Day 155…

8.20.12

I’ve been staring at the screen for quite a while now, asking myself and wondering if I will be able to find the proper words to put into perspective the emotions that I have now that my 12th and final chemo treatment is behind me.

Twelve. XII. 12.  However you choose to write out the figure, it always looks like a large and looming one, especially when put into context of the last 6 months.  There are things that I have gone through that no one should ever have to be subjected to.  Endless needles, daily uncertainly of “is it working?”, extreme bouts of nausea and fatigue coupled with more bouts of restlessness and anxiety and questioning than I ever thought I’d have to deal with, especially at the young age of 33 into 34.  It has been during this journey that I’ve learned more about myself than I ever knew I had in me.  My respect level for others that are similarly situated to me is through the roof – you are all fighters and sources of inspiration.

In looking back to the time that I was diagnosed via a whirlwind of various doctor appointments, through to the steps that were needed to take leading up to my first chemo followed by the total unknown of how I would come about to understand what my body is able to handle, it has been quite a trip.

You ride a roller-coaster of emotions.  Some emotions that continued to bubble as the ride continued.

Can I persevere?  Can I stay positive and laugh?  Will I be able to come out of this a better person with a richer perspective as to what it is to enjoy the healthy days that are given to me during my treatment, and then once it is all behind me what will happen?

Perseverance: This is an area that through all of the valleys that I have traveled through on my journey I knew was never in doubt.  For better (in this case) or for worse, I have been told that one of the qualities that I have in life is stubbornness.  Not to the extent that it is detrimental, but more in the sense that I don’t give up.  I like to absorb as much information as I can and when I’ve come to a conclusion in my mind, I feel confident that it is the right one.  I’m not going to lose. I’m so hyper-competitive with myself that it doesn’t become an option.  That is what I kept telling myself over and over and over.  Even in my deepest doldrums of feeling like total shit.  Losing wasn’t a word that was allowed to enter my subconscious.  I persevere.

Positivity & Humor: Within minutes of being officially diagnosed, I looked my doctor in the eye and said to him “how are we beating this and how quickly can we start?” I always felt that if I never let myself feel bad about my situation, I would be able to make it through it in a manner that could serve to inspire myself and at the same time hopefully others.  I was cautious when it came to the types of people that I wanted to be around.  I chose to do my best to stay in arenas where the conversation was positive.  I promised myself that I would laugh every day and that I would get something positive out of every day.  This promise was built on the foundation of no matter how crappy or good I would feel so that I knew the next day, or hour would be easier than the last.  Making sure that laughter played a role was important to me.  It is an emotion that should be experienced by everyone, every day, no matter what they are going through and I promised myself that I would always find time to laugh.

Having cancer, no matter how old you are is something that people just should not have to go through.  It is a physical war that invades your body without notice and it is there to kill you.  There is no other way to say it. You become the medium for a full- scale war to be fought.  I think I made the analogy early on in this process that chemo is like an atomic bomb, it arrives uninvited, destroys all of the evil, but because it is so potent it has an unfortunate radius of collateral damage ie your healthy blood cells, leaving your immune system compromised. You have to arm yourself with the best type of mindset to stay positive and ensure that you are going to make it through each day and that the next will be better than the last.

Looking back at what transpired over the course of the day, I had this nagging sense that no matter how happy I was going to be to walk out of the chemo ward with the 12th and final treatment behind me, that I was going to have to work for it — more so than the previous 11.

It started with the printer breaking when they were making the labels that affix to the vials of blood that they take prior to my appointment with my doc.  I ended up having to wait for a solid 35min for things to get worked out.  I should have known then that the day would be full of some hiccups.  The quicker I wanted to get out of the hospital, the longer it would take.  The appointment with my doctor went very well and he is as anxious to see the results of my scan as I am, but we have to wait until 9/7 to get them back (he will call me that day) and I have a formal appointment with him on 9/10 where we are all praying that he tells me that we have officially moved into the observation stage and that the chemo did its job.

My family and I head down to the ward to wait for my name to be called and for the last treatment to begin.  Off the bat, things seem a bit slow.  The good news is that I got my favorite nurse, Rose, for my final treatment – so in that capacity, I know that I’m in great hands.  The needle really is painful today.  I’m so glad that this the final round because my veins really need a break.  They are so sensitive to needles and the push of the treatment at this point that they hurt more and more as the needles are pushed in.  We are moving along, but have had to slow the drip of the “D” (longest med push – takes about an hour) because my veins are not happy about being the vehicle for the meds to travel…I’m tired, but not able to rest my eyes.  Today, the treatment just drags.  It can easily be analogous to when you are on a flight, one that you’ve been on many times before, and one that isn’t long, but feels so long because you just want to get there already.  That is my today.

My Dad and sister are standing up by the machine that counts you down so they can capture the final read of 0 and then Rose can patch me up and we can walk out.  There is emotion passing through me, part of me wants to cry from the joy of it being over.  Part of me just wants to run from that emotion.  Part of me just wants to run (cause I really really miss running!).  In the end, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, stand up, give Rose a hug to thank her, hug my Dad and sis and walk on out of the hospital knowing that if everything goes well, I do not have to go back to the chemo ward again.

At home, laying down on the couch and doing my best to relax.  My Mom is back from running errands, so she gets a big hug as well…going to try to eat something even though my taste buds are shot today…my Mom made me mac & cheese which was quite good…Andre is heading over to watch the EPL kickoff of Man U v Everton so that will be fun to watch with him…just good to have good people around as always to smile and keep the positivity up….Linds came by for a quick visit as well and we got to hear all about her and Andre’s trip to Peru (sounded amazing)…they are off and my Mom is making dinner….I’m eating, but again, nothing really has much taste…

Starting to get very tired and hoping that I’ll be able to get a good night sleep tonight…before I sign off for the evening, I wanted to just say one more thing…

There are countless of you out there that have supported me in so many different capacities – none of which need to be rehashed here.  The point that I’m trying to make is that each and every person, whether it be a simple text, IM, email, call or quick chat in passing has had a positive impact on how I have made it this far.  I know that I can’t properly express what your support has meant to me, but I do hope that you all know that you have been a huge component of me making it through my daily war.  Love you all.

With that, the final chemo score will be read and I will head to sleep…

Josh 12

Chemo 0

Day 154…

8.19.20

Sunday is here, and quicker than anyone wanted, but the silver lining is that tomorrow is my last round of chemo!  I’m up after a half-way decent night of sleep and making some coffee and hanging with Riley while I wait on the rest of the house to stir…

The weather is far better than yesterday with the sun peaking through and really comfortable temperature.  Hoping to have some time to enjoy it before heading back home today…having some breakfast with the house and Sharif and I are trying to decide if we are going to go for a run, play tennis (need to find another racket, or if we are going to visit a friend of his in Sag Harbor).  Looks like we are going to visit his friend as we can’t find another racket….his friend is staying on his parents boat (if you want to call it a boat that is over 106′).  Boat was amazing, but really was just nice to hang out and sit on the water for a bit…

Heading back home, showering up and having some lunch before the drive home…during all of the collection of our stuff and such, the front door to the house was opened and Riley darted out – gone, literally gone.  We all ran after her, my Dad jumped in the car, etc.  Thankfully I figured that she ran to our neighbors to play with their pup, so that was the first place that I looked and she was there, waiting as if she did nothing wrong.  Put quite a scare in us, but thank god she was found in one piece and happy as can be…

Packing up the car and heading back to the city.  Dropping Sharif off and my parents are heading to my place as we are going to meet Jordan at a restaurant close to my apt for a family dinner….dinner was tasty, service was slow, felt bad for the staff because it is clear that they really could have used a few extra hands….

Back home, walking Riley one more time for the night and then gonna watch some TV…I’m really tired tonight, so I’m hoping that I can make it through Newsroom…to bed I go all.

Tomorrow the score will read:

Josh 12, Chemo 0

:)

Day 153…

8.18.12

Waking up early on a Saturday generally is not on the top of my list of things to do, but because today comes with the reward of playing 18, I’m happy to get up and get moving.  Making a bagel, waiting on Sharif to get up and off we go.  There is just one small problem this morning – it’s pouring.  Hmmm, wonder if the course is open…

Sharif calls from the car and they say the course is open and that the rain is due to let up shortly…we make the 35min journey to the course, get a bucket of range balls and look at one another as if to ask – are we really going to play in this?  No joke, it’s coming down in buckets right now.  We decided to wait about 10min past our tee time and then head to the first tee.  There are very, very few people that are on the course as it is becoming increasingly clear that most people, when they saw the rain, decided to not play today.  But hey, we are here, so lets see what we can make out of it…time to tee it up on the first hole —– splash!  That’s basically what happens every time the ball lands in the fairway.  Sharif was smart enough to have his rain gear in his golf bag.  I unfortunately was not, so I’m soaked right now…we manage to make it through two (with Sharif literally hitting his approach shot on two out of a moving river that formed off the green) and head straight back to the clubhouse…I, against my initial wishes have to buy a rain jacket or there will be no chance of me being able to play the rest of the round (pending that it keeps raining)….we wait out the rain for a solid hour or so in the clubhouse and then head back out into what I’d term a steady, but not terribly disturbing rain….

Course is wet, but playable (with a few large puddles on the fairways here and there)….neither of us are playing great, but we also aren’t playing terrible, especially considering the conditions.  I’d love to play this course on a nice day as it looks like it would be beautiful, and I’d bet very challenging…so we manage to make it to the 11th hole and the rain has picked up considerably again.  As I walk to the tee, I tell Sharif that I’m worried I won’t be able to hold onto my clubs anymore since they are so slippery.  He laughs it off, I say screw it, and stand over the par 3 tee (134yards)…I swing, make great contact buttttt……there goes my club flying a solid 30 yards out of my hands.  We both look at each other and clearly stop trying to follow the track of the ball as the club is what grabbed our attention…find the club in the rough and as we are looking we realize that my ball is about 11feet from the cup…so to recap, I hit a great shot and manage to throw my club an additional 30yards – not sure that’s ever going to happen again.  Worth the laugh for sure.  Sadly I only walked away with par…

Finishing up the round – we are totally drenched, but glad that we persevered through to play the full 18…heading home, starving and both ready for respective showers….showering up, having a late lunch and relaxing…my parents and their friends have made it back to the house as well so we are all recapping our days…our next door neighbors (and their cousin) are coming over for drinks and then I’m going to bbq – pending that I can stay awake…

Have a full house of people and Sarah (the neighbors cousin) brought over her pup for Riley to play with so everyone has something to entertain themselves with…lots of fun conversation, drink and food…they decided to stay for dinner…bbq turns out great and now we are all retired to the couch for some much needed rest and relaxation…

Time has flown and it’s past midnight so I’m tapping out and calling it a night…

Night all…

Day 152…

8.17.12

It’s Friday!  But the work day still needs a lot of attention before I can even think about what the weekend has in store for me.  Waking up and feeling good.  As I’ve said a few times this week, overall, this has been a very good feeling week for me, and one that has also been very busy; those two combined have made me rather happy.  Time to shower and head to the office…

Another busy morning and there is a lot to get done before going for an off-site lunch with Erin and Mindy.  Morning is really moving at a quick pace and before I even knew it, it was time to head to lunch…had a productive off-site with a lot of to do’s that have come out of it, but should they all get done/fall into place, it will be very beneficial to all moving forward…

Afternoon is full of meetings and emails.  Everyone knows with the upcoming weekend there is a lot to get done so we are all doing our part…finishing up at work and going to give a few of my colleagues a lift uptown as there is a drink get together being held by a co-worker at his apartment.  I wish that I was able to join, but I keep reminding myself that it is just another few short weeks before I’m a citizen of society again.  They are all equally as excited as I am for that…hope they had fun tonight…

Packing up a few things and waiting on my friend Sharif to head over to my place so we can hit the road to LI.  We are supposed to play golf tomorrow which will be awesome…made good time driving out (not record time like the previous two weeks, but good time) and picked up food along the way…hanging at the house, everyone is catching up and I’m starting to get tired, so I’m going to try to turn in as we have an early tee time and the course is a solid 35-40min from my house…

Night all…

Day 151…

8.16.12

Woke up a bit earlier than the alarm this morning and was just ready to shower and attack the day.  I have energy this week and am trying to make the best of it, so off to work I go.  Having a work breakfast off-site and then once we get into the office I know it is going to be crazy busy…

Yep, just what I thought, walking into a ton of stuff that is going on.  We have client meetings, we have due dates for projects, and we just have a ton of things to get done.  It is weeks like these where I’m so happy to feel like “me” again.  I don’t feel sick this week.  It’s awesome, and it’s refreshing to have my hands back on all my projects and feel part of the team…

A side note from the work day, my Mom was nice enough to take Riley to the vet for me today so we can try to see what we can do about her nagging skin allergies.  The vet said that it isn’t food related, but that she thinks we can solve the problem by giving her a fish oil chewy once a day and two weeks of an anti-histamine.  In many respects, I think (pending it works) this is better than finding a new food for her since that was a whole ordeal when I first got her.  Fingers crossed that she responds well to the new protocol…

Working, working, working my way through the afternoon and then I’m going to meet my friend Larry for an early dinner as I haven’t seen him in a while…

Good dinner, good times catching up with Larry.  Even though I’m kept so busy with seeing friends, I wish I could see all of them more often..

Hanging on the couch, there is nothing to watch so I’m heading to Netflix and I’m going to watch what I can already imagine will be a terrible movie, but I’m not in a real mood to have to think about what I’m watching, so I’m giving “Goon” a go….yep, no surprise there, was pretty awful, but at least the subject matter of hockey was entertaining…

To bed I go…

Night all…

Day 150…

8.15.12

Waking up to realize that the week has already hit its mid-point.  That is the thing that I love about feeling well, and being busy at work – I get through things faster which means that I’m one more day/step closer to my last round of chemo…there is an indescribable sense of anxiety around the upcoming end to chemo (as I discussed in my post yesterday), but as the days go by, I realize that I’m going to have to come to terms with the new type of anxiousness ie the unsure feeling of if the cancer will come back for the next part of my life, and in reality – this is something that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.  So it is, as I always do, I will find a way to come to terms with that and move on with things…

We are very very busy today.  It’s always funny to me that the fast approaching end to the summer somehow always coincides with deadlines, all while knowing that people will be out on vacation, thus making approvals a bit more challenging.  We will persevere and make sure that we arm our clients with what they need, and do so in a timely manner….getting off of a successful client call and heading back to my desk to work on a few other deliverables.  I do need to carve out time for a proposal that I need to write, but I keep having more pressing needs get in way may.  Need to multi-task better today (one of my great struggles in this process has been the inability to multi-task like I used to.  Oh the lovely side-effect of chemo)!…

Lunch time, working through it as always, but the food is good (chicken teriyaki and veggies with rice), so that should give me the added energy that I need to make it through the rest of the day…more meetings, more calls, etc.  Next thing I know, I look up at the clock and see that the whole afternoon has almost passed already…going to finish things up here, pack up the computer and head home…

Nice and quick ride home and I thankfully managed to just beat the crazy rain storm that dumped an insane amount of water in the city (we had more than 4″ – that’s ridiculous)…Terence and Meghan are coming over for dinner which I’m really looking forward to as I haven’t seen them in about a month and we have lots to catch up on….great hanging, good food, good peoples…

Going to head to bed and fall asleep to the Yanks game…

Night all…

Day 149…

8.14.12

Woke up today a bit more refreshed than the previous few mornings, so I’m going to promise myself that I make the best of the day.  Taking the pup for her morning walk, showering and then saying goodbye to her for the rest of the week as she is off to NJ to go to the vet and see what we can do about her skin allergies.  Already miss her and haven’t even said goodbye yet :( At least I’ll see her Friday night…

Made great time getting to work and am ready to tackle what is already shaping up to be a very busy day.  We have a lot of things to accomplish with fast approaching deadlines, and to top it off, we have a new Client coming in to kick-off a new engagement.  As I always say, better to be busy than not…

After a rather long, but productive weekly status meeting, we are running around to send out emails and gear up for the Client meeting…having a quick bite to eat while working and then to the meeting we go…GREAT meeting, exciting project and the kicker will be the very tight timeline we have to work within…ready to get our hands dirty…

More meetings and I’m beginning to fade just a bit, but I’m pushing through…finishing things up for the day before heading home…

Made great time getting home, relaxing for a little before grabbing dinner with Blitz…first thing I have to do is go and pickup my meds from the hospital as I’m running out.  I haven’t had to go to the hospital to pick them up when I’m not there for treatment, so it is somewhat of an odd feeling to be there.  To top it off, I of course ran into two nurses that know me from all the time I’ve spent there, so it was great to feel welcomed, but at the same time, part of me wishes that I wasn’t such a consistent visitor of the hospital…all that said, I just continue to remind myself that I have one more treatment to go and then we move into the life management aspect phase which I can’t wait to do…

Going to make lamb nachos tonight, which when you think of it is a bit odd, but I have faith that it will taste great.  Lamb, onions, corn, multiple cheeses and chips = awesome and fulfilling dinner…time to relax on the couch and watch a movie…very little to choose from for some reason, so going to go out on a limb and watch Project X…ok, not a great movie, but definitely entertaining and certainly makes you wish that you could have been at that party…to live in a world of imagination!

Blitz has exited post movie as I am exhausted, so off to bed I go…

Night all…

Day 148…

8.13.12

Waking up to a Monday morning ‘off-week’ and feeling a bit more rested than I did yesterday as I thankfully was able to sleep last night, which is a good thing because it is going to be a very busy week at work.  Taking the pup out for her walk, showering and then off to work I go…

Summer traffic seems to have hit its stride as there clearly are less people on the roads  - bringing zero complaints from me.  Grabbing my ice coffee and up to the office I go…having some breakfast and sitting down to standard morning emails and meetings…

My goal today is to stay focused, stay energized and stay active so that I keep my energy level up…working this morning through some meetings and then going to make myself lunch as I was unable to order from the restaurant the office is getting food from today…

Afternoon is moving by at a very quick pace due to the busy buzz all around us…I’m thinking that I may have enough energy to take the pup for a long walk later and try to get some air and enjoy the fact that the weather is nice today…spoke to my nurse, got a fresh order of pill refills – really excited that in the next few months I should be able to stop taking all of these pills on a daily basis and not be a slave to a schedule of ‘take a pill these three times a day’…

Heading home, relaxing on the couch for a bit and getting ready to take Riley out for the long walk I was thinking about…it is really a nice night, so I’m hoping that we stay out for close to an hour…yep, got what I was looking for and that has resulted in a tired and hungry Josh and pup…dinner time for us both…

Watching the Yanks, getting tired, so to bed I go…

Night all…

Day 147…

8.12.12

Well this morning just sucks.  I was up the majority of the night and am EXHAUSTED.  Dragging would be an understatement.  I’m making a pot of coffee which I feel like I need to drink all of if I want to have a productive day, but of course I then remind myself that caffeine doesn’t have a real effect on me, so I’ll just stick to one cup for now…eating breakfast and reading while I wait for the house to wake up…think I’m going to head to the couch to see if I can rest a bit…

House is up, people are getting breakfast and moving about, yet I’m still confined to the couch.  I would say that my exhaustion is as bad as a post chemo day, yet I didn’t just have chemo.  Trying to not let it effect me.  Hopefully the rest on the couch combined with a USA win over Spain will lift my spirits…well the USA wins, and Lebron and company say all the right things to the point that you actually believe that putting country before ego is what they all really did and wanted to do…I have a new respect for them (even though they would get destroyed by the 1992 Dream Team)…

Perking up just a bit and going to shower, have some lunch and pack up for the ride home…so ready to just get in the car and get to my apartment.  I’ve found that when I’m this tired, even though I’m technically in my house, it isn’t the same as being in my apartment…really looking forward to getting home…

HOME!…walking Riley and then relaxing and just decompressing.  Really looking forward to hanging alone with my pup and the TV and then getting to bed…

Sleep time…

Night all…tomorrow is a new day!

Day 146…

8.11.12

Waking up and feeling pretty good this morning.  Got a decent night of sleep and ready to see what the day has in store for me.  Unfortunately, it is very overcast so I’m not very confident of the sun coming out and/or getting in some good relaxing and pool time.  So it is.  Letting Riley out for a run around the yard and making some coffee while the house begins to get themselves up…

My Dad is making a good and fun breakfast of multi-grain waffles with yogurt and fruit – very tasty…we are all at the table figuring out what everyone is going to do today.  Seems like Jordan and Andy are going to take a ride out to Montauk while me and my parents hang local…running to the store to get some food for a BBQ later and just watching the Olympics…

*Side note – my dog is off the charts fast and when she runs the whole yard it is as if you’re watching a horse sprint, which is funny because she is only 25lbs.  This pup will use every square inch of the yard and make it into an obstacle course.  The joy in her face is of watching her run like a lunatic makes my day every time she goes outside.  I wish there was a way to capture it on video, but she’s waaaay to fast…

I digress…Mindy and David are coming this afternoon for some good old fashion hang time and a BBQ.  I may have eyes larger than my stomach, but I’ve put together quite a menu for the night – I’m starting it off with some homemade guac and chips, then Andy is making gazpacho from scratch, Jordan is making some broccoli and I’m in charge of the proteins (I’ve been marinating two different types of chicken as well as a flank steak)…if we can manage to eat our way through all of that, Mindy and David brought this ridiculously awesome looking peach pie — better stretch the stomach out :)

Having a great time hanging around with everyone and all of the food has turned out to be amazing.  We are all full, but a happy full.  Lots of laughs as well.  Heading to the couch to watch some more of the Olympics and then off to bed…

Night all…