Sunday, July 13, 2008

So, What's Been Happening, Slacker?

Sorry for the delays in posting, work has been kicking my butt, just not used to working a full week yet! Anyway, I have a LOT to cover, so let me get started!

First, Hodge-A-Palooza. Wow. What a great time that was. Ingredients: Add about 20 Hodgkin's survivors, a bunch of caregivers, a dash of Italian food, sprinkle liberally with alcohol then bake in Boston, MA. Amazing fun, even if I was in Philly sport's enemy territory.

We started out around 3AM, leaving Philadelphia for the drive (so the kids could sleep), and arrived in New Hampshire at the darling wife's sister's house around 10AM. I said hello for about an hour, then proceeded to pass out. After a few hours sleep, we hung out some more, then I got ready to head into Boston myself (Sue wasn't coming, since we were also there to visit her sister, and it wouldnt have been right to ditch her completely with the kids - And she's right).

First off, can a major city call itself a major city when the friggin parking rates are higher than the food bill?!? I mean, I paid $36 to park in a mall parking lot. I think I saw people shooting at each other for the street parking. Still, the part of town we were in (Back Bay, on Boylston Street) was an awesome hangout.

Dinner was at Vinny T's, which for a chain was some really good italian food. The service left a bit to be desired, bringing out 10 portions of an appetizer for a table of 15 (for example). They did rectify problems when asked, but cmon now! Dinner took hours, as most of us were talking more than eating.

Which brings me to something: I'm one of those "If I know you online, I most likely don't want to meet you in person" types, since I find meeting friends online kinda weird - Please leave out the obvious "Well YOU are chatting online too", I acknowledge I'm a hypocrite. However... This group were genuinely people I would hang out with. They were FUN, and alot like my friends at home. If anything, I was the "I most likely don't want to meet you in person" person, since I was still exhausted from the drive up that morning. Not that we weren't a bit odd though - Nothing like seeing a large group of people pulling shirts down a little to show off surgery scars!

We moved shop to the bar next door, which was a fun bar, but served Guinness in a plastic cup. In a plastic cup. In Boston. I thought a quarter of Ireland's original population now lived in Boston. How could this be allowed? So, while Boston may have titles in most of the major sports, at least those of us in Philly know how to properly treat the black stuff.

There wasn't much news in between the past week until this past Friday, when I had my first appointment with Dr. Szarka (my medical oncologist) since I finished chemo three months ago. I went in and they were packed, so I got to wait in the infusion room. I shrug off alot, but I fully acknowledge sitting in "The Comfy Chair (tm)", the place where I got poisoned twelve times in the last eight months... Kinda freaked me out. Mercifully, we didn't wait there long, and went to an exam room. In popped Dr. Szarka, and the comments on my hair started immediately!

The good news: My bloodwork looks fantastic, the CT from when I had breathing problems showed nothing, and I appear to be in great health. The bad news: My cough and slight issues with breathing may potentially be permanent. As she described it, I hit my lungs with Bleomycin (one of the chemo drugs) and radiation - Between the two, I probably have some scarring which makes my lungs less flexible. My airflow is great, but when I try to expand my lungs completely, that's when I get the cough and tightness (scarring). Makes sense. When I asked if anything can be done, she said it may get better over time, but the main thing that would help is losing weight.

Yes, my weight became the central focus in fact. She beat my butt over it. Then she had the audacity to apologize for being rough on me about it! Listen, one of the main reasons Sue and I LOVE Dr. Szarka (beyond her expertise) is the fact that she does stuff like that - She cares and isn't afraid to joke and bust my b*lls about things that are important. I feel like I'm having a conversation with her, rather than listening to a clinical presentation.

So, I need to drop weight. Away I go with that then.

Finally, I got an email Friday night from Kate Weissman from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I've been asked to be the featured speaker at the Philly area kickoff for Light the Night. The Light the Night campaign is one of the major fundraisers for the LLS, and one in which the family and I will be taking part in. Besides being a night to raise money for the LLS, its a night to celebrate survivorship with the ones you love, and remember those who lost the fight.

Naturally I'll be there for myself and my family (who went through this fight with me), but I'll also be sure to throw a prayer in for Sarah, someone who helped me immensely in the early, uncertain days of cancer treatment. When she passed on earlier this year, the world became a darker place for it.

I'm completely honored to be speaking at the kickoff, and I look forward to it. Its just 5-10 minutes where I'll share my story, but to get the chance to simply say thank you to those who help keep the LLS going... Priceless.

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