Another Chemo down, more to come

 

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Yesterday I had still another Chemo session.  This is a photo of the room sign at Florida Hospital where I have all the treatments near the main hospital off of Princeton Street.  It was another full house there on my Monday afternoons.  Unfortunately, cancer is a busy business.  How can we bring an end to this horrible disease that attacks so many people and effects so many families???

Not much to report other than they tell me that I am half way.  They added one more treatment at the end now, so I am I guess officially half way towards my original schedule.  After that, it depends on several things.

Today, am feeling the usual low energy day.  On Wednesdays my temperature usually rises, so I will be taking medicine to try to stop that before it starts.  Hate to say it, but I am getting used to this dull routine.  Life is not very exciting for me now, but I try each day to fill my mind and soul with positive vibes, do something productive each day and get plenty of sleep  & rest.  My body needs this rest so I am listening to it well!

I have had so many emails from so many people that are reading my blog and it seems to help them.  I am thrilled to be a positive “voice in the woods” to help others.  For so many years I lectured about positive feelings of traveling our Earth & the joy of photography.  So for now I have taken a right turn and am helping so many others I do not even know to think positively.  That warms my heart indeed.  It is hard to describe the joy I get back from these emails… keep them coming please.  My day is better when I read emails from those I do know & love also.  It adds joy to my afternoons indeed.

To all those I know, that I love, that love me and to those I do not know — think positively EACH DAY of your life in some ways.  Make the most of whatever gifts you are given and use them to “pass it along” to make others feel better.  I have lived by that motto all of my life, and I am glad to still be able to do that even without the physical strength I have always had.  Cheers…

Just got results of the tests

I had the tests yesterday and have been waiting — not very patiently — for the results.  The doctor just called and I know more now.

I think the news is fairly good, but I was kind of hoping for even more good news.  So far this is what I now know after all the Chemo we have done, along with all the Alternative Methods, pills, drinks and things we have taken.

The growth has not gotten significantly smaller, but it has not grown larger either.  It has — positively — moved away from some of the important blood vessels.  This is what we do want.  I had hoped to see it reduce more, but then I want it to go away totally!

More good news is that in the original chest X-rays, there were several lung nodules and they did not know if they were cancerous or benign.  After the Chemo they wanted them still there, which means that the cancer is not metastasized and that is really good news.  If thy were gone from the Chemo, that would probably mean that it had spread and that would not be good.  They were still there which is good news so they were not cancerous or the Chemo would have destroyed them.  That I know is good.

So, I guess it is good news.  I just would have liked to have it reduced a lot.  That is me and my fighting spirit talking, I guess.  Not growing in two months and moving away from blood vessels is good the doctor said to me personally.

So we will go on with the same treatment and do Chemo on Monday as usual.  I ask again for all of your prayers.  I look forward to being done with Chemo after 5 more treatments and then starting to get ready for the surgery that will remove the dead (hopefully) cancer cells and my pancreas.  So that is my goal indeed.

Hope you all have a good weekend.  At least I know more now what is going on inside my body as these treatments continue.  Hope I can keep my energy up and do more each week to improve!  Chemo wipes a person out totally, so it is a fight.  But one I am prepared to do.

I send hugs to anyone reading this that may have loved ones or themselves needing a positive lift.  Keep that spirit and will to succeed…

 

A very important test coming up on Thursday!

This week my doctors decided to rescue me from the rigors of weekly Chemo to let my body come back to normal a little.  As tough as this Chemo  is, they felt I needed to revert to every other week for several weeks.  I sure can’t complain about it!

So I am just resting — and still finishing up on repairs needed after the lightning strike.  We have much of the items repaired now, but still need to get two new computers delivered  and get them up and running.  It has been a real process to repair so much.

So, I am spending my time thinking about how lucky I have been in my life today!  I had my Northern Italy BTO trip scheduled in July, but then I came down with the cancer diagnosis on June 25th (the day of my first blog with the shocking news!)  So I could not go or lead the trip with my fabulous group and they did it without me.

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But here is the really cool part…. they smuggled a photo of me out of my studio (Michele gave it to them and I never knew) and they printed a large “foldable Bill” and took it in their cameras bags to INCLUDE me at many times in the trip photos!  I was so touched by that and I felt “Flat Bill” was definitely a part of their trip.  Of all the things I have done in my long career, starting my Bachmann Tour Overdrive (BTO) group is the best thing I have done.  We have had 23 trips all over the world together and I love showing people that love travel and photography all the beautiful places on our Planet Earth.  The next trip is Antarctica in February and then Cuba again in April.

Above is the final group shot in Venice, Italy  and I am there in spirit in the back row for sure!  What a cool thing to do…

As far as the important test this week, say a special prayer on Thursday for me as I have a contrast Full Body CT (cat scan) to see 1) if the tumor is shrinking and 2) To make sure the cancer has not spread (metastasized) to anywhere else!  I am  excited — and a little scared —  to hear the results of the test, so please cast a thought or prayer my way that day.

I send hugs to everyone and hope that your days are filled with laughter and fun.  Life is to be lived fully, so go out and enjoy!  I know I plan on doing that again soon!  Cheers.

All of us must think positive!

 

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This is a quote from Henry Ford and it is true in any person’s life.  No matter what you do in life, think positive that you CAN do it!  Even in a fight against cancer. I can beat this cancer!

Had Chemo on Monday again, so lacking energy, appetite & stomach regularity.  It is tough, but I must stay positive.  I do hit some “lows,” but I am not letting them stay in my mind for too long.

Spent a lot of energy this week getting computers, printers, security system, hard drives, etc repaired after that lightning hit.  Still more to do as it seems it hit various places and things.

Just trying to get thru all the tough parts of Chemo and I am trying to rest when I can.  Hope this finds all of you thinking positive, having good days in your lives and enjoying your day-to-day living.  Keep those prayers, emails and thoughts coming as they really do lift my spirits each day!

Chemo #4 is completed!

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As you know from my blog, Chemo is not for the faint of heart.  I had a week “off” this week from a treatment, so today I had #4.  I will feel it for some days now — it tries to knock you down for sure.  I will stay as strong as I can.

Here is a photo of the end of this fourth treatment.  I was the last one to leave my room this afternoon.

This “off” week was full of “bummer” other stuff that happened.  As if Cancer is not enough of a struggle, on Wednesday my home got a bad direct hit from lighting.  Knocked out my security system (expensive to repair!), one computer in the house, two monitors, Cable (easy to fix), phones (easy to fix) and I hope it did NOT knock out a really big 20 Terabyte  storage drive (with much of our video clips).  Hope not, but I should find out tomorrow with Michele in the studio.  If it is fried, I HOPE that we can recover the data.

This is not what I needed to worry about.  I also found out my home deductible is about $5000….. ouch!  I remember when it was $500 or so.  What happened to that?  I will be over that so I will have to pay all of the $5000 more than likely.

To add to that, on Friday night I told Connie (my best friend — I call her my sister — who has moved in to help me with all of the cancer for many months)…. “Let’s take a quick ride in my (now antique) Jag convertible for a spin just to relax.”  We drove it to the Post office (in traffic) at about 10 pm and then drove it on my main country road.  I wanted to show her some of the really big elegant homes on Markham Woods Road.  I was going about 35 mph and we were about 4 miles from home.  Put the brake on once and it went all the way to the floor — NO BRAKES!  Yikes!!  I had to drive so crazy trying to get onto grass, try to find hills to go up — anything to slow down — and prayed I did not come to any congestion with cars.  Got it down to about 20, made a crazy fast U-turn and headed home.  Went slow as I could and had to cross one light to run a red (honked my horn and flashers on so a car crossing in front stopped for us!) and then had trouble stopping in my circular driveway so I kept going around & used  emergency brake to stop in front of house.  Whew!  We were so lucky.

AAA tow truck took it to repair shop over weekend and he said today it was the Master Brake Cylinder and we will repair it.  Thank God we did not hit anyone because I had no way of stopping…. but I drove it the best I could.

When it rains, it pours!  I wanted a week to relax, not lighting & no brakes.  But we made it and will get everything done.  I stay on those thoughts as much as I can.

So, I send hugs to all of you.  Never a dull moment here for sure this week.  Keep living your life all of you and savor each good thing in your days.  Most of a good life is between YOUR ears!

Thinking of how blessed I have been

This is an “off” week for Chemo, so I have felt a little better.  We got hit by lightning yesterday in a fierce  storm, so now the next few days are getting repairs done by repairmen.  May have lost a computer, one monitor, security system people in today, AT&T for home phones, Best Buy Geek Squad coming tomorrow, as are Bright House cable, etc.  A lot of stuff, but I am not getting upset and losing my real goals of health recovery!  I sure hope they can save so much info on that computer!

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Instead of worrying, I am thinking today how really blessed I have been in my life. I was just a kid from Pittsburgh, loved sports and loved photography more.  Did I EVER imagine that I would travel to over 190 countries on all seven continents and have so many wonderful opportunities for 35 years?  Not in my wildest dreams!!

The photo above I took with a cell phone of the globe map in the library of my home.  It shows the dots of locations all over our planet.  Heck, there are over 35 countries just in the Caribbean area, so it adds up quickly when you travel so often on assignment shoots.

I had a saying tacked on top of the map that I love!  “Not All Who Wander Are Lost!”  I have kind of lived that phrase, I imagine.  The coolest part is the word “Wander”.  My Mom had a syndicated weekly newspaper column (like Erma Bombeck) in 13 small newspapers in Western PA and Eastern Ohio that she called “The Wandering Reporter”.  It was fun as a small child to go with her to her editor in Pittsburgh many weeks with her bringing me (the baby) and her typewriter.  One of my 15 books has the title “Wandering The Pacific Rim” that I chose in honor of her wandering!  And I have dedicated several of my books to my parents who taught me so much about freedom & also a strong sense of responsibility.

Those of you that know me personally, or perhaps from my lectures & books, know how I have always said I have been so blessed to have my career come from my hobby, photography.  I have always been so appreciative and humbled by the opportunities that have presented themselves to me as I have have traveled our globe with camera in hand for most of my adult life.  I sure never took it for granted!

I will not travel for some time now as I battle this disease, and I miss it terribly.  But my approach now is that I will start traveling again and sharing photos & video clips with my clients & stock reps to be published all over the world.  Traveling is in my blood!  And my wonderful travel group, BACHMANN TOUR OVERDRIVE,  also has that same travel “gene”.  I am more proud of that little group that I started than anything else I have ever done in my career!  It is the purest and most rewarding thing I do each year is take people to places I love and see their reactions to the beauty that Earth offers us!

So I leave each of you today with positive thoughts and hugs.  May your lives be blessed by many special moments — many times it is the small gifts that life gives us that add up to the most sincere meaning.  So enjoy your days and keep those prayers coming!

No more bad hair days for a while.

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This blog will be  little different than most of the others.  This one has a photo below that should make all of you laugh today.  And the laugh is on me!

The photo above was one of my crazy hair days in the late 80’s. This was a wild assignment for a magazine on really, really rough bars.  The guy on the left is a gifted writer for the story named Bill Belleville and the man in the middle was the ‘over the top’ bartender at this rowdy motorcycle bar.  And, finally, me the rather timid photographer.  The photos I took that the magazine published were really off the edge often.

The reason I show this picture today is I had so many years of changing long & short hair.  Well, officially after yesterday, I have no hair left!  It was falling out fairly quickly, so I went to Great Clips yesterday and had them shave it all off.  One of the nicest things a company can do is that Great Clips, when you are going thru Chemo, will shave your head at no charge as an honor for your fight!  Isn’t that a nice gesture for a big company to do?  I tipped my stylist well, but she was crying with me at the end of the trim.  I have known her a long time there at that shop.

So, my friends, you are in for a laugh now.  The photo below is me without hair.  Something I have never seen.  I am pictured with my best friend Connie’s daughter Kim, who I have been Uncle Bill to her entire life.  She flew in this weekend to spend a few days with her Mom and me, and I was so pleased.  She is an important lawyer, and now an Administrative Law  Judge for the State of Tennessee.  I am so very proud of her.  We both have thumbs up as I continue to strive  towards my goal of being a Cancer Survivor!

I can see so many of my friends laughing wildly at this photo. Have a good laugh on me.  I do know for a fact that God created a few perfect heads, and the rest he put hair on!  In my case, I need hair AND a hat! My scalp is so pale (heck, it has never been bare) and I

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never really saw my ears like that.  So enjoy all of you, as sometime soon it will grow back and I should look more normal.  And I wonder what my hair will look like after the Chemo… people say it grows totally differently than you had.  Something to look forward to indeed.

I close this today saying I am off Chemo this week and I hope to bring my body “back” with some rest from the deadly chemicals.  Still a work in progress with dangerous rising temperatures at times, difficulty being regular, and hoping that my appetite improves.  I tend to pick at food and I don’t want to lose any more weight.

I send hugs and smiles to all of you.  To all of those that need a smile & a lift today, I hope that I did that for you.

An Emergency Room Diversion

 

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Wednesdays seem to be the worst days for me after the Monday Chemo treatments.  I wrote the last blog on Wednesday, but that night my temperature went up to 102.3.  I tried another colder shower, but I had chills and that did not work.  Then tried cold washcloths to no avail.  So we called the doctor’s answer service and they said go check into hospital from Emergency Room.  So we did.

Boy, even in a nice hospital, the ER after midnight looks like a 3rd World Country!  So many whole families laying around all the chairs as one patient from the family is the one sick — no place for the real patients to sit even.  Full house indeed.  I got there at midnight, finally got sent to a room in the hospital at 5:30 am!  They gave me IVs and I was released on Thursday afternoon.   Not exactly a fun night.

I have a vacation from Chemo this week, so we will take blood tests and see some results, I hope.  Doctor wants to attack that temperature spike before it goes up on Wednesdays with some medicine.  So I will try that after we start Chemo in two weeks.  This week I want to let my body rest from these tough sessions.

Still doing all the other alternative methods of Detox,  Frankincense, so many pills that fill your body with things that cancer hates, alkaline water, etc etc.  I am staying true to the fight and giving my body every chance.  I ask that you keep your prayers coming in the next few weeks as we turn the corner & then look for positive shrinkage in the tumor, no spreading, etc.  I can feel your prayers.  And I need your prayers & warm thoughts to boost my spirits.  I don’t have the energy for visits or calls, but I read every word you all send and I can’t tell you how much it means to my spirit.

To all those following the blog here, I send everyone positive energy, a fighting spirit, and a joy of life in your every day.  Watched a great movie on determination of the human fight last night on cable … “The Martian” with Matt Damon.  Being left deserted on Mars in space with only his own intelligence and fighting spirit was indeed uplifting!  I try to fill my life now with the power of positive vibes, and this was a great movie to lose myself into his fight.

Cheers to everyone.  Have a great weekend…..

Another Weak Wednesday

 

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The photo above is another full house of IV’s in my Chemo room on Monday.  Not supposed to take photos, but you can see about 1/3 of the room looking one way.  Lots of people getting treatments for sure.  And the “Monday Group” has started to know each other and share stories & helpful hints.  As many of you know, I have never met stranger!

The Chemo has anti Nausea drugs and also steroids for energy.  They both seem to wear off on Wednesdays & Thursdays for me, making these 2 days the toughest.  The best news is that I get a vacation week next week from the Chemo, so I hope I start to feel like me again.  Only extensive blood work this next Monday.

Have to watch my temperature tonight.  Last Wednesday we almost returned to Emergency Room as they suggested if temperature went higher than 100.5.  Mine rose to 101.4, but we were able to reduce it safely with a colder shower & cold washcloths on my forehead.  Will watch that tonight closely.  Thank Heavens for Connie by my side!  Her husband is up in Maryland trying to close up things there and soon make the real move (with puppies & furniture) to Florida.

Mostly I feel OK with just very little energy today.  But I have come to expect that, so it is not alarming.  I am anxiously looking forward to three more tough Chemo and then RESULTS— should find out how Chemo is working to reduce the tumor, along with all the alternative methods also working to reduce the size.  And I can surely not discount the many many prayers that are coming my way for full recovery.  Keep those coming as I do feel them from so many of you! I am fighting this disease on three fronts!

My goals — reduce the tumor, have surgery to remove the pancreas and work toward the day when I can shout — yes, actually SHOUT — to the world, “I am a Cancer Survivor!”

May all of you feel blessed today as you live your lives.  Enjoy all the little blessings that life gives you in sometimes the simplest of ways.