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!!


Let’s go Tar Heels!!

A very sad update

Hey people.. If you’ve been keeping up with me throughout my process, then this story will mean something to you. In September, my cancer had not reacted to the chemotherapy the way it was anticipated by my oncologist, Dr. Shertz. Dr. Shertz then consulted the University of Indiana and was under the direct order of Dr. Stephen Williams. Amanda and I flew to Indianapolis to the Indiana University to meet with Dr. Williams. When I met this man, he was an AWESOME oncologist. I thought the world of him the moment I met him, because he was so down to Earth and so respectful to Amanda and me. We all poked fun at him for wearing a pink shirt. led Dr. Shertz through my entire cancer battle up until my last surgery. Amanda had called Dr. Williams at IU while Dr. Shertz  was on vacation. The receptionist told Amanda that Dr. Williams was out on medical leave indefinately. We then started dealing with Dr. Haan at IU.

Today, my heart is broken as I am very sad to inform you all, that Dr. Williams has passed away of cancer. Here is the storey from Indiana University website. Please read as we all thought the world of this man.

Stephen Douglass Williams, M.D., 62, a research physician who became the founding director of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in 1992, died of cancer the very disease to which he dedicated his career on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009.

When presented with Indiana University’s highest faculty honor, the President’s Medal for Excellence, at the August 2008 dedication of the expanded IU Simon Cancer Center, Dr. Williams reflected upon his own rigorous cancer treatment and pledged to redouble the center’s research efforts in cancer prevention. 

Patients and colleagues appreciated Dr. Williams as an approachable, encouraging and effective leader. His determination to create a world-class cancer research enterprise was bolstered by his sincere commitment to patients. Dr. Williams promoted the center’s science-to-solution agenda — commonly referred to as translational research — throughout his tenure. He would shake his head, chuckling and marveling at the intellect of cancer center scientists and the power of their research to cure patients. He was brilliant, but humble, and always optimistic.

Dr. Williams’ commitment to his professional life was exceeded only by his devotion to his family. He took immense pleasure in planning menus and cooking with his wife, Kay, and their children, Thomas and Caroline. He could just as easily be found with Kay at the Zionsville Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning as with Thomas enjoying Carburetion Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or a Sunday Indianapolis Colts game. Until recently, the regular Thursday night routine at the Williams’ home included Dr. Williams presiding over carry-out Chinese dinners with Caroline and an ever-expanding group of friends. Dr. Williams was also an ardent sports fan. On the occasion of his impending treatments for cancer, he was grateful for beautiful weather that allowed him afternoons of golf.

In addition to directing the IU Simon Cancer Center, Dr. Williams served as the HH Gregg Senior Chair in Oncology and Associate Dean of Cancer Research at the IU School of Medicine. He was born in Shelbyville and grew up in Bedford, the only child of newspaper publisher Robert and Gladys Williams, both of whom preceded him in death. He was a graduate of DePauw University and entered the IU School of Medicine in 1967. He then completed a medical residency and internship at IU (l97l-72 and 1975-76) before completing his IU medical oncology fellowship (1976-78). In 1978, Dr. Williams became a faculty member of the IU School of Medicine and was the first appointed oncologist at the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Dr. Williams earned national recognition as a physician researcher for his role in investigating the successful use of chemotherapy in the treatment of ovarian and testicular germ cell tumors. He was consistently ranked nationally among cancer care specialists in America’s Top Doctors for Cancer. During his tenure, the cancer center was consistently ranked among the top clinical programs in the country in U.S. News & World Report. Family, friends and colleagues joined with Dr. Williams on Jan. 12 to celebrate his Sagamore of the Wabash awarded by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Dr. Williams authored and co-authored 158 scientific, peer-reviewed publications, 95 abstracts and 42 textbook chapters on the diagnosis and treatment of genitourinary tumors. He served in numerous leadership roles with the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Gynecologic Oncology Group and on a grant review committee of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The remarkable progress made during Dr. Williams’ leadership came to light during the IU Simon Cancer Center’s 2008 NCI grant renewal process: In 1994, the center’s extramural research funding totaled $16 million; today it is over $75 million. The number of scientific members of the cancer center has doubled; more than 220 investigators now focus on the scientific discovery and translation of basic, clinical and population science into new prevention, diagnostic and treatment modalities. In 1994, 2,000 new patients visited the IU Cancer Center; today, more than 3,400 new patients visit the center each year. Moreover, a $50 million naming gift from Melvin and Bren Simon in 2006 signified a “coming of age” for the cancer program that Dr. Williams had been charged with building and directing.

Dr. Williams is survived by his wife Kathryn and their children Thomas and Caroline. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues and patients.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the IU Foundation/Stephen D. Williams Director’s Endowment Fund and mailed to IU Simon Cancer Center, P.O. Box 660245, Indianapolis, IN  46266-0245.

Source: http://www.indystar.com/article/20090216/NEWS/902160390

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.