Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We're not gamblers.....

While catching up on my blog tonight, I realized that my original vision for a blog about health (inside and out), running, healthy eating and peace has quickly turned into a blog about cancer and my reactions/emotions to it. I find this completely natural since who really thinks about how many calories they have consumed in a given day when a loved one is battling a terrifying and earth shattering disease? Not I. On that note, I will continue to include my dad's story in this blog, if not only for myself, but possibly for anyone else dealing with hardship in any definition of the word.

My pops was given the choice (although his doctor advised him on what to do, your health and what you do to your body is always your choice) of either having further treatment or not. I will put this in simple terms.....two surgeries, a body scan and a biopsy show no sign of any cancer left in his body. The tumor is out, lymph nodes removed "just in case" and incisions have healed nicely. The protocol for stage 3 melanoma is to follow through with a type of immunotherapy called Interferon. Think of it kind of like this....the immunotherapy is a naturally occurring thing in your body and the Interferon shots are given in high doses to encourage the body to boost its own immune system and fight off (some times killing) any invisible cancer cells that are left and any that may want to rear their ugly head again. Sounds great, right?

The reality is that the shots are given intravenously five days a week at the hospital for a whole month and then three times a week, at home, for as long as a year (or until a person just can't do it any longer). Symptoms differ per person, but can include mild flu like symptoms, depression and fatigue. Committing to a year of a possible state of "sick" just wasn't what my dad wanted to do. After asking the doctor what would happen if he didn't pursue therapy, he was told that there was a 15% chance of the cancer coming back (this would be most likely less with Interferon, but not guaranteed). He could gamble with his health or he could do treatment.

I had not one bit of advice to give him when he asked, I cried a lot, asked friends and strangers what they would do and in the end decided it HAD to be his choice. His body, his life, his life affected by feeling sick for a year...his choice. Of course, my ever positive father cracked some jokes about how 15% were pretty good odds and that he would hate to miss fishing season this year. Cancer jokes are a regular part of the conversation in my house these days. :)

A couple of nights ago, sitting on the couch with my parents, my dad informed me that I really couldn't move out till after June because my mom had already booked and planned her trip to Yosemite National Park with friends and somebody had to be around to help with shots and treatment. "We're not gamblers," were the exact words my mom said next and the look between the two of them let me know that despite fears and trepidations, dad had decided that treatment was the best choice. Honestly, 15% when it comes to a loved one, sucks. It is horrible odds when you are putting them against someone you can't imagine not being alive and I would never put my chips on a bet like that.

Dad will start treatment in February and we will all be there every step of the way. I have been designated as the "shot giver" since my mom will faint at the very sight of a needle. I am eager to learn about and take on my new responsibility.

Note to self: moving home when you are 29 because of lay-offs and circumstance is not ideal. Things happening for a reason and me being able to be a part of this journey called cancer is an amazing gift. Remember that!

A handy tool

I've been doing a lot more "street running" instead of going to the track these days and although I love hitting the pavement, I absolutely hate not being able to know exactly how many miles I have completed. At the track, four laps equals a mile and eight laps equals two miles, etc, etc. On the street, your mind and legs can deceive you and what feels like a five mile jog can turn out to be only two and a half. You runners out there know what I mean. So, I found this handy little tool for mapping a run on local streets. You can enter in an address, click on streets in your route and instantly you know how long your run is, elevation and more! It is great and my 3.52 mile loop around my block is going to be a great part of my training for the half marathon!

New Hobby?

One of the goals I made for 2011 was to cultivate a new hobby. It isn't like I don't have anything that I spend my spare time doing, but I felt the need to try something new this year. Knitting was my "new hobby" back in 2003 and although I made some pretty nice scarves, I'm over it. I had a brief love affair with snowboarding in high school and my early college years, but frankly I just can't afford to hit the mountain these days. Since when are lift tickets $50?!?

Stamp collecting, scrap booking, Civil War reenactments and watercolor painting just don't excite me, but I'm finding that photography, yet again, does. I have my dear friend Chels to thank for my new spark of interest in a hobby I once had as a youngster. I took photography all of high school, entered a few contests that I didn't win and always really enjoyed the artistic side of seeing life through a camera. I have no interest in winning contests and I know I will never be as good as Chels and other photography gurus, but I sure had fun at my cousin's baby shower capturing moments and emotions. For now, I'm just glad to be able to check that goal off my list. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that I have access to my parents' sweet Nikon camera. I'm not allowed to use it out of the house without them being present, but I hope to gain their trust soon. :)

The shower invitation and beautiful white tulips

Darling Jenae and Addie hiding from the camera


Addie helping to open the presents for her new baby brother who is due in March