Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Conundrum...

OK, so several friends and family have indicated they've been checking the blog and haven't seen anything lately.  Full disclosure- after radiation treatments ended, I was so wiped out and was starting a new job, and I just wanted a break.  Same holds true for my Twitter page...

So, now that a month has passed since I wrapped up radiation (a month!), I've been wanting to get back to regular updates, not to mention branching out a bit and not just talking about cancer.

So, I've started gearing back up for regular updates, and happened to take a look at my blog ranking in the pantheon of "webdom".  Not that I'm a famous blogger like Fat Cyclist or Twisted Spoke, two cycling blogs I enjoy reading (especially Fat Cyclist- you should take the time to read a half dozen posts- you'll be hooked!).  But, my blog does have enough traffic to be ranked, which many websites out there can't say.  What does this have to do with anything?  It started me thinking about how I could leverage this blog to do even more good- specifically, to raise money for cancer.  I've been doing that for the last several years on my own, but have decided to look into allowing advertising on my blog.  WHAT?  ARE YOU CRAZY HANDY?  Now, before anyone asks why I'm "selling out", or says "why should I pay to read your blog", we're talking about advertising being allowed on the site, 100% of the proceeds of which I would donate to Huntsman Cancer Institute.  So, I'm considering turning on Google AdSense.  What is AdSense?  Read on...

What is AdSense?

"AdSense enables you to earn money by placing targeted text and image ads
on your blog.

Google automatically chooses which ads to show based on your blog's content, and you earn money when visitors view or click on these ads."

So, note- the readers of the blog DO NOT PAY anything.  Advertisers pay when someone clicks on something to take a look at it.

Which brings me to today's post...what do you think about this?  I've created a survey at the top of the blog, and would ask that everyone who reads this post lets me know what you think of this possibility.  I'm 100% willing to listen to a majority who say "don't do it, it's tacky, shameless and commercial."  However, if the majority say "Yeah, do it, let's let those advertisers' money go to helping with cancer research", then I'll take a look at that, as well.

So...the decision is in your hands.  What do you think?  Please vote...but only once each.  The survey runs through 1/15, at which point I'll revisit this and make a decision.

Oh, and on the cancer front- had a follow-up with Dr. Million on Dec. 15 and she told me all looked good on my recovery from radiation and she was turning me back over to Dr. Glenn.  I go on Jan. 19 for my next PET scan and results with Dr. Glenn, at which point we should know if the cancer all got taken care of by the radiation.  So, prayers and positive thoughts between now and Jan. 19 are greatly appreciated!

Much love to all...

Friday, November 27, 2009

17 Down... (AKA "Whew!")

Done.  Finis.  Terminado.  Nada mas.  That's all she wrote...and I am SOOO glad.  Had my final treatment today at 9:00 AM, and nearly FLOATED out of Huntsman- walking on a cloud!  Although I am grateful to the team who treated me- Dr. Million, Ruth, Karen, Debbie, Derek, Amy and Glenn, I told them very kindly today that I hoped they never saw me again.  They returned the thought- wink, wink.

So now it's time to focus on feeling better, getting my energy back and this fatigue gone, and getting my stomach back to normal.  I went 100% on workouts- took an early workout for today's treatment by doing 42 miles on my road bike yesterday morning.  What's better is that I did it with 15 of my best friends and compatriots- some of the fine gentlemen of the Bountiful Mazda Bountiful Bicycle Club.  Special thanks to Larry Peterson for putting it all together- see the invite on our Club website here:

A picture of the group is posted below for your viewing pleasure [Photo credits go to Jeff Warren for being smart enough to bring the camera, and to Steve Clinger for selflessly taking the picture.]  This is a group of HARDCORE riders who were willing to get out of bed and ride from ~8:30 till 11:30 on a cold Thanksgiving morning when they certainly could have been home in the warmth, and probably put their families off a bit as they supported a VERY thankful friend and colleague.  Gents- I can't tell you how much I appreciate EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU- brotherly love going out to all of you!  You're a class bunch o' guys, and I am honored to ride with you now and in the future.  THANKS!

Will wrap up with two quotes my dear Mother shared with me in a card received yesterday.

From 5-time Tour de France Champion Eddy Merckx:
"There are too many factors you have to take into account that you have no control over...the most important factor you can keep in your own hands is yourself.  I always placed the greatest emphasis on that."

Jewish Proverb:
"I ask not for a lighter burden but for broader shoulders."

That's it for now.  Will probably post after meeting with Dr. Million in mid-December, and then as new info comes in, and then probably not until Jan. 19 when I have my next PET scan and my appointment with Dr. Glenn.




Club riders pictured below as follows:
Steve Clinger (behind the camera)

Allan Johnson
Mike Petroff
Dr. Dan Sellers
So sorry- don't know his name
Jeff Warren
Todd Smith
Dan Kadrmas
Larry Peterson
Loren Roundy
Mark Sykes
Jason (sorry, don't know last name)
Mark Esplin
Dave Bell

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

16 Down, 1 to Go!

Not much to say. Finished up my 16th today. Taking a Turkey Day ride tomorrow then final treatment on Friday. The radiation team gave me a 'graduation blanket' today- just a nice little fleece blanket, but a very kind gesture. Hope I never see them again, if you know what I mean!

One more then I see Dr. Million mid-December and we take it easy till Jan. 19.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

15 Down, 2 to Go!

On the home stetch!

Found out the last three treatments are more concentrated on just the lymph nodes we first found, which seem to be the more advanced ones. So, the radiation field has shrunk, and only one 'beam' front and back each vs. the two each prior.

Tired tonight, Lisa and the girls are at a concert, so calling it a day at 8:30.

Night all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

14 Down, 3 to Go!

Final week! Today was my last Monday of treatment! Tomorrow will be the last Tuesday, etc., etc.

I simply can't stand to take my Zofran any more! It elicits a nauseous reaction even when I think about it. Gagged it down today, but will be so glad when I don't have to take any more of those! Not to mention that now my fatigue has leveled off, but the nausea is creeping in. I can make it through, but my stomach is churning more and more each day. SO glad Friday is my last day!

Made it to the gym today- still 100% on goal! Run tomorrow, spin Wed. and then Turkey Day ride on Thu. End up with spin once more on Friday and I will finish at 100%!

Time to go to bed. Stomach not feeling to well.

'night y'all!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

13 Down, 4 to Go! (AKA "unlucky 13")

"Unlucky" because my stomach was bothering me all day, and if I had had a solid door at work instead of glass I would have turned off the light and taken a nap! Where is George Costanza when you need him! After taking my Zofran and having my treatment the nausea went away, but my stomach was still 'off' and I was tired.

Was able to sit through 2 1/2 hours of the movie '2012'. Entertaining. Not an Oscar winner, but I didn't go expecting that. Did crash hard last night when we came home, though.

File this under 'ironic'... So I'm in front of Huntsman waiting for the valet to bring my car (patients have valet parking, how cool is that?), and suddenly I start getting a whiff of cigarette smoke. Given Utah's Clean Air Indoor Act that seemed strange out in front of a public place. Couldn't spot the person smoking, but could smell it very strong. Finally as I drove away I spotted the offender at the requisite 25 foot distance. Can you believe it? What kind of an idiot stands in front of HUNTSMAN CANCER CENTER SMOKING A CIGARETTE? Wanted to ask if she'd like to save herself some time and just make an appointment with my Doctors right now. Incredible...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

12 Down, 5 to Go!

Good treatment day. Started with spin at 5:00 and had a good day. Talking smack with Dave Bell last night and used one of my favorite quotes on him- 'Veni, vidi, vici.'. Latin quote by Julius Caesar meaning 'I came, I saw, I conquered.'. Decided that should be my motto with regard to this cancer thing. Cancer is here and will do it's thing. I'll still be here after it's gone still doing my thing. I'm here, I see it, and I WILL conquer. From now on, I'll just refer to V3.,_vidi,_vici

Confirmed I will do a treatment on Black Friday. So, one tomorrow (which marks the end of two full back to back weeks), then M-W and F next week then we're all done. That works well because I have a business trip Monday the 30th.

'night all. V3!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

11 Down, 6 to Go!

2/3 of the way! Yeah, baby! Had a good day- probably because I went to sleep early last night. 4 miles at the gym and feeling good.

Larry is working the turkey day ride. So far me, Larry, Loren and Steve Clinger are the names I'm hearing. Come on Bountiful Mazda- don't let a cancer patient outdo you! See, I play the cancer card in the right way at the right time! Who else is in?

Don't forget to complete the survey if you're a cyclist and let Larry know if you're in.

'night all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

10 Down, 7 to Go!

10 down- we're in double digits! However, I'm feeling it tonight. It's 9:00 and I'm off to bed.

I did run 4 miles at the gym today- still trying to NOT fit into the typical cancer patient mold- working to exceed expectations and defy conventional cancer norms. Not sure if I am, but it feels good to 'fight back'!

I've been bummed that I would have to take four days off for Thanksgiving and then go back for just one more treatment. Good news is now that they want to see and treat me on the 27th. I'm down with that. Then I can be DONE and rest and enjoy that weekend. I'll find out what time when I go tomorrow.

Peace out...and a shout out to Andrea, Denise and Kelly. My 'Chick Posse'! Don't ask... :-P

Oh yeah- cyclists, check out the survey at the top right and let me know if you're down for a Turkey Trot. Larry Peterson is coordinating, and he shared the proposed route with me tonight. We'll keep it to no longer than 2 hours that morning.

Monday, November 16, 2009

9 Down, 8 to Go!

Had an entire post and somehow trashed it. AARGH! So, short and sweet- 9 down, 8 to go, feeling pretty good all things considered. Thanks to the Allreds for a delicious dinner this evening. You guys are wonderful!

[Editorial note- Lisa caught my typo, which I've corrected above.  However, in the interest of full disclosure, and a bit of poking fun at myself, I had actually typed "all thongs considered."  I was going to now make a smart comment, but I won't even touch it...'nuff said.]

Friday, November 13, 2009

8 Down, 9 to Go! (AKA halfway there!)

Treatment #8 is now I'm the history books. Looking forward to the weekend and a little R&R (or heaven forbid a LOT of R&R!)

R&R will be broken up a bit by the opportunity to take two of my three girls and two friends each to see Disney's Princesses on Ice. Yeah, you got that right- me, 6 girls, and all the sappy dialogue and non-Olympic caliber ice skating one can drum up! Actually, looking forward to it and the time with the girls.

Anyway, it SO beats the alternative. Lisa is going to stay home and paint. Now you see how badly I must hate painting! So true...

Updates resume on Monday. Taking the weekend off and going 'dark'.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

7 Down, 10 to Go!

Dang! Tired last night and today was worse. Wanted to take a nap at work in the worst way! The episode on Seinfeld where George has a 'bed' built under his desk so he can take naps during the workday came to mind. If my office door didn't have glass in it I would have considered it. Wouldn't have done it, but would have thought long and hard!

Ran 3.5 mi. at the gym today so still doing well physically. 100% on my goal for workouts. Helps mentally if nothing else.

After tomorrow's workout I'm at the halfway point.

Planning a Turkey Day road ride for those reading this who are interested. 40-60 miles, easy pace, no hammering allowed (unless I'm the one doing the hammering!). Email me if interested. Start early in time to be home and help our fams out.

OK. Hitting the sack early tonight hoping that will help. I guess being at the gym at 5:10 AM takes back some of that help? Oh, well. C'est la vie Handy!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

6 Down, 11 to Go!

Wow! Someone stop that Mack truck that ran over me! Ran a few errands when I got home, had some dinner with Lisa and BAM! Was so tired I crashed on the couch and now am getting ready for bed.

Had #6 today. They took some xrays also to check alignment. Listened to The Eagles tonight, classic rock.

Posted a picture of the clamshells on Twitter. One posted here as well (below). You can figure out the rest!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 Down, 12 to Go!

Well, 5 down and 12 to go. I'm 1/3 of the way there. I arrived a bit early so had my weekly checkup w/ Dr. Million before treatment. She said all my vitals look good & I'm healthy. I told her fatigue is the biggest side effect bothering me at this point. I'm not looking forward to how I'll feel Friday when I've had a full week and last week's three days on top of it.

I ran 3.5 miles so I am still 100% on my workout goal on treatment mornings.

Thanks to those who've sent encouraging emails in the last week- Larry Peterson, Steve Clinger, Bart Anderson and others. Much love out to all! Kelly Roundy is doing better. She, Loren, Alyssa and Max came to see us Sunday. Loren has hidden talents- made us an apple pie. Even cut out little stars of pie crust and baked them on top. VERY in touch with his feminine side. :-). Shout out to Loren (aka Julia Child!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

4 Down, 13 to Go!

Got to Huntsman a bit early and finished early Unfortunately I'm getting the routine down.

I was rather tired today, but the weekend off helped a lot. Did feel sleepy throughout church yesterday, and slept for 3 hours in the afternoon.

Doin' it all again tomorrow! Wish me luck! ;-P

Friday, November 6, 2009

3 Down, 14 to Go!

Got to Huntsman a little early so was in and out quickly. I'm getting used to the routine and putting the 'clamshell' on (don't ask, really!). Feeling the effects today- food doesn't taste as good, or in some cases at all.

Stomach is bothering me, but not terribly, yet. Hoping it won't get really bad. I can see why we take weekends off from treatment.

The staff remembered my taste for rock music, so they had Nickelback queued up and ready for me when I got there. Helps the time pass, and at least takes some of the 'clinical edge' off of all of this.

I have to say that the Huntsman folks are wonderful. Caring, willing to answer all my inane questions, and just pleasant to work with.

I told a few folks at work today, though, that the radation almost seems like 'snake oil'. Don't get me wrong, I know it is killing the bad stuff and probably saving my life, but you can't see it, hear it, smell it, etc. and it takes only a few minutes to do and then done. It could be placebo for all we know, it's just strange in that same way that all of this is strange.

So, will rest and recuperate through the weekend, hopefully get to see the U win their game this weekend, and then cowboy up and start all over again Monday.

A big shout out to Andrea who's doing chemo, Denise who's doing radiation, and Kelly who is recovering from surgery (non-cancer related, thank goodness). Props to their families- Bob, Isaac and Connor; Rich; and Loren, Alyssa, Ashley and my homey Mad Max!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2 Down, 15 to Go!

All done for the day. VERY tired- not sure if that's the radiation or not. 2 for 2 at the gym on treatment day. My goal is 100% gym on treatment days to fight fatigue and stay fit and fighting.

40 minutes from walking in the door to walking out, MAYBE 2 or 3 of which was actual radiation time. As we get this down it will probably be more like 30 minutes.

Will have x-rays once a week, and meet with Dr. Million once a week, not necessarily on the same day. 3 female techs last night, 3 male tonight. All of whom are seeing MUCH more of me than I'd like! In fact, I've been tying my gown in the back and holding it as I walk so as to not gap in the back and give everyone a show. So, today one of the techs tells me from now on to tie it IN THE FRONT! Aparently it's easier for them to work with. Apparently for me it's not like tying it in the front or back makes a difference- it ends up around my neck during treatment- thank goodness for the towel they 'kind of' cover me with each time.

Don't take this at all as complaining. I'm actually laughing about all of it. It's all still so surreal.

So, that's it for tonight. I'm about to crash. Let's do this all again tomorrow! ;-P

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

1 Down, 16 To Go!

OK, simulation and treatment #1 complete!  It's been about 3 hours, and no nausea yet, so that's a GOOD THING.  Took my Zofran- it's got a kind of "fruity" taste to it.  Place it under the tongue and let it dissolve- that's it.  30 minutes prior, so I took it as I left work, and hope that it will save me from yakking each time.

So, this is the only time when I'll do this whole simulation and a treatment, and then from here on out we'll just do treatments.  The simulation entails drawing all over my abdomen and groin with a marker, then ensuring via x-ray that the field that will be radiated matches the area drawn up, and that all will work out correctly.  I hadn't caught this when we got the info from our nurse, nor had Lisa, but they actually radiate from the back (two times) and then from the front (two times).  The total amount of time that those four "beamings" are going on can't be more than 2 or 3 minutes, and that's it.

One really cool thing, especially for those who know how much of a music buff I am, was that as they had me all set and ready to go, the tech said "Hey, we need to get some music on for you."  So, she asked me what kind of music I like, I told her all kinds, she said be more specific, I told her let's go with rock, she said name a band, I said "How about Collective Soul."  So, she says "I love them, I've got them right here on my iPod."  So, all of this then gets a nice Collective Soul soundtrack to it- kinda fun.

So, now I'm at home, need to eat something, and I actually feel the opposite of fatigued.  I'm kinda bouncing off the walls- I think it's because we finally are making some progress, and I'm kinda jazzed.  I'm sure after session 13, 14, 15, etc. I'll probably be tired, but tonight I'm feeling good, am very upbeat and ready to take lymphoma on, and happy that all is well in my life.

Stay's sure to get better sometime soon!


"Time to Get Serious"

OK, so first of all let me apologize for not posting for a week and a half.  No excuse, things just got busy and I dropped the ball.  Alright, enough self-flagellation...

Let me catch ya'll up.

On Thursday 10/22 and Friday 10/23 I met with Dr. Million.  Thu. at St. Mark's in SLC and Fri. at Huntsman.  She was very patient, explained everything in detail, walked through the PET scan with us again (in great detail- it was very cool!), and helped us understand the path forward.  Bottom line is that although this is an incurable NHL, studies at Stanford have shown with certain doses of radiation (lower than normal), cure can be achieved.  The cells can be eradicated, and we could be looking at a cure when we go for PET scan again on Jan. 19th.

So, on Friday the 23rd we went to Huntsman and I had my "mold" made.  The idea here is that for each treatment (17 total, more on that in a few), I have to be in the same position each time on the table, so they made a mold of me from my waist down.  Now, since this is a "family oriented" blog, I'll give the quick G rated version of the story, but for those who want the full scoop, take Lisa and I out to Chili's for dinner, and I'll spill my guts (and probably embarrass myself in the process).  Suffice to say it involved me in a hospital gown and nothing else, lying on a CAT scan table.  I laid down on top of a "bean bag" from the waist down, and the bean bag had a vacuum attached to it.  They sucked all the air out of it, and the "beans" fused together and created a mold of my hips, thighs, legs, etc. down to my ankles.  Now each time they'll have that on the table, I'll lie down in it, and be in position for the treatment.  That's the "G rated" version.  The slightly "saltier" version includes details of me ending up with the hospital gown pushed up around my neck and me feeling a breeze everywhere else while lying on the table.   Three female technicians working here and there in the room, and my female Doc. coming in at one point.  Then, the 'piece de resistance'- one technician says "Todd, are you comfortable?" Needless to say that put me over the edge and through quite a bit of laughter, and rather flushed cheeks I said "You didn't really just ask me that did you?"  So, me, the techs and my Doctor, not enough "covering" and some subtle humor, and my own words echoing in my ear (I've told my kids this a thousand times)- "It is what it is."  I told Lisa, and she said something akin to "Don't even go there with me, buddy- ever given birth?"  Touche- I'm done with that.  In fact, I think from here on out I'll embrace this whole thing and forego the gown all together.  How do you think that'll go over?

Alright, so we got the mold made, and that will keep my body in place.  But, the radiation machine needs to be able to treat the same field each time- lymph nodes in my abdomen on the right side and then down in my groin on the left side.  So, for that I "got inked".  Yep, that's right- Handy's now a bad boy just like any Harley ridin' Hell's Angel- I've got tats!  In fact, I not only have one, I have five!  Considered all the usual suspects- dragon, "Mom", a heart, etc., finally went with five black dots the size of a pen mark.  See, the bean bag keeps my body in place, the tats are synched up with lasers that align the radiation "machine" (don't know the medical term, and I keep wanting to say "radiation gun", but that sounds SO Star Trek).

Got my prescription for Zofran, the anti-nausea medicine, got a little counseling from the nurse (something about nausea, diarrhea, lots of lotion for the skin in the radiated areas and fatigue), and we were on our way.

Went to see our good friends Loren and Kelly Roundy at the U Medical Center, where Kelly was one day removed from brain surgery, and had been moved from ICU to a private room.  Didn't expect she'd be awake, much less lucid, but there she was- tough as can be, a little tired (of course), but doing well.  Had a chance to visit with Kelly, Loren and Loren's Mom, and then went on our way.  BIG SHOUT OUT TO KELLY- prayers comin' at you from all the Handys.  Loren and kids, you too!

OK, so now on to yesterday.  I was to have begun treatments yesterday, with the first one being a "simulation" to make sure all was well and the machines were set up as needed.  Then today was to have started the first actual radiation treatment, and then continuing for 16 more sessions, for a total of 17.  That's M-F, no weekend, and skipping Thanksgiving and the day after, with the final treatment on 11/30.  Well, we can blame this whole thing on my good friends Jeff Warren and Larry Peterson who came to visit us Monday evening.  First of all, I love these men like brothers.  Second of all, Jeff is a Stage IV cancer survivor, so he knows what he's talking about ("Been there, done that, had the treatment!").  He goes on to tell me that the doctors really don't like to see any days skipped- the consistency of treatment is key.  BUT, that from time to time one shows up for treatment, only to be told "the machine is down", and the treatment is out the door that day.  There are four machines, true, but they are all full up, so one can't bump someone else, so the treatment gets postponed a day.  THANKS WARREN FOR JINXING ME!  Yep, that's right- I roll in yesterday all good to go, and find out the machine is "down".  Now, truth be told, it ended up being OK because I hadn't taken my Zofran, as I had been told there would be no radiation, but it turns out they had planned to do a sim AND a treatment in the same day, so I would have been pretty miserable and possibly have tossed my cookies.  Communication hadn't flowed down to me properly, so we punted to today, and I go at 4:30 for a sim AND my first treatment.  That said, we've preserved the schedule and I should still end with my final treatment on 11/30, unless Warren and Peterson come to my house again- STAY AWAY BRUTHAS!  :-)

Huge thanks and lots of fist bumps to Jeff and Larry who came bearing ice cream (some kind of a Blizzard or McFlurry or some concoction with lots of goodies in it), and a special spirit of brotherhood.  As I said, I love these guys- thanks dudes!

Finally- in the last month I've felt love and prayers from all sides, and have had blessing poured down on me in abundance.  A week ago we were all downstairs watching TV as a family, and the doorbell rang.  Jennie Graham and her three oldest kids (Morgan, Dillon and Logan) were at the door bearing a gift package.  Matt had stayed home to take care of Camden.  After visiting for a few moments the Grahams went home, and we opened the package.  I won't bore everyone with the contents, suffice to say it was clever and cute, and brought additional tears to my eyes (like that's hard to do!?!).  Included in the package were two hand-made cards from the kids, and so I've posted them here for all to see.  Matt, Jennie, Morgan, Dillon, Logan and Camden- THANKS!  We love you guys, and are so grateful for your love and support.

That's all for now.  May post tonight after my treatment, may post tomorrow.  Not sure I'll post every day after each treatment, as it may be more of the same, or may be a detail of side effects no one wants to know.  Who knows?  Suffice to say I'll keep all up to date, and am grateful for the love and support.

"Peace out"...

The scans didn't quite turn out as I'd have liked them to. 

Card #1 says, "Todd, We are praying for you and we hope you get feeling better.  You rock.  Love, Morgan & Matt & Jennie". 

Card #2 says, "Hope you get well soon" and is from Logan and Dillon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Now for the continuing saga..."

OK, so it's not a saga, but it IS continuing! :-)

Had my appointment with Dr. Million yesterday- she's my radiation oncologist. Met with her at St. Mark's in SLC because the doctors from Huntsman do rotations at St. Marks, and Thursdays are her days.  Unfortunately, yesterday was the earliest I could get an appointment, so I took it. Lisa and I went down- Barry had a conflict, so he didn't join us.

Talk about a THOROUGH Doctor! She was very thorough, and we were very impressed with her. She didn't seem to display much emotion- very level and "just the facts" kind of person.  NOT that there's anything wrong with that, and I know doctors tend to detach a bit, but it's just interesting the personalities of all the different doctors we've dealt with during this journey.  She spent all the time we wanted/needed, and was very helpful. She walked us through the PET scan again, and that was great to reinforce what we had learned, and even learn a little more.

We have a follow-up appointment with her today at Huntsman, and this will be a "mapping session" in which they will create a mold of my body which I will lie in during each treatment session so as to ensure I'm positioned as they want me to be. They'll also tattoo me with five small dots (barely visible) which will serve to align the radiation to me (via lasers) each time I go for a treatment. Don't anyone tell my Bishop or Stake President I have tats- that's sure to get me released! :-)  As I mentioned on my Twitter feed, I was considering perhaps a butterfly, a yin and yang, a dragon, a heart and President Obama as my tattoos!  :-)  OK,  maybe not.

They'll also do another CAT scan so as to be able to determine the exact field of radiation, and also the depth at which to radiate in each portion of the field. Dr. Million has to be there to work with the Physics folks, the radiation folks, the CAT scan operators, etc., etc. (hence the reason we didn't do it yesterday since we were at St. Mark's and I've requested to do my treatment at HCH).

Once the session today is complete, they will begin my treatment 4-5 days later. But, since they don't begin treatment on Fridays, it looks like we'll start the following Monday (at least that's our guess). Will know more today. We'll do 17 or 18 treatments, and if we run into the Thanksgiving week, they will not do treatments on Thanksgiving or the day after, so that would push me into the next week. Dr. Million actually said something like "we're not in a rush", so apparently we're OK and we'll get this done the right way (which is FINE with me!). Dr. Million said "It's not how quickly you do it, but how many sessions you do."

Side effects are something we've wondered about, and folks have asked about. Apparently males my age are the most susceptible to nausea, so she'll prescribe a pill (actually a wafer) that I put under my tongue 45 minutes before each session. This is supposed to block the nausea, or at least minimize it. She indicated that insurance normally covers the prescription, but the pills are $80 a pop, so we're hoping my insurance will cover them (chances are it will). If not, I guess I'll carry a garbage bag around with me after each treatment. That should go over well at work!

Diarrhea is also possible, it just depends on each individual. If it happens to me, we'll manage my diet to help minimize the effects.

Fatigue, too, is possible, and just depends. Apparently weekends are good for patients as they feel invigorated with no treatments happening Sat or Sun.

So, although we're not yet "moving", we're making progress, and getting closer. We did talk with Dr. Million about how this could cure the cancer, but that it also might not, and we need to be prepared for that, given that this type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma really acts more like a chronic disease than anything else. We are booked for Jan. 19 to have a follow-up with Dr. Glenn, at which time we'll do a new PET scan, and if the cancer has been eradicated, that should be very easy to see. So, that's what we'll be praying for and working towards.

Finally, a shout out to our friends Loren and Kelly.  Kelly had a major surgery yesterday at the U Medical Center, and we stopped in to see Loren while she was still in surgery.  He was in good spirits, and had both of Kelly's parents and his Mom with him.  We'll go back today after my appointment at HCH and visit with Kelly for a few minutes.  Their kids are all too young to even be allowed in to visit, and I know that's wearing on all of them- that's tough for kids to not be able to see Mom while she's in the hospital. So, much love to the Roundys, and lots of prayers.  Those of you who know them, say an extra prayer for them that Kelly's recovery will be speedy and sound, and that she'll be home with family shortly.  Loren and Kelly- the Handys love you guys!

Friday, October 16, 2009

(A Little) Progress

Well, we finally have a date for my consult with Dr. Million, the radiation oncologist.  Oct. 22 at 10:00 AM at St. Mark's.  Dr. Million has offices at both St. Mark's AND Huntsman, and the first available time was at St. Mark's on that date.  I will still do my treatments at Huntsman, but I really want to get this moving, so took the 10/22 appointment.

Not sure if this means we'll start radiation treatment that following Monday, 10/26- we'll have to see.  But, that's my hope, and that's what our prayers will center on now (each step brings new hopes, new prayers, and a LOT of waiting!).

On another topic- on general conference weekend Lisa, the girls and I went to my Mom's home in Roosevelt.  We always enjoy going out there for conference, because it's so peaceful and quiet, and we are able to relax and unwind a bit.  Conference was great, as always.  Mom and I took the opportunity to tell my Grandma Burgess about the cancer (she's 98, so we feared she'd hear the news and have a heart attack), but she took it like a trooper!  She's had breast cancer and survived, my Mom has had uterine cancer and survived, and now me (talk about your BAD genes!).  Granny took it in stride and said "Well, I had cancer and I'm OK, JoAnn had cancer and she's OK, so you'll be OK."  Good to see even my 98 year old Grandma can see that we can fight and win this battle.  Not sure she'd have the strength to do it, but I do, and will!  We also told Granny about my cousin Bob's wife Andrea, who is right now battling breast cancer, as well, so Grandma got a "twofer"- not that she wanted it!  Andrea is doing very well, and it's interesting to have two of us in the family battling this disease at the same time.  We pray daily for Andrea, Bob and the boys.

Finally, I wanted to share some wonderful support given to us by our dear friends Dave & Julie Bell and their kids- Blake, Kurt, Lydia and Ben.  When we returned from Roosevelt on conference weekend, there was an envelope taped to our front door.  On it was a picture drawn by little Ben, who by the way is the cutest kid in the world!  He'd drawn a bicycle, as he knows I'm a cyclist, and had addressed the letter to me.  Inside was a touching letter that brought huge tears (again, not like that's hard to do with me), and some stickers Dave had had done for us and other friends and family.  Excerpts from the letter follow:

"Know that you are not alone.  We love you. We are grateful for the way you have influenced our family for good and look forward to making many more memories of times spent with the Handys.  We have enclosed a few decals we had made that we are hopeful will help you along this journey.  We have replaced Lance Armstrong's "LiveSTRONG" with "HandyBESTRONG".  Please note that it does not say "ToddBESTRONG" as we know that cancer affects the entire family as well as the individual.  We have the decals on our vehicles and on all of the Bell family bikes.  We hope that when you see them you will be reminded that you are not along and that you can draw additional strength from friends."

I've been remiss in getting my decals on my vehicles and bike, but like the Bells, I can now say that the Handy family vehicles and my bike are all decked out and bearing the message "HandyBESTRONG".  I so love the Bell family!

Ben's drawing and the HandyBESTRONG logo are posted here for all to see and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait Part II...and Good News!

The good news first...we received word last night that the bone marrow test/biopsy was clean, and so there's no cancer to be found there.  Hallelujah!  That means we can proceed with the radiation treatment, and look for the potential in the January appointment to hear that there's no more cancer.

Hurry up and seems like that's been the norm the last few weeks.  Along with the word last night that the bone marrow was clean, I also received the word that the radiation oncologist's office had me booked for 10/30 for my initial consult, and then would begin radiation on 11/2.  I had been prepped that this week would be the initial consult (as per Dr. Glenn's understanding), and then begin radiation on 10/19.

Now, I'm a big boy, and I realize that we don't always get what we want (at least I'm always telling the girls that!).  I'm also familiar enough with the healthcare world to realize that doctors are often overbooked, and oncologists may even be more so.  So, if it MUST BE that I cannot see Dr. Million until 10/30, so be it.  That said, if we can begin sooner, I'd like to, as I'd like to get moving on this while we can take advantage of all the blessings we've been given- localized, Stage II, grade 1 (low grade), etc., etc.  In two weeks time I don't know that anything will change, but why take the chance?  So, Debbi, my awesome nurse at Huntsman was going to make some calls today and see if we can get this moved up somehow.  Fingers crossed...prayers offered!

Finally, let me just editorialize a bit and say that the love and concern showed by SO MANY has been overwhelming, and very heart warming.  So many folks have said and done things to show support and love, and I don't want to single any out at the risk of leaving others out.  But, I do want to share something today for any who are interested to take a look at.  The cycling community is really very tight, and even more so a club within cycling.  I'm a member of the Bountiful Mazda/Bountiful Cycling club, and can honestly say I can't think of a more upstanding, competitive, kind and generous group than the folks I share the roads with and trade "pulls" with when we're riding.  Many of them are very best friends of mine, but all of them are good folks and I love spending time with them.

Larry Peterson is one of these wonderful folks in the club, and is also our club webmaster (more on that in a minute).  When Larry found out about my diagnosis, he sent one of the most touching e-mails I've ever read, and hasa followed-up with a few more that have caused me to shed some tears of gratitude and love (not that it's hard to make me cry!).  An excerpt of what Larry sent to me when he found out:

"Our thoughts, prayers and hopes are all aimed your direction. You will now look differently at all those cancer stories, but there is only one that matters, yours and lets make it a good one. I propose we form a “Todd’s Team” to help with your battle against this demon. What ever you need just ask and if it’s doable it will be done.

For the last two years I have been riding specifically for those battling cancer. I have a list of names I carry with me all the time. It reminds me that my suffering is nothing compared to theirs. I would be pleased to add your name to the list just below my sister’s name who has been battling cancer since 1988.

This is one race it’s OK for you to win – go do it and we will back you up."

Yeah, I know..."verklempt"!  So, you see the kind of guy Larry is.  Well, he's since renamed the group "HandyMen", and has enlisted some of the wonderful folks I ride with in the club. He shared with me that he's even added a tab to our club website, which you can view by clicking here HandyMen.

So, many thanks to Larry for his thoughtfulness and friendship, and to all those HandyMen he's enlisted so far.  More so, thanks to all the members of the Bountiful Mazda/Bountiful Cycling club for their friendship and camaraderie over the years (even those riders who are so much better than me and routinely tear my legs off!).

RIDE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT!  Go Bountiful Mazda!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How Would YOU Feel If Santa Brought You EVERYTHING On Your List?

Well, I had planned to post Thursday after we met with Dr. Glenn and received the results of the PET scan and LDH test, but then I learned I had to return to Huntsman on Friday for another test (more on that in a minute), so I decided I would wait till after Friday to post.

So, here's the update for both Thursday and Friday...

Thursday Lisa, Barry and I went to HCI to meet with Dr. Glenn and receive the results of both the PET scan and the LDH test.  You'll remember that the LDH test is a blood test which indicates how aggressive the cancer was.  The results indicated that the cancer is not aggressive, which is good.  Actually, you can argue that it's NOT good, as if the cancer were aggressive, it would be treated with chemo right now, and quite posibly could be cured.  So, normally one would not want to hear that their cancer was aggressive, but in this case it would be a good thing.  So, since my cancer is not aggressive, immediate chemotherapy is not a course of action we will/should take.

The PET scan results were also very interesting.  The PET scan is combined with a CAT scan and shows "slices" of the body from head to toe, both horizontal (across your body from head to toe) and vertical (across your body from anterior to posterior).  As indicated in my last post, the glucose and radio isotope travel to areas where they are metabolized, which is normally in rapidly active or multiplying cells, hence cancer is a place where much of the IV solution travels.  Normal areas which are working showed up- heart, kidneys, bladder, etc.  "Showed up" means that the scan is black, and the areas where the solution is "glows" on the screen.  It seems to me to very umambiguous- if it's glowing, something's going on, if it's not, nothing is going on.

So, we saw the lymph nodes from the biopsy ("retroperitoneal", or towards the back of my abdomen down by the aorta), and they of course were glowing.  No news there- we knew that's where the cancer was.  But, we also saw another chain of lymph nodes which were glowing, and they were down in the "iliac" area.  So, that means the cancer is Stage II (cancer staging) because it's localized in two areas, but on the same side of the diaphragm.  I had understood from Dr. Glenn last week that if it was Stage II, we would not be able to radiate.  So, a little dejectedly, I said, "So, we won't be able to radiate?" and she said "No.  I've already been on the phone with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Million, and she's already familiarized herself with your case, and she indicates she can radiate the two lymph node chains in the same radiation field."  She went on to explain that the Dr. Million's office would get with me early next week and set up an appointment. We'll meet for 4-5 hours to set things up, then starting mapping out the areas on the body to be radiated.  I'll go five days a week for four weeks, and could start as early as a week from next Monday (10/19).  Sessions will be 15 minutes or so, and they expect very few side effects.  No expected nausea, as we will be radiating away from the stomach.  Possible diarrhea, as we will be closer to the bowels, but I'm happy to have to take that risk to be able to radiate.

I asked Dr. Glenn if we would still do a bone marrow test, and she indicated we would.  I asked her if the chances were that it would be a good result because my blood count is normal, and she indicated that the chances were good it would be great.  The purpose of this test is to ensure that the cancer is not in the marrow, as if it is there is no need to radiate- it wouldn't be effective.  We would then most likely go to "watchful waiting".

So, bottom line, we had wanted the result of the PET scan to be that the cancer was localized, and that we would be able to proceed with radiation, which Dr. Glenn indicate can actually cure this cancer, even though it's an indolent NHL and "incurable".  We prayed for this result, and I know many others offered those same prayers, and the Lord responded by answering our prayers and granting to us what we had asked for.  As I've told a few folks since, the only possible better outcome would have been if Dr. Glenn had pulled up the PET scan results and said "Todd, we don't know why, but for some reason the cancer is no longer in your body."  Could that happen, of course it could.  But, the more feasible option is that the Lord simply grants the next best things, which is the route we will take and the potential of a cure.

So, I ask you- "HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF SANTA BROUGHT YOU EVERTHING ON YOUR LIST?"  That's how I feel- the Lord granted us the blessing we most needed and asked for.  I have no doubt he'll continue to do so- the bone marrow test I have faith will show no cancer, and we'll be ready to start with Dr. Million next week and begin radiation the following week.

Yesterday then was the bone marrow test.  If you didn't follow the link above to read about bone marrow tests, I'd suggest you do so at this time, as it was VERY MUCH what my test was like.  Not only was marrow aspirated and sampled, but a core sample (biopsy) was also taken.  I have to admit I went in yesterday with some apprehension, as I've only heard bad about bone marrow tests, mostly that they're extremely painful.  That may be, but it may also be that an experienced medical professional makes all the difference, and I have no doubt that was the case for me.  Renee, a Nurse Practitioner at Huntsman performed the test, and was wonderful!  Except for the "pin prick" pain associated with the anesthetic, I felt no futher pain.  There was some pressure- how could there not be when a fit, skinny woman has to crank on a needle and press it into the hip bone of a big guy?  Props to you Renee!  I'd do that again with no fear if I had to (as long as Renee came along!).

Just an observation- for some reason, I've always pictured bone marrow as white/creamy in color, and somewhat gelatinous.  Turns out it's red and very "watery"- basically like bood.  I had no idea what it looked like, and now I know.  Not that that means anything, it perhaps means I didn't pay attention in anatomy/medical subjects in my school career.  Guess that's why I'm a business guy with an MBA and not a medical professional?

So, here's the bottom line- bone marrow test results next week, meet with Dr. Million to get going on the radiation, begin radiation most likely the 19th of October, and then I already have a follow-up booked with Dr. Glenn for January 19th, at which time we'll do a follow-up PET scan, blood tests, etc. and I will then meet with her.  Very good chance at that time she tells me the cancer is all "gone" and that I'm "cured".  I use quotation marks, as it's also possible it won't fully go away, and may not be cured, but I'd already resigned myself to the fact that this cancer may be like a chronic disease for the rest of my life, and I've already received a peaceful assurance that I'll get through it.

That's Thursday and Friday's update.  Have a GREAT weekend, and I'll plan to post more when I hear back on bone marrow test results on Monday, and then start meeting with Dr. Million, etc.

Public thanks to the Lord for hearing and answering our prayers. We still have a way to go in all this, and I am cognizant of that, but I also have a strong testimony that the Lord does hear and answer prayers, and this just reinforces and substantiates that!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait...or "Wish I Had a Few of Those Valium Right Now"

So...the big PET scan day has arrived.  One of the girls asked, "why do they call all these things 'animal names?'"  I said, "Huh, what are you talking about?"  She said, "You know, CAT scan, PET scan, etc.!?"  Kids...!  :-)

Alright, ya'll can read a lot more in-depth about PET scans by Googling, I'll leave that up to you.  This is my version, simplified and in lay terms (unless I know a big word I want to drop in here and there to impress!) [It's MY blog, you know!].

The basic premise behind PET scans is that you fast for at least six hours prior (but you can drink water).  Thus your body has no food in it which can be turned into fuel for your cells, so they are "hungry".  Your blood is tested to make sure your blood sugar is OK, and if it is you're given an IV of glucose with radioisotopes bound to the sugar.  The sugar travels to the cells which are most rapidly multiplying and therefore metabolizing more than other cells.  This means that the areas that should end up with most of the IV solution are those which are affected by cancer.  Apparently when the Dr. reads the PET scan, the areas almost "glow" where the concentration of the sugar is, so that it's readily apparent where the cancer is.

So, they run the IV, pump in the fluids, and then leave me in a waiting room with most of the lights turned out and tell me I need to stay completely still and rest while the solution moves through my blood stream.  So, iPod rocking in my ears, I take a nap.  Except that this is not a nice comfy bed, it's a chair that reclines back somewhat, but not flat, and I'm all bent here and there.  But, I've never been one to back down from a good nap.  Bring it on!

An hour later they wake me, and make me empty my bladder before going in to the scan room.  Good thing, cause I was in that dang scan for over 40 minutes, was told to be completely still, and was glad to not have to worry about needing to relieve myself!

So, they have me lie down on the "bed" of the scanner.  I say "bed", because you're thinking pillow, blanket, nice soft mattress, etc.  Yeah, right!  We're talking a pad 12 inches wide or so, with a place to lay one's head.  Then they put a block under the knees to help you be a bit more comfortable, and put a blanket over you so you're not too cold.  At this point I'm down with all this, no big deal.  But, you can't fold your arms over your chest- they need to scan under where your arms would be.  So, you place your arms to your sides, rest them as best as possible on the "bed" (kind of under/next to your rear end) and they come out with a wide "strap" that they wrap around you and Velcro closed.  Yeah, this is gonna be FUN!!  They then proceeded to run me into the scanner (which is probably the correct medical term, I prefer to think of it as the "tube from ____").

At this point a little history might be in order.  Last fall I had to have an MRI for the first (and, believe me, LAST time).  Have any of you had one of those little joyful experiences?  I'm not as claustrophobic as some, but I don't like to be in tight, confined spaces with a feeling that I can't get out on my own.  When I went into the "tube", my shoulders are broad enough that they brushed the sides.  No kidding!  Can't we size these things?  "I'll take an XL MRI, please?"  I asked myself what a larger person than I would do- don't want to think about it.  Anyway, I digress.  The doctor had prescribed two valium for me to take just prior to the procedure.  I'm pretty susceptible to drugs, so I took one thinking it would be enough.  WRONG CHOICE!  No sooner had the lady slid me into the "tube" than I freaked and had her bring me out.  Long story short, a combination of some psychotherapy on her part, prayer on my part, the single Valium kicking in and sheer willpower and I go through it (mostly the prayer and the Valium I would say!).

So, shades of MRI today.  I was nervous, and the first part is a CAT scan before the PET scan begins.  Needless to say I flashed back, and got all nervous and sweaty (partly because they don't explain it to you, and don't give you a preview.  They also don't put you in far enough to know you'll come out the other end).  So, when all was said and done, it was NOT as bad as an MRI, but certainly wasn't very enjoyable as I'm stuck in this tube, with my ARMS BOUND TO MY SIDES- for forty minutes.

When the test was complete, they sent me on my way.  By now we should also have the results of the LDH test (which you may remember was to indicate how aggressive the cancer is), so Thursday we'll get the results of the PET scan and the LDH test.  Again, our hope is that the PET scan shows that the cancer is localized, that the LDH test shows it's not aggressive, and then that we'll do a bone marrow test and find that the cancer is not in the marrow.  All of this will then enable Dr. Glenn to go to the radiological oncologists and have them determine if they can irradiate the area- which could lead to a "cure".

So, all in all a good day.  It just feels like "hury up and wait".  Thursday 9/24 was the diagnosis.  Wait till Thursday 10/1 for Oncologist.  Wait for 10/8 for results.  I'm assuming some waiting after that for bone marrow test results.  I always imagined when one was told one had cancer that the wheels started turning and things started happening.  Had no idea that indolen follicular NHLs could actually be characterized like a "chronic disease" and could simply be monitored over time. I guess that's not all bad, but it's also strange to thing that I have cancer in my body, and we may simply "wait and watch", perhaps for years.

Lisa and the girls and I are optimistic and faithful.  So many are praying with and for us, and we know and feel it.  Thursday will be a good day, and no matter the results, we know the Lord is with us and will continue to guide and bless us.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mr. Hunstman Done Did Well For Himself!

Have you SEEN Huntsman Cancer Institute?  What a place!  Jon Sr. made his millions when he was in the right place at the right time and manufactured the styrofoam clamshell container for McDonald's for the Big Mac.  Has done a lot of other things, of course, but that's what got him going.  Now I'm told he's dropped hundreds of millions of dollars into HCI.  GOOD FOR HIM!  Beats folks who've done well and don't do anything for their fellow man.

I could argue that less mahogany trim and the decor would translate into more treatment for patients, but I digress.  Jon deserves to do this place up top
notch, and he's done so in spades.  YOU DONE DID WELL MR. H!

So, I'll update ya'll on my first appointment with Dr. Glenn in just a moment, but I have to share an irony that wasn't lost on me when I was there yesterday.

Lisa and I were waiting in the lobby for Barry to park his car and come in, so I ran to the restroom.  As I was coming out, I was transported back to June 20th when I was coming out of that same restroom after having ridden 140 miles from Delta, UT to HCI.  This was part of Jeff Warren's annual "Reno to HCI" fundraiser in which he raises millions (OK, maybe not that much, but some good scratch) for HCI.  On June 20th I was at HCI helping bring Jeff in, and supporting him as he raised money for HCI.  Fast forward 13 days and I get hit by a car, find out I have enlarged lypmh nodes, and start the process that brings me back full circle.  You can call it irony...I know it's something else!

Now, on to what happened yesterday in my first appointment as an official "cancer patient":

I'll quote from the Lymphoma Research Foundation in BOLD, as opposed to my thoughts in regular type. Just so you can keep score...

  • From Lymphoma Research Foundation; "Although some NHLs are localized to one area, most are found in other parts of the body by the time he diagnosis is confirmed." So, that just confirms to me if mine is localized and we're able to irradiate it that we're even more blessed by The Lord. THIS IS WHAT I WOULD ASK ANY AND ALL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN DOING TO PRAY FOR BETWEEN NOW AND TUESDAY. LOCALIZED WILL GIVE US SOME OPTIONS. GENERALIZED WILL NOT.

  • From LRF, "A second opinion is not considered adequate unless the tumor sample is reviewed by another pathologist, preferably well versed in lymphoma." My cancer is a "low grade" (based on the size of the cells relative one to another). Grade 3 is "aggressive", grade 1 is "low grade", or the medical term is "indolent". Grade 2 is in the middle. Ogden Regional graded it a 2, Huntsman graded it a 1. I'm going with grade 1, not because it sounds better, or is better, but because that's Huntsman's grading, and I'm trusting 100% in them. From LRF, "The grade classification is important because it affects both the rate at which the disease is likely to progress and the treatments likely to be effective."

  • From LRF, "A PET scan evaluates NHL activity in different parts of the body. To perform a test, a radioactive glucose tracer substance is first injected. A positron camera is then used to detect the radioactivity and produce cross-sectional images of the body. PET scans are very useful in determining response to treatment. While CAT scans show the size of a lymph node, PET scans show if the lymph node is active (still has the disease). Next week we have a PET/CT scan scheduled. It will tell us if the lymphoma is in any other areas of my body or not. Right now it's just in the lymph nodes in the back of my abdomen.

  • If it turns out that's the only place it is (medical term is localized), then they'll test my bone marrow. If it's not there, which it probably isn't based on my blood tests and blood count which is normal, then they will ask the radiological oncologists if they can/will irradiate the area. From LRF, "Bone marrow is obtained by numbing the skin, tissue and surface of the bone with local anesthetic, inserting a thin needle into the pelvis or another large bone and withdrawing a small sample. The procedure can be painful at the moment when the marrow is withdrawn." Regarding radiation therapy, "Radiation therapy is a local therapy which means it only affects cancer cells in the treated area. Radiation is sometimes used alone for certain localized lymphomas, either nodal or extranodal, or may be combined with chemotherapy.

  • Here's where it gets interesting- although low grade follicular lymphomas are normally curable, if it's localized and gets irradiated, it may get "cured". Go figure. From LRF, "Low-grade of indolent lymphomas tend to grow very slowly and need treatment less urgently. Indolent lymphomas, although usually exquisite to therapy are rarely cured. Despite this, patients often live for a long time with a good quality of life. Some indolent lymphomas can transform over time into more aggressive types requiring more intensive treatment. Although people with more aggressive lymphomas often require more immediate intensive treatment, their cancers may be curable. Indolent lymphomas that transform into more aggressive types are more difficult to cure.

  • From LRF, "Patients with NHL that has spread outside the lymph nodes to other organs such as the bone marrow or nervous system tend to have lower cure rates compared to those whose disease has not spread.

  • From LRF, "In patients with NHL, levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) are commonly measured, because higher levels suggest that the lymphoma may be more aggressive and that more intensive treatment may be needed." They also drew blood yesterday to run an LDH test. I should get the results of this test next Thursday when I get the PET scan results.

  • From LRF, "Follicular lymphoma which is spread (generalized) in the vast majority of patients, is very responsive to treatment but is not curable. If localized, however, follicular lymphoma can often remain dormant for years or decades, with minimal treatment. THAT'S WHAT WE MAY BE LOOKING AT, AND WHY WE SHOULD HAVE HOPE!

  • Indolent follicular lymphomas don't really have a cure. From LRF, "Indolent NHLs tend to reappear, even after long term remission."

  • From LRF, "People under the age of 60 generally have better outcomes than those who are older. Those who are more active tend to respond better than those who aren't."

  • From LRF, "Watchful waiting is a term used when a patient is diagnosed with NHL is not given any immediate treatment for the lymphoma. The patient pursues a normal life as long as symptoms of NHL aren't present. The patient has regular physician visits and follow-up evaluation procedures, such as laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging. Watchful waiting is an appropriate treatment for some patients with follicular or other indolent lymphomas, but is genially not appropriate for aggressive lymphoma. When the patient begins to notice symptoms, or when there are signs that the disease is progressing, watchful waiting will be abandoned and more active treatment will be initiated. The patient is placed under "watchful waiting" (medical term, not something I made up) and basically until any strong symptoms of lymphoma present (drastic weight loss, itching, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, etc.) they don't treat with chemo, as the side effects of chemo are undesirable, and can actually be worse than the symptoms at times.

  • Aggressive follicular lymphomas can be cured, but they also require more immediate attention and treatment, and are also more risky.

So, I'm stuck with a follicular lymphoma that really isn't aggressive, and is more of a "watch and wait", but may never be cured. It may relapse and remit throughout the rest of my life.
Net-net after 24 hours of reflection, thought and prayer- this is a blessing.  I have cancer- I'll get over that!  It's not aggressive, that's a good thing.  It's possibly localized, and can perhaps be irradiated.  WAHOO!  No matter what, I'm not letting this thing get me, and I'm going to fight, fight, fight.  As I've said before, "Bring it!"
Much love...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Spent the weekend doing three things- 1. reading e-mails that came pouring in from friends and family, 2. sleeping, and 3. fasting and praying on Sunday.  Oh yeah, also went with Lisa to see the Utes smack down Louisville.  GO UTES!

It never ceases to amaze me how folks rally around one another when things get tough.  I e-mailed a handful of friends to let them know the outcome of the biopsy and the pathology, and then sat back and watched as e-mail after e-mail came in expressing: love, concern, shock, support, hope, etc., etc.  More than a few also contained a bit of "cancer smack talk" that motivated me to beat this thing and get back out there on my bike as soon as I can.  With regard to Bountiful Mazda/Bountiful Cycle Cycling Club- there's never a shortage of "smack talk", so you can imagine the wonderful e-mails that came back from the club.  That said, there were also a lot of very kind, supportive, faith promoting e-mails all around.

At the end of the cycling season last year I was diagnosed with a herniated disc (L2-L3 vertebra).  So, I began this season with a lot of pain, especially in the morning.  Started to get ahead of that, and then in July I got tagged by a Jeep Wrangler.  Two days in the hospital, and four weeks later, I was back up on the bike and training.  Got ahead of the pain again, and then had a small mishap in Little Cottonwood Canyon that brough some road rash and some additional necessary healing.  Got through that, and then really started to get in a groove training for LOTOJA.  Finished LOTOJA, and a few days later went in for the biopsy (6" incision with 21 staples- it looked SO COOL!).  2 more days in the hospital and then a few days home from work, and then back up and at it.

So, with all that, I've had my share of fatigue this season, but I always thought it was from the most recent "incident", whatever that would be.  Now I find out that one of the symptoms of lymphoma is fatigue, and I say "NO WONDER!"  So, between the biopsy recovery and the onset of the lymphoma, I'm finding that I need a nap here and there.  Lisa and the girls have been very good to "allow" me to get a few extra hours here and there, and I have been "allowing" myself to do so.

Between my family and Lisa's, and many wonderful friends, we spent Saturday-Sunday fasting and petitioning the Lord for his assitance in this matter.  Not that we don't feel we need to work hard and do out part- that's where Huntsman Cancer Institue and the upcoming treatment all come in, but at the end of the day The Lord has the power to help me overcome this trial, and I have to acknowledge that and ask that He help (knowing that His will must be done).  So, we've asked that He help, and now we'll go out and do everything we can to augment His help.

Finally, I've done a lot of reading on lymphoma- both NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and Hodgkin lymphoma.  There are 6 types of Hodgkin lymphoma and 61 types of NHL (as per the Lymphoma Research Foundation).  So, as you can imagine, there are multiple treatments, options, combinations, etc., etc.  I'm really looking forward to spending some time with Dr. Glenn on Thursday and getting moving on my specific lymphoma and how we'll treat it on an individualized basis.  I need to know "what's the plan" and want to be an active part in it.  We will beat this!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Day After...and No More Blood Donations!?!

My first consult with my HCI Oncologist is scheduled for Thursday, 10/1.  I'll be working with Dr. Martha Glenn ( of HCI's Hematology Oncology practice (  Lots of questions to ask, none of which I have answers for right now: What Stage is this cancer?  Do we know when it started?  What does chemo look like for this strain of cancer, and what will the impact be to me?  Of course, the kids want to know, "Dad, are you gonna be bald?"  I say, "bring it!"  :-)

Next Topic... 

So, in a conversation with Bishop Smith today he reminded me that I had given blood two days before I was hit by the car, and perhaps I ought to let the Red Cross know in case they hadn't yet used my blood.  I called and spoke with a lady who said they'd track it down if it hadn't been used and do whatever they do with it.

As I was hanging up the lady said "Let me look at one more thing"- she came back and let me know that lymphoma is an indefinite deferral for blood donation- I'll never be able to donate again! Now, that REALLY makes me sad, as I try to donate as often as I can, because I know of the good it can do for others, and I'm a healthy guy and can afford to do so.

I'm sure there will be many more moments when I say "cancer sucks because...", but this is one of the first ones.  CANCER SUCKS BECAUSE I CAN NO LONGER DONATE BLOOD AND HELP OUT MY FELLOW MAN!