Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two Words.

Yes, but which ones? Try these on for size:

BOO-YAH (I know, it's one word, but if I hyphenate it can it count as two?)

So, we'll get to those in a minute, but just to give you a quick blow-by-blow of the day...

6:00- 9:00 AM
Checked in to Huntsman at 6:00 AM. On the way in, about two blocks from HCH on the University of Utah perimeter road up from Greek Row I almost took out three deer who at the last minute decided to run across the road right in front of me. Locked up the brakes...deer went on their way. Good thing I didn't have to have my pulse and BP when I arrived! Woulda been a nice start to the day to take out some deer and mess up my car. Luckily for them and me we avoided the entire situation.

Did the whole radioactive-isotope-bonded-to-sugar in the form of an IV thing, then did the obligatory one hour rest while the body (and primarily the cancer) metabolized the sugar so it would show up in the PET scan. Quick refresher, it will show up in the heart, the kidneys, etc. where it SHOULD be, but will also show up in the lymph nodes and other areas where it SHOULDN'T be if there is any cancer.

Went on down to the PET scan area, the tech wrapped the thing around me that binds the arms to the sides to help them stay out of the way of the scan and also so one doesn't have to hold them to one's side for the entire 45 minutes. She started to slide me into the scanner and I had a small freak out (enclosed spaces are bad enough for me, but the binding of the arms to my side, while I understand it, makes it even worse!). She talked me down off the ledge, and we agreed I would place my hands under my rear end to hold them in place, but to enable me to not have them bound to my sides. Was able to get through the PET scan without too much anxiety, although I really hate these things. [Editor's note- Dan Kadrmas, one of the Bountiful Mazda Cycling Club I ride with, and one of the developers of the software/programming that runs the scanners at Huntsman told me in e-mail today that the next time I go for a scan it should be half the time. Half of a 45 minute claustrophobic encounter is better, but it's still 22.5 minutes of CLAUSTROPHOBIA. No dice on my request to open that bad boy up and not make it so close to my face. Not Dan's call, though, and he's doing his part cutting the 45 minutes in half. Thanks DK!]

Went back to work and did what I could in the short amount of time between visits to HCH today. Also tried to focus on my work and my sales team, and not on the results and what I would find out. Cyndi, our HR Manager and administrative assistance (who also happens to be a cancer survivor) stopped by and asked if I was nervous and wound up. I told her I would not allow cancer to do that to me- that I would take it as it came, and that I was focused on one day at a time. I firmly believe cancer needs no additional power and energy from me worrying and giving it a chance to take hold of me.

Lunch with Lisa and Barry (her Dad) at Lion House pantry in downtown SLC. LOVE THAT PLACE- great food, good portions, and fun to be downtown (although the construction is getting WAY old).

Lab work, blood tests, and follow-up with Dr. Glenn, my regular oncologist (I make it sound like it's cool to have one's own oncologist- take my advice, skip that part!).

Dr. Glenn came in and said something like "OK, your scan came back all clean." Me- "What exactly does that mean?" Her- "That the cancer is all gone." Me- "[chirp...chirp...chirp (those are crickets)]" I was speechless for just a minute. I have had faith, and have prayed and fasted for this very answer, but have also prepared myself for news that wouldn't be quite so good, just because the odds were that that would be what I would hear. Remember my post where I said "how would you feel if Santa brought you EVERYTHING you asked him for?" Well, that's how this went down. The Lord answered our prayers completely- 100%.

We talked a lot with Dr. Glenn, and the bottom line is I am considered cancer free. If there is any cancer in my body, it's small enough to not register on the CAT scan, nor the PET scan, so we'll simply not worry about it and move on. In Dr. Glenn's words, "You need to put this behind you now." DONE! That's one Dr.'s order I'll gladly follow 100%.

She also said that given my "complete response" to the radiation (meaning the body responded exactly as we wanted it to), we didn't need to come back in 3 months, but 6 would suffice. We'll do another CAT scan at that time, ascertain where we are, and make the call from there (most likely more 6 month intervals for a while). So, I'm already booked for July 20 for a CAT scan and follow-up/lab work.

I get home and see some yellow and black balloons tied to the railing (LiveStrong colors). I go into the house and the entire kitchen and dining room are done in black and yellow, and there are balloons spelling out "HandyBeStrong". Turns out Lisa invited a handful of folks to come celebrate with us. We didn't get a chance to reach out to everyone, and she only called the folks she thought she should, not knowing who I had told. So, for those who we didn't reach in time, please know we didn't mean to leave anyone out.

Bottom line, and then I'm calling it and going to bed. I sit here tonight and blog as we close this chapter of the cancer story. I hope we won't open another chapter any time soon, but I'm leaving that in the Lord's hands. He's guided us and assisted and blessed us all along the way, and I've learned to turn it over to him and let him lead me. But, I will say that there are others who are responsible for this cancer free diagnosis on Jan. 19, 2010, as follows:

1- The Lord, who let us know about this cancer early on, and then was with us and guided us as we navigated the turns, bumps and hills as we made the journey.

2- My family and friends. First and foremost my amazing, beautiful wife. Then my amazing beautiful daughters. Then mine and Lisa’s parents, our brothers and sisters, our incredible friends, the list goes on and on.

3- The wonderful people at Huntsman, who have literally saved my life. I can’t say enough about the staff there, and their caring, knowledgeable, intelligent manner and their treatment of and for me. I’m indebted forever to all of you!

"Handy Be Strong" if you can't quite read the balloons.

Wonderful card and gift from the Bells...thanks Ben for the sweet gift!  I'll wear it next time you come to our home for FHE and I kick your butt in Guitar Hero!  :-)

The Magelbys know what makes Handy tick...movie night on Todd!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Little Nervous

So, tomorrow is the next 'big day' in the ongoing cancer saga. I wrapped up radiation therapy on the day after Thanksgiving, and then got a reprieve until the follow up in January, which seemed so far away back then.

Well, far away is no more...my appointment is tomorrow. We'll start the day at 6:00 with a PET scan, and then I'll probably go to work from 9:00-11:30. Will go to lunch with Lisa and Barry and then back up to Huntsman for lab work at 12:50 and then my follow-up w/ Dr. Glenn at 1:20. We'll have the results of the PET scan, and we'll know if the radiation got all the cancer or not.

Strange thing is that I think whether or not the answer is that we got it all, I still anticipate they'll want me to come back in three months and we'll start a regular 3 month cycle from there. This is an incurable cancer, as those who've been following this and the blog know, so they may just start me on the 3 mo. cycle like they would have done had we not had the opportunity to try the radiation first. No chemotherapy, at least not until the symptoms of the cancer are worse than the side effects of chemo will be.

So, I have to fast from midnight on so the sugar/radioisotope IV they give me will be most effective and do its job.

Will blog the results later tomorrow night so everyone will get a status update and we'll go from there.

A BIG shout out to Andrea wo has wrapped up all her treatments- radiation AND chemo! Our prayers continue to be with you, Bob and the boys, and we send love from Layton. Oh, and just so everyone knows...cancer patients are tough! Andrea has done radiation and chemo and keeps on going. What an inspiration to me and my family. We love you guys!

Veni...vidi...vici! Bring it, cancer!