I can't believe that it has been 3 weeks since I posted a blog. Life is been very busy, and I have been quite busy working on my medical issues and as always worrying about Brad's. He has just gotten over 5 weeks of radiation therapy and chemo. It has affected him physically greatly but he is still carrying on life the champ that he is. I just saw the blog and you are getting it from me while my emotions are full force. So you are going to be as up-to-date on Brad's case as I am. All the prayers and well wishes have taken him far in this last year and more are going to be needed in the coming weeks.
I Dare to Dream, I Dare to Hope: On the Road to Surgery #1
Journal entry by Brad Hook — 1 hour ago
"You have been assigned this mountain to show others that it can be moved" (Mel Robbins)
October 22nd is my one year cancerversary and it so happens that it will be the day that I have surgery at MSKCC in NYC to have my gall bladder removed and HAI pump placed inside me. As I reflect on the past year, I realize how far I have come, and how much I have moved that giant mountain that I faced when I was told I had Stage IV rectal cancer. I have hinted several times in my journal that all I really knew on that dark October 22nd day is that my prognosis definitely was not good, but at no point have I ever been given one by my doctors. In all honesty, I know what a doctor would tell me based on the FB groups that I am a part of and what individuals in a similar position to mine have indicated doctors told them...1.5 to 2 years. Does that strike fear in me? Answer, not at all, because I know I can and will beat this beast and will blast past that number by oh so many years. By joining these FB groups, I now know all the aggressive treatment options available to me and know individuals that are still going strong 15-20 years after their Stage IV diagnosis (plus they have done this when medicine was not quite as advanced as it is now). I plan to keep moving this damn mountain until it crumbles beneath me.
To date, I have completed 26 cycles of chemotherapy and, as of Monday, 28 rounds of radiation. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous going into radiation, but I had the mindset that I was going to push through it and not miss a day of work. I am proud to say I achieved that goal even with having (apologies for the TMI), diarrhea for the past 3.5 weeks (thankfully as of yesterday things are starting to finally regulate, I can see the light!). I have a beautiful tan around my waist and on my rear end that has started to peel and itches like no other right now as I begin my recovery process. Fatigue wise, I had it on a daily basis throughout radiation but it was manageable. I was going to bed most nights around 8-9 pm to maintain my energy. Now that radiation is over, I am back to my old self and exercising on a daily basis, getting my 10,000 steps in, and building my strength up as I prepare for surgery. I adjusted to wearing my chemo pump 120 hours a week Monday through Saturday morning but I do not miss it at all at the moment as it is nice to be able to do things freely once again (and shower on a daily basis!!). I am currently on my first break from chemotherapy which feels kind of strange because I do not have an appointment with my oncologist until November 6th! I have had thoughts of my cancer going bananas while I am on this break but I quickly realize I am being irrational and that everything is going to be fine. I am in a great place, with my CEA holding steady. I will get my blood work done on Monday which will be the last measurement prior to surgery, so maybe it has gone down some more, maybe not, but regardless this cancer is about to get blasted with some high powered chemo once that HAI pump is inside me (I have included a picture in this post so that you can get a sense of what is going in my body).
Finally, one of my goals when I was going into radiation treatment was to make it to a friend's wedding in St. Louis which fell right at the end of my treatment (this past weekend). I am proud to say that I was able to make that happen (diarrhea and all) and it was a fantastic time catching up with my law school friends and having them see how great I am doing at the moment.
One of my songs at the moment is "Confidence" by Sanctus Real (link below). Some of the lyrics:
"You took a shepherd boy
And made him a King
So I'm gonna trust you and give you everything
I'll be a conquerer
'Cause you fight for me
I'll be a champion claiming your victory"
I am slowly but surely getting there, but I will eventually take that mountain out and will be a champion claiming God's victory. This HAI pump surgery coming up is the first step. My body is going to be pushed to the limits over the next year as my liver is pumped with high powered chemo to further shrink the tumors on it and I undergo systemic chemo at the same time. I may even lose my hair depending on what systemic chemo regimen they put me on (i.e. if it is FOLFORI), we shall see if that happens! At the same time there is the possibility that I have surgery to remove the rectal tumor if the radiation did not completely destroy it. And after all that, I am set to have two liver resection surgeries to clear up my liver completely. I am ready for this and ready to take this cancer out!!
As always, thank you for your prayers and support, they are so appreciated. I got this!!!