Sunday, September 26, 2010

Farewell to an old friend…

I know, I know… I’m overdue for this months update. Pray forgive me and lend me your ear while I give voice to my thoughts.
As many if not most of you know, I spent a week in the hospital after having my spleen removed. It served me well for 39-1/2 years, give or take, but in the end it just had to go. Seems that it was hoarding a good amount of the blood that was being transfused into me, that’s just not nice! So, the surgeons were notified, meetings were attended, and on October 7, 2010 I “birthed” a 15 pound 12” (give or take) spleen. In a healthy adult male it should be about the size of a fist and weigh less than half a pound. As a result of this operation I can now breathe deeply, albeit with a bit of pain with those really deep breaths, and I can EAT again! I am still convalescing at home but my progress has thus far amazed the doctors. Given another 4-6 weeks and I am hopeful that I can be in the gym with a trainer and finally shed these last few pounds. In the interim however I’ll happily “walk it off” with the dogs.
Also of note, Dr. Martin remarked that I could (hopefully) look forward to another 15 years… a full three times the expectancy given me on initial diagnosis. Praise GOD!!! I’ll take it. All this also means that we can postpone the transplant for a while. In some ways it’s like Christmas early.
With all that has transpired over the course of the past few weeks my spirits have soared and my thoughts look to the long term future for the first time in a very long time. I have even thought about what I might do work-wise and my thoughts have led me to research what classes I would need to take to become an architect. I think I’d rather drive a desk than swing a hammer or carry cabinets. Perhaps this will even rekindle my love of woodworkinig as I could do it for myself and not for someone else.
I’d really like to add something deeply meaningful and inspirational, maybe even thought provoking, but I honestly just don’t have it in me. There have been fleeting thoughts of things to write about but I think the narcotic pain killers fried my brain just a bit. Maybe next month. Till then, y’all stay healthy and behave.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A year in the life.

Just over a year ago today, with all our worldly possessions, my family and I set out to make a 2000 mile plus journey across the heart of this great nation. Journeying toward a new beginning, or perhaps just a new chapter in our lives. I could scarcely have imagined where I would be one year later, the path I have taken, or the choices I have made. I still face death every day. With its constant reminders it never lets me forget - I dare not forget lest it overtake me. But it will NEVER define me and I will never cower in fear of it. If it is to happen then what can we really do to stop it? Should we even TRY to stop it? Some pretty deep philosophical stuff there… Speaking of deep philosophical stuff, I’d like to share with you part of a conversation that I had on my FaceBook page with a new friend. It started when I randomly posted a “status update” that said this “God does not give us more than we can handle, He gives us enough so we will turn everything over and trust in Him.” It prompted this friend to comment that he used to believe that but not so much anymore. That he had a hard time believing that God had a hand in our everyday lives and that he decided how much each one of us could “handle”. He went on to ask if anyone else felt this way sometimes. The following three paragraphs are my response.

I didn't used to think that God had much time for little ol Tracy. After all, what did I matter in the grand scheme of things? I suppose could argue that I have been led to this place in my life to be the one to say such words as might get us all thinking again. Our culture seems to be one of everything must be hand fed to us by wiser, smarter people nowadays... But I'm not sure if I buy into all that either.

At this point in my life I have to believe in SOMETHING and I have bounced around testing other spiritual waters with my toe and nothing was of a "comfortable" temperature to me. See, I lived my life according to what I thought was right and I thought that I didn't NEED to do it for some higher power. I was/am smart enough to know what is right and what is wrong. I suppose a lot of my hesitation in turning to "God" lie in the fact that by and large the majority of people that I encountered that were "Christian" behaved in ways that were VERY un-Christian like to me, ergo why would I want to be counted among them? Having exposed myself to myriad other religious philosophies there are a host of redeeming qualities about each of them and by and large I still use the best of those parts today.

I guess I don't believe that God has a hand in everything that I do. After all, he did give me free will right? What would be the point in giving someone free will and then "guiding" their every move? For me, I think that I have to believe that as a generally "good" person, there simply HAS to be some reason for me to have something as horrible as cancer... I don't know if this is a test, an awakening, or a call to action... I honestly don't know why it happened but I suppose that when faced with death one needs to have a reason why one should die. For example: I am old and my body is just worn out. I am a soldier fighting for a good cause. I have a terminal disease and it has given me a sense of faith in a higher power so that I might find my voice and maybe help others find a sense of purpose to their lives.

Pretty deep stuff for a Monday evening eh? But I think that it came about because this is the time I am capable and willing to take it on. To open it up, dissect it, look at it from a few different points of view and formulate a well thought out reply. I hope that was conveyed.

I also received some more “political crap” emails that sort of set me off. I’m getting very tired of people passing along things that are at best disrespectful of who the President is and the tasks he faces on a daily basis. We should all know by now that no matter who sits in that chair in the oval office they simply can’t please everyone. I get that some of you are upset, that you feel like you are getting royally screwed by “the man” but seriously, does passing along an email that simply makes no sense or posting a link on your FaceBook about how he is not attending ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial day or going to the Boy Scout Jamboree help in any way? Does it make any of us feel better about our present situation? Be honest… I didn’t think so.

A while ago, around Memorial Day I think, I asked if anyone could name one thing that he had done that was “good” in his or her opinion. The answers I got thoroughly appalled me. No one even really tried! Those that did respond simply spouted off things that were good because he hadn’t done them or that had been shot down by the rest of the politicians in Washington. These people failed to even try to grasp what I was asking but instead used it as an opportunity to try to condemn someone they have never even met and in fact, know very little about. It honestly makes me sad that people base their opinion of someone solely on their political affiliation or what they think they are trying to do based on what the media tells them.

I think most of us need to take a step back and take a long hard look at how we treat other people, how we base our opinions of one another, and what is really important to us as a whole. For example, Republicans tell us that the government wants to take away our guns, while Democrats tell us that they want to nationalize health care. So by this rationale alone, and taking into account no other factors, how should I vote? I certainly don’t want to lose my second amendment rights but being very sick and not knowing whether or not I would be able to pay my medical bills that national health care thing sounds pretty good. Maybe I’ll just fight for my guns later, if I’m still alive… See what I mean? It’s not so easy, and it raises the question of just how much value do some people place on MY life when I can’t afford insurance and nationalized health care is not such a good idea in the opinions of some. That they don’t want to pay for someone else’s hospital bills… Well hell, maybe I DO need to fight for my right to bear arms so I can take out as many as I can before I die of cancer, but in the mean time, I think I’ll just pass along another ridiculous email slandering someone who is trying to help me because it’s the “easy way” to go about things and it makes me feel like I had my say… In reality you didn’t say a darned thing, and THAT’S the bottom line!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Going through the motions

How many times have each of us used that phrase and how many different meanings can it have? Well for the past month and a half or so that would best describe how I have been living my life in every aspect. See, there’s a lot going on in my head and trying to sort through it all, or even part of it, can be at times exhausting. It’s during times like these that I take a step back from life, time to disconnect and just go through the motions. I get up, eat and do all the things that are necessary to sustain life but you could scarcely call it living. I think that we all need to once in a while, when the walls feel like they’re closing in… when life just seems like a little more than we can bear. I am fortunate to have a wonderful wife that gets that and is willing to give me some space, and some time, to recoup my strength that I may live on to fight the good fight another day.

The doctors have been trying to convince me that having my spleen removed is a “good thing” and that it can be beneficial, even reduce my need for the transfusions from once a week to maybe monthly or even less. That’s a strong case, seeing as I am rather tired of being “poked” with needles. I have, up till now, been rather reluctant to have it removed though I can’t tell you why exactly. Part of me I guess thought that if God put it there, I MUST need it! And yet another part of me I suppose didn’t want to face the fact that things had gotten to the point that removing it was necessary. At any rate, it has of late been causing me some significant discomfort and I am ready for it to be gone. Sarah and I meet with the surgeons on Thursday to discuss the procedure and it’s inherent risks. Wish me luck; I’m more than a little nervous and anxious about this to say the least.

So, what sort of things can breathe new life into us when we are going through the motions, can give us cause once again to tune into our surroundings and take note of what is going on? For me it has been getting back into racing my remote controlled cars. Kenyon bought one with his birthday money and boys being boys, he was a little rough with it and it needed repairs. We went to the hobby shop to acquire the parts necessary and while talking to the technician I asked if there was a track in the area. He informed me that in fact there was and it’s only a quarter of a mile from the shop. After some preliminary investigative work, we stopped by on a Saturday and talked to a few of the racers. Seems as though my cars, the ones I raced to moderate success while in the service, are rather old and out of touch with the current generation of racers. Well, for the time being they are going to have to do, that is until they can be replaced. Kenyon’s truck, being recently purchased is already up to snuff so he is ready to race but mine need a little work, to put it politely. Connor will also need one but we’ll work with what Dad has for now. The best part is that it has given me a reason to go out into the garage and get away from the tv. It has given me cause to reconnect with the world around me. Stay tuned and hang on… I like to go fast!!!

Until next month, do what you have to do to survive, even if it’s just going through the motions…

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Little Things

Well, first for the health news. I met with Dr. Martin again this week, had a few more tests done or redone. I am feeling good overall and the numbers have stayed up. After talking with her we agreed that I would start back on the Danazol again and see if it really was helping. I am convinced that I just overexerted myself visiting with family and friends in early April. Totally my fault. She has also left it up to me when I decide to come in and get blood transfusions and how many units. We also further discussed the splenectomy and I will be meeting with the surgeons in the near future. I am more than a little nervous about this, once it’s done there simply is no spleen anymore and I’m not sure how I feel about that… not to mention the risks associated with the surgery.

Now, on to the little things. We are all acutely aware of how the little things in life can and do affect us. All little things can set the pace or tone for our entire day. It’s funny how the little things seem to attract their own kind too. Once one little thing goes wrong in the morning it seems like every little thing that happens is “bad”. Likewise when our day starts out good it seems like all the little things that happen are good. The best part is when we are having one of those days that seems to attract bad little things and someone comes along and says or does that one little thing that turns it all around. They hold a door, flash a smile, or tell you how well your kids are behaving (as if I need someone to tell me… LOL!). The point is all it takes is one little thing to make or break someone’s mood. Why then is it so hard for us to do the nice little things for someone else? Does it really matter that the person is a complete stranger? I certainly don’t think so…

It’s funny how many of us treat complete strangers better than those we love sometimes too. How many of us will open or hold a door at a restaurant or the library for a complete stranger but not open the door for our spouse? How many of us will say hello or goodbye to those we work with at the office or tell the cashier at the supermarket to “Have a nice day” or “Have a great weekend!” and yet not even tell our wife or husband hello after they get home from a long day at work? Sometimes we take little things for granted and sometimes that can add up to a HUGE thing. I don’t need to tell you where THAT can lead. The weekend is upon us so I urge you all to do some little things for someone you love, and for someone you have never even met. Who knows, you may even make a friend for life or you could even save a person’s life. Those little things ALL have the potential to become GREAT things, it’s all up to you… what will YOU do with them?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Looking deep inside

Well, I have some more news from the Hematologist. She called last week and we talked about the size of my spleen (it is still getting bigger) and she also said she heard from the folks in Seattle. They have narrowed the search down to a group of people and gotten the DNA matching done. I’d assume that this is why they needed samples from Mom and Dad… Although this by no means indicates that they have a match, they are a LOT closer and progress is being made. This has caused a bit of a stir in the house as the reality of the transplant taking place has drawn even closer now. I have told you all before what a big deal this is and the risks involved… it’s certainly not the ideal situation but the best option as the only other option is to do nothing and wait for the end… Sucks but what’s a fella to do? I am getting weekly transfusions to try to get the count back up to a better level. I am still of the mind that it’s directly related to my overexertion hiking up mountains, but what do I know? -rolls eyes- I guess time will tell…

In other news, my friend Todd (he was the best man in my wedding) is flying back to Phoenix from Dubai, and Sarah and I are going to drive down to visit with him for a couple days. We have not seen him since our tour in the Air Force. It’s been too long friend, WAY too long! Also while we’re down in that neck of the woods we are going to meet with our new FaceBook friend Maddie. This will be the first real life meeting with her but I know it will go well, she’s good people.

And now on to the meat of this update, a look deep inside. I have been getting a lot of emails lately extolling the shortcomings of our current President and quite frankly, it makes me sad. Why you ask? Because people are saying so many bad things about a person they know nothing about. Do any of us know him? Have any of us ever been President, or even a Congressman for that matter? And just how does passing along an email with such negativity really accomplish anything? Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m just as fed up and disgusted with the way things are going as the next dude, but this is no way to fix our problems… We have to band together and put silly differences and labels aside. We have to try to affect REAL CHANGE! The fact of the matter is, he IS the President and like it or not he WILL be for a few more years. The problems we as a nation face are complicated and numerous and with all the people that are in office, whether Congressmen, or Representatives, the President or what have you, there is no easy solution. If you think there is, by all means please share it with the rest of us. We could sure use it about now… And for the record, passing along silly emails is NOT what I’m talking about. What I mean to say is that maybe we should all take a look deep inside and see what changes we can make in ourselves and work outward from there. I for one know I can be a better person, and not talking bad about someone I don’t even know is a good start. Next I think I’ll write a few letters and let my elected officials know how I feel. I have never done this before but it’s time for a change and it has to start somewhere, right? I know some of us get VERY emotional about some of these things but we have to find some common ground and be willing to compromise. We’re not all bad, some of us are just different and that makes us AMERICAN!

There was a time not so long ago when this country faced another economic crisis and we all set aside our differences and worked for the greater good. I know that was a different generation but surely we cannot have lost all that they learned in just 70 years, can we? When does it stop being about money and start being about helping one another? I have seen my fair share of “brotherly love” in the past couple of years, both giving and receiving, and it’s a very powerful thing. There is no greater gift to share than to give of oneself, whether it’s some food, an old tent you no longer have a use for, helping someone pay their bills, or just lending an ear to a friend or family member in need…

Look deep inside and see what you can do, I know I will.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A slight detour.

So, a few weeks ago I started drafting this months update and it was actually going well. Then Sarah and I took a week to entertain some guests from the Midwest and set things aside for a bit. As most of you know, I celebrated my 39th birthday and Sarah and I celebrated our 19th anniversary. (If you didn’t know, that was not a vain attempt at fishing for late responders. It’s ok, really)

First we had Becky (my sister), her son Seth and Jeff her boyfriend here for a few days and as they were on the plane flying home the Kauffman’s arrived and we entertained them for several days too. Fun was had by all. Afterward I went in for my next scheduled transfusion last Thursday and my count (hemoglobin) was 4.6 and that is the lowest it has ever been. The nurse who does my transfusions called the doctor and they scheduled an appointment for this past Monday and another transfusion for Tuesday. She (Dr. Kao) is of the opinion that the disease is progressing and the drugs (Danazol) are no longer working effectively. The spleen, which has been bothering me more and more, should NOT be taken out as the operation would prove too risky and is not in her opinion warranted at this time. Things are starting to look a little grim from my perspective…

Look, things were just starting to settle down and I was relaxing into a comfortable pace and quality of life out here and then this news hits me. As you may imagine, I have been somewhat of a wreck the past few days. Seems as if most, if not all of the progress I had made has all been for naught. I’m growing tired of this game and I don’t want to play anymore…

I’m sorry if any of this brings you down and I wish with all my heart that I had better news to share, something witty to say, or meaningful wisdom to impart… but I don’t. All my brain power is used just to get out of bed lately and there are times when even that is not enough. I am sure, given time that things will improve but for now, this is the best I can muster.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Leap of Faith

So I was standing in church this morning listening to the band and singing along (and singing rather well I must say) I had a sort of epiphany. See, I have been struggling with finding my faith because I had lots of questions and I found myself unable to just swallow some huge horse pill that had been prescribed to me by some all knowing preacher. But then I came to Harvest Community Church and it wasn’t like that. That is to say that nothing was presented to me in a take it or leave it manner, but since I have been going there every Sunday that I am there it’s like God is speaking directly to me, albeit it through one of the pastors.
Then this morning I awoke with the feeling that everything was going to be ok, with a feeling of peace and contentment if you will. It didn’t just stop there either, it spread from me to Sarah and we just felt great! When we got to church a short while later and I was standing there singing, and I guess you could say worshipping, I had a thought. Perhaps it was God speaking to me, I don’t know. What I DO know is that it occurred to me that in order to have faith as a Christian I had to accept the whole thing. I had to make a leap of faith, but in doing so I would not be alone. I had a vision of sorts I suppose. In this vision I was at a place where I had to decide to take that step into the unknown, or what was unknown to me at least, and I had doubts and questions and all these other concerns and I was afraid. But I was not alone. There were all these other people there too. People I knew and that I trusted completely, and those closest to me told me that if I were to take those first few tentative steps with such a burden on my back that surely I would not make it. Like falling through the ice I would simply be too heavy and my faith (the ice) would not hold me up but if I would just let them take this or that off my shoulders they would walk beside me and help me should I falter. That as a group, a community, we could share in these burdens and none would be left behind. They also made it clear that some of those burdens would not be necessary as we journeyed onward and they could simply be left here.
And so I handed off some of those burdens to be cast aside as trivial and unnecessary and still others I let those that I trust take on, even if only in part, and I took those first tentative steps… that leap of faith and I have to tell you, it sure feels good to know that I am in such good company. I have found my path and it is leading me home.
Thanks for helping to shoulder my load and may God bless you as he has blessed me.

Peace, Tracy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I like to talk about happiness this month. But first, lets ask ourselves a question. What does it mean to BE happy?

I put this question to a few people and got a myriad of responses. Thanks to those that responded, I appreciate the help. What I got was a myriad of responses but with a certain commonality to them. This question it seems is not so easy for folks to answer and it requires a lot of thought. I sort of expected this to be a no brainer, a slam dunk if you will so the fact that they had to put so much thought into it and the depth of the answers I got back… well quite frankly surprised me!

See, we as a people are VASTLY different from one another. Sure some of us share certain things in common and perhaps that draws us to one another, but we’re still different. So I guess it only stands to reason that what makes us each happy, as individuals, should therefore also be vastly different. Add to that the fact that we are all in different places in our lives, have had different life altering experiences if you will and PRESTO! It’s as plain as the nose on your face.

Now factor in that we all communicate best in various ways and you get things like plain English such as:

Happy= "enough" of basic things- enough money to meet my needs, enough food
in my house, enough peace in my doesn't require me not to have
any drama or anxiety or whatever, and I don't have to have tons of EXTRA
money, but I am happy when things are just fine....

Or perhaps a more spiritual viewpoint like:

What is happiness? Being happy, is being content with who and what you are, with what you have. Why aren't more people happy? Because they are never happy with what they have. They are always looking for the next best thing, or wanting what someone else has. This is why the poorest and lowliest of us can be more happy than the richest of us.


Happiness. This word means so many things to me... Joy, Peace, Calm and Contentment to name a few. Your life can be in complete chaos and yet you can have happiness in your heart. It's a state of mind.

And still others will express themselves through the words of others like this:

I think that a poem by Priscilla Leonard might help convey what happiness means to me. Here is a part of that poem. "Happiness is like a crystal, Fair and exquisite and clear, Broken in a million pieces, Shattered, scattered far and near... ...Yet the wise as on they journey Treasure every fragment clear, Fit them as they may together, Imaging the shattered sphere, Learning ever to be thankful, Though their share of it is small; For it has so many pieces No one ever finds them all." Happiness for me means treasuring the million fragments that comprise my life. Some of those fragments have had very sharp edges, but I believe that everything that happens in my life is kismet and as my life continues toward it's end, hopefully I will remain happy with myself. There are no "do-overs".

While I would express myself through my photographs:

The facts are, as I in my infinite wisdom see them, that happiness is a good many things to a good many people and that they express their happiness in a multitude of ways depending upon a variety of factors. I think we should all celebrate our happiness and that of others. You see, some people really struggle with finding happiness and keeping it. You probably know someone right now that is not “happy” for whatever reason. How then can you help them to “be” happy? A phone call perhaps, maybe a handwritten letter or send them a few photos or poems. Maybe just tell them in plain English that they are part of what makes YOU happy. You certainly can’t MAKE them happy, but what you can do is walk beside them while they look for it, maybe even carry them for a ways. The important thing is that you are there for them. It is in reaching out to one another when we know that someone is not where they want to be whether it be physical pain, sadness and depression, loneliness, loss/grief… Just as there are a huge variety of things that can make each of us happy there are also a huge variety of things that can bring us down. But! Together we can, and WILL see each other through. This I KNOW to be true.

Now to switch gears just a bit for some medical news. The spleen continues to grow and I have lost more weight. I still have plenty or reserves so no worries, YET! The doctors have basically left it up to me to decide when it will need to come out and I am holding out until the bitter end. I guess I feel that God put it there for a reason and even though other organs can pick up the slack if it were gone, I still feel it ought to stay put and do its job. Help is on the way though, maybe… I met with the hematologist last week and there may be a clinical trial at Stanford University that I can possibly get into. It would be for a medication that she feels could reduce the size of the spleen. Fingers crossed…

Also of note and as some of you already know, I went to the emergency room twice last month. To say that it was unpleasant would be a severe understatement. The first visit was initiated when I went to the doctor to try to get something for this dang cold (turns out it was the flu coupled with bronchitis) and the nurse found my blood pressure to be rather low. The VA, where I was seeing my doctor, sent me to the ER at one of the local downtown hospitals where my blood pressure was then fine if perhaps even a little elevated… *sigh* Anyway, it was two days before my scheduled transfusion, and in the course of all their tests they discovered that my blood count was very low (nothing new to me) but they have to do what they have to do I suppose. Three days in the hospital, two bags of IV antibiotics, and five units of blood later they let me go… I suppose it’s really not so bad, it was only two wasted days as I would have had to spend the day at the VA getting blood anyway but it was a lot of stress on Sarah and the kids not to mention the in-laws that had kids dropped on them. It was of great comfort to see the emergency response system that is my network of family and friends at work. Thanks to all who stepped up to the plate whether watching kids or just sending me words of encouragement. You are ALL very much loved.

The second trip was the day after Valentines day after I had been vomiting all day along with some rather nasty stuff coming out the “other” end. Sarah was worried and called the advice nurse at the VA and she told Sarah to take me to the ER. They basically just rehydrated me with two huge bags of saline… after sitting in the waiting room for countless hours on end. It is what it is I guess. Another life experience, though one I would rather not relive!

So add all that up and the fact that I missed a couple of appointments with my counselor and Tracy goes back into depression. Not fun! That would be the biggest reason that you did not get an update last month. Sorry if that caused you any concern, it was all kind of out of my control. All seems to be back to normal though, or at least as close to normal as it gets around here. I am still looking to the future, to the transplant and what life will bring me after. I’m not sure if I will be able to do what I did before or not so I have been putting some thought into just what else I might like to do career wise. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I also picked up the camera the other day and snapped a few shots of some goats, cows, and a really cool rock outcropping so check out the Flickr page in the near future for those.

Finally, we said goodbye to our dear friend Rocket the minivan last month. She took us on many grand adventures from the U.P. of Michigan to the East Coast and Washington D.C. and finally she brought us across the country to our new home. I suppose the only thing missing was a trip down south to make the four winds happy. We have replaced her with a similarly capable vehicle in Bullet. She’s a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban (only two wheel drive, no snow here *huge smile*) that seats eight, has more power gadgets and doo-dads than even I can figure out how to work and best of all, has a thundering V-8 beating under the hood. I can’t WAIT to see where she’ll take us… Perhaps a trip to the PNW (Pacific North West) is in order, or maybe the Grand Canyon… I think a weekend retreat for our anniversary is in order first though. 19 years this coming April. Love you Schmoopy!!!

Also of note, my sister and her posse will be visiting us as well as the Kauffmans (Kauffmen?) for spring break so all my west coast people beware, we’re partying Midwest style for my birthday this year! Details to follow…

Well, as always I hope this finds you all well and should it not, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. If you would send some prayers to Delilah, Clark, and my friend Veronica’s dad who are fighting their own personal 800 pound gorillas. Thanks.

Peace, love and happiness, whatever that means to you. ;-)


Ps. Thanks to all who gave of their time and their thoughts to help make this post possible. You are a big part of what makes ME happy! :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another rung up the ladder

As many of you know, Sarah and I took a little trip Tuesday night up to Seattle. I have agonized for days on what transpired and just how to pass along the information I got there. Today my thinking is like this: I got next to nothing out of the trip. Yeah, that’s what I said, nothing. It honestly feels like the things the doctor said undid all the work that I had done in shoring up my emotions. I know that was not the purpose or what they intended, but that is how it feels. The doctor gave me numbers, and quite good ones too, of over 50% success rates and less then 13% mortality rates but… that was in a very recent study not even published yet and it dealt with generally older patients who got a much less aggressive chemo routine that they will likely not be using with me… fat lot of good that does me eh?

Then we talked with the social worker about what our stay there would be like. It won’t be fun by any stretch of the imagination. 3-4 weeks of testing to include yet ANOTHER bone marrow biopsy, 2-4 weeks in the bone marrow transplant ward of the hospital, followed by daily visits back to the hospital from an apartment where no-one can come to visit, where we cannot have pets, plants or anything that resembles a normal life. That should taper off to once a week visits and if, IF things go well I may get to come home early where they would like for us to not have the dogs. And there will still be plenty of doctor visits with Dr. Martin here in California. I suppose that is the one shining light in all this, they had really good things to say about her, and the fact that she is following me is a huge plus in all this and may help in my being able to come home early.

I knew from the start this wouldn’t be a party, but it has come full force into the forefront now. Just how much I am going to have to endure and what Sarah will be going through too. THAT hurts me more than anything else in all this, the fact that others should have to deal with it too. I have apologized before and people tell me there is no need but they all need to understand that does little to change the way I feel. I have tried to justify why this happened to ME. What did I do to deserve this? The truth is, there is nothing I did or could ever do to deserve this, and neither do any of you reading this deserve to have to read my words of pain and anguish. But it is what it is, right? I cannot see my way around this, neither over nor under it. My life is on the other side of it and if I want that life, I must go through this and claim it as my own, such that it is. Who knows, maybe I’ll just be one of the lucky ones that licks this completely and shows them all what life is really all about!

There is still no word on a donor match and in truth; they may never even find one and all of this may be for nothing. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I would like to thank those of you who have already signed up to be a donor. I would also ask that even if you aren’t a match for me, you stick with it and maybe you can be a match for someone else. It truly is the gift of life and we all know just how precious THAT is.

I suppose with time, I will feel better about all this. But for now, it just plain SUCKS!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I’d like to take some time this month to talk to you about dreams. Not the toss and turn at night kind that wake you from a dead sleep or the ones where the dog barks and wakes you up and you try desperately for an hour to go back to sleep to get back into it kind, although those ARE some pretty good ones aren’t they? No, I’m talking about the dreams that give you reason to get up in the morning on the weekend. The ones that make you go to work and deal with all those people that you can’t stand because you know that you have something to look forward to at the end of the day, or for your retirement. The ones that give you HOPE!

For too long now I have given up on my dreams. I always wanted a little farm that if nothing else could provide my family with food that was fresh and free of all the “commercial” worries. I was well on my way to seeing that dream come to fruition. Not so much anymore. But, even though I am in a different place and far removed from what I know, why must I let go of that dream all together?

I also had dreamed of being a professional furniture maker. I had built several pieces for the cabinet shops I worked for and they turned out really well. Not because I had access to big fancy powerful tools, or someone else to do the undesirable things like sanding, but because I am GOOD at it. I CAN make good quality furniture. Now the majority of my power tools are gone, sold because there isn’t room at the new house for them. But as I said, I don’t need those tools to do it. What I need is in ME! It’s a fire that burns hotter and hotter every day and there are only two choices for me. First, I can simply put out that fire and live with soggy ashes and smoldering coals to remind me of what I had dreamed of. Conversely I can choose to stoke that fire and use it as a furnace to get the things done that I want to. To make my dreams reality!

Now onto the health stuff as there is big news there. I received a phone call last night from Kathy at the Puget Sound VA facility. We discussed what days would be good for Sarah and I to come up there and talk to the doctor and tour the facility. This is really going to happen now, isn’t it? This is the first step towards finally ending this nightmare, of being disease free… one way or the other. But along with that I get all these emotions roiling inside me. Fear- this could be the first step down the path to my ultimate demise. Anxiety- this is NOT going to be an easy road to travel by ANY stretch of the imagination. Joy- things are finally moving forward, even if it’s not a journey I want to take it’s one that must be taken. At least we’re moving! Excitement- I am going to meet new people, see new things, have new experiences, and God willing I will finally be done with this. It is my sincere hope that I have learned the lessons that He has set forth for me during this trial. I have learned SO much but I wonder, could I have done more, should I have? I suppose only time will tell.

Sarah, the kids and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Disneyland right after Christmas with Sarah’s Dad and Step-mom. They are SUCH incredibly wonderful people I cannot begin to tell you. I can honestly say that was a trip my family and I will NEVER forget! It was so wonderful to see them all so happy, especially given all that we have been through in the past two years. I realized after the first day that during my time down there I had completely forgotten about being sick, about having cancer… and I can tell you that that is far more precious than any gift I could have been given. Thank you Frank and Sharon, I love you.

Well, that’s about all I have for now. I would love to hear from any and all of you, especially the ones furthest away from me and the ones I have not spoken to in a long time. Tell me what YOUR dreams are, what fuels your inner fire! Put pen to paper, fingers to keys, or pick up the phone. It’s a whole new year overflowing with possibilities, what will YOU do with it?

Peace, Tracy.