Saturday, November 30, 2013

Catalyst of Restoration

It's been about a week since I last posted. Much has happened and it has been harder to muster up the gumption to write. Yes, I'm sounding like a grandfather now. Must be the meds.

Down to 180lbs, November 30th, 2013
First an update on what's been happening with my treatment: After receiving my second of three chemo treatments this past Monday, I was feeling fairly good... but it came to a crescendo last night, feeling aches in ways I've never felt before. 

After truly losing all taste, the desire to have a stomach that is full is a distant memory. I stood by the microwave last night, melting ice cream so that I could squeeze an extra 600 calories into my PEG tube, trying to stave off more weight loss. (In case you've been wondering, PEG stands for Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy. Don't worry. I had to look it up again too.) I met with a nutritionist a couple of days ago that is helping me maintain/gain weight. Apparently I am not her usual client, so she's giving me calorie goals to not go below. 

My weight has now dropped down to 180lbs, having lost another 2lbs this week. That's 30lbs since the night that I was able to enjoy my "last supper" with my assistant, Charity, on our way back from my seminar in Bellingham, Washington. It is a place called "Boomers Drive In", which is my girl's and my favorite burger joint. Their milkshakes are made with real hard-pack ice cream! I can still taste the cheese burger, tater-tots and chocolate-fudge malt now... Well, my memory can. I can't wait to go back and refresh my memory. 

The radiation oncologist says that what taste I will get back should be returning by June, so I'm looking forward to a tasty potluck with all of you to celebrate and remind myself that I will be alive and able to taste! Start getting your recipe cards out now...

The side effects from the radiation have been slowly building too. Sores inside my mouth and gums have been increasing in intensity. My saliva glands aren't functioning much, so waking up with a paper-dry mouth at night is a bit painful. Adding a drink of water soothes, but re-hydrates the sores too... Thankfully I have pain meds to take the edge off, but they are only adding to my general feeling of sluggishness. I am also losing my soul patch that nifty tuft of hair that sits below my lower lip. It is getting thinner, and what is left is gray, but that gray is standing its ground. Gray hair must be like the "cockroaches surviving the apocalypse" by comparison. Either way, I haven't had the heart to shave off what is left.

At Radiant Care, in the same inner waiting room that I met Tony a short while back, I've been getting to know a man named Warren. Since patients all have fixed treatment schedules (mine is at 2:45pm M-F), I have had the chance to get to know those with time slots around mine. Warren is 86 years old and has tongue cancer also, and he is being treated with chemo and radiation therapies, just as I am. I can't imagine going through this therapy regimen at nearly twice my age, but it makes me not want to complain. 

Warren and I had a few extra minutes and spoke about our Thanksgiving time with our families. I was able to enjoy the same thanksgiving meal that Warren had, which was a glass of water after squirting my meal-replacement powders and supplements through my "PEG" tube. Warren was really happy because it was the first time in weeks that he could take water by mouth, but he still was smiling, still happy that there were things to look forward to. The highlights of his Thanksgiving day were four hand-written letters from each his four children. He told me that they took the time to tell him not just how much they loved him, but reminded him of their favorite moments with him growing up and how he impacted their lives as their father. His whole demeanor changed as he told me of some of their memories and how much he meant to each of them. I'm crying right now just remembering the smile on Warren's face. He was so blessed by that. What a huge gift.

Me with my parents at our Thanksgiving Dinner, 2013
I will not likely see Warren again after Monday, since it will be his last scheduled radiation treatment, but getting to know him these past couple of weeks has blessed me. I am so very thankful to still have my parents in my life. Dad is 81 and Mom turns 80 in January. They are a spark of life to me and provide relentless encouragement that never ceases. I am so very blessed by them in so many ways. 

As we enter this time of thanksgiving and the holidays that are approaching, I encourage you to consider your gifts not to be something that you can wrap up in a box with a bow or have delivered overnight from Instead, take time to look at the gift of unconditional love and forgiveness. The gift of giving encouragement and positive words. It says in Proverbs 18:21 that "death and life are in the power of the tongue." I only have half of mine left, but I am realizing both the responsibility and possibilities that come from that power more now than ever.

I suppose it is easy to find faults in others and reasons why we are "right", but those reasons can end up causing us to become embittered. We often reflect that bitterness into the once-shiny eyes of those who are hurting because we withdrew without taking the time to share our hurts and mend the fences, seeking restoration... Your love and being willing to move beyond the pains of the past can be the catalyst for healing and opening up a dialogue for redemption. Do not lose out on opportunities to shine blessings into the faces, hearts and ears of those that have need of you in their lives. Your words, written or spoken, can bring life.

~Robert B. Haase,
A Blessed Man

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  1. Beautifully said! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Believe me Bobby with what I have gone through, I am forever grateful and thankful for all the little things. You are a true blessing to me...thank you!!!