Jay, who has lived in the Waukesha area for over 20 years, is an active volunteer who has served on numerous local boards and committees. He's married to Colleen with three kids having gone through the Waukesha schools. He is the VP of a local distribution company.
(Note: On September 5th, 2008, I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Tongue Cancer - Stage 4. Following is the 7'th blog on my journey)
READER - NOTE OF CAUTION: Do not stop reading this blog part way !
Week 3 in the treatment of cancer, and I sense things are different... Maybe it's my saliva glands shutting down and my new need for a "best friend" water bottle. Or could it be taste buds so compromised that fruit cocktail (remember fruit cocktail with its' gooey, sweet syrup and small little chunk of a cherry?) now tastes like biting a tin cup? I also astutely noticed occasional uncontrolled bouts of perspiration (Yes - Resembling what they call "Hot Flashes"...) and more.
The combined effects of chemo and radiation are now with you 24/7. They each generate noticeable side effects, but assuredly these side effects are willingly sustained in the cancer battle. And, as the entire medical community will tell you: "Everyone reacts differently". Well... consider my good fortune when I recount how I sustained/undertook/was subjected to/experienced/and felt each and every side effect which the medical community stated could occur - but everyone reacts differently...
That's right - Mouth and tongue sores, fatigue, drop in energy, loss of appetite, raw throat with pain accompanying swallowing, skin sores from radiation burns and chemo reactions, fevers, itchy rashes which look like a cross between acne and chicken pox, a now all-liquid diet, special soaps, special mouth rinses (several), an open account with Walgreens, lack of sleep, lack of concentration, headaches, special skin care creams, special toothpaste, gallons of "great-tasting" Boost and Ensure to provide basic nutritional supplements, and ...
How about a skin patch for pain as well as intense little pills which - SURPRISE! - create their own need for 4-8 additional laxative pills a day.
But remember - This is what could occur. Right.... And now fatigue, pain, and uncomfortableness are dragging your body and morale downwards.
And than... A moment of illumination! A defining turning point! An almost "out of body" conversation...
Dr. Wang, the radiation oncologist, in week 4, turns to look at Colleen and myself and says "...When we compare the CAT scan from your first visit to today's, it is apparent that the tumor is significantly smaller. Here - look for yourselves..."
I saw my wife's eyes tear-up as she beamed a radiant smile. My immediate first thoughts were the relief and comfort this would give to her, our families, and concerned friends. My next thoughts - nano seconds behind the first - were directed to that electronic image of the now-smaller tumor on the screen. In approximate order:
"Thanks to all - The prayers, treatments, and positive thoughts are working"
"This fight is not over until I say it's over... And it's not over until we have won and this cancer loses!"
"Only a few weeks to go - I can handle whatever the treatment demands"
NEXT: "It's not over yet..."