Taking Down Cancer: I did it, I’m Cancer Free

Cancer FreeMost of you reading this probably have already heard about the good news but it’s sure nice to be able to write it out.

I’m cancer free.

I cannot thank you all enough for your support, positive vibes, prayers, and well-wishes. Every kind message helped lift my spirits through the dark periods over the past few months.

Since I last wrote, the last four weeks have been physically fantastic and mentally grueling. The last round didn’t hit me too hard and I was back exercising by Monday. (I even was able to go to a spring training game with my family on the Sunday immediately after chemo.)

I’m not going to do a week by week breakdown, as it would just consist of me typing how many miles I ran or hiked. But here’s a quick update on that. I am up to 1.35 miles of straight running and did a 9:23-mile pace over two miles which included two very brief walks of 0.05 miles each. (Oh, and I signed up for a February 2020 marathon… so that’s happening.) I also did Piestewa Peak (local Phoenix mountain) in 27:20, shaving 5 minutes off my time from three weeks ago. This time puts me in the area of what I was in before the Unfortunate-Winter-of-18/19.

Instead, I’m going to talk a little about the journey and the next steps.

W.T.F. did I just go through

From the onset, I told myself this wouldn’t define me. This wouldn’t keep me down. This wouldn’t impact the goals I had for 2019 and beyond. I’m fortunate enough to say, minus missing a February marathon, it has impacted absolutely nothing that I have planned for 2019. All adventure plans are officially a go!

As for the cancer part, it was definitely less than ideal but other than the week of Christmas, I never felt like “oh shit, this is the end.” (And that was probably because I got the entire dose at one time and didn’t know how to schedule out my anti-nausea pills.)

I feel weird saying this, and I’m probably the anomaly, but compared to what you hear about cancer, it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. I don’t want to ever downplay cancer because it kills thousands and thousands each year but it only affected me Wednesday through Sunday every three weeks. After that, I had 16 days to do whatever the heck I wanted to and I’m so grateful for that.

Run. Hike. Snowboard. Golf. Friendships.

And I think that’s what got me through it.

Cancer didn’t take away my joy of life.┬áIt actually enhanced it in some weird fashion that might not make any sense.

Family visits are so special (also maybe I wear this polo too much)

When you’re cooped up on a couch after receiving way too many drugs for any one person to receive at one time, you really start to appreciate the ability to be active or frankly, to do anything. Take grocery shopping, for instance. That’s fucking fun now.

Instead of 1) not really eating much and 2) knowing that you’re only going to have two weeks of normal eating ability, it makes it hard to shop for things. Now, shopping for food is normal again and that’s amazing. (Bet you didn’t expect to get a full-throated endorsement of grocery shopping when you started reading this, huh?)

For so many, a cancer diagnosis signals the end. It’s demoralizing. It’s life-changing. And, my life definitely changed due to this. In the long run, I have to be more conscious about health issues than many of you will be. (Or maybe this will help you all to focus on your health more… who knows!)

However, I told myself it would be a speed bump. I honestly believed that to my core. And, looking back, I think telling yourself from the start that it’s going to be okay in the end is oh-so-crucial. Starting off with a positive attitude and knowing that modern medicine is going to work goes a tremendous way towards beating this beast.

I mean, I didn’t even shed a tear until much further down the road and it didn’t even have to do with cancer. (That story won’t make it onto the pages of this blog…)

Additionally, having a support group the size of a sports arena helped immensely. The constant messages. The outpouring of support. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times they made me smile and allowed myself to say “you got this.”

Finally had the chance to go shoot the Milky Way again
Anthony got married! (Second from right)

Next Steps

We are a go for radiation.

On Thursday, April 18, we met with Mayo Clinic and they started the process of getting insurance authorization for Proton Radiation. Mayo’s the only hospital in Phoenix that has this high-tech radiation and it’s awesome I get to use it. We’ve been told getting Proton Radiation can be a bit of a hassle due to how new it is, so keeping sending good vibes we get approval quickly.

I also have a bunch of tests and scans upcoming that Mayo needs before we start doing radiation (labs, pulmonary function test, cardiology consult, CT simulation, and a few others..). Once that’s all done, we’re looking at the first or second week of May to start. If we stick to that time table, we’ll be ALL DONE by the end of the month and head into June with this in the rearview mirror.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the love and encouragement you’ve shown towards me and my family.

Moving Forward

It’s been a surreal journey… Starting in August by feeling just a tad off, to learning maybe I have a slight heart condition in October, to finding out the news that I have cancer on November 2, to landing in the hospital for four days on Election Day, to six rounds of chemo spanning 4 months, and to finally learning I’m cancer free.

I’m sure what I’ve gone through will hit me at some point but right now, I’m focusing on how good things are. I believe I have the mental fortitude to keep thoughts about future scans or any negative side-effects off my mind by continuing to live life joyously and fully.

If I keep listening to my body and it allows me to do everything I want to, I know I’m good.

As I said, we’re full steam ahead for many, many adventures and those will keep my spirits high and my mind laser-focused on the joys of life.

Here’s to good health and happy days.