Saturday, November 16, 2013


It's been a few days past when I had hoped to have a new blog post published. Trying to balance medications to keep the pain under control while having clarity of thought to write has been challenging. My friend, Jayme, recently quoted Ernest Hemingway: "Write drunk, edit sober." Pain medications aren't alcohol, but what I type under their influence may not be quite exactly what I had intended, nor does it allow me to keep from colorful tangents. So, before my medications begin today, I'm writing as fast as I can...

I am excited that I have now completed a third of my treatment. The first of three megadoses of a toxin "soup" called "Cisplatin", and ten of thirty radiation treatments. The doctor was right. It's not as fun as you would hope. My taste buds have taken a hiatus, and my tongue, jaw and neck are under attack.

You know how you can spend all day in the sun and feel great, but later that evening, you realize that you have been burned? Radiation is like that. I feel great during treatment, but four to five hours later, things change. This week, the side effects have become more apparent. The front of my neck is tightening, drawing the tissues into a shortened position, my tongue is being burnt (especially the good side), and allowing the tissues to rip just by rubbing over teeth that never were an issue before, and my vocal chords are taking a beating. I've had that "just woke up" sounding voice all day today. I recorded a video while I've still got a voice to speak for you...

Earlier this week, I woke up to see that my feeding tube mechanism came loose. Oops. That resulted in a trip to Urgent Care at Group Health who then referred me back to Virginia Mason Hospital for a procedure to fix it. My daughter, Ashley, blessed me by picking me up at 5:15am to drive me. Nothing like a father/daughter road trip!

In truth, it has been more than difficult emotionally to see the devastation that this cancer has wreaked upon my body each morning. Seeing the scar on my on my thigh for my skin graft, the tube hanging from my abdomen, the stoma (tracheotomy hole) scar that tugs and bounces with each swallow, the swelling on my left neck and rock-hard scar tissue created from surgery. And then there is my tongue. It honestly looked amazing in the days following surgery, but today, the tissues look off in color, parts rubbed away in  from eating and wear. The tip is splitting and sensitive from radiation and I even ended up with "thrush" a week ago, an oral yeast infection from my treatment. Every swallow takes a concerted effort. Most frustrating is that I have completely lost my taste of sweet. Even the "chemo jello" recipe that was lovingly suggested by a comment on one of my previous posts has absolutely zero flavor.

On the upside, my body is getting healthier. Just a few months ago, my doctor informed me that I have Type II Diabetes and needed to lose weight, exercise and eat better. Who knew that I would be able to not only lose my craving for sugar, but lose 25lbs and become leaner in the process? My fasting blood sugar levels yesterday were the lowest they have been in years. How awesome is that?

A friend asked me this week to be honest... "Seriously, why aren't you mad?" My answer was different than before and it was more along the lines of answering the question, "Why would a loving God allow this to happen?" I have heard that question so many times over the years. The answer is simple...

Unless you want to give up your free will, you cannot blame God for bad things that happen. Think about it. You are bound and determined to have a clandestined encounter with another person because you are angry with your spouse. You get into your car and drive down the freeway. Suddenly the steering wheel becomes unresponsive and literally steers you in a different direction. God took away your free will and intervened. Would you be angry? Maybe you are on your way to Burger King. You've been craving a Triple Whopper. But God knows that will lead to cardiovascular disease... again, the steering wheel and car ignore your input and drive you to a vegan restaurant. Would you be angry? We want free will, but want to blame negative outcomes on God.

Let's say you have been diagnosed with cancer... Most might want to blame God, but maybe you developed cancer as a result of eating Yellowfin Tuna that has been affected by fallout from Fukushima, the Japanese nuclear reactor that had a meltdown. That reactor was built because of a long-term energy plan by the Japanese government... humans on that board of advisors had the idea. Maybe that original thought came from a guy named Takashi. If you want to be angry, you really should be angry at Takashi, right?  But that is short-sighted. 

Accidents happen. Ultimately, our bodies are dying from birth. We are susceptible to the environment and other dangerous elements. You want to blame God because your daughter was driving under the influence, ran off the road and hit a tree. We blame God for the actions of others and given the choice, would never give up our freedom of self-will and choice. 

I had half of my tongue removed because of a viscious form of cancer. I don't care how it manifested, I care about what I do with where this journey takes me. Every moment is about choice. About free will. I make a concious choice to see the blessings I have all around me rather than the curses, and that choice makes me smile. And that freedom of choice is just one more blessing in my life. 

~Robert B. Haase,
A Blessed Man

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  1. My husband and I are currently in Seattle while he undergoes cancer treatments. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can relate with so much you say and it is comforting. Here's to complete recovery!

  2. I don't know if you remember me from COP, but I have been lurking on here since your surgery, and praying of course. Our oldest daughter Amy was just diagnosed with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes, and now this blog of yours seems all too relevant! Her surgery to remove the thyroid and nodes is tomorrow, Monday the 18th. Her prognosis is excellent they tell us, but dear Lord, this is still the scariest thing to go through. Thanks for your honesty and uplifting words!

    1. Connie, of course I remember you. My prayers are with you and your daughter. She is growing in character and will emerge from this a stronger, more resilient and empathetic woman. God bless you and family, Connie. Please keep me updated on her progress.