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So Much Happening

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I've been away from SparkPeople for some time now. As a result, I've added back several pounds and just generally feel bad. I haven't been exercising like I once did and certainly haven't been watching what I've eaten. Now it's time to get myself back on track, again. I have more responsibilities right now than I've ever had in my life and I can't afford to get sick myself. So, I have to check back in here every day to keep track of my food intake and exercise. Time to get back to my hiking also for some regular exercise.

As for Tommy, things may have taken a turn for the worse. He had a CT scan on Monday and we went back to his doctor today to get the results. They have found several small spots on his lungs that they are concerned about. The largest is about 1/2 inch in size. They are now going to schedule him for a PET scan in a couple weeks, followed by a biopsy. They will try to go through his back and into his lung to try to get a small sample of this tissue to test. If this is metastatic pancreatic cancer, he will go back on chemo immediately. His doctor says that surgery is not really an option because there are several smaller spots also. I'm so afraid of what the results will be. Tommy appears to be very strong, but I know he must be afraid also. It's just so hard to believe anything could be wrong when he looks so good and says he feels good.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JIBBIE49 3/22/2011 7:51PM

    My son, Nathan had Testicular Cancer with surgery & 4 rounds of chemotherapy two years ago. This is what we worry about but he continues to get his Cat Scans and blood tests which have come back "clean" up till now. I can so sympathize with you.

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DANCETAXI22 12/19/2010 1:48AM

    Oh, I am so sorry to hear your news! It is such a roller coaster with the emotions. Don't know what to say, and I just want you to know I am thinking about you.


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VIVRE5 12/15/2010 3:44PM

    keeping you in my thoughts. sending all of the healing wishes i can muster to you and Tommy.

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PENNYAN45 12/15/2010 1:28PM

    Welcome back! It is good to hear from you again.

I am sorry about the health issues that your husband is dealing with. I will pray for him - and for you.

It is good that you have returned to Spark to build yourself up. You will gain strength and stamina from your improved eating and exercising.

It will help you to deal with all those responsibilities that are falling onto you.

emoticon emoticon

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MICHAELINNC84 12/14/2010 5:11PM

    Welcome back to spark people. emoticon

I am sure you can meet all your goals if you set your mind to them. I am also happy to have you back on the Appalachian Trail team.

I will pray for Tommy that God will look after him and take care of him. God bless you both.

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DOGSTARDADDY 12/10/2010 6:01PM

    Welcome back. Will be keeping Tommy in my thoughts.

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RAVON27 12/10/2010 1:27PM

    My heart and prayers go out to you both emoticon

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SWDESERTLOVER 12/10/2010 1:21PM

    Thank you all for your support. It means a lot.

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HEALTHY_CAROLYN 12/9/2010 11:29PM

    Cindy, I'm sending out all the best to Tommy and you. I am so impressed by your decision to get back on track so that you can be strong and face all your responsibilities. I know this is all so stressful, and I do think being more fit will give you a lift and help you face all the stresses coming your way. I did not have anything near as stressful going on when I stopped exercising regularly, but I know that not exercising added on another layer of unhappiness in my mind. Of course, that spirals into more bad, but once you can stop it and start working towards the healthier self, you wish you'd been doing it all along. You know you have lots of support here on SP, so I'm glad you're going to be checking in every day. That's one of the things that helped me get back on track.

Take care of yourself, and you know we're here for you!

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LYNDALOVES2HIKE 12/9/2010 9:36PM

    I'm so sorry to hear about this - wow, what a stressful situation for both of you - my heart goes out to you and Tommy and I hope things turn out better than they seem right now. In the meantime, welcome back - I've been coming 'in and out' myself and not reacting too well to stress, yadayada - the same old excuses I've used 'forever' - hope you can get and STAY on track and hope for the same for myself!


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RONDARC 12/9/2010 8:50PM

    Cindy, I'm so sorry to hear about Tommy. You are both in my thoughts & prayers for good results from the biopsy. And glad you are back!!
Ronda emoticon

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Five Months Later

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

September 10, 2009 was the day a doctor walked into a consultation room and informed me and Tommyís sister that he had pancreatic cancer. He told us he probably had about six to twelve months left. The news was shocking and devastating. I couldnít imagine life without my husband.

I had been laid off from my job of fifteen years in May and then learned in July that Tommy was going to be laid off in October. We had thought things were about as bad as they could get, until the news of his pancreatic cancer. Hope was running out. Now, more than five months later, things are looking better for us.

Tommy will have his last radiation appointment today. After that he has a few more chemo treatments scheduled and then heíll be finished with his treatments. Heíll have another PET scan in a few months and weíre hopeful that it will be as positive as the last two heís had. Far from what I initially expected would be the situation by now, we went mountain hiking together Sunday at Pilot Mountain. The weather was beautiful and it was good to be back out. While we didnít hike all the way to the top, I was impressed with the distance we went before he decided to turn around. His determination is amazing and his positive outlook is contagious. We feel like we actually have hope now and are making plans for the future.

I also started a new job last Monday and am very excited about it. I am now a new magistrate for the county I live in and the job is so interesting. There is much to learn, but I feel so fortunate to have been selected for this position. Iím now working days, but move to second shift beginning next week and will eventually move to the third shift when my training is complete. Iím so excited about this because I love having my days free and can be available if Tommy needs me to go with him to appointments. This will also mean I can do early morning hikes avoiding the summer heat, so Iím really looking forward to spring to summer.

We are hopeful that 2010 will be a much better year for us than 2009.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CJROMB 11/5/2010 10:31PM

    I hope things are still going as well for you now as they were when you posted this. I've been thinking about you and Tommy alot recently for some reason.

Take care of yourself!


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THE_SILVER_OWL 2/23/2010 3:38PM

    My best wishes for Tommy's health to continue to improve and for better days ahead. It sounds like the "path" you are currently on is headed in a much better direction...

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PENNYAN45 2/23/2010 2:22PM

    This is good news! I am happy for you both -- and I wish you many good times together ahead!

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CHUPAL01 2/23/2010 1:34PM

    I'm so glad to hear that 2010 is turning out to be a better year for you so far! Blessings to you and your husband!

Ann emoticon

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RAVON27 2/23/2010 11:29AM

    I am so excited for you about your new job and really really happy to hear that Tommy is doing well. You deserve things to go your way and to be happy. Have an Awesome week emoticon emoticon

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LIZZYP609 2/23/2010 9:21AM

    So glad to hear how everything is looking up! I too hope things will be better for you in 2010!!

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DASSCHUS 2/23/2010 9:08AM

    WIshing you and your husband the very best. So happy to hear that things are turning around for the better for you both.

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LEEPFROG95 2/23/2010 8:09AM

    the path is a perfect picture for your blog ....
so much lies ahead of you both ...
have a great day
god bless you both
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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A New Year, A New Outlook

Thursday, January 07, 2010

First of all, I hope everyone has a wonderful 2010. We have new hope with the new year.

Tommy had his second PET scan the end of December. The best news is that Dr. Shearer said she couldn't be more pleased. Everything looked good on it and still no evidence of any visible cancer. We were both so relieved and I think for the first time Tommy really feels like he has a shot at beating this. He is once again talking about the future and things he wants to do after he finishes his treatments.

He went to his radiation oncologist (Dr. Sears) two days ago and went through the simulation process where they set up the machine and computer and "tattooed" him where the radiation beam will be directed. He goes back to Dr. Sears on Jan 12th when she will double check everything to be sure that all is correct. If everything is good, he will begin his radiation treatments the next day. He will also be receiving chemo during this time. Our hope is that he handles this as well as he has the chemo over the past two months. He has never yet experienced any side effects, other than the expected low blood count.

Now that I'm back to eating healthy, I'm ready for the weather to give me a break so I can get back out hiking and biking. I don't mind cold temps, but below freezing is a little more than I can handle. For the meantime, I guess I just have to get on my treadmill (arghhh) and work off some calories.

Again, I hope everyone has a wonderful and very successful 2010! Thanks so much for all the support you've given over the past few months.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIFE_IS_SO_GOOD 2/8/2010 2:20PM

    I hope all is well and that Tommy gets stronger everyday!

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LIZZYP609 1/8/2010 7:45AM

    Love it!! Keep us updated with Tommy's progress! I know what you mean about the cold! I hate it! Usually I won't go out if it is below 40. Though here there is a place where you can rent skis for cross country skiing and I thought about trying it. I think I must be losing my mind!!!
Anyway, Happy New Year to you!!

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RAVON27 1/7/2010 8:54PM

    Great News! Thanks so much for sharing emoticon

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Getting Back to SP

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Whew! Since my last entry almost two months ago, so much has happened. I feel like I've been away from SP for even longer than the two months it has been. We've been so busy that my healthy eating lifestyle and exercise schedule has mostly vanished from my life. Now I've gained some weight back and I feel horrible, so I'm making time for myself from this day forward to get back on track and get in some hiking and other exercise.

Tommy and I continue to take one day at a time and work toward his recovery while spending quality time together also. The results of his PET scan was very good. Dr. Shearer (his oncologist) said that the only area that appeared brighter on the scan was the original surgical area. While she could not promise us that there was no cancer there, she feels that what it may have been showing was inflammation remaining from the whipple procedure. The best news was that there was no indication of the cancer having spread to any other areas of his body. With 2/3's of his lymph nodes removed having cancer cells in them, we were afraid the cancer had already spread, but this doesn't appear to be the case. I was very excited when I heard this, while Tommy was cautiously optimistic. He said he'd be more excited after the next PET scan if it still shows no spread. I think he's still thinking about the doctors' words of caution that pancreatic cancer tends to recur.

Tommy began his chemo treatments 5 weeks ago. He has his chemo once a week (Mondays) for three weeks and then has a week off to allow his body to recover and let his blood count build back up. Incredibly, he has had absolutely no side effects. Prior to them beginning, they gave us prescriptions to fill for nausea, which we did. As of today, he hasn't taken the first pill because he hasn't been sick. When he went back last Monday, he had even gained some weight (all that Thanksgiving food). He hasn't even lost any hair, at least not from the chemo :)
Everyone who sees him is amazed because he looks so healthy and says he feels better than he's felt in a long time.

He'll have another treatment tomorrow and then next Monday, then he'll have the week of Christmas off again. He'll then have another PET scan before resuming his chemo. He'll then also begin his radiation treatments. He'll go every day, Monday through Friday, for 5 1/2 weeks (28 treatments). We're hoping and praying that the results of his next PET scan are as positive as the last one.

With Tommy feeling so good, we've had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. In the last month we've taken a trip to the mountains and a trip to Myrtle Beach and went to the race in Martinsville, VA (the picture is Tommy at the race). My sister and her husband (they live in Florida) also came up to stay with us over Thanksgiving. It was so nice to just have fun and get our minds off of his illness. He is much more upbeat now than he was a couple of months ago and now believes he has a chance to be cured. I just try to continue to support him and keep him feeling positive.

Now we're looking forward to Christmas and spending time with family and friends. We also continue to make our plans for the future because I intend to have him around for a very long time.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CJROMB 12/27/2009 11:39PM

    I was sooo happy to see your blog here!! I've been thinking about you, and came over to see if you'd posted, and you HAD!

I'm so glad Tommy is handling his health issues so well. You two are amazing.

Don't worry about the weight. You know what to do, and you'll get it done. I believe in you.

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RONDARC 12/11/2009 4:54PM

    That is such wonderful news!! Sounds like you're both doing well. Good picture of Tommy, he looks happy. emoticon

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RAVON27 12/9/2009 12:22PM

    I am so glad to hear that Tommy is doing better. I'm so glad that you are spending lots of time together. And finally I'm really happy that you are also starting to take care of yourself. Hope you have a Happy Holiday Season without thoughts of illness. My thoughts and prayers are with you always emoticon

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HEALTHY_CAROLYN 12/8/2009 11:08AM

    Cindy, reading this brought tears of joy to my eyes. I'm so glad to read things are going so well. It's so wonderful that Tommy's treatments have not been rough on him physically. Then, to have his scans coming back with so much positive news is definitely a blessing.

As to getting back on track with your own health goals, I know you can do it!

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LEEPFROG95 12/7/2009 7:33AM

    great to know you are taking care of the important things family is always first...
hope you have a great day.

Comment edited on: 12/7/2009 7:39:20 AM

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SHEILA1505 12/7/2009 5:17AM

    I was led into these blogs by my SP friend Heilas
It is good to see that you are both so much more positive two months on and I salute you for being able to write so vividly about your range of emotions and fears.
I wept throughout your previous Blog as it brought everything flooding back even after nearly 15 years of my DH's very brief but brave struggle for life. There could never be enough time but we talked laughed cried and loved throughout and really that is all we could ask.
I wish you strength and all the love you can share

Best wishes

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MISSAROSA1 12/6/2009 10:16PM

  I too, have been away for a long time because of personal issues. But I am going to get back on track also! God Bless you all on your journey and I will be praying for you and your family! Happy Holidays to you and yours! emoticon

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One Month

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Has it only been a month? It seems like so much longer. Itís so hard to believe how much the lives of everyone in my family has changed in one month. One month ago today, September 10th, we learned that Tommy has pancreatic cancer. Since that time, everything in our lives have changed.

Before that day, we were worried about baby Maddie, who sadly passed away on September 6th. We were worried about finding new jobs. Now we worry about saving Tommyís life. The last month has been a roller coaster of emotions. We try to stay positive and focus on the tidbits of good news we get from his doctors, and we try to ignore the negative. Iíve learned more about cancer than I ever wanted to know in my life, but knowledge is power.

I canít know exactly what Tommy is thinking or feeling because Iíve never walked in his shoes. I often look at him and wonder whatís going through his mind. Sometimes I ask, but he usually just avoids the question. I feel like Iím caught in a whirlwind that I canít escape. At times I want to run and get in my car, start driving, and just keep on going. That would be the easiest way; to run away from everything. But then I look at my husband. I still want to grow old with him. I love him more than Iíve ever loved any man in my life. I know I could never walk, or run, away from him. I know he would be there for me if the situation was reversed. I know he needs me now more than heís ever needed me in his life. This is simply our life right now and we have to work with the hand we were dealt.

In a previous blog I said that I had realized that cancer is more a personal thing than a family thing, that I could not fight Tommyís battle for him, but rather only be there to encourage and comfort him. I couldnít have been more wrong. While itís true that this is ultimately Tommyís fight, cancer does affect the entire family. I have to fight also, just in a very different way. Iíve realized that Tommy is not only fighting cancer; he is now also fighting sadness and depression. My husband who has always been easygoing and carefree, happy and positive, now spends much of his time lost in his own thoughts. While I cannot know for sure what those thoughts are, and he doesnít seem ready yet to share many of his thoughts, his facial expressions reveal worry and sadness. My fight to keep my husband alive involves arming myself with as much information as possible, asking questions of his doctors, making sure he has everything he needs to help in his fight, getting him to and from his appointments, making sure he eats to keep his weight from continuing to drop, encouraging him to exercise to maintain muscle mass, and supporting him emotionally as best I can and try to keep his attitude positive.

On the rare occasions when he does open up and talk with me about his thoughts, he reassures me that he is ready to fight for a cure. But then at other times he often seems to have accepted just the opposite fate. He will occasionally start talking to me about being safe when Iím hiking in the future, never including himself. He wants to give mini lessons on the weed eater, leaf blower, riding mower, cleaning the furnace filter, checking the oil in my car, etc. Itís as though he is trying to prepare me for his absence.

Family and friends that we havenít seen in years now stop by to visit with him, but they look at him in a different way. Not sure what to say to him, but wanting to help and encourage him, they try to smile and tell him heís going to get better. But the look in their eyes deceives them and itís obvious they donít truly believe their own words. The first few days after his diagnosis, everyone was telling him he could beat this thing and they reminded him that Patrick Swayze was still alive after being diagnosed with this. Then, the day of Tommyís Whipple procedure, Patrick Swayze passed away. Nobody talks about Patrick Swayze anymore, except Tommy.

The hardest thing about cancer, other than the possibility of losing someone you love, is that it is there every minute of every day. When you go to a fall festival, it is still there. When you go walk through a park, it is still there. When you get together for your grandchildís birthday party, it is still there. No matter what you do or where you are, it is always lurking somewhere in the back of your mind. There is no escape. Two of my sisters and their husbands are coming for Thanksgiving, and I canít help but wonder if weíll all be together again next year. The doctors tell you to go and enjoy your lives together, but truly having fun becomes so much more difficult when youíve been given a 1% chance of survival.

The last month has been incredibly busy with doctor appointments, and still more to come. We spent yesterday visiting his surgeon for a follow-up and then had to go to Forsyth Medical Center for a pre-anesthesia visit. Tommyís surgeon will be putting in a port-a-cath on Monday morning. This is a small device that is placed just under the skin in his chest that is connected to a large vein. This will remain in him and be used by his oncologist to administer his chemo treatments. We expect that will start either the end of this month or early next month. Tommy will have chemo every week for about 8 weeks, then he will begin receiving radiation (along with the chemo) for about a month. After the radiation is finished, he will continue chemo for about another month. It is a very aggressive treatment plan, but then pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive cancer, so this is really his only hope. With two thirds of the lymph nodes they removed having cancerous cells in them, anything less would probably be useless. He will also be having a PET scan of his entire body next week. This will document the changes to his anatomy from the Whipple procedure and reveal the presence of any other cancer in his body. This makes me very nervous, but it is necessary.

So here we are, one month later. When we were making our plans for the future, this was definitely not part of them. Nevertheless, this is what we have to deal with. We will continue to take it one day at a time and pray for the best outcome possible.

Thanks so much for all the kind words of support.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEILAS 12/7/2009 1:56AM

    My Dear Friend,

I missed this blog along the line somewhere.

Your words re-echo my experience of 2007.

My DH would not take chemo but relied on the Budwig Diet which cause him to become majorly depressed. Keep depression at bay at all cost.

I a praying for you and DH and re-iterate the power of positive thought. You can move mountains if your are positive in every way.

About Patrick Swayze, I always used to call my DH my Patrick Swayze as they looked a lot alike in their younger years. I am still rocked by his passing. I was convinced he had the secret but the mind is the most powerful tool we have and I know of men that have survived the worst types of cancer purely by their own positivity.

Keep up the good work.

God Bless You.

Heila emoticon

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CZSWAN 10/22/2009 12:02PM

  My thoughts and prayers are with you. Our family has been through cancer both with my younger brother and my father so I understand what you are going through. Just don't have the words to make you feel better.

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TIZHR48 10/16/2009 8:54PM

    I am so glad you could write all this down, not only for us but for yourself. As someone else mentioned, I don't have the words for you that I would like so much to have, but do know dear SF, that my prayers and thoughts are often with you both.
What has been on my mind lately is Aunty's Frog. We both have frogs, mine is to remind me to "never give up". Hers is to remind her to Fully Rely On God. F.R.O.G. I pray for God to bless you with both of these traits. Hugs, Elsie emoticon

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LIZZYP609 10/15/2009 8:36AM

    I had stopped by your page to ask how you and Tommy were doing. I missed the blog post on the 10th. Keep reading and asking questions. This Chemo and Radiation bring on a whole new set of obstacles. I have to agree with LEEP, encourage him to write down how he feels. I would suggest you do the same, well you are here posting sot that is a start but a note book in your purse for those off handed thoughts through the day could be a great help.
I will keep praying for you and Tommy.

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RAVON27 10/10/2009 5:19PM

    I just want you to know that my thoughts and prayers are always with you. It's usually hard for men to talk about how they feel! That journal idea sounds good. I just want you to know that I'm listening even though I really have no words that would truly help you. Please take care of yourself emoticon

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RONDARC 10/10/2009 2:41PM

    It's good that Tommy's doctors are going after this aggressively. It sounds very necessary and will give him the best chance. Tommy sounds like a strong man, I'm sure he will be able to fight through this. You're doing a great job too.

My thoughts & prayers to you & Tommy. Wishing you both the best with the PET scan.


Just a thought, when I was going through my thing, I found a support group online through John Hopkins and it really helped me to deal with the unknown and to know I wasn't the only one going through this, even though it sure felt like it at times. Don't know if Tommy would be into that or not, but just a thought.

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LEEPFROG95 10/10/2009 8:48AM

    ditto to the Matthew 14:35-36 verse!!!!!
thoughts and prayers for you, and Tommy, and his DRs.

your blog brought the thought of me caring for my dad flooding back....

I sat by my dads bedside for 3 months.... I was his main caregiver my mom was not able to be both wife and end of life caregiver....I was WAS a CNA for 5 years I worked at the nursing home about 23 years ago.... 7 years ago my dad past away.....and I watched him change...he was always happy and up beat and joking with the dr and nurses but when my mom would come in the room things changed...I think he felt guilty for getting CANCER....he called me and told me he was "handling this on his terms" ...and I honestly think my mom was hurt by those words....she wasnt included in his handling "IT" ....Tommy may not want to burden you with his thoughts...I was the one who my dad opened up to......my parents were high school sweet hearts married 3 months after high school they were best friends .....I saw them argue a handful of times in their40 years marriage.....

I have an idea....get Tommy a notebook , lap top for him to keep all his feelings locked up in a journal ...I just wish I could remember all the things and stories my dad shared with me on those late nights my mother and I slept by his side in the hospital....all the funny stories and things he did as a kid some things I never heard.....

Knowing that you know that Tommy is locking things up he needs a vent, you have this and you should give him a vent...... just an idea...
hope you have a wonderful day...

Comment edited on: 10/10/2009 8:49:41 AM

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PANDA131 10/10/2009 8:06AM

    I set here and ready this words and thought if only I could ease your dispire and it came too me.

The Healing Power of Touch
When the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the him of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. Matthew 14:35-36 NKJV

I may not be able to cure blindess or leprosy, or raise someone from the dead. But my touch can still heal. It is the touch of friendship and pray I give too you today. And the touch of knowing that taking it too the one that can cure all in his way will help. Lean on him for God is always with you. My prayers are with you this day. If you need to call out for a friend who will just listen give me a shout.
Susan in Tn. emoticon

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