Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Dad and what he has to say!

 My Dad sent this to me. This is his last year since my diagnosis!

My Journey

It has now been a year since John found about the cancer. As John’s dad, I’ve wanted to tell my story and now is that time. This is my journey of the past year and what I learned.

The first thing that hits me is disbelief and shock. It was the worst day of my life. We immediately drive to London, as if in a trance, not saying much, trying to maintain some kind of concentration so I can drive. As I drive I ask God to trade the cancer from John to me. If only it was that simple. When me meet in London, of course it is very emotional. Everything is a blur; we don’t know what to say how to act. Tears run freely. There is still the “can’t believe its happening to us”.  We spend a couple hours passing time with the kids, talking pretending we are all ok, and tomorrow we will wake up and this will all be a dream.

Bryan and Brenda show up and the tears flow once again. They have treated John like a son and I think about what they must be going through. I constantly think about Jen too. What will she do, how will she cope, what will happen. The girls, Marissa and Mikayla, they play and continue to be kids; seemingly oblivious to the seriousness of the moment. (But I wonder if they know something is wrong) How will they grow up without a daddy? They are so small. Will they remember John?
One fearful thought after another runs through my head.

We have dinner and after, we go to Mark and Jen’s. Mark is not home but John relays his diagnosis to Jen, who stares in disbelief and shock. When Mark comes home he is told and the same disbelief and shock registers with him. We stay for a while and as we are ready to leave, Mark breaks down and cries inconsolably.  My sorrow is overwhelming. I know how close these brothers are and the fear that he must be going through too. I realize as a father how helpless I am to protect my children from this insidious disease.

We return to John’s and spend the night. I awaken the next day, and hope that I just had a bad dream, but reality begins to sink in and I feel the same fear and hopelessness from the day before. 

The days begin to pass, and news of John’s diagnosis trickles out to the world. Support comes in to him from all over. His friends at work, in his community, my relatives, Jen’s relatives, our friends begin to pray and offer assistance. There is a genuine concern for John, his family and us. If any of you have read John’s blogs you know how much it meant to him and Jen. It meant just as much to Linda and I.

As time passes we become educated on his cancer, and start to realize that there is hope and this is not necessarily a death sentence. John reaches out to the cancer community. He gets help from cancer patients with the same diagnosis as him. He joins cancer groups and goes to meetings and therapy. John asks Linda to go with him to his chemotherapy treatment. She goes and I go to the next one, Jolaine his sister and Mark his brother all have turns. It is an education and a privilege to be with him when he receives the treatments. It is a time spent in support of him and what he is going through.

Slowly, and assuredly I see a change of energy in all of us but most of all in John.

Out of this black moment in our history there is a gift. A gift about life, pride, and gratitude. I see a baby we brought home from the hospital many years ago. I see a boy growing up and going through the fun of boyhood, the continued growth into the teenage years and trials and tribulations of being a young man. Getting married and starting a family of his own. The circle of life. I never dreamt he would have to endure what he has gone through. As a father you always want the best for your kids, but I believe the tests, the lessons and what we are made of are learned through trial and hardship. As parents we have to have the courage to let them make their own mistakes, to let them fall down and hopefully we have influenced them enough so they will get back up and continue their journey.

When I see how John conducted himself through this, my heart swells with pride, that I may have played some small part in the man he is today. How bravely he has faced his fears. But most of all, it is not what I taught him, it is what he taught me.

I would like to thank everyone who supported John on his road to recovery. A special thanks to Bryan and Brenda (John’s inlaws) for all their support. The doctors and nurses at the cancer clinic. Current and former cancer patients.Thanks to our friends and families; John’s brothers and sister and their spouses, my brothers, my cousins, especially Chico and Colleen. The friends John works with, chipped in and bought him a big screen TV to watch while he was recuperating from his chemotherapy. Jen’s family and friends, who were offering support to babysit, send over meals or just sit and listen. If I forgot anyone I apologize. There are so many to thank.

I am writing this for my own healing and what I have endured. It is about how precious my family and friends are to me.

A greatful, loving and caring dad.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


   Well It is one year since I found out about my cancer tomorrow. I remember the doctor coming into the room and telling me it wasn't good. I thought at that moment I wouldn't be here writing this now. Then a funny thing happen along the way, I learned about my cancer and decided I need to beat this because I love my life. Besides I have these 3 girls my wife, and 2 daughters that are counting on me. I can honestly say I feel healthier, happier and stronger then I ever have. I've become a bit more modest of my future... I tend not to look to far ahead anymore. One day at a time! I feel lucky for all that I have. I'm not angry that this has happen to me, I've accepted it and changed my life to deal better and beat this stupid cancer. I am a cancer survivor for one year and now working on my second. Some days I'm still scared. I wonder if it will return or if I'm done with it. Oddly though my life feels normal, much like it used to. I feel blessed to have the family and friends I have, you've made my survival so much easier. Special thanks to my parents and in laws for taking caring of me when I couldn't.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I've been a busy boy the last month or so. I spent a week up north with a friend from work at his cottage. We spent a couple of days with him and his wife and little girl. Then we stayed alone as a family for the rest of the week because my friend had to return to London for a wedding. We stayed on Baptiste lake which holds a  special place in my heart. My parents brought us there 2 weeks every summer for over 20 years. I have a lot of amazing memories there and it was nice to see my girls enjoying the cottage and lake so much. At the beginning of the month we did a camping weekend with my parents,sister and family,brother and family. It was soooooooooooooooo much fun the girls love to hang with there cousins. I also spent a week in Vancouver visiting my brother. It was great fun to visit such an amazing place with my sister who was along for the trip also. It went fast but was well worth it. The west coast lifestyle was very different and the views of the mountains were awesome. Thanks to Terry and Pauline who had us for dinner in there lovely home in Surrey. We hope your health is improving quickly for both of you. At the end of the summer we camped at the KOA in Port Huron Michigan. This was also a hoot to party and play poker with the fellow dads... Thanks to the wives who put up with are nonsense, and to my wife who finally let me get a GPS. I think I'll get my little bro Matt one since we were lost everywhere we went in B.C.

                                                                                                                                                                                   I am officially  a one year survivor, doesn't sound that impressive but I have to start somewhere. I can still remember the doctor telling me it wasn't good news... "IT'S CANCER" he said. Basically I had 3 to 5 years to live. I remember my wife asking him if I'd be here next year. I didn't say much when he told me... Seriously what do you say when someone tells you have cancer. I said nothing, I sat there stunned! Didn't cry just thought about my girls... Then about my girls more. The first month I was stunned I don't remember much! Lots of thoughts poured through my head, do I have enough life insurance? Will my wife remarry? will my kids cry at night for there daddy? Will the Chemo make me really sick? Will the chemo work? Will my parents be alright? Will my wife be alright? Who's going to cut the grass? Will I die in pain? Is this my last Christmas? Will I ever work again? Am I strong enough? How do I tell my young girls that there dad might die? What's a stem cell transplant? Will we ever be able to have more children? Will I be able to enjoy life again? Why me?

For me things started to change when I gained knowledge. First it was knowledge of my cancer (Follicular Non Hodgkins Lymphoma). I got my first piece of  knowledge from a young gentlemen who had just finished his treatment for my exact cancer in the previous year. Also another young lady that I'd met at the Cancer clinic on my first visit with NHL too, she showed me the ropes that day! Then came Dr Chin-Yee the head of Oncology at LHSC... He explained the disease to me carefully and sympathetically. I trusted him fully. Then came wellsprings a support center in London, with lots of alternative healing techniques. Through wellsprings I found I2Y a support group for people under 40 with cancer. My whole perspective on cancer did a 360 overnight!!! I didn't fear cancer anymore like I had and I was ready for the fight! a fight I now believe I can win! I'm so thankful for modern medicine and the fact that it has put my cancer into remission. But I'm determined that the knowledge I gain will help me live a long full life in my battle against cancer. A cancer like mine has a  high chance of re occurring so I'd be crazy to not explore other options in my fight. So I've empowered myself with a cancer fighting diet, good old fashion sweat and tears, and some good old take care of myself relaxation techniques. But now I'm so tired I must sleep!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Healing Circle!

The title of my blog is the name of a book I just read . The book given to me by a fellow cancer survivor as a gift. The book is co authored by Dr. Rob Rutledge and Timothy Walker PhD. Rob Rutledge is a Radiation Oncologist, Tim Walker is a Psychotherapist. The book is a great read for anyone who has cancer or a family member with cancer. Everything that I'm trying to accomplish in my cancer journey is talked about in this book. I want to survive for as long as possible! One of the reasons I find this book so interesting is because this is a doctor speaking of alternatives to conventional medicine. Rob refers often throughout the book of Dr. Siegel a surgeon who wrote a book called Love, Medicine and Miracles. In his book he wrote of the "Super Patient!" He was curious why some patients, even ones with terminal illness cured themselves or lived much longer then what doctors predicted they would. What Dr Siegel discovered was that these people empowered themselves with a balance of conventional medicine, diet and exercise, and alternative techniques. The Healing Circle explains these techniques and how to apply them. They take the time to explain how to get the best out of the conventional medical system. Rob a radiation oncologist admits that conventional medicine can only bring us so far. Almost all cancers are still incurable to this day. Basically the book has many amazing stories of people and there cancer journeys. Many who were not giving long to survive and that are now cured or lived much longer then they were expected. It also gives you techniques on how to let you live your life, as opposed to cancer  living your life. To me this is huge, since I've come out of the post cancer shock I've been determined to live my life. It really took me 4 months to come out of the shock and anxiety of my diagnosis and start to relive my life. They speak of diet and exercise as one of the key components to the super patients survival. Although he never speaks of any specific way to eat, he speaks often that these super patients take there diet and exercise seriously, alot of them also using naturopath and homeopath remedies. Well as many of you know that read my blog, the diet and exercise is a lifestyle for me now. This will be for the rest of my life! The naturopath and homeopath techniques are being researched and are on there way soon. I really think it makes sense to incorporate the naturopathic and homeopathic perspective into incurable cancers. What do you have to lose?  The last part of the book explores alternative techniques for example, yoga, tai chi, meditation, reiki. He talks about the importance of these techniques, how they reduce stress and bring a sense of wholeness and inner peace. They know that the body fights cancer better when the bodies relaxed.  How do you relax somebody with cancer? Not easy we're a bunch of freaks... I'm the most calm laid back person I know and I was freaking. So things like Reiki, and yoga were so helpful. When I was going through my chemo I practiced all of the above examples. Yoga in particular helped me so much with relaxation, most notably with my sleeping. After reading this book I realize I need to start back into them. I mean all this is free through wellsprings London, so why wouldn't I take advantage of them. Yoga was my favorite followed by art therapy and reiki, even though I'm shit at art it's very relaxing and therapeutic for me. Throughout the book there are stories of people and there amazing journeys. One that caught my attention was a gentlemen with AML a aggressive type of leukemia. He was in the middle of intense chemo when he had 2 viruses attack his body at the same time. He couldn't eat he was vomiting, convulsing and blacking in out of consciousness. He remembers it got so bad that the doctors and nurses rushed in to shove a feeding tube down his throat. He heard the doctors say to his father this is are only chance to keep him alive. For some reason the were having a heck of a time getting the tube down his throat. He remembers his dad shouting, " have you had enough son?"  Followed by, " give me a sign and I'll make them stop!" Meaning to let him die. He never gave his dad that sign. After he came out of the coma 3 days later he slowly recovered. He's still here today and cured, and using the techniques in the book. To be that close to death and make it, WOW! After I read that I looked at my wife, handed her the book and said, "read this story!" That was the most powerful story in the book. There's a woman with breast cancer who talks about her journey. All I'd have to do is change the name and the type of cancer from her story. Every detail she wrote about was a mirror image of how I felt in my cancer journey. Just how she realized that her cancer would no longer run her life. Very powerful to me! In a nutshell after I read this book I realized that I want to be a super patient. The main reason is because I want to watch my daughters grow up. Another is egotistical, but I want people to say I know that guy and he beat cancer. I want to help other cancer survivors. I want to be a better person, part of that is being more balanced in body, mind and soul. Diet and exercise should be a no brainer for all of us regardless of having cancer or not. So maybe cancer sucks but it certainly doesn't have to ruin my life no matter how much time I have left. I will not let cancer run my life! To myself, 2 little girls, my wife, and all else who love and support me I promise that... That's a promise worth keeping I'd say.

Oh yes to Derek thanks for the tips on the naturopath!

Also To Craig thanks for the link!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Check up!

Well today I had my first check up since my last chemo! Other then the 3 and a half hour wait things went well. I asked why they check my blood work even though I'm done my chemo. The reason is there are certain indicators in the blood that can tip him off to whether or not the disease is progressing again. My indicators all came back normal.... thank god! Dr Chin-Yee (super cool doctor) was concerned about my weight loss and questioned me about it. He was comfortable with my answer, which was lots of exercise and proper diet. After all weight loss is a sign that the disease is progressing again. When he seen me 3 months ago I was 255lbs and today I weighed in at 215lbs. That's 40 big ones gone for those of you who don't do the math.  Chin-Yee checked all my lymphnodes like he always does, then at my wife's request he checked my moles. My wife a few checkups ago wanted the doc to recheck my groin... She gets a kick out of watching doctors feeling me up! Moles are good by the way! I'll get her back one day when a beautiful young intern comes in and I'll have her recheck my groin over and over again. I have a friend who has Follicular Non hodgkins lymphoma like myself. She has never been treated for the tumor that has been growing in her neck. It had grown a to a fair size and she had enough and wanted it gone. So they did a CAT scan to determine if she needed chemo or if it could be surgically removed. The CAT scan show no grow in the tumor in 5 yrs and I believe one little spot in the abdomen. So she's having that sucker removed. For those of you who read my blog regularly no that this is not an option for me because my cancer is more spread out. Anyways good luck with the surgery and you are an inspiration! Well got to take my girls to dance, Chow!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stupid Cancer!

We had a stupid cancer camping gathering this weekend and it was funtastic. Big thanks goes out to Luke and Donna for organizing the outing. My girls had never been camping so I had no idea what to expect. After a bit of a rough Friday night (Marissa was sick!). Saturday turned into a dreamy day in which the girls truly enjoyed... They grew to love camping this weekend and I couldn't be happier. I quite enjoyed the whole stupid cancer camping thing. To sit by the camp fire was amazing, as well as a few beers and stimulating conversations. Myself and Donna managed to stay up until 3am Saturday night! We outlasted Melissa by 20 minutes or so. We listened to a few snore bears also. Now I thinks it's bed time I am so pooped and special thanks to my mom for camping with us. We were like a couple of stooges setting up that tent!