Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nice try, thyroid cancer

I know it's been almost eight weeks since I last posted anything, but I finally have something good to report. Thyroid cancer can now be added to the casualty list next to Hodgkin's lymphoma. I'm 2-0, baby!

I started taking thyroid replacement hormone after my second surgery in September, and just last week I had a thyroid scan using a small amount of radioactive iodine as a tracer. The scan results, along with my blood labs, show no sign of thyroid cancer activity. Besides being big news on its own, this also means I escape having to take radioactive iodine treatments. Just like the Hodgkin's, however, the presence of thyroid cancer will be something I'll have to monitor with labs and scans as time goes on.

Speaking of Hodgkin's, my next PET-CT scan is just two weeks away. It's been about five months since my last one, and I'm eager to get confirmation that all that chemotherapy really did its job. I'll definitely keep you posted.

In the mean time, life has been pretty good. With all the chemo drugs out of my system, I appreciate being able to have my mind, body, and eyebrows at full power again. Work is much more rewarding now, and I'm going back to school in January to begin my MBA at the University of Arizona. It's not "all work and no play" though. This past year I've gotten quite a taste of what it's like to feel old; I'm going to enjoy feeling young for as long as I can.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrations were a bit premature

Last I left you, I had half my thyroid removed and no cancer was found.
Yay!
Just four days later I received a call a phone call from my ENT surgeon.
Gulp.
(In my experience, when I've had good or neutral news coming my way, then a member of the doctor's administrative staff or perhaps a nurse would call me. When it was bad news, then the call would come from the doctor himself.)

The ENT told me that although they were initially unable to find any malignancy in the tissue they removed during my surgery, after further examination, the pathologist was able to indeed find thyroid cancer present. The recommended solution was further surgery to remove the remaining lobe of the thyroid.

Bonus cancer!

This was pretty discouraging news to say the least. I had been given odds of cancer being found of only 15-25%, so when none was discovered during the initial tissue review, I easily forgot about the doc's caution against celebrating too early. Given the year I've had, I figured that I deserved a relatively easy win. This of course goes against my usually cautious, skeptical nature.

In order to prevent issues due to scarring, surgery was quickly scheduled for last Thursday (just one week after the initial procedure). Everything went quite smoothly, and I recovered rapidly enough to go back to work the next day. The only disturbing side effect was numbness and tingling in the hands and feet which is likely due to the inability to process/regulate calcium. This can be caused by the parathyroid glands (four small glands that rest behind the thyroid itself) functioning improperly or the glands having been removed. I'm still waiting to hear back from my surgeon as whether any of them were even removed, but fortunately the numbness has reduced significantly. In the meantime, I'm taking significant amounts of supplemental calcium.

Of course, the calcium may just be temporary. I will be taking, however, some form of synthetic thyroid hormone for the rest of my life (currently prescribed Liothyronine). The thyroid naturally regulates metabolism, so I'll be playing a life-long game of keeping my levels steady and possibly coping with a host of various side-effects of being either hyper- or hypothyrodic. From my research, it's a "your mileage may vary" situation, so I'll hope for a best-case scenario while preparing for a pain in the ass.

Speaking of inconveniences, I've also been informed that a regimen of radioactive iodine will be in my future (in perhaps a month or two). The I-131 isotope will be used to wipe out any remaining traces of thyroid cells that may be lingering. I won't exactly be a weapon of mass destruction, but I will technically be dangerous to those around me for a few days. I'll be sure to let you all know how that goes.

In the mean time, life goes on. When I look back at my experiences so far this year, I've been in much worse shape morale-wise, but I'm not exactly over-the-moon these days either. Two forms of cancer this year...and it's still only September. I won't be upset if some of you start pools to guess what I'll get hit with next. Just be sure that I get a cut, too, because all these insurance copays are seriously cutting into my fun money.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I've got a Hemi! (and some observations)

Yesterday was my hemi-thyroidectomy. That's fancy language for surgical removal of approximately half my thyroid gland. The final, official results should come back next week, but the good news is that the pathologist didn't find any malignancy in the section of the gland they removed. Apparently cancer was too chicken to show up to the fight this time.

The surgery went smoothly, and of course the worst part was the anticipation. Due to the all the repeated chemo treatments over six months, it took the nurse three tries to tap a good vein for the IV. I'm still glad I didn't get a port installed though -- it just would have slowed me down all these months.

I started the journey this year fighting Hodgkin's, and just when I had it up against the ropes, this thyroid thing came up. Fortunately, things went my way. I owe so much to all of you who have been supporting me along the way. I've never been used to so much attention, so some interactions may have seemed a little awkward at times. You all can know with 100% certainty that no "Good luck" or "Stay strong" went unnoticed by me.

A lot of attention is being paid to healthcare in the news right now. Regardless of your political views, there are two things that I've learned are necessary to living a healthy life and getting through a serious illness:
1) Maintain responsibility for your own health. You need to remain vigilant over your own symptoms before they get out of control. This goes for the old and the young. That's right all you young people (especially males). I was ignorant and stubborn too. Staying INVINCIBLE isn't about pretending that nothing can happen to you. It's about knowing your body, respecting it, and keeping yourself educated. Get yourself a doctor (and a dentist) and visit him or her at least once a year. Discover all you can about your family's medical history and make sure you get all the regular tests and scans performed (recommended for your age, gender, risk factors, etc.). If something doesn't feel or look right, tend to it. If your doctor seems a little too conservative or aggressive in his recommendations, then seek out another opinion. It's not about a doctor's hurt feelings (because they really don't mind anyway), it's about your life. Whether it's smoking, drinking, unsafe sex, red meat, laziness, sword swallowing, donuts.... we all have our bad habits, but take responsibility for their possible immediate and cumulative effects. Practice moderation where possible so that you can get quality and quantity out of your life. Don't blame others for your own choices, and recognize how your choices may affect others today or forty years from now. You may not think anyone will miss you if you disappeared today (I used to think that), but I guarantee one day you'll have people dependent on you in some way or another.

RESPONSIBLE = INVINCIBLE

2) The other thing to help you get through it all? Easy: the support of family and friends... even ones you thought were gone or you didn't know you had. I've often heard that my attitude is inspirational, but I didn't really see a choice. You had a choice in your attitude and words with me, and I guarantee that I'm the one who remains truly inspired.

Calendar:
Today - Life

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One month out: Thumbs up

It's been one month since my final round of chemo (time flies!), and today I visited the oncologist for a check-up. We reviewed my latest labs and all of the indicators (including my white cell count) are back to normal/pre-chemo levels. No enlarged nodes either, as far as we can tell. I also feel pretty good. It's nice to make it through the day not looking and feeling like a zombie. I still have some mild neuropathy (numbness) in my fingers and toes, but they say most of that should go away. I'll continue to have some more scans and checkups, but from here on out, no news is good news as far as the Hodgkin's goes.

There's still the matter of the mysterious thyroid. I have surgery next Thursday to remove half and possibly all of the gland depending on what they find. Until then (and after, of course), I'm just living life.

Calendar:
September 10 - Thyroid surgery
December 2 - PET-CT scan

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chemo Round Twelve - Finally!

Chemo Round One occurred on March 2, 2009 (after three months of symptoms, testing, and diagnosis), and now, yesterday marked the Twelfth (and final) Round of chemotherapy. I still have to go back to my doctor's office every day this week for my shots of Neupogen, but at least I can stop associating the place with that delightfully rubbery taste in my mouth caused by the intravenous saline.

So what's next? Hodgkin's Lymphoma can recur. The odds are still in my favor given how well I responded to treatment from the get-go, the fact that they didn't have to significantly lower my dosage, etc. I'll continue to meet with my oncologist periodically, and I'll have PET-CT scans every six months or so for the next two years. I'll also have to keep an eye on my lymph nodes for any lumps or changes. There is the possibility for secondary leukemia to develop, thus we'll continue to monitor my blood counts and other related symptoms.

Thyroid news: Surgery has been set for next month. During the surgery is when they'll determine if cancer is present and if complete removal of my thyroid is necessary. They say I should be out of commission for just a few days.

I have some lessons learned and "big picture" stuff I'll post at another time, but I wanted to get this update out there. Thanks again for all your continual support. I'm often not able to get back to everyone individually in a timely manner (or at all, unfortunately), but I guarantee that I read everything and I do appreciate it.

Calendar:
September 10: Thyroid surgery
September 19: MAV Foundation Fashion Show Fundraiser in San Francisco. www.mav-foundation.org
Please support lymphoma & leukemia research ...so cool people like me can continue to rock your world.
December-ish: next PET-CT scan
Today until TBD: Livin' life...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another new doctor

I met with an ENT (ear, nose & throat) surgeon yesterday for the purposes of removing my thyroid lesion. He was highly recommended by my oncologist and endocrinologist, so I guess I'm in good hands. He told me that the surgery would be pretty quick (30-45 min), and they would analyze the specimen from the removed section of my thyroid while I'm still under anesthetic. If the cells are cancerous, then they would go back in and remove the entire gland. If determined benign, then they'll patch me up and send me on my way.

I haven't scheduled the surgery yet because I'll need to finished with chemo for a few weeks before my immune system is ready. Fortunately, I should only be out of action for a few days.

On a side note, it's been interesting meeting all these new doctors in a small amount of time. There's of course the annoyance of showing up early to fill out the new patient paperwork every time (at least now I have interesting things to put down on the medical history section). Comparing the various personalities and bed-side manners has been quite intriguing. Here's a list of the various medical personnel I've come into contact with since December:

- Urgent care doc #1 (Tucson, when my mystery rash first appeared)
- Urgent care doc #2 (California, wicked stomach virus)
- Chiropractor (we still can't tell if my back pain was Hodgkin's related)
- General practitioner
- CT scan technician
- Oncologist #1
- Pathologist (fine needle biopsy)
- Oncologist #2 (second opinion)
- Andrologist
- Physician's asst. and several chemotherapy nurses
- ENT #1 (lymph node removal)
- surgical staff
- PET-CT technician
- MUGA technician (cardio scan)
- Respiratory technician (pulmonary tests)
- Podiatrist
- Endocrinologist
- ENT #2 (thyroid surgery)
- many phlebotomists
- several pharmacists

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chemo Round Eleven & Possible Bonus Cancer!

I need a break.

I had Chemo Round Eleven on Monday. No major issues in that area, fortunately. White cell counts are holding steady with the help of the shots of Neupogen. I did notice that I was much more easily winded when working out over the weekend, but that could be due as much to my inconsistent regimen as to the chemo drugs catching up with me.

The big news: I did finally hear back regarding my thyroid. Last week an endocrinologist performed a fine needle biopsy, where they removed a few cells from the suspicious area of my thyroid. The results came back positive for a follicular lesion. What does this mean? From what the doc told me (and I've confirmed thus far), is that I have a 75% chance that the growth is benign and 25% chance that it's cancerous. The fine needle biopsy is limited in what it can reveal, so the only way to determine what's going on with the lesion is to surgically remove half the thyroid. (Quick anatomy lesson: thyroid is a roughly symmetrical, butterfly-shaped gland that straddles your voice box.) Once they perform a further pathology on the removed lobe, they can determine whether thyroid cancer is present. In that case, then full removal of the thyroid would likely follow.

This is certainly not the news I was hoping for, especially when I just getting used to the idea of my life getting back to normal. I'm waiting to hear back from my oncologist to see what his opinion is, but it sounds like they wouldn't be cutting me open for a couple months anyway (gotta get my white counts back to normal before surgery). As far as the big picture goes, I do recognize that this could be a lot worse (fatal cases of thyroid cancer are very rare). For the moment, though, I prefer to remain frustrated in the cruel timing of all this. [shakes fist in the air]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chemo Round Ten

Round Ten was on Monday. My veins are starting to go on strike it seems. So many of the patients have ports these days that I think the nurses can get a bit fussy when they deal with someone like me who has opted against one. I only have two more treatments, so getting a port at this point seems sort of silly. My attitude is, I have some good veins somewhere, so go find one! In all seriousness, the nurses and staff have served me really well, and they've made the process pretty easy for me.

Side effects are still under control, but I've noticed a slight decrease in appetite. I've got a busy couple of weeks ahead with work and other miscellaneous tasks, so I'm hoping for no major speedbumps.

I still won't know anything about my thyroid until at least next week. I'm hoping it's nothing major because I'm sick of being sick.

Calendar:
July 14: Consult with an endocrinologist
July 15: My birthday :)
July 20: Chemo Round Eleven
August 3: Chemo Round Twelve (of Twelve!!!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chemo Round Nine & Thyroid Issues

It's a little late in coming, but I figured I should finally get around to posting a Round Nine update. Everything went normally, and it was good to have my Dad in town for a few days. I've noticed some more prominent numbness in my fingers and toes. It usually goes aways after a few days, but docs say they'll try to tweak my dosage so that it doesn't have permanent effects. (Good idea!)

I also had an ultrasound performed on my neck last week because the PET-CT showed some "activity" on my thyroid. The ultrasound confirmed that there was a small patch of something on my thyroid, but it's difficult to tell whether it's something major or minor. My oncologist wants to have someone else take a look at it, but apparently, endocrinologists are tough to come by in Tucson. I'll have to wait two weeks before I can get into see one, so in the mean time I get to focus on the day-to-day again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

PET-CT results with photos

Here are the before and after photos from my scans. The first one is from January 30th and the second one is from June 19th, after eight rounds of chemotherapy.




The light areas represent uptake of the radioactive tracer (i.e. thar be cancer!). Some light areas that can be ignored are the brain (top of the photo), heart (center), and the bladder (bottom). As you can see, there were numerous cancerous nodes in my neck, chest, and abdomen. Now, however, they're gone. Yay for science!

I will still continue with my last four chemo treatments so as to eradicate the microscopic traces of the cancer that may be lingering. Take no prisoners! Then, I'll have another scan in six months to make sure none of those pesky cancer critters came back.

Friday, June 19, 2009

PET-CT: Survey says....

I had my PET-CT scan done today. They basically inject me with radioactive glucose that gets gobbled up by cancer cells. Wherever it glows, bad news. Back in January, I looked like a Christmas tree, and today I'm glad to say that I look like North Korea at night . [Translation: no visible signs of cancer.]

These are preliminary results, and I'll get the full lowdown when I meet with the doc on Monday. Nevertheless, it's definitely the news I wanted to hear. This means I should just need 2 more months of chemo, which is good because I'm not too fond of the stuff.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chemo Round Eight

Number Eight came and went yesterday, and it was probably the smoothest so far. One of the drugs, DTIC, feels like fire when it hits the vein, so it's been a trial and error process to figure out the right speed and dilution of saline solution to minimize the pain and overall time in the chair. I think we finally nailed it. I felt good enough to treat myself to a new Slipknot CD (yes, I'm still a metalhead, folks) and dinner at BisonWitches (where any Tucsonan knows you better bring your appetite) with some good friends.

Last weekend I felt strong enough to make it out to San Diego to see my family and go to a wedding (T&L, congrats!). I resisted partying too much, but doc says my liver held up quite nicely anyway. I'm also proud to say I dodged that trendy swine flu without having to wear a mask.

I'd like to give some shout-outs to friends. Thanks for the encouraging words from fellow "lymphomaniacs" JG and TS, and special congrats to TS for 5 years of health. I can't wait to have this in my rear-view mirror, too!

Also, a shoutout to (DSP Bro.) LA and her friends for launching a new lymphoma/leukemia charitable organization. You can check out the details on MAV Foundation here:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=113189271538
and here
http://www.twitter.com/MAVfoundation

Thanks for the continued encouragement everyone!
-Justin

Calendar:
June 19: PET-CT scan. We'll find out whether all that chemo is really doing its job.
June 22: Chemo Round Nine

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chemo Round Seven

I had Chemo Round Seven today (technically yesterday -- I don't know if I'm still up due to being off schedule from a five-day weekend or because of the steroids), and thankfully no major issues.

I did have my Vitamin D levels checked at the advice of my mother. It turns out she was on the right track because it turns out I'm deficient, which I never even considered possible given that I live in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. [Quick review of Vitamin D: Aids the immune system and been seen to help prevent certain cancers. Also helps absorption of calcium, necessary for healthy bones. Naturally obtained from exposure to sunlight. Also available in supplements, fortified milk, etc.] Thinking over it a bit more, I do work in a cube farm and I layer on the SPF 85 pretty thick when engaging in outdoor activities. Lately, I've also avoided the sun as much as possible due to sun sensitivity from the chemo. A weak immune system is my biggest threat right now, so I'll definitely be popping the supplement pills and basking in a "nominal" amount of unprotected sun exposure. Getting knocked down from a normally minor infection is bad news, but so are melanoma and premature aging.

Apparently something I'm not deficient in is the poundage. From the beginning of treatment, the docs always prepared me for the worst case scenario (for good reasons, of course). They told me I'd be nauseous, including a decreased appetite and difficulty keeping food down. They even predicted I'd lose 15 lbs. by the end of the six months, even though I started out 10 lbs. underweight due to a holiday stomach virus. Although proper weight/nutrition is still a valid concern for many cancer patients, it has become rarer with the advances in technology and anti-nausea meds. In summary, four months of indulgent eating habits along with a largely sedentary lifestyle have given me back those 10 lbs., two-fold. You might be thinking, "Why fret about it? You have cancer. Take it easy and enjoy what simple pleasures you can." Normally I would agree, but the docs said that additional weight gain would dictate an increase in dosage to stay in the correct proportion ranges. More drugs because I'm mas chubikins? No thanks! I'll get my ass in fightin' shape! (....after I finish the bacon in the fridge. Wasting food is just unconscionable.)

Calendar:
June 9: Chemo Round Eight
June 19: PET-CT scan. That'll be my "report card" for the four months of chemo. I'm hoping to make the Dean's List.
June 22: Chemo Round Nine and PET-CT results

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Science is cool

In case you haven't heard about the recent Daniel Hauser case, here's a link from yesterday:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2009/05/19/2009-05-19_arrest_warrant_issued_for_mother_daniel_hauser_13yearold_resisting_chemo_for_tre.html

In summary, a judge has ruled that the family of a 13-year-old boy cannot refuse to submit him for chemotherapy to treat his Hodgkins lymphoma. The family prefers to rely instead on alternative methods. Specifically:
Colleen Hauser testified at the earlier hearing that her son "is not in any medical danger." She said she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives.
All I can say is good luck with that! Me, I'll stick with treatments tested via the scientific method, thank you very much.

In other news, here's a video clip from my tandem parachute jump last month:
video

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chemo Round Six (halfway there...)

Yesterday, was round six which marks the halfway point for my *projected* treatment (i.e. best-case scenario). Hooray! Before the usual nausea kicked in, I was able to celebrate by attacking and destroying a full five courses at The Olive Garden, so my appetite is, ahem, normal. (All-you-can-eat sushi, your time will come, just you wait.) The stomach is feeling a bit more uneasy today, but relatively consistent with my previous experience. And my experience (i.e. functionality) continues to surprise my docs and nurses. Every time I visit they read over this loooong list of symptoms/side effects that I may have had over the last two weeks, and I'm supposed to answer "yes" or "no." Rarely have I answered anything but "no," and those times were usually "kinda/sorta/mildly." In general, I do feel pretty good and am glad for it. I will say that hair has started to fall out of peculiar places, and I'll just leave it at that....

Ironically, one thing that has slowed me down is the big toenail I had removed (by a doctor, to prevent infection) last week due to a soccer injury (I'm hardcore, but you knew that). It's a fairly regular occurrence for me, actually, and I often remove them myself. This time, though, my usual Wolverine-like healing powers seem to have been impacted by the chemo. Btw, daily application of hydrogen peroxide hurts like &%*#@&_* and Day 7 has proven to be no better. I would like to have been back on the field by last weekend, but I'll probably take it easy for another week. Grrrrr.

On a different note, I've noticed that quite a few TV shows recently have had characters develop cancer. Breaking Bad (although that's the premise of the show), Nip/Tuck, Grey's Anatomy (this is due to roommate control of remote!), and now Rescue Me. Is this a new trend (i.e. I know cancer is involved in many TV plotlines over the years, but is it increasing?) or is it a regular thing that I've only taken note of (and perhaps taken interest in) due to my condition? I'm thinking the latter. Yes/no? Regardless, cancer awareness, especially when talking about early detection and diagnosis of treatable/preventable cancers, is ok by me. Using cancer as a way to slowly kill of a character played by a disgruntled actor (ahem, Grey's) seems a bit lame, though.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Minor setback.....very minor

I get to add a podiatrist to the growing list of medical professionals I've visited in the last few months.

I slammed my big toe pretty hard two weeks ago playing soccer. I was hoping it was just bruised, but it turns out that the nail died and was ready to come off. This is about the fourth or fifth time it's happened in the last six years, so no biggie. In fact I usually perform "the operation" myself. At the advice of my doc, I decided to allow a pro to take care of it due to the risk of infection (which I obviously can't tolerate these days).

Anyway, it went smoothly and I'm looking forward to running around again soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

That crazy bacon fever!


So this swine flu thing seems to have great timing, considering that I have a pretty compromised immune system. I've heard predictions going both ways about whether this thing is going to get really big or not. Regardless, ANY kind of additional contagion is a no-go for me right now, so I decided to be a little cautious and order some N-95 respirator masks off Amazon. I figure they'd be handy in some of my upcoming travels when risk of infection is relatively high.


In other discouraging news, I just had what I know to be a super-awesome egg salad sandwich and it tasted pretty bland today. I think I may have to light my tongue on fire to get some kind of flavor sensation.


To end on an upnote, I learned yesterday that I got a promotion and a raise. This is very encouraging given the rather dismal economic circumstances some of my friends are in these days. Good luck and hang in there people!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chemo Round Five

I had chemo round five today. Everything went pretty good. I wore my free t-shirt from SkyDiveAZ, and everyone at the doc's office was pretty impressed/surprised that I actually jumped given my "condition." It shouldn't be a big schocker because, fortunately, all my other side effects are relatively minimal right now. I also have some new pills to counteract all the likely steroid-caused water-weight gain. I'm trying to avoid looking any "mas chubikins" than necessary. I stayed away from the liquor so my liver counts are back to normal. My white counts seemed to benefit from the Neupogen shots following the last round, so I have five more lined up. That means a total of six trips across town again this week.

Work is still pretty intense, so getting enough sleep this week will be the main goal. I'd like to work out too, but I was advised that this crazy "bacon fever" from Mexico is highly spreadable in places like the gym. So I'll be even more antisocial than normal for the time being. I actually don't think anyone will notice... Mom did get me a supply of surgical masks, but I don't think I'll be rocking the creepy Michael Jackson look just yet.

Excuse me while I kiss the sky...

"...Fear, that's the worst of it. That's the real enemy. So, get up. Get out in the real world. And you kick that bastard as hard as you can right in the teeth."

I'll start with a great quote from this week's episode of Breaking Bad, which is an amazing show in its second season on AMC. I may talk about the show more in a separate post, but it should suffice to say that it's some of the best stuff on TV right now. It gives me something to think about every week.

The weekend got off to an early start with Mom coming into town for a few days. It's always good to have home-cooked food for a change. We went out for some karaoke and I almost got her to sing for her first time. Oh well, maybe next time.

Saturday morning was supposed to be a "big event," or so I thought. My friend Farah invited me to go skydiving, and I couldn't come up with any reason to say no. (That's usually my default reaction to trying something new: "No." I'm working on it -- some might say too much....) Anyway, we drove all the way out to Eloy (about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson) for our tandem jump appointment. Tandem jumping is when they strap you to a seasoned pro and you jump out together.

After watching a video clarifying that you can die from skydiving, we then read, initialed, and signed six pages of legalese reminding us that we can die from skydiving. To sum it up, I learned that I can die while skydiving. After paying the fees, we sat around waiting for our instructors. They put us in our harness rigs and walked us out to an open area to wait for the plane. After about two minutes, the wind picked up and they announced that it was too gusty for jumping. We could either wait for 30 minutes to see if the wind let up, or we could make an appointment for the next day. All the staff seemed pessimistic, so we decided to call it quits and come back again.

Bright and early the next day, we made the lovely drive back to Eloy (which is a sad ghost town, btw). Back into the harness rig, some brief instructions for the jump (brief because there's not much for me to do), and we're on our way. The plane was a tight fit with two benches full of jumpers. We climbed up to 13,000 feet and out we went. The first few moments of freefall are a bit of a sensory overload. I'm trying to mentally remember the instructions I was given, while visually focusing on the photographer in front of me, all while trying to remember to breathe. After a minute or so, my instructor pulled the cord and everything slowed down. My senses caught up and I was able to enjoy the view. Pretty damn awesome. There are a few times when you are able to really appreciate just how small you are. One I have experienced is when out on the open ocean, and another is when floating in the air a mile away from EVERYTHING.

We landed out without any issues and they sent us on our way with some souvenir photos (a few seen below), video, and a T-shirt. If anyone in the Tucson/Phoenix area wants to try it, I'll definitely be going again sometime soon....














Blog Launch

Welcome to my blog! I've communicated with friends and family in various ways over the last few months regarding my diagnosis, treatment and overall progress. I'm hoping that this will give me the right balance of content flexibility/freedom along with ease of access. I'll possibly post some older stuff to provide some prologue, but the point is to keep things current and focus on the present (while looking ahead to the future, of course).