Since my last entry many things have happened. I have been waiting for the right time to write a new entry and I am finally getting around to it. I will give you the update…and please know that I am sharing my journey to help you know what is up with me and to inform you about the process and not to make you feel sorry for me in anyway. There is a balance about what to share and not share…so hopefully what I share is informative and interesting...because it really is quite fascinating.
You will recall I started a new chemo treatment on 2.17.17 and just after that on Feb 22, 2017, I had a brain MRI. When I received the results from that test, we discovered that my cancer had spread to my head. Upon discussion with the doctors we decided to do Full Brain Radiation to go get it.
I had to stop the chemotherapy treatment because you cannot do both radiation and chemotherapy at the same time. On March 3, 2017, I started Radiation. We opted for 14 radiation treatments over the course of four weeks. Radiation was quite easy and simple…it literally took about 5 minutes and boom you were done. I went at the same time every day to be consistent…we started on Thursday March 1st and then went every week day for 14 total days. We opted for 14 treatments to allow me to get less radiation in each treatment because the doctor believes that the long-term impact is less harmful if you get more treatments. The standard number of days is 10 for this procedure.
While I was getting my radiation, I went and got an MRI of the Spine. The results from that MRI showed that my cancer had also spread to my spine…so we now had a decision to make relative to how to handle that situation. One option was whole spine radiation and the other was tbd.
In conversing with the various doctors, we decided that whole spine radiation would be too much to handle as all your organs are impacted if you radiate up and down the spine. So we decided to change my chemotherapy to a new drug called Irinotecan which has the ability to penetrate the central nervous system and hopefully impact the cancer along the spine. FYI-most chemotherapies cannot penetrate the brain/blood barrier…so this drug is unique in that it can penetrate the Central Nervous System.
On March 31, 2017, I received my first infusion of Irinotecan and have been receiving it 3 times a month. I will get my next CT scan and a new set of MRI’s on May 15th to see how I am doing and to assess if we are containing the growth of my cancer. At that point, we will then determine if we stay the courses or need to pivot in a different direction.
I am feeling good and very positive on my new chemo treatment. I have been a little more tired than in the past and I can tell that the cumulative effect of my treatments is beginning to impact me. I came in with a big well of reserve energy which has been a huge help to me. The desire to go and do things has become a little more challenging but I have found that if you just set your mind that you are going to do something that you can rise to the occasion.
I have gained great strength in reflecting on my belief system and knowing that this challenge is part of my path and you just have to step into it and find the joy in the journey.
My Latter-Day Saint belief system teaches us that before we were born, we all lived together as spirits in a pre-earth life. We learned that we would face trials and tribulation along with happiness and joy on earth. We all had the choice whether we wanted to come to earth, and all of us on earth made the choice that it was worth it.
The purpose of this life is to have joy and to build our knowledge and intelligence, and to gain as many experiences as possible to help us grow and develop as human beings. Clearly a big part of this life is the relationships and people we meet that help to teach us and guide us to make good choices along the path. I believe that we all committed to helping each other and that there is no mistake in who our friends and family are, and that we all looked forward to being with each other along this journey called life.
So assume with me the following…if we chose to come to earth we must have known there would be challenges and trials along the way and also amazing times given that the purpose of life is to have joy. So in my situation, I am thinking that Cancer was a hurdle that I was willing to face. So now that it is here, my goal is to step into it, be positive, learn and grow from the experience and do everything in my power to try and beat it. Then we must trust God’s will after we do everything we can to try and help ourselves.
With this understanding, I hope you can see the context for which I view my cancer. With this frame, I know that this challenge is for my personal growth and development and hopefully I will have the humility to use it to better myself and give service, empathy, and comfort to others who are in need and going through challenges of their own. My challenges are minor compared to the ones many of you are going through, and I feel so blessed to have so many people that care about me and send energy and prayers in my direction. It is impossible for me to not be positive with so many people cheering for Team Maddog!
Lots of love for all of you!
By the way, if you need a new bracelet or never got one…let me or one of my family members know and we will get it to you.