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.