Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday, June 13th: Post #3

Happy weekend all - I successfully made it through round #1 of 6 of the chemo, and the day afterwards, which had all of us a bit nervous for my reactions. Thanks to the incredible cocktail of drugs they give you (as much as they gave the original cast of "Coccoon") the after affects on the digestive system have been minimized. I'm holding food down, and reasonably comfortable.

As has been requested - I've got some images of my Dad's stellar work on shaving the melon. We didn't go all scalp this time, more of a Matt Lauer motif. Once the stuff starts truly falling out in a couple of weeks, I'll find a good barber with the old fashioned straight edge to go to the Howie Mandell Level. Ironically, the last time the melon was this 'tight' was the final year of Lickety Split Cycling (remember that all you testicle tech alums?) when we shaved our head for Bike-A-Thon. I forgot just how nice it is to wash your hair with a bar of soap!

Apparently, the cancer drugs go after any and all fast-growing cells in the body, including the healthy ones. Besides the cancer, the other area of your body with the fast growers are related to the breakdown of food - so hence the history of nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, heartburn, etc. However, the past decade has brought some great advances and they have medicines which minimize this problem. So far, this stuff is working after round one. I was tired as a dickens yesterday, but am starting to get my mojo back. Amanda and I went for a short crutch/walk around the block to get the mail, and took a few minutes to stand at the end of the street looking towards the mountains. Let me tell you folks, when it's a clear day here on the east side of Denver, there is nothing more humbling and beautiful than taking a minute to look over at the Rockies. So wherever you are, get off your ass and make a visit to them once in your lifetime - you won't regret it.
The next item I'll try to address is my incredible gratitude for all my family, friends, co-workers, employers, and everyone else who has given us well wishes, thoughts, encouragement, and prayers. Mom and Dad - I can't say enough, other than "I love you and thank you". They have been a rock for the both of us and we are blessed that they are just a few minutes away.

As Amy Burkett, my boss, said when I told her the news - "Just let people love you Bill, and it will be amazing." She's right, and I especially want to thank her, Rick, and the other leaders in the office for working around our schedules to let us get the diagnostic testing and chemo on the way. Also I want to thank Amy for bugging me to go up to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail for my "bad gimp". I'm convinced those doctors' early catch of the tumor saved my life. I also want to thank everyone at the office for the incredible support they've given as well, with offers of food, dog walking, cleaning, etc. You all are amazing.
It doesn't stop there, with our old friends and co-workers back in Cincy everyone from MSA - Mike, Dwayne, Keith, Rick, Cindy, & Annette - your calls and well wishes of support are amazing. Especially Mike & Dwayne calling & checking in every couple of days to keep my spirits up and giving me encouragement. Also, our old college friends both near and far calling to check in on both of us, as well as my childhood best friend Craig calling to check on Amanda and myself - I couldn't be on this path without any of you!

Adversity brings out the best in people - and I am realizing that my life is truly blessed.

So I end this Saturday rambling, one day before my 37th birthday knowing that a mere 5 more rounds of drugs, and a few nukes at the hand of a radiation machine, and I'll be back on the saddle again!
Carpe diem.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday, June 11th - Post #2

D-Day.....Team Baker invades the continent to take back control from the little bastards.

Here I am, chilling in the comfy room at the Cancer Center with Mom watching HGTV on the telly (No, I am not gay, just a sensitive hetero designer) waiting for the last round of chemo drugs to drip into my system. Our ETD is about an hour or so, around 4 pm.

Believe it or not, it's been a pretty smooth day. A little harrowing at the beginning, as one of the first drugs they put into your system are some steroids, as well as a big bag of Benadryl to help counteract the effects of the cancer drugs. Well, I had a bit of a reaction to the Benadryl resulting in a series of pretty bad shakes. It's not to be unexpected, as the amount they gave me was a bit more (ha ha) than you can get over the counter.

Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, they found a magic bag of substance that they pushed into the port and VOILA! I was as relaxed & happy as the people at the first row of a Blues Traveler Concert.

Amanda was with me in the morning, and my folks arrived to take the afternoon shift - their support has been amazing, and is a wonderful help to us that helps us to live a reasonably normal life. We're truly blessed to have great parents.

The big test will be the next 24 hours, and any symptoms I have tonight or tomorrow. But, the key as I have learned is to take it "one day at a time" - just like the theme song from the bad 1970's TV show.

By the way, Dr. Hinshaw got a good chuckle out of the new hairdo.

Carpe diem.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 10th - Evening Update - Post 1.A

GOOD NEWS! It's not in the marrow, so they are moving forward with the R-CHOP chemo regimen tomorrow, and have confirmed the diagnosis.

The big news at the end of the day was the "shaving of the melon" by the honorable Ken Baker, a.k.a. "Uncle Kenney". As you can see from Mom's picture on the right, it was a fun and funny time!

You don't get to see it yet, though - that's for another post.

Wednesday, June 10th - POST #1

Hello All.

At the suggestion of our good friend Barb Fillion in Cincinnati, I've decided to create a blog with regular updates of my fight (and ultimate defeat) of Lymphoma. I hope this is therapeutic for both myself as well as all of you. I'm not sure how often I will post, depending upon my physical and emotional status through the process, but am hopeful to keep it updated on a somewhat regular basis.

Today nears the end of the 'first stage' of this process (all the diagnostic testing) with the final pre-chemo insertion of the port. It's this little thing that goes under your skin in your chest so they can 'plug in' the chemo treatments and various needles without having to wear out your veins over the months of treatments. Frankly, I'm pretty anxious to get this in and the chemo going, because until now the bad cells have been growing and gaining ground. It's gonna be my turn soon to turn the tables and throw some toxic drugs at the little bastards so the tumor and all the active lymph nodes start to shrink. My oncologist, Ionna Hinshaw of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, says that the hip tumor should start shrinking within a couple of days and the pain that has been partially responsible for my gimp status will go away after the first treatment.

Another point of anxiousness today will be the results of the bone biopsy from Monday. Let me tell you, a bone marrow biopsy is not the kind of procedure you want to have on a regular basis. I'm sure natural childbirth beats it on the pain scale, but the bone marrow extraction event is, to say the least, excrutiating. At this point we're hoping it confirms the Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkins diagnosis, so the RCHOP chemo regimen (cocktail o' drugs) can get going and make some headway. If the Lymphoma turns out to be Burkitt's then wel'l have to do something else and possibly delay treatment.

Am I over the shock of the original diagnosis? I think so, as the first two weeks of waiting and not knowing the next steps were excrutiating. But the emotions come and go - so we'll keep taking it a day at a time. Having a good woman by your side is an incredible help, and my decision to pursue the elusive Ms. Amanda Fritz from Evansville some fifteen years ago at Testicle Tech is proving to be a wise one (or a gift from God - you be the judge).

Carpe diem