Monday, August 16, 2010

Visiting our Friends

A few weeks ago Brandon and I went back to the good ole' BMT unit at the U of U hospital to visit some of the nurses we love so dearly. We were lucky that most all of our very favorites were there on the same shift! We can't say more about these people. In such a tumultuous time in our lives they brought peace, routine, laughter and friendship that we so desperately needed. We love the people of the BMT unit and will always be so grateful for everyone there.
I will say, it was weird walking down the same halls, smelling the same smells and knowing we weren't going to have to sleep there. It brought back a rush of memories good and bad, but mostly it made me grateful to have Brandon right there next to me.

From left to right we have Suzie who we would hold our breath every shift change to see if she was assigned to us. We loved her so much and we truly became good friends. Then Amy, the CNA who made the BEST chocolate-peanut butter shakes ever! Then Jon who is a character. Then Bob our favorite night time nurse who kept us laughing at all his funny stories. Then Cassidy, another great CNA who always had a smile and kept us up to date on Greek Row happenings. Then Janet. Janet kept us in line and we loved her for it. Every now and then she'd pretend not to notice the food that we'd smuggle in for Brandon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Good News!

I know it has been some time since my last post but we have just been plugging along in the maintenance therapy and nothing too exciting has happened. We just saw the Dr. on Friday and he informed us that all of my tests look perfect and I am still in full remission!! We couldn't be more happy, truly, even though I am still looking for a job, this trumps any feelings of frustration we could possibly be going through right now. Both Katie and I are so grateful for the love, prayers, and support of everyone. We know that we could have never done this alone, and also that we have had so many people right there beside us every step of the way. It has been so amazing to feel the strong arms around us and the many unseen helping hands that have helped us get to the point we are at today.

I know that it may seem kind of silly to get excited every time we hear that I am still in remission but I think that at least for this first year since my last round of chemo I am entitled to get excited to hear I don't have cancer again and all of the baggage that comes with it. It can be a little nerve racking every time we go in to hear the diagnosis from Dr. Tricot, my Oncologist, but he has continually given us good news. We see him every 3 months for the first year, and then we will have tests every 6 months for the rest of my life which means a fun bone marrow biopsy with each visit to look forward to. They just want to make sure that it doesn't come back, and be able to catch it early if it does. I am in an interesting situation too because I am such an atypical patient, it is hard to say what any percentages are because all of the data is for people in their 60's, not for a young buck like myself. People ask me what the chances are of it coming back, and how long most people stay in remission and I really don't know for sure. We are confident however that whatever happens, I will be around for a long time to come, thanks to everyone out there of course who has been so wonderful every step of the way.

Katie and I are so lucky to have such great friends and family, and so many people behind us. We just wanted to say thank you again and that we love and appreciate you all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One Year

Brandon has made huge strides the last few weeks. This last week he went on his first bike ride, outside, on a real bike! He did so great and it was so fun to see. Brandon has been working so hard to rebuild his strength. He works out with a trainer twice a week and then goes to the gym and swims or rides a stationary bike the other days. It has made such a difference! He has much more strength and energy.
It's amazing to realize how far we have come when he does the most simple of things like bend over to pick something up, help me carry groceries in from the car or ride a bike. I never thought we would get to the point of being able to do pretty much whatever we wanted, but here we are!
Last Friday, April 2, was the year mark of Brandon's diagnosis. It has been such a big year. We've gone through terrible downs and amazing highs. The Lord has blessed us with a new perspective on life; to never take anything for granted. We are so blessed to be able to go through something where we get to see how many people care and love us. Thanks again for all your support. We couldn't have done it without you.
Katie and Brandon

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Full Remission

It has been a long time coming, and the journey is far from over, but we couldn't be more happy to be in remission right now.
For those of you like me about a year ago, to hear I am in full remission sounds like a good thing without a doubt- but I was never really quite sure what that meant? I used to think "why can't cancer patients just say I am cured, I know what cured means, what is all this partial remission, full remission, relapse mumbo jumbo". Now I know what it means and why they say that, and I can also say that full remission is certainly where you want to be, but you are never really totally out of the woods, and at least for my cancer you are never totally cured. I was in partial remission which means there was a little bit of cancer left, barely enough to notice. I am now in full remission which means with all the fancy tests and bone marrow biopsies they couldn't find any cancer at all. There is always a chance that it will come back though (which is a relapse), that is why you are never just cured, and why I will have to get tests done every three months for the next year, and every six months for the rest of my life to make sure it doesn't come back.
This is definitely where we want to be and any cancer patient for that matter, but from what I have heard it can be a little scary at first because you don't ever want to find the cancer again and have to go through chemo, transplants, and everything else that goes with it. Then you realize you can't live your life in fear and have to get busy livin or get busy dying as they say in "Shawshank Redemption". I choose to get busy living since I have always had the attitude for some reason or another that we would make it through this. It is kind of a sobering thought to think you could actually have died, not from some freak accident, but that following probability and statistics that you should be dead. On the same note however, how refreshing to know that you did beat the odds with the help of a wonderful wife, an amazing family support group, wonderful friends, and even the kindness of complete strangers. All of these people came together to be a part of a miracle which took place through you, pretty cool. How do you say thank you for that? Obviously it is pretty hard to really show how much you really appreciate everything that so many people have given and done for us. I have personally taken the attitude that I can hopefully show you all how grateful I am for your help by the way I live my life and the kind of man and father I become. With all the goings on of the past year and even up to this day, I have had a lot of time to contemplate everything that has been done for Katie and me, and not only is it amazing and I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love, but I also feel there is so much good out there and people and just so kind if you just give them an opportunity to show it. So thank you from truly the marrow of my bones for your love, food, fasting, prayers, visits, cards, and every other form of support that you have shown us in the past year and for many years to come. I will keep reporting to keep you updated on what is going on but hopefully there won't be too many changes if you know what I mean.
As for right now, I am going to physical therapy twice a week and making some great strides towards getting my strength back. I was able to finish my schooling and get my MBA at the end of last year with the help of some wonderful professors at Westminster, so now I am looking for a job and some benefits. I am happy to say I have some leads and should be joining Katie in the work force before too long but nothing is official right now. We have moved back into our condo on Foothill Drive, I am driving a little on my own, and we have even started going back to church little by little. As life begins to take more and more of a familiar setting, I am even more grateful for the simplicities that I used to take for granted. Being able to feed myself and eat what ever I want are high on the list. To be able to go for a drive or get outside when ever I want is certainly better than being restricted to wandering up and down one hallway in the U of U hospital. To be able to work my body and lift my legs as they were made to move is truly a wonder. Even simple things like tying my shoes, although still a little painful, brings me a new simple joy that even I can't explain. I am sure I could go on and on, but this post is already much longer than it should be and most the people reading it will have lost interest- so I will close by saying thank you again for helping me achieve these things once again, and for bringing me full circle in a journey that was frightening, monotonous at times, and simply wonderful at others; and when I got back to where I thought I had started I realized I had traveled further than I could have ever imagined.