We haven’t posted in a while so we’ll send a few updates covering several months at a time to catch up.
ANOTHER ROUND OF TESTS
My dad, Gene, came to Boston to stay with me during the two-week chemo off-period for another round of examinations and tests by his Oncology team. The CT scan was negative (which is a positive!) as were all of the blood tests and other tests. ALL SYSTEMS GO!
We spent Independence Day in the picturesque New England coastal village of Manchester-by-the-Sea, north of l Boston. We had good weather and went to Manchester’s annual Independence Day parade. Gene was wishing he had brought his flintlock so he could march with them.
Later we went to a spectacular concert and fireworks show at Singing Beach. Singing Beach, said to be one of Boston’s nicest beaches, is a beautiful white sandy cove about 1/2 miles long with a traditional 1920’s era bath house. The beach is great for open-water swimming when the water in late summer finally warms to above 60°. The beach is about 3/4 miles from our home and Gene was able to walked to and from it almost every day.
Since the water was so cold at the beach (58°) dad worked out at the Manchester Athletic Club (MAC). They have a great pool and hot tub. We both swam and, four months after the surgery, Gene was able to swim for half an hour. He is well on the way to recovery and looking forward to a healthy future.
Back in Orlando
Gene is back with me in Orlando. He looks great after spending two weeks with Susan. Gene began working out as soon as he got back from Boston and swam with Ron and Digger the very same day. After the swim, Gene said, “I don’t look as good as I used to, but at least I’m still here to look at.” He’s been struggling with the chemotherapy side effects; nausea, abdominal pain, tiredness and loss of appetite, but he keeps swimming and walking to try to purge the chemicals from his system. He’s in a lot of pain but he keeps looking forward to the goal. The good news is that he’s still here to complain about the pain and one has to be really strong mentally, physically and spiritually to go through chemo pain. We’re looking forward to October when the chemo is over.
Still On The Chemo-Coaster
It seems that the ride is tougher with each chemo treatment… this is something Gene never gets used to no matter how good he is at it. The highs aren’t as high and the lows are even lower. Whew, what a ride, we got through the August session. Gene’s happy to be back with the Lucky’s Lake Swimmers. Only one more series of chemo infusion in October! His overall health and attitude seems good.
The Clean-Up Crew
What a great group of friends Gene and I have. We haven’t been able to do much yard maintenance for 9 months now. On Saturday about 40 friends, some from our church (Southwest Church), some from the Lake Cane swimming group, and some neighbors came over and did a makeover on our lawn and yard. They pulled weeds, trimmed trees, cleaned gutters, built planters, removed trees, cleaned up the lakefront, and took 4 truckloads of yard waste to the dump. To top things off, some of the volunteers made smoothies and served lunch to all the landscape architects! All this transpired in the span of about 2 1/2 hours! Woo Hoo!
How many workers to remove a dead tree? Three, two to pull and one to watch.
The Chemo Is Over!
Gene’s back in Boston for his final chemo infusion. For scheduling purposes, Gene deviated form his routine of getting the infusion in Orlando and had the final one administered at Mass General Hospital. The good part was that the infusion room at MGH is on an upper floor with a spectacular view of the city of Boston and the Charles River.
Not so good was that took nearly 8 hours since Gene was not yet in the system for chemotherapy at MGH and they had to test genes blood counts, wait for results, and then concoct and create his chemo cocktail. Like a kid, Dad kept asking , “Are we there yet?” That was a grand finale with great news to follow!
The final infusion of chemotherapy was followed by another series of examinations, tests and scans. Not only were the results good but the Oncology team pronounced the sweetest words to our ears, “CANCER FREE”! Thank God! After a few days recouping from the chemo (party), Dad and I did long walks and he began swimming again at MAC. He’s finally making way on his recovery from the Whipple surgery.
Gene asks,”Please celebrate my good fortune with prayers thanking God for my miraculous recovery. Faith and miracles go hand in hand.”.
Back in Orlando
Gene is thrilled to be back in Orlando and it’s exciting to see him to swimming Lake Cane every day in November. It’s been a good month and we should be able to start cycling in a few weeks! Whoopee!
West Orange Trail runs 30 miles through rural scenic beauty. We make a morning of it by cycling for about twenty miles, then turn around and go back. We’ll normally have a picnic, play a game or read. I can’t wait to do it again.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
In mid December Gene began having severe abdominal pain (ouch) and one always thinks the worst. The pain was so severe that I took him to the Dr. Phillip’s Hospital emergency room. They did a CT-Scan but found nothing and essentially said, “take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning”. With that, Gene decided to call his team in Boston and they told him to see a local surgeon for diagnosis. They were convinced it was not a recurrence of the cancer but something else, like a severe muscle tear or a hernia.
We went to see a local surgeon. The surgeon discovered something when he reviewed that same CT-Scan. There were two blips in the scan that were either a hernia or granuloma. A granuloma is a cyst-like growth that may be likened to a pearl in an oyster. The grain of sand (granule) inside of the oyster shell causes and irritation and the oyster, in it’s defense, starts building tissue around the grain of sand such that it eventually develops into a pearl (granuloma).
In Gene’s case, it turned out to be not grains of sand but two undissolved sutures deep in his abdomen. You can see a little white spot at the tip of the arrow in the photo above. The surgeon removed them by surgery in an outpatient surgical center and Gene had immediate relief. A week later the adhesive sutures on the outside fell off and he started swimming again. Over the next two weeks he built up to doing the full 1K Lucky’s Lake Swim.