Wow, the end of July already, where's the summer gone? I really want to start off this entry with a few thank you's. There is NO way to even begin to think it possible to thank everyone individually who has helped us along the way as we continue our struggle. I mean, that alone would probably require hours of typing. Truly, how do you thank so many people one by one in a forum such as this? From cousins and family friends who have donated thousand of their hard earned dollars to help us pay our bills while at the same time paying their own during these difficult times, to an old college roommate who I haven't seen for years donating his hard earned money, to my in-laws, (all of them) donating money, food, time, and support. How do you properly thank someone like Helene and Morris Schachne (friends of my parents) who have made multiple donations despite never even having met us, to my parents and brothers who have given and /or lent money, a car, love and support, arranged a fund raiser...heck, my brother Neil even set up this very website to keep people informed of our battle. I mean really, how does one truly thank people for generosity like this? Obviously the biggest thank you has to be saved for Tara, Abby, and Ally without whom I don't know if I would have the fight in me to get through this. These are just some of the MANY folks to whom I will forever be indebted. There's just no way to single out every person but please don't think for a second that we have forgotten anyone in our hearts and prayers. From the bottom of our hearts...thank you all.
Now for the update...in the big picture, not much has changed since my last entry. I have not been back to my oncologist yet nor have I undergone more scans. This will take place the first week of September and I will update you all around that time regarding those results and visits. As for day to day life...some ups and downs (thankfully more ups than downs). As many of you know, we had a couple of VERY warm weeks here in Boston with very high humidity. I learned early on during that period that the loss of lung tissue I endured from the removal of the cancerous tumors and the subsequent loss of lung function has a huge effect on my ability to breathe. I found it very difficult to be outside during the heatwave and just could not regulate my breathing. This was very scary for me, but I learned quickly and just made sure that I stayed close to home and inside the air conditioned house. Unfortunately this is not likely to improve over time...on the bright side, we live in Massachusetts where we really only suffer these conditions for a few weeks out of the year. So overall it's not too bad. I will simply adjust to this new reality and simply know that for the few weeks during the year that we suffer a heatwave I will plan to stay put and not venture out. The only other "bad news" to report is that the hernia I suffered as a result of the Colon surgery, seems to be growing. It has been a bit more tender lately and my primary care doc has instructed me to bring it up to the oncologist when we meet next. I think this is something that I will just "live with" for now. I know the only true remedy is surgery to close it up. At this point, despite the mild discomfort, I'm just not ready for another surgery. I'm told that as long as there is no signs of it being "strangulated" or affecting bodily functions, there is no actual need to fix it unless it becomes too painful. I don't think that at this point the discomfort is enough for me to act upon. So, for now it's just something to keep an eye on.
Thankfully that's it...that's the only bad news right now. Otherwise things have been awesome. Abby passed her driving learner's permit test and has been doing a great job driving. I was proud and delighted to take her for the test AND to have her drive me around. I have learned the importance of enjoying and appreciating every little milestone in the lives of Tara, the girls, and myself. As is true for everyone, I just don't know how many of these special events I'll be able to be a part of. If cancer has taught me anything it's to really soak up the good times. A milestone like driving and getting a learners permit is one such example. I don't know how much/which milestones in my girls' lives I may miss but I plan to cherish and enjoy everyone I am lucky enough to be present for. Abby has also gotten a job and is loving it. Both girls are keeping busy this summer and remain happy and healthy. We had a few house guests as Abby's boyfriend Rob came to visit from Florida and her friend Maddie from Colorado. It was nice to have all of the youthful excitement running around the house. A bit hectic perhaps as "rides" we're needed at all times of the day, every day, but well worth it. Abby celebrated her 16th birthday in July and Ally will celebrate her 14th in August. Tara is also doing well and is staying busy as a chauffeur.
As I wrote about in my last update, I have been thinking about trying to find some sort of work to do to find a way to increase our income a little. As I also informed you all, I'm not sure just how to go about such a thing and still remain healthy. The stress, physically, emotionally, and psychologically is something I'm just not sure makes working feasible. Unfortunately..financially I'm not sure how much longer we can afford for me not to. I won't repeat all of the struggles (physical and logistic) I would face in finding/holding down a job. For that please reread my last entry. Nor will I repeat all of the financial hardships that force me to need to try...again, see last month. What I will say here is that I think/worry about it everyday. It's something that has been hanging over my head really since I was diagnosed and had to leave my last job to start treatment. On a positive note, I've taken an initial step. It's FAR too early to know any of the who, what, where, why, or when's and it's probably even way to early to even mention it here. In fact, I wouldn't if it weren't such a big step for me in this whole battle. For now all I can really say is I met with an ex-colleague of mine who is doing some interesting things and we discussed a few ways in which my experience and knowledge could be beneficial in what she wants to do. That was it. We're nowhere near yet thinking about how or where I could fit in. Haven't discussed specifics, hours, reimbursement, limitations, etc. we just had lunch and talked. We agreed to both think about things and agreed to get back together next month. So...we'll see. We'll see how I am feeling and where I'm at. I'll think about what I would need to make it worth both of our while, what I can offer, what I CAN'T offer, etc. It was a nice meeting that was great for me psychologically. I will fill you all in when there is more to fill in.
I guess that's about it for now (your probably thinking..."more than enough"). Thank you again for keeping up with me and my family as we continue to survive our own battle with cancer. I have had the opportunity to speak with other cancer survivors lately and have learned that while each fight their own battle each also face different challenges and struggles unique to them and their disease. At the same time there are many similarities as well. Each seem to face similar obstacles but with different emphasis on their importance. For example, while we all struggle medically/physically, some like myself suffer the most financially, while I am blessed with excellent medical providers. Other survivors tell me that conversely, they are financially stable but VERY unhappy with their care and treatment. That's what I mean by all of us face the same obstacles it's just that each obstacle takes in its own importance. That being said, I have also learned one other thing. The value of support and love of family and friends is THE single most important need that we all share. Each patient/survivor that I've spoken to spoke about how much that support means to them and how much they've found they need that love and support to carry on. I know that for me it's what keeps me going. So, thank you all for keeping me going. Will update again next month. Enjoy part 2 of your summer.