saturday Shelia’s family will be here for a Christmas followed on Monday with Tony and Brianne and Family her on Christmas Eve.  Then the big day itself. Maybe rest then for a day or two!!  Isn’t that what Santa is planning?

Just writing about all this scares me and makes me tired. If I can push through the fatigue and accomplish all this, it may well be declared a miracle. Even without the cancer battle this seems like a week that would tax anyone. But this IS our life and I will live our life until I can’t!

I will check in with everyone soon but before I go, I just want to thank each of you for your support and love. When I am trying to push through the fatigue I do think about the number of people on my side that are  sending me good energy and prayers and it certainly helps me muster up just a little more energy. Please keep sending  it to me!!!

Love Jim

What Now?

Since I had my Y90 Treatment on November 13, I have had very little pain, but the FATIGUE has reared its ugly head now about 2 weeks after the procedure. As I recall this is a similar pattern from the first procedure and I believe the fatigue was less right before the 2nd treatment and that may mean I will continue with the fatigue for at least 4-5 more weeks.  I hope that is correct!

So, What Now? My next scheduled Medical procedure will be an MRI on January 14 and then lab work and a visit with Dr Charles, my Oncologist, on January 23. At that point some verdict will be handed down. Either the treatments will be successful in slowing down the tumor or there will have to be decisions made on a course of treatment. Of course, I am holding out for the surgery either in New York or here. That is only six weeks away!

The obvious thing here is that everyday when I wake up, I still have cancer. It is difficult at best to keep a positive slant to this, but I fight the fight everyday to not succumb to my disease or the emotional roller coaster ride that come with it.

In the meantime, I plan to put effort in all facets of my life. Let’s summarize:

Food and Environment – The plan is to try to eat as healthy as I possibly can with my vegan plant-based plan. No problem with the plant based but the challenge is trying to have as much organic food as possible. You really must be very creative obtaining fresh and frozen organic food. Part of this is also to try and detox at the same time by reducing or eliminating the environmental toxins as possible. Many of those are in the water supply like fluoride and chorine. We are evaluating filtration systems right now. We have been moving toward products such as cleaning products and personal care that are earth friendly without the harmful additives.

The other factor is to take the appropriate supplements in the appropriate amounts. There is a lot of research on this but many contradictions. The plan is to concentrate on the same supplements recommended in three different sources. I think that is due diligence!

Spirituality and Mindfulness –. I have been reading a book by The Mayo Clinic titled “Handbook for Happiness” written by Amit Sood, M.D. In this book the author talks about the brain’s two modes. The active mode is when there are external stimuli that keep things interesting and focused. This is our happy mode. The default mode is usually neutral or negative and certainly more negative when you are facing difficult health issues. This mode causes much stress and anxiety and almost always keeps us from doing productive activities. So, the idea is to focus on external things and try to limit the time spent in the default mode. Cut back on the pity parties. LOL

Meditation, guided imagery, and even soft music is proving to be a great way to avoid the C word being in my every thought. I have also signed up for some classes through the Cancer Support Community. I went to one class yesterday that discussed the side effects of cancer treatment. You might speculate that this wouldn’t get your mind off cancer, but you are in the active mind when processing on how to limit side effects.

Shelia and I went to a writing class today called “Panning for Gold.” We were able to write a couple of short stories and we all shared with each other. Very creative folks were present who just happened to be cancer patients too.  Shelia has some great stories and I hope she will let me share some on this blog. We plan to go back next month.

I have registered for a Gentle Yoga class as well for this Friday and I hope it is something I can continue. I am positive it will help with my overall well-being and fatigue. And we have registered for a 2-hour workshop on mindfulness on December 15. I am really looking forward to that class.

In addition to all of this I am falling back on my lifetime spiritual journey and asking my spiritual guides to help me navigate through the calm waters and the rough waters when necessary. As I have indicated previously, I am not afraid to die but I want to milk every bit of living out of this old body. My spiritual beliefs give me great comfort either way and that is helpful.

Social Activities – When I can push through the fatigue, I continue to stay social and try to stay involved in my groups. I go to as many of my Toastmasters activities as my schedule permits. I missed the Pellissippi Toastmaster this Monday, but I plan on attending the Dowell Springs Toastmasters Open House tomorrow. We are trying to recruit new members and an open house/demo meeting is a good way to get new folks.

Friday night we will be having our Annual Awards Dinner and Silent Auction for the East Tennessee Meeting Professionals at the Knoxville Convention Center. We should have about 30 people and I welcome the opportunity to be the emcee, give out the awards, and run the show. The key for me is to pace myself during the day and possibly grab an afternoon nap to refresh.

These social activities are important since they do require me to use my active mind and it keeps my spirits up. I am fully aware that there may come a time where I will be unable to attend these events and that would make me sad. So, play now and do what I can to continue later.

Relationships and Legacy – When you are faced with a serious illness that may kill you there is always a sense of urgency in reaching out and improving or even mending your relationships. It is always more difficult than it sounds. Most of us are emotional so having the heart to heart talks take some serious intestinal fortitude. I have had some good discussions with a couple of special people very close to me. I also plan to write letters to the most important people in my life if I run out of time to really let them know how I feel about them. Maybe a video or two but I seriously doubt I can do that without a lot of tears and anguish. We will see.

One thing I am doing is writing a series of children’s books using some stories about my grandchildren. I hope that at the very least I can finish 3 at this time and at least publish enough to give out to family members. I have already written the first one. I am currently looking for an illustrator to enhance the books with appropriately placed drawings of the characters. The first book is “The Adventures of Granny T and Little Rose – A Good Day for Hugs.” I believe it is a good story.

As far as the rest of my life is concerned, I want to be a better person for the ones in my life. It is a shame to have to get a serious or terminal illness in order to slow down and focus on the people in my life. The good news for me is that I seem to have some time before I run out of time. At least I hope so because I have a lot of people who I love and want to enjoy them while I can. What I hate are the routine things that must be done every day. I have no desire to do any of them. But alas, they are omnipresent.

Final Thought for the Day – I still have a lot of things to share with everyone but I got to sy right here that I have been thinking about all the people in my life for the last 69 years and I must say that if you are reading this you have had an impact on my life. Just recently I had the revelation that instead of focusing on the difference I have made in others lives, it is more important for me to internalize what the impact is to me from having a relationship with each of you. I can truthfully say that I have received far more from others than I have ever given.

Again, let me express my appreciation and love for all of you who have sent prayers, healing energy, and good thoughts to be during my battle. I can never full express the love I feel from each of you.

Love, Jim

It Could Always be Worse

In my last post I failed to mention that Shelia, my Doll, had broken her arm the evening of Halloween by trying to take pictures of Haylee and Ivan on the front porch with their costumes on. So, with the desire to get everything in the pic she backed up. While doing so she tripped backward over a brick and she tried to break her fall, instead she “broke” her arm.

After I took the kids down to a local trunk or treat to accumulate an unbelievable amount of candy, I drove her over to the Orthopedic Clinic which was still open. An X-ray confirmed the break just like she exclaimed. They wrapped he arm up with a firm type bandage until she could see the Doctor the next day.

The next afternoon we went to see Dr. Branham and he examined her arm. Due to Shelia’s concern regarding potential Lymphedema, he didn’t put a cast on it with the explicit instructions for her to keep it bandaged and in a splint to not allow the bone to move. We made an appointment for two weeks later for a follow-up.

This may be a perfect tine to interject that it would have probably been wise to cancel our “Early” Thanksgiving dinner that I mentioned in my previous post. Now I am not saying that all Kentucky women are stubborn, but I will say the Doll is. I suspect that she had far more activity with that arm than the Doctor envisioned. I will finish the post with the “Rest of The Story”

The week after the wonderful Family Thanksgiving promised to be packed with activities.

On Monday I went to Pellissippi Toastmasters and gave a 5-7-minute speech on one of my past lives’ regression. It was the first speech I had tried in a couple of months, so I felt good about it and got some good feedback. I surely miss all the Toastmasters activities that I haven’t been able to participate in lately.

The next day was the 2nd Y-90 procedure day and we arrived about 9 am. I was hoping the side effects of this one would be less since they were scheduled to “only” radiate 1/3 of my tumor this time.

One of the things that was quite different this time is they gave me IV Benadryl since the steroids I had previously made my blood sugar skyrocket. I have never experienced the sensation I felt as they injected the Benadryl. My lips and mouth were already dry since I couldn’t have any food or drink since midnight the day before. But now my lips were thick.

But the weird thing was that my head seemed to be spinning a bit and I couldn’t speak without slurring. I tried to talk with Dr. Stevens when he came in prior to the procedure but it didn’t seem to be working well. When I attempted to mention it to him, he said he could understand me fine, but I noticed he glanced over at the Doll with a slight grin. I suspect he was “punking” me. LOL

The other difference in this procedure was that I only remember the attendant talking with me one time to tell me to breathe or hold my breath and that was toward the end. This procedure doesn’t require general anesthesia due to the patient interaction involved. But I suspect that the Benadryl put me under a bit deeper. I mentioned to the attendants that I felt like I slept the whole time and they said I had snored a couple of times.

I got back to my room and when I was fully awake and dressed, I went home. The Doll had to drive me and had the use of only one good arm. But we made it fine and I just tried to rest.

In the discussion with the Doctor it was mentioned that since we were only treating 1/3 of my tumor that the side effects, mainly pain, could be less. I am happy to report that the pain after this procedure has been much less and hasn’t come in two big waves like the last time. It has been about 8 days now and the pain is tolerable so far without medications. I hope it stays that way, but I am prepared to medicate if needed. However, the fatigue lingers, and the Dr. confirmed that it probably would for some time.

I was even able to attend the Pellissippi Toastmasters meeting this past Monday where I performed a speech evaluation and even was voted the best Table Topics Responder. It was six days out from the procedure, but I did well. I plan to manage my energy use wisely and so far, it is working.

What’s next you may ask! I will have an MRI/CT scan on Monday, January 14 and see my oncologist the next week. The result of these scans along with the lab work will determine the next step. The big hope is whether the treatments ere effective enough to allow the surgery that I desperately desire. Without the surgery there are no good options currently. Time will tell how many more trips I have around the sun, but I am hoping for a few more.

Now let’s back up to last Thursday where Shelia had her follow-up with Dr. Branham about her broken arm. After the routine X-ray the doc came in and when he stared going through the x-ray images on the computer screen it was clear that Shelia’s arm bone was way out of whack. That would certainly explain her increasing pain in her arm the previous few days. Two option were offered. One was to do nothing, but the bone and arm would eventually heal but be misshaped. Option two was to have surgery and place a plate and screws to get the bone straight and the arm strong again. Not much of a choice but who wants a less than functional arm?

As luck would have it, Dr. Bramham was going to be taking his family to Disney World for Thanksgiving week BUT he could do the surgery the next day on Friday. We would have to be at the Methodist Medical Center and it would be late in the afternoon. I really haven’t heard of much surgery on Friday afternoon, but this was important. The good news was that we were told after we went home that the first patient on the docket cancelled so we got moved up to a 1 PM check-in.

On the next day we arrived and check in went fine. Since there had been no time to do the pre-admission testing it took a very long time before she got pack to the operating room for surgery. I think it was about 5 pm when Dr. Branham came to consult with me. He said that he put in a plate and four screws and that surgery went fine, and she should expect a full recovery. He made me promise to have her weekend activity confined to doing nothing but resting, taking medicine when needed, and elevating her arm. I looked at him directly and said to him “Doc, do you realize that Shelia is from Kentucky?” He looked at me and said. “Bless her heart”.

After quite a while we were able to get her discharged and back home for a weekend rest and relation. It was about 7:30 and she was exhausted from her surgery and I was exhausted because that is what happens with me these days.

The weekend was uneventful, and we were pleased for that. We had a follow-up with Dr. Bramham’s PA in Oak ridge yesterday to check the dressing and wound. It was decided that only 4 days after surgery would not be long enough to remove the stitches so that is schedule for December 3. It was also decided to not put a cast on her arm and instead she would use a splint until she returned.

The joke I tell now is that Shelia’s is on the TSA watch list Level 3 because now she has metal in her back, her knee, and now her arm. I hope the next time we take a flight that the scanners have batteries that are fully charged. LOL.

I don’t know if any of you recall but I have shared many times with family and friends that Teresa (The Redhead) had a quote she used a whole lot. Even when she got terrible news regarding her medical condition and even when she was told her condition was terminal. She would almost always respond “It could always be worse”. Teresa was an amazing and brave woman and she could look at events and situations and have an attitude that at that moment – it could actually be worse. WOW!

Gentle readers, I will leave you with the thought that even though we are going through a lot right now,  “It Could Always be Worse”!

Whole Body Bone Scan (WBBS)

Gentle Readers, the title will be explained near the end of the post.

Some interesting things have been going on since my last post. I have continued to battle fatigue daily, but it is something that I just need to recognize and deal with accordingly. Nonetheless, there are still so many things to do.

I have been able to attend Toastmasters and my Spiritual Experiences Meetup group a few times and the social aspect has helped me a lot. We even had an early Family Thanksgiving yesterday with a lot of my family coming together. It was so very nice!

One of the primary strategies that experts share with cancer patients is not to isolate yourself and continue to fulfil your social life as much as possible. I know that makes sense because when you are engaged in these activities your mind is spared from obsessing on your dilemma. Working around my fatigue can be tricky but it’s worth it.

Another strategy I have been pursing is to research complimentary and integrative approaches to cancer. Most experts in the cancer medical community do not fully or even partially embrace any non-conventional approach. This is a challenge for both the patient and the Doctor. However, there should be some suspicion when the same old techniques of cut, poison, and burn the cancer haven’t changed much in decades.

But the promises of many of the strictly alternative cancer centers and therapies don’t always ring true either. Many of the centers have been called out for using atypical cases in their testimonials where they present themselves as the “magic bullet” choice for cures of very serious cancers. In so many of these cases patients are not “cured” and may in fact, die sooner because they didn’t have other treatments.

I have read and researched so many books and watched many videos and the truth is that a patient with a very serious cancer diagnosis like mine is sort of in the constant state of confusion. I know I am. I desperately want to choose the correct treatment to try to overcome this. But no one really knows what that is.

While I don’t believe conventional medicine, nor alternative medicine offers the failsafe treatment for my cancer, I do believe an integrative approach is the best. The problem is that there are plenty of medical oncologists and a few integrative medical practitioners in my area, there are no actual Integrative Oncologist around here.

For the most part Medical oncologists do not support integrative approaches like whole food plant-based eating, and herbs and supplements, and other therapies like intravenous vitamin C therapies. In some cases, they forbid it. That a problem for me in that there is so much documentation that these alternative therapies and supplements not only can help prevent cancer but also helps your body fight the cancer even while receiving conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy. And they can help you ward off a recurrence of your cancer.

So, I know the only strategy for me is to make the best choices available and to continue to research strategies. And to listen to my gut as I interact with various medical providers. I know that ultimately, I oversee any health care decisions for me and I know I will not always have my providers agree with me and that’s OK.

I had already made an appointment with Dr. Clayton Bell of the University Internal Medicine & Integrative Health where Shelia was referred to when she was battling breast cancer. I really like Dr. Bell since he professes so many things I agree with. He looks at combining conventional treatments with Eastern healing and strategies. He also recommends a whole food plant-based diet where you eat little or no “clean” meat. Unfortunately, I can’t see him until December 18.

As far as an oncologist, I had seen Dr. Park at Sloan Kettering, but it wouldn’t make sense to try to have him be my point man from so far away, so the only thing left to do was to hook up with a local oncologist. I made a few calls and was recommended to make an appointment with Dr. Charles at UT Cancer Specialists. I had researched some reviews and he got some pretty good ones for being compassionate and listening to his patients.

I knew he was a medical oncologist, so I was prepared for him to dismiss many of the alternative approaches that I am considering but I had hope. I prepared a lot of questions beforehand. When my appointment came I found that Dr. Charles and his staff were so very nice. I asked Dr Charles a lot of questions and when I asked about his thoughts about some of the alternative treatments, I could tell he wasn’t thrilled. But he listened and his only pushback to herbs and supplements was that we would have to discuss in the event of systemic chemotherapy treatment if we ever got there. At this point I am ok with that, but I have had read several case studies where cancer patients had to fire their oncologist due to their insistence that they as patients had to have a strict adherence to only the conventional medicine therapies that didn’t seem quite right. We will see.

One thing that happened at my appointment with Dr. Charles was that he recommended a whole-body bone scan because primary liver cancer can spread to the bone and if that would be the case then it might change my treatment since then it would be metastatic. So far that is the one thing I have been trying to avoid hearing. Well shoot! This was something that raises my level of anxiety instead of lowering it. I was not looking forward to this.

The nuclear medicine folks were very prompt in making my appointment for the Wednesday after my Monday appointment with Dr. Charles. I was anxious about it no doubt. When I showed up for my 10 AM appointment I had to receive an injection that would allow my bones to show any evidence of cancer. That’s when I found out that I had to wait 3 hours before the scan could be performed. Fortunately, I had brought a book to read so I chose to wander over to the cafeteria and ate breakfast. After that I hung around in my car, sat in the warm sun, and walked around a bit.

The whole-body bone scan was not long, about 30 minutes in which they scanned all 206 of my bones. I asked the technician when the scan would be read, and a report issued, and he indicated that afternoon. As you can imagine I was anxious when I didn’t hear anything from Dr. Charles’s office that afternoon, so I didn’t sleep too well.

At about 9:30 or so the next morning I received a call from Dr. Charles’s assistant informing me that my scan was NORMAL!!! That really was a huge relief. It does show however, that when dealing with a serious cancer there are so many emotional highs and lows. Much like life in general but with seemingly more at stake.

Now the plan is too complete my 2nd Y 90 treatment next Tuesday and wait until mid-January to get an MRI to see if the treatments were effective. And to also see if a surgery here or in New York is in my future. If it is it would be around mid-March. Surgery is by far the best chance I have in my fight!

So now the goal is to eat healthy, try to get back to exercising, calm my mind, and enjoy life as much as I can. Well that sounds like a good idea for anyone with or without cancer!

Again, I want to thank all my wonderful family and friends who have been praying, sending me good vibrations, and providing a lot of love to surround me. People often tell me that I have made a difference in a lot of peoples lives and I love hearing that. But in a conversation the other night with a couple of friends it became crystal clear that I have had so many people in my life who have made a big difference for me. I will remind myself each day that people influence me in their thoughts and actions and I am certain it is one reason that I am where I am at this point in my life.

Love Jim

Creeping Crud

It has been quite a while since my last post but time to catch up! Right after my big surprise celebration I caught my annual creeping crud that I invariably get in late September or early October each year. It usually starts out as an allergy or sinus infection and will move down to my chest. I am especially concerned this year because I don’t need to have anything to cause pneumonia that was discussed during my ER visit. So Mucinex and nose spray and plenty of coughing and hacking.

The last few weeks have also given me quite a few episodes of fatigue that I am not accustomed to and sleep is not something I can bank on. So, I have had to push myself as best as I can, but I can’t always prevail. So sometimes a nap or just some rest is all I can muster. I have also noticed that my legs and overall balance is not as good as I would like. Part of my cancer fight I presume.

Some highlights of the past few weeks include an emotional release exercise guided by a friend and healthcare professional wherein I was able to discover some buried emotions from my lifetime plus some inherited emotions from my Great Grandfather on my Dad’s side. Many people believe that hidden emotions can cause a lot of our physical problems and disease. I believe it may be valid and therefore worth the effort.

After I went to the ER as discussed in my last Blog post I had an appointment with my Interventional Radiologist on October 8th to check my blood levels and to see if I can have my next treatment. I was rather pleased that my liver enzymes were within the normal range and my bilirubin was only 0.6, which is well within the normal range and is an indicator that the next treatment will go forward. It is now scheduled for Tuesday, November 13.

Another interesting thing that came up with my appointment was that the IR doc indicated that the CT with contrast that I had at the ER showed some necrosis of the tumor (tissue death). The scan was done only 6 days after the treatment so a very good sign that the procedure was working. Hopefully the second procedure will continue the process.

So, the last few weeks I have been trying to recover from the crud and pushing some days when I could. A couple of things we have done is to go to the Wilderness Resort for a couple of days taking Haylee and Ivan and having Brianne and Lily joining us. Later that week we went to Dollywood and took in the Luminights. It was awesome!

We have also gone to a couple of Halloween festivals at the Beardsley Farms and the Church at Knoxville. The key is to pace myself. It looks like we are out doing everything, but the truth is that we fit it in when we can.

I am also attending East Tennessee Meeting Professional Meetings and Toastmaster meetings when I can. Although I couldn’t attend the recent TM Area Contests due to illness.

I also was able to reach out to my friend in Atlanta who has battled cancer twice and is now having to deal with some bone necrosis because of radiation treatments he had quite some time ago. He is a unique man and I feel we connect in a lot of different areas. I feel for him and the pain he will endure during his upcoming treatment. He will face his challenge head on as usual. I hope to do the same in my fight. Thanks for your support my friend!

One thing I did last week was to listen to a week-long podcast called the Healing Cancer Summit where there were many health Care Providers, Cancer Survivors, nutritionists, and other professionals who advocate alternative and complimentary treatments and methods to help fight and/or prevent cancer. A main theme was to embrace a whole food plant-based diet (Vegan) with only a little “clean meat” if a person must have meat. In populations around the world the rate of cancer is in inverse proportion to the amount of animal protein consumed. As a vegan that is easy for me to grasp.  The use of certain supplements is also encouraged. I am starting some supplements that seem to be beneficial in studies conducted.

In the summit there were about 4 hours of programming each day for 7 days so a lot of investment of time, but I feel like I gained some valuable knowledge to help me in my cancer fight.

Another big thing I re-learned was just how stress is so bad for a cancer patient. I have been using some guided imagery and meditation exercises to help me with calming. I must admit they seem to help a lot.

I have also reached out to Dr. Kingham at Memorial Sloan Kettering to find out what would be the next step after I complete my Y 90 procedure. I know a scan will be required about 30-60 days after to determine how effective the procedure was, but I don’t know what the exact process will be so coordinating with my New York connection is key. I will also be consulting with Dr. Gray here in Knoxville.

So, I have been busy despite my fatigue and ever-present sleep deprivation. The fatigue could be from the active cancer or the radiation treatment. It doesn’t matter but I can honestly say that it is the first time in my life that I just can’t push along either physically or mentally and it is quite frustrating.

But the Crud seems to have run it course except for a bit of runny nose and sore throat left over. I can tell that my immune system is compromised since the crud hung around far more than normal.

At this point I wait until my next Y 90 treatment on the 13th and will have to just battle the fatigue each day. I have to thank my lovely wife Shelia who has had to put up with my gruffness more than she should. Our illnesses have helped us become so much closer and there is no doubt of the depths of our love for each other.

I can say that one thing that seems to motivate me is to realize just how many of you are praying for me and sending wonderful healing energy. It means a lot to me to have so many friends who are cheering for me to beat this monster. I pledge to do the best I can, and I am hoping for a miraculous outcome.

Love Jim

I Didn’t See It Coming

I am very seldom surprised to the point that I didn’t see it coming. The last time I recall just missing it was from the movie with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment called the Sixth Sense. You remember when the kid told Bruce that “I see dead people.” It was only near the end did I understand that he was including Bruce. I didn’t see it coming.

The only other time I recall was when the Redhead (Teresa) and a few friends threw me a 40th birthday party. My friend took me out for a round of golf and I only started thinking something was amiss when I saw extra vehicles in the neighborhood. But they were sort of spread out, so I was not ready when we walked in and I was instantly barraged with “SURPRISE” I loved it! I didn’t see it coming!

A couple of days after my rendezvous with the ER that I discussed during my last Blog post I had an ETMP Monthly Meeting at the Knoxville Convention Center. We had our Board meeting on the other side of the building from our Monthly meeting that was in the Lecture Hall. It was a last-minute change by Rebecca Williams, forever known as a key conspirator in the events that I will be describing. At that time no hint of any secret plan.

After the Board Meeting we all moseyed over to the Lecture Hall where I needed to set up the PowerPoint for the program. I was bit surprised to see Curtis Johnston (CUJO) there trying to get the sound system working for me. I assumed at that point that he was just there to help and enjoy the program. He was the featured speaker for the August Meeting when I had to be in New York and he has been to a few meetings. Plus, I see him at Toastmasters once or twice a week, so it didn’t seem unusual for some reason. I might have needed some “Six Sense” here. But if Curtis wants to become an actor in the next phase of his life I predict SUCCESS!

I could say at this point that I was probably under the influence of the pain medication that I had taken over the last week or so although I hadn’t taken any that day. But I was still in some pain so not as laser focused as I normally am. LOL Regardless, I never saw it coming.

So, Curtis and I sort of wandered to the doorway to the Atrium where the food was being set up. At this point the shock, surprise, appreciation of the totality of what was about to happen. There would be no regular ETMP Meeting this day. Only a coup could describe the situation.

When the doors opened not only were there a couple dozen of the regular ETMP attendees BUT about the same number of my Toastmaster Colleagues. This was instantly a big red flag that what I thought was happening was not even close.

The conspirators were many and included my lovely wife Shelia. I found out later that Shelia and Curtis were the main ones. Shelia was the one who had the idea to combine it with ETMP and it worked out very well. And I love them for it. They turned the meeting into a celebration for me receiving my Distinguished Toastmaster Award (DTM) back in the summer. I didn’t see it coming but I was so proud that I had so many of my ETMP and Toastmasters friends honor me with this special celebration.

I would normally get the Award at the next District 63 Spring Conference in April 2019 with all the other folks who achieved the Award during the year. But with my health situation it is not known if I would be able to attend. We even had the District 63 Trio (Top three officers for our District) come from the Nashville and Chattanooga areas. What a very special day it was for me. I will never forget the love and support from people I have known for a long time and some who I have been friends with for a relatively short time. It was a magical day and I thank everyone for making me feel so very special and honoring my achievement. As I always try to exclaim “Toastmasters Will Change Your Life…FOREVER!!! It sure has for me and brought me many friends who I love.

I didn’t see it coming but I will savor it forever!