Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Long wait between posts

Sorry everyone, I've been...err...busy?  Okay, maybe I've been lazy, or maybe I've just needed a break.  We took a long overdue vacation in March.  We took the kids to Southern California.  No, it wasn't Hawaii but we felt so guilty about leaving them.  They've had a tough year as well.  We stayed at the Newport Coast Villas by Marriott.  It was, by far, the very best hotel experience that we have ever had.  If you ever have the chance to go there, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity.

We also took the kids to Disneyland.  I realized quickly that my stamina is still not where it needs to be.  I think I made it 8 hours on one day but usually only lasted for 6 hours.  The good news is that we had a 6 day pass to Disneyland so the kids didn't complain about leaving early every day.  So much fun to spend that time with family.  We love Disneyland and I'm glad we have made it a favorite destination...but Michelle and I still deserve Hawaii.  :)

I think I mentioned this before but we were very concerned about Dr. Legant.  She switched Medical Networks.  She is now part of the Huntsman Cancer Institute working out of the UofU medical facility in Daybreak.  My insurance company doesn't cover that network.  I did a lot of legwork and found out that I can still see her and pay out of pocket for her visits and she can send me to IHC for scans and labs.  That made me feel so much better.  When you have a Doctor that you trust and that knows your entire history, you don't want to change.  I know there are many other good Oncologists, but I trust her.

I'm hoping for another scan later this month.  I think she wanted to wait 6 months but I want a second clean scan.  That will make me feel even better.

The vegetarian diet is still in effect.  I feel very good about it.  It can be hard at times but for the most part, I don't notice.  In fact, the other day, a team was having a pot luck lunch.  I walked over to talk to a co-worker and I had to leave quickly because the smell of beef was so terrible to me.  No offense to my carnivorous friends out there, my nose has become very sensitive to beef.  I am sorry to report that I'm not losing weight but that will come if I start exercising.  I tried to run with the young men the other day and I made it about 3 blocks and had to walk (what a wimp!).

I know this post doesn't make up for the month and a half that I haven't blogged but I'll try to be more consistent going forward.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

This one's for NED...

Who is Ned and why is this one for him? I'm committed! By writing this down, I'm committed. NED = No Evidence of Disease. Best thing a cancer survivor can hear. I recently read that some people do some crazy rituals when they receive their NED news. Me...well, I guess this is crazy too. I decided that I wanted to do something for myself. I'm going to run a half marathon on June 23rd. Many of you know me and know that I'm not in great physical shape but I'm going to do it. I may have to walk some but I have to do it! If anyone is interested in joining me, it is the AF canyon half marathon. Proceeds benefit cancer patients that are in need of treatments but can't afford them. I was very fortunate to have great insurance during my fight, I can't imagine facing that challenge without insurance or a way to pay for the treatments.

NED may equal crazy old man trying to run a half marathon, but it might also mean another fighter beats cancer after receiving the treatments that he/she needs.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


In my brief time on this earth, I've witnessed many miracles. Some may consider these very fortunate events, but in my mind, they are miracles.

1. My Mom agreed to marry my Dad. Okay, this isn't a miracle but we used to tell my Dad that we chose Mom and she chose him. I love you Mom and Dad.

2. My Dad joined the military during the Vietnam War. He felt certain he would be drafted and so he joined. Everyone filled out a wish list of where they would like to go. While most people listed Hawaii, the Caribbean, and other tourist destinations, my Dad chose Japan as he went on his mission to Japan. Well, everyone in his unit went to Vietnam, except for one. Yep, you guessed it, my Dad was selected to go to Japan. They had a need and he spoke Japanese...Miracle!

3. When I was a toddler, I ran my toy motorcycle over a cliff. I'm sure I was hurt but I missed all of the jagged rocks and was relatively fine...Miracle!

4. When I was about 14, I got a piece of steak lodged in my throat. I couldn't breathe. I was fortunate that my Dad knew the Heimlich Maneuver. He performed it on me and it became dislodged. Maybe not a miracle but very glad my Dad knew what he was doing. Oh heck...it was a Miracle!

5. Graduation night in 1987, yes I'm old, my friend bought a new scooter. He brought it over to show me. I took it for a spin while my girlfriend, Michelle, watched. I started to show off and lost control of the scooter. I crashed and landed in between my neighbors decorative rocks in their park strip. Spent much of the night at the emergency room and got stitches in my head but fully recovered. Miracle!

6. Survived Bangkok traffic on my mission (I had to drive in it for about a year)...Miracle!

7. Had a dream about Michelle on my mission. I dreamt that she got divorced and we had another shot. She was married at the time. I felt terrible. It ended up coming to fruition...probably the biggest Miracle in my life.

8. The birth of each one of our kids. I mean, come on, how can you witness childbirth and not believe in miracles.

9. In 1999, I was involved in a very serious automobile accident. Neither of the two drivers were wearing a seat belt. I had two broken arms and I've previously discussed the other driver. Miracle!

10. My most recent experience with Cancer...I don't need to talk about it as I've spent the past year documenting it. Miracle!!!!!

I could go on and on but I think these rank as my top 10 (in chronological order).

Miracles continue to happen! I told our ward (church congregation) today that I have a testimony of prayer. So many prayers have been said on our behalf. Not saying that everyone that wasn't cured of cancer did not have their prayers answered or that I'm special, I just know how much the prayers helped us. Miracles...so grateful for miracles.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Did I read that correctly?

Okay...I feel like I've been a bit negative lately. I've been concerned about my pending scan. I've been overly worried about every little pain and abnormal feeling. I've heard that this is the life of a cancer survivor. I received what I believe to be good news today. Let me start from the beginning:

5:30 am - Wake up and get ready for the day. Nick has early morning seminary today.
6:15 am - Take Nick to seminary.
7:45 am - Michelle's Mom came over to get Sydney off to school and we left for IMC. I unfortunately forgot the paperwork so we had to turn around to get it. Good thing we left early!
8:15 am - We arrived at IMC and I registered for my blood labs.
8:25 am - The vampires at IMC sucked a couple of vials of blood from my arm. They used my good vein which concerned me because I knew that the CT tech would need to hook up an IV tube for the PET scan.
8:30 am - We went upstairs to register for the PET Scan.
8:35 am - They called me back for the PET scan. I wasn't scheduled until 9:00 am.

The timing gets fuzzy from here as I couldn't see a clock and didn't have my cell phone. I went back and they had me start drinking the iodine/crystal light mix. The tech hooked up the IV line. He then brought in the radioactive sugar mix and injected it into the line. I got to rest for about 45 minutes while the radioactive sugar was absorbed into my system. The tech came back in had me drink some more crystal light mix. It was then time for the scan. I had to lay down on the table with my arms raised above my head and they told me to not move for 35 minutes.

The scan begins with a quick CT scan of my entire body and then the PET scan takes pictures of sections of my body in 5 minute increments. I've never really been claustrophobic but today I felt a little nervous. The tube is about 3 feet long and it felt like I was in there for a long time.

This is probably a lot more information than you ever wanted to know about PET scans but I thought I would give you an idea of what I go through each time. When I got home, the blood labs were already on Intermountain Healthcare's website. The numbers looked good but no scan data yet. About 30 minutes later, the scan results came up. This is what it said:

FINDINGS: At the skull base and neck no abnormal hypermetabolic
uptake was detected.

At the thorax no abnormal hypermetabolic uptake was detected.

At the abdomen and pelvis no abnormal hypermetabolic uptake was

Foci of increased activity described on the prior study at
mesenteric lymph nodes have resolved over the interval. CT of the
abdomen shows progression of lymph node nodules although there is
persistent mesenteric density, which is not hypermetabolic by PET
scan. This shows mild decrease in size over the interval.

No osseous site of abnormal uptake is detected.

IMPRESSION: Currently there is no focal abnormality that is
suspicious for active neoplasm.

Did I read that correctly? "Currently there is no focal abnormality that is suspicious for active neoplasm." What? I went in with the hope that I would see a decrease in the standard uptake value and lymph nodes that shrunk. I didn't expect that I would see those results.

I have to call it a miracle. As I've mentioned before, I received two priesthood blessings, I've had so many prayers on my behalf, and I've changed my diet. I'm afraid that this means I'm going to have to remain a vegetarian. I'm convinced that miracles do happen. I have to admit that I haven't been as faithful as I could have been. I've had my doubts. I am so thankful tonight.

I haven't stopped smiling today. I've shed a few tears (all happy tears). We took the kids out to dinner tonight. After carrying this around for over a year now, I think we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. I won't speak to Dr. Legant until Wednesday. She will tell me for sure but I can't wait to hear from her. I don't think this means we are out of the woods. We need to have a string of these clean scans, but this is the first step.

It is a great day and once again, I have to thank all of you for your support!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

One Year Ago...

Yesterday marks the one year anniversary of my first chemotherapy treatment. All weekend, I've had some psychosomatic symptoms. We've been talking about it throughout the week and for some strange reason, I've had too many memories of chemo this week. I could vividly remember the smells of that first chemo session. I was so sick and I swear I could smell the exact same smells. I was watching a tv program on the Disney Channel and there is a kid from a current Disney TV show that was doing a musical number and it reminded me of when I was sick. I've felt sick to my stomach for much of the week. Again, I think it was psychosomatic but maybe I've had a bug as well. Finally, I was eating a zinger today (yes, I still eat like a 10 year old), and I was reminded of a dear friend that passed this past year. He came to visit me and brought treats and one of the treats was zingers.

So glad to be on this end of it. I have a scan on the 27th and I'm not going to lie, I'm nervous. I had a wonderful sister grab my hand today and tell me that she is so happy that I'm doing so well. I visited her house once when I was in the Bishopric and I didn't think she knew me well but she told me that she has been praying for me. I love the power of prayer! Our home teachers came over tonight and gave a lesson on prayer. I don't know where I would be without prayer. I'm not perfect with my prayers but I go to Heavenly Father a lot...at home, for my kids, for my extended family and friends, with my job, and especially for my sweetheart! I told the kids tonight how I always try to envision Heavenly Father listening to me. My prayers have more meaning when I pray that way. Thank you again for all of your prayers.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dear Cancer...

Dear Cancer, (scratch that...there is nothing dear about you)

I was inspired by a social media outlet that writes letters to you. I also want to write a letter to you. I will not thank you for giving me cancer, but I will say that I'm appreciative for the experiences that I've gained through you. You may have made my body weaker, the awful effects of chemo continue to bother me, but I'm stronger. I'm stronger mentally, I know my attitude and approach to fighting you made me stronger mentally. You see, I know I'm going to beat you. Yes, there have been hiccups and there may be more but I'm going to fight you. I've always joked that I'm a lover, not a fighter but I have no love for you. I don't wish for anyone to be hurt, but you...I want you completely eradicated from the face of the earth. I know you think you win sometimes. Some people succumb to you. But do you really win? Those people become stronger, their families are stronger and they become better people.

I've also become stronger spiritually. I have to rely on faith! I've received two blessings that said I would be cured but that there would be bumps in the road. I love the power of the priesthood. I've talked with people that wonder why God allowed you to come into this world. I'm convinced that it is for the refinement that some of us need. I've learned more about the power of prayer this past year and that is all attributable to you. I've had members of my own faith pray for me, Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Muslims and I'm sure many others. I know God listens and answers prayers.

My family has become stronger. Michelle is awesome! I can't imagine going through this with anyone else. We still get excited to see each other every day. I love her more than ever before. My kids have also been amazing. They make me laugh and show me how much they love me every day. My parents continue to be a great source of support. I still look forward to speaking with them often. My siblings, Michelle's family, cousins, and many others have been so great. I heard a stat the other day and I don't remember the exact number, but it stated that men can only have 10 or less significant relationships/friendships at any given time. I disagree with that number. Cancer...you have proven that to be incorrect.

Despite some of the good things, there are areas where you are winning. I continue to battle the demons in my head that tell me that you could come back. I get stressed out every time I go for a scan or blood work. I worry about Michelle and the kids if something did happen. At times, I feel less than everyone else because of you. You are a chink in my armor. I don't like that!

Don't get me wrong cancer, I will fight. I don't like you! In fact, I think you are the one exception to me not hating anyone. I hate that you continue to affect other people that I know. I hate that we've lost people to you. I could stoop to using more colorful language but that is not me and I feel that it would empower you.

Someday, we will find a cure or a way to prevent you. I can't wait until that day.


Jim (Jimmy)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quick Update

I actually visited Doctor Legant about a week ago. This was an appointment scheduled between my scans. She had me do my blood work a couple of days before the appointment. So, on Monday the 16th, I went to IMC and had the vampires suck some blood from me. :)

I came home and within minutes they posted the results. These will probably not make a lot of sense for most readers but you can see that they are within normal range

NameNormal Range01/16

I knew that the numbers looked great but I couldn't wait to speak with Dr. Legant. I saw her last Wednesday. We spoke for a minute about my blood pressure, yes it is high. I told her that I have WCS..."White Coat Syndrome".

We then turned the conversation to the blood work. She was very happy with the numbers. I think her exact words were: "Your blood labs are perfect, you look great, how do you feel?" To which I answered that I feel great and she liked that answer. She then apologized to me that we are going to need to continue doing PET Scans until the lymph nodes go cold. This peaked my interest. I've been under the impression that I will eventually need to have additional treatment someday so I asked her about it. I also asked her about the fact that 3 lymph nodes shrunk last time. She said that she is thinking they will shrink and become cold and hopes that we won't need to do any additional treatments. That made my day! I've been doing really great ever since. Michelle was happy to hear that as well. Maybe this new found "partial vegetarianism" is paying off? Whatever the reason, I'm ecstatic!

I guess this wasn't really a quick update but it was a good one!