Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Update on Russ

I realize that a lot of people have been wondering how things are going with Russ. It has been quite a year. If you want to know the full story from the beginning of Russ' diagnosis with throat cancer, you can read the post, "Our life with cancer/ past and present". So this update is for this year.

In January, we went to a clinic in Mexico called "Hope for Cancer". Russ seemed to do well while we where there and it seemed that the tumor slowed it's growth. He felt better as a result of all of the therapies they did. However, it was not enough. The tumor did not die and is still growing. Slowly, but still growing. It has really interrupted his ability to eat, swallow and open his mouth. He has been on mostly a liquid diet all year. I have been making him meal replacement shakes. This summer, it became almost impossible for him to swallow and get enough nutrition and water. He ended up severely dehydrated and malnourished. His heart went into atrial fibrillation on Wednesday July 26th. He ended up in the hospital for 3 days. On Thursday the 27th, he had a stomach peg put in so he can get enough water and nutrition.

All of that leads us to the present. Russ has decided to go a more traditional route to kill this cancer for good. We have succeeded in preventing the cancer from spreading and boosting his immune system which has kept all of his organs in great shape. Until he became dehydrated and his heart decided to act up. Anyway, we got that under control and we will continue to pump all of the healthy stuff in him that his body is used to and that will aid him during this next course of treatment. Russ had his first round of chemo on Monday of this week. He will have another round in three weeks, then one more after that. He will start radiation treatments next Monday the 21st. He will get 7 weeks of radiation 5 days a week. We are confident that this is going to put this cancer behind us once and for all.

I have said in a previous post that I would not change what we have done. All of the decisions we have made were the ones we thought were right at that time. I do wish we would have done the stomach peg sooner to prevent too much weight loss but you can not go back. Only forward. If we did not go to Mexico when we did, we would not have met all of the wonderful people from all over the world that we did. I wish them nothing but the best on their healing journeys.

I will close with this. I can not stress enough the importance of prevention. This has not been an easy road for Russ or the family. I would never wish this on anyone. I will be writing another post soon on how to prevent cancer to the best of your ability. It might not be what you think either. I have learned a lot on this journey and I am sure there is still more to learn. But that is what life is about, the learning as you go. So until then, may your adventures be much more fun than ours has been lately. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we will be rejoicing when this is all behind us.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Seasons of Life

We live our lives in seasons. There is a season to be born and a season to die. There are many different seasons in between. The season of childhood. The season of being a teenager. The season of adulthood. But it is more than that. There are seasons of planting. Seasons of storms. Seasons of reaping what you sow, whether good or bad. Seasons of testing. Seasons of growing. Seasons of fun and excitement. Seasons of heartbreak. Seasons of joy. These are the things that make up your life. Seasons.

I do not consider any of these seasons good or bad anymore. They are just life with all of it's ups and downs and all it has to offer. Don't get me wrong. I do not enjoy the bad seasons. I do not wish them on anyone. I do not consider them bad. Just a temporary phase that you have to live through to learn from and grow as a person. But without the hard or trying times, there is no growth. Without the pruning or some parts dying, there is no room for new growth. No room for learning. No room for gaining new insights. For meeting new people that you would not have met otherwise. No chance to help new people along the way.

Now anyone that know me knows that I like to have fun and laugh and play. My blog name is All About Fun. And I do like for things to be light and fun in my life and around me. But that does not mean that it is that way all of the time. I used to hate the times that felt heavy and hard. I do not like to see anyone or anything suffer and I try to avoid that at all cost. But sometimes in life, you have to face it. Like what we are going through now. It breaks my heart to watch my husband and family suffer through this cancer. It not only affects the person with it but the family as well. Life is changed, altered. I would never have chosen this path for Russ. I would never wish this path on my worst enemy. I don't think I have enemies but you know what I mean. I thought that if I could go back, I would change things. Do things a little different. But thinking about it now, I probably wouldn't. We made the choices we thought were right at the time and there is a reason for it. A reason we are living through this. I believe it is for many reasons we are living through this. Not just living. But learning and growing and learning more about ourselves than we would have if this did not happen in our family.

One of the things I have learned through all of this is that Russ and myself are much stronger than I ever imagined. I have done things and faced things that I never thought I could endure and Russ even more so than myself. I have witnessed such a healing in Russ that it blows me away. A healing from within. Funny how facing death puts things into perspective. There is no time for hatred, bitterness, blame, unforgiveness. Petty differences seem to fade away. No time for regrets or holding on to things that don't matter. I have seen Russ repair broken relationships and get closer to his brother than he ever has been. It has been a beautiful transformation. Would these things have happened without cancer? I do not know. Maybe sometimes, we need a swift kick in the ass to get us moving in the right direction. To grow and learn a new way of being.

Another lesson through all of this is to enjoy every day that you have. You never know when it is your last. Even if it is enjoying just a moment in an otherwise very stressful day. Find the good in people and things. I have learned that people have a lot of good in them. Sometimes it is buried deep but it is still there. Have patience and compassion with everyone you meet. You do not know what they are dealing with. The more love and compassion you put out, the more comes back to you. We have seen this over and over. When Russ was in the hospital, we would be laughing and cutting up. We were kind to the nurses. It really made an impact on the staff. They were blown away with how we could be happy even in the darkest of times. But that is how we choose to live. Yes, we choose it. We could go around moping, and whining and thinking poor pitiful me, but that would not serve us. Nor would it serve anyone else. We are supposed to be a light in this world, even when we do not feel like it. Does that mean that we do not have bad moments? No! We do. And sometimes we are not shining that light. Like when Russ is in a lot of pain. But we manage it and move on.

There are many more lessons that we have learned and will continue to learn along the way. We see a clearer picture of ourselves. The good and bad. We see the things we still need to work on. But that will come with time. For now, we will do the best we can with what lies before us today. Not worry about tomorrow. Today, we will find the joy in simple things and in good moments. We will not hold onto prejudices or hatred or any of the negative emotions that do not serve us. We will choose kindness and happiness.

I refuse to live with regret or "what if's". I refuse to live like a victim. I refuse to blame God for these things happening and spend my time in misery and self pity. There are no accidents. Every thing happens for a reason. It is for our benefit and growth. We just have to find the nuggets within each trial and triumph and always move forward. This season of our life will end and a new one will begin. I believe the best is yet to come!