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!