Five Sessions of Chemo & Radiation over

RADIATION

Well, I have 5 sessions over with this new combined radiation & chemo procedure.  It is in the books.  Only 23 more sessions to go.

Is it easy…. NO!  I usually come right home and sleep for several hours.  And they say it will get tougher.  I am trying to be ready for all that it offers for sure.

Photo is “BIG RAD” …. the high powered radiation machine that I meet each day from M-F.  Not a pretty thing and she makes a lot of strange sounds.  I can only hope she is doing her thing well inside my pancreas.

I have the weekend off from both!  Woppee!  Now if only I could have a sandwich or a drink!  But I will keep on trucking!  Have a great weekend everyone.  Cheers….

Longer day than I thought it would be

sign

First, let me share some joy with all of you.  As I drove out of my driveway towards the street on my way to the hospital. I spotted this home-made sign that some dear friend(s) made for me today as I start this radiation/chemo fight.  It was so wonderful and touched my heart…. I know I have people that are caring, but this was special!  I wish I knew who did it… called several and they said “no”.  It is so special to me as I progress this next journey.

Went to hospital for first radiation and it took 2 hours (rather than the 20 minutes each day they told me).  Then up to get fitted for a “chemo bag” that will slowly let chemo in each hour for 5 days at a time, then they remove each Friday afternoon,  Will have to get used to sleeping with that.

Bad news tho … instead of 15 chemo/sessions for three weeks, they have changed it to 28 sessions over 5 1/2 weeks (off Sat & Sun).  So it will be longer than I thought, but they are going milder than they were going to for a longer time.

I’ll do it and work my hardest to think positive each day.  The positive mind is the best one.  And thank you again, whoever hung that sign.  I sure hope I find out who did it!  Cheers….

Bring it on!

sunflowerws3

As I get ready for 15 straight days of tough chemo & radiation starting tomorrow, what better picture to visualize than a field of sunflowers in North Dakota. How can anyone look at sunflowers and not smile??

I am ready for the tough time ahead…. hope it won’t be as bad as it can be. I need your thoughts & prayers. Bring it on doctors!

Waiting for chemo & radiation project

norway112

Several people have asked me to post some of my favorite images from my travel career. So I will filter some in in the coming weeks of chemo & radiation ahead.  I may not have too much energy at all in the weeks ahead, so i hope I can keep this going from time to time.

One of my favs was this one in Norway. I was shooting for a cruise line for two weeks, but rented a car for myself for another week to explore some more of Norway. There was a physical education class learning to kayak and they all were on the side talking. I just liked the way the kayaks were lined up in the beautiful fjord, so I took this photo. I also took video later of them on the boats, but this is one of my top ten images if I were to rank them.

Delay a week for mapping of radiation

Spent today in the scan machine at Florida Hospital as the radiation team “mapped” my insides and made a mold for me to fit in so that I won’t move during the radiation.  All of this is to be extra careful that the radiation is really focused exactly where it should be and little (or no) fall out to the surrounding areas.

So this delays the radiation & chemo as we now start on Monday May 1st for 15 straight days..  It is worth the wait to get it right.

No other news…. anxious for this radiation to kill so much of this tumor and open up my stomach.  Golly, would I love a real meal!

I’m ready for this next step…. bring it on!

Back to Florida Hospital for Endoscopy & Markers Placement

 

FLH

Today went to have minor surgery with an endoscopy to check the tumor and then place the gold markers for the radiation guidelines.  I always heard that “minor surgery” was surgery to someone else!  🙂

After I came to, the doctor said the tumor was not obstructing my stomach, but it’s effects are what causes me to not be able to eat.   I am hoping & praying that after three weeks that a combination each day of chemo & radiation can kill lots (all?) of the tumor and I will be able to eat.  Oh, to have a slice of pizza, a sandwich, even a desert!!  Such joys in life that we don’t appreciate until they are taken away.

The gold markers placed on either side of the tumor are to direct the radiation focused on that area and (hopefully) not damage surrounding areas.  One problem with pancreatic cancer is that there are other important organs so crowded together.  So they must be as directed as possible.

When I first found out I had cancer (on June 25th last year, a day I will never forget!),  I soon had 10 strong strong sessions of chemo every two weeks until November.  But I was stronger & heavier then and did not have any real bad side effects (other than losing my hair) These chemo sessions will be every day for 15 days and will be more mild.  BUT, combined with the radiation and my much weaker body, I may well feel badly & more weak than ever.  It is the price I need to now pay to kill much of this tumor.  So, pray for me as I endure not great days ahead.  I do not even know if I will have the energy to get out of bed, email of call anyone on the phone.  Just say prayers as I go “silent” for awhile please.

As I have said before, Cancer is a HORRIBLE disease, affecting so many of us with our loved ones.  I hate what cancer has done to my strength, my energy, my body …. but I will not let it take one my spirit.  I remain the same person with the same resolve.  I ask for your thoughts & prayers as I battle on.  Keep your faith as I will !

 

A rough time coming ahead

Went to the oncologist today and we are getting ready for a really tough & intense three weeks soon.  I will be doing 15 days straight of chemo & radiation on each day.  I hope my energy is up for this!  I will do my best, I know.

Seems the tumor is a little larger (not good news), but no indication it has moved anywhere else (hopefully, good news).  So we are going to hit it hard in the next month and hope it reduces the tumor and helps with my digestion.  The problem I have had that has taken my energy (and more weight loss) is that I can not eat any food and make it thru my stomach.  Something in the pancreas has blocked the stomach somehow, so I am limited to a feeding tube into my small colon.  How I would LOVE to eat a pizza slice, or a sandwich, or anything!  I have had more trouble in the last there months with my stomach than with the cancer!

By the way, the reason why I am doing 15 days of BOTH chemo & radiation is that my doctor says the chemo will make the radiation much more effective.  I have to believe him.

The problem is my energy level is really low.  Those that know me know this is UNUSUAL for me!  But I have lost so much weight and only getting nutrition from a tube makes me not real strong right now.  So say a prayer for me to make it thru this 15 days really successfully.  On the 20th, I am having an endoscopy to place 2 gold pins on each end of the tumor so that in the next 3 weeks they can really pinpoint the radiation exactly between those two points only.

I hope that I do not lose any more energy with this treatment.  This cancer does horrible things to one’s body, but I will NOT let it get to my spirit!  I am a fighter and I want to fight this as hard as I can.  Cast some thoughts my way that I can have the strength to keep upright in these three weeks.  I may find that I can not do as much email and FB stuff after I start, as this is all new.  I wish I could keep taking the Alternative Methods medicines, but I can not swallow any pills and we can not crush enough of them to get them into the extremely small tube into the small colon. So for now it will be traditional only.

As always I send all of you warmth and I thank you for your caring.  I hope that those that need some positive vibes can sense that positive from my strong will power.  So I say Cheers to all of you.

Made the decision for Radiation treatment

Last breathe

After much prayer, consideration, research  and discussions with family, I have decided to not go on the 8-week Alt Med route and am starting radiation in about 1 -2 weeks.

I hope that I have made the right decision.  There really is no “right” decision, as they both have their merits.  Hopefully, the radiation will destroy some more of the tumor and then perhaps I can go towards the Alt Medicine later.

I need to gain weight and get energy.  If I can remove some of the tumor near my stomach, perhaps I can get back to eating rather than the feed tube.  I can tell you a feed tube is no way to exist!  So say prayers for me in this decision.

I send hugs to all of you reading this.  I especially send warm thoughts for those of you that read this that may be facing health concerns.  I get a  lot of email from people going thru health issues and I have inspired them.   I hope that you see that cancer is TOUGH and tough on the body — but I will NOT let it take a way my spirit or the fight I will continue.  So continue your fight also, never losing the goal ahead.

A really big decision to make for treatment

I am at a point that I have to make a decision real soon (several days) on what direction to go with my treatment.  It is critical and I must weigh this really carefully.

The two choices are quite different.  The first is to go to Clearwater for 8 straight weeks fro M-F to take very innovative, rigid, special Alternative Methods of curing that are available almost no where in the USA.

The problem is it has so much nutritional techniques and I have a food pump that may well make much of that impossible now.  Also, it seems like the company also deals with a psychologist who spends a lot of time with each of us trying to work on how we got cancer and even what they feel in our minds that allowed cancer to enter our bodies.  Personally, I am much more interested in getting RID of the cancer than finding out what caused it now.  So much of this 8 weeks could be not as meaningful to me.  And it could well wear me out going this strongly and back & forth to Orlando. And, of course, like traditional, both choices offer no assurances that we can lose this cancer.

The second choice would be what my oncologist has wanted for several months…. 5 days of tough radiation directed exactly on the tumor to kill much of it.  Then perhaps some different chemo later.  Traditional also does not offer great statistics for my cancer.

Please say a prayer for me to make the decision that is right.  I have spent days weighing this decision and it must be made real soon.

I send hugs to all.

Let us all start to appreciate our own life more!

I have been thinking about writing today’s blog for several days now. I have been home from the hospital for 5 days now and have a food tube inserted into my stomach to helpfully gain weight and have more stomach comfort as I fight this cancer.

It sure is no way to eat or enjoy food in my life, after a lifetime of enjoying food always.  But today I really don’t want to talk about just me anymore.  Instead I want to add some thoughts from my heart from a person whose life was turned upside down 9 months ago and how we can ALL value our good heath and the many blessings we all have that we too often don’t shine a light on because we live too busy.  Don’t wait for really bad news to appreciate how good your life is now.

So forgive me for stepping on a soap box for a few minutes here now.  And I hope that I say something in the next paragraphs that may mean something to each of you, may help you to remember to  consider your BLESSINGS.

On June 25th of last year, I came back from a trip to be told I have a major cancer that could well take my life.  Shocked … NO.  Angry …. NO.  My immediate reaction was NUMB.  It was like I was in a room looking down from the ceiling on two doctors talking to someone out of my own body.

Please realize, until that horrible June day, in my mind I was Superman.  For over 35 years, I have never missed a beat.  I traveled the world to over 200 countries, taking 10-12  trips each year to exotic parts of the world that took several weeks each usually.  I ate at the best restaurants in the world… a big part of traveling to me.  And now I am in my house getting nutrition from a bag hanging above me.  Wow, talk about changes!

Now I am hoping that I never felt entitled of that I deserved this big life that I was living for so long.  I will have to have those that have known me for so many years to judge me on that.  I sincerely feel that I always felt tremendously BLESSED and joyful that this teenage boy from Pittsburgh was so lucky that my childhood hobby of photography turned into a career that he loved and appreciated.  I felt so blessed that and thankful that I had great clients that believed in me and trusted me to roam the world and come back with colorful pictures for their magazines, for their ad campaigns, for their television campaigns.  I was thankful to the wonderful client Kodak for sending me all over the world on my Kodak World Tour for 2 years and 72 countries.  I felt blessed that I had so many cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, tourism boards, magazines, exotic resorts,  Fortune 500 companies, etc had faith in my ability to produce often in so many corners of the world. I was in charge of so many photo crews as we traversed our Earth, and I created friendships with them that have existed for decades now.  And I joyfully led my BTO Group Photo Tours, again exploring our wonderful globe with dear, dear friends.

But when you get hit BANG by news that could be indeed fatal, you again reevaluate how you lived your life and how you have appreciated the life each of us is given.  Let me hold a mirror up,to each of you for a moment that I have had to hold up to me.  Any one of you could so easily get the worse news you could ever get that could change your life in AN INSTANT.  Any one of you could have an accident, cancer, a stroke, someone in your family have horrible news, etc that could change your life completely.  I hope this does not ever happen to you, but I want the thoughts to make you more aware of living fully now.

What I want for each of you …. and why I am writing this longer blog to each of you today, is to APPRECIATE  your life and health now and live with that joy.  You don’t have to travel the world each day, but live your life with joy NOW.

I can tell you that anyone that has cancer does now get upset my traffic jams anymore!  And we need to all stop sweating the small stuff and having so much conflict in your life now.  Stop rushing so much each day as weeks fly by and we find ourselves missing out on so many of the gentle moments of life. While you have good health and life is good, be a better listener, be a better friend, or spouse, or family member.  If you have not called a loved one for some small conflict, call them now and sweep that slate clean.  Live life with joy, noticing the small wonders of life.  Eat more ice cream and less bran!  Take your shoes off  earlier in the Spring and keep them off longer into Fall.  In other words, please — and I tell you this from someone who has tried to live my life that way always — strive to make you life better NOW!

I trust & hope that I have always tried to live my life helping others, even perhaps inspiring others.  I spent so many of my years lecturing around the world or on tv/radio shows (hopefully) inspiring many people to travel our beautiful planet and yes, shoot beautiful pictures.  Now I feel that maybe God now wants me to inspire others to just make sure that they live their lives with joy & happiness.

I hope this is not too long of a blog and I hope it touches some small part of you.  I each year for the last 30 years have sent out a Christmas card and newsletter that had this phrase on the very last sentence in the letter.

It read:  “Care Deeply … Think Kindly … Act Gently … Pray Daily … and be at Peace with the Earth!”  That phrase means even more to me now.   Thank you for reading this and I send you joy now.

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.