I’ll be completely honest with you, we hate these weeks. In fact, we dread them. Another round of chemo means another round of battles that seemingly never want to end. Another round of chemo means another week of Lindsay fighting with all her might to stumble her way through the effects of these toxic drugs while trying to balance and enjoy being a Mom. Another round of chemo means I get to watch the woman I love with all my heart be stolen away from me and made a shell of herself for a few days while she works her way back to health. You get the point, right? These weeks suck. They’re full of many, many feelings and memories that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. I’m sure it’s at this point that you’re wondering where the happy-go-lucky writing that I try to stick to has gone, right? Well it’s coming but I wanted to bring you all back into our world for a minute. Not just our world; anyone battling cancer via chemo, radiation or immunotherapy. The strength, heart and determination it takes to get through what these people go through every treatment cycle is nothing but awe-inspiring. These are all feelings and memories tha I don’t want to remember but am reminded of every 21 days. So there it was, my “in your face” moment to remind you that despite the strong front that Lindsay and I may put on during most days, that there is a lot of pain, heartache, sadness and frustration inside.
I want to make my intentions clear in saying that so that you don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not creating a pity-party or asking for you to feel sorry for us, I’m just raising awareness for all those individuals and families battling this awful disease. It take a massive toll on you and the littlest of gestures go a LONG way. So when you come across anyone battling a chronic illness or even a caretaker, just know that they are most likely hiding a lot of emotions from you and that they will always appreciate a kind word or gesture, regardless of how small you think it may be.
Ok, let’s take a deep breath and move past that, sound good? 🙂 What actually inspired me to write that was that on Sunday morning, before my Chicago Bears decided to crap the bed and piss me off, I decided to go mow my sheet of leaves….err, yard. As I was mowing I saw one of my friendly neighbors come walking across the road on his very familiar route with his dog, Max. Gary, Max’s owner, is a middle-aged man of average height and slender build. He walks Max by our house daily, sometimes two times a day during the nicer days–Max loves his walks. It would be good to note at this point that our backyard butts up to a park and the Constitution trail (city-wide trail) runs right behind our house and we get a lot of walking traffic going by. Gary and I met shortly after we moved in because he shares a love for Harley Davidson motorcycles with me. He stopped by one day as I was working on my bike in the garage with the door open to comment and we ended up starting a relationship that would grow in just a few minutes at a time as he walked by and we made small talk. It was clear from early on that Gary was ‘good people’, as they say and was very genuine. He meant the things he said and he always had a smile on his face, never saying too much but always leaving you in a better mood. Anyway, Gary came walking across the road, trailing his clearly excited chocolate lab, Max. As he approached me he slowed down as if he had something to say so I quickly let go of the throttle on my mower and said “Hey Gary, how’ve you been?”. It’d been a while since we had had any measurable conversation due to our hectic lives with a newborn and certainly due to the effect chemo was having on our schedules and availability. He noted as much and began to press to see if everything was ok, clearly picking up that something had me preoccupied. I then confided in him our entire story, from start to finish, including the birth of our beautiful baby boy. He patiently listened as I told our story and then paused and then began to tell his story. He, like Lindsay, had been diagnosed with cancer just 6 years prior. He had a rare form of neck cancer called squamous cell carcinoma of the neck. He very quickly noted that he was not trying to empathize with Lindsay’s “type” of cancer, but rather with some of the emotions and battles that we have been going through. After we listened to each other’s battles and shared words of encouragement, we parted ways. He continued his walk and I continued to mulch my mess of leaves. As he came back past, returning to his home, he stopped me one more time. This time he said “Listen, I know we only know each other in me walking past here and this may seem a little weird but I want you to know I’m willing to come do whatever you need, as long as it helps you, I’d be willing to help.” I didn’t know how to respond to his kindness, other than to just thank him and he continued to be selfless, “I know you’re looking at travelling a lot with this trial so I’d be happy to come take your trash out, watch your dogs/let them out if you’d show me how or even come mow your yard or scoop your driveway of snow.”
It’s people like Gary that make me realize there are still a LOT of amazing people in this world and if we all learn to be so gracious as a relative stranger was to me on that day, well, the World would be a beautiful place. Gary is not alone in gestures of kindness. There is the graciousness of all you who have donated to our GoFundMe to help us financially, there are the powerful prayers that are being said in our name each day, my coworkers at TEKsystems donating almost $1,500 at a time when it was very much needed, our friends coming and spending time with us in the comfort of our own home, our families doing too much for us to even begin to write out the list, my boss being unbelievably supportive and understanding of our situation and removing that stress from my life, the delicious meals being delivered to us and most recently the generosity of a total stranger offering us his Main Gate pass, as an employee of Disney, to make our dream of taking Bentley to the various Disney parks and making memories that much more real and possible.
Basically what I’m trying to say is we have been unbelievably blessed in our support systems and this small thank you isn’t enough but I want to let you all know just how thankful we are to have you all in our lives. We mean that from the bottom of our hearts. You have made this battle much easier to fight with your support and we ask that you continue on this journey to kick cancer’s ass with us! 🙂
Today was the first day of another round of chemo and Lindsay actually started with a new doctor today. Dr. Kumar at Illinois Cancer Care her in Bloomington is now our primary oncologist and Lindsay, her Mom and Sam all met with him today and really liked him and his approach in handling our case. He was very informative when it came to side effects, possible in home treatment to counteract these and promote overall health, other treatment options and was open to our trial that we’re hoping and praying we get into, in Cincinnati. So that was a great start to this round, it boosted Linds’ and I’s spirits and gave a little shot of hope when it was needed. As I said earlier, we don’t go into these weeks with the best mental mindset, as they stink. Lindsay started her chemo of Cisplatin first and I met her and Sam during my lunch break as Deb, Lindsay’s mom, kept little Bentley at our house. Everything went pretty smoothly today but shortly after starting the Etoposide (drug used primarily in lung cancer patients), Lindsay started to feel the effects of the infusions. She started to feel the all-too-familiar feelings of weak muscles, aches and pains and just general exhaustion. Bentley and I picked her up after I got off work and sent Deb home and it was pretty clear she was wiped after we got home so I knew it’d be an early night. Linds and Bentley both were ready for bed around 7-7:30 so we fed Bentley and laid him down so I could go snuggle my wife for a few minutes before she fell asleep. Overall it was a good day, just very tiring and difficult on Lindsay but she’s the strongest person I know and I know she’ll be back up and kicking in no time!
For those of you who don’t know the story of The Lorax, it’s the story of a small furry man known as the The Lorax, who “speaks for the trees”. In other words, he is standing up for nature and man’s destruction of resources without regard for the harm they are causing. He goes on to fight these people and their careless destruction throughout the book and eventually says something to a character in the story that can really be applied in many facets of life. With that, I’ll leave you with another quote by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – The Lorax
Is this a picture of The Lorax or Lindsay before her morning coffee?… 😛
Go care about someone or something a whole awful lot today and maybe, just maybe, we can make the World a little bit better!
Please continue your prayers for us, as we cannot get through this without our Faith in God or without your prayers to hopefully provoke Him to take notice. 🙂 He is always listening but maybe he’s like me when the Chicago Bears/Cubs/Blackhawks/Bulls are on and need his attention drawn away from it with a little raising of our voices? 🙂 Lindsay would argue that it REALLY takes the raising of her voice so we ask that you pray louder and harder! Haha Specifically we ask that you pray for strength when Lindsay or I are weak, comfort when there is pain and healing where there is disease.