The Journey, Part 21: Only God Knows Why!

These last 10 months have been quite an incredible journey! Most of it has been a blur, but I’m thankful for the friends who stepped up to help and support me, as well as new acquaintances I’ve met who traveled the same path. Some with me, others who walked this road before me. In particular, I’d like to thank Mike Castellano and Dan who helped encourage and inspire me to push through and win. I haven’t met either of these gentlemen, I don’t even know Dan’s last name. Mike traveled this road a few years ago at the same hospital as me and has been there for me whenever I had questions, doubts or concerns. I met Dan through this blog. Dan traveled this road almost 6 years ago but remains active in helping others get through this ordeal with his blog (dansjourney.com).

When I began this journey, the doctors told me I had 2-3 years of chemo/HRT & radiation ahead of me, because I had Stage 3 Aggressive cancer. I dove headfirst into everything they threw at me, along with holistic and alternative treatments (Thank you to Lisa at Forza 5). I’m blessed to have met so many people who have worked so hard to get me through this.  Although the rigorous treatment is complete, my journey is far from over. I will be monitored every 3 months for another 5 years before I get the badge of “Cancer Survivor.”

As I went through my 2 months of daily radiation I was asked each day what I would like to listen to. At first, I said “play anything” because I didn’t want any music I liked to remind me of this cancer and the treatment. As the weeks went by, I began to ask for reggae, individual tracks by Wilton Felder, or country and others. As my final day drew near, I wanted to have a track played that signified my journey and my feelings. I was driving home one day after radiation and Kid Rock came on the radio with “Only God Know Why.” It was perfect for my final day.

So here below, I edited the 5:30 track to just over a minute and a half to share his lyrics and my feelings of this journey so far.

(“Only God Knows Why” is a country rock ballad recorded by Kid Rock in 1998 on his album Devil Without a Cause. Written by John A. Travis, Matthew Shafer, R.J. Ritchie. Thank you, Kid Rock, for your music, your passion and your talent. Only God know why you had your share of challenges.)

The Journey​, Part 20: Almost there…

keep-calm-you-re-almost-done

I realize it’s been almost 3 months since I last wrote making me understand just how  tiring the radiation part of this journey is.

I entered into this segment of my treatment on June 13 with a determination to carry on and “keep calm” throughout the journey, living my life as normally as possible. It has been a long haul, but I’m almost done!

My fantastic surgeon told me that he’s a marathon runner and he always runs with the mentality of “just one more mile.” I thought that was a great approach, so I adopted the same attitude and went into each week with “Just one more week.”  I’ve had some days where I’m more tired than others, I’ve suffered from internal bleeding, digestive issues, extreme fatigue, nose bleeds and cloudy memory lapses. All unpleasant, but manageable.

Just last week the company I work for hosted an annual dinner at the NYSE which is hugely popular. We host almost 200 of the top CEOs in the country; AT&T, Boeing, Vonage, Ogilvy, Ethan Allen, Deloitte, etc. I attended thinking I feel good, I’ll be fine. It was the following days that it really hit me with how much that event drained me. The following 48 hours I could barely function, the next 48 I was kinda with it, but not really. By day 6, following being on my feet for 16 hours the day of the event, I FINALLY woke up and said to myself, I’m OK now. The intense heat & humidity that week was also draining.

20160721_080209My team at Memorial Sloan Kettering have been nothing short of outstanding! Their care & professionalism have helped me pull through this.

I always refer to my daily radiation schedule as “Glow Time.” My 2 main radiologists, Dara & Larry, have been great. Always keen to talk about my interests, ask how I’m doing, and make sure I’m comfortable. They tell me I’m the only adult who’s ever decorated their body cast! Note the batman sticker on my torso cast on the left!

They told me that I can keep the cast when this is over if I want – I’m taking it! I plan to mount it on 2 poles, take it to my local outdoor shooting range and blow it to pieces, symbolically, decimating the cancer! Pictures & a video will follow.

I met with my radiation oncologist today, next week I have my PSA checked again. She informed me that they are really pleased with my responses, results, and attitude. So much so, that they feel if my PSA is undetectable again which they believe it will be, I may be moved straight onto a 6-month check-up schedule. I still have to finish my radiation, have my final chemo next week and see my surgeon next month, along with follow-up visits with the urology team, but all-in-all I’m feeling pretty darn good about the direction this is taking. Less than a year ago I was told that given the severity of my diagnosis I could be on hormone replacement therapy for up to 3 years. I set out to beat it within 12 months and in 2 more weeks, my radiation will be over. As positive as that is, it is never truly over – I will be monitored for the next five years before I’m given any form of official cancer -free statement. And if you read my earlier post below, an open letter to the new cancer patient, you will see that the fear of this disease coming back will never leave the back of your mind.

 

 

The Journey, Part 19: Beach Life…

shell

I hadn’t realized so much time had gone by without an update, but it’s been quite a whirlwind. In the 16 weeks since my surgery, I’ve had 24 hospital appointments including 3 full-body MRI scans and 2 rounds of chemo.

Since my last post at the end of March where I was in two minds of how far to take traditional treatment versus alternative, natural treatments my PSA level was tested 4 times, and on each occasion the reading went up! Having had my prostate removed, the PSA level in my blood should be undetectable. When the 4th reading came in showing an increase of 77% from the first post-surgery reading, I immediately said, “OK, I’m in, let’s get started.” 

The first round of treatment left me with some discomfort for about 4-5 days, it was manageable and side effects seemed minimal. After about 3 weeks, I started to get hot flushes which were quite “hot” to say the least. It starts off with an incredible hot feeling in my head as though I’ve just bitten into a very spicy pepper, then my shoulders and torso begin to just glow! It’s worse when it comes in the middle of the night. I’m fast asleep, then I throw the covers off because I’m so hot. Then I wake up shortly after because I’m freezing. The broken sleep has been quite exhausting. I’m now up to about 10 flushes a day!

I have complimented the traditional treatments with natural products such as Dandelion Tea, Essaic Tea, Frankincense, Vitamins, Turmeric, Calcium and more. All harmless, natural products. As a typical Brit, I love my English tea with milk & sugar and I have never liked any other form of flavored tea, at all! So, I’m quite surprised how much I am enjoying these other teas – especially Dandelion Tea. Can’t seem to get that one in a restaurant  ;-)

I believe good diet & nutrition, coupled with a positive attitude is 75% of the battle. Thankfully, I have always had both, especially since concentrating on organic foods and reduced animal proteins over the last 2 years. There is a multitude of potential side effects with the chemical therapy I am undergoing, but I have only suffered the hot flushes so far. Well, with one exception. A couple of weeks ago the “irritability” side effect hit me on a Saturday night when I  yelled at my wife, for no fault of hers, in a manner that was most out of character for me. And for that, my darling, I humbly apologize. I hope that was the first & last time for that side effect.

This last weekend I decided that with everything we’ve all been though that we all needed a break. The weather was warming up, so I rented a beach house in the Hamptons and we took off to unplug and unwind. I wanted my wife to have some down time, as she has been carrying the burden greatly. For those of you who know her, you know she loves deeply and has deep emotions. This journey has been tough on her, and I wanted her to unwind more than anything. I didn’t realize how much I needed this, too.

We spent the weekend in an idyllic beach home with glorious weather.We chilled, we played board games, we grilled fresh salmon & steak, we talked, we walked, we flew kites, we gazed at the ocean and listened to the surf breaking below us, we reveled in the laughter of our daughter & her friends playing in the sand, running down the beach, rescuing overturned horseshoe crabs and the pure joy of the silence of beach life….

ocean

I truly am blessed to have the fantastic loving wife, family & friends who have been supporting me through this. In particular, Juan Carlos & Veronica, you have been amazing. I’m so glad you were able to join us this weekend, too.

And the really good news…. my last blood test last week shows that my PSA is now undetectable. So, daily radiation therapy begins in June for 2 months then another round of chemo, and my plan is to have kicked it to the curb by then….Cancer out!

 

The Journey, Part 18: Into the Tunnel

Tunnel

Last Thursday we went to Sloan expecting an hour or so with the oncologist. We were there for over 4 hours. It turns out that they are VERY concerned (unnervingly so!) about my PSA rising within 10 weeks of surgery. Simply stated, my cancer being a T3a Stage III aggressive type needs aggressive treatment.

Therefore, they have planned out for me, beginning April 8:

  • Another full body MRi – 90+ mins in that torpedo tube, urgh!
  • 2 months of daily radiation treatment
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (a fancy name for “mild” Chemo) for 2 to 3 years – depending on how I respond. (I’m personally going for the fast-track 12 months result!) This is what has the severest side-effects; Male menopause, fatigue, weight fluctuation [could be up or down], irritability.

I did request “what if I don’t do all of this?” as I have no symptoms and feel great. I have to say, the look on the Oncologist’s face was pure horror. She said to me, “I cannot force you to do anything against your wishes, but you are young for this level of diagnosis and if you decide against it, I give you 6 years, at the most and you will see a worrying recurrence.”

So, Thursday & Friday I was in somewhat of a state of shock and needed time to regroup and plan. It was great, and somewhat prophetic, that this weekend was Easter & the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, as the concentration and emphasis on my faith, spirituality and belief in a higher power reinforced my belief and gave me the strength to clear out the concerns and be prepared for the coming journey.

I have spoken to patients these last few days of my age who’ve been through this, and have had varying side effects. As I said, everyone reacts differently and I’ve realized the doctors paint the blackest picture so you know what “may” happen.

This is the tough part of the journey. A good friend of mine, who is a hospice director and palliative care nurse described it well today. She said “You’re going into the twilight zone, into a dark tunnel, but you’ve already put the light on at the end and I’m cheering you all the way. You will be OK. You are your greatest resource. Feel what you feel, do what you do.” I hope and pray that the side effects they’ve warned me of do not occur to me. Everyone reacts differently and I know from my surgery in January that my recuperation was faster than 95% of others on this journey.

I will plan to be functioning as normal as possible, apart from the 2 months of daily radiation. I have a strong partner by my side and she will help pull me through, into the light.

A Side note….

BLOWN AWAY! Tonight my wife received an email from a Dr. in New Jersey whom we do not know….
 
Here’s his message: “Somehow a posting with a link to your blog ended up on my Facebook page, and I read it in detail. Your frank description of your husband’s and your journey are a resource for so many, and you deserve great thanks.
 
I was sorry to hear of your previous physician’s failure to inform you of your husband’s elevated PSA. I am a physician, and every day I live in fear of making a mistake like that. We try to have systems in place to prevent that kind of thing, and so far in 39 years I have avoided it, but God does not make us perfect, and I could do something similar.
 
Please know that I am praying for you and your husband.”
 
It’s incredibly satisfying to know that what we have shared may help someone else not go through what we have been through, whether that be the patient or the physician. See the full story (warning; full graphic detail, images & radio interview)  at : www.TheLetsTalkMom.com

The Journey, Part 17: Spring is in the Air

Spring Sunset At Lake Garda Desktop Background

Today, March 20th, marks the first day of Spring. Sadly, it’s also the 16th anniversary of my father’s passing. We’ve had a very mild winter this year and this warming weather and the longer days is a part of the year I truly enjoy. I’m looking forward to sunrises and sunsets.

It’s been just over 9 weeks since my surgery and 3 weeks ago my PSA level was measured at 0.11 ng/ml, this was higher than the surgeon wanted to see. Ideally, he wants to see it at 0.00 ng/ml, or certainly below 0.05 ng/ml. Two days ago, I had to go for another PSA test before final decisions are made on chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

My results were just posted on my communications portal this morning and I eagerly opened them to see what my PSA level was. In recent weeks, I’ve been feeling particularly strong, healthy and full of vitality. There are some minor issues with some medications I have to take, but nothing to be unduly concerned about. I opened the Lab report and was mortified to see that my PSA number had gone up! (now it’s 0.12 ng/ml) So, I have my follow-up appointment with my surgeon in 2 days, and from there we’ll discuss chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

It’s amazing how much you evaluate life in these circumstances. And for those who know me well, you know that I’ve faced situations like this before. In spite of that, we allow ourselves to get caught-up in the day-to-day routines and life passes by way too fast, without us making the changes we always say we will make.

Now I need to take the next step forward and deal with the next part of this journey. I’ll know in less than 48 hours and then my wife & I will continue our journey on our road to a long and happy life. For those who have supported me emotionally & physically these last 5 months, I hope to share a glass of wine with you over a sunset this summer.

The Journey, Part 16: Dancing in the Rain

Rain

The last few weeks have been exhaustive. I returned to work after 3 weeks at home and in hindsight, I should have taken 5 or 6 weeks (as suggested) to fully heal. In spite of that, I’m thrilled that the urinary side effects have maintained and continue to improve their positive response.

We met last week with our surgeon to review my progress and his suggestions for the next steps. When we spoke to our surgeon on the phone 3 weeks ago he informed us of something which I totally misunderstood! During his explanation of my prognosis, he said that 70% of people with this result will see a recurrence. But what I heard was “70% of people will see this come back and won’t make it, only 30% survive!”

So for 3 weeks I have been struggling with coming to terms with what I thought was a high risk of not being here in about 7-10 years. After we discussed where I am at in my journey I asked for clarification and he was mortified that I had been harboring this worry. He explained clearly that yes, I “may” see a recurrence or I “may not.” But he certainly wasn’t putting a time clock on me. The emotions flooded and I just burst into tears.

So now we’ve cleared that up, my PSA test looks good at 0.11. It’s not quite where he’d like to see it, preferably 0.05 or below, but he said it’s only been 6 weeks since surgery so that doesn’t surprise him & we’ll re-test in 3 weeks. If at that point it has gone down below 0.05 then I may not need to have chemotherapy or radiation. I left the hospital feeling elated. After all, I just got a new lease on life…literally!

So we celebrated at the weekend with a fantastic dinner at our friends’ house. We hadn’t seen Shawn & Bita, our dear friends who own Vitesse Worldwide & helped us with limo service to & from the surgery, since before my operation. They treated us to a great evening full of gifts, wine, chocolate, a fantastic homemade Persian dinner and great conversation. We talked and laughed until the small hours of the following morning.

One of the gifts they gave to me was a “Thinking of You” card. Inside, Bita had written “Sometimes it’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain….and I see you dancing. Our prayers & thoughts are with you & your family. We are here for you.” This simple gesture meant the world to me. It was given from the heart and made me realize that during the last 3 weeks my spirit had been dampened by the rains, but now I realize that I cannot let the storm get me down, I must dance every day whether it’s raining or not.

The Journey, Part 15: Hit it for Six

cricket

It’s been 14 days since surgery and today my surgeon called with the pathology report. Before I go over the technicalities of those, let’s take a quick look at my  recuperation over the last two weeks.

There are two main side effects from the surgery: urinary incontinence and sexual function. The former is expected to be back to normal within a couple of months, the latter can take a year or more.  Without going into too much detail, the sexual side shows a lot of promise.  Regarding the urinary issues, it is fully expected to have bladder “accidents” for the first few weeks and “leaks” up to a couple of months out. I was more than pleased to inform my surgeon that I have not had a single accident and, in fact, only 3 or 4 leaks in 2 weeks. I was even more thrilled to learn from my surgeon that this puts me in the top 5% of successful patient recovery.

The Pathology Results:

The cancer had broken through the wall of the prostate. Not ideal! Thirteen nodes were removed for analysis, 3 showed positive for cancer. So now what? Well, we still have to run the post-surgery PSA levels to see if the cancer is “in transit,” or if the nodes were the last stop. So chemo, radiation and hormone replacement therapy are still on the table, but those decisions are a few weeks out.

Thinking back to my days in England playing cricket, yes that’s me in the photo above hitting a six, and although my surgeon informs me that 70% of people with this result will see a recurrence, I’m still approaching this with a determination of knocking the ball out of the park.

The Journey, part 14: It’s Not About Me..

During this whirlwind 2 months since diagnosis I’ve concentrated on what I have been through, how I feel, my fears and concerns, the unknown path. My fellow traveler, Dan, wrote the open letter to cancer patients (see post below from Jan 5). My wife has also been cataloging this journey on her blog site: TheLetsTalkMom.com. Most recently, she wrote about her feelings and observations from the day of the surgery. You can see all her postings on her blog, (please note her blog also contains photos of pre, during and post surgery & is graphic) but I’d like to share with you here her feelings from the day of my surgery:

January 14, 2016

3:45am the alarm clock sounds. It’s the morning of the surgery. As much as Phillip is at peace right now I am a walking ball of nerves. I’m trying to put on a serene, happy face for him but inside I’m hit with waves of nausea as we prepare to head into the City. I still can’t get my head around the speed with which we found out the news just a few weeks ago and now my husband was about to lose a body part.

This cancer has been referred to as a “couple’s ailment.” The outcome will affect both of us. Following a successful surgery & recovery, rehabilitation of urinary & sexual function will take place. How many nerves can be spared? All, some, half, none? Then depending on the pathology results we receive in 10 days, protocol for radiation and chemo/HRT will be determined. The surgery is part 1 of a 3-part process.

With that said, we still need to get through today. 3:45am Phillip takes the 2nd of a special shower with Hibiclens – an antibacterial soap to protect his body from infection. The car service arrives at 4:50am. Thank you again, Shawn & Bita of Vitesse Worldwide, and for the return trip home when that day came.

Phillip was pretty chipper in the car as we held hands and made small talk. It was dark and cold and started to snow. When the car swung into the hospital’s drop-off area, we stepped out into the cold and looked at the huge sign before us. Cancer Center. Phillip turned to me. My ever-strong-rock whispered to me, “Why are we here? I can’t believe we are here.” He looked pale and I knew he was just trying to be strong for me all the time but inside he must be reeling. My heart ached for him and I wanted to burst into tears. But I put my hand in his hand and told him all would be well. I prayed to God quietly on the way inside.

I still felt nauseous. The greeters were very kind and took us to the 3rd floor where we were met by more very pleasant people. Phillip signed in as I stood silently behind him, tears rolling down my face. The woman came from around the desk and hugged me tightly. Everyone from start to finish at Sloan was incredibly nice.

Sloan Kettering’s new hospital just opened January 1st, 2016. Each patient, nurse, caregiver & visitor has a color-coded tracker. It lets the family member know where the patient is on a large electronic board like an airport flight board – pre-op, in surgery, surgery finished, recovery room, etc. It lets the hospital know exactly where the family members are in the hospital at any time. And whenever the nurse walks into the room, his/her name & title appears on the monitor directly in front of the bed announcing: Sue Smith, head nurse has entered your room.

Phillip is only the 11th patient in this room. Everything is so modern and beautiful and futuristic.

After pre-op procedures are taken care of and the “what if” papers are signed – Health Care Proxy – in case things don’t go as expected and decisions have to be made, God forbid, Phillip was ready for the OR. He kissed me gently and said, “I love you,” as the elevator door shut and the wait began.

I thought I could do this on my own, but I found out that I couldn’t. I was looking out of the huge window and it was still dark outside. I saw my reflection and he was no longer next to me. I burst into tears and called my friend, Jade Albert, who was on standby in case I fell apart. She said she’d be right there. Would take her 30 minutes to get across town but she was on her way. Then I called my sister and Pastor Jackie. That helped a lot. A very kind cleaning lady found me upset and gave me a ton of hugs and a box of tissues. Sloan Kettering’s tissue boxes are Tiffany colored. We laughed about that and it lifted my spirits. She was such a nice woman! She checked on me during different hours when she was back on that floor.

My husband was in surgery for over 6.5 hours. Phillip had asked the medical team to pray before they knocked him out. They all immediately swooped around him as he asked God to protect them & guide them as they healed him. He said the experience was really overwhelming and he was so touched. Phillip described the bright lights of the sterile operating room & the hectic preparations underway to stay on schedule and when it was announced that this patient had requested prayer before surgery on the paperwork, he said everything suddenly came to a halt and he was surrounded by great people who bowed their heads in silence as he prayed for them. His eyes well up when he describes this beautiful moment. Later in recovery, one of the doctors said they had never done that before & that everyone said how much they liked it & he hoped they will do that more in the future.

I later found out the operating table is tilted and the surgery involves 6 incisions and a drainage tube. I spent much of my time pacing back to the large electronic board hoping to see the green check mark under Surgery Finished.

When it finally blinked into its square, I knew the love of my life was out of danger and in recovery. I could finally breathe. Thank you to everyone who has said prayers. God heard you!

Us 3The cancer was very aggressive & Phillip has an uphill battle but is facing it with positivity & faith! To all those who have said to us these past 6 challenging weeks, “Oh, be glad it’s JUST prostate cancer,” you wouldn’t want it, tubes out of the stomach & all, radiation & chemo.

I’m just pointing out, if someone tells you in future, please be sensitive. It’s scary.
Later that evening, Jennifer Wilkov came to the hospital with dinner for me. She told us something that will stick with me forever and I’d like to share it with you now. She said when people offer to help, allow them. For if you say no, they do not have the opportunity to do something that makes them feel good. She said it stops the “universe of community” that we are all a part of right in its tracks. She believes we all have the urge to help others and we shouldn’t deny that good feeling for others. People stand helpless watching another suffer. So accept with grace and gratitude. Wow! I’ve decided to say yes more often and not feel I need to handle so much of this on my own. Jen was 100% right. The smiles on people’s faces when they help makes me smile. The help they offered gives us comfort. It makes everyone feel good. The giver & the receiver.

So to all who have prayed, to all who have sent well wishes, to all who have cared, to all who have thought about us and sent positive vibes of healing Phillip’s way, to all who have brought sustenance, to all who have treated our little one, to all who have embraced our older one, to all who have lit a candle, to all who have phoned, tweeted, posted, private messaged, snail-mailed, voicemailed & emailed, I say to you thank you, thank you, thank you!! You have been the force that has lifted Phillip & me through our darkest hours. God sees all. Thankfully, I was able to sleep by my love all night holding his hand.

Phillip wanted to be the “Poster child of Recovery” & he certainly earns the title ~ even his surgeon was pleasantly surprised to see how well he was that night after his early morning surgery. He’s recuperating so well one friend wrote, “In a war, you’d be the guy I’d be standing next to in the trenches.”

And he certainly hasn’t lost his humor when he proudly declared everyone could see his wedding tackle when nurses were changing his dressing & the curtain flew open!

He has 2 – 3 weeks of recovery at home, no lifting of more than a milk carton for 2 months, the urethra that ran through the prostate has now been “restitched” to the bladder and straining can tear the stitches. Ewww. And the catheter will be removed in about 10 days. It is at that time he will take what’s been coined “The Challenge.” A dose of meds to see if nerves were spared enough to rise to the occasion. If so, certain exercises & a fellow’s fine imagination will help such future situations without meds. Early signs of stirrings have uplifted us; we are happy Dr. Touijer was able to spare a good deal of Phillip’s nerves and are confident his road to recovery will be swift & exciting.

Rest, love and positive thinking will speed recovery so we can face the next hurdle.

Thank you to our amazing son for keeping everything running smoothly while we were in the hospital – from our furbabies to grocery shopping to boring household stuff & more.

Thank you to my sister & little niece for their unending support and beautiful comfort teddy & fruit basket – the perfect gift at 3am when I’m reaching for pain meds and some quick sticks of healthy food to line his stomach.

Thank you to Maira & her kids for having our darling stay with them those first 3 critical days. It meant more than most people know because I have never been away from our daughter more than 2 days in 10 years except once when I was needed far from home.

She had a marvelous triple sleepover and I was able to focus only on Phillip. My mind & heart were completely at ease. We are grateful to Maira for everything she did to ensure our little one stayed in routine with school, activities and all the extras to make this a sleepover to remember. And thank you to Marlene, Lisa & Kerrie for having our little one sleep over till the 5th night so I could focus on Phillip’s recuperation. I took Jen’s advice & didn’t feel awkward when I asked Lisa for a favor and big thanks to Kerrie for making a lovely chicken soup!

Bravo to Juan Carlos for upholding his covenant with God that he would shave his head when Phillip came out of surgery successfully. You are a good man – and thank you to your family for bringing groceries, so kind! Thank you to the Schaefer family for dinner, groceries and treats!

“THERE ARE SO MANY MEN WHO SUFFER IN SILENCE”

The morning after the surgery, Dr. Touijer visited again. He said he read this blog story about our journey. “I heard the radio interview. You ask a lot of questions people are afraid to ask. You have information that can really help people. There are so many men who suffer in silence.”

It made me tear up. It still does. When I think of that last sentence above, I well up knowing some men are going through this alone or are afraid to speak to others. From the day we came home, people have been reaching out to us for more information. We are very happy to offer anything we have learned on this frightening 7-week journey so far and all we will learn in the coming months.

Dr. Touijer was a great listener and a top-notch surgeon. He eased many of our fears. So important.

a (1)Today is January 17th, just 3 days after surgery and Phillip’s upright and looking good. So grateful!

As previously mentioned, this cancer has been referred to as a “couple’s ailment” because as I mentioned in an earlier update, it affects both the man and the woman who loves him. Of course, after saving the man’s life by making him cancer free, the sparing of the nerves is vital for sexual function. One doctor told Phillip his quality of life (urinary or sexual function) is not of concern to him, only making him cancer free. And that basically, he could kiss his sex life goodbye for the next few years. Hummm. See ya!!

Dr. Touijer spared a great deal of Phillip’s nerves, we are so grateful. When the time is right, Phillip will be back on his game. On top of physical healing, the emotional healing has to begin. I’ve encouraged him to look at racy photos.  “It’s for recovery & health,” I point out. After all, Dr. Berookhim states in the radio interview above that orgasms are between the ears. Men have to “think” these good thoughts. For Phillip, stirrings are already in the works. Yay! No pressure, of course, but hallelujah all the same!

For some men, they don’t have a partner. One man we know, his wife died 3 weeks before he was diagnosed. We’ve learned from him and from previous prostate cancer patients and doctors, it’s the old adage – Use it or lose it. Taking things in their own hands, no pun intended, would be a start. There are also many other methods from medication, injections, implants and more. But with nerves spared, positive thinking & proactive joy is the way to go. Yeah, that’s where I come in.

1 (1)Much more as we learn more on this journey. I thank the people who have reached out for specific prostate cancer information – you know who you are – and we will help any way we can.

As I have said before, we’ve taken this public because if this information can help alleviate anyone else’s fears, Phillip & I are glad we can help in this small way.

image

The Journey, Part 13: Travelling with my Best Friend

B&P

When we took our vows and said “In sickness and in health” neither of us ever dreamed we would go through something like this. It’s been less than two months since we heard those 3 dreaded words “You’ve got cancer,” and here I am lying in a hospital bed at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC post-surgery to remove the cancer. 

Having heard those words and beginning this journey, I am truly blessed to have my wife, my best friend by my side. She has been at every doctors appointment, every scan, she’s seen every high and every low. She’s laughed with me, she’s cried with me, she’s put up with me when I’ve been short due to what’s playing through my mind, and yet she is right there by my side, for anything and everything I might need.

She has been so strong throughout this journey. The morning of the surgery she was up with me at 4am for the beginning of this day. As they took me away and she made her way to the waiting area, she burst into tears. She thought she could do this on her own. My heart breaks knowing that she hurts.  She immediately called our friend Jade here in NYC and Jade was in a cab and here before you knew it. I’m so thankful for her to have done that, it means a lot. Later in the afternoon our dear friend Jennifer turns up with a hearty salad and sesame crusted tofu for Bianca, her timing was perfect as we were just about to order food, but Jen brought exactly what she needed. Thanks Jen.

It’s been a long, long day and my wife is exhausted. At almost 10pm I insist she gets some rest and goes to sleep. The hospital I’m in only opened its doors on January 1st this year and every room is private with a couch bed for spouses. She agrees to get some sleep, but not before she drags the couch bed across the room so she is parallel to my bed. She nestles in, reaches out her hand to hold mine and falls asleep instantly. I can’t sleep and 4 hours later she is still holding my hand.

Thank you God for bringing this wonderful woman into my life. My darling Bianca, I love you more than life itself, you are so much more than my wife, my lover and my best friend xxxxx.

 

The Journey, Part 12: Two Popes & a Nun….

2 popes & nun

Today is the eve of my surgery and I am totally at peace with where I am on this journey. That’s because of each and every person who has contacted my wife & me to not only send prayers and wishes, but have gone above and beyond in their outreach.

Just this last week, three people called and stunned me with their efforts & wishes. Holly called to let us know that she’s been praying continuously and asking her great cousin to help as he’s been in heaven since 1958. When we asked why him in particular, she replied “Oh! Did I never tell you? My great cousin was Pope Pius XII.”  While reeling from that phone call, the phone rang again. One of my wife’s oldest friends called to ask to see us over the next few days as she had something special for us. We arranged to meet and she informed us that she was given a gift by a close friend of hers who was one of the nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation founded by Mother Teresa. This gift was a small piece of cloth containing Mother Teresa’s blood and she wanted to pray with us over it! I thought Wow! this is getting heavy and then…. Lorine emailed to let us know that she’d just returned from a vacation in Italy, and while she was there she went to Rome to light a candle for me, and who do you think was conducting the service?… Pope Francis! Whoa! Extra prayers were lifted up that day.

So I have 2 Popes and a soon-to-be canonized Saint putting in a good word for me! Now I know why I’m feeling so peaceful and ready to take this on full steam ahead.

Inspiration…

Yesterday, I received a card from one of our daughter’s teachers. Inside it she had written half a dozen inspirational quotes. Each one has significance, but moreover, this person had put so much thought into the message she was sending. Thank you, Darcey:

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill

“Feed Your Faith and Your Fears Will Starve to Death.” – Anonymous

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” ―Christopher Reeve

“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” – Maori Proverb

“Become a possibilitarian.   No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities – always see them, for they’re always there.”  – Norman Vincent Peale

“Know, then, whatever cheerful and serene supports the mind supports the body too.” –  John Armstrong

Letter to the Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patient

I can take no credit for this post. A fellow Prostate Cancer traveler & survivor wrote this & it nails it 100%. Thank you Dan, a brilliant letter. You can read more about Dan at: Dan’s Blog

 

Dear Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patient,

IMG_8910 Edited“You have cancer.” Three little words that will change the lives of you and your family forever. It’s terrifying. It’s bewildering. It’s overwhelming. It sucks.

Cry a little. Cry a lot. But strive to get through the initial shock and emotional reaction as quickly as you can. You’ve got work to do.

Don’t bother trying to answer the question, “Why?” You’ll spend too much energy to never get the answer. You’ll need to focus that energy on what’s ahead.

Don’t be ashamed that you have cancer. Have open and honest conversations about it with those around you; don’t bottle it up. Find a tidbit of humor in the situation and inject it into the conversation. When you do, people will feel more comfortable around you. Recognize, however, that some people will find being around cancer too difficult and will withdraw. Let them go, for their sake and yours. Most will return once they’ve had time to process what’s happening.

Relationships will be put to the test and may change. Remember that this isn’t all about you. It’s about those closest to you, too, and sometimes it can be more than they can bear. You’ll have to be the strong one for them. Don’t be surprised when some of your most casual acquaintances become your biggest supporters. Embrace them.

Become your own advocate. Research, research, and research some more. You may have the best medical team in the world, but question them. While they’re highly trained medical professionals, they’re still human. They may have their own self-interests in mind. If you ask a radiation oncologist what the best treatment option will be, he or she will likely say radiation. If you ask a surgeon, the answer will likely be surgery. You have to be comfortable with what’s right for you, knowing all the potential risks, side effects, and complications.

Seek out other patients who have had your cancer, whether a friend, a family member, or in a support group (or even through a blog). They can be the greatest resource available to you. They can tell you their first-hand experience and how the cancer and the treatment impacts their daily life. Recognize that each case is unique, so take their input with a grain of salt and realize you may not have the same result.

You can research and consult with your medical team until the cows come home, but at some point you’re going to have to make a decision. You. It’s your body and your life. You have to be comfortable that your research was thorough, and that you’ll make the best decision possible with the information at hand at that point in time. Then place your trust in your medical team to do the best they can.

You will be stressed. You’ll have “cancer” on the mind 24/7. Figure out ways to distract yourself from the cancer thoughts even for a few hours. Go to a movie, take a drive through the country, take a hike—whatever works for you. The stress can wear you down physically. Get plenty of rest after those sleepless nights; watch your nutrition. You’ve got to be as healthy as you can going into the challenges ahead.

All of this is far easier said than done. I know. Friends and family will offer assistance; take them up on their offers. They’re not there to pity you; they’re there to offer genuine help and support. Don’t let pride get in the way.

While we all hope for the best possible outcome, the harsh reality is that not everyone survives cancer. Make sure your affairs are in order, especially advanced medical directives, and that your family understands  and will honor your desires.

Being told you have cancer is not the end; it’s the beginning of a process.

In my case, I was diagnosed with Stage IIb prostate cancer, and the diagnosis was the beginning of my process to determine what treatment option was best for me. But even if you’re diagnosed with late Stage IV cancer and are considered to be terminal, it’s still the beginning of the process to figure out the best options for your remaining time.

Lastly, even if your cancer allows for successful treatment, cancer will always be in your thoughts long after the treatment ends. I’m five years out from my diagnosis and treatment, and a little “recurrence cloud” follows me around every day, as I wonder whether or not the cancer will return. Once you introduce cancer into your vocabulary, it’s there for good, whether the actual disease is there or not.

I wish you and your family all the best as you begin your own journey.

Dan (& Phillip too now…)

The Journey, Part 11: A Pace for the Race

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We are so fortunate that the church we attend always delivers a powerful message. Today was exceptional. I would say it was the most powerful, and certainly the most relevant for me, that I’ve heard in many years. In 10 more days, I will undergo surgery and months of rehabilitation with, at the moment, an uncertain follow-up for radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. Recent days have brought many mixed emotions: fear, hope, anxiety, disappointment, encouragement and more.

As ever, our pastor delivered a moving, powerful explanation of today’s reading and once more lifted me up with guidance and belief in our faith for  a speedy and healthy recovery. The reading was such a short one, just 3 verses, yet 3 verses which gave me a continued focused direction:

  1. Set the pace
  2. Release the weight of your troubles
  3. Hold fast in your faith
  4. Endure and rise through triumphantly
  5. Be strong and thankful for your family and those who support you

Today’s reading:

Hebrews 12: 1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every weight, and sin, that clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary

3 Consider him who endured from sinners such such hostility against himself, so that you will not grow weary or fainthearted.

The Journey, Part 10: Gratitude

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This New Year’s Eve, my wife & I reflected on these past 6 weeks with full hearts of thankfulness to all who have reached out to us. Most recently, thank you to Michelle & Sue Barra for mailing us the last of their Holy water to help heal me. Sue received the Holy water from Lourdes, France 50 years ago! She had a few drops left and sent them immediately. Simply Amazing!!

Thankful to my coworkers & the Pechman family for sending healthy fruit bouquets ~ deliciously perfect!!

Vitesse Worldwide, limo, limo serviceThank you to Kathy Colborn for offering that Bianca can stay in her apartment in NYC for the overnights of the surgery & recovery. And thank you to Shawn & Bita Abaspor  for offering their Vitesse Worldwide car service to get into the City & eventually back home so we have no added stress. Last thing we need to think about…cars, parking garages, NYC traffic.

Thank you to Maria Caporale who came over with 2 pretty boxes, one for Bianca, one for me. She explained that in each was a “Giving Key” with a word engraved on it. Mine said STRENGTH. Bianca’s said BELIEVE. We are to embrace our word. Get through our crisis. Then pay it forward by giving our key to a person we feel needs the message more than we do in the future.

Thank you to the Szele family for the Christmas Novena at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. and thank you to the Cunniffe family for their donation to The Owl Foundation  in my honor – we love to hear about this kind of donation! Our little one named our special recuperating owl Amber for her beautiful eyes.
St. Francis Breadline (3)

Thank you to Liz Irving who donated to The St. Francis Breadline where the Franciscan Friars will offer healing prayers for me. “Hundreds of hungry people eat every morning” on the breadline at 135 West 31st Street in Manhattan since 1930. Please visit: The St. Francis Breadline.

We have learned about so many wonderful organizations through our challenging 6-week journey. As scary as it’s been for us, it, too, has been a blessing.

In these last 6 weeks we have received emails, texts, cards, visits and prayers from over 1,000 people. As I said in The Journey, Part 3 “I am not alone,” and for that you have my gratitude. Have a Happy New Year!

The Journey, Part 9: Full Body MRI

young Frankenstein

Three days ago not only did I have to leave home at 5:30 am to be at the NYC hospital for a full body MRI scan, I had to endure almost 2 hours inside the scanner. I’d had an MRI a few years ago and I’m not claustrophobic, so  I wasn’t concerned but boy, oh boy, the guys at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital do not mess around.

I had to place my arms straight by my side with my hands face down under my butt, then had plates strapped to my thighs, my pelvis and my chest. My head was put into a V-block and padded down so it wouldn’t move and then they placed another plate over my face with an opening from my eyebrows to my bottom lip. Then they sent me inside the torpedo tube for the next 70 mins! As I said, I’m not claustrophobic, but brother this was unnerving.

They let me out after 70 mins to walk around and take a break before sending me back inside for round 2. The second time was without the face mask as it was only the pelvic area being scanned. I was in a slightly different position and after about 15-20 mins I started to get a cramp in my back. I tried to push through it, but had to hit the “get me out” button. They pulled me out and said I was almost done, but because they had to stop I had to start part 2 all over again! They gave me water and a few mins to stretch it out, then back in for another 30 mins. I have to say this episode drained me far more than I imagined.

Today, Friday, December 18th, (the day before my birthday), I received the phone call with the scan results. They had forewarned me if it moved to the bones surgery is off, as I’ll have a bigger battle in front of me.

I received THE best birthday gift ever…not only has it NOT traveled to the bones, the lymph nodes are clear too!!!! Prostate still has to come out in January, but WOW! I am so relieved.

Thank you to everyone from around the world who have been cheering me on. Next week will be a VERY Merry Christmas!

 

 

The Journey, Part 8: The Interview

For the last 5+ years my wife & I have hosted a weekly radio show on “Life, Love & Parenting.” Over the years we’ve had some great guests, from Brad Meltzer from the History channel’s Decoded, to the Prince of Afghanistan. We’ve covered many life issues such as relationships, bullying, divorce, weight loss, death of a spouse and so much more.

I mentioned in The Journey, Part 6, below, the request out of the blue asking if we would like to interview a doctor about prostate cancer. I need to add, this was pure coincidence. The interview was this week and airs on various syndicated shows over the next few days.

Below is the interview, it’s about 40 mins and covers everything. Dr. Bob Berookhim, assistant professor of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York joined us to talk about treatment options to help prostate cancer patients, nerve sparing and what that means for quality of life after surgery, robotics and so much more. Dr. Berookhim specializes in the management of the after-effects of prostate cancer treatment, particularly with regard to urinary and sexual function.

The Journey, Part 7: Speechless!

Pray

Tonight was a very moving evening. Just 9 days ago my wife wrote on her blog about my diagnosis. I mentioned this in my last blog and made a casual comment about people responding to her post. But now I’m speechless!

Bianca sat me down and handed me a beautifully wrapped gift. I was surprised as my birthday isn’t for another 12 days. I opened the packaging and found inside one of the most moving pieces of heartfelt concern, prayers and well wishes I’ve ever seen.

It will take me a few days to read all of this. It’s a printed binder of all the comments & private messages on her Facebook page and emails to her about her Blog post.

Over 800 comments & messages – in 9 days! People have written offering prayer, support, advice on nutrition, holistic care, messages from fellow cancer patients & survivors. I AM SIMPLY SPEECHLESS!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to each and every one of you. To echo my post for The Journey, Part 3: I am not alone!

 

The Journey, Part 6: And The Winner is….

Wow! This was the week of unexpected observations, results and decisions!

I have been truly amazed at the number of people whom I know and even more I don’t know that have come forward to help and offer advice. Many of whom have traveled this road. My wife wrote a wonderful piece on her blog  and her Facebook page and thousands, yes, literally thousands of people read it and hundreds responded.

Earlier in the week, Bianca received an email requesting an interview on our radio show from the PR department of Boston Scientific in Massachusetts. A world leader in urological treatment and care, they wanted to request a leading NYC urologist be interviewed about prostate cancer, as it is so prevalent. Bianca asked if this person had seen her blog or Facebook post and the woman replied, “No, we listened to your radio show and due to the topics you discuss, thought this would be a good fit for your Life segment.” Bianca then directed them to her blog to read her piece on my recent diagnosis. As my earlier post (The Journey, Part 2) stated, God moves in mysterious ways! The radio interview is next week!

Six days ago, I’d never heard of Proton Beam Therapy (insert Star Wars/Flash Gordon type comment here!) but someone I don’t know, via Bianca’s blog, contacted us. We spoke at length about this treatment & I dove headlong into research project #4 to find out more.

Deep into the research of modality, doctors, locations and more I’m thinking Yep, I like this, this is for me, need to know more. So I call Memorial Sloan Kettering (the #1 cancer hospital) and I get an appointment to see the top Proton Beam Specialist this week. Bianca & I arrive for our consultation and the one thing I’ve learned very quickly is the surgeon recommends surgery, the cryogenic specialist recommends cryogenics, the seed radiation specialist recommends seed radiation – because that’s THEIR specialty. They’ve trained long and hard, delved into their chosen field and each believes they have the way forward to kick this mother of a disease into oblivion.

Proton man sits down with us and gives us THE clearest, most understandable explanation of where I am, what I’m going through, options, outcomes, side effects and more. I’m sitting there thinking to myself “This guy knows his stuff. I can see now that my chosen preference for Proton Beam therapy IS for me.”  He looks at me and states, “I’ve reviewed your scans, your pathology reports, your biopsy, and all elements of your case and without a shred of doubt you need surgery, then radiology, then 3 years of hormone therapy. You have aggressive CANCER, and at your age with your results, we are aiming to cure you and give you another 40 years.” 

BOOM!

WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?

Proton man is sending me over to surgery with a different doctor! This is breaking the cycle. I’m stunned at the news, but also thrilled at the openness, honesty and care for my overall well-being and quality of life. Bianca is reeling and I stand and hug her to reassure her that we are going to be OK. This woman has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known, and I know that she is putting on a brave face, but inside she is dying. She is crushed by what she is hearing but putting on a brave face for me. Wow! What a day. Next steps are underway, but we still have another appointment at Mount Sinai hospital, plus X-rays & an MRI scan before we pull the trigger.

So it appears the winner in the lottery of treatments is surgery. Not what I wanted, but appearing to be offering the best outcome. I’ve had a saying for many, many years and right now I believe it means more to me than ever before…….

Shit-happens

The Journey, Part 5: “Free to First Applicant!”

Hose

Today marks just 14 days since I heard the words “Aggressive Cancer” and the amount of information I have taken in since then has been like drinking water from a fire hose! I’ve had a biopsy, been injected with radioactive chemicals and had a full body scan. Next week I have X-Rays & more chemicals injected for an MRI that lights up! (It is Christmas) I’ve met with so many doctors at multiple hospitals, I’m meeting another this Friday who specializes in Proton Beam Therapy – something I’d never heard until 3 days ago. Then in 10 days I’m off to a third specialist unit at a third hospital. I may even need to fly to Jacksonville in Florida for more specialist consultations.

More interesting is the fact that everyone, and I do mean everyone, has an opinion on my condition! Thankfully, over 100 people, many of whom I do not know & have never spoken to before have reached out offering advice because they have personally been through it, or they have a partner who has. The power of social media far surpasses the old grapevine, certainly for accuracy and speed.

As for the people who have said to me “Oh! it’s just Prostate Cancer, you’ll be fine” people who have never sat in a doctor’s office to hear the words “You have aggressive cancer and you have an uphill battle in front of you”  people who haven’t been told that in spite of a good success rate this is the #2 killer of men between 50 & 80 and 30,000+ men die each year from it.  People who haven’t heard “You will not have the same quality of life after surgery, but you’ll be alive”. For those people I have one very simple question… Would YOU like to have this? Hey, here you go, it’s yours, take it… you can have it, it’s free. Why don’t you want it? I mean after all, it’s ONLY prostate cancer

Thankfully, I have faith, conviction, unbelievable support from an incredible wife and a determination to win. I am far better informed today than I was 2 weeks ago, and my recovery plan is coming together. Come to think about it, Florida in the winter sounds appealing….

The Journey, Part 4: Staying Alive

So, today I’ve just had the full body bone scan. The sky is blue and the future is bright. I arrive at the hospital and I’m greeted by my radiologist “Hi I’m Skip” he chirps, the happiest hospital worker I’ve ever seen. He’ll administer a radioactive injection then I’ll wait 2 hours for the scan. I let him know rather than wait here I’ll go to work & come back in 2 hours. “Ah! you’ll need this then” and hands me a note. “It’s for the Police, in case you get pulled over.” “Why would I get pulled over?” I ask. Apparently for the next 24 hours I am radioactive and Police cars have scanners that pick up radioactive readings as they drive by me!

I’ve been driving around all day, before and after the scan and like they say “There’s never a cop around when you want one!” I’m waiting for a cop to walk up and say “Excuse me Sir, Do you know why I’ve pulled you over?” so I can whip out my get out of jail free card and say “Yep, here you go” and then be let go. I mean, come on, it’s not every day you get to say “I’m radioactive”.

So back at the hospital Skip is as chipper as ever, if not even more. He is a great person for this job, he completely alleviates any and all worries. He takes the bone scan and let’s me see the results straight away. He informs me that he’s done thousands of these scans and mine looks “pretty darn clear”. The chief radiologist takes a look and also comments “That is one fine-looking scan”. For some reason the Bee Gees start to play in my head and inside I’m dancing like John Travolta! “Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah…Staying alive, Staying alive….”

body-scan

The Journey, Part 3: “I am not alone!”

It’s only been 6 days since I received the news, but I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family, friends and co-workers. This weekend one of our dear friends, the Medina family called to say they’d like to come to our church this Sunday to pray with us. Now, our church just happens to be the most progressive, supportive and welcoming in the world! They constantly surprise us with their outreach and support to not only their community, but to those afar in other towns, states and countries. This Sunday they did it again.

Now, the format of our Sunday service is fairly routine, but always has a powerful message. But this week they announced a small change to the line up. We had the men from the Pivot Ministry attending to celebrate their turning point in life with a special hymn.  When they began to sing “I am not alone” I felt as though everyone in the Church and the choir were singing for me. It was an extremely powerful and uplifting moment.

The amount of information thrown at me in just 5 days left me somewhat overwhelmed by Saturday. Today, after the Church service my path became very clear.

The Journey, Part 2: A Call from Above

stanwich-church

Traveling back from the hospital on Wednesday my cell phone pinged showing a new voicemail. I didn’t recognize the phone number and wondered who had called. I listened to the message and heard the sound of our local Pastor. He’d heard about my diagnosis and wanted to visit! I hadn’t reached out to anyone yet, and yet he knew. They say God moves in mysterious ways.

Many years ago at a regular Sunday service I prayed for an intervention that was greatly needed. The very next day I received a phone call from someone I’d never heard of or spoken to, who turned out to be exactly the person I needed to speak to and my problem was solved within 24 hours of that call!

The Pastor came to our home on Thursday evening, we talked, we laughed, we cried, we prayed. I truly believe in the power of prayer, the power of positive thinking and that our lives are in Gods hands. My faith and belief and the support of those dear to me will ensure this journey is swift and successful. Exodus 23:25 And you shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless your bread, and your water; and I will take sickness away from the middle of you.

The Journey, Part 1

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November 17, 2015 was a momentous life-changing day for me! I was fortunate enough to be informed that a recent blood test could well have saved my life. Thanks to the warning signs in the blood test and a subsequent biopsy I was informed that I have cancer. I will now have further tests to see if it has spread so they can then determine the best treatment.

On November 18 I met with the head physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the #1 cancer hospital in the states to begin this journey. I met with 6 doctors today, the immediate and considerate care given by these people was quite amazing. Within hours a plan was being put together as I was introduced to many doctors and nurses who will now become very well-known to me.

I’ll need a full body bone scan, an MRI and just to make it interesting, I have a rare blood clotting issue which may cause complications! So, let’s throw in a hematologist into the team to make sure we’re good to go with the surgery. The surgery will be taking place before Christmas.

I always remember Mother Theresa once said “God only gives us what he knows we can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!” Amen to that!