Monday, April 27, 2015

The Man Behind the Mask

First things first. I have mixed feelings right now! I will explain it to you. I have been overwhelmed by how many people actually like my blog. Like.. who would have thought? Certainly not all of the English teachers throughout the years. Surprisingly, everyone says they love it. Which is awesome... but also kind of horrible. Only because now I am under a lot of pressure. When I started writing this thing, I really didn't expect THAT many people to read it. To be honest I became a blogger for selfish reasons. I was sick and tired of giving everyone the update after a doctors appointment via text message/phone call. Thus the blog was born. It started out care-free, and now its full of pressure. Thanks to you.

No I really do appreciate the support, but if you are feeling like a critic from here on out.. take it easy on me??

Want to know something awkward? I was on Facebook the other day and I noticed a post from someone (which was the second of its kind). People have actually shaved their heads for me already!! Man I was taken aback by that. I really did feel supported... but then it hit me: What if I don't end up losing my hair?! Some people don't... and that would just be really awkward. I am kind of crossing my fingers to lose the hair now! Except, lets all send some good vibes my way to make sure I don't lose my eyebrows? That just might be a little too much for all of us to look at.

There was one great benefit to post-chemo treatment that you probably weren't aware of! I realized it when Tuesday rolled around, and I didn't feel like shooting myself in the face for the first time. I looked in the mirror and saw how much of a wreck I was. I hadn't washed my hair in days, or shaved in a week (not that there was much facial hair to show for it). But then it dawned on me... WHO CARES? So I did absolutely nothing about it, and guess what? Nobody said a dang thing. HA! #cancerperks

On to the medical update. Monday I went into the hospital for hydration and a blood test. My white blood cell count was at 11. A little high, but nothing to worry about. I went in again on Wednesday for the same thing, and we found out that my white blood cell count dropped to .8. Yay, for no immune system. I am at a very high risk for infection now and I have to be very careful. I can't be around anyone that is remotely sick, or any children. This new development also requires me to wear a lovely mask a lot of the time. I hope you can sense the sarcasm of the lovely part. Because I hate the mask. At least you can't tell if I am frowning or smiling? 

Overall I feel great! Physically I would say I am close to 100%. Maybe a little nausea here and there, but it could be a lot worse. I had to learn a hard lesson this week. It had to do with timing. You see, my plans? and my timing? They never seem to be the same as God's. Which is good, because it always ends up the way it should.. but isn't it so frustrating in the moment? Goodness sometimes I hate it. I was really struggling on Monday. I wanted the pain to go away. I wanted to feel normal again. I never wanted to go back for another treatment. I was pretty miserable for the rest of the day, even though I wanted it to go away immediately. Tuesday was a little better, and it only got better from then on out. But why not Monday? Why couldn't it go away in that horrific moment? Why is it that we aren't delivered when times are toughest? To tell you the truth.... I don't know. I do know one thing though, and that is.. you just have to trust God (Just a side note, if someone had given me this speech on Monday I would have been really ticked off and probably wouldn't have listened... so if you are in that phase right now, just keep this thought in the back of your head). Of course that is easier said than done, but if you can manage to do it... you will always end up with exactly what you need.

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The First Test

Well I bet you want to know all about my first week of chemotherapy.. But guess what? You are asking the wrong person for the details. I am basically just as lost as you are! The past 4-5 days have been quite the blur.. I will do my best to recount the experience.

First of all, I am still on drugs. So I apologize if you can't understand the majority of this blog entry. 

Anyway! I had surgery on Monday!! It was actually a "port-a-cath" that was put in, not a picc line. I was a little impatient waiting for the surgery because I had a date that night, that I didn't want to miss. It all worked out just fine, luckily. Phew! I just happened to underestimate the intense amount of pain that I would be in during the date with Courtney. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you should get some rest following surgery... or maybe it does? Oh well, I didn't put two and two together on that one. I was really glad I went on the date though. It was a great "last hoo-rah" before my mysterious battle with chemo began. 

Tuesday rolled around! It was similar to Christmas morning, but kind of the opposite. Lots of excitement and nerves... just for the wrong reasons. Hopefully that doesn't ruin Christmas for anyone!  We grabbed everything we thought we would need, and off we went to the hospital! We checked in, I changed into my fancy little gown, and I layed in bed at 9am. Things didn't really get rolling for a while. They had to analyze my urine. You know how hard it is to pee on demand? Well its even harder to do it two times in a row. They messed up with my first sample, and came back ten minutes later needing another sample.. I mean come on, give a guy a break?! 

Eventually a nurse came in to draw some of my precious blood. She made the mistake of trying to draw it from my arm... OH NO! That was not gonna happen. Why in the world did I get this port surgically placed, if they weren't even gonna use it?! I made sure to point that out to her. I thought I had won that battle, until a man came in with a different kind of needle to "access" my port. You just can't ever win when it comes to nurses and needles.

Later that night the chemo drugs were finally prepped. A few friends were about to see something for a first (and hopefully a last) time. A friend getting chemotherapy before their eyes!! I was intrigued by the whole situation, because it was all new to me. I was quickly brought down to the reality of things as the nurse approached me in a hazmat suit (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration). Wait a minute... shouldn't I have been wearing one of those protective suits..? One last thing that I remember. The jolly old nurse Gene, told me that I needed to flush my urine twice because it was considered "toxic waste". As I drifted to sleep that night, I remember thinking I may wake up as some sort of superhero (due to the radioactive waste talk)... But alas the mask wearing days haven't come (yet).

Well pretty much every other day in the hospital is a giant blur! I don't remember a whole lot of anything else. A few faces here, and a few jokes there. But for the most part I spent my time in the hospital staring at the back of my eyelids. I do appreciate everyone that came to see me (even if I was unconscious at the time). The thoughts, prayers, and visits have made a world of difference.

Coming home wasn't all that I had expected. I can't remember a whole lot of my time since I have been home, but I know I have been surrounded by great people. Most of the time I can be found sleeping around the house. That is my favorite way to pass time lately. It also helps with the "skin crawling" syndrome I seem to have developed. I can't sit still for very long. Its hard to focus on one thing. It is like being hungry, but nothing sounding good. I just can't make up my mind... and when I do, it isn't up to par. Oh well. That is just something I will have to deal with I guess.

Today was a good day though. As a backstory, I served in the NYNYS Mission under President and Sister Calderwood. The whole mission was fasting for my family and I today. This really touched my heart. I have had countless others tell me that they were fasting for us at different times, and I really can't even begin to say thank you enough. We ended this Sunday with a little Sacrament meeting in my living room (courtesy of my bishop). Spiritual thoughts were shared, and happiness was felt. It was a good ending to a tumultuous beginning.

One thought stands out to me as I close this weeks blog entry. I hope that none of us will ever ask the question "Why do bad things happen to good people?". I have thought long and hard about this question. It helps to remember that the greatest person to ever live, Jesus Christ, had the worst possible thing happen to Him. I believe that Jesus kept His scars, on His otherwise perfected body, as proof that just because bad things happen to good people, it doesn't mean that God doesn't love them. In fact I would imagine Christ grew closer to His Father in those fatal moments of His life, than any other. When we face those dark moments in our life, we can decide which way we turn to. The choice is really all in our power.

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Moment We Have All Been Waiting For...

Finally... some answers!!I have been dying to figure all of the details out... (I really should stop using these dying puns). It has been a frustrating two weeks, but they called us with the final results!!

This soccer ball tumor of death inside of me is called "Synovial Sarcoma". They thought it was "Ewings/PNET Sarcoma" for a while, but they were wrong! Good thing they do tests and stuff. Haha! This means I will be starting my chemotherapy on Tuesday! Ready or not, here I come. I will have chemo four days a week. Four hours a day. Sheesh! Luckily, that week from hell will only be every three weeks. 

OH but get this. I will be getting a "picc line" (I had no idea what that was before either so don't feel bad about taking a second to google it)!! In stead of hooking me up through the veins in my arm every time I go in for chemo, they will surgically put this thing in my chest that will stay in there throughout my chemo experience. That way they can basically plug me in without too much hassle! I have no idea what its gonna look like, but I am crossing my fingers hoping it will end up looking like Iron Man... ;)

Want to know something awkward? When I meet new people I don't know what to tell them. It begins with casual conversation of course and they ALWAYS ask about school and work. When they hear that I don't have plans for either in the near future they totally think I am a bum. Which would be fine, but they keep asking me "But why?!". I never know if its appropriate to drop the cancer bomb on them. For instance, I was with my friend at her families Easter dinner. I did happen to be on pain killers (which is apparently quite entertaining), and people started talking to me. They asked me what I was doing with my life and I immediately shouted to everyone, "I have cancer!". Oh boy.

I don't mind talking about it! In fact I love talking about it. It is almost therapeutic for me. Sometimes it can be awkward for other people. When I finally drop the 'c' word, it is funny to see their reactions. I can't really blame them because there isn't a whole lot to say? Mainly they are in shock.. then disbelief.. then really apologetic. They keep saying sorry, and I am like.. don't worry I highly doubt this is your fault. And if it is... I wouldn't tell my mom. She might kill you. 

Let me tell you about this problem I have lately. It isn't healthy. I will hear people complain about their trials, and I immediately compare them to my trials. In my head I would think, "Are you kidding me? That is nothing! I have cancer!!". Yeah I know I am a horrible person, and shouldn't do it. But hey it came naturally! I was thinking about that a lot. I realized how prideful it was for me to think that way. Then something hit me... I really don't have it THAT bad! There is someone out there that could hear my problem and think the same thing that I was thinking!!!! And guess what? I know for a fact that nobody can top the trials that Jesus Christ went through. So even though we may be tempted to mope around because we have it so much worse than everyone else... we actually don't. If you take a second to look at your life, you will realize that things are awesome!! 

Don't get me wrong, I believe in being sad for a night every once in a while. Put on some depressing music, eat some ice cream, watch fault in our starts, etc. Be sad for a night. I think it is healthy!! But 95% of the time? Buck up. Life is incredible. :)

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wait.. We All Have Cancer?!

Boy do I have some funny stories to tell you. Is it messed up that I am writing a blog about cancer and people walk away laughing? Oh well! That is just the way I roll. 

If you know me at all then you know how late I stay up. I don't really know why, but I have hated going to sleep recently? It is the weirdest thing. I just feel like there are better things that I could be doing! So that leads me to staying up way later than I should. One night I found myself trying to make a 3-D representation of my tumor with paper and tape... I got about half way done when I realized that I had a problem and promptly went to bed. Haha! I usually listen to music because that seems to help, but I got pretty frustrated with spotify. They really seem to have a playlist for EVERYTHING... except "I just found out I have cancer". If anyone comes across that playlist, let me know.

I don't know about you.. but I have been doing great. Wow. There are so many amazing people out there. Countless people have done some really nice things for me. All from bringing me dinner, to singing me songs in my front yard. If you ever feel down about the wicked people out there.. come talk to me. I know some pretty awesome people that will restore your hope in humanity. That was a cool lesson I learned. It isn't always the big things that make a difference. The little things really help too! One of my friends (Connor White) came and sat with me for an hour and we literally did nothing. But it was just what I needed!! Just some food for thought, little things make a difference for people.

Enough rambling. Here is the update on my situation. I met with a new doctor!!! Fun fact about this new guy, he likes to eat mustard packets. Anyway, we found out that they still don't know what kind of cancerous tumor it is? They are pretty sure that it is a PNET (still not exactly sure what that means). Once they hear back from the pathologist in Georgia and know for sure what it is, I will start treatments. I will probably start chemo next week sometime! He started talking to me about the side effects of chemo, and it is going to suck. Haha! There really is no way around that. The way he described it was comical though. He started off with "Yeah you won't have hair for sure", and then talked about nausea and fatigue, etc. I was like, "I knew all of this from google, come on doc! Tell me something I don't know". Well be careful what you wish for there Sean. The next thing he mentioned made my jaw drop. He said, "by the way... you might be sterile after this, and you won't be able to have kids". WHAT?! Google did not mention that. 

Then he told me that I will need to go to a sperm bank this next week just in case. Just when I thought having cancer was the absolute worst... he had to throw in the sperm bank thing. Oh it was really funny though! My friend Amanda was with my parents and I again, and my mom asked the question of the century after he told me to go to the sperm bank. She says, "So how do they go about getting that out?". Shoot me now. I guess you could say it was pretty awkward. I won't tell you how he responded to that question, but we all had a good laugh about it afterwards. 

The plan for now is to start chemo for 12 weeks, then do the surgery and recover for 6 weeks, which will be followed with 16 more weeks of chemo. Before this whole cancer thing I was stressing because I didn't know what to do with my life, but now at least I know what I am doing with my life? Hahaha!

OH. I had been trying to get in touch with one of my really good friends. I hadn't been able to tell him the news, and he never gets on Facebook. So one night he finally answered his phone! I broke the news to him... and he told me that he had cancer too. What are the odds of that?! He said he was even starting chemo at the same time. I was freaking out! Then he said that his grandpa just died of cancer.. and he was kind of laughing. He was either pulling my leg, or just really twisted. Then I realized what was going on... I called him on April Fools Day. Ahhhhh... I tried to convince him for ten minutes, but he wasn't buying it. I finished the conversation with "You are gonna feel really stupid tomorrow".. but lets be real... that was my fault. 

Colton Broadbent and family made some sweet bracelets!! They say "SeanStrong" on them.

I am passing them out to everyone who wants to help support the cause! When you get one, I want you to think about something. I have realized that we all have our own "cancer". Everyone has trials and struggles right? Well figure out what your cancer is. It could be low self esteem, or maybe it is a bad habit? Just something that you want to change about yourself. Pick something? Good. Well I am going to start chemotherapy soon to fight this cancer... and I want you to do the same thing. You will be starting your own chemo with me!! Whatever "medicine" you need to fight your specific cancer, use that method to KILL your cancer. Because we are gonna overcome this together. So now every time you look at that red bracelet on your wrist, remember that we are killing our own (different) cancers together. 

We all have trials but it is my belief that we "can-cer vive" anything that life tries to throw at us. Just remember that life is whatever we make it. I choose to make it good, cancer and all.