Just a friendly update

Hey guys! I just wanted to give you a quick update on myself. 2 weeks ago I went for an MRI of my head, and a full body CT scan as a normal checkup. On my way home, Dr. Buck called me, and said that everything looked great with my head. The 2″ hole in my head had started to collapse and was very little dura-bond left they could see. The brain is filling itself back in. That’s a good thing!

I followed up with Dr. Shertz this week, and he said everything looked good. The scans only showed scarring in the lungs, and a slightly enlarged spleen. The liver was back to normal size with no residue of tumors or any sort of scaring. He bumped up my scans from every 3 months, to every 6 months. He also made me an appointment with Dr. Harrons office so I can discuss my ‘spacing out’ issue, and determine if Dr. Harron needs to do anything or if I need to see a Neurologist to see if this will ever go away. Hopefully it will.

Everything else in life is going good, I’ve found a lot of my old friends on Facebook, so I can keep up with people a little better. Amanda is doing good in school, I am so proud of her. Kobie is doing excellent in school and he makes us both so proud. Sadie is growing up super fast, and is spoiled rotten. We’re all excited about going camping this summer. We’ve got several camping trips planned, and we can’t wait!

I will post more updates when I talk to Dr. Harron to see what’s going on with that. Until next time friends, have a great spring and enjoy the weather. BYE!



Thanksgiving

This post is a few days late, and I apologize for it. With the holiday, things just got kinda hectic and time passed me. This is my favorite holiday of the year, because Black Friday is the one day I look forward too all year round. It’s something about the thrill of getting up at 2am and heading to Roanoke to do shopping and be in the crowds. I love doing it and wouldn’t miss it for anything. Last year in 2008, I was actually trying to delay my first brain surgery for Black Friday. I told Dr. Harron that I wanted to postpone my surgery a week so I could go shopping. He said I didn’t have a week to wait, my brain tumor was growing too fast. So Friday morning comes around, and I went in for brain surgery. He kept me in the hospital until Monday morning, and let me out of the hospital. Friday morning, I was up at 2am and in Roanoke Black Friday shopping! I had ace bandages and all sorts of gauze wrapped around my head, just so I could be out in the crowd shopping. Talk about dedication! This year, Amanda had to work so things were a bit different. We did the normal Thanksgiving dinner just her, Kobie, and I here at home and had lots of food. I really enjoyed that since we didn’t have to go anywhere. I think it’s the first year we actually got to spend it as a family without having to go places. Then we went to bed around 8pm to get up early. We were done by 9am, and came home for Amanda to go to bed for work. We finally got the tree up tonight! 🙂

I just want everyone to sit back a minute, and think about the things in your life. Think about what surrounds you, what makes you smile each morning, what keeps you going. Think about what you’re really thankful for. I am thankful to be alive today. I am thankful that I have been able to kick cancers sorry ass this far, and be a husband and a daddy. I can’t let it take me yet. Too much is depending on me. 🙂 I am thankful that I found and met the woman of my dreams and was able to marry her. I am thankful that next week I can say we’ve been together 7 years (happy anniversary baby ;)), I am thankful that we have the most perfect little angel in the world, and that he’s smart, healthy, happy, and he is probably the best 5 year old kid you’ll ever meet. I am thankful to have some of the best friends in the whole wide world who have stood by me and cared about me. I am thankful for my family, I am thankful for YOU reading this, because you took time out of your day, to read my blog and check on me. Thank you. Thank you to everyone, and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!



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.



Just your average update

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since we’ve updated. That’s because frankly, there hasn’t been any updates. Last week, I went for a CT scan of my neck, chest, and pelvis. I saw Dr. Harron the same day that I had my CT scans done, and he said I was looking good, and he wanted to see me again in the middle of January. So I am done with him until 2010. I went yesterday for my follow-up with Dr. Shertz and for him to go over my CT results. Everything was good. The enlarged lymph nodes in my neck are gone, which is a big relief. We were scared they were new tumors but now we know they’re not. The nodules are still in my lungs, but they can’t tell if they’re tumors, or scar-tissue. Dr. Shertz said they looked like scar-tissue though because they were oblong rather than circular. That’s good! I can handle scar-tissue. The tumors in my spleen and liver continue to shrink. They haven’t shrunk much, but a little is better than nothing. There were also no new signs of any new tumors or regrowth of the existing ones. They did not do a CT of my head for whatever reason. I am having an MRI done of it in September though, from Dr. Buck. That’s my 6mo checkup with him. Dr. Shertz wants to space out my scans from every 2mo to every 3mo. So I go back again in October for my next CT and visit. Finally, everything is starting to look good for us health wise.

This has been a great summer for my family. We have got to do so much stuff with Kobie and had so much fun with him. We’re making up for lost time last summer when I didn’t even get to see him. We’ve taken him camping at Natural Bridge, taken him to the zoo at Natural Bridge and Mill Mountain, to the caverns and to the bridge. We have also done picnics in the park and I take him to the park and the school every few days so he can play. He loves it. This week, we drove up to Dublin to Randolph Park. If you have kids, I HIGHLY recommend going here. It’s an awesome park for both adults and kids. It’s a water park and it has tons of water stuff for kids, as well as a large water slide for adults.

Next week, we’re going camping at Jellystone in Arcadia. It looks like he’ll enjoy that also. He’s had a very good and exciting summer. Unfortunately, it’s going to come to an end soon, as the beginning of school is right around the corner.

This week, Amandas great grandpa, Henry Johnson passed away. Please keep the family in your prayers. The funeral is tomorrow, and if you wish to read the obituary, please click here.

Now, I will leave you with a smile. Despite what this post REALLY means, if you look at it lightly, you can get a good chuckle out of it. This was Amandas Facebook update yesterday.

I busted out laughing when she posted it, not realizing how it can be interpreted. 🙂 I hope everyone has a great weekend and be safe.

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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.



Just your average update

I figured I was due for an update! I have been doing a little better. I still stay fatigued all of the time, and the more tired I get, the worse I get. You can tell when I am tired because I am not myself. I was hoping to go back to work today, but things changed over the course of the past 2 weeks. I realized I shouldn’t go back today due to all of my doctor appointments within the next 2 weeks. Also I am still not quite myself, as I sometimes get lost in my own mind. I will eventually get better though. I have cancer, cancer doesn’t have me.

Friday night, Amanda was working. I was very tired so I decided to lay down and take a nap. I woke myself up, seeing things that wasn’t there. It was strange. I was also very nauseous so I called Amanda just to update her. Well, she called Tommy and Tiffany, and Tommy came to the house to check on me. Tommy and Tiff are great friends of ours who have helped us out so much. Tiff is an ER Nurse, and Tommy is the emergency management officer at Carilion Franklin Memorial, as well as a paramedic. Tommy knew that I was off, so he had me page my oncologist. In the meantime, Amanda had paged Dr. Harron. Dr. Harron wanted me to go to the ER at Roanoke Memorial. So Tommy and Jeff (Amandas dad) took me to the ER at Roanoke Memorial. We got there, and since he had connections we got in with no wait. They took me back, and gave me meds to “knock me out”. Well in case you missed previous posts, medication does NOT knock me out. So I just got pain meds for my headache, and went for an MRI. Dr. Harron had already talked to the ER doctor so things were in order. I went for my MRI, and on the way back to the room, Dr. Harron passed me in the hall. He told me the MRI results were negative and everything looked good. He kept me overnight for observation. Everything went fine, and I have not had any more symptoms. He said it could have been a bug or I was just too tired. At any rate, it took a burden off of my shoulders seeing the negative results. I feel so much better.

On Saturday when I got home, Mt. Caramel Baptist Church was at our house, and they had done all sorts of housework that I have not been able to do. They fixed so many things and did so much. I am so thankful to them! Also my best friend from Charlotte Stan came up on Saturday morning and spent the weekend with me. That was fun! We just hung out, ate, and watched basketball all weekend. It was fun.

Other than that I am doing OK and living life one day at a time, to its fullest. In case anyone hasn’t heard in the news today, Lance Armstrong had a wreck in his race and broke his collarbone. That SUCKS because now he’s out of this race. But, he will LIVESTRONG and I know it! Finally, I’ve updated www.livestrongva.org page. The army is forming larger and larger. I have recently have the Livestrong Army in Richmond join up with LSAVA so it’s still growing. Whenever I have another update, I’ll post it. Take care everyone!!

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Let’s go Tar Heels!!



Back from the dead, round II !

Hey guys! I just wanted to let everyone know that I am at home now, and am doing well. I get really tired quick and easy but I guess that’s expected and my body is just healing. I wanted to give everyone a perspective on things now, from MY point of view. on January 8th, I remember being at work. I was working on a network map and drawing schematics all day. If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically tiny lines running parallel to one another. While I felt fine at work, at the end of the day I kinda started feeling funny and dizzy. I sent Amanda an IM and told her to call Dr. Shertz and let him know what’s up. He was on vacation, so she called Dr. Harron. He didn’t return her call quick so she told me just to go to her work and she’d meet me there. I remember driving most of the way. About half way on the drive home, I don’t remember much. I vaguely remember getting to the ER at Franklin Memorial, and I have NO clue how I got there. The next thing I know, I woke up (it was the next day) and I was strapped to a bed, with tubes down my throat and IVs in my arms and was in ICU. Now keep in mind, I don’t get IVs since I have a port. Amanda had told me that I stopped breathing and LifeGuard 10 had flown me to Roanoke. She told me what happened. I don’t remember much of that day but I remember her telling me what happened. I have NO recollection of the night I had the seizure and was flown. In fact, I don’t remember ANYTHING from my hospital stay. Amanda told me about the people who came to see me. If you came to see me in the hospital, I am sorry but I do not remember it, and I am sure I seemed flakey while you were there. I don’t remember crashing while I was in the hospital either, but Amanda and Tiffany said I lost vision and feeling in my body. I just remember waking up and everyone telling me my second brain surgery was finished. It’s amazing what your body can shut out for you to not remember. That being said, I feel much better.

During my seizure, I dislocated my right shoulder and tore the rotator cuff in it. I go to Roanoke Orthopedic next week to chat with the surgeon there about it. He’s told me that he would have to take my shoulder apart and rebuild it. Let me tell you, I am excited aout that! It hurts really bad at times though, especially of a morning when I wake up.

I did go see Dr. Harron on Wednesday and he took the 38 staples out of my head. That didn’t hurt like I thought it would. After we left there, we went to Dr. Buck to get my head cast fitted for my radiation. They hope to start that next week. They’re not targeting any tumor to kill, but IU wants to do radiation in the tumor bed since it came back so aggressive. I’m all for it.

Friday, I went to see Dr. Shertz. He said right now, we need to focus on radiation so nothing comes back in my noggin. Again I’m in total agreement with that. He also cancelled the head part of my CT scan on Tuesday, since it’s so close to surgery. I do get a full body CT on Tuesday though to see what the rest of my tumors are doing. Hopefully still shrinking. He did do blood work to see where my tumor markers were, and also to get my Dilantin level. If my dilantin level gets low enough, it puts me at a very high risk for more seizures. I am on medicine for that now though. The bad part of it, is that I cannot drive until June. That sucks!

So in a nutshell, all of my doctors appointments this week went good. Next week will be a busy week since I will probably start radiation, on top of everything else I have going on. On a lighter note, for those who DID come see me in the hospital, thank you. For those who called, texted, left comments on here, etc, thank you. It means a lot to me that so many of you care about me. For everyone at my work who made food for Amanda and I, it was GREAT and THANK YOU!! I don’t think I let Amanda get much of it, since I am on steroids and stay hungry. Thank you though, it’s awesome. We will keep you posted with when I start radiation, and what the doctor says next week.

Also on a side note, I’ve updated the “medical team” part of this website. I am also constantly adding stuff, so make sure you check back often as I am trying to build this site up with not only my journey through this cancer battle, but also so others can use it as a resource to help them get through cancer and battle their own journey.

Thanks for reading my long post, and keeping up with me through my blog. You all ROCK! Thanks for all of the prayers and concerns as well. I am going to leave you with an excellent video that Amanda showed me. I really like it. Please watch it because it took me forever to get it to post in the blog. I hope everyone has a good weekened!

LiveStrong!



Emergency Surgery

I woke up at almost 7 this morning and was getting ready to go relieve our night shift nurse for Josh (Thank you SO much Tiff) and I got a call about 8:15 saying that they were taking Josh down for emergency surgery and that I would probably not be able to see him before surgery.  So my dad rushed me up there.  The doctor decided to do emergency surgery because of the increasing pain in Joshs head, his nausea and vomiting, his paralysis on the left side, and his loss of vision.  His vision had gotten really bad.  The pre-op nurse failed to Dr. Harron before she was done with Josh so I did get to see him and spend a few minutes with him before surgery.  His left side was affected so badly he could not feel me touching him on his left arm, leg, foot, face, neck, or ear.  When I kissed him as they were rolling him down to the or he didn’t even feel it and make the nurse call me back again to kiss him because he didn’t realize I kissed him before.  He couldn’t see me standing beside of him either.  They finally got him down to the OR around 10am and got out around 1:!5.  They think they got his shoulder fixed while in surgery but there are no incisions so I need to talk to Dr. Miller more about that.  The surgery took about the same time as last time but this time they didn’t have to drill his skull again they just had to “pop those rivets out”.  Josh is in really good spirits and is in some pain but the pain is nowhere near as bad as before surgery thank god.  I’d seen about enough suffering as I could handle!  His left side is still not functioning.  At times he can move 1 toe and maybe 2 or 3 fingers.  He can feel if you touch him, he says it feels funny. SO he doesn’t really realize that he is being touched by a person vs the sheets.  The recovery time will be longer and harder than the recovery time for the last brain surgery because of the paralysis he experienced before the surgery this time.  The surgeon said he got all of the tumor and he cleaned the area around it out more thoroughly this time so hopefully it wont grow back.  He had to scrap Joshs skull to remove tumor matter from it.  Part of the tumor was growing into the dura of the brain so he had to remove some of that and he replaced it with dura-bond.  This tumor was the same size if not bigger than the last one.  This tumor was solid whereas the last one was sort of liquidey.

Josh is in the neuro-trauma icu for now and will likely be there for a few days.  Visitors are limited there.  He will likely want to sleep of the time for the next few days so visitors will be limited.  Today has been a crazy day, if you called and I didn’t answer or call back I’m sorry.  Thanks for all the prayers.  I will update again tomorrow.



Dr. Harron

Josh had an appointment with Dr. Harron on Monday. Everything looks good. The sutures are gone..well all but 2 are, she missed two. Dr. Harron strongly suggests that Josh get whole brain radiation to kill any micrometastases. Micrometastases are metastases that are too small to be seen. Dr. Harrons only concern is the brain can only handle 3000 centiGray before it suffers permenantly so they would give just under that amount of radiation meaning that he would no longer be able to have radiation on his brain…ever again in his life. However, if he had another tumor develop in his brain in the future they could give a small “booster” type radiation to that one spot but never again could he have whole brain radiation. Josh has a CT tomorrow and a doctors appointment with Dr. Schertz on Monday so this will be discussed.

Here is a really good website on whole brain radiation for anyone who is interested:
Brain radiation information

I also found another very interesting abstract article written by Indiana University about brain metastasis; here is a little bit of it.
Brain metastasis occurs rarely in patients with testicular cancer in the modern era where cisplatin-based chemotherapy regimens are used. The occurrence of brain metastasis can be synchronous or metachronous (with or without concurrent systemic disease). Long-term survival can be achieved in some patients. The vast majority of testicular cancer cases with brain metastasis reported in the literature involve nonseminomatous germ cell tumor and this subtype will be the focus of this review. This article reviews the literature of the diagnosis and management of brain metastasis from nonseminomatous germ cell tumor of the testis.

Josh has malignant non-seminomatous germ cell tumors.

This post was posted on Tuesday December 2, 2008 at 9:09PM



Out of the ICU

Josh got to move out of the ICU today and into the PCU. He is doing well. The doctor is letting him eat and drink again. Tomorrow the doctor has ordered “activities” which I’m sure is walking the halls since he hasn’t been able to get out of bed yet. He is doing really well. He keeps bragging about the pictures, he is really proud of them! Sorry to cut this short but we are both exhausted and I can’t remember what else I wanted to say. I will try to post again tomorrow!

This post was posted on Sunday November 23, 2008 at 6:41PM