Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chemo Session Three...Check!

So today my dad completed his third session of chemotherapy. He handled the treatment in his usual cheerful fashion (*note sarcasm here*). My mom sent us an email while he was undergoing chemo, and he was sound asleep as usual. I don't know why he complains about this stuff when he gets to sleep through it?!?!? (Just kidding dad!).  My parents finally moved back into their house and my dad spent the weekend cutting down trees with Harold (the across the street neighbor and family friend) and getting the electricity fixed.  I called to check on him this evening and he was visiting with other people in the neighborhood and talking to babies instead of talking to me. I get it dad..I'm no longer cute and cuddly.

Next steps: my dad has a follow-up appointment I think on June 13th to check his blood and his body to see how the chemotherapy has effected the cancer.  He believes that he is already cured and that the next three sessions of chemo that are already scheduled are completely unnecessary.  Hopefully the doctor will have some form of good news at the next visit (*fingers crossed*).

My uncle Timmy is coming to visit my parents this weekend and my dad should be almost recovered by the time my uncle arrives.  I should be able to visit my dad soon as well.  When I do, I will make sure to get a picture of the new head piece he's been wearing.  Until then....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Update to the Update

My dad has been fairly busy lately, so I haven't really been able to find out what's been going on in his life. I think he's more busy now then he was before he had cancer! I will say that I have also gotten in "trouble" from multiple people for not updating the blog.  So here goes. He's lost, I think, almost all of his hair. My mom got him buff head gear to wear on his head. He said it looks like a do-rag. I was rather impressed that my dad even knew the term do-rag. He is so hip sometimes.  He's also been having dinner with a lot of friends. Every time I talk to him he is either on his way out or out already. He has been faithfully attending the Friday gatherings at Moe's. My parents spent the past weekend at a lake house with some friends.  My dad has been riding his bike. I'm sure he's doing some Gates Foundation work on the side. Probably saving someone from something and taking Abbott on 3-mile walks. If he didn't have a tube out of his back and the no-hair thing going on, you probably would never know he had cancer!

He's also gearing up to walk the Peachtree Road Race in July with my uncles and my brother and I'm sure my mom is going to be running in the race as well. I plan to be down there for the July 4th festivities and to welcome everyone home from the Race (I am not getting up that early in the morning to cheer them on).  This weekend they are going to another lake house with some friends.  And then on Tuesday, May 31st, my dad has his third session of chemo.  I should get to spend a significant amount of time in Atlanta in June, so I am excited about that as well.

On another note, Stacey's friend Susannah made this for her. Great gift!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No News is Good News

Since my dad no longer gets poked and prodded by different doctors every week, there isn't much to blog about anymore. This is a good thing! He had his last chemo session a week ago and when I talked to him by email this weekend he sounded much better. He even went for a bike ride this weekend, which I'm sure made him extremely happy. He spends most of the time reading, sleeping, complaining about health care in America, and visiting with family and friends. I probably won't get to see him again until June sometime, but hopefully, it will be a much longer visit. He has a doctor's visit next Monday to check his blood levels. I'm sure his antibodies will be fine. And then, he has his third chemo session the Tuesday after Memorial Day.  So far so good (I'm sure he would disagree with this statement since he hates chemo, like most people do I suspect)!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't Quit

I talked to my dad today on the phone and he kind of mentioned that I've been slipping on the blog. Mind you he just had chemo on Monday.  The five days (yes dad, five...you win) after chemotherapy are pretty rough for him, so I try not to bug him too much. He's a little frustrated during these five days, understandably so.  I asked him how he was feeling yesterday and he said no basketballs in his stomach this time - he said more like a soccer ball. If you aren't a sports fan, this is an improvement from his last chemo session. I spoke with him this morning and he seemed a little groggy. He doesn't like chemo. I can't imagine that anyone does. But hopefully he will will be up and busy as a bee by Saturday.

Today is Encouragement Wednesday. My dad is not in the most optimistic mood during these five days, so I figured he might need a little pick me up. Sorry to say, I have no funny stories to tell, but I do have an inspiring one.  My dad met a young lady named Jordyn. Jordyn's father use to work with my dad at CDC and Jordyn is a cancer survivor.  She had been seriously ill with cancer and won a trip to Spain from an organization that supports cancer survivors.  Jordyn was able to watch the Barcelona football team (soccer, not American football) and have dinner with my parents.  She has been in remission for a year and is graduating from high school this year.  Recently, Jordyn walked in the Relay for Life marathon and carried a sign in honor of my dad. Probably one of the nicest things I've seen in a while.  So here's to Jordyn! Congratulations on beating cancer and graduating high school. You've probably overcome more in your young life than most of us have in our older lives (don't worry...I am aware that I am now older).  So dad, keep your head up. I expect you to be walking in that race next year or maybe we can get a bicycle race for cancer survivors started up!

One of my favorite poems is Don't Quit.  It is applicable to many things in life.  Don't worry, Keegans aren't quitters.

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
- Author unknown

(A picture of Jordyn and her now famous sign. Thanks Jordyn!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Road Trip!

On Friday, May 6, 2011, my dad and my brother took a road trip to visit some of my dad’s brothers and sisters in Louisiana.  Friday, they drove to Mississippi and stayed at a hotel on the beach. They walked along the beach, got attacked by birds, and had dinner at a nice restaurant. The next morning they had breakfast and walked along the beach again and then drove to my Uncle George’s house for some eating and drinking.  My Uncle Jim, Aunt Mary, Aunt Eileen, and Aunt Margie were also there and my dad had a good time catching up with them and telling stories about “the good ole days”.  Sunday my dad and brother drove back to Atlanta stopping in Alabama for a picnic lunch, which I’m sure made my dad very happy. We always stopped for picnic lunches when we were kids going on roadtrips. I still remember the sandwiches and chips that my parents would pack, along with fruit of some sort and drinks. Some things never change.
I talked to my entire family (mom, dad, Marcus, and Stacey) last night on the phone as my mom opened up her gifts for Mother’s Day. My mom has returned from Barcelona after closing up shop and saying goodbye to the many friends that they made in Barcelona. My dad sounded pretty upbeat after his trip and was inquiring about how I did in my softball game, which he always does. I think my dad gets more excited about my hits then I do. Funny part is, he never asks about my fielding.  He has his second chemo treatment today. As a matter a fact, I think he should be at the doctor’s office right about now.  He has started to experience a little hair loss, so he has decided to stop washing his hair so it will no longer fall out. Logical thinking from a logical man.  Hopefully the side effects from today’s treatment will only last a couple of days and he will be back on his feet by the weekend.
I will keep you all posted!
Here are some pictures from this weekend’s trip:
 (My dad and my Uncle George.)
 (This is Marcus teaching my dad how to take pictures with a cell phone.)
(My dad on the Mississippi coast. Notice the Keegan Law Firm t-shirt.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pictures from This Weekend

The first picture is me, my dad, and Marcus before we hiked up Amicalola Falls. The second picture is of my dad as we are taking a break walking up the falls. The third picture is of the three of us at Keegan Falls.

He Has Antibodies!

Sorry for the delay in posting something new, but I've been in Atlanta since Friday and it's been nothing but nonstop fun.  I arrived Friday evening and my dad and my brother both picked me up from the airport in my dad's new car. He's very proud of this car because it gets great miles per gallon.  Saturday morning we woke up and went for a walk with Abbott.  We had lunch with Stacey and then watched the King's Speech (very good movie) once my brother returned home from his massage.  Later that night we had tacos for dinner and enjoyed learning about my dad's parents and their battles with cancer.  Sunday my brother cooked up a great breakfast and then we headed off to Amicalola Falls for a picnic and hike.  Amicalola Falls is about a 1.5 hour drive from my brother's house and my dad drove all the way. He was practicing for his trip to Louisiana next week.  We had lunch and then proceeded to climb about one mile straight up hill to the top of the falls. I will say, I was pretty embarrassed that a man with cancer and a tube out of his back kicked my ass walking up this damn mountain. He graciously allowed me to take breaks as we proceeded to climb up the last 600+ stairs.  Fun times.

We got to the top of the falls and enjoyed a snack while talking to my mother in Barcelona.  My dad was amazed at how far technology has come - here we are sitting on top of Amacalola Falls and we are talking on a cell phone to my mom in Barcelona.  My dad then had the great idea to drive to what he and my mom refer to as Keegan Falls (it's actually called Helton Creek Falls).  He told my brother and I that it was only a 30 minute drive away.  It was more like an hour through windy roads of the North Georgia mountains and then down a dirt road that seemed only fit for serial killers. Alas, at the end...we came to the falls. There was only one car there and we walked right to the bottom of the falls then to the lookout at the top.  It was really nice, but the smile on my dad's face from spending the day with his children in nature was even better.  We had a nice family dinner to end the evening and my dad was just glowing from all the excitement of the day.

This morning we took Abbott for a walk and then I finished reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". It was a great book. Both of my parents have read it and I wanted to finish it over the weekend so Marcus could read it next.  My dad had a doctor's appointment at 2pm, so we left at exactly 1:20pm.  We got to the doctor's office and waited no more than five minutes. He got his blood taken and then we went to the waiting room. Everyone in the doctors office knows my dad. We proceeded to the examining room and my dad got his blood pressure, temperature, and pulse taken. All of those tests turned out great.  We then talked to the nurse who administered his first chemotherapy treatment and he proceeded to tell her about the gasoline feeling in his stomach. She assured him that what she had given him was much worse than gasoline!

Dr. Allen (the oncologist) finally came in and told him the results of his blood tests. His white blood cell count was 4,400 somethings (normal is 5,000). He said this was great. He also said the rest of his blood was normal.  My dad then proceeded to ask Dr. Allen a list of questions and gave him a detailed run down of his after-chemo side effects.  Dr. Allen assured my dad that this was all normal and that the next round of chemotherapy will probably result in the same side effects (maybe a little less gasoline in stomach and a little more fatigue). My dad was extremely excited after we left the doctor's office. He shouted in the car as we left, "I have antibodies!" (fist pump in the air as well).  We drove to Kroger, the local grocey store, picked up some bread, wine, and ice cream, and headed home.

My uncle Michael came over for dinner and we enjoyed some good times laughing about cancer, doctor's bills, where doctor's stick things when trying to put in a kidney stent, Osama Bin Laden's death, and a host of other things. My dad tried to get us to measure the tube coming out of his back, but Stacey assured him that men always think things are bigger than they seem.  I return to D.C. tomorrow and I am sure I will be missing out on the many adventures my dad will have before chemo session #2 on May 9th. He will be driving to see his family this weekend and my mom will be returning home on Saturday...just in time for Mother's Day.