Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Treatment: Day 1

High school...  I think that was the last time I knew exactly what I wanted, should and needed to do.  It is all too often that us as humans as a whole fall into routines we do not really appreciate nor want.  We take the job that pays the most.  We settle for what we think we deserve, but deep down know we know we are meant for more.  We do not take time out of our days to appreciate life.  We forget and take for granted what we absolutely adored in our youth.  Our minds become institutionalized on the daily grind of what we think we need.  We collect 'things' we think we need to modify and enhance our lives, but only later we find these things eventually begin to become more important to us then the ones we love.  I fully understand, appreciate and RESPECT the work we put in on a daily basis.  This is the motor that keeps our world moving and if we all decided to quit our jobs the economy as we know it would collapse and we would hate life even more then we did while working.  What I do not agree with is how we spend our free time.  Some people choose to spend their free time sitting on their couches, computers or video game consoles.  This is not life, this is wasting time with yourself and wasting a valuable resource to human civilization.  We can give back to what life has given us.  As children we did not have a care in the world, all that we worried about was when the next time was that we could go outside and play.  We grow up and blow away in a sense.  We forget what we loved and become corrupted by the want and need for money and in turn more 'things.'

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.

The fun begins!
Chemo. Sucks. Balls.

Getting sick of seeing these.

Blood or black tar?


  1. That was very touching. You are amazing Ryan!

  2. Ryan,
    I am touched and your writing portrays the angst and the fatalism that one experiences, if afflicted, in confronting the reality of this disease. I read your blog every day...the older posts and the latest, it doesn't matter. In them I find inspiration and a sobering reminder of mortality.....but overarching all is your spirit and intelligence and honesty.
    You are special and you show a maturity beyond your years.


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  4. It is amazing to me that your blog gives ME strength and insight into life, when I couldn't imagine experiencing all that you thus far. Your courage and your honesty in your writing is truly uplifting. Thank you for sharing all that you do. I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for you after all of this. You will beat it, just as you say. In the meantime, keep that positive mind and spirit.

  5. Please continue to blog. This is new to our family and any insight is most helpful. You are in our prayers....fight the fight!

  6. Praying that God gives you all the strength you need!!!

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  8. I stumbled upon yr blog off of Mich Luker's wife's instagram.
    I want to say a few things:
    1. Yr an awesome fucking writer.
    2. Yr spirit is insane. I wish I had the same strength inside of me.
    3. I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about "you", or the "you" I know from yr blog.
    4. I am scared and nervous, but hopeful for you. (I probably shouldn't say this, but Im also honest).

    I hope in 5 years I can log onto yr blog and see yr profile picture with long baby-jesus type hair and a huge smile on yr face.

    I wish you everything.

    Some random stranger,