One Year Ago Today my life changed!

June 25, 2016.  One year ago I came rushing back from a trip to sit in a doctor’s office.  There two doctors told me the horrible news that I had pancreatic cancer.  I remember that I did not shout, did not cry, in fact I hardly reacted.  I was just numb — it was if I was above on the ceiling watching this scene happen below me.

How that changed my life, and this year!  I had to cancel trips & assignments set up to Italy, Ireland, Nova Scotia & Newfoundland, college Homecoming in New York, trip to Banff & Jasper, Hawaii, Germany shoot of Christmas River cruises, Antarctica-South Georgia-The Falklands, and the Cuba trip this spring.  What a year I had planned….. but my traveling just stopped cold. I was “Superman” before I heard this news, and it can happen to any of us , anytime!  Life is so precious — live it fully, as you are not guaranteed tomorrow.

It has been a vacillating year of ups & downs.  It is a tough cancer to beat for sure, but I have kept my spirits up….. I will not let this disease  take away my spirit.  That is definitely helped by so many of you and your prayers & warm wishes.  I can feel them and they do boost my morale so much, so I thank all of you for those thoughts & prayers.

I am in a waiting mode now until my insides settle and I can have a clear CT Scan to see how much good the 25 chemo & radiation treatments have done.  Kind of scary just to wait, but that is where I am.  I still only get nutrition from 7 cans of Levity 1.5 into a J-tube, directly into my small colon and bypassing my stomach.  Not the way you think of “eating”, but that is all I have now.  Hopefully, that can change with the new CT Scan.

So I thank all of you for your kind thoughts and for caring.  I still want to inspire people in this world somehow…. I just have to do it in a more gentle way than traveling & directing trips.  I know I have been blessed so much  in my life, so that helps indeed if I ever do start to feel low.

12491_2444I include this photo of the Taj Mahal in the early morning light.  I have been to India on three trips and shot the Taj at least three times each time.  It changes color with the light of day and is often very crowded.  I post this one today because the light is so soft & pastel and it portrays the gentle feelings I have today.  It is the most beautiful building in the world and created for love for a ruler’s favorite wife.  Enjoy the visual today.  And I send love and smiles to all of you.

Waiting until I can have a new CT Scan

 

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Here is a peaceful sunset image from wonderful & warm Greece.  No, it is not the Parthenon in Athens.  It is the Temple of Poseidon perched beautifully on a cliff in Cape Sounion.  I feel this temple just relaxes in the Mediterranean compared to the hustle of the Parthenon in the big city of Athens.

I am somewhat patiently (??) waiting until all the shock to my insides subsides so we can get a new CT Scan to see the progress.  I had those 25 days of chemo & radiation combined, and the doctors say I must wait for a long time until I can get a true reading to see how much the tumor has (hopefully) reduced.  Patience is not my best trait (I see the smiles on that comment), but I am doing my best.  I still can not eat food, as it does not move thru my system…. so still on the feeding tube.  Not the best way to enjoy life, but life is precious so you do the best you can each day.

I hope the people who read the blog and need encouragement in their own lives still find some positive energy from these writings.  I have always wanted to help motivate, and I still try to do that each day of my life.  Cheers to all of you.

Had a wonderful day yesterday with my BTO Reunion

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A drone photo of our Reunion.

Yesterday was so special.  And when you are fighting cancer, there are not many “special” days indeed.  I started my travel group Bachmann Tour Overdrive years ago and I have directed 25 exotic trips all over our planet to all 7 continents.  But, more importantly, I have gathered the greatest family of travelers that I could ever have wished for.  Some of these great people have gone on 8, 10, 11, 12 of the 25 trips…. and others have gone on several and then also traveled in smaller groups together on their own.  We really have become lifelong friends.

Yesterday, 55 people came from all over the country to get together like we do almost every year.  But this year, with me fighting cancer, I think it was more special.  The one shot above, taken at my dear friend Dennis Salvagio’s house, was taken at the end and about 30 of the people were still there.  Reg Garner set up his drone camera over Dennis’s house and we all waved.

As far as the cancer, I am at a “wait & see” stage.  A scary stage, by the way, but I must wait until my insides relax and cure from the just finished 25 radiation/chemo combination treatments.  We can not get a real and accurate CT SCAN for at least another month to see if all those tough those treatments did any good.  I am hoping & praying for the best, but will have to just wait a while now.

Friday I went with Connie & Byron (my sister & her husband) to visit a cancer team that does a brand new treatment and we went to see if it could be a possibility for my case.  It is called NanoKnife and is done at only one place here in Orlando.  Instead of traditional surgical or radiation procedures, NanoKnife uses electrical currents  to open the calls to be unbalanced, triggering a cell “suicide” while the veins & nerves are largely unaffected.  Sounds promising.

Heard a lot of facts Friday, but we again must wait for the CT SCAN results to see where we are in the process.  I will continue to try everything to live thru this horrible disease.  As I have told so many people, cancer can hurt my body, but I will NOT let it affect my spirit…. the spirit that has driven me for so many years to live fully.

So I close today this blog with hopes for good results coming, and also with a real Thanksgiving for the wonderful friends who traveled to the Reunion — it meant so much to me. I also thank all those friends all over our planet who send me their prayers and warm thoughts.  I can tell you that anyone who is fighting cancer is lifted by the people that love and care for him or her.  I am especially thankful for Connie & Byron who are here with me, daily fighting the fight with me.

I send cheers to all.

Some not so good news, but not sure!

I have been waiting all week to decide how to address the news I got last Memorial Day weekend. it could be bad news, but there is also a possibility it could be a false read.  I did not want to overly alarm people, but I am ready to address it now with what I know.

My stomach and intestines have not felt “right” since mid January, so I have been dealing with that as much as the cancer.  I went to the Emergency Room and then hospital last Memorial day after not “moving” for 7 days.  Something just feels wrong.

They did a CAT SCAN and the results sounded scary indeed.  They said the pancreas head seems to have grown some and is interfering with my stomach & small intestines.  That could mean the cancer is moving…. in other words, metastasizing.  And they also thought they saw 2 nodules on my lungs which could be nothing or something. And all this is indeed not good news.  They got me moving again  from overnight in the hospital, and then I got home to rest.

On Tuesday, I went to my regular Oncologist and he said these could be a misread of CAT SCAN.  He says that when we are blasting the tumor with radiation with 22 (so far) treatments each weekday, it often throws off CT Scans as so much is happening in there.  They never suggest you get a Scan until at least a month after we quit the radiation.  Then we would get a much truer reading, as things have calmed down inside.

Obviously, I am alarmed by this reading, but I am holding onto hope that it is a misread from all the activity inside.  I did not know how to address this on my blog, as I don’t want to scare everyone.  But I have tried to be as open and honest with the blog as I possibly can be, so I had to address it somehow here.

So that is what I know now.  I will finish the remaining 6 sessions of radiation and we are also going to look into a brand new procedure called NanoKnife.  I have an appointment this week to meet and learn more about this electrical method of destroying cancer cells.  It is here in Orlando also.  Brand new and has some success, but I need to learn a lot more.

I will keep my positive attitude, I can assure you.  This cancer can beat up on my body, but I will not let it defeat my spirit!  This is just how I am made.

I am having a big Reunion of my Bachmann Tour Overdrive travel group on Saturday the 10th and I can’t tell you how I look forward to that.  I started this group and we have become a loving family and I look forward to seeing so many of them.  I will not have a lot of energy, but I will sit and glow with all the friendships and love in the room as we show slides from our many trips (we have had 25 BTO trips now).  This is indeed the one thing I have done in my career that I am most [roud of accomplishing.  I have had big, big assignments and some famous things, but this little travel group has my heart more than any of those things.

Please keep your warm thoughts and prayers coming my way — I can really use them!  I send hugs to all of you.