Goodbye, Radiation …

For the last month and a half I have been driving to UCSD 5 days a week with 30+ ounces of water sloshing around in my bladder and an empty colon to get everything south of my belly button irradiated. Fortunately,  my team at UCSD has been fantastic, and to thank them, I handed out bags of See’s Candy to everyone. As I was rolled into what I have affectionately dubbed the “glory hole” for the last time, I requested that they blast Oingo Boingo’s “Goodbye” during my final treatment. Patients are not not supposed to move while getting treated, but that didn’t keep me from drumming my fingers and humming along anyway.

Goodbye, radiation therapy!

“You guys have all been great and all, but …. I hope I never have to see any of you ever again.”, I teased my crew as they helped me out of the machine. After some awkward, socially distanced high-fives and elbow bumps I quickly made my way to the lobby.

For radiation therapy, at least at UCSD, there’s a huge brass bell in the lobby that patients are encouraged to ring on completion of their therapy.  I was so excited to be done and to head home that I completely forgot to “ring the bell” and made a beeline for my car.  My crew, busily eating their chocolates, forgot to remind me as well.

As I pulled up onto our street I saw Jodie chasing a blue balloon across our driveway. I stifled a chuckle and pulled into the driveway. Jodie quickly waved me back onto the street where I parked along the curb. After exiting the car and walking up to the driveway I saw why. She had our friends all write encouraging and uplifting phrases, with chalk, all over the driveway. 

I arrived home from my last treatment to Jodie chasing balloons across the driveway, inspirational quotes from friends scrawled with chalk, and hugs from two of my biggest supporters.

“I had planned to tape balloons to the garage door, too, but they kept popping.”, she smiled.

On the garage door she had hung letters that read “We are so proud of you”. After a couple of quick pictures against the sign Ashley and Kaylee ushered me inside.

“Open your gifts dad!”, they said in unison after plopping our new puppy, Maddie, in my lap.

In the first bag were several things, but it was a handmade stuffed orange tiger which I was immediately drawn to. If you don’t know why, I encourage you to read “Calvin and Hobbes”, a popular comic strip of the 80’s and 90’s which I grew up with. Earlier in the week I had hung a Calvin and Hobbes picture over the couch in my home office / fortress of solitude. My mom, unbeknownst to me, sewed me up my own “Hobbes” to accompany the picture. “Hobbes” primed the tears for my next gift. 

A handmade orange tiger might be a great gift for a 6-year-old boy, but it’s an awesome one for a 44-year-old man who grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes. Thank you, Mom.

“Can you read what it says?”, Jodie asked me after I unwrapped it.

“….”

It took a box of Kleenex and what seemed like forever before I could get my mouth to cooperate, and what finally came out wasn’t much.

“….I …. I …. really don’t know what to say.”

Jodie and my friends had created a collage. Each picture was a family member or friend holding a word. Together, the words read :

“One step closer to cancer-free! Keep kicking cancer’s butt! We love you and are proud of the strength and humor you have brought to this fight!”

Hours later and I’m still at a loss for words. 

Unwrapping this collage choked me up for longer than I’d like to admit. I’m still at a loss for words other than, “Thank you.”

Take care. Stay healthy. Live life…. and surround yourself with people that love you.

-Scott

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Next : The Road Ahead

#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #oingoboingo #goodbye #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis

1980’s road trip, Dad style …

In the late 1980’s my dad took my brother and I on an unforgettable road trip to Yellowstone. We spent the majority of the trip lying down in the cramped shell of his compact red pickup surrounded by camping gear, coolers, and a questionably watertight portable toilet. The cool thing about growing up in the 80’s is that you could do this, the bad thing about growing up in the 80’s is that you could do this. Today, if you were to ask me the most memorable thing about the trip, it wouldn’t be the geysers, or moose, or the camping – it would be the hours upon hours of conversation with my dad through the narrow sliding window joining the cab where my dad drove, and the bed, where my brother and I laid down.

Take care. Stay healthy. Live life. Enjoy the journey.

– Scott

#roadtrip #parentingfail #family #80s #yellowstone #travelingwithkids #seatbelts #camping #adventure #nature #flashback #drawnandcoded #comic #familycomic

One Year Cancerversary

A year ago today I had a doctors appointment that changed my life forever. The appointment was to go over the results of a biopsy that I had undergone the prior week to determine why my PSA level was in the high 70’s. Normal is under 4. My symptoms were similar to a urinary tract infection, or UTI, except they hung around for months. I had a constant urge to pee and, when I did, a weak stream that burned. My then-doctor and his predecessor both believed that my symptoms and elevated PSA, due to my young age, were due to inflammation, a condition known as Prostatitis. I didn’t have any reason to doubt either of them.

As Jodie and I were lead back to the exam room we passed my doctors office. He was pouring over a folder full of paperwork for I assume me, his next patient. He didn’t look up and looked very very tense. In retrospect it’s amazing how much information you can glean from a 5-second glance. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. At that point I knew something was up.

“I’m sorry, but you have cancer.”, my doctor told me after settling into the exam room.

The rest of the appointment was a blur. I remember sound bites.

“Very aggressive”.

“All cores positive”.

At some point I rushed over to Jodie to keep her from falling out of her chair. She had passed out in shock whereas the diagnosis still hadn’t registered in my mind.

Somehow I managed to drive home and call my mom on the way. My gut reaction was to warn everyone in my family to get checked. Prostate Cancer can be hereditary and my grandfather had died from it in his early 80s. My mom took the news better than I thought, or did a great job suppressing her emotions. Both she and my wife have been my rocks throughout all of this.

It’s been a crazy year since. In March I had surgery to remove my prostate. Next week will conclude 35 rounds of radiation. I’m also on a two-year cycle of medications to starve my cancer ( and me ) of testosterone.

If I sound like a broken record, it’s for good reason. Prostate Cancer is cureable if caught early enough. If you have a family history of the disease, are African American, or ex-military you have an even greater chance of being diagnosed. Please get checked. It’s as easy as a blood test.

The best part? I’m alive and am I’m going to be around for a very very long time.

Happy Cancerversary.

Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.

– Scott

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#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis #cancerversary