Friday, December 23, 2011

The old axiom “I wrote you a long letter because I didn’t have time to write you short one” may apply here, but I am anxious to let you know stuff since you’ve been with me from the beginning, but let’s start with important things.

This is me before chemo started. I’m handsome and frankly wonderful -- the hat notwithstanding.

This is me before chemo. God I'm

This is me after chemo. I'm hideous!

I feel tempted to write this long, long thoughtful essay on the ups and downs of cancer or tell you of some life changing epiphany I’ve experienced. Here is my epiphany: I would never trade this cancer experience for anything and I wish it never happened. Kind of weird huh? Paradoxical for sure.  

I am a questioner and I’ve always questioned the role of God in our lives or even the existence of God, but I know one thing for sure – there are angels. And they’re called nurses. Let’s start there.

The nurses who cared for me on the cancer ward at Christiana Hospital and the Medical Oncology Hematology Consultants office are wonderful, giving, and caring. Their jobs are extraordinarily difficult as many of their patients have the deck stacked against them before the fight even begins. And yet these angels drive on with a love for their patients that is as remarkable as it may be tragic (in a Shakespearean kind of way). I don’t understand how they do it. They all have big loving hearts, yet every week when you read the obits in the morning paper, someone they probably cared for dies. It would break my heart if I did that. I recently went to visit the chemo ward sporting my new head of hair and one nurse said to me, “We are so happy when patients that we have worked with come back to visit. It shows us all that effort works.”
I’ll tell you something else about nurses – they become family and see you at your worst and most vulnerable. One time I was taking a shower and mistakenly pulled the red emergency cord, which brought a nurse running. The poor kid was a new nurse and she had to experience my nasty 54 year-old naked body in all its glory. I think her eyes burned.

Cancer doctors, I’ve discovered, are completely focused and relentless in their pursuit and destruction of cancer cells. But don’t get confused like I did at first -- they are not regular doctors. These guys and gals kill cancer – they do it well and that’s all they do. They are modern day gunslingers with chemo bags instead of Colt revolvers. Thank God. If you ever get cancer find a good one.

Throughout this journey people have said, “Bill you look great.” I’m pretty confident that the rest of the sentence, which is always unsaid, is “… for a cancer patient.” And that’s okay because it’s true.
Here’s the thing – the time to prepare for major medical emergency isn’t when the emergency occurs, it’s months/years before. I looked god throughout my cancer journey, because I showed up to the fight in decent physical condition. I developed a lifestyle of exercise early on and I suspect it was a major contributor to a positive outcome. So if your reading this with a bag of Oreos and smoking you’re tenth cigarette, I d suggest getting some milk for those cookies and stop the f$@*ing smoking.

I have discovered the secret to a happy life. Ready? “The more often you say ‘thank you’ the more often you get to say thank you.” This is absolutely true.

There are no atheists on the cancer ward. I took Communion almost every day while there. ‘Nuff said.

I hate this guy

Talk about a poster child for cancer. I bet Keith Richards  never had a cold. It makes me sick. This is he on one of his most photogenic days. It makes me sick. I bet Charlie Watts hates him too.

Deep calming breaths! In and out whhhhhh ahhhhhh. Om, om, om, om.

Okay I’m back. Whenever I look at Keith Richards I hyperventilate. Where was I? It doesn’t matter.

One of the reasons I’d never trade this cancer experience is the goodness I discovered in people. From the nurses to coworkers, I was bombarded by love and genuine concern. It was all quite humbling, especially when I consider I was probably not worthy of it at all. But it meant the world to me. I will surely pass that along to others.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine what God’s plan is for little kids getting and suffering through cancer. Is it a test for the rest of us? Is this little one so good that God wants them right now? I just don’t get it? Cancer devastated me and I surely didn’t want to die, but I’m 54 and if I had to die, I’ve had a rich life. But what about some little guy (this is non-gender specific term)? Do all the kids at St. Jude’s Hospital provide a universal lesson in their collective suffering that we are supposed to glean and profit by? It doesn’t make sense – at least to me. But I guess it’s presumptuous of me to try to and understand the heart of God, but it is this kind of pain that often impedes people accepting God. Why doesn’t he make it easier?

Cancer, I’ve discovered, is a communal thing – at least it was for me. People throughout my community seemed to enter key moments when they were most needed and leave at moments when others would pick up the ball. It seemed like people came into the process at moment only they were equipped to help with. The cards, gifts, visits, and emails were so numerous that to thank each person individually is Mission Impossible.

The Delaware Department of Labor and the Delaware Workforce Investment Board were far more supportive than I deserve or expected. Loyalty means a lot to me and these organizations and their people made significant deposits in my emotional bank account – I will never forget this.

You don’t go through this without coming out on the other side different. I’m not sure what that means yet, but I’m not the same person I was eight months ago. Maybe I’ll be more patient, empathetic, charitable, and forbearing. Who knows, but I think it starts with working to live, instead of living to work. And that’s an important distinction.

Well I’ve rambled on for almost two pages and I bet your getting tired of reading my self-indulgence. So three final points.

1.     For a lot of reasons, this is the last cancer journey blog. I will be setting up a web page soon that will have a recovery blog on it as well as some other writing.
2.     Family – my family has been wonderful throughout this. Not just my wife, siblings, and dogs, but also the people for whom the word friend is an inadequate description. Special mention to my Mary Lou and My brother Fred. 
3.     My wife is better than I am and this experience drove that home. She was courageous when I was scared, clear thinking when I was confused, and loving when I was inconsolable. I could go on about her wonderfulness, but she is going to read this, so don’t tell her what I said.

That’s it. Not overly profound – I know, but it is all nonetheless true. I could go on for many more pages and probably will when I publish the blog in book form. The thing now is to get started enjoying the next set of challenges ahead realizing that each of you are responsible – to one degree or another – for me being alive today.

I love you all,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Here we go again.

This is it Boys and Girls. Show and tell time. Where the rubber meets the road. 

Go time. 

I'm going to the doc at 1020 for my scan results and some advice about this abdomen stuff. Okay? Okay.

BTW I've written a chemo song I'll share with you all soon. It'll probably seem more like punishment given my singing ability.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Ain't Happy II

Hey guys Good morning:

You thought I was done whining yesterday? Why I’ve just started. Yesterday was my warm up; now I’m into full-blown rage. I want the opportunity to get hooked on prescription painkillers if this stomach thing doesn’t get sorted out soon. It is moving from minor annoyance to major league pain in the ass.

Tomorrow I’m bringing out my secret weapon – my bride of 28 years – Mrs. Potter. She may seem demure and kind, but she can be a meany if her hubby (that’s me) is hurting. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of her sarcasm once you get her rolling. You get them homey! “Cry havoc and let slip the Kate of war” (if I may bastardize a little Henry V).

Okay so aside from getting the official results tomorrow of the CT scan, which is going to be fine, I need some results or at least a path forward for this platelet thing and stomach muscle pain thing.

Well. I guess that’s it. I’m going back to bed after I kick a dog.

Peace (through preplanned confrontations)


Monday, December 19, 2011

I Ain't Happy

Hey Guys:

Well I’m alive at least, but I’m kind of miserable. Some of this I’ve bitched about before and some is pretty new.

My stomach muscles are killing me; it’s not because I’ve worked them too hard in the gym either. This cough is still hanging around, and I’m losing my patience with all this “recovery” crap.

I know there are people who have it way worse than I do, but they’re not me and I don’t know them, so I don’t care.

Here is what I think is going on:

1.     The muscles around my stomach never healed correctly from the bowel resection. That’s because we started chemo immediately after the operation and therefore, my blood numbers have been low and inconsistent causing the healing process to be dicey at best. I have read that blood clotting is an essential part of musculature healing especially as one recovers from workouts and weight training. The inability of my bone marrow to make a “normal” amount of platelets over the past few months has directly affected the repair of my abdominal muscles.
2.     The cough is also directly related to the production of platelets. It has been my experience that low platelets – for me – result in a runny nose (the proverbial snot-nosed kid) and this runny nose causes a drip from my sinuses into the back of my throat that inevitably ends up in the upper part of my lungs causing me to cough up phlegm. The cough – which is somewhat better thanks to a barrage of drugs – causes a near constant irritation in my abdominal musculature with the effect being a bunch of micro-tears that don’t have the platelets for repair.

What to do about it? Shit, you got me! I don’t know. I am told and I have read that platelets return to normal over time. Once that happens, maybe this will all sort itself out. Luckily I go to the doc Wednesday and we’ll discuss this. My doc told me that the chemo bombarded my bone marrow pretty hard and that “over time” period could be months -- Great, just f@#king great (sarcasm).

I really am in foul humor.

How about this? My doc gave me Singulair to help with all the lung stuff. Last week I get a special pamphlet in the mail from Rite Aide telling me that Singlulaor can make you irrational and angry. Like I need to be more irrational – Jeepers. A special flyer sent via snail mail really kind of freaked me out.

I have more whining to do, but I’ll let it slide for now because I’ll become obsessed. Yikes.

Talk to you guys later.


Friday, December 16, 2011

No POst this today/weekend

Hey Buddies:

I ain't got nothing to say today, so I aint' gonna say nothing. Nothing I tell you! Kind of tired -- feeling okay. That's it. I ain't saying nothing else.

See ya Monday. :)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

new world walking wecord

Wassup My Brothers and Sisters:

Well my CT scan went okay yesterday. I was in and out and back in bed before 0930. No one called me to set up an emergency appointment for the doctor – so that’s good. That’s what happened after the first scan back in March.

BTW I hate my dogs for getting me up so early today. I could’ve slept all morning.

This cough is finally starting to fade and so are the petechiae on my arm, so that’s good news. I’ll have to see how that woks out. Speaking of working out it is my pleasure to announce a major milestone in my recovery period.

I walked for about 45 to 60 minutes yesterday. I strutted from my house at 396 Stafford Ave., Down to S. Dillwyn and took a left; went to Newbrook took a right and waddled all the way to North Dillwyn; then I schlepped up to Mulberry Rd and up this huge hill; took a left at Adelene dodging dogs; met my friend Chuck at the corner of Adelene and Hawthorne (I think it was there, chemo brain notwithstanding); dragged myself from Hawthorne to Elm and back to my home.  (To see a map of my trek go to --

Anyway, it was a new record for me since ending the chemo drip. Now that I’ve that under my belt and the CT scan is done it may be time to put some jogging in my repertoire. I may wait to next week after my big doctor’s appointment before I start jogging/running/bike riding, it does seem like aerobic exercise needs to come into the picture.

That’s it for today, Talk to you later.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Off to the scan

Good morning my friends:

Starting the day off with a barium berry smoothie instead of coffee is Deeelicious. I may see of I have any chalk laying about the house that I can mix with berry flavoring so I can have this everyday. Yummy!

Did I mention I’m getting fat? Well I am. At least I’m not saying fatter, the way I did in March. Food tastes so darn good now that I have my sense of taste back; I’m nibbling at everything. Okay I never nibbled anything in my life, I guess I’m woofing it down.

Regardless, I’ve gained a few pounds since October. Need to watch that and at the same time, give myself a break.

Anyway, just thought I’d make a short post before my CT scan.

Have a good day you guys.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hanging loose today

Buenos Dias mi amigos:

Well tomorrow’s the first of two big days this month (not counting Christmas of course). I get my follow up CT scan to see if all goes well and get a bead on this unidentifiable lymph node on my lung and one week later I see the doctor for the official reading of the scan.

I’m feeling pretty confident kind of like Jack Burton in my favorite movie Big Trouble in Little China. “Feel pretty good. I'm not, uh, I'm not scared at all. I just feel kind of... feel kind of invincible.”
For the record my other favorite movie is Hidalgo. I have such good taste.

I’m going to take it super easy to today. I’ve still got a little of this cough still hanging around and I’ve got a bit of petechiae going on, on my arm so I don’t want to overdo it today. Petechiae – in case you’ve forgotten – is (or is it are) little red dots that appear from time-to-time on one’s body that indicate bleeding just under the skin. There are lots of reasons for it and it is a favorite word for TV coroners to use. Regardless, a low platelet count is often heralded by a bunch of petechiae. I don’t have a bunch but enough that you can see.

Don’t worry I called the doctor. His nurse said that because my platelets have been at 50,000 for a while it is to be expected (normal is 150,000 or better). She said that if I had any bleeding (outside my body) to come in. It seems to be a lot better today anyway.

I guess that’s it. I really do feel pretty okay. So we’ll see. More tomorrow.



Friday, December 9, 2011

Work thoughts

“I ain’t admitting nothing today. You can’t prove it and I didn’t do it.”

Oh sorry, I didn’t see you standing there. I was just practicing going back to work.

How this sound? “Current trends suggest an extrapolation of data points more appropriate for further discussion.”  Pretty good huh? I have hundreds of those saved up – new ones I’ve never used before.

This one always gets me out of trouble – “He did it.”

How about this one, “Cough, cough, I am still a little weak from the cancer, but that’s at the top of my to-do list; if I live through the day … cough, cough.”

Yeah that’s it I’m feeling it now.

I’ll be able to use these gems and others like them some time next month and I can’t wait to hang out with people instead of dogs. That’s it for today.

See ya,



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday thoughts

Good morning all:

Spent most of yesterday in bed. There are people in comas that do more than I did yesterday, but I think it all helped knock this cough on its heels in anticipation of next weeks CT scan. I plan to hunker down again today.

Told you I was debonair. 
I talked to the doctor on Tuesday and he is real optimistic about the likelihood the lymph node thing on my lung is nothing, but it ain’t over ‘till it’s over. MY blood work – sans platelets – is getting better and my HDL is excellent. Apparently HDL – aka good cholesterol – is a marker docs use to determine the presence of lymphoma; mine is excellent. Also he noted my suave and debonair appearance (not unlike Daniel Craig) as an indicator of things getting better.

I guess that’s it for now. Talk to you later.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Old friends

Good morning my Chemo 13 brothers and sisters:

Doctors report then stupid stuff. I’ve been fighting this stupid cough for some time.  It’s still hanging around and it is causing me no end of frustration. The coughing is also the cause for the abdominal pain so until this thing leaves I’m kind of stuck. Last night was unusually bad, but this morning seems okay.

As a general rule I don’t use names on the blog, but today I think I need to – that’s right I’m naming names. This is a full blown whatever the opposite of expose’ is.  

From L. Timmy watching that we
don't steal his valuables, Chipper and
Bugsy looking at photos and Jayla
pretending she doesn't know these

Pretty much the same as above, but this time with Gracie eating.

Denise, Donna, Nancy, and Vito. They're probably talking
about me and how wonderful I am.

Chipper watching Diane play the harp. It was pretty cool!

Vito and Smitty are doing something with the laptop. It must
be okay their wives are nearby.
Sunday Night I had lunch/dinner over my friend’s house and his wife, Diane, went way above and beyond the call of duty making, as Seinfeld would say, “Linner or Lupper.”  It was perfection. There were about twelve of us there and several traveled from pretty far away to get there. All New Englanders, they all talked like I do and were as funny as I think I am.

We were there ostensibly to watch the Patriots play the Colts, but once the photos from three decades ago went flying about, we never really noticed the game. It was one of those weird deals when you haven’t seen somebody for two or three decades and you throw them all together and it is as if you never parted. With this group there was very little posturing; it was mostly about loving each other and telling stories no one would believe unless you had been there. I laughed so hard my stomach was killing me.

So I want to proclaim publicly that I love Timmy, Diane, Gracie, Dennis (aka Vito), Bugsy, Chipper, Smitty, Lucy the Dog, Donna, Denise, Nancy, Cat (this actually is a cat), Ellen, Kate, my brother Fred, and Dunkin Donuts. Thank yo all for going out of your way to make a really special afternoon/evening.

Peace to all,


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A tease for tomorrow's post

Had a wonderful night Sunday
 with some old friends.
That is me and Chip
 Please note the Tee-shirts. 

This black and white photo
is a rare Church photo
there are very few of these in existence.
Most have burst into flames

A new hero

Good Moring Guys:

There will be two posts today. This one and another that will come later this afternoon. This first one though is a little different.

I spent Sunday evening with some old friends (friends seems like an inadequate word and extended family seems too stodgy). Anyway I’ve known these dear people for more than 30 years and I love them all. No kidding. I really do.

Anyway, sometime between the recounting of unbelievable stories and downright lies, we start talking about the big football game between perennial rivals Bishop Hendricken where I went to school, and the evil Darth Vader Academy (Okay it’s LaSalle Academy, but they’re still evil).

So Donna turns to me and tells me that one of the kids on the Hendricken cross-country team is in the hospital with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. After a little finagling Donna gets the kid’s name and his hospital room for me and I give him a buzz yesterday afternoon.

It’s kind of weird though. These people don’t know me and I don’t want to seem like some Penn State predatory. Anyway after I talk to his mom, she let’s me chat with the kid.

He’s one tough little monkey. We talked for about a half an hour about all things Burkitt’s. I won’t tell you his name because … well … I didn’t ask his permission and, as you know, I don’t use names anyway. This kid has been hooking and jabbing in the hospital for more than 90 straight days fighting one battle after another. I thought I had it tough, but I’m a whining baby compared to this kid. He is an inspiration.

As you guys know, I’ll go to the doctor if I have the sniffles – in fact I’m doing that today at 0920. No kidding I’m going ‘cause I have the sniffles.

The point is … I’m not sure there is a point actually. I was thinking I’d try and be a role model to this young man so he’d maintain a good attitude, but it kind of feels like he’s the mentor and I’m the protégé.

I sent him my email and going to include him on future postings to my superb blog.

I’ll write more later today when I get back from the doc.

BTW – Good triumphed over evil as Hendricken beat LaSalle in the big state championship game.



Sunday, December 4, 2011

no posts 'till Tuesday

Goooooood Morning Chemo 13:

Well I am just kind of chilling for now and not posting 'till Tuesday when I see the doc about these sniffles, which  seem to be getting better and this stomach muscle pain that seems to be getting worse. Yikes!
 I get this sharp pain across my abdomen when I laugh a lot ( I almost said too much, but it is impossible to laugh too much or too loudly).
Anyway more to follow.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Looking Good Feeling Bad

Good morning my brothers and sisters:

I don’t have a whole lot to report today. I was in a dark place for a while yesterday. Sometimes this whole trek gets to me. Oh well, no big deal.

Someone recently mentioned that I looked good and not sick at all. Actually I get that fairly frequently. I was wondering why that is since only one of my blood indicators is where it is supposed to be (white blood cells – Thank God). To be fair many are close, but still low. Other blood numbers are just in the toilet, but that’ll turn around with time.

The question remains why don’t I look as bad as my numbers suggest?

I think the difference is three-fold.

1.     I showed up for my cancer battle in good shape. The time to get prepared for a life threatening disease isn’t when you get sick; it’s the months/years before you need to be in shape.
2.     During the worst of the chemo (and it was bad sometimes) I pulled my fat buttocks out the hospital bed and dragged it and my IV stand, up and down the hallways of the hospital walking. I also remember riding the recumbent bicycle in the bone marrow transplant unit with a hospital mask on while chemo dripped into my arm as I pedaled up an imaginary hill.
3.     I’m naturally good looking anyway.

So I guess my point is you can’t tell a book by it’s cover and this book has made a big commitment to getting healthy through doing some right things. The thing is there are times when I just feel lousy and no one will ever know because my outside doesn’t reflect my inside.

I guess this was a cathartic rant; I’m not sure where it came from.



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is it witchcraft or science

Good Morning my chemo 13 Homies (For those of you new to the daily blog this is actually a gang site for our posse – Chemo 13):

It’s witchcraft I tell you – pure and simple witchcraft. When I got done with the Intravenous IG thing yesterday I felt a little groggy, but I wasn’t coughing. I went home and I wasn’t coughing, I kissed my bride and wasn’t coughing, I had a glorious steak and I wasn’t coughing, and I went to bed and no coughing.

It must be magic – nothing works that well. I wonder if the devil gets my soul now? I’m not really using it at the moment. With any luck I won’t need for 30 years or so.

Okay so obviously I’m feeling a bit better and this coughing and hacking may be coming to an end, so what does that all mean? Hopefully the rest my little laborious lung will enjoy for the next two weeks will help that lymph node trying to get noticed recede to background and there will be nothing left to worry about. On the 14 I get the CT scan and met with my doc on the 21st– then we’ll know something. After that I’ll get my note from the doc send it the return to work lady in Dover and return to work two to three weeks after that (I’d go back sooner, but you have to give about two weeks lead time for the return to work folks). Then I’m gonna raise the roof at DOL with bad jokes, good ideas, loud laughing, and oh yeah quality staff stuff.

I’m going to take it easy the next few weeks as far as exercise goes. No running and no lifting weights until after the CT scan. I’ll still do the stationary bike and some work with the exercise bands, but I’m gonna cool it with those exercises that really force the air into and out of your lungs until after the scan – to eliminate coughing as an irritatant and replace it with another seems kind of stupid at this point.

I guess that’s it.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Treatment Today

Good morning my Chemo 13 Brothers and Sisters (sounds almost like the beginning of an epistle from church):

Either today or tomorrow I have to undergo a new treatment and should be a blast. I can’t wait. Not only that I’ll get an upgrade in my biology and chemistry knowledge.

Apparently my body has chosen not to make the right antibodies or make the right amount of antibodies – hence this nonstop cough that has plagued me for months. I found out yesterday that I have to go and get an intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) treatment. This URL from a San Francisco TV station is a pretty good article about it all (,

Anyway it’s supposed to take about five hours to administer the stuff. It’s supposed to work wonders in lot of areas including neuropathy (my toes are a tingling over that). Anyway, once this is done I should feel pretty good either immediately, or in week, or somewhere in between.

I always forget that part of this Burkitt’s thing is a corruption of the immune system. I need to find out if that’s a forever thing or temporary thing. I always forget to ask that question.

The goal for this whole thing is to stop this cough that is wracking me from head to toe and may be creating a lung irritation that has shown up on my lung as a questionable lymph node.

What I don’t know and don’t understand – from a biology and chemistry perspective – is what role White Blood Cells (WBC) and Absolute Nuetrofill Count (ANC) has in all this. You see my WBC count is excellent and my ANC numbers are good. IN case you’ve forgotten, neutrofill is the infection fighters your body is constantly making and these little terrors are always spoiling for a fight. I mentioned them in a September blog (

The constant coughing has also caused the muscles around my bowel section scar to be terribly painful. I guess I better tell somebody with a lab coat about that.

I guess that’s it for now. Talk to you guys later.

This sure doesn’t’ feel like a recovery.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

CT Scan news rewrite

I wasn’t satisfied with my last post. This is a rewrite.

Kate and Bill strolled through the liquor store trying to find just the right bottle of wine for the oncologist. They looked at the Italians, Chileans, French, and even expensive California wines locked in a temperature-controlled security locker.

“I’ll pay $100 dollars for a bottle,” Bill said. “After all the guy did save my life, but I’m not paying $100 for domestic wine.”

After about a half an hour they settled on a high quality blended French wine.

“This appointment is a big deal,” Kate said. “It might be the biggest day of our lives. It signals the beginning of a new chapter. What do you think is going to happen?”

“I don’t know punky, I got a bad vibe though. I think they’ll find something – something easy to fix, but …”

“I was thinking they might find something too, but I didn’t want to say anything.”

“What the hell do we know,” Bill said. “If you look at how rigorous this chemo’s been, I don’t see how anything can survive that.” 

“You do look pretty good,” she said.


“Okay you look great.”

“I even have hair growing back in my nose and ears. I’m damn handsome,” he said. “Listen Punky, we’ll be fine. Let’s got to bed. Tomorrow’s a big day.”

Bill and Kate slept remarkably well that night, buoyed by the knowledge he had undergone more than 600 hours of chemotherapy, and previous scans had come back negative.

At about 0500 Bill woke to eight canine eyes boring holes into him.

“Jeepers. Okay, okay, I’ll feed you,” he says to the menagerie of mutts Buzz, Harry, Pearl, and Coco.

The four dogs developed an early morning routine since Bill had been home sick for more than six months. Sometimes he couldn’t sleep, sometimes he needed some cereal, and other times he just wanted a cup of coffee in the quiet house to collect his thoughts and write his blog.

As the dogs snort, crunch, and slurp the hard kibble, Bill sips a hot cup of coffee and drifts into his own thoughts.

Okay if everything is good then I’ll go back to work on January 3rd and work half days for two weeks and then begin my fulltime schedule the third week of January. I should probably write up my plan so the doc has something to go by. Man this cough is killing me. I’ve been sneezing and hacking for almost two months. If I didn’t know better I’d say my platelets are low and this is causing my runny nose, which is causing my post-nasal drip, and that is causing me to cough. It’s been almost 28 days since I got out of the hospital so that can’t be it; my numbers should have rebounded by now. Jesus, give me hand, will ya. I just want this to be over. I’ve been through so much and I’m tired of it all. Sometimes I get tired of being positive, and stoically suffering fighting this shit – I really want to scream, but to who and say what?

At about 0615 Kate’s oversized alarm clock goes off. It’s louder than a civil defense alert siren and the dogs go crazy tumbling over each other in the hallway to be first when the bedroom door opens and Kate gets a visit and a lick from each one.

“Billy! Are you okay,” she shouts.

“I’m fine.”

“It’s going to be okay,” she says.

“I know.”

Bill gets up from the kitchen table, walks to the bedroom, and softly strokes the side of her cheek as she lies there in the pack of love the puppies are providing.

“Do you want a cup of coffee?”

“No I’ll get it myself,” she says.

“Okay here’s the plan,” Bill says. “I’ll take Coco to the vet for her 9:15 appointment, come home, pick up the wine and the toys for toy drive, and meet you at the doctor’s office at 11:20. After we get the good news we’ll go to the toy drive and get some cake. “

Fast Forward to 11 a.m.

Bill walks in the Oncology office and meets a nurse from the chemo suite.

“Where have you been?” she asks. “You look great.”

“I’m in recovery now,” he says. “Today I get the official read out of my cancer CT/PET scan to confirm I’m cancer free. “

“That’s great,” she says. “I’ll talk to you later.”

The receptionist crosses him off her list of appointments and tells him to get his blood work done and the doctor will be available shortly.

Bill goes to the phlebotomy room and they draw four tubes of blood. When he gets back to the waiting area, Kate is already there and they walk to the larger waiting area where a CNA will get them for the appointment.

Shortly is of course a relative term in doctor speak. The 11:20 appointment goes off sometime after noon.

“Mr. Potter,” the CNA summons. Kate and Bill follow her to the examination room where she takes his vital signs. His blood pressure is unusually high.

“I am pretty stressed,” Bill says accounting for his blood pressure.

“Let’s take it again,” the CNA says. “Okay this time it’s a little better.”

“Are my blood numbers in,” Bill asks

“Sure, have a look.”

“Wow. That’s not good,” he says.

“What’s wrong,” Kate asks.

“My platelets are at 54.”

“What should they be?”

“About 150 or better,” he says. “That explains the runny nose. Everything else is low too, but on the cusp of being normal. This is a real surprise.”

The CNA leaves and when she closes the door Kate and Bill see a chemo regimen written in red dry erase marker on a white board hidden behind the door when it’s open.

“Jesus, I hope that’s not for us,” he says.

“It can’t be,” Kate says.

The couple sit a little longer and the doctor comes in with Bill’s four-inch thick file.

“How have you been?” the doctor asks.

“I’m okay.  My legs are still a little wobbly,” Bill says.

“Tell him about the cough,” Kate says. “He’s had a cough ever since he was in the hospital for the neutropenia and C-Diff.”

“She’s right,” Bill says. “I called the doctor and they said it is going around and I should take Mucinex and drink a lot of water.”

The doc says the original cancer Bill came in for is gone and in remission, but there is a small node on the lung that showed up on the CT scan.

“It’s so small we can’t even biopsy it,” the doctor says. “The thing now is to observe it.”

The doctor says it might be an irritation from all the coughing and has nothing to do with cancer, or it might be the early stage of something. At this point he reiterates emphatically that he cannot call it cancer. Moreover it just isn’t acting like a Burkitt’s lymphoma. The doctor prescribes some antibiotics for the cough and schedules another CT scan for three weeks.

Bill’s head is swimming. He wants to scream, laugh, and run away. Fuck is the only word that he seems capable of saying, so he keeps his mouth shut. The farewell gift of a bottle of wine now seems to be a welcome back memento.

Kate is equally stunned.

The unequivocal good news they were hoping for spontaneously evaporates in seconds. All they have left to hang onto is, “It might be nothing.” Even the good news that the original cancer is gone, is cold comfort as they look to another potential life threatening challenge.

"Nothing's ever easy," Bill mutters to himself.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

CT scan news

Okay now that I’ve sucked my thumb for a while I guess I’m feeling better now.

The good news first – There are no signs of the lymphoma that started this thing. It appears that the Burkitt’s is gone, dead, kaput. So that’s a great thing. So this whole thing might be over and we’ll know that right before Christmas. That’s a pretty good Thanksgiving treat right there.

The not so good news – The CT scan revealed a lymph node on my lung. It is currently too small to biopsy or anything else so there’s no telling if it’s cancerous or not. The thing is, I have had this terrible cough for about two months now and that may be causing an irritation in my lung and that might i be showing up on the CT scan. So it might be nothing. Then again …

My blood number were also kind of low yesterday especially the platelets which were only a third of what they’re supposed to be. As you may remember I’ve always had a runny nose when my platelet numbers have been low. I’m wondering if this whole thing is a result of a runny nose, post nasal drip, cold thing. Oh and here is the biggest drag – no booze until I finish this course of antibiotics they have me on. Gosh darn it …

So the course of treatment for the weekend is pie, a feast, some football, naps, and some really cheesy crime novels.

On the medical side the treatment is antibiotics, cough medicine, pie, sandwiches from leftovers, some football, more naps, and some really cheesy zombie novels.

BTW I started read LA Noir by James Ellroy (of LA Confidential Fame) and the bodies are piling up faster than any zombie novel I’ve read. It’s quite amazing.

I guess that's it.

See ya soon. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nothing is ever easy

Hey guys:

I'll write more tomorrow. My appointment didn't go as well as I expected.  There may be a problem or there might not be. Only another CT scan in three weeks will tell.  I'm fine regardless. Talk to you later. I don't want to talk right now. I have some thumb sucking to do.

Love to all,


Drinking Coffee

How are you?
Well here we go.  This is it. The Big Day. As nervous as a ...
I'll probably update this thing at about 2 p.m. to let you all know what the doc said. I'm sure it'll be good news.
That's it for now I guess. Nothing to do but have a cup of Joe and take my dog to the vet -- no kidding I have to take my Yorkie (Coco) to the vet at 0915. That'll distract me for sure as I shell out a gajillion dollars for a bad tooth.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

short post today

Good Morning:

Not a lot to report today. In fact, this’ll be a very short posting. Psyched about Thanksgiving though. Think I caught a bit of a cold yesterday. I’ve been traipsing around in my thermal undershirt; back and forth from the garage yesterday in the damp lousy weather. And now I have the sniffles. Damn!

I was just getting over a deep chest cold thing too.

Tomorrow’s the big day. I’ll let you know the good news late in the day tomorrow. Oh regardless of what happens, I am going to have a great day! I am attending this toy drive at the Delaware Psychiatric Center (at least that's what I've been told, hmmmm) and a chef from one of the Learning Channel’s cake shows is going to be there. Should be cool and be for a good cause. After that, a nap.

Well, peace to all,


Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting ready for Wednesday

Obviously this isn’t a sports blog unless UFC stands for Ultimate Fight against Cancer, but at least two of our Chemo 13 gang are disappointed after their Washington Redskins fought so well against the dreaded Dallas Cowboys and came up a bit short. Truth be told, I was sure Washington was going to pull it off.

Wednesday’s the big day. I find out if I can drink again -- oh, I mean get my scan results. No one has called and said, “Get in here,” like they did when they found the first tumor by a scan, so it’s probably gonna be okay.

I really don’t have much to complain about except my abdomen is still achy from the bowel resection I had in April. You wouldn’t think it’d still hurt, but it does. And of course that gives me something to obsess about. “Is the pain really cancer? Will it last forever? How come it still hurts? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

I’m such a sissy!

Anyway Thanksgiving should be pretty cool this year. I have so much for which to be grateful. This cancer thing has really been blessing in one way it has brought all of you into my life (I know that sounds syrupy, but as my favorite fictional detective Jeremiah Spur always says, “A thing can only be what it is”).

I’m running by the library later to get some books to hunker down for the four-day weekend. Kate and I may not get out of pajamas until she gets ready for work next Monday – that includes when we walk the evil dogs.

I guess that’s it for now.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

new world walking wecord

Good Moring gang:

Things are going pretty well. I walked a new world record yesterday. Close to a mile I think – went all the way to the end of my street, took a left and walked up S. Dillwyn. There was even a hill. The only thing is the damn dogs are dragging dawdlers. I’d walk. They’d stop without telling me. And I’d get yanked back to the spot where they were checking pee-mail. I felt like that dog in the old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons when he reaches the end of his rope.

I know, I know. One would think the solution is not taking the dogs along. That doesn’t work. If I let off down the street without dogs in tow the house would like a WWI no-mans with shredded newspaper, tipped over dog dishes, and other unpleasant left-behinds (behind being the keyword. The truth is theses dogs are running the show and I am just their servant. They let me stay because I haven’t told them the PIN to the ATM card. Once I do my usefulness to them ends.  

I guess that’s it for now. Talk to you later if I survive.

Peace to all


Friday, November 18, 2011

Top ten recovery activities

Top Ten Things Chemo Patients in Recovery Like To Do

10. Walk aimlessly up and down escalators to get the illusion they are climbing stairs

9. Tell people enthralling stories of chemotherapy

8. Tell people boring stories about chemotherapy

7. While on disability, calling co-workers and offer unsought advice

6. Buy wine then be afraid to to drink it

5. Eat ice cream three meals a day to gain back the weight they loss, even though they needed to lose weight

4. Avoid people who say, "Cancer huh? My uncle had that. He died, but you look  a lot stronger." 

3. Obsess about every ache and pain to the point of distraction

2. Avoid Lifetime movies about cancer (someone always dies)

1. Go to the cancer ward to have the nurses tell you how good you look 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scan done -- Nap time


Not much going on.

Yesterday was a weird day. Although the good they put in you for the PET/CT scan are supposed to be side effect-free, I was exhausted by the time I got home. I slept for an hour and a half when I got home and then took another nap at about 3 until I was surrounded by dogs, with eight beady little eyes boring holes into my slumber silently urging me to fill their dinner bowls. I was in fact quite scared they might eat me.

I stopped up to see the nurses on 6B as I was in the area. I really love those people. And it’s not because they tell me how good I look either (okay it is – not really – yes it is). By the way, if you want the best cinnamon bun in Delaware, stop by the Brew Ha Ha kiosk at Christiana Care. They’re great – I give them 4 ½ chemo bag rating (out of five).

I never really noticed it before, but there are gajillion ads on TV about cancer treatment centers. I guess I’m sensitized to it now, but jeepers creepers I had no idea the cancer market was so lucrative. Oh well.  

As you know I copied all the blog postings to a single document and ended up with quite a heap of, er, ah info. I’m going to go through it, edit it (when I’m awake, as you know I love my horizontal consultations) and see what it looks like. I bought the 2012 Writers Market and there are a couple of dozen publishers who will accept manuscripts from writers without agents. I guess we’ll see (stamina and ambition depending of course).

Well ‘tll tomorrow,