Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Message 11/27/2014

A little Thanksgiving note expressing my thoughts to my friends and family:
Every second of every minute of every hour of every day in every week of every month in the year 2014 has been challenging in one way or the other. I’ve felt fear, sadness, anger, compassion & love over & over again. I’ve recognized the kindness that others possess and have received the benefit of human compassion from my family, friends and folks I hardly know. Tears have streamed down my cheeks both while holding my wife tight in my arms and while alone in the quiet darkness of a small room. I led my family at home & I led my co-workers at work and at times my family led me while my co-workers picked me up off of the seat of my pants. All the while my beautiful wife experienced the same emotions while battling a terrible, life threatening disease.
In 49 years of my life there is not one time that I can recall in which I am more thankful than I am this Thanksgiving for the blessings I’ve received. I’m thankful that when called upon God provided the strength that allowed us to be courageous. I’m thankful that my wife elected to be positive, to be strong & to do battle. I’m thankful that the education provided to my boys by our public school system was such that they were a positive influence in my wife’s recovery. I’m thankful to have gained an understanding and realized the benefit of human compassion. I’m thankful that my wife is alive, my kids are happy, my dog is okay, my house is in one piece, I have a job & I’m generally okay.
In some lives there is always tomorrow for dreams to come true & at one point this pertained to us as well but now today is always THE day that we realize our dreams. There is no time, there is no tomorrow there is only today to make happen what you want to happen.
My dear wife I thank God every day that you were brought into my life & this Thanksgiving more than ever I will thank Him over and over again. Love you very much & I love the folks who have supported us throughout this whole battle.

Negative CA125 blood test--No evidence of disease--yay!!!!!!!

Christmas came early this year for my wife when she found out she doesn't have cancer she took the time to go to the mall today to thank Santa for the present


Angela's Birthday 10/27/14

Celebrating my wife's birthday tonight. So happy that she is in this world with us on this day. We love her so much!

Return to Work 10/14/14

My wife returns to work tomorrow nine months after departing to have surgery to remove cancerous tissue & post operative chemo treatments. Lots of emotion flowing through both of us this evening but both of us have a tendency to internalize emotions so an outside observer wouldn't notice. She doesn't need to tell me it is obvious that she's both anxious & excited about returning to the co-workers who supported her from start to finish. I won't tell her but she'll read it here that I'm anxious as well. I want her to return to work because she wants too not because she feels she has too. She's been through a lot mentally & physically and it will take a lot longer than 9 months for her to heal. I love this woman so much that I'll work ten jobs if need be so she never has to return if it is something she does not want to do. I am very proud of her for the demonstration of strength that she has displayed and continues to display.

September 15, 2014

Normal CAT Scan!

September 4, 2014

Major surgery (hysterectomy) & 26 weeks of chemotherapy led to today's normal CAT scan. A big big big sigh of relief and much respect to my battling wife Angela. This may be a never-ending road but what I've learned is that there is no other person in this world that I would rather travel with than her.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chemo update-Week 23-Final Treatment #16-8/6/2014

While she lies sleeping I quietly dress for work wondering what dreams she has had throughout the night.  The roller coaster ride of emotions could only translate into dreams of a similar type.  Feeling helpless with the knowledge that I can’t rescue her I can only kiss her on the forehead, tell her that I love her and leave for work. This is a scenario that has played out almost every day since her diagnosis.  I am hopeful that as of August 6th 2014 her dreams will become better as we progress towards normalcy.

It was on this day, a day that we have anticipated since the start, that Angela received her 16th and final Chemotherapy treatment.  I remember clearly our first ride to the treatment facility as we both fought tears of sadness & worry in comparison the final ride was just as emotional however the tears were of joy and not of sadness.

Energy was flying high the evening before as my wife created a farewell to chemo sign that she would carry all day and keep as memento to remember her battle.   She arrived at the facility bright & early with donuts for the nurses and of course her sign.  She took the treatment like the veteran she has become and afterwards celebrated with the doctor and his staff and then we left hopefully to never return again for treatment.

So with this phase of our five year plan to defeat cancer now over I’m left to ponder the future and evaluate the past.  As for the past I started to list a few of the lessons that were learned.  Some we successfully incorporated into our lives others well
1. Be positive
2. Listen—I’m not good at this—I try to fix things
3. When nausea sets in leave her be- I tried to comfort
4. Tell her that you love her--often
5. Take care of yourself—I would say I did a good job but my wife would say otherwise.
6. Be there for her when she needs you.
7. Allow her to do that things that she likes to do.  I have to admit I battled her tooth and nail when she tried to vacuum the floor, clean the kitchen, do the wash or spend the day at the baseball field.  In the end I now realize I was wrong.
8. Do not allow others to abuse her kindness—for whatever reason there were some that were not sensitive to her illness & held her accountable for unreasonable expectations.  I managed this & managed it well
9. Let others do things for you & your family—this is not an easy thing for my wife or I but we realized early on we needed the help and it allowed those around us to have that opportunity to know they were needed.
10. Women are stronger than men—my wife was able to internalize her pain to put on a good show for the kids & I so we would not worry.
11. Sometimes no means yes—my wife is the type of person who will say she can handle something by herself because she does not want to put that burden on someone else.    I took her back & forth to every treatment despite her claim that she could do it herself however I regret missing the monthly checkups & the one CAT scan.  I should have been by her side regardless of whether they were the scheduled 15 minutes or if they extended to an hour.  
12. Disagreements/arguments  still happen-emotions don’t change because someone is sick—life continues—Instead of being reactive try to get a deeper understanding of the source of the disagreement.   Getting mad, doing irrational things will not solve anything & ultimately only introduces more stress into the lives of both parties.
13. It is okay to cry but once you’re done move forward and not backward.
14. Trust the medical professionals.
15. Go to church, pray to God and when doing so pray for others that are suffering as well.

The future holds change---change in lifestyle (diet, exercise,etc.) , change in responsibilities (kids & I will relieve her of duties), change in how we manage stress & finally change in our involvement with the community.    The outpouring of compassion, support & love expressed by the community has overwhelmed both my wife and I leaving us speechless and overwhelmed.   Once we are back on our feet again it is our turn to pay it back.

One final message to my wife is I love you dearly and I will always be by your side regardless of illness or any other challenge that may lie ahead.   You battled cancer and you are a survivor!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Angela's Facebook Post on 8/1/2014

My most dreaded treatment is more to go!!! I am flying high right now....the end is finally here : )

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chemo update-Week 22-Treatment #15-7/30/2014

 Excited or concerned I’m not sure how I should feel at this moment.  Excited & happy that Angela only has one more treatment but concerned that we’ll become complacent & not make changes that could reduce or eliminate the possibility of recurrence.   Each and every day I remind myself of what I was told when we started on this long journey and that was to take it one day at a time. 

Treatment 15 included the most lethal mixture of medicines that have resulted in the worst side effects.   We brace ourselves for the worst and hope for the best.  Typically the only side effect the day of treatment is sluggishness with the worst side effects rearing their ugly head two to three days later.   This week would be no different however the symptoms were not or at least to date have not been nearly as severe.  Bouts of nausea, lightheadedness & general sluggishness are symptoms that she has battled routinely so she put on her bravest face, smiled at what cancer had to offer and did it once again.

I wake up each day and could easily say to myself my wife has cancer and she is going to die however we do not do that in our house.    Though it was ingrained in my as a youngster to never give up there was never any substance to that motto until I watched my wife do battle with cancer.  Never give up are just three independent words that alone mean nothing however when put together and mixed with heart & soul they cannot be conquered.   My wife has taught me that there is meaning to life other than existence on this Earth.  i.e. love other people, do the things you want to do and smile and be happy.

As we approach the final treatment I feel lost without a clear path developed to lead our way afterwards but I’m comforted with the knowledge that with faith in God and the strength we share we can overcome.   Love you Angela!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chemo update-Week 21-Scheduled off week-7/22/14

 Week 21 of treatment was yet again another off week for Angela however this time it was scheduled. Though I say it was a good week for her because there were no outward signs of extreme pain I know that no week throughout this whole process has been good for her. Nagging pains in her bones & mouth leave her miserable on the inside even though she is smiling on the outside. What I have learned throughout this whole ordeal is that my wife is one tough woman & maybe just a bit too tough. Sometimes I feel guilty because I have had to keep my life moving in forward motion because we have to have some foundation to support us now and when she gets better. I go to work knowing that on the outside my wife has pain and on the inside there is fear & I'm one of those guys who wants to fix things however there is no remedy that I can provide to make things better. So as we approach the 22nd week and 15th overall treatment I will do my best to show her how much I love her. This mixture of meds results in the worst side effects however I'm hopeful that having the knowledge that there is only one more to go will give her the courage to once more battle her way through. The light is shining brightly at the end of that long tunnel I love you my dear wife.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Angela's Facebook post Saturday 7/26/2014

Well, I have two more treatments left and I am so thankful that chemo will be over. Chemo sucks and it is a horrible thing to have to go through. People always tell me I look great and my attitude is great. I have always prided myself on taking care of myself and having a good attitude...cancer can't change that. You are the person you are. I have learned to live with what I have been dealt. With all the pain...I will always smile, I will always have that spark and I will always be thankful. No one but my husband knows what I have been through as he has seen me at my worst and taken care of me through it all. Love youDave Bursler...always will!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chemo update-Week 20-No treatment again-7/15/2014

Moral of this story is distractions can be good.
Preparations for my son's 16th birthday party took the focus off of treatment this past week which made both Angela & I lose track of  her schedule.   As she was coordinating all of the activities the message came back to her that once again there would be no treatment because the white blood cell count was still too low.  This news, though demoralizing, could not be digested thoroughly because there was too much to do to get ready for the party. 

As we have been realizing throughout this whole ordeal real life doesn't stop because my wife is battling an illness.  Two teenage children usually mean that yes there will be other challenges along the way.  One such challenge came to our doorway on Tuesday when the birthday boy awoke with an illness of his own forcing my wife to cancel & reschedule the entire party.   That being said there would be no illness bad enough to stop my boy from getting his drivers license on this day.   The trip taken by my wife & boy to the DMV is an epic story in its own right ultimately resulting in a newly issued license but not without drama.

As my son recovered on Tuesday more details about my wife's treatment were communicated.  Angela was told that the path forward would include a Neulasta shot (to boost the immune system) on Wednesday & the cancellation of treatments 15 & 16.  The most recent cancellations along with one in May means that she will only receive 15 of the 18 treatments that were originally prescribed. While Angela seemed to be very happy with the news I felt very unsettled about the decision.  It puts her on the fast track to be done but is that what we want or do we want to be thorough?   Angela explained that the basis for the decision was the good CAT scan that was done in June & the beating her immune system has taken.  I tell myself I'm not a doctor so I have no right to challenge but I do hope he is prepared to make me feel comfortable at her next consultation.  Regardless of my reservations it is great news that the end of this phase in near & we can start to plan the next phase.  

Just to finish the birthday party saga friends & family gathered on Thursday to finally celebrate my son's milestone birthday.  Again for one day we set our thoughts & concerns aside  to focus an event that only happens once in lifetime. 

There were a lot of stories to tell when I lived and trained to run 100 mile races but there are many more to tell when you share your life with others. What I'm learning is that with a little determination & discipline anybody can run an ultramarathon but to support a family it takes the extra ingredients of being unselfish & loving to support a family. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chemo update-Week 19-No treatment-7/8/2014

Leading up to the third treatment in the 5th series of three (15 overall) Angela & I were on pins and needles waiting to see if her white blood cell count was adequate for treatment to resume.  Mid-day passed on Monday with no phone calls indicating a problem so Angela called the facility to gain confirmation of the results.  We were both pleasantly surprised & excited to hear that she was cleared to receive treatment the following day.  In my mind things were playing out just as we had hoped.  Receive this treatment on Tuesday & the affects of the Avestin booster shot the next day along with the upcoming off week would at least get her through to treatment 17.

Typically I'm on my toes at all times with the knowledge that cancer treatment is not always going to follow a particular plan however I became complacent on this day & allowed myself to think ahead.  My wife was planning vacations & I was counting down the days to the next stage of treatment.  We both slept well the night before, in fact, the steroids that usually interrupt Angela's sleep had no effect on her at all.  The next day we followed our normal routine as I awoke early to go to work to put in a couple of hours before returning @ 7:30 or so to drive her to the treatment facility.  The drive was easy & things were falling into place perfectly that morning until......  My phone rang as we were stopped at a red light less than 100 yards from the treatment facility.  I turned the phone over to my wife and from there our entire day and plan for the next couple of weeks changed.  The news was that the results from the blood test that she received the day before was inaccurate so instead of continuing on to the facility we made a U-turn and silently went home.

It was very disappointing news however we have learned to be accepting of whatever is tossed at us.  The important thing at this point is for Angela to stay strong & for me to try my best to support her.  If outward appearance was an indication of the level of difficulty of staying strong it would be quite hard for me to recognize the challenge however because I know Angela it is easy for me to see her dig deep each day to battle.  She is the strongest person that I know and she continues to battle the disease, treatment and disappointments so much better than I ever could.  She will stay strong no matter what--me, on the other hand, I struggle with channeling my energy into the right emotions so sometimes I may say, act, or do something that appears to be less than supportive but only because of the way it is said or done.  It is only because she knows I love her to death that she is able to translate everything I do into exactly what I mean it to be.

As we approach our second attempt at treatment #15 the side effects kicked into another gear constantly putting her in pain and leaving me feel helpless.  The comments & support of our friend, family and even social network friends that we have never met have went a long way toward giving us the strength we need to conquer the disease & the effects of the treatment.    As we take it day to day & week to week our goal now is to knock off this next treatment putting us in a position where we see the end of this part of the journey. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kyle-Bernie-Angela 7-4-2014

Chemo update-Week 18-Treatment #14-7/2/2014

Managing some personal disappointment as well as sharing disappointment experienced by my oldest son  I found it difficult to keep things in perspective this week.  It is one thing to deal with something personal because I have control of how I react and what I do however it is something quite different to share disappointment with a loved one.

My oldest, kind of like me, sometimes sets his goals way too high which ultimately positions him for what he perceives to be failure.  Unfortunately he had this experience this week which tempered any good feeling we had in the house.  The key here is to support him, help him mitigate the bad feeling associated with his disappointment by telling him that you are proud that he did not walk away from a challenge.  My boy is a smart kid and from here will recognize what needs to be done the next time to meet and beat the challenge.

While I was wallowing in my own self pity earlier in the week I denied my wife & family of the attention they need & they deserve.  It took me a day but if not surrounded by my loving family it probably would have taken a year.  My youngest kissed me on the forehead and my oldest snuggled up to me while we watched television & my wife bought me a new pair of running shoes.  I realized pretty quickly that these are the important things in life & with this I shook it off and moved on.

Unfortunately my wife was put in a position where she was our heartbeat this week & despite being sick she stayed strong for us. It was all put into perspective by her just saying "hey I just want to live".

My wife's mid-week treatment was uneventful with no lingering side effects impacting her ability to manage the life style that she has adopted.  There is, however, still frustration because the new life style is no way indicative of how she wants to live.  The day or two after treatment was spent planning for an August vacation which hinges on how well her body responds to treatment #14.   If the white blood cell count stays within range considered to be normal than treatment #15 can proceed on schedule however if it falls below that range treatment will be delayed one week.  Having overcome every challenge tossed her way up until this point I have no doubt that she has the will to overcome a set back but I'm hoping & praying that we can make it over this one last hump so treatment can continue on schedule.  My wife & I will breathe a big sigh of relief after treatment 15 because it leads to a week off and then the final series of three.

Through 14 treatments she has battled the disease with the courage & might of a giant & with still 4 more to go I see no fear in her eyes or wear in her body.  She has done a great job of maintaining stability within our household. Despite her illness she has never stopped being a mother, a wife and a friend to others.  She has welcomed the disease into her life and has found a way to reveal the positive impact that it can have while refusing to allow the resulting pain & suffering to dictate what it is all about.   Love you Angela!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chemo update- week 17-Treatment #13-6/25/2014

Treatment 12 revealed yet another distressful side effect for which we did not have an immediate remedy.  Severe bone pain concentrated in the chest with symptoms similar to that of a heart attack dropped Angela to her knees several times.  Sitting at home on a weekend with my wife in this condition left me conflicted as to whether we should go to the ER or whether to allow her to manage the pain on her own terms.   Angela’s will won out and we stayed home and she battled it until a remedy was provided the following Monday.  Fast forward back to when treatment first started I’m sure that I thought that by the 12th treatment we would be well aware of all of the side effects and the remedy however I could not have been more wrong.      

Week 16, an off week, Angela had a couple of relaxing days at the beach and also received the news that her cat scan was negative.   The great news of the negative scan revealed a path forward to the end of chemotherapy and on to the next phase of treatment.  As uplifting of thought this was the excitement was tempered knowing that treatment 13 was on the horizon.   

Every time we make our way to the treatment facility I recall the feelings & emotions that were expressed the first time we made our way there & it seems to get easier every time.   The 1st trip was sad & scary because CANCER could mean death and CHEMO obviously means pain.   As time has moved forward I adopted the same approach to this disease as I adopted for my 100 mile running.  Some people are overwhelmed by the point to point distance because they focus on every single mile however I was never overwhelmed because I didn’t focus on the mileage but instead I focused on time.  It was with the understanding that eventually I would get there as long as I kept moving.  I take the same approach with the disease in that I know that over time as long as we are patient and move forward  without harping on what could be she will be okay.   This is a coping mechanism works for  in order for my wife to be just as positive she must adopt a similar mental approach & also continue to dig deep down inside of herself and battle the hell out of this disease. 

Today, three days after treatment 13, nausea will not relent.  Our household is somber but I can feel the battle within Angela and I know within a day she will be okay.  I’m confused sometimes with my role because I’m not one to stand by & watch however I’ve learned that sometimes the best support is by just silently being there.  My darling wife will soon be okay and we will move away from this disease on to a new life of recovery.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cat Scan Results 6-19-14

I am very relieved after receiving the results of a cat scan taken of my wife's torso that revealed no evidence of cancer. We have a long long road to go which includes six more treatments of chemotherapy & countless preventative doctor's visits but today I took a big sigh of relief. I love my wife like no other.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chemo update-Week 16—Treatment #12--6/11/14

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about the words spoken by my wife the night before.  “Nobody cares if I die”.   “You don’t kiss me anymore”.  “I just want to live my life again”.  “You don’t know what it feels like to have cancer”. “This is not about Dave”.   I’m writing these phrases as a way to convince myself that I listen & also as a way to have a reference to return later and later and later as a reminder of the thoughts of my wife.   The questions, the thoughts , the feelings are uncomfortable when I try to digest everything as a whole.   

When our lives were good I would have never thought that our family would be able to manage under these circumstance & at first it was hard however we’ve learned to adapt.  It seems that I place barriers around what I can and cannot accept & if a thought or a comment exceeds a barrier I’m not able to accept.  I can accept that my wife is ill.  I can accept that I need to step it up to support her & our family.  I can accept that we cannot do things that we would normally do.  I cannot however accept any thought that there would be a circumstance that would put me in a place where I would not love my wife or that she would not be missed or that I do not have compassion for her.  So what is left is who is this about Dave or Angela?  To me that is a very silly question because it is obviously about Angela.  It makes me sad, embarrassed & shameful that my wife would believe that I would put myself before her.  Yes I write, I talk & I express my feeling but it is only because I have to have an outlet and not because I want sympathy  or attention.   

Her questions & comments are legitimate in her mind but outrageous in mine.  My wife is the most important person in my life & truth be told I would take her place in a moment’s notice.  Our roles are set by God for a reason the most likely of which is that my wife is stronger & therefore better equipped to manage all that is associated with this disease.  I’m a part of this because God knows I can do it & I won’t give up until she is well again. 
As we move forward I will pay more attention to the smaller things that are obviously important to her and should be to me.  I will kiss her often & listen more intently as a way to share her pain.   While I say “I love you” often I’m obviously not translating those words into actions so I need to do a better job. 

The completion of treatment 12 is a milestone in that it means we only have two more cycles until we move to the next phase.  Having some daylight at the end of this long tunnel may allow us to begin planning ahead. Possibly a trip or just some family time together so we can reestablish what we once had.  It is a scary road ahead with the knowledge that it is still a long journey however once we get through chemotherapy her strength will return giving her more energy & more will to battle.  It’s been 16 weeks of a hard battle out of which she has received some significant wounds however she is still on top and ultimately she will win.  Love you my sweet Angela!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Angela Facebook Comment 6/4/2014

As I sit here in tears I can only say wow.....2014 has been quite a journey. I feel like I have experienced every emotion and every pain that I could endure. It hasn't been easy that is for sure but somehow, someway you get through it. I couldn't get through this without my AMAZING, STRONG, LOVING HUSBAND. He is my rock and always will be. He has gone above and beyond his call of duty as a husband. I love you Dave Bursler. And to all my wonderful friends, family, co-workers and FB friends I cannot even begin to tell you what your support has meant to me. I can only be so very thankful to everyone who has gone through this with me. I am overwhelmed sometimes but I never say why me, I thank God it was me. I got to experience how important life is by slowing down. I got to stop and smell the roses. I got to spend quality time with my children. I now know what marriage is all about. I got to find God again. I got to see that there are good people in this not so good world. I got to meet people who are going through this horrible disease and support them as they have supported me. I was given a gift by getting this disease and I was able to experience what some people will never experience in their lifetime. Keep the faith, keep the hope and keep the love.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chemo update-Week 14—Treatment #9--5/28/14

Chemo update-Week 14—Treatment #9
The good news in week 14 was that the doctor confirmed the initial evaluation from the colonoscopy that the bleeding was the result of hemorrhoids & not the return of cancer so my wife could resume treatment.  The bad news is that Angela had reached her limit so the question she posed to the doctor during her most recent visit was “What if I elect to stop treatment?”   The obvious answer was that the odds of cancer returning in some form would be significantly increased.  While my wife yearns to return to her active lifestyle which includes a job that she loves she understood that the only path forward would be to resume treatment.   

A new learning that was brought forth from her most recent treatment was that the routine of three treatments included a very thorough blood test during week four.   This test is used as an indicator of how well her body is responding to treatment.  Unbeknownst to me each of her three previous tests revealed progress or at the very least stability so no changes had to be made to the concentration of the medicines or the frequency of the injections.  Again this was excellent news.  The only bad news over the last few days was that Angela contracted a severe upper respiratory infection which I consider to be an attempt by the cancer to knock her down but once again she is standing tall & punching back without so much as a stumble.  This is a very strong willed woman who in the end will get what she wants out of life.

As for me-----As a child I watched my share of “The Brady Bunch”, “Leave it to Beaver” & even “My Three Sons”.  The actions, reactions, and state of mind depicted into the role of father on these shows is what I use as a measuring stick to gauge my performance as a father/husband.   Channeling feelings into the appropriate emotion & reaction continues to be a major challenge for me.  In my prayers to God I ask for strength for my wife, my kids & myself as well as the ability to channel my energy into the right emotion.  Managing pain & her own thoughts are what I consider to be my wife’s biggest challenges with the third being her belief that I will not be there to support her.  In my heart & in my soul I will support my wife through this challenge & beyond but it hurts me to admit that there are times I make mistakes and do not demonstrate these feelings.  My actions represent my love for her but my words are not always a direct reflection of how much I care for & love my wife.  Knowing the pain my wife experiences daily I feel guilty to even share how much of an internal struggle this has been for me as an individual.  As a man I have never felt so helpless or useless or ineffective as I have over the last few months.  I could have made better decisions, been a better role model for my kids, tried hard to demonstrate my love for my wife.  I pray to God every day that I will do better, try harder and be more effective as a mode of support. 

There is not path that lead in any other direction than forward so no matter the challenge we will achieve the ultimate finish which is life.  I love you Angela & I will always  be your rock & support you till the end.  On to week 15 & treatment #10.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chemo update-Week 13 no treatment--5/20/14

Week 13—no treatment
It was somewhat frustrating to miss a second straight week of treatment however it was important to understand why Angela was experiencing a new symptom.  I will admit that it was a scary few days leading up to her doctor’s appointment on Tuesday the 20th.   I fought the urge to believe that the cancer had returned in a different form but couldn’t help but allow it to enter my mind on occasion.   The other battle that I face each day is knowing that my fears are minor in nature compared to those of my wife.  The devil  on one shoulder tells me that I’m human, have human emotions that I’m allowed to express however the angel on my other shoulder tells me that I need to stop being selfish & consider her fears.   

So without going into a lot of detail the big news on Tuesday was that the symptoms my wife was experiencing are the result of a non-cancer related problem with her colon.   I cannot tell you enough the relief that I felt but once again, taking a step back, I cannot tell you how relieved my wife must have felt when we received the news. 

Prior to this great relief I had the experience of once again witnessing my wife laying in a hospital bed in an altered state.  She was curled up in a ball covered in a blanket mumbling unintelligible words.  Tears rolled down my eyes as I thought deep thoughts of worry & concern for her well-being.   Victims of illness are not just those directly affected but also those with whom they surround themselves & love.  If, by chance,  I lost this woman my world would effectively end. 

The message being delivered to us from above is that we are stronger than what we thought.   We can beat this but the this but there will be many battles until the fight is over.   The individual battles in our own minds are probably the most difficult to win but if we communicate we can fight together & win out.  Internally, externally & all around us it is difficult but I love my wife & we will not give up.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chemo update: Week 12—No treatment 5-16-2014

Chemo update:  Week 12—No treatment
Coming off the most promising weekend in between treatments we found out on Tuesday the 13th that Angela’s white blood cell count was once again below an acceptable level.  My wife was obviously disappointed & frustrated but I tried my best to ease the blow by reminding her that all things happen for a reason.  In this instance my in-laws were due to arrive mid-week for a 3-day stay so instead of witnessing their daughter’s pain they would now have a chance to enjoy her company without the nausea, aches & general sickness.

Other than being aware of the fact that my wife was ill things seemed back to normal until another meltdown Wednesday evening at which time she told me of yet another physical problem that she has been experiencing.  This one was odd and scared me to death.  As she was crying Angela went on to tell me that over the last month she has been passing blood & mucous through her bowel movements.   I was paralyzed by her words because the immediate thought that came to mind was the cancer had spread however it wasn’t long before logic kicked in and I recognized a similarity between this condition & the condition with her tongue & membranes in the lining of her nose.  Though I’ve been warned against researching information on the Internet I gained some sense of composure by confirming my beliefs through documented articles on credible Sites.  Once my emotions stabilized I stared my wife directly in the eye &  pleaded with her to never again withhold this type of info from me again.  I reminded her that we are at the very beginning of what will be a five year journey so it is important that she learn to trust in me.  I love her, I’ll take care of her & I’ll protect her.   Still shaken by the emotion that cause the breakdown I’m not sure my message registered but I have it memorized and will not hesitate to repeat it over and over again.

The very next day I called the doctor to inform him of the new condition with the hope that he would just prescribe an antibiotic or some medication that would eliminate what I suspect to be an infection or inflammation of the bowel or digestive tract but instead he prescribed a colonoscopy.   It’s not what I wanted because again this introduces the fear of the unknown which in this case could range from a simple side effect of the chemotherapy to something that is life threatening.   When we started this journey we knew there would be ups and downs but in my mind I  planned out in a manner where the downs were minimal and certainly not life threatening.

Today Angela is watching our youngest play ball.   While I worry that the long trips to and from the field deplete her of needed energy  I know that this is an activity that puts a smile on her face and drives her to live.

So this week we push onward and pray that her new problem is related to treatment and easily cured with the only lesson being the importance of disclosing every new symptom immediately to the doctor or a confidant. 

I barely recognize pain or stress in my own body & mind because I witness real pain & real stress every day that my wife has to manage.   This woman is my hero.  Love you Angela!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chemo update: week 11 treatment #8 5-7-2014

My wife responded well to treatment this week in spite of the nasty mixture of medicines that she received.  Typically this particular treatment has produced the most brutal side effects of the three types of mixtures that she gets.  The sequence in which the effects of the medicine occurred did not change but the power either significantly weakened or my wife has just become accustom to pain. 
Emotions throughout the week ranged from anger, frustration, sadness all of the way to happiness.  Anger is an emotion that I experience more so than my wife.  It is something that I must learn to channel in a more positive manner. I have some difficulty understanding how the most emotional being on this planet cannot comprehend the importance of sensitivity toward a person that is sick.  Respect is something that my wife has earned & deserves and now that she is sick I am overly sensitive about others not paying her the respect that she deserves which often results in anger. 

Again sadness is an emotion that can be more overwhelming for me more so than my wife.  I experience this only when reality is shoved in my face which it was at the 5K run/walk to support ovarian cancer on Sunday.  I listened, observed & digested a recurring theme behind many sad stories. The next night’s sleep was restless & ultimately it ended with tears in my eyes with the thought that my wife would not win this fight.  What I learned from this experience is that it is okay to listen to the experiences of others but it is important to remember that we are all unique so what happens to one will not necessarily happen to another.  The mantra I’ve adopted & tried to live by is one day at a time.  As my cousin says it will all work out.

My wife’s biggest emotional challenge is the battle with frustration.  Her mind reflects on better times which drives her body to attempt to return to normal activity & when she is unable it produces frustration.  This week, in particular, she wanted to watch our youngest son play at his baseball tournament but when the day arrived her body said no.  Then on Sunday she had every intention of being a part of the run/walk but again her body said no.  The good news is that she was sensible enough to listen & battled through the frustration to feel very good about her ability to manage through the side effects of this week’s treatment.

Next week we will reach the halfway point a milestone of sorts.  It is hard for me to believe that we have come this far knowing that on day of the first treatment my wife was in tears & I felt like a parent dropping his or her child off at kindergarten for the first time.  After next week I’ll step back & evaluate how we’ve managed & hopefully I will be able to tweak some of my own behaviors to make this a smoother ride for her on the back side.

My wife has done wonderful throughout teaching me & those who surround her how to manage pain, manage emotions & manage life.  She is a great woman whose legacy will be helping others to understand that life does not end because cancer strikes.  I love you Angela! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Angela's Facebook comment on Saturday 5/3/14

Had every intention of going to my son's baseball tournament this weekend...while my head always says yes my body always seems to say no : ( I must say though I don't feel as bad as I have after my other first treatment rounds so I thank God for that!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chemo update: week 10 treatment #7 4/30/2014

Chemo update: week 10 treatment #7 This past week my wife was exceptionally strong in the physical sense but noticeably struggling emotionally. When feeling well the obvious question to her must be why do I need to continue with treatments that will make me feel bad again? As the week closed the inevitable occurred as my wife said to me you know I’m going to die don’t you? Upon hearing these words my heart dropped to my knees but I didn’t hesitate to say No you are not!! Helpless as I may have felt at the time I would not & could not let her believe her own words.
I’ve come to realize that the time that we spend together is priceless regardless of our physical well-being or our state of mind. We do our best to maintain a normal pattern of life despite the situation. In some instances it is obvious to me that she conceals her condition just to play a role in a pattern of life that she feels is important. An example of this was Easter Sunday, a “bad” day, yet she pushed forward to satisfy her need to celebrate the holiday by entertaining & representing herself as a leader of our family. During a recent breakdown I assured her that it would be okay for us to deviate from normal patterns to set our milestones for celebration & that it would be accepted by others as the new normal in our home.
Despite her minor breakdowns over the last week I still consider her to be the strongest, toughest & most persistent battler this disease has ever encountered. There is no doubt that the end will result with her overcoming this major challenge with the ability to share her experiences with others who suffer in kind & to show that cancer is not a death sentence. I love this woman & love everything that she symbolizes and will do everything in my power to protect her from the disease & her own mind to ensure that she comfortably wins this fight.
Today’s mixture is the one that challenges the most but I’m confident that I will be back to report next week that she did not succumb to the effects of the disease or the side effects of the treatment. Regardless love conquers all so it will be a good week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thoughts posted by Angela after doctor's visit on 4/23/14

Had appointment with oncologist today. Haven't been feeling all that great....apparently cumulative effects of chemo. Borderline anemic so will probably get blood soon. Sleeping about 14 hours a day and just feeling foggy and nauseas a lot of the time. I have been able to spend some time with my kids this week which has been wonderful. My poor husband has to work all week and then come home and hear how yucky I feel : ( Sorry honey....I love you!!! I start Round 3 of my chemo next can't be over soon enough......