Just a Few Days Left

Dad told me recently that when you’re going through chemo, every day is a difficult day. There are just some days that are more difficult than others. I know I’ve said it before, but you would never know this is how he feels by looking at him or talking to him. The man is a rock. My rock. My family’s rock.

The great news is that as of Tuesday he will have his sixth and, hopefully, last chemo treatment. They will do a CT scan after that, which will let us know if the chemo did its trick and the tumor is gone.

The other good news that we have the Light the Night walk on Saturday. If you haven’t registered to participate with Team Bear, there’s still plenty of time. Here’s the link to our page.

http://pages.lightthenight.org/az/Phoenix12/Bear

If you are registered, below is the breakdown of the night’s events and key information you may need.

Schedule of Events

5:00 PM – Festivities Begin
6:00 PM – Celebration of Life
6:30 PM – Stage Program
7:00 PM – Walk Begins
FIREWORKS!!!

Here’s a link to other event details, parking, etc.

http://etools.lightthenight.org/mission360assets/az/fundraising/docs/PHXthingstoknow

Please remember that it will be a cool night on Saturday with a high 59 and a low of 43 and there could be a chance of rain, so dress accordingly. Let’s plan to congregate by the bathrooms (not for any particular reason other than that’s a recognizable and easy-to-find location).

Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions in the next few days. 602.999.9331

We love you all and thank you once again for all your support. I’ll leave you with a few images to see how great he’s doing!

We’re Quite a Team

Time to Sign Up

Apologies for the delay, but here’s the info on our team for the Light the Night Walk.

If you click on the link below…

http://pages.lightthenight.org/az/Phoenix12/Bear

And scroll down to the bottom of the page… you can select “Join Our Team Now”

The Light the Night walk does a lot of fundraising for the foundation, and each participant is asked – but not required – to do some fundraising on their own. What is most important to our family and to my dad is just the support of being with us on that day either physically or emotionally. If you feel like you want to make a donation you can either support my dad’s treatment fund directly but clicking the “DONATE” button to your right under “For Dad’s Cure,” or you can support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with a donation when you sign up for the walk.

If you have any questions about the walk just let me know.

For a quick update

Dad had his fourth treatment on Monday. He said he felt better during the actual treatment this time, and we are grateful that he had a lot of company to help pass the eight-hour day. Fortunately the three-drug cocktail of anti-nausea medication has really worked wonders, but this time around there were a couple of days when he needed to take his extra pill. His appetite is still great, though, and he’s only lost 5 or 6 pounds (I guess when you weigh in at 211 lbs. at the start of chemo you don’t really sweat dropping a few).

While his hair’s been gone for a while, he said he’s noticed it starting to come back a little. But he told me on Monday, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my eyebrows have started to thin.” My response: “Uh, yeah.” HaHa. And without any nose hair, he admits to the challenge of controlling any sort of runny nose situation. “All of a sudden you can just feel it sliding down your lip. There’s nothing to stop it from coming out,” he said. It’s interesting though that the leg and arm hair is still going strong, which the nurse said he may not lose.

So, only two treatments to go. It’s kinda hard to believe. They won’t do CT scan until his completed his treatment regimen. And if, for some reason, the chemo didn’t zap the entire tumor they can do some radiation. But we’re feeling pretty confident that he won’t need that.

We can’t thank you enough for your support. I’m reminded every day of how amazing my dad has been throughout this entire experience. I havent heard him complain once. He’s never lost his sense of humor. And he’s been completely humbled by your outpouring of love and support. Keep it coming, and we hope to see you on November 10.

Who’s In?

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk is on November 10 in Tempe.

This event occurs all over the country throughout the year to fundraise for families battling these cancers, providing support for research, educational materials, counseling and financial aid to families. The walk takes place at night to bring light to the dark world of cancer. Walkers carry illuminated balloons: white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of lost loved ones.

I’m choosing to participate as a testament to my dad’s resilience and to help provide a foundation to other families supporting their loved ones who have or continue to battle.

I will be creating a team this week so if you’re interested in participating, please email me at lauren.hillery@gmail.com.

Stay tuned for a link to our team’s page.

Here’s the link to the event page if you want more information.

http://www.lightthenight.org/az/

Half Way There

Dad completed his third treatment on Monday. As always, he was the patient any nurse would dream of. The infusion went perfectly fine, with no complications. And while Dad still keeps that smile on his face, his punny sense of humor and sharp wit, I can tell that this round was a little more challenging on his body than the rest. I see it more now that here with him every day.

The three days following treatment Dad takes Prednisone, which is a steroid, and while the drug gives him lots of energy, it doesn’t exactly have a shut-off button at night. Dad never sleeps well, but on these nights… I can put it this way; I’ve caught him playing Solitaire on the computer in the wee morning hours just a few times. He caught the bug I’ve had for the last week, so that didn’t make the days following treatment any easier. But amazingly, he’s gotten over it faster than I have. As I sit here coughing away he’s peacefully reading his Men’s Journal in the chair.

We’ve done quite a bit of research on dietary recommendations while he’s going through treatment. Some doctors recommend that chemo patients avoid fresh fruits and vegetables because it’s difficult to clean them well enough once his immune system weakens. A friend of mine recommended juicing along with the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (you can watch it instantly on Netflix). So watched it and got him a Jack LeLane juicer, figuring that a boost of antioxidants to help bump up his immune system couldn’t hurt. Some peaches, cauliflower, carrots and ginger root juiced down and combined with some yogurt and protein powder and he was a happy camper.

We have to be thankful that the wonderful world of science has close-to perfected the anti-nausea medication. Dad’s only mentioned twice feeling a bit queasy, and while food doesn’t taste the way it used to he plows through meals like a trooper. Sweet potatoes are his new favorite and he mostly asks for the delicious turkey burgers my Aunt Bonnie made him. She and Uncle Gary brought over a feast, to put it mildly, of soup, turkey, casseroles and much more. We can’t thank them enough for their thoughtfulness and support.

All Things Considered

It looks pretty good.

Rockin the no-hair look. It’s all the rage… didn’t you know?

Let’s Do This

Today is Dad’s second chemo treatment. I took the day off work to spend some time with him (and work on the crazy mess of a new house we’ve created for ourselves).

The other big news is that typically chemo patients’ hair starts to go after the second treatment, but Dad is special and started seeing his flowing locks falling out sooner than most, so he pulled the trigger. That’s right, he’s a baldy. Don’t worry too much, so far the iconic mustache is still in tact, but they say all hair will go. I asked the doctor why that was. Cancer is essentially fast cell growth. Chemo is designed to attack all cell growth; it doesn’t discriminate between cancerous cells and non-cancerous cells. But they (scientists) have been able to refine chemo slightly to strongly attack fast cell growth, and what do you know… hair is also a fast-growing cell. So there you go, your minor science lesson for the day.

I’ll post a photo of sir baldness later and give you a update on how his second treatment went. Keep the positive energy flowing.

Love.

The Fighter

My dad has never been anything but a rock-solid support. In fact, he’s been an entire support system all unto himself. Yet, we find ourselves now with the tables turned. While in the last 18 months I’ve found myself with a dream job, married and a soon-to-be homeowner, I haven’t really felt like a grown up until now.

By now I’m sure most of you know, my dad has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The long and short of it is, doctors found an 7 cm x 8 cm tumor growing on the outside of his kidney after he went to the hospital for lower back pain. His particular type of cancer is one of the most treatable types and his being aggressive makes it more receptive to treatment. Treatment, in this case, is chemotherapy: at least six treatments administered once every three weeks at Maricopa Integrated Health System.

My dad’s not one to back down… this hasn’t always been the easiest aspect of his makeup to deal with, but in this case I couldn’t be more happy. While I never imagined my dad… my  dad would be battling cancer, but knowing my dad… that’s exactly what he’ll do. Battle. No one in this world would or could battle like him. He has the attitude of a solider… maybe he gets it from his father, maybe he gets it from all of his years as an athlete. And maybe it doesn’t matter, because he’s ready to do what he always does: never give up.

The first, and probably the toughest treatment is done and behind us. He was, to quote the nurse, “a model patient.” the treatment was administered in two sets over two days. The second day he received a drug called Rituxan that uses rat proteins to target the cancer cells, or, as my dad calls it, “the rat poison.” The body can identify the “rat poison” as a foreign body and go into rejection that starts with getting flush. He had one momentary feeling of flushness, but it passed as quickly as it came.

And now he’s doing what he always does… still hiking, biking and doing yoga with two weeks to go until his next treatment.

I’ll be posting updates on his treatment throughout the next few months and documenting his experience through photography. Feel free to post comments or shoot me an email at any time.