Monday, November 30, 2009

Truly humbled

This weekend was definitely one to remember. Thanksgiving was great....I shared it with 32 of my closest friends and family. Colin and Kathleen were up from the land of the crimson tide and it was so good to see them as a married duo for the first time. Mrs. Gabler somehow pulled off the perfect meal, despite the numbers.....a very impressive feat and countless bottles of champagne were successfully downed. Mainly, it was just nice to spend time with friends and family. My brother Joe and his wife Sarah came in on Friday and, as always, it was great to be with them. On Friday, the whole lot of us avoided the lines at Best Buy and Target and hit up the movies. We saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox and I give it an enthusiastic "eh". Hanna also found a wedding dress!! She won't tell me what it looks like but it could be a tablecloth and she would make it glow. Then Saturday was the ALL Will Be Well 5k which was probably the most humbling experience of my life. The parking lot was filled with cars and the lobby was packed when I got there. I couldn't believe how inspiring it was. My extended family, friends from all corners of my life, nurses from Hershey, local community members, and people from my high school class and the trinity community were all there. Local businesses donated food and raffle prizes. I have never felt so much love and support coming out of one room. The run and walk were a huge success......I definitely would have won if it weren't for this cancer business and Kelly was able to get me a Golden Tate signed Notre Dame jersey, which is amazing. Much love and thanks to everybody was was there, who donated and who supported. The Leukemia Society and the Team in Training were there giving out information and the Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry was there signing people up the whole day. Its amazing to think about the lives that could be saved by the people who were courageous enough to sign up for that registry. That's really what its all about. Life is so amazingly good. Kelly Fisher, Ms. Kiker, Janet Quigley, Mrs. Gabler and tons others deserve so much credit for organizing this event. Its an impossible feeling to describe but I just feel so "lifted up" by the love that was poured out over the weekend. In the 6 months that I have been fighting this nastiness, I have never once felt alone and that culminated on Saturday. We are not meant to tackle life alone. We are given our faith, our God, and our fellow people and I have needed, and will continue to need, all of those. Anyway, I am still in awe at how amazing the event was and how amazing the people aroume me are. The icing on the cake was going to the Eagles game on Sunday with my dad as they squeaked out a win against the hapless Redskins. It was a great day....thanks again Uncle Ed for the tickets.

This came at a good time because this is a pretty big week. Tomorrow morning I have a bone marrow biopsy....this is gonna be my first one in a few months so I am nervous for a few reasons. First of all, it tends to hurt...alot. I will be sure to request my fair share of Morphine beforehand to take care of that. Second, and more importantly, it will give a picture of how/if the agressive treatment has been working. I have just been trekking along for a bit now with no real markers as to if the leukemia is staying down for the count. No matter what I will keep fighting the good fight until it is down for good, but we are hoping that this biopsy gives a good sign that we are headed in that direction. On Thursday, I will see Dr. Claxton to talk about the biopsy and my treatment and my progress through the whole thing. Please send positive thoughts and prayers this week for all that is going on. And please continue to pray for my dad.....he is a rock and I love him more than he knows.

These meetings with Dr. Claxton always scare me so I will be very anxious until Thursday. I will let everybody know any news as I find out.

much love, so much thanks, and ALL Will Be Well

"Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting."

"Do not get tired of doing what is good.
Don't get discouraged and give up,
For we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sometimes it takes a major event to open our eyes and make us realize all that we truly have. I am so blessed and have so much to be thankful for this holiday week. My friends and family continue to blow me away everyday with their selflessness and generosity. I have had alot of time to think (that is when I am not applying for The Amazing Race or watching The Price is Right) and I am more certain than ever that humans are built to help each other out. We are wired to live "for" each other. Once I am healthy (and in the meantime), I am gonna give it my all to live that give back some of what I have been shown over the last few months. far as my treatment goes, I have hit a bit of a roadblock. The last 4 times that I have gone in to receive chemo, I have not been able to get it because of a low platelet count. This has been kinda frustrating because I don't like slowing down the pace. I wanna pump that stuff into me, knock this crappy cancer out of me, and get on with living. But, I have had to stay patient. My blood and my body has just been so abused that it is taking a long while for my body to rebuild to a normal platelet count. I have also been dealing with a significant amount of nausea and lack of appetite....ugh. One of these symptoms is always seeming to afffect my daily life. I am trying to get this under control with some new meds. Next week will be a big and monumental week. I have a bone marrow biopsy and then a meeting with Dr. Claxton to discuss the results. As usual, I am scared of the biopsy, and even more scared or the meeting with the doc. He will bascially be able to tell me, based on the biopsy results, if the cancer is still in remission and running scared or if it is returning. So, say some prayers this week. Take a break from turkey eating, pumpkin pie gorging, and football watching, and say some prayers of thanksgiving for all that you are blessed with and also for these results next week.

As I write this, 2 of my best friends are on their way home from alabama, my fiance is en route for the weekend, evan is making some cranberry relish (typical evan), and tons of family and friends are getting ready to support me and the cause to cure leukemia this Saturday. So, I have no shortage of reasons to give thanks. God is taking care of me.

ABC local news in h-burg decided to do a story on my dad and I, as well as the 5k. It was pretty awesome of them and I am attaching the link. Take special note of the slow motion effects at the well as that sexy cowboy in black and white yearbook picture....haha. I guess I need to get an agent now and ship off for L.A.

Safe travels to everybody and enjoy this time with family.....

much love and ALL will be well

Thursday, November 19, 2009

amazing story

I just wanted to share this story about an amazingly inspirational family. Their little boy Dax has Leukemia and is fighting for his life:

--"Don't count the days; make the days count"

Monday, November 16, 2009

fALL days

I'm just sitting here relaxing after two of the most fantastic November days ever. It has been warm, sunny, and beautiful here in the H-burg and I've been loving it. I could get used to this but I have a feeling that it will be short lived and that winter will soon be making its unwelcome appearance. Yikes, that means that I have to start Christmas shopping, wedding planning, and preparing to be 29.....3 things I am not sure I have skills at. Hanna and I are trying to firm up the reception site.....hopefully this week. After that, I'm not sure what happens but I think I will start working on napkin origami figures for the place settings. Any ideas?

So, over the last week, I have noticed that my hair has started to grow back. Its not that peach fuzz, "I'm 15 and just getting facial hair", hair, but it looks more like my real hair. This was also confirmed by the unwelcome return of a few nose hairs (another impact of turning 29).....maybe chemo had more benefits than I realized. But, I am not exactly sure why. Maybe the chemo in the Third Course does not affect the hair like some of the earlier drugs. Either way, it is nice to have a little taste of a return to normal.

I went out to Hershey on Friday to resume chemo for the third round but they sent me home after they ran my blood counts. Apparently my platelets had dropped too low to give me the chemo drugs. So, the third course is on temporary "pause" for the time being. I went back yesterday and my platelets were still too low so I will go back again tomorrow. Whenever the platelets get back to a normal level, I will get back on track with this chemo. The frustrating part is that it will bump back the next bone marrow biopsy and meeting with Dr. Claxton. So, it might not be until the second week of december that we get any more feedback or results. Oh well.....we just have to press on. The positive side of this is that I have been feeling pretty good....low platelets doesn't make me sick and this chemo isn't the worst. So, besides some exhaustion, I have been alright and lovin' life.

I have about 100 pages to go in the Dan Brown book and it is so hard to put it down and accomplish anything else. So, know how much I like you all by writing here instead of reading :)

The 5k ( is coming up in less than two weeks....I can't believe it. Thanks to those coming, thanks to those organizing, and thanks to those who will support with love and prayers from afar. So much to be thankful for this season and this is a perfect example. People are pretty awesome.

Well, that is about it for now. I am still recovering from having my heart broken by the Eagles and the Irish on yet another football weekend. I am watching Jeopardy and quite jealous of the "Clue Crew"....those people that travel around and give some of the clues from famous locations around the world. I'll take that gig. I know that was a bit random....but, seriously, that is a job for me.

Much love and have no doubt that

ALL will be well

--"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

Friday, November 6, 2009

The fight goes on

It has been a while since I last wrote (I blame Dan Brown's new book) and not too much has changed since my last post. I am about half way through with course 3!! which is a good thing. I am looking forward to putting this far behind me. The chemo has been pretty tough on me. Its given me what seems like heartburn symptoms. I have been getting ill after most meals....though it hasn't stopped me from many a conquest of the Big Mac and the great General Tso. I have not been very sick or nauseous, just unsettled after I eat and after I take my pills. I started a regimen of Prilosec this week so I am hoping that has some effect. Other than that, I have just been completely exhausted and still dealing with the tingling/numbness in my hands and feet. But, all in all, I can't complain..... Evan got me a netflix subscription so I am good to go. What I can complain about is the outcome of the World Series. It was good to see some competitive games but the Phils just never looked very consistent. I think somebody should check Petite's blood for some roids.....he's too old to pitch that well twice in the Series....just ask Pedro...haha. But, in all seriousness, it was alot of fun to watch the Phils make their run and I'm ready for a rematch with the Yankees next year. Now I can focus on the Eagles getting that elusive first superbowl.

From what I am being told, 6 months is not all that much time to plan a wedding; so Hanna and I should keep ourslves busy with that.....although we are a little clueless on where to start.....I am thinking we should start with practicing the moonwalk for our Michael Jackson tribute entrance, but I might be overruled on that one. We are so pumped for April 10th and can't wait to make our vows and start our lives together. I will hopefully be in full remission and this cancer nonsense can be a small, but influential, chapter in our lives. We hate this, and I mean really hate it, but we have learned so much and have been afforded the opportunity to rub our eyes, refocus, and see just how beautiful a life this is. Cancer certainly takes but if you can't focus on what it gives, you are bound for bitterness and sadness.

The next time I will get any sort of real update on the condition of my marrow (still don't really know what that is by the way) will be the first week of december. After the 3rd course mercifully ends, they will do another bone marrow biopsy and check for cancer and whatever else it is they check for. Dr. Claxton will examine the results and let me know how this treatment is going. We are hoping and praying (constantly) that there is no return of the leukemia and that the chemo-only protocol has done the trick. Please pray for that outcome. If the results lead to some concerns or if there is obvious leukemia back in my bones, then we will chance the course of action and probably move quickly toward a transplant. We will cross that bridge if/when it is presented. Too much to think about otherwise.

Like I stated earlier, I have been really sick and, even moreso, I have been really scared.....for myself and my dad (not to mention my mom and bro). It is hard and exhausting to be scared everyday about something. This thing is so unknown and terrifying if you dwell on it. So, although, it has been impossible to bury completely, I have focused on drowning it out with friends, laughter, trips, plans for the future, family, good movies, good books, good music, and so much more. I'm very blessed and that is most evident in the love and support of my friends. For example, I received a care package from some friends that I traveled to Guatemala with a few years back. Also, I recieved a Christmas card (all time record for earliest one ever) with an extremely generous gift from some friends I have known since kindergraten. I am overwhelmed that my high school class is supporting me through the 5k. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on. So, thank you.....this love lifts me up and makes it possible to drown out the fear.

Well.....I guess that is enough blabbering for now (really I just wanna get back to the Dan Brown book). Know that I think of everybody who reads this frequently and I lean on you and your prayers every day. And know (as I do) that...

ALL will be well

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” --- Gandhi