Friday, August 31, 2012


The holiday weekend is here and with an early release from work I have some time to try and catch you all up on my activities of the past few weeks.

As you’ll remember this new chemo protocol started with round 1 back in early July while we were also doing radiation treatments.  That combo made things a bit interesting with my blood counts but since then the post-treatment neulasta injections have been doing their job and my blood counts have been stable.  The biggest challenge with chemo is actually rolling around now since the school year is starting next week and Amy won’t be in a position to accompany me for 3 straight days of treatment.  Amy will continue to join me on the first day of each treatment but the remaining two days we'll be enlisting the help of family and friends.  We look to be OK for September 18-20 but will consider all offers as we go into October.  This will be new for me and could be fun as we spread the chemo fun around.  Ha!

The weekend before Livestrong there was an informal 35th high school reunion that was hosted at the Jersey shore by one of my Union High School friends in the Class of 1977.  As with the event he also held last year it was a blast.  As I’ve said before on this blog one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my saga is the incredible boost I get from the kind words of friends new and old.  People came up to me one by one, some that I haven’t seen in literally 35 years, and simply said it was a very moving day.  Many thanks to my Union High School classmates.  Especially to Joe Falgares and his wife Maddalena for being such generous and gracious hosts.

Ahhh yes, Livestrong.  The weekend that never disappoints.
Heading into the Livestrong weekend of August 18-19 I literally had no clue whether I was going to walk, ride, or just sit during the weekend events.  I really had plenty of aches and pains, lack of physical condition to be cycling on hills, and miscellaneous other unpredictable chemo side effects.  But as some have seen in the pictures posted on Facebook, this is not an event that I can easily take a pass on.  Especially not after what the months of May-July had given me.  This was my opportunity to get on my bike and tell cancer where the hell it could go.  And so that’s what I did.

I made sure that I was hydrated, that I had eaten enough to support me through the short 20-mile route, and I took some precautionary meds pre-ride.  I knew that my Mentschen posse of around 10 would help me through and let me tell you the stars aligned to make this one of the best rides I’ve ever been on.  I conquered several decent hills WITHOUT WALKING (See the pic here as I pass others that DID walk up hills.  Of course with my personal motivator Mark Cheben!) and I generally felt terrific.  It all culminated with a dramatic finish as I crossed the finish line on the right to pick-up my survivor’s rose and my posse rode in formation on the left as my escort.  Yep, you got it… I kinda lost it.  I hope the ride photographers got some good shots of our finish.

And the donations for Livestrong continue to trickle in.  It looked for a while like we might take some team honors but a few teams came out of nowhere for the top few spots.  But the Mentschen have done well and when corporate matching gifts settle in we could wind up in the #4 spot at approximately $34,000.  Meanwhile, my fundraising was a new personal record for a single event at $6,685 (still waiting for a match).  That puts the Mentschen 5-year total over $170,000.  We’re well positioned to blow through the $200,000 mark next year!
One more time….  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all that donated so generously.  It’s important that we keep this support going because the Lance Armstrong Foundation is unique and very productive in the work it does in various aspects of cancer survivorship, advocacy, and support for research.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Next blog post by Friday... thanks for waiting

Hello everyone.  Yes, I know that I'm a bit late for making a blog post and I really do have some interesting things to write about.  I'm just lacking the energy at the moment as I'm smack in the middle of a chemo treatment.  Please give me 2 or 3 days and I'll try to get something posted.

Bottom line is that all is OK.  Thanks to everyone that has been prompting for a blog post.  It makes me feel good to know that people are out there reading along.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back in the chemo saddle

A lot has happened since my last post and since I left off with my mention of the octreotide scan I guess that’s a good place for me to pick up with.

The octreotide scan was an interesting 3-day experience.  The first two days were run of the mill imaging that started with a nuclear injection and with scanning that lasted no longer than 30 minutes.  The third day was different with scanning that took around 90 minutes and with the last 60 of that being one long segment.  For anyone that has had imaging done where you have to stay still with your arms over your head knows that 60 minutes is a long time.  Wow was that uncomfortable and I’ll be happy to not have to repeat an octreotide scan anytime soon.  All of this imaging was stitched together into a 3-D view that I hope to get to see at some point.  It sounds interesting.

The scan results told us about the liver lesions we already know all too well about and it also flagged other places that I have been feeling discomfort.  These were my sacrum, iliac bones, and sacroiliac joints as well as a rib (and it's the rib that is actually the most uncomfortable).  With my chemo treatment this week Amy and I discussed all of this with Dr. Richards and for the time being we’re going to manage the pain while expecting the new chemo protocol of VP-16/Carboplatin to do its job.  With that said, Amy and I will be sharing the scan results with both the radiation oncologist as well as with Sloan-Kettering to see if they have other opinions.

We didn’t actually see the scan results until this past Monday when we returned from a week away at Lake Tahoe and Colorado.  It was fantastic to have that time away even though we didn’t really do anything that was overly active.  The mellow time around the hotel pool and taking in the sites of Tahoe was great.  When the hotel pool closed to accommodate renovation work we got in the car for a drive and wound up in San Francisco.  We didn’t realize we were only 3-4 hours away and spontaneously decided to keep driving and we had a nice lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf.  While in Colorado we were able to spend time with Sasha as well as with some of our favorite people in the world, the Quinns.

This weekend is an informal 35th reunion of my Union High School class of 1977 that is generously hosted by Joe Falgares at his house on the water in Toms River.  Last year was a blast and it looks like the turnout this year is going to be even better.  People are coming from all over the country.  I can’t wait.

And the weekend after that….. yep, it’s Livestrong time!  With my recent medical developments it’s going to have to be a game day decision for whether I’m able to participate in anything.  But I want to do this so badly and I’ll be pressing very hard to get on my bike and spin very gingerly through the 20-mile route.  I’ll have plenty of people with me to take care of me and even to physically push me up hills if I need it.  Thank you to all of you that have generously donated to the Livestrong cause.  My personal fundraising is at $5,585 and our Mintz’s Mentschen total is at $25,318.  These aren’t’ our biggest totals but they’re clearly quite impressive.  Heartfelt THANKS to all!