A Blog about Career Changes, Madness, and My Awful Brain

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Update on this cancer thing.

Wow, I got a good piece of news today. I got the result back from my MRI and I do not have any tumours or nodes on either my liver or my lungs. So it looks like I'm dealing with Stage 3 cancer, and not Stage 4.....which is great news, because Stage 4 is basicallly game over. But now I've got a fighting chance. I'm young, I'm not in horrible health apart from the cancer.....the odds are in my favour.

So apart from being horribly fatigued, in constant discomfort from the tumour, and bloated worse than week old road kill, I'm not doing all together that bad.

I am, however, in considerable anxiety. Tomorrow I talk to my chemo and rad doctors, and I find out what my next 8 months or more will look like. Kiddies, I'm scared shitless of this chemo thing. Sleep is hard for me to do, even with drugs....thoughts, worries, fears....they plague me. A friend of mine suggested I take yoga for excercise and to calm me...I'll be looking into it. It sounds like something that might help me.

I've been trying to be regular with my school, but I haven't been as good as I should be. I made it to some classes this week, and I even made it through an 8 hour day complete with a lab class. It hasn't been easy for me, but I'm glad that I'm giving it my best. The lab was a bit of a gong show, and the results my partner and I got weren't so great. I feel especially bad sometimes because it should all be so easy for me. The lab is mickey mouse, but I get so tired and frustrated that I can't think straight and I make mistakes. The worst was a lab quiz I had to write...I'll be lucky if I pass it.

But you know, maybe this isn't such a bad thing. Maybe it's about time I learn that I don't have to be the best, and that bad marks or failure is not the end of the world. It's a lesson that I've never had to learn because school has always been easy for me (well, maybe not always easy, but always manageable). Maybe it's about time I learn that it's more important trying, then it is achieving. Maybe I need the humility that the cancer is delivering in spades.

Stupid cancer. I'll learn your lessons, but don't expect me to like it. And after this big fat lesson, you better cut me some fucking slack, because I think I've had enough lessons for a life time. The next lesson I want to learn is "What should I do with all this money". I definitely haven't learned that lesson yet.

Love you all,


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Bookmark

So here I am, late on a Thursday night, on enough sedatives to put a horse to sleep, and I can't catch a wink. Bevin and I went to bed at the exact same time, and about 5 minutes later, she's asleep. Thank you very much Tylenol 3, Gravol and Zopiclone. They call this over sedation? Bollocks to that, I say.

Okay, I may not be asleep, but I probably have enough drugs in me that this post probably won't make too much sense. That's okay...I've said it before, kiddies...I write for me, not for you. Especially when I feel like I'm at low points in my life....and I'm pretty damn low right now. I was handling shit pretty good considering how sick I am. But last weekend, I spent two and a half days in the emergency room, and it left my system reeling. I went to the ER because of severe constipation and abdominal pain, probably from taking T3 (although only about one a day) and not enough stool softner. Well, to make a long story short I spent the weekend on a clear liquid diet, and enough laxatives to make a pornstar blush. Try it someday, and see how great your mood is a couple of days later. Also, if you know a supermodel, hug them. Seriously. Give them a hug. Their work isn't easy.

So today I didn't make it to school, and I've been more or less locked up in the house feeling sorry for myself. I'm going to try my hardest not to make it a habit, but I'm giving myself permission to feel weak today. Fuck, okay..that's not true...I feel so bad, that I'm not even able to make myself be alright with feeling bad. It's funny how you can have stage 3 cancer, no energy from a diet of laxatives and water, and living on no sleep....and can still feel guilty for being sad and unable to function.

But enough of that....I actually wanted to tell all of you about a little thing that I used to do (and still do). I think about it every now and then, but today it's been playing over and over in my head. I actually came up with a spiffy little name for it too.

Life Bookmark.

Awesome. So what is a life bookmark? Well, one day, when I was walking home from my friend Jason's house, I walked past a little park that I usually did when I walked the route (for my Regina friends....it's that shitty little park on the 900 block of MacIntosh Street). I remember this particular day in perfect deal. I remember that it was a warm day, with a pretty cool breeze. I was walking past a shopping cart that was just sitting there, with one of the front wheels bent. I remember looking at it and thinking....man, who knows where that cart has been, and how long it's been used, and now its just laying there because some kids probably decided to ride around with it in the park. Then that prompted me to think about where I'm going to end up in 10 or 20 years. What I did at that point was made a promise that I would never forget that moment....whatever happened, this moment would live on in my memories. Even the ugly broken cart. I took a snapshot in my head, and it's never left since. Life bookmark. Fuck that's awesome.

Okay, it really isn't all that sophisticated. Kind of dumb, really. But so many of the memories we carry and that we remember vividly are not not conscious. They are a product of focus and attention, and since we largely live in a state of disattention, we don't have vivid memories of...well, "nothing moments". Like looking at a broken cart almost 20 years ago. So I thought it would be cool if I occasionally made a mental snapshot, just to remember where I came from, and what I thought the future could hold. I've done it at least 10 or more times since then.

But you know what...I don't remember any of them. Not a one, except for maybe vaguely one that I made about two years ago. But that first picture....that's stuck in my head.

Anyhow, I encourage you to try it out. Life Bookmark (tm). I hope it works for you. Maybe find a broken cart first though....it seems to be the magic glue that holds things together.

Now that I introduced the idea, I want to maybe expand on it in a future post. Maybe as a spring board for some inspirational tale or wise anecdote. For now, I'm feeling too tired. These drugs may be kicking in. I hope so.

Love ya,


P.s. Forgot to add...my chemo starts on the 22nd. Can't wait. Blech.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Most Important Lesson

Well, the news isn't good. Those of you who are on my facebook know that the ultrasound results sucked, and sucked bad.

My cancer is stage 3. I won't know for sure if it's stage 4 or not until I have my MRI this Friday. Even if the results are good, it doesn't actually change things very much. I talked to the surgeon during and after my ultrasound and he told me that the MRI may give them a better idea that the "node" in my liver is fat or cancer, but it is not definite. Whether I'm stage 3 or 4, my treatment will be the same, and they will probably give chemo and see whether it shrinks or not. If it does, they will do surgery on the liver as well as the rectal cancer. If it doesn't shrink, then they will probably do some exploration and biopsy during my rectal surgery.

The treatment doesn't change unless I decide to go for palliative care. And kiddies, homey don't play that.

The plain truth is that I've got entirely too much to live for. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have a future in front me. I've struggled too long and too hard with both my inner demons and the not so inner demons (hi, ex-boss) in my life to give up now. Even with all the shit news I've gotten lately, and all the crying, and all the feeling sorry for myself, I've yet to return to the dark place I was only a year ago. My life is threatened, and I feel weaker than I ever have before....but I'm still better off.

Because I have hope. And until you realize, in this destructive, scary way, that life could be taken away from you, you can't imagine how important living is. I used to think I was real, and that I had a pretty good idea what life was about. I was fucking delusional. I realize now how life is just slipping by in a way I never did before. Although I wish with every fibre of my being that I live a long life, in the end it doesn't really matter. All of us are dying. I was dying before I had cancer, and I'll be dying long after I beat it.

I've learned an important lesson. Maybe I've learned it late, but it's a lesson you can NEVER learn too late. Even if I die tomorrow, it wouldn't be too late. The most important lesson is that even if you accomplish every goal you ever dreamed of, go every place you've ever wanted, and make massive amounts of money, there will still be a DVD copy of Gigli with Ben Affleck somewhere in the world.


Sorry, that's not the lesson I wanted to teach here.


Uh....my actual lesson was going to be something about treating life with a sense of humour. I forget the specifics.

Anyhow, love you guys.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Strength and Support: A Little Give and Take.

I have a lot to say today, and yet a lot of what I have to say I don't want to. Not because it's hard for me to tell you, but because it hurts me that you have to hear it.

I had an appointment with my doctor to go over the results of my CT scan. And the news wasn't good. It wasn't the most horrible news, but it could have been better. The scan found the tumour in my rectum and what looks like swelling in the lymph nodes. I'm not saying the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes....the doctor said that until we get an ultrasound on it, we just won't know. The CT scan also looked at the rest of my GI, my lungs, and my liver. The GI and lungs were clean, but a node was found on my liver. No need to panic yet though, because the doctor just couldn't tell if it was cancer or fatty tissue. See, I've had fatty liver for at least five years, and he couldn't be sure that it was cancer. I have to get an MRI either next week or the week after to make sure it's not cancer.

So we still aren't sure what we are looking at. It's definitely at least stage 2, but anything more than that we do not know.

So now that the technical information has been delivered....how am I feeling? Well, it's hard to say. Not well...not horrible. I have a headache from the stress of the day, but apart from that I seem to be okay. I was an emotional wreck this afternoon, but have calmed down a fair bit since then. But I'm trying to be "strong".

Which brings me to another matter that I wanted to express my feelings on in this post. I've already told a lot of people about my condition, and there are two things that I keep hearing over and over. The first is be strong, and the second is that I have all the support I need. The second is so appreciated....I'm having a hard time, and I need your support, and I appreciate your support, and I love you because of your support. The first....well, I'm having a bit of trouble with that one.

I'm guessing that a lot of you realize by now that I'm not the most optimistic person in the world. I know, shocking. At the same time, I'm also not a person who gives up easily. A big part of the problems I've had in the past were due to my tenacious nature. Hell, it's why I didn't quit that stupid job even though most normal, non-masochists probably would have. It's why I foolishly kept going on my career track, even though it was completely wrong for me. And it's why I won't give up on life until the universe pulls it out of me.

But here is the thing, kiddies. I'm not about putting on a stiff upper lip and bravely writing inspirational pap. I'm not Mr. Positive-Everything-Is-Going-To-Be-All-Right. If I have any strength in this world, I take it from being Real.....from expressing who I am and what I feel. I've said it to you in a previous post, and I'm going to do it again now. I will no longer lie about who I am, what I feel, and what is happening to me. I think, unconsciously, a lot of people want supernatural strength and positivity from cancer victims (and survivors) because it makes it easier for them. But that sort of positivity does not do the afflicted person any good if they are positive when others are around, and then they go home and drop the act when no is around.

I won't do that. I can't do that. To be strong, I need to show you what I'm feeling, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Don't ask me to be positive when I am not feeling positive. Don't ask me to be strong when I am feeling weak. Because that takes too much energy for me...energy I will be using to fucking fight.

And here's the thing....I don't need you to be happy and positive for me either, unless it's what YOU ARE FEELING. Because when you put on a happy face that isn't real, I can feel it. And when you refuse to tell me how shitty you feel, you make me feel alone. There is this idea out there that I should only be concentrating on my own fight, and that I shouldn't have to worry about other people's problems. But doing that makes me feel worse, if only because it makes me feel that I'm the only one with problems. Focusing only on my feelings, and my health, diminishes me....because part of being Dan, the most important part of being Dan, is caring about YOU.

So talk to me. Share with me. Give me support, but let me give you support. And maybe, together, we can get through this bullshit in one piece.

I love you.