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.