An update on life

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, and I know it’s overdue. I went to see Dr. Buck about 3 weeks ago, and he’s scheduled me for a head MRI in April. Dr. Harron wants to see me again in January. I go next week for another CT scan then the following week, to see Dr. Shertz to discuss the results. Thus far tho, my results have been good. No new tumors, and they’re not growing. That’s good.

I hope that everyone had a good summer, and had lots of fun. It’s fall again and time to wind down and get ready for Christmas, yay!

When I was diagnosed with cancer last year, I didn’t have anyone I could talk to about my disease that was my age. Sure, I could talk to Amanda or any of my friends, but nobody that could really relate to me. Right when I was diagnosed, there was a story on Roanoke.com about Brooke Smith and her diagnosis. I found Brooke on MySpace, and her and I started chatting. We had a lot in common. She grew up on the street behind the street that I grew up on in Roanoke City. We both also loved skating. We talked to each other about our cancer, how to cope, and all of the good things in life. Brooke really opened my eyes and made me see things the way they SHOULD be seen. She was the biggest inspiration that I had while I was at my roughest spots in my battle. SHE of all people, could relate to how I was feeling. New Years Eve 2008, Brooke, her friend Seth, and her sister Ashley met Amanda and I at Roanoke Civic Center and we all hung out and had a good time. Brooke was on crutches but she still got out there and danced, and had a blast with everyone. She made us have a real good night. Brooke went to Boston to do clinical trials to try and help her beat her rare form of cancer, but it was unsuccessful. She remained strong, remained having a strong faith and remained very close to God during her whole journey. Brooke was a real special friend to me, more than most people could imagine. Brooke passed away Friday, September 25th 2009.

Brooke, you’re with your daddy now, and you’re with God. You are in no more pain, and can be free of the disease once again. I love you Brooke, and will miss you dearly. I’ll catch you on the flip-side.



1 Year!

Circumstances in life often take us places that we never intended to go.  We visit some places of beauty and others of pain and desolation.  I never imagined that cancer would be a part of my life history–especially not at the age of 23!  Like with any great trial, God uses everything for good if we allow him to heal us.  Every moment is teachable; every ounce of hurt can prune us for future happiness.  Don’t give in to weakness by dwelling on what you see today; look through it, as hard as it is, to the vision just beyond your sight.

One year ago today Josh was diagnosed with cancer.  Neither one of us will forget that day.  One year ago today we thought our lives were coming to a crashing end yet we now see it as just the first of many obstacles we have had to overcome this past year.



Finished with radiation and LSAVA

Hi everyone, it’s me again. I just wanted to let my friends and family know that I am now finished with radiation! I finished last week, and even got a neat little certificate of completion from my friends at the radiation center. I go back to both Dr. Shertz and Dr. Buck in the next few weeks to schedule my next CT/MRI to see where I stand.
I did call Dr. Shertz lab yesterday to find out my tumor marker levels. They were 3.0 on the alpha-feta protein, and less than 2 on the HCG. This is the lowest they have ever been. Things are finally starting to improve for me. Kobie is sick with the flu right now, and I hope he gets better soon. I hate seeing my little buddy sick. I plan on returning to work on March 23rd if all goes well. I am going to go up there and talk to our HR person next week probably, to find out what all I need to do to return, or just get a doctors release. I am excited about going back because I miss my work family.
The next exciting thing to let you all know about, is that I am finally getting the Livestrong Army of Virginia off of the ground. I have developed a website for it, and it can be found at http://www.livestrongva.org so please check it out and pass it on. If you’d like to get involved with the campaign, please use the “contact us” button on that page to find out how to contact me to get started! Thank you all again for sticking by my side through all of this. All of your thoughts and prayers are working! 🙂 I’ll post more as more becomes available.



Radiation Effects and Dr. Updates

I figured it was time for an update since everyone has been messaging me asking what the doctors have said. First, I want to apologize on Amanda’s behalf, that she didn’t post an update. She’s been very busy with going to school full time, working full time, taking me back and forth to Roanoke, and everything else. We’ve just been so overwhelmed with everything going on, it’s been hard to update everything. I am still writing thank you cards for Christmas! Also, on Wednesday before last, Amanda’s grandfather Herman Woody passed away of pulmonary fibrosis. It was very sad, and we were very busy with the wake, and the funeral. To the people who view my blog who came to the wake and funeral, thank you all. If you were there, you know how big it was. I have never in my life seen something so big.But, thank you.

Friday before last, we went to see Dr. Shertz for my normal checkup. He checked me out, and took blood work. He didn’t call me regarding my blood work results, so I am assuming everything is still good. He only calls if something is wrong. He didn’t schedule me for another CT on this visit, as he will do that on my next visit. He also cut back my visits to him from every 3 weeks, to every 6 weeks. I go back to see him at the end of March. I guess that’s a good thing. I just am scared and want another CT like, right now just to ease my mind since I’ve been through so much. He’s the expert in all of this though.

I did visit with Dr. Buck, my radiologist on Wednesday. He examined my head, and said everything looked good. He was very surprised my hair hadn’t fallen out yet. We all were, actually. My last day of radiation is Tuesday. He wants to see me again at the end of March as well, for an MRI of my brain to make sure everything is good. He doesn’t want to do it right yet because radiation causes inflammation of the brain. He wants to let it get back down to normal.

The radiation side effects have started. I have headaches a lot now, which is expected. I just take medicine and try to live through it. As I stated in the previous paragraph, everyone was shocked my hair had not fallen out due to the radiation. Well, Saturday morning, Amanda pointed out that my hair had fallen out a little in a certain place. When I took a shower and ran my hands through my hair, I had a lot of hair on them. I didn’t think much of it, since I was due for a haircut that same day. Well, her dad picked me and Kobie up to take us to see Missi and get our hair cut. Missi did a great job on it too. When I got home, I took a shower to wash the hair out of my head. When I got out, I looked in the mirror and had a huge bald spot in my head that had not been there prior to my shower. It was very depressing. I shaved just around the area, to keep from making a mess with my hair. I also noticed it’s a bit burned in that area from the radiation. I am hoping that the last 2 treatments don’t effect it any. Sorry the picture is so blurry, I took it myself looking into a mirror, without a flash. You can get the idea though. I guess I’ll be wearing my hat everywhere now. I am hoping when I go back to work, they will let me wear a hat for a little while. We’ll see.

If you’re wondering about my radiation, it’s an IMRT X-Ray radiation, which is basically a gamma radiation that is produced from a different molecule. It doesn’t hurt when I am getting it, but the side effects are obviously loss of hair, headaches, and fatigue. It also causes memory loss, and disorientation which isn’t good because that’s also a side effect of my Dilantin medication. I just don’t feel right and if you talk to me, you’d probably think I was drunk because I say things that don’t make sense, and I forget things in the middle of a sentence. I am posting a picture of my radiation table so you can get an idea of what I lay on for 15 minutes every day.

As far as changed on the blog page, I’ve totally changed the Photo Gallery page. I also added a lot of photos to this page. I’ll be adding more as time progresses. Also, I try to keep the For Your Thoughts page as updated as I can. If you know someone you would like to be added to the electronic prayer list, let me know. If you know of anything you think would be a good addition to the website please let me know, as I am trying to grow it as much as possible. This is not only a diary for me and my family to look back on in years to see what all we went through, it’s also a resource for anyone who has been recently diagnosed with cancer and needs resources. When I started this blog site, there was only a few people signed up for it, and it only had a few people who actually read it on a regular basis. I cannot believe how much it’s grown. For the month of February alone, my blog had 10,568 views. That’s a lot! In 2008, it had over 100,000 hits! Thank you to everyone who has visited, and kept track of me. It means a lot.

Finally, I normally don’t post about non-medical related stuff much on my blog, but I wanted to say that this has been a very good weekend for me, other than my burnt bald spot. For the first time in about 4 years in Rocky Mount, it’s actually snowing! It’s snowed some in Roanoke in the recent years past but south side is always neglected. Finally we get some! They are calling for 6-10″ but we’ll see what actually comes. Tomorrow Kobie is going to get to build a snowman, have a snowball fight, and go sledding. He’s so excited. Franklin County schools are already closed. Yesterday, UNC beat the snot out of Georgia Tech and it was great. I also got a 3 hour nap today. What more could a man ask for? :)I hope everyone has a great week, and we’ll post more as it becomes available.



1/2 way through with radiation!!!

Josh had radiation treatment #10 yesterday!  The treatments have been going well with little side effects.  Friday Josh has a checkup with Dr. Schertz and we will decide when to do the next CT.

If everyone could keep my family in your thoughts and prayers we would appreciate it.  My grandfather was taken to the ER on Monday and then admitted to RMH.  Yesterday we found out that it is end stage pulmonary fibrosis.  There is no treatment for pulmonary fibrosis.  He is 78 years old and hasn’t seen a doctor in about 30 years so he has been healthy until the last year or so.

I will post again on Friday with what happened at the doctors appointment!



Radiation is a little over 25% complete

Hey everybody! First of all, I just want to wish everyone a Happy Valentines Day! It’s a nice day outside to be spending time with your loved ones and just enjoy the day together. A lot of people have asked me when I was going to return to work, and right now I don’t know. Hopefully very soon. I can’t do anything until radiation is complete, but once it’s complete hopefully the doctors will release me to return to work. I miss my VUPS peeps!

For those who have asked me if radiation hurts, no it doesn’t. When I get there, I go lay on a flat bed under a huge radiation machine. They put this white mask which they made just for me over my face and head and they bolt it to the table to keep my head perfectly still. There are lasers all around the room that match up X and Y coordinates on my head, and the radiation machine snaps an X-Ray of my head. They overlay the X-Rays every time with the previous one, to ensure they get the exact same spot each time. Once the machine starts, it lasts all of 5 minutes and I am done. The ONLY side effect it has, is that it makes me VERY tired. The seizure medication I am on for seizures is called Dilantin and it gives me very bad short term memory loss. I don’t remember things from a few hours ago. That’s very frustrating. I have to get use to it though because I have to take this for 2 years.

Next, so many people have helped us out in so many ways since this all began. Food, rides, work around the house, watching Kobie, everything. While we’re so far behind on writing thank you notes, please know that every favor, every ride, every email / text message and every word is remembered and we are very thankful for everything that everyone has done. Thank you. You may have to continue to help us but you know, it won’t last forever. During my cancer battle I’ve realized something. This isn’t my death sentence, rather it’s Gods way of telling me “Josh, you need to realize what you have and get up and fight for it” so that’s what I’m doing, fighting !! I will continue to fight until Dr. Shertz and Indiana University tell me that it’s over, I’m cancer free.

Something else that I’ve just started as of today, I have just registered to start the ONLY LiveStrong army in the state of Virginia. That’s right, it begins HERE! The LiveStrong army will host events (sponsored by corporations, donations, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation) across the state to help spread cancer awareness and help cancer survivors. I am not quite sure of all of the exact stuff, but I am expecting a package from the LAF explaining more, and with materials to help get the LSAVA started. That’s going to be the LiveStrong Army of Virginia. So, once it gets up and going, I will link it from this page so everyone can check it out, and spread the word.

On a lighter note, today Lance Armstrong started the Amgen Tour of California, which is one of the only races he’ll be racing in America this year. Go Lance!!

On the side links, I have a link titled “For your thoughts” which is basically an electronic prayer list. These are people who mean a lot to me who I ask for you to keep in your prayers. If you have someone you wish to be added to this list that’s battling cancer, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to add them to the list.

I hope everyone has a great week, stay safe and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. I am going to leave you with this video, which is an AWESOME video and song. Please watch it when you have time. I’m not going to post something to waste your time, you’ll like it. I promise. 🙂 See ya



2 radiations treatments down, 18 to go!

Today was Joshs second radiation treatment.  I got to go in and see them get him ready for it.  It was quite interesting.  The room is huge and very relaxing, it has a sky light and a foundation with flowers.  I got to see Joshs mesh cast thing for his head and watched them put it on him.  I did ask if I could keep it when this is over you know in case he asks up at home.  The rest of his appointments are set up for 5:15 so I should be able to take him to every appointment except for the Friday ones.  Tomorrow Tiffany is taking him, I think they have fun together.  We are so lucky to have people willing to help us get him back and forth to appointments.

We got the results from the ct today….the tumors are  still shrinking!  Dr Schertz said that the report was very  “extensive” so they spent a long time comparing it to the others which explains why the cost of his ct’s keep getting more and more expensive!  Josh didn’t ask how much they had shrunk but I will get a copy of the ct report and do my own calculations.

This weekend I’m going to have Josh post another good video on here so be on the lookout!



1 Radiation treatment down, 19 more to go

The first radiation treatment is done!  Josh said it didn’t take long, he said he listened to one song, a commercial, and part of another song on the radio.  He did say the headcast he has to wear during the radiation is so tight he can’t even open his eyelids.  I wasn’t able to go to the appointment today because I had class (have I mentioned that school is overtaking my life) so my dad took him.  Tomorrow and Friday I should be able to take him. Not sure how next week will work since I have class almost all day Monday-Thursday. Kobie came home from school today with a new saying, “Try, try, try….never give up.”  He has been saying it all night! He said he learned it at school from the guidence counselor.