Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy holidays!

Happy holidays everyone!

The excitement and anticipation was running very high in the weeks/months leading up to these past couple of weeks where all 3 girls have been home at the same time. It’s been fun having some hustle and bustle around the house and we even managed to squeeze in what has become somewhat of a holiday tradition where we venture into Manhattan for a show. This year we saw Avenue Q and had a lot of fun before/after walking around the city.

Although I hope to get on the spin bike later today it looks like my nearly 2 month streak of weekend rides has been broken. I’m not very happy about that but I guess that’s what happens when busy holiday weekends roll around. My last two rides were each 46-mile rides and I’m hoping to push for a 50-miler the next time out. One of my 2012 resolutions, like so many people, is to get back into a regular exercise schedule. Prior to my personal “adventure” I had been enjoying a routine where I’d get to the gym 4 or 5 times a week. I miss it terribly, both physically and mentally. The intermittent bike rides have been fantastic but I need more.

I received an email this past week with a video of physicians from Sloan-Kettering thanking Cycle for Survival for making the financial difference that allowed for their respective research projects. Please take a minute to view the video by clicking here. It will be great for those of you that have generously supported my participation in Cycle for Survival to see the tangible benefit of your donation as well as for those of you that may be still contemplating a donation… PLEASE DONATE TO THIS TERRIFIC CAUSE! Click here to donate. Not to bombard you with videos but here's another one that I just came across that is a tribute to Jennifer Goodman Linn, the co-founder of Cycle for Survival, that will help you to know why I support this cause. Click here to view the video (if you look quickly at minute 4:02 of the video you will see me at the far left on the stage in my yellow Mintz's Mentschen jersey).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cycle for Survival on CBS TV News

This morning while watching CBS TV news Amy and I were surprised when a story regarding Cycle for Survival came on. The link below is a video of the piece that very clearly spells out why I'll be participating in this event for the second time. Please persevere through the 15 second advertisement that precedes the video.

Cycle For Survival: Fundraiser Takes On Rare Forms Of Cancer: For the past several years the fundraiser "Cycle For Awareness" has been raising money and awareness for rare forms of cancer. CBS2's Cindy Hsu has more.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chemo vacation... making the best of it

It’s funny when I stop to think that I had a chemo treatment only 4 and a half weeks ago. But when the PET/CT came through with good news only one week after that treatment it was almost as if that treatment was completely erased from my mind. I’ve been on chemo vacation and I’m doing as much as I can while I can.

I rode my bike twice that weekend and for the 3 weeks since then the weather has been dry and I’ve been on the road and trying to aggressively push the miles and effort so that I can regain some fitness as quickly as possible.

I had two multi-ride weekends in a row followed by last weekend where I rode a solo 37-miler. I enjoyed that ride but it was mostly flat so while I was happy to be adding mileage I knew very well that my training was just getting started and I didn’t rush to make a blog post about it. However, the ride that I did today with Dan Nies has me quite happy and it’s time for a bit of chest thumping. For those that are local or who are on our Mintz’s Mentschen team and know these roads, we left my house and headed out through Princeton into Hopewell and hit the Sourlands. Up Lindbergh Rd to Peacock’s for a hot chocolate break and then back over the mountain on a slightly more forgiving route that still included a good amount of climbing. And then, with my gas tank approaching “E” we had some rollers and few smaller climbs to get back to my house. When we turned onto my street and the mileage turned to 40.0 I was thrilled with what I had managed to do.

Of course the effort had me reclining (and sleeping) on the couch for most of the afternoon. I managed to move a little as dinner time approached and I’m sure that I’ll be feeling it for the next couple of days at least. But I’m happy to know that I’m rapidly nearing readiness for our as yet unscheduled Tour de Hot Chocolate. The tour will be in the vicinity of a metric century (100 Kilometers, 62 miles).

Donations for my participation in the Cycle for Survival spinning event to benefit Memorial Sloan-Kettering continue to come in. For those of you that have been able to make a donation please accept my heartfelt thanks and appreciation. For anyone that is in a position to consider a donation of any size please click here to go to my fundraising web page for the event.

The holiday season will be starting to kick into gear over the next few weeks as Bailey, Sasha, and Erin each make their way home. They’ll all be here together for a week at the end of December. I can’t remember the last time when they were all home at the same time.

Happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Multi ride weekend

Since today was a nice fall day, albeit a bit windy again, I opted to skip a couple of hours of couch time watching football to head out for my second bike ride of the weekend. I had some rare instances where I managed to squeeze in multiple rides on a weekend during treatment but it's funny how perspective changes during an official chemo vacation. The ride was awesome and in my mind seriously therapeutic.

I've had this thought many times before but while riding today it was right there at top of mind. I love my bike! I truly do. I feel like it literally keeps me alive physically and mentally. Thanks Jason, Chris, and everyone else at Halters Cycles.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chemo vacation

It’s been a full month between blog posts and this time it’s not because of any lack of things to write about. I’ll try to squeeze it all in here somewhere and I think you’ll get the idea for why I haven’t been able to find time to write.

Treatment has continued with its non-eventful monotony through October and early November while my focus remained on the PET/CT scan that actually happened just this past week. Prior to the scan I did have chemo treatment #18 (FOLFIRI protocol) for 2011 and that was #41 since this started in January 2008. These numbers are starting to get quite impressive, huh? As many people are already aware the PET/CT results were about as good as it gets. The lesions that the scan showed back in August were undetectable this time around and that means that for the 4th time I have achieved remission. I spoke with Dr. Richards twice on Thursday and while he said that he’d be OK with continuing through another treatment or two he also said that he’d be OK with a 3-month chemo vacation. It’s one of those decision points that he says has no wrong answer. As you may have expected I chose the chemo vacation and the next PET/CT that will come in early February 2012 will let us know if the vacation continues or if we return to treatment mode.

So I’m jumping right into some short-term goals that start with ratcheting up my exercise routine and hopefully dropping a few pounds in the process. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts the next formal cycling event is the Cycle for Survival spinning fundraiser for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. That will be in early February 2012 and you can donate by clicking here. But between now and then I hope to be as aggressive with my outdoor cycling as possible. I did get out for a 27-mile ride today with Dan Nies in glorious sunny but chilly and breezy weather. If all goes well we hope to be able to pull off our “Tour de Hot Chocolate” ride that will be a metric century (62 miles). So I have some training to do!

I have continued riding all along as has been my mode of operation. Back in October, on Columbus Day, I had the day off and was enjoying a ride on a beautiful weather day when I was christened with my first ever serious bike crash. I was riding solo and luckily the crash didn’t involve a car although I have no idea what caused me to go down. But before I knew it I was sliding down the road on my left side. I didn’t break anything but had some fairly significant road rash and put my helmet to the test when my head did make contact with the road. A couple of nice people stopped and helped me to my feet, straightened my handle bars, and offered to drive me home. I was 12 miles from home and since I didn’t break anything I opted for a slow ride home. I now have a new perspective for anyone that has had a crash on a motorcycle. I can’t imagine….

Monday, October 10, 2011

Treatment #40 here we come

As usual here is my pre-treatment hello.
Things have been going well and with the good weather we have had over this past weekend, and into today, I have been able to enjoy a 25-mile ride with Dan Nies yesterday and then a 32-mile solo ride today. Both rides were terrific. The ride yesterday was out of Washington's Crossing so it was a bit of a challenge but I made it through. My legs were a bit on the tired side today but there was no way that I was going to not get out and enjoy the weather. The flat route allowed me to stretch the miles a bit.

And, yes, tomorrow is treatment day. Not just any treatment mind you. This will be my 40th treatment since this all began in early 2008. There may be another before my next scan during the 2nd week of November but for sure I'll be taking a moment tomorrow to reflect on these past 4 years.

Our Mintz's Mentschen participation in Cycle for Survival 2012 is all set. We'll be involved as a "mega team" with 2 bikes in the event that is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, 2012 in Roslyn, Long Island. The spinning-based event is for a 4-hour shift so we'll have at least 8 mentschen participating. With the passing of co-founder Jennifer Goodman Linn this past summer the Cycle for Survival (CFS) event this year proves to be an emotional one. CFS raises money in direct support of clinical trial development for rare cancers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Last year the total amount raised was $4.8 million and since esophageal cancer falls into the category of "rare" cancers the CFS organization kind of hits home with me. I'm sorry for my continued requests for financial support but if you can support us with a small donation I'd appreciate it very much. Please click here for my personal fundraising page.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A must see

From the many posts on Facebook regarding the death of Steve Jobs I came across a video of his commencement speech at Standford University in June 2005. It's definitely a must see. I know that I had a couple of take aways from it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

As is typically the case I’m prompted to make this blog post because I have a chemo treatment tomorrow. I know that 2-3 weeks between posts isn’t particularly exciting but really things have been exactly that dull. And I’m not complaining.

With this being the close of my first 3-week cycle I was able to use that extra week to schedule a follow-up visit with my gastroenterologist, Dr. Dahr, and with the nice fall weather this weekend I was even able to hop on my bike for the first time since the Livestrong event.

I had had an endoscopy scheduled for this past February but we wound up cancelling that since I had the recurrence and needed to start my 2011 chemo treatments. Dr. Dahr agreed that we’d wait until the November/December timeframe which will be after my next PET/CT to schedule another endoscopy. Unless the PET/CT shows something that specifically needs to be investigated this next endoscopy will just be a follow-up to see if there’s been any change at the GE junction.

The bike ride yesterday with Dan Nies and his wife Kathy was awesome. I love riding in the cool Fall air and amazingly, despite not having been on my bike in a month, I was able to cover my usual 27-mile loop with no trouble whatsoever.

My next cycling event, as I have mentioned in recent blog posts, will be the Cycle for Survival spinning event. Our Mintz’s Mentschen team will have 2 bikes in the event on February 4, 2012 and we’ll have a minimum fundraising requirement of $2,000.

Monday, August 29, 2011

LiveSTRONG recap

Distracted by earthquakes and hurricanes this past week it was easy to lose track of time for pulling together a blog post as a follow-up to the Philly LiveSTRONG extravaganza.

The LiveSTRONG event got off to a literal bang when Amy and I scrambled after work on Friday, 8/19 to get over to eastern PA and the LiveSTRONG village for packet pick-up and registration. No sooner did Amy and I check-in at our hotel, meet Anne Chen in person for the first time, and then arrive at the event venue when the skies turned black and prompted the LiveSTRONG staff to frantically shutdown for the night. Things continued to get interesting when we returned to the hotel following a team sushi dinner. The heavy rains had caused the hotel parking lot to flood and I needed to park the car at another hotel up the road where there was no threat of the car becoming a boat.

Aside from the muddy grounds on Saturday all went well for Mintz’s Mentschen participation in the walking/running events. The weather was terrific and this was capped by our own private pasta party on Saturday night where most of our team was able to attend. Sunday was an entirely different story. Many thanks to Kathy Lynch for bringing us two new Mentschen teammates for our walk team. Theresa Lizzio and Cindy Takacs are wonderful people and they both seemed to have had a great time. Ditto for Jordan Adler who was recruited by Dan Nies. Jordan did a combo walk/ride weekend and I think he’s been bitten by the LiveSTRONG bug. I look forward to having all 3 as ongoing Mentschen teammates.

Sunday, the day for all cycling events, started on the grey side and it really did look like we might skate by the rain holding off until all of our riders completed their chosen route distances. Amy and I rode the tandem with a nice sized posse of Mentschen and we completed the 23 mile route of rolling hills without having to walk a step. This was the hilliest ride we’ve ever done on the tandem and despite the physical challenge a good time was had by all. Albeit with some drizzle of rain as we rode.

Dan Nies, our only 100-mile rider, and Jim Nuccio who rode the 70-mile route weren’t quite as lucky. The skies once again turned black at around 2:30pm and opened up with torrential rain, thunder, and lightening while Dan and Jim were still on the course. Long story short is that they both finished despite the VERY scary scenario that unfolded.

Mega thanks to all that have donated so generously to our Mintz’s Mentschen LiveSTRONG efforts this year. My final fundraising total was $5,654 and our team total was $28.071. Incredible.

The event weekend was somewhat bittersweet.

  • I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with my LiveSTRONG email penpal Anne Chen who came all the way from Denmark to be with us.
  • An old Rider College friend, MaryAnn Bellesi Faraci, came to visit me on Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t seen MaryAnn since Rider 30 years ago. Incredible fun.
  • LiveSTRONG weekend is always a real lovefest that both humbles me and fills me with a year’s worth of good karma.
  • Long time cycling friend and Mintz’s Mentschen teammate Stephanie Tobler relocated to Switzerland a couple of days after LiveSTRONG. Stephanie will be spending time with her grandmother and other family in Switzerland. While she’ll be missed I’m also very proud that she’s truly living life to its fullest. Way to LiveSTRONG Steph!!

One final note on the topic of LiveSTRONG. I can't thank my good friend Dan Nies enough for what he does on behalf of Mintz's Mentschen. Dan brings the energy, coordination, coaching, custom jerseys and t-shirts, and all-around positive vibe to our team. Our team absolutely would NOT exist in its current form without Dan. Dan, I hope you know how truly grateful I am for who you are and what you do. There's a reason we're called "mentschen" and Dan is our fearless leader (not to mentschen that he's the one who coined our name and motto). Time for a definition for those that need it. Mensch: a person of integrity and honor, a particularly good person, like "a stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a dear friend or trusted colleague.

Tomorrow is 2011 treatment #15. Not too much to say about it other then that it’s the last that will be on a 2-week cycle. Given that it’s been taking me a little longer to fully recover from each treatment an extra week in each cycle is something that I look forward to.

Below are some pictures from the LiveSTRONG weekend.

Our amazing 2011 Mintz's Mentschen run/walk team

Our amazing 2011 Mintz's Mentschen cycling team

Amy and I cruising by on the tandem at the ride start
(thanks Anne for the great pic!!)

Jacked to the Max and riding in memory of Danny, Scott, and Jen



Thursday, August 18, 2011

LiveSTRONG live!!

For those of you that might want to look in on the festivities that take place this weekend for the Philly LiveSTRONG event it seems that you'll be able to do that from the comfort of your home. The Lance Armstrong Foundation is kicking things up with technology this year and they provided this link that is supposed to have streaming video of the Finish Line area.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Treatment continues... but that's OK

A quick update following treatment yesterday and our conversation with Dr. Richards. It came down to the decision of stopping treatment until the next scan interval or proceeding with treatment to “the best possible result”. Even though the scan results were good and the remaining lesions are very small we opted for continuing treatment and thankfully Dr. Richards was in full support for going to a 3-week treatment cycle. This next one will stay at two weeks but starting in September we’ll go to 3-weeks in between treatments. As you might imagine that’s great news as far as I’m concerned because I’ll be doing everything I can to put that 3rd week to good use. Generally I’m close to normal after about a week so this will give me some decent “normal” time in between treatments.

Fundraising by the Mintz’s Mentschen team of 23 is really on a roll! We’re up to $26,416! I’m very excited for the ride this weekend.

And as we did in February of this year we’ll also be participating in Cycle for Survival in 2012. Registration for that event will happen soon so expect to see me mentioning that event in the September timeframe. The event itself will be in February 2012 and it directly funds development of clinical trials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Last year the event raised over $4 million. Given the recent passing of the event founder, Jennifer Goodman Linn, this will be an extremely emotional event.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Catching up.... and IT'S LIVESTRONG WEEK!!

Two weeks between posts…. A bit long, I’m sorry about that but really I’ve been a bit distracted with treatment and its side effects, a PET scan, and the build-up to the LiveSTRONG event that is this coming weekend.

Treatment #13 came and went without incident on August 2nd. The pre-treatment blood counts showed that my white blood cell count was low (2.6) but Dr. Richards said it has been low off and on and that he wasn’t concerned. The 2-week cycle went without incident.

That was closely followed by the quarterly PET/CT scan on August 8th. To make a long story short it didn’t bring the completely clean results I was hoping for. Some of the lesions that we have been watching on my liver actually DID “disappear” from the scan but there were some low-level SUV hits in a couple of other spots that translate into continued treatment. Treatment #14 will be tomorrow and Amy and I will be having a detailed conversation with Dr. Richards regarding the treatment protocol and frequency. I’m sure that we’ll be proceeding with the same 3-drug cocktail but with the SUV levels being so low I’m hoping that we can shift to a 3-week treatment interval so that I get a bit more of a breather in between treatments.

This would also help to conserve the few remaining vacation days that I have. With a bit of luck maybe I’ll get an actual day or two off before the end of the year.

Jacked to the Max!!

As I mentioned, the LiveSTRONG event is this weekend. Amy and I will be picking up Anne Chen as she arrives from Denmark late tomorrow afternoon. The Mentschen will have an international flair this year! Our weekend of fun will start this Friday night when we begin to meet at the event site in Blue Bell and a group of us will participate in a 5K walk/run on Saturday morning. The bike ride is on Sunday and for the first time our tandem will make an appearance as I ride the 20-mile route with Amy. I’ll have a posse of Mentschen with me and as always it will be a blast. Out cumulative team fundraising is now up to $24,731!! I’m sure that we will reach $25,000 before the weekend. Heartfelt thanks to you all for your generosity.

The 2011 version of our custom Mentschen jerseys is very cool (see the picture above). Hopefully the Lance Armstrong Foundation will re-instate their best jersey contest as I think we’d be a top contender to defend our 1st place finish of two years ago. Last year they didn’t have the contest.

This year I’ll be riding the LiveSTRONG event to honor the memory of dear friends that I lost to cancer recently. They are Danny Millman, Scott Winters, and Jennifer Goodman Linn.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Excitement of August.... PET/CT and LiveSTRONG event

Although my recent jaunts on the bike had been a real struggle there was no way that I wasn’t going to give it another shot this weekend. After all, treatment #13 is on Tuesday and, therefore, I won’t be doing anything for a week or so. So I went back to my tried and true flat local 27-mile route and made a slight tweak to the usual flight plan. Instead of our Mentschen motto of “start slow and ease up” I set out with a mindset of “ease up and then ease up some more”. And it worked! The weather was fabulous and that certainly helped but I cruised through and had the mind and body cleansing experience I was desperately needing.

Considering that for the first 3 years of my cancer battle I never had to exceed 7 or 8 cycles of chemo in any one year that Tuesday will be treatment 13 for 2011 is definitely weighing heavy on my mind. As I’ve been describing, the cumulative effects of the FOLFIRI chemo are starting to take hold so I look forward to the PET/CT that is scheduled for Monday, August 8th and hope that it brings me news of remission and a chemo vacation for a while.

My thoughts right now are with my LiveSTRONG friend Anne Chen who is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as I type. Anne lives in Denmark and is a LiveSTRONG Grassroots volunteer that I met in an online group for LiveSTRONG. Although our relationship has been 100% over the internet I have come to know Anne as an amazing person that not only advocates for cancer survivors but that fights in the war against cancer through projects and organizations above and beyond LiveSTRONG. She has joined the Mentschen team and will be with us at the event in Philly. I can’t wait to meet her and to hear all about her African adventure.

Preparation for the LiveSTRONG event in Philly is coming down to the wire with the event itself only 3 weeks away. The first batch of2011 Mintz’s Mentschen cycling jerseys have arrived and the excitement is building. My fundraising total is now over $4,000 and the team total is above $19,600. If you can consider a donation that will help us to drive beyond the $20,000 that would be fantastic. My personal fundraising page can be accessed by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More awful news

As I prepped for a quick blog post to provide my latest information I made the mistake of popping in to take a look at Facebook.

I was smacked with another piece of terrible news. You have read my comments previously about Jennifer Goodman Linn, founder of Cycle for Survival, so I won’t repeat all of that. This is simply awful news.

The Cycle for Survival community wishes to express our profound sorrow at the passing of our founder, and friend, Jennifer Goodman Linn, and we extend our deepest sympathy to her beloved husband, David, and their families. Jen lived fearlessly each day, and she brought out the best in us and in everyone lucky enough to know her. In her honor, we will continue to work tirelessly to carry out her extraordinary vision.

I will continue to participate in Cycle for Survival in support of Jennifer and in support of an outstanding organization.

I guess that I’ll press on with the few tidbits of information specific to me. My treatment went well yesterday and the feedback that I was given on my fatigue is that my blood counts are all in a good range, however, the fatigue is common with extended treatment with camptosar (irinotecan). So hopefully my next treatment on August 2nd will be my last for a while. Otherwise we may just need to change things up a bit.

I did also get the Rx for my PET/CT and that is scheduled for Monday, August 8th.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Treatment day

Today is treatment #12 for 2011 and as I get closer to the next PET scan the excitement/anxiety is starting to build. The scans dictate everything and although I continue to feel well you just never know what is going to turn up. Results back in May were good and there's a chance that this scan will show that I'm in remission and that I can have a chemo vacation. The scan will be the 2nd week of August. I should get the Rx today and I’ll call tomorrow to schedule it. See you soon Betsy, Shane, and Nick!

This past weekend a classmate of mine from the Union High School class of 1977 hosted an informal reunion at his Jersey shore home. What a blast! The weather was perfect and 50-60 people came. It was so much better then an expensive formal reunion because it was more of a natural social setting and everyone came to have fun. What was most special for me is that just about everyone came up to me and wanted to know how I was doing. Even more amazing is that I have received donations to the LiveSTRONG event and we may even pick up some people to join Mintz’s Mentschen and that will ride with me in my posse on the 20-mile route. These are the things that really hit home with me and that provide the emotional and spiritual support that I need. Sure, LiveSTRONG is something that I use as a mindset and that I try to have drive my “F cancer” badass day-to-day outlook. But it sure is fantastic to experience the generosity and genuine caring of people. Even from friends that I haven’t been in contact with for 34 years!! Amazing and truly moving. Thank you all. I’ll try to post a couple of pictures when get my hands on some.

Bailey arrived home on Sunday. She’s on her roadtrip from completing her bachelors degree at Indiana University to her graduate program at Florida International in North Miami. Unfortunately she’s here on week 1 of a treatment cycle but we’ll make the best of it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Overwhelmed with sadness

My high school friend, Scott Winters, who entered hospice not more than 2 weeks ago has passed.
I'm very sad and at a loss for words at the moment. Following is the Facebook post from his wife.

With a great sorrow and profound sadness I announce the passing of my husband and best friend Scott Winters,on Tuesday evening,at twilight. Scott was a quiet man about his illness, many people not knowing of his diagnosis until he told friends when it was absolutely necessary. In honesty, he wanted to fight this battle full focus, sparing his friends and colleagues the stories of the pain and fear of Lynch Syndrome,a rare form of colon cancer (Katie Couric's husband Jay also had this hereditary based disease). Please keep our beautiful children in your thoughts and prayers. James is attending Bard College in early August (majoring in literature), and Olivia, who turned 14 on Mother's Day, is attending the Honors program at LaSalle Academy(following in her brother's footsteps). It is a time for rest and reflection now, because as I told our children,"We all had cancer, we lived it every day for two years and six months. Daddy is free now; no more pain." We love you Scott, and always will.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's not about the bike

Lance was right, it’s not at all about the bike. I laugh when I’m on a ride and find myself thinking about how I love my bike. Actually it’s that I now cherish each and every ride for how alive it makes me feel. It’s really the riding that I love. Just last night I finished reading “It’s All About the Bike” by Robert Penn and he wouldn’t agree at all. How nice would it be if people could learn to value the little things, like bike riding, without having to gain that perspective through life changing experiences such as cancer?

And with that said boy was I humbled on the bike this past weekend.

I have become a bit bored with my local flat route and so I gathered the Mentschen for a similarly short ride at Washington’s Crossing on Sunday morning. That was mistake #1 (the rolling hills shouldn’t have been poo-poo’d. Yes, I was a bit cocky). Mistake #2 was that Amy was going to join me to do this ride on the tandem (the tandem is not even close to the ease of riding my single bike). Long story short is that we got 6 miles out and I was totally fried. Trying to go further made no sense and we were able to turn it back around and got back to the park with little trouble. In 2008/2009 I made a similar mistake when I was in treatment and also thought with my heart and not with my head. Luckily I didn’t mess up Gary, Stephanie, Doreen, and Grace too much as they were able to head back out after accompanying Amy and I back to the park.

Yesterday was a terrific weather day and so I headed out for my flat ride here at home. Stubborn much? I got about halfway into the 27-mile route and started to feel my gas tank nearing empty. I finished the route nice and slow which in itself wasn’t so terrible because really I just wanted to ride and clear my head. But clearly something is up. Next Tuesday when my blood counts are checked pre-treatment I’ll be asking some questions to see if anything shows up there. It could also be that 11 treatments into 2011 that chemo is starting to catch up with me. That would be the simple explanation.

Thanks to all that have donated so generously to my LiveSTRONG fundraising. I’m over $3,700 raised and the Mentschen team total is now over $12,500! Not too shabby. Donations can be made on my fundraising page by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

F Cancer

Treatment #11 for 2011 is well on its way to being history and once again things are status quo on that front. Not feeling great but not so awful. I just shut down from my work day and I'm heading upstairs for some couch time.

But before I do I need to vent a bit since this past weekend was way too heavy with bad news on the cancer front. First I got the very sad news that our long time family friend, Danny Millman, passed on Saturday after a horrific multi-year battle with bladder cancer. And then on Monday evening I learned that a high school friend of mine that I had been in touch with via Facebook has entered hospice after a multi-year battle of his own with colon cancer and other complications.

Needless to say this has really pissed me off and reinvigorated my efforts in support of LiveSTRONG and Cycle for Survival. To see the suffering that cancer can inflict and the impact that it has on families is tough for me to deal with. So the Mintz's Mentschen efforts continue and with one of our mottos coming right up front and center this week... F Cancer!!!

Another similar sentiment is on the business card of our staff member contact from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Dylan Trakas.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Two weeks passed already!?

Tomorrow is treatment #10 for 2011 so as usual I’m going to check in here before I start the week where I typically don’t want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary at a computer.

I’m doing well and continue to have people tell me that I look great. I guess that all things considered I do look OK but I sure wish that I felt a bit better (and eyebrows would be cool too). Toward the end of treatment cycles I feel “ok” but generally I’m feeling like I could take a nap at a moment’s notice. I’m trying hard to work through this though and have managed to keep a fairly steady routine of bike riding. I even managed to take a weeknight spin through my 27-mile loop last Wednesday. That was a thrill on a beautifully sunny day and I enjoyed it immensely.

My high school track reunion was, as it is every year, a lot of fun last weekend. We presented the scholarship we have in Coach O’Dell’s name to a very deserving graduate. Next year is our 10th annual reunion so we hope to be able to kick things up a notch for that one by coercing alumni from around the country to visit us here in NJ.

Class of 1977 (l-r, Mark Cheben, me, Coach O'Dell, Buddy Schweikert, Mike Halloran)

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to support some friends that are in a variety of scenarios with cancer. One was just diagnosed, two have just had surgery, and another two have had the intensity level turned up on their cancer battles as their respective treatments have stopped working. Needless to say this has been a few week period where I have used the “F**k Cancer” phrase quite liberally. I feel good that I’m in a position to provide some firsthand support for these friends and they seem to appreciate my words as a cancer survivor. I can’t help but wish that I could do more. For now I have to focus on the collective efforts of our Mintz’s Mentschen team as we participate in LiveSTRONG events and also Cycle for Survival. Cancer is so ugly with the affect that it has on tens of millions of people. If you can support our fundraising efforts with even a small donation please accept my heartfelt thanks. Click here to access my fundraising website.

As a parting note check out this scan of a birthday card I received from the Quinn's. It's great.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Status quo.... and that's a good thing

Treatment #9 was yesterday and I'm happy to say that there's just not too much to say about that right now. My blood counts have remained stable and we're scheduled for treatments into early August. As I had mentioned, this will be on a 2-week treatment cycle so it doesn't leave too much time for recovery and real exercise but I'm holding my own just fine.

Our Mintz's Mentschen group is growing very slowly (we're up to 18 people) and our fundraising grand total is just shy of $8,000. Not too shabby but we're obviously hoping for more. My fundraising page can be accessed by clicking here. Thanks for your consideration. With all of the recent news about Lance Armstrong please know that his cycling is entirely separate from what he has done legitimately with his foundation in support of the 28 million people currently battling cancer. The Lance Armstrong Foundation is a worldwide advocate for cancer research and support services.

And for a bit more excitement on the Mintz's Mentschen topic is that we'll have new cycling jerseys for 2011. Check it out!
I'm constantly trying to recruit new team members. For those of you that may be intimidated for some reason please know that I'll probably be just coming off of treatment and riding the same short distance that I did last year. Last year was a 25-mile route and I believe the LiveSTRONG website shows this ride option as a 20-miler for this year. Please come join my riding posse!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

MS Bike Ride - Missy Express

I had mentioned the 25-mile MS Bike Ride from last weekend and was able to corral a picture we took post-ride. There was one other picture that was taken at the mid-ride rest stop that included Missy but I don't have my hands on that one yet.

Stephanie Tobler, Grace Capato, me, and Dan Nies

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And treatment continues...

A 2-week gap between posts….eek! Sorry about that.

I’m one week out from treatment #8 of 2011 and as I had mentioned in my last post this was also going to be the first opportunity for me to discuss the details of the May 2nd PET/CT scan with Dr. Richards. The discussion, with Sasha listening intently, was actually quite short since Dr. Richards and I are in complete agreement with regard to go forward treatment plans. The SUV 4.3 reading that showed in the scan clearly indicates that we’re not quite where we need to be for a treatment pause and so we continue. We’ll continue through the summer until the next quarterly scan which will be in early August. The biggest downside of this is that while I’ve enjoyed 3-week treatment intervals this month I’ll be returning to a 2-week cycle after treatment #9. Oh well.

Cycling has been going well and I was even able to ride this past Saturday in the MS Coast the Coast ride in support of my friend Mary Ellen Gervasini who was diagnosed 4 years ago with MS. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since it was a treatment week for me and Amy was more than a little bit concerned. The weather gods came through with an absolute stunning day after a full week of rain and the topper was that I also felt terrific for the entire 25-mile route. It turned out to be one of those stop and smell the roses days that I won’t soon forget. The ride with my usual crew of Dan Nies, Grace, and Stephanie made for an awesome awesome day.

This Friday I head for Colorado with Sasha. The mission is to get her settled in her off campus digs while enjoying a bit of R&R with the Quinn’s. This means that I won't be home for my birthday but we'll just have to celebrate (at least a little) when I get back.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in NJ

I’m at least a week late with this blog post and I apologize for that. But last week was quite hectic with the PET/CT scan first thing on Monday and then a crazy few days at work in preparation for a few days of vacation wrapped around Bailey’s graduation weekend from Indiana University.

The road trip out to Indianapolis and Bloomington was a lot of fun. The 10-hour drive each way wasn’t too bad but considering that we spent only about 36 hours in Indiana for the IU graduation it would have been nice if the drive was just a bit shorter. All in all we had a blast and needless to say it was a significant family event. We also had the opportunity to meet Bailey’s boyfriend Colton and to see her good friend Marissa and her family. We hadn’t seen Marissa since last summer. By the end of July Bailey will be off again to attend grad school at Florida International University in Miami.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

Erin and Bailey (unfortunately Sasha was in Fort Collins prepping for her finals)


Amy, me, Bailey, mom and dad


One last jump in the whirlpool in the training room


Bailey and her friend Marissa

And, yes, now for the PET/CT results. Actually I only got my first look at the actual report when we returned from Indiana to a full mailbox yesterday. Dr. Richards had given me the good news of “significant treatment response” that is noted on the report but no real statistical detail. Now I have that detail. Two of the liver lesions no longer can be visualized through the PET/CT. That is a very good thing. On the flip side is a lesion that still has an SUV of 4.3. That’s not quite in the normal range and the radiologist suggests an MRI follow-up for another view. I have my next scheduled chemo treatment next Tuesday and I expect to discuss these details with Dr. Richards. We have 2 treatments already scheduled and although I want a chemo vacation very badly I’d also like for it to be longer than just a few months. So we’ll see what we decide next Tuesday. And Sasha will be home to chaperone me on this chemo treatment. Maybe she can have a discussion with Dr. Richards about the experiment she’s been working on that uses Taxol for bone cancer treatment.

Now for a couple of other updates.
Jen Goodman Linn is feeling a bit better with her 4 drug chemo cocktail and has had some positive physical changes. I continue to send her all the positive healing vibes I can. Please join me.

Our Mintz’s Mentschen team effort for LiveSTRONG is really starting to build some momentum. We’re up to 16 team members and our team total fundraising is at $5,750. Personally I’m at $2,308 and we still have 3 months before the event! If you’re in a position to consider a donation of any size I’d appreciate the help in our battle to fight cancer. You can donate on my fundraising website by clicking here.

Next Saturday, May 21st, I will be riding in the MS Coast the Coast event that is in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It’s a treatment week but I should be OK for a flat 25-miler and I want very much to support my friend Mary Ellen Gervasini who also rides with our Mentschen team at LiveSTRONG.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Same old....

Treatment #7 has been as uneventful as those that preceded it. Focus right now is still very much on the PET/CT scan that is scheduled for next Monday. Although the discussion that Amy and I had with Dr. Richards did prompt us to make an appointment for treatment #8.

Right now I’m feeling great and these types of plans are always subject to change. But given that there aren’t any heavy concerns with regard to toxicity or lasting side effects from my current chemo protocol we scheduled treatments #8 and #9. The plus side is that these will be on a 3-week schedule and the extra breathing room is more than welcomed at this point. An added benefit is that the timing works well around Bailey’s graduation from Indiana University and for me to visit Colorado in late May to assist Sasha with an off-campus apartment move in Fort Collins.

We’re four months away from the August LiveSTRONG event and my fundraising is already over $2,200. I’m shooting for $5,000 and our team total goal is $30,000 so we’ll need all the help we can get. The link to make a donation is http://philly2011.livestrong.org/jmintz . Thank you for the overwhelming support that I’ve already received.

It looks too like the Mintz’s Mentschen team is going to have yet another new cycling jersey and the theme is going to be something along the lines of “Jacked to the Max”. I'll share the design when it becomes available.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Need I remind you? Cancer sucks!!

On Thursday evening I sent an email blast as a combination hello and personal update to a very wide distribution of family, friends, and past/present co-workers. The response has been tremendous and in many ways has been exactly the spiritual boost that I needed and that there can never be too much of. I have received emails literally from around the world and my fundraising total for the Philly LiveSTRONG Challenge event jumped quickly to $1,800.

I truly feel the love. Every email and donation that I received, some from people that I haven’t seen or talked with in decades, has put a smile on my face and some have moved me to tears. Thank you all.

As one might also expect when sending an email to so many people I also received some replies that contained some news that only confirmed cancer as being the epidemic that it is. While I have been battling cancer so too have some of my friends and others have only received their diagnosis recently and are just beginning their battle. My reaction each time I read this was “cancer sucks!!!” (along with some other expletives).

The icing on the cake for this weekend came when I just read Jennifer Goodman Linn’s blog entry. You may remember my blog entries in February regarding my participation in the Cycle for Survival event. Well, Jen and her husband David are creators of this amazing event and it raised over $4.7 million for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center this year. Jen has been battling a rare form of abdominal cancer for the past 6 years and has experienced both the highest of highs as well as crushing lows throughout her battle. Her CT scan last week revealed that her cancer is no longer responding to the chemotherapy protocol that she has been on and they are now scrambling to set a new plan of attack. I only spoke with Jen for 5 minutes back in February and I really wish that everyone could have that same 5 minutes. She’s an amazingly positive and upbeat person and speaks publicly about having a fearless attitude to life. Her message really hit home with me (www.youfearless.com).

Please keep Jen and everyone else that you know that is dealing with cancer in your thoughts and prayers. And remember too that the good karma of reaching out to express support or to simply say hello, even via email or text message, really does go a long way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day After

Treatment yesterday was status quo and so far I'm holding my own. I did need a zofran around lunch time but that's no biggie.

The reason for this quick post is that it's now official.... PET/CT is on for Monday, May 2nd at 08:15.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A two-ride weekend!

After a terrific weekend of cycling I’m ready for treatment #6 tomorrow.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a 50-mile weekend but with no precipitation and nothing else on our schedule I was able to knock out two 25+ mile rides. Saturday was awesome as it was very much like the spring weather we’ve been waiting for. Sunday was on the cool side but Doreen, Stephanie, and I knocked out a great ride out of Washington’s Crossing.

I don’t have too much else to say at the moment but I will make a plea for riders and donations for our Mintz’s Mentschen team at the LiveSTRONG Challenge in Philly at the end of August. Please come ride with us! Believe me, not only can you do it but it will be an experience you’ll never forget. Email me if you’re interested (jhm100@gmail.com) and if you’d rather just make a donation my personal fundraising page is http://philly2011.livestrong.org/jmintz

Monday, April 4, 2011

In memory of Alyssa

The last treatment was definitely a step in the right direction with regard to how I felt during and following treatment. After discussing what I had been feeling during treatment Sharon helped me to line up some new “hammers” and they definitely helped. These were the pre-meds that I mentioned in my last post. Oh, and since I haven’t mentioned Sharon yet on the blog…. Sharon is one of the oncology nurses at Dr. Richards Monroe office. Sharon, and every oncology nurse I have ever had care for me, are absolute angels as far as I’m concerned.

One more treatment note. My white blood count was surprisingly up into the normal range at 4.8. I’m not quite sure why but I’m not complaining.

I don’t know about you all but I have a laser lock on May 2nd. That’s the date I hope to have my PET/CT scheduled for. 4 weeks and 2 treatments away. Start warming up that machine Nick and Shane!

This past week I read a blog entry that spoke of Alyssa, an energetic and inspirational 25-year old that lost her battle with cancer just a couple of weeks ago. I’d like to honor Alyssa by sharing her favorite quote.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 28, 2011

Isn't Life Delicious?

I believe it was 1990 (give or take a year) and we were living up in Orange County, NY in the village of Washingtonville. It was a gorgeous spring day and I was doing some kind of yard work while the neighborhood kids were busy playing on our swingset. I remember taking a break for a deep breath of the crisp country air while I enjoyed our view of the rolling hills and a brilliant blue sky. Hanging nearby was Jamie, a pudgy freckle-faced kid from up the street, and as I expressed how beautiful the day was he came back with one of those “out of the mouths of babes” quotes that has stuck with me to this day.

Jamie hit me with “yes, isn’t life delicious?”. He couldn't have been more then 4 or 5 and when I say this kid was pudgy and freckle-faced I mean he was pudgy and freckle-faced. So at the time I thought that what he had to say was mostly hilarious but I’ve always remembered that moment and lately Jamie has come to mind more and more often.

This past Saturday was much colder and a whole lot windier then I’d like for a bike ride but Dan, Stephanie, and I did get out for a 24.5 mile ride nonetheless. And yes, it was delicious. So too was the similarly chilly ride 2 weeks back but these rides never fail in making me feel vibrant and alive. I wish more of our group would come out to ride with us. With treatment on a 2-week cycle it’s impossible for me to get out on my bike more frequently but I sure do appreciate simple pleasures such as bike riding more and more.

Yep, treatment is tomorrow.

I’ll be taking a few decadron tonight and again tomorrow morning to see if that doesn’t take the edge off of treatment day. This will be on top of the variety of pre-meds that I get via IV as part of the treatment but for some reason this protocol has been tough on treatment day so I hope this is even a small step in the right direction.

I know that It’s a full 5 months away but our Mintz’s Mentschen team effort is getting off to a slow start so I can't end this blog post without mentioning it again. We only have 7 registered riders at the moment so please consider joining us. Our goal is to have 30 riders. All are welcome! Remember that our team motto is “start slow and ease up” so please take that as an indication that you should not be intimidated if you’ve never done this type of thing. We have 5 months to train you and to teach you the finer points of road cycling. Send me an email with questions or click here to register for our team effort at Philly LiveSTRONG on August, 21st.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday, March 23rd

As last weekend rolled around following treatment last Tuesday, 3/15 I had one word in mind, “woof!!”. I’ve had it tougher but now that I’m through 4 treatments the cumulative aspect of chemo is starting to present itself. All in all I’m feeling “ok” at this point and hope to get in my usual every other weekend bike ride this weekend.

My white blood count was down to 3.6 for this treatment and we continue to watch it. My guess is that it will be even a bit lower come next Tuesday and that we’ll be introducing neulasta to the routine again. Not a problem from my perspective as it will keep me out of the hospital. We’re also going to be changing my pre-treatment meds a little to try and make treatment day itself a bit easier.

Sasha is on her way as I type to visit Bailey in Bloomington for a long weekend. That is in lieu of her being able to join us there in early May for Bailey’s graduation since she’ll be just starting her finals week then. The excitement for Bailey’s graduation and her transition to grad school in Miami is definitely building. The Mintz’s will be hopping around the country in May-June to get Bailey situated as well as to help Sasha in her move off campus out in Fort Collins, CO.

It’s been a slow start but the wheels continue to turn for Mintz’s Mentschen 2011 and our participation in the Philly LiveSTRONG event in August. In recent years my fundraising has happened kind of organically and as you all know I’ve been deeply moved by your support and generosity. This year, however, I’m going to try and kick things up a notch by sending an email blast to a large distribution. This will be a way for me to reconnect with old friends that I have lost touch with and will hopefully attract more donations and Mentschen team members.

As usual, here’s a link to my LiveSTRONG fundraising page. Click here.

Oh, and something else that has been on my mind lately... as my new normal enters it's 4th year I'm definitely feeling the challenges from a different perspective. Please know that the cards, email, Facebook msgs, etc. that you all send me really does help to lift my spirits. They bring a smile to my face and quite often also a tear to my eye.

Thank you all.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Treatment time again

As is usual on the eve before treatment my thoughts are bouncing in many different directions. It starts with the checklist of mundane day-to-day tasks that I run through to make sure that I’ve taken care of as much as possible before I enter my multi-day fog of not wanting to do too much more then I absolutely need to. And then there is the nervous anticipation of the treatment itself but that is closely followed with lots of positive thoughts that this will have me back in remission. Hopefully soon enough to pound hard on the summer months with lots of outdoor activity.

The eve before treatment also usually brings that cold slap in the face that I haven’t made a blog post in a while.

When I had the pump removed after my last treatment I had the nice surprise of seeing my old friend Lana at Dr. Richards office. Lana is the nurse that in 2008 would come here to the house to remove my pump. This year for some reason the pump doesn’t require a home visit so it was fun to have our paths cross and to be able to say hello to her.

I keep impressing my Mentschen friends with what I’m able to do on the bike while riding only once every 2 weeks. I kind of surprise myself too but I’m not complaining at all since even these short rides are a terrific mental and physical release. We did 26 miles yesterday and although I started to fade toward the end it was exactly the type of physical effort I needed. Another plus was that I was there to help christen Grace’s new ride!!

These rides are the beginning of our group training for the Philly Livestrong Challenge in August and hopefully the many other events that I’ll be able to participate in over the coming months. This also means that fundraising kicks in big time. Please know that Mintz’s Mentschen is open to all comers. Just email me if you'd like to give it a whirl. If cycling isn’t up your ally it would be greatly appreciated if you could consider a small donation. Click here to access my fundraising page for Livestrong. We're looking to make a big push this year to grow our numbers. I'm very proud that we've been able to raise over $105,000 these past 3 years.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday, March 2nd

Thank goodness I was able to squeeze in a bike ride this past weekend. I needed it very badly and even though the weather was a bit different then had been forecasted (imagine that!?) Stephanie Tobler joined me for a short, COLD, and absolutely heavenly bike ride. I feel so alive riding on a day like that no matter how many miles we cover. We rode only 20 miles but by the time we got back to my house we had each experienced more than enough cold weather cycling for one day. The temperature during the ride was in the mid-30’s and as luck would have it the cloud cover broke into bright blue sky not long after we finished.

The key to riding last weekend is that chemo treatment #3 was yesterday and I won’t be back on the bike for two weeks. The treatment itself was uneventful but of mild concern is that my white blood cell count was down to 3.8. Normal range is 4-11. We’ll be watching that closely as I’d rather avoid another extended stay at hotel St. Peter’s University Hospital.

At the moment I'm feeling OK but as this works things will probably deteriorate a bit over the next couple of days. Mostly I’m just looking forward to getting the 5FU pump removed tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Still LivingSTRONG!

While I’m not 100% at the moment it doesn’t mean that the fun things have to stop. If the weather report holds up I hope to get in a short bike ride on Saturday morning before we head down to Seaside to watch my crazy cousin Alyssa take the polar plunge for Special Olympics. It looks like it will be a chilly morning but I need a ride so bad I actually HAVE screamed…. so, I’ll try to squeeze in a quick 20-miler or something like that.

I also registered for a couple of cycling events so that I could hold them out as goals to shoot for. One is the “Coast the Coast” event for Multiple Sclerosis. Amy and I will ride the tandem with our friend Missy Gervasini and her Missy Express team. Click here for my fundraising page.

And since Dan Nies has the ball rolling for Mintz’s Mentschen 2011 at Philly LivesSTRONG I also registered for that event. Click here for my fundraising page.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Here we go

OK, with treatments now happening every 2 weeks I better make this blog post quickly before the next one rolls around.

Tomorrow will be one week since the last treatment and I’m just about back to myself. We left Dr. Richards office last Tuesday and I remember my first thought being “yep, I remember this feeling. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore”. This treatment was the first complete FOLFIRI protocol I’ve had so not only did it bring the much anticipated 5FU but it included the “FOL” (folinic acid/leucovorin) , the “F” (fluorouracil/5FU), and “IRI” (irinotecan/camptosar). Having the 5FU pump for two days wasn’t nearly as bad as having it for the 5 days as I did back in 2008.

I’ve been very tired and a bit on the green side. I can deal with those but what is of more concern is the affect that the 5FU is already having on my mouth. Oh well, nothing I’m not already familiar with and we’re all stocked up with “magic mouthwash” so I’m good to go. No joke, that’s what it is called. Go ahead and Google it.

Not much else to report on that I can think of. I’ll keep you all posted as best I can going forward.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feeling very up

Gee, how time flies when you’re having fun. Tomorrow is treatment day and I’ll get to meet my old friend 5FU. I know it’ll do what it’s supposed to do and so I say “bring it on”.

The Cycle for Survival event was this past Saturday and it couldn’t have been timed any better. It fell at the end of a 2-week treatment cycle so I was able to take my turn as the last rider behind Grace Capato, Stephanie Tobler, Doreen Dunnigan, and Dan Nies as we split the 4-hour spin across 5 riders on one bike. I was feeling pretty good but didn’t expect the instructors to be as hardcore as they were. I hung in pretty well and felt quite badass while riding up out of the saddle. I totally enjoyed the chance to get some exercise and as you'd expect the energy in the room was amazing! There were 106 bikes so it was crowded and seriously pumped up. It all climaxed with a $4.2 million check presentation to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. They asked for patients/survivors to come up during the check presentation and that was an extra thrill for me to be up on the stage for. I have some pictures below from the event.

I had another terrific surprise at the event when I was able to meet Jennifer Goodman Linn. She is the 6x cancer survivor that started Cycle for Survival and in the 5 minute conversation I had with her I came away with a profound feeling of empowerment and positive energy. I’ve been reading her website and blog a bit today, http://youfearless.com/ . In a very short timeframe she’s given me a lot to think about with her “fearless” attitude. She is an amazing person and someone that I’m going to try and maintain contact with.

I look forward to doing this same event next year.

Presentation of $4.2 million to MSKCC


Heads down riding.... yes, I was hurting


Our team: Grace, me, Steph, Dan, and Doreen


Pre-ride quiet... 106 spin bikes

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First one down

Treatment #1 for 2011 is in the books.

The discussion started, as expected, with a review of the information we received from Dr. Meng at MSKCC. Dr. Meng had agreed with the base drug we had planned, Irinotecan, but he took it a bit further by suggesting a protocol called FOLFIRI. And Dr. Richards was in complete agreement. The downside is that this brings us back to a drug, 5FU, that we used in 2008 and that is a bit on the nasty side. In 2008 I came home from each treatment with a pump to administer it over 5 days. This time it will be only a 2-day pump. Another downside of this protocol is that its standard is for a 2-week cycle instead of 3.

On the upside I’m confident that this will bring things back to where we need them to be.

Timing really couldn’t be any better for the Cycle for Survival event since it is at the very end of this 2-week cycle. I’m very excited for this and expect to have lots of fun with close friends while absorbing the good karma that I know will be flowing. I received an email today indicating that total fundraising for the event is now over $3 million. That is a record total for this event. Again, heartfelt thanks to all that have donated so generously.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Game on.... again

Our visit to MSKCC last week went well.

Dr. Meng was in complete agreement with the primary chemo drug selected by Dr. Richards, Irinotecan. He mentioned some options for a second drug to use with it that we’ll have to discuss with Dr. Richards when we go tomorrow for the first treatment of 2011. Woo-hoo!

What was especially good about the trip into Manhattan is that Dr. Meng was able to suggest some other drugs that we can queue up as treatment to use down the road. That gave me some good peace of mind.

Since the visit went well Amy and I were in a decent place mentally to stay and have dinner in Manhattan. I knew a place nearby and weren’t we surprised when the hostess sat Jay Manuel from the America’s Next Top Model TV show at the next table. Before you wonder too long about how I could possibly have known who this guy was please remember that I have 3 daughters. Enough said.

I won’t whine about the snow since I’m sure that everyone is sick of it at this point. But I’d kill for a decent bike ride! Actually there’s a lot of excitement building for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering spinning event on February 12th. Thank you so much for the donations that are continuing to come in. For anyone still considering it here is a link to my donation web page è http://mskcc.convio.net/goto/jmintz

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sloan-Kettering tomorrow

It seems that my comments in recent posts about MSKCC, while trying to generate some excitement and donations for the upcoming Cycle for Survival event, were somewhat prophetic. After Amy and I met with Dr. Richards last Tuesday I knew that we really needed to visit Sloan-Kettering as soon as possible.

The meeting with Dr. Richards set a course for yet another chemo protocol and we had even scheduled the first three treatments. But, as I mentioned, before we get too far ahead of ourselves I want to touch base with Dr. Meng at MSKCC to get his perspective and to see if there are any other options we should consider.

Amy and I will be braving the expected wet weather and heading into Manhattan for a late day appointment with Dr. Meng tomorrow.

I’ll post an update as soon as I can.

Thanks very much to all that have donated to Cycle for Survival. We’re nearing our minimum fundraising amount. I received an email today and was thrilled to see that the overall event fundraising is already over $2.2 million.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Déjà vu all over again, all over again

I spoke with Dr. Richards yesterday morning and I’m sorry to say that the results of the PET/CT were ridiculously familiar. I was expecting this and, therefore, I was prepared for it but nevertheless it was still disappointing to hear that the lesions on my liver have had some growth yet again.

Amy and I have an appointment to see Dr. Richards on Tuesday afternoon where the mission will be to decide on the chemo protocol that we’ll be using. In my mind this discussion with Dr. Richards could prompt a visit to Sloan-Kettering for a consultation and/or a prompt start of treatment by late next week. Dr. Richards has been in contact with MSKCC directly over these past 3 years so we may be able to reach out via telephone. I’d expect though that MSKCC would want to see the PET/CT so luckily I was thinking ahead and asked for a CD of the PET images before leaving Princeton Radiology on Thursday.

There’s not too much more to say until I get more details. I’ll post new information as quickly as it becomes available next week.

I will be making every effort to still ride in the Cycle for Survival on February 12th. Minimally I will be there to cheer on my Mintz’s Mentschen teammates. If you can consider a small donation I had included the link in my recent blog posts, below. Thanks!

As all of you know by now, over these past 3 years I've been blessed by friends that came together and formed a cycling team "Mintz's Mentschen" and we've collectively raised over $105,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation via their LiveSTRONG Challenge events. Dan Nies spoke with our amazing contact at LAF, Dylan Trakas, just yesterday. Dan had a follow-up email exchange with Dylan and I happened to notice the following in Dylan's signature block at the bottom of his email. It's definitely something that I had to share here. Words to live by that's for sure.

LIVESTRONG means doing my part to kick cancer in the face.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tic toc

As my friend Dan Schneider so often reminds me, and in the words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. I saw all my friends at Princeton Radiology this morning, Betsy, Nick, and Shane and now I wait for the phone to ring.

But the day has been a productive one since I was also able to take the car for an oil change. LOL.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crunch time..... again

The extended silence is because things have been going well during my 3-month chemo vacation. Until the recent rounds of snow/rain my cycling fitness was improving surprisingly quick. On December 19th I rode solo for 56 miles from Princeton Junction to Brick and on other rides with Dan Nies I was doing some respectable climbing. Unfortunately the weather clobbered our Tour de Hot Chocolate plans. We'll be watching the weather with the hopes of making it happen at some point.

Without chemo by early December my nickname could easily have been “fuzzy”. No other nickname suggestions necessary, thank-you. And although it’s making an attempt my hair isn’t really coming back very well at this point so I think I’ll probably be shaving it very soon.

Now that I’ve reached the end of my 3-month break I’ve been a bit distracted and anxious to get my PET/CT done this Thursday morning. Good or bad the results will allow me to get down to the task at hand. If it’s back to treatment then so be it. And if I get to extend my chemo vacation a bit longer then my focus will be toward continued fitness improvement, hopefully some weight loss, and also goal setting for some near term cycling events. But the waiting is wearing me out so I’m glad the time has come for the scan.

And since I haven’t seen the gastroenterologist in a while I have an appointment with Dr. Dhar tomorrow afternoon. My expectation is that she’s going to want to schedule an endoscopic ultrasound to take a closer look. It’s an easy procedure and the results will help us to know more clearly what my status is.

December was fun since both Sasha and Bailey were home for a few weeks. Erin even did a couple of fly by's and it was truly bizarre having the house completely full. We had fun watching family video that we recently converted from VHS to DVD. Today though I came home to the empty nest and it’s going to take some time to get used to the quiet again.

My participation in the Cycle for Survival event to raise funds for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is only 4 weeks away. 6 of us will be wearing our Mintz’s Mentschen jersey and sharing a single spin bike for a 4-hour spin at a health club in mid-town Manhattan on Saturday, February 12th. It’s a mass spin event and there will be hundreds of other teams cycling as well. The event has already raised over $1 million. All funds that are raised will be allocated directly to MSKCC research and clinical trials within 6 months of the event. If you’re able to consider a small donation I’d appreciate it very much. Thanks so much to those of you that have already donated!

Link to my fundraising page è http://mskcc.convio.net/goto/jmintz