Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The "Aid Station"

The "Aid Station" is a very important aspect in a Marathon and in any race there are generally a number of them along the 26.2 mile course.  Some of the "aid stations" provide water, some provide food for extra fuel, and some stations are equipped with First Aid in case there are any physical issues a runner might experience throughout the course. Without these "Aid Stations" one would never be able to finish the race, it is a component that runners have come to rely on in order to finish strong and with the best possible outcome.

Yesterday John made his first pit stop at the "Aid Station" that he will rely on for the next 3 months...the BC Cancer Centre is where all the "magic" will take place and where John will receive the care he needs to beat this awful disease we call CANCER!! 
I arrived at the Centre at almost the same moment as John and his sister Margot and I took the elevator up to the chemotherapy ward with them.  As soon as we walked in John was directed to the room where he would receive his was a sunny room with several oversized reclining chairs that seemed comfortable enough for the likes of someone as tall as John. There was already another patient in the room receiving his treatment, and an elderly woman who sat reading quietly by his side. The nurse that greeted us was upbeat and friendly and had a very positive far it was shaping out to be a pretty good start. The best part about "aid stations" are the people who run them...they are generally the kind of people that are there to encourage you and assist you in any way they can.  This was the kind of nurse John was fortunate enough to have.  

The 6th floor of the Cancer Centre is where John's chemotherapy takes place and it will serve as an important "aid station" for John throughout his "race".
There are 2 different drugs that John has been prescribed by his oncologist and it is suited specifically to fight the type of cancer he has. He will be receiving these chemo drugs intravenously throughout the course of his treatment...with each appointment taking just a little over an hour from beginning to end...It's amazing when you think about it...what an hour of time can help save a person's life! 

Today John will return to receive his second dosage and tomorrow he will receive his third and final dosage for what will complete one cycle of his treatment. John will require 4 cycles of chemotherapy that will span over the next 12 weeks. Three weeks separates each cycle to give the drugs time to do its job, but also time for John to regain close to normal "blood levels" before beginning chemo all over again.  In addition, John will also begin his radiation treatment tomorrow.  This will run every day for 6 1/2 weeks... taking weekends off to give John's body a chance to recover.

We know there are several side effects that comes with chemotherapy, John has been given the long list of things that he "could" or "might" or "should expect" to experience... but this will all be taken in stride. John was anxious to start treatment, but he is also relieved that this phase is finally beginning. There is an end goal in sight that we have never taken our eyes off... so having to endure what could, might or should  happen during this phase is all par for the course...John is ready for what is to come....and if you know him know he is capable of getting through anything!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Much to be Thankful for….

We are nearing 4 weeks post surgery and on this Thanksgiving weekend it seems appropriate to acknowledge how extremely thankful our family feels right now. John has been recovering slowly but surely since he left the hospital, taking it one day at a time to get stronger and healthier. The surgery was the start that we had all been hoping for and it has greatly set the tone for what should turn out to be John’s best race yet. 

During the past few weeks John has had several appointments with his surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, dietician, counsellor, dentist and opthamologist.  They are what make up his team!  Each one of them will play a vital role in ensuring that John is on pace and that he is doing what he needs to for a successful finish to this race.  So far, after another CT scan and PET scan, John shows no sign of “disease” that can be visibly detected (nothing greater than 5mm in size) throughout his body. While this is fantastic news, we are still optimistically cautious given the nature of SNUC and the aggressive tendency it is known to have.  However, the surgeon and oncologist are very happy with John’s present state, he is one of the lucky SNUC patients where surgery was not only a possibility, but where the removal of the tumor in its entirety along with the margins surrounding it, was a complete success.  This gives us all great confidence going into John’s radiation and chemotherapy treatment that will occur concurrently; 6 weeks of radiation along with 4 cycles of chemotherapy will be administered over a 12 week span. Although the start date for this has yet to be confirmed it should begin within the next few weeks.

For now John is getting back on his feet, eating well and gaining some weight for what is to come, he is also trying to enjoy being mobile, taking the time to watch the boys football games and visiting with his friends and family. His energy level is still lower than he would like it to be and not feeling like “yourself” has been extremely frustrating for John at times, but a Marathon of this nature is not going to be easy.  Each mile from here on in will be different then the last, some miles will be smooth sailing on flat road with the breeze at his back, while others will be gruelling with steep terrain and head winds pushing him down. Whatever the case may be, John has this!!  He is a fighter and will do anything it takes to finish this race! 

Today, on behalf of our family, I wanted to say thank you, which doesn’t even seem adequate for the extraordinary support so many of you have shown us whether it has been rides home for the boys, meals you have made, treats you have sent, gift cards you’ve mailed us, well wishes you’ve given, phone calls you’ve made, text messages you’ve sent or emails you have written, all of it means so much!  We know we are not in this alone, we know that there are countless people who love and support us every step of the way…and we know that whatever lays ahead, we will be able to face it with all of you cheering him on!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!