I have lived this lie since high school. I always wanted the next cool gadget or the nicer car. I wanted to earn money so I can spend it on stuff that I really do not need. There are a few things in my life that I can honestly say I need, the rest is all just taking up space. Today I have direction. Today I woke up and for the first time since I can remember said thank you for another day. I have people in my life who love me and I in turn love them. This is what is important to me now. Now I have a meaning; through all of this my life has turned into more than just me. I realize now what I wish I had always known. This epiphany happened once before when my mother passed, but like life does - it went on. I grew older and began to forget what I learned from my mother's suffering. Be grateful for everyday you wake up. Remember to tell the ones you love what they mean to you. Don't waste your time and energy on things that do not really matter and most of all this life is NOT all about yourself. There are plenty of people out there that suffer far greater than you. Everyone needs to realize this: there are people out there worse off then you. Life may seem impossible at times and your self pity might run extremely high at some points, but don't forget that you most likely still have it easy compared to what some people are going through. And I am not talking about myself, I have an ailment yes, but I will fight it, I will survive. There are people out there far younger, stronger and amazingly epic who are fighting wars that are exponentially worse then anything I will ever face. We need to remember that even though we may never meet them, they are out there and in turn we have no right to feel sorry for ourselves.
Yesterday was my first day of treatment. I honestly knew one thing: I am going to have more drugs ni my body then I ever have in my life. I HATE taking medications. I despise the pharmaceutical industry and everything they have become. Drugs are not the answer for most of our problems, but I understand what I am up against and this time I have to give in. My body will become the link of man and medicine and we will see what modern science can accomplish along with a stubborn and unrelenting patient that has no time for this nonsense.
My day started at around 6am. Waking up and knowing what I was in for was kind of unsettling, but I was excited to take the first step. Any cancer patient will tell you it is always the waiting that is the hardest, whether it is waiting for your test results or waiting to hear news - the waiting is the hardest part. Natashia and I headed out to UCLA for my first injection of the trial drug Velcade. The nurses went over copious amounts of paperwork, possible side effects and everything that I have heard 35 times already. 2 hours later I got my injection right into my belly (yes it hurt) and I was off. By the way if you ever go to UCLA's medical school, invest in a compas and perhaps a personal GPS system. The place is huge and very easy to get lost.
The drive from UCLA to my apartment off sunset was nice. We drove through Brentwood and past Bel Air and then down the sunset strip. It is a part of LA I need to experience more and now that it is home, I think I might make more of an effort to see some of the things LA has to offer. We arrived at my apartment, checked in and unpacked. This is around the time I felt like I was going to fall asleep standing. They told me it might make me tired, but I under estimated their claim. So I hit the bed and was out. My awesome and beautiful gf went to target to get some items we needed and I slept. A nice nap and an hour or so later and it was time to get my daily dose of poison to my brain.
My dad and step mom came up to support me through my new step in life. We walked over to the clinic and checked in. I met a couple of the nurses and waited for my name to be called. Once my name was called they took me back to "The Ark." Yes, their radiation rooms are all named and mine is called "The Ark." I was realllllly hoping I would get "Megatron" but I guess The Ark is a cool second. The radiation treatment is certainly an experience. They strap my face to a table, push me under a giant sphere UFO looking thing and leave the room. They then do an X-Ray to double and triple check the area is correct and then I get to sit for about 15 minutes while my brain is pumped with poison. The entire things takes less than 30 minutes. But understand, 30 minutes strapped to a table barely able to breathe through a mask and not able to move AT ALL seems more like a few hours. It is something I will certainly have to get used to.
A nice walk back to the apartment and it is nearly dinner time. Tasha cooked some chicken and asparagus (part of my new no sugar, no carbohydrate diet which I will explain later.) I am now on chemo, it is in my body and I have no idea what it is doing. I know what to expect and I am hoping I do not experience most of what I know I potentially can experience. The chemo I took right before I went to bed. I also took an anti-nausea (which didn't help all that much.) I woke a few times throughout the night not feeling so hot and trying to force myself back to sleep was a fun task. They say to wait an hour or two after eating before you take these poison tablets, but I think tonight I will give it at least 3 hours. I eventually slept through the night and woke up this morning. I said goodbye to Natashia and I am now at home in Ryan's Residing Radiation Residence (What I will call my apartment for the next 2 months) all by myself. Today I have another dose of brain poison at 1:40 and more chemo. This will continue the same everyday Monday through Friday and the only change will be on the weekends. Saturday and Sunday my brain gets a break from the poison, but my body doesn't. I will continue my chemotherapy for 42 straight days and my Velcade will be done basically 4 days every 2 weeks repeating. Along with 400 medications, my treatments and a soon to be depleting memory, I think a calendar is order!
That was my first day, this was my first step in a process that has been done by many before me and will continue on until there is a cure. It is the next step in my battle against the little monster in my head. The next 42 days will be a test on my body, mind and spirit. There will be lows, but I know there will be just as many highs. Sitting in the waiting room of the oncology center, I saw so many people fighting the same battle as me. They were all much older and many looked like they had already given up and thrown in the flag on their battle. Cancer is a terrible disease and I know coming to grips with your own mortality is a trying experience. We all have things to live for and there is no reason to ever give up. It was a somber and sad room and I decided right then and there that I will never become one of them. I will stay strong and no matter what I will be appreciative for everyday I am given.
Welcome to the battle friends, I hope you are all up for it and together we will get through this, I promise.
"Don't wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect." Author unknown.