OUR JOURNAL: Lessons, Love, & Fighting This Bastard Called Lung Cancer! Session 3&4-Immuno/CT Comparison (February 13-March 6)

GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/teamfistbump

Note: All underlined words are links to the sites I am currently discussing.

Team Fist Bump (#teamfistbump) is on a mission: These journals are being published, then shared by many in an effort to reach others needing help in understanding the obstacles suddenly thrust upon them by the diagnosis of cancer. Join our team today by sharing this journal, saying a prayer for Kathy, or giving her an electronic hug or Fist Bump along with an inspirational message in the comments. To read Our Journal’s Previous issues just click the issue you would like to see:

Week 1 (Diagnosis)Week 2 (Biopsy)Week 3 (PET Scan)Week 4 (The Oncologist) , Week 5 (Bone Biopsy), Week 6 (Acceptance of Learning The Stage), Week 7 (Immunotherapy)Week 8 (Team Fist Bump is Intensifying)Week 9 (The New Norm)Session 2-Immunotherapy

Entering
My courageous, beautiful wife making her way into Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for her 3rd Session of Immunotherapy

Tuesday, February 13 – Session 3 of Immunotherapy.

We wake up in the Hyatt House, White Plains in good spirit. I am still upset over being foolish enough to fall victim to a scammer the day before. We start the day off by calling the police so they can file an official police report for bank reimbursement purposes. The officer is friendly and says he will go down to speak to the manager.

As predicted the breakfast is delicious and nutritious. We really enjoy sharing this meal in such beautiful surroundings. We joke around and talk about the day to come. We are excited about presenting Dr. McFarland and nurse Lauren with Official Team Fist Bump t-shirts this morning.

We get the truck loaded and start our 1.5 minute drive to Memorial Sloan Kettering. We do the regular check in, Kathy is called back for Lab work, and at 12:40 PM Kathy’s name is called for our escort to the exam room Dr. McFarland will see us in.

T-Shirt For Dr
Kathy caught unaware as we wait for the doctor to enter the exam room. Notice the two Team Fist Bump t-shirts spread out and waiting to be presented to our heroes!

Dr. McFarland enters and is genuinely appreciative of being presented a Team Fist Bump Tee! Kathy officially indoctrinates him by offering her fist, which he enthusiastically bumps with his own. He is now officially a Team Fist Bumper! Nurse Lauren is busy so we have to give her her shirt later.

Getting down to business, Kathy explains that her cough is now completely gone. After listing to her breathing he can find nothing bad to tell us.

Our next visit to see him will be the biggy. It will include a CAT scan the day before or morning of our next visit. Then he will be able to tell us if the cancer has stopped, slowed down, shrunk, or continued to grow unimpeded by immunotherapy.

KEEP THE PRAYERS COMING!!

We finish up with him and head over to the treat suites waiting area. Kathy is called in and assigned Treatment Suite #17. We settle in by getting her Pandora radio going and set it to the Tim McGraw Channel. The nurses come in and get the drip going. As always, they double check to insure no mistakes with dosage or drug are made. The second nurse hears the music and comments that she gets down with country too. This part is starting to be a relaxing time for us. Thirty minutes later the procedure is complete. We pack up and head for the truck and our drive home.

We stop at the half way point for our sandwich at Starbucks and enjoy each others company. The drive home is pleasant. It is nice that somethings are becoming normal and we know what to expect. Kathy is a veteran now. One tough cookie!!


Wednesday, February 14 – Kathy goes to work at her usual time. I am starting to fall into the nonworking husbands sleeping habits. I had always awaken between 3-4:30 AM when working. Now I find myself sleeping until 7 or 7:30.

The reason this perturbed me today is because it’s Valentines Day and I wanted to give her the chocolate covered strawberries I had stashed in my man-cave. I move them to the fridge for her to find later.

The strawberries don’t have long to wait. By 9:00 AM Kathy is feeling drained by the treatment. She comes home and stretches out on the love seat to nap throughout the day. She does manage to devour two of the strawberries, while insisting that I take one. She doesn’t have to work all that hard at persuading me. 🙂

Around 3:00 Kathy insist I go to join my old writer’s group that I haven’t taken part in since Kathy’s diagnosis. I figure it will give Kathy a chance to relax in peace in quiet so I go.

Once there, I discuss me and Kathy’s idea to turn these journals into a book. I have no desire to continue The Adventures of Nick and Billy at present. The idea is received with enthusiasm by the person I talked to. I think I will start on it soon!


Thursday, February 15 – Kathy is able to work all day.

We visit Kathy’s mom’s house where her brother cooks a spectacular prime rib (Anyone wanting the recipe just ask by clicking here!). I can’t wait to cook this for Kathy and myself some time down the road!


Friday, February 16 – Kathy goes to work all day. She is feeling good.


Saturday-Monday, February 17 – 19 – We enjoy a long weekend because Kathy is off on Monday for President’s Day. We spend 80% of this time marathoning the series Blacklist on Netflix. We are definitely getting hooked!


Tuesday, February 20 – Kathy returns to work (Blahh) and is able to work all day (Yayyy). We have come up with an idea to help others cover cancer related expenses by attending their fundraisers where we will autograph books and donate all profits to the individual or organization holding the event! We are stoked!!

I contact Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center first and am awaiting a reply to my email.

Next, I contact the American Cancer Society. What a great conversation I have with them. They are forwarding my information to their office in my region. She thinks Kathy and I might be helpful in several fundraisers they put on annually. Crossing fingers for this!


Wednesday, February 21 – Kathy goes to work and works all day!

I contact Cancer Care, concerning Team Fist Bump assisting them with fundraisers. They are concerned that our idea will add an unwanted “carnival-like atmosphere” to their events. I send them an email proposal stating Team Fist Bump isn’t your average manufacture wanting to ply their wares. The Founder of this group has Stage 4 Lung Cancer – a person your organization states they are out to help. We shall see if we can get on board!


Thursday, February 22 – Kathy goes to work and works all day!


Friday, February 23 – Kathy goes to work and works all day!


Saturday/Sunday, February 24/25 – We hang out together and marathon Blacklist on Netflix.


Monday-Friday, February 26-March 2 – Kathy goes to work and works all day/everyday!

Monday – Kathy and I visit Meyer Tool Inc., where I work and hand out a bunch of Team Fist Bump member t-shirts. I give Kathy the t-shirt and tell her the name of the person she will be presenting it too. She hands it over with a big hug. What a great day with lots of tears. Kathy loves everyone she meets. Such a beautiful group of people. Thank you!

MeyerTool
Three members of Team Fist Bump from Meyer Tool Inc. There are another 20 or so that I was unable to post in this picture. We love you guys and gals!

Throughout the week I continue searching for individuals and organizations that Team Fist Bump might be able to assist in their fundraising endeavors.


Saturday, March 3 – We video the drawing of our Team Fist Bump appreciation gift! Congratulations Rhonda of Dothan, AL!!

Resource/Info link mentioned in video for those newly diagnosed with cancer: Diagnosed With Cancer, What Now? Team Fist Bump Shares Their Experience.

Our Son-in-Law, Wolfie, brings the grand babies over to visit. A bad northeaster came through and their home was hit bad, which included their home loosing power.


Sunday, March 4 – Wolfie returns with the babies. He has tripped and burned his arm and hand on the wood burning stove in his home. He’s keeping an eye on it before going to the clinic. He’s a paramedic so I suppose he’ll know when it needs medical attention at a level greater than what he can manage.

We have a good day of visiting!


Monday, March 5 – Kathy goes to work. She will be getting off at noon. Today we head for Memorial Sloan Kettering for a CT scan. This CT will be used to compare with a CT taken a few days before Kathy’s first treatment session with immunotherapy. We are hoping that the tumors have stopped growing.

I pull into Walmart and as I am putting on my walking boot for my broken foot, my phone rings. It is Tina, with the American Cancer Society. She has read Team Fist Bump’s proposal and thinks we can be a fantastic part of the Relay For Life Event coming up in June! When I get home I tell Kathy, who has just returned home from work. She is very excited!

More details of this event can be found by clicking here. If you are interested in representing Team Fist Bump at this event, or any other, please “Follow” this blog so you can be contacted as new events are added! Also, for those members that plan to represent Team Fist Bump at an event, and have not yet received a t-shirt, just let me know and I’ll order you one (or more) at cost, which I can present to you at the event. These shirts will be offered at cost, between $7.50 – $10.50, depending on how many join up to take part. Also, please give me the sizes you require. Available in Men’s, Lady’s, and Youth sizes.

We depart at 2 PM, stop at our usual McDonalds for a couple of breakfast sandwiches, then arrive at the Hyatt House by 3:30 PM. Kathy is just as excited by our room as always. We have a little time to kill before departing at 4:45 so we unpack and chill.

We arrive at Memorial Sloan Kettering around 5:00 and are soon led to the radiology waiting room where Kathy is given a raspberry flavored drink to prep for the CT with contrast. After she finishes this she is taken back to receive an IV injection of something else needed for the CT. At 6:00 she is taken back for the scan.

Afterwards, we head back to the hotel where we just make it in time to enjoy the free dinner provided for guest. Once in the room Kathy pulls out a blanket that she covers us with on the sofa where we sit quietly watching TV until 9:30 when we go to bed. We have a lot on our minds this evening…praying that we receive happy news tomorrow.

A busy day lies ahead!


Tuesday, March 6 – The BIG day! To find out if these past 3 sessions of immunotherapy have been working for Kathy.

I wake up around 5:30 to start catching up on this blog. Kathy and I realize that this is an important one for Team Fist Bump, and don’t want you to wait long for the results.

Kathy soon joins me in the living area of the suite. She watches news while I type away. At 8:00 we head down for a fantastic breakfast spread set out for guest. Nervous conversation takes place over our eggs, sausage, fruit, and oatmeal. We are ready!

MichaelHyatt
Me taking a break from writing this blog long enough for Kathy to take a picture:) We had about an hour before we had to leave for Memorial Sloan Kettering.

At 12:10 we arrive at Memorial Sloan. Kathy goes in for Lab work and I guard our seats in the waiting area. She has no problem with a fast heart rate so she rejoins me quickly.

Me&KathySloan
Kathy and I sitting in the waiting room. Anxious to learn the results of using the drug Keytruda.

At 1:50 we are led into the examination room where Dr. McFarland, Kathy’s oncologist will meet us and share the comparison results using the CT scan she took last night.

Kathy&Dr
Kathy with her Oncologist, Dr. McFarland. He had walked in sporting his Team Fist Bump member t-shirt.

Dr. McFarland walks in wearing his Team Fist Bump member t-shirt which gets Kathy extremely excited. She jumps up and gives him a hug. This guy is definitely Team Fist Bump material!

He takes his usual place at the desk, I take my usual seat by the door, and Kathy sits on the high-dollar examination chair. Kathy says, “Well doctor, what’s the results.”

This is the moment we had been waiting for. Scared to hear what he might say. Hoping to hear that the growth has stopped completely. A slight grin gives it away and much of our worries melt away.

“Well Kathy,” he says. “There is significant shrinkage in all of your tumors. One of them was resolved, meaning it is no longer visible on the CT scan.”

Kathy starts bawling and says, “Doctor. give me a hug.” I sit there giving Kathy thumbs up and yayyyy’s. The room is lighter than I’ve ever felt it! The doctor goes on to explain the tumor sizes, which I have added below for you to view:

Comparison Image

The doctor goes on to say that perhaps in the future (6 months or so), he will set Kathy up with a radiation oncologist to zap out the smaller tumors of the lymph nodes. He also says that Kathy will receive another CT scan after 3 more sessions of immunotherapy to hopefully see continued shrinkage of the tumors. At this time she will also receive another PET scan to confirm that the cancer has not spread further. So now we have another big date to count down for:) Always a BIG day ahead!

The doctor tells Kathy she will be getting Zometa, along with the Pembrolizumab at today’s treatment session. Kathy says, “Let’s do this!” Nothing can dampen the mood in this room right now! Dr. McFarland discusses setting Kathy up with a pain management doctor on our next visit in 3 weeks. Kathy’s sciatic nerve is acting up.

The doctor walks out, and as we are getting our secret weapons to behave (War Bear has been acting up a lot today. He’s constantly trying to get out of the back pack he shares with Love Pillow), the doctor comes back into the room and says to Kathy, “I almost forgot the fist bump.” He sticks his fist out and Kathy seals the deal!

We head over to the treatment suite and after a short wait we are led to Room #17. This time is spent sharing with family the great news we had just received. The 45 minutes here go quickly. Kathy is unhooked, and we head out to the truck for our drive home. We even by-pass the Starbucks we usually stop at. We have pizza at home and I’m itching to work on this blog so I can publish it tomorrow!

We get home, walk inside, and give each other a gigantic hug. Team Fist Bump prayers have worked! Thank you all!!!

 

OUR JOURNAL: Lessons, Love, & Fighting This Bastard Called Lung Cancer! Session 2-Immunotherapy (January 23-February 12)

GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/teamfistbump

Note: All underlined words are links to the sites I am currently discussing.

Team Fist Bump (#teamfistbump) is on a mission: These journals are being published, then shared by many in an effort to reach others needing help in understanding the obstacles suddenly thrust upon them by the diagnosis of cancer. Join our team today by sharing this journal, saying a prayer for Kathy, or giving her an electronic hug or Fist Bump along with an inspirational message in the comments. To read Our Journal’s Previous issues just click the issue you would like to see:

Week 1 (Diagnosis)Week 2 (Biopsy)Week 3 (PET Scan)Week 4 (The Oncologist) , Week 5 (Bone Biopsy), Week 6 (Acceptance of Learning The Stage), Week 7 (Immunotherapy)Week 8 (Team Fist Bump is Intensifying)Week 9 (The New Norm)

Saints Game
On one of our 1st dates! When the Saints were running out of the tunnel, fireworks forming a path for them to follow onto the field, I looked over to Kathy and saw tears running down her cheeks. Competing with the awesome sounds of screaming fans, I asked her what was wrong. Her reply was, “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!” That’s the moment I fell in love with this woman.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – Session 2 of Immunotherapy.

We wake up in our room at Extended Stay America – a room found for us, and discounted, by The American Cancer Society. It’ll be our last stay here. We are both already stressed, but when you add the crummy service and rainy, humid weather that has found a way to creep into our room, neither of us ever want to step foot inside this place again. Kathy agrees with my statement that the Hyatt House will be the ONLY place we stay at for future trips to Memorial Sloan.

We are joking around as we walk through the doors of Memorial Sloan Kettering Center at 11:30 AM. After we check-in we grab a seat in the waiting area for her first appointment – Lab. It isn’t long before they call Kathy in. Once again she must use breathing exercises to get her heart rate down before they release her. After several minutes it returns to normal and she is sent out to rejoin me in the waiting room.

At 1:48 PM we are led to the examination room were we will meet Dr. McFarland. Always, at the back of your mind, there is the fear the doctor has seen something else to be concerned about, but the numbing fear of walking into this place is starting to fade.

The first thing Kathy brings to the doctor’s attention is the persistent cough that she has had for several weeks now.

He listens to her breathing and tells us that he thinks Kathy might have a small respiratory infection. “Nothing to worry about. Take Mucinex for a week and the cough should be taken care of.”

He also shares with us that the molecular testing that was done on the biopsy from her lung shows that the cancer is of the KRAS mutation. “Studies show that this particular mutation seems to respond well to Immunotherapy.” I was unable to find any studies online to link this mutation to Immunotheapy so I apologize for the scientific description I had to link above for you to view.

We are both happy to hear this. Any good news we receive behind these doors is taken with immense relief by us both.

Kathy then ask the question, “Do you have a back up plan if Immunotherapy does not work?”

Dr. McFarland tells us that if this treatment doesn’t seem to be working he will start adding Chemo to Kathy’s Immunotherapy. All we can do now is hope for positive results from what she is currently undergoing. He goes on to remind us that everything seems to be going well and the minimum side effects is definitely a good thing.

Another good thing to hear!

As we leave, we ask the doctor what size shirt he wears so we can bring him an Official Team Fist Bump t-shirt on our next visit.

We head straight to the waiting room in the treatment suite area of the center. Soon after Kathy’s name is called and we enter room 19.

She reverently places War Bear and the Love Pillow on her lap as the nurses prep her for Session 2 of Immunotherapy with Pembrolizumab. As the 200mg, $17,000 bag of fluid drips into her vein, she works at getting Pandora to come up on the entertainment center provided for the patient. Once country music starts playing she sits back and gets quiet. Such a beautiful and strong person. Why?

After 30 minutes a chime goes off signalling the bag is almost empty. The nurse comes in to adjust the bag so the last drops empty. After this the Zometa drip is started. Because of Kathy’s osteoporosis this drug will be added to Kathy’s treatment every 3 sessions. This drug’s purpose is to strengthen Kathy’s bone and keep the cancer from spreading further in her pelvis.

Fifteen minutes later the chime sounds and she is unhooked. It’s been a long day.

We walk out to our truck and start the journey home. But not before stopping at the halfway point to grab a sandwich from Starbucks…this is becoming our ritual.


 Wednesday, January 24, 2018 – Kathy goes to work at 7:00 AM, but returns home at noon feeling fatigued from the treatment the day before. This seems to be the pattern. She rest on the love seat and we watch TV.


Thursday, January 25, 2018 – Kathy goes to work and is able to work all day.

One thing we have learned slowly over the past 2 months is that stresses have started building in us. Difficult topics have been all but impossible to discuss…for me anyhow. Kathy attempted to talk to me about the future a while back but I can’t find myself able to think like that. We have decided to attend a cancer group meeting hosted by our local hospital, Orange Regional Medical Center.

That evening, as we sit in the conference room where two other couples have seated themselves, one guy ask the moderator as she walks in, “Where’s (a lady’s name)“.

The moderator looked down for a moment before sharing that the lady had passed away.

Me and Kathy look at each other. This is precisely the reason we are hesitant to attend these meetings!

However, as the meeting progresses and we start feeling more comfortable with these kind, yet  scared people, we do feel some sort of relief begin to form in us. We aren’t able to talk about the difficult issues but we do get something out of it. I can’t exactly find a specific word for it but I can tell you it’s in the category of comfort.

As we are leaving the moderator mentions a fundraiser that will be taking place to raise money for the Oncology Nurses Association of Orange and Sullivan Counties. After mentioning that I might be able to help them by setting a booth up to sell books at the dinner event, she ask that I stop by the next day to discuss it further. She likes the idea.

Back home we both begin to get excited by the idea of helping out an organization that has offered to help us with a gas card to pay for trips to treatment. We can’t wait to learn what the meeting will produce!


Friday, January 26, 2018 – Kathy goes to work at her usual time. She is feeling good.

At 10:00 AM I walk into the cancer center at ORMC for my meeting. I have brought an autographed copy of The Adventures of Nick and Billy for the lady I will be meeting with. I learn that she is addicted to reading and can’t wait to read it. The meeting is definitely starting well!

And it continues going well! I share with her that just a couple of weeks before Kathy was diagnosed with cancer I had hand delivered a dozen autographed copies of this book to the pediatrics ward of this same hospital as part of my Book For a Smile Exchange program.

She is excited to have me take part in their annual fund raiser which will take place in April. She just needs to notify the rest of this organization’s committee for approval, but doesn’t see a problem.

We discuss a few details and shake hands as I leave. We are both excited…and after I call Kathy at work to tell her about the meeting all three of us are excited!


Saturday/Sunday, January 27/28, 2018 – We both stay home and enjoy each others company for the weekend.

At one point I ask Kathy if her cough seems to be getting better. She tells me that the cough still bothers her and the Mucinex still hasn’t caused her to cough up anything.


Monday, January 29, 2018 – Kathy goes to work at her normal time. During the day there is a fire drill and as they gather at the muster area a lady lights a cigarette. Kathy smells the smoke and even though it doesn’t affect her breathing in a painful way the fear causes her to break down.

Once back inside she visits her friend/boss and has an emotional big break down in the office. The stresses are beginning to break down the brave front she has been putting on. Her friend tells her to take a long weekend starting Wednesday. Such a big, heartfelt gesture!

Kathy returns to her office and begins getting things in order for her long weekend.

That night we discuss this and decide to take a trip to Connecticut for a couple of nights. Getting off from work will be no problem for me since my broken foot will keep me out of work until late March. The trip will be good. It’ll be nice to hit the interstate and pass the exit to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for a change!


Wednesday-Saturday, January 31-February 3, 2018 – We hit the road for Mystic, Connecticut! Several days earlier I was able to get us a free room at a hotel affiliated with a local casino that we had visited three years ago while on vacation in Mystic. Perfect!

We visited our favorite restaurant in Mystic for some genuine lobster bisque, strolled the store fronts and visited Kathy’s favorite Irish store, Irish Eyes, visited a Rhode Island beach to listen to the soothing sounds of waves crashing on the shore, and played some slots. It was a fantastic and relaxing few days that was much needed by us both.

Beach
A beautiful picture of Kathy representing Team Fist Bump…Fist pumping the cool, salty air of Rhode Island!

Perhaps the best thing to happen on this trip was Kathy’s coughing becomes less and less prevalent, and by the time we return home on Saturday evening the cough is all but gone!


Sunday-Saturday, February 4-10, 2018 – Throughout the week Kathy is able to work and the cough disappears!


Sunday, February 11, 2018 – Our good friends Bill and Nancy will be stopping by for a visit this afternoon. Kathy has not seen them since before she was diagnosed due to one or the other of them being sick. Concerns of spreading anything to Kathy has kept them both away.

As I get some work done on my computer and Kathy works at cleaning house I can sense a change in her. My plan is to go to the store once I am done with the computer work, and  start on the vacuuming once I get back. Unfortunately, I do not share my plan of helping her clean house. While she’s cleaning the bathroom the slow boil of emotions within her reach the boiling point and she lets me have it good!

After a very tardy sharing of my plan, her anger transforms into sobs as the true cause of this outburst presents itself – She’s as scared as a five-year-old lost in a department store full of real life demons. We tightly embrace for a long moment as she sobs against my chest, trying her best to explain just how scared she really is. Finally, I hear her take a few very deep breaths and release them slowly. A sign to me that the pressure, once again, is nearly gone. She pulls her head away and feels terrible because she has made a big wet spot on my shirt. We can’t help but laugh now.

I know it will build again and need venting within the next week or so, but at least she feels better for the moment. We decide to talk to the moderator at our next group meeting to see if we can get into some one-on-one counseling in the near future. We see now that there are issues needing to be brought out with the help of a professional.

Later that afternoon Bill and Nancy come by. The visit is good for us all. They are actually the same people that handed War Bear over to Kathy. Good friends are needed…especially on this day. Thank you Bill and Nancy!


Monday, February 12, 2018 – Kathy goes to work at her usual time. She will get off at noon so we can prepare for our trip to stay the night at the Hyatt House. Her 3rd session of Immunotherapy will take place tomorrow.

I head over to the mall. Her Pandora bracelet doesn’t have one charm on it from me so I decide to change that this Valentines Day. I pick out one that looks pretty to my untrained eye. I then stop at another store and get her some chocolate covered strawberries.

Kathy is already at home when I get back. I decide to leave the charm and a card in the glove box so she can find it once we get on the road to Memorial Sloan. This girl deserves her gift early!

I sneak the strawberries in so she can have a little something on the actual Valentines Day and we get packed. Once we get back to the truck I give her the charm and card. She is definitely cheered up!

We arrive to the Hyatt House at 3:30 PM. At 4:00 PM our room phone rings. It’s the manager telling me that their computer had a glitch in it and my credit card was denied. He tells me it wasn’t my card, but the system. I can come down to the lobby to give him the credit card info or do it over the phone.

Because we are so far from the front desk and I’m still using a crutch I decide to do it on the phone. I’m such an idiot!

That night after dinner I stop at the desk to ask if the problem was straightened out. “What problem,” was the response.

Long story short, I was scammed out of nearly $300 by the time I cancelled my card. Lesson here: Always go to the front desk!”

We enjoy a few hours of watching the Olympics then decide to turn-in for the night. Tomorrow will be Session 3 of Immunotherapy for Kathy.

Three weeks from now we will learn if this treatment is working to hold the cancer at bay. We are, and by we, I mean all of Team Fist Bump, are praying this is so. We love you all!

Paying It Forward The Best Way We Can!

My wife, Kathy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer last November. We have formed a support group for Kathy called Team Fist Bump and have quite a large following. We also publish a blog, OUR JOURNAL: Lessons, Love, & Fighting This Bastard Called Lung Cancer! Our most recent publication outside of the journal, Diagnosed With Cancer, What Now? Kathy’s Team Fist Bump Shares Their Experience, shares with those just starting down this terrifying path the knowledge, road blocks, false expectations, and organizations we studied and talked to between the day of Kathy’s diagnosis and her first session of treatment. Our blog site already has 2,900 views and over 4,400 followers! Perhaps Team Fist Bump can join hands with your organization or individual fund raising event to raise money to cover cancer related expenses.
Kathy has received great joy by attending my past author events, so what I propose is that Team Fist Bump join hands with your organization or individual event by setting up a table and autographing my two published books to help you raise money. I will purchase these books at a discount from my publisher so these sales will not contribute to my sales or author ranking stats in any way. I will purchase them at $5 and sell them for $10 or $12. I will need to keep $5 a copy to cover my expenses but the profits of $5-$7 per copy sold will go to your fundraiser. We realize that you do not want to create a carnival like atmosphere where various vendors set up tables and ply their wares. Please consider that this is all about bringing joy to my wife, helping out your fundraiser, and allowing Team Fist Bump members to take part in your event (I will certainly post these events for our “team” to see).
If you have any questions or need clarification on anything please feel free to contact me anytime.

Below, you will see the two books I will bring to your event. Click the titles for descriptions and reviews:

100a

The Adventures of Nick and Billy: The Mystery of the Rougarou

A Forsaken Soul Cover EBook Final

A Forsaken Soul

We are willing to attend fundraisers within 200 miles of Middletown, NY. Special circumstances may allow me to travel outside these areas, so contact me anyway! Please understand that my wife is currently undergoing cancer treatment so this offer is only available to those that have events when my calendar is free.

 

 

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All Events at book stores this year will be put on hold, unless a portion of your profits from my sells will go to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, The American Cancer Society, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Please share this publication so it can be seen by someone it might help! Thank you!!


If you, too, would like to show the world that you are a Team Fist Bump Member we can ship you as many as you like. The cost is $15 each, plus $5 shipping ($5 shipping is not per shirt, but per order). Here are three ways that you can place your order:

  • GoFundMe – Visit Team Fist Bump’s, GoFundMe page and make a donation in the amount your shirts will cost (plus shipping if applicable). BE SURE to add in comments: “T-shirts,” along with the quantity and sizes in your order.
  • PayPal – Use your PayPal account to send your payment to my account: mwhoard@yahoo.com. Because I use this account to process book orders also, please BE SURE to add in comments: “T-shirts,” along with the quantity and sizes in your order. Also, make sure your address is included.
  • Cash – Many of you work with Kathy and me, or live near by. If you would like to save in shipping fees just flag one of us down or give us a call.

If you have any questions feel free to email me by clicking here. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Just a reminder that these t-shirts are in Adult sizes (I haven’t got them in Ladies yet). If we run out, your order will be added to a list for the next order I place.

Also, please send pictures of you wearing the shirts so I can start adding them to Our Journal. We would love to see how far Team Fist Bump has spread from it’s home base in Middletown, NY!

Bill_Nancy

In Montgomery, NY, our dear friends Bill and Nancy are the first to receive their official Team Fist Bump Member T-shirts. Wear them proudly!!!

 

OUR JOURNAL: Lessons, Love, & Fighting This Bastard Called Lung Cancer! Week 3-PET Scan (December 1-8)

GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/teamfistbump

Team Fist Bump (#teamfistbump) is on a mission: These journals are being published, then shared by many in an effort to reach others needing help in understanding the obstacles suddenly thrust upon them by the diagnosis of cancer. Join our team today by sharing this journal, saying a prayer for Kathy, or giving her an electronic hug or Fist Bump along with an inspirational message in the comments. To read Our Journal’s Previous issues just click the issue you would like to see: Week 1 (Diagnosis), Week 2 (Biopsy).

Barner with Kathy and babies


Friday, December 1, 2017 – We return home after learning of the biopsy results in pretty good spirits. Learning that the cancer, Adenocarcinoma, is a non-small cell type, and therefore operable, is just the tiniest spark of good news we needed to hear in order to vent a good bit of the pressures that had built up. We are learning that with each venting of stress-pressure, more will be added at each bend on this path.

After telling Dr. Fruchter about Memorial Sloan’s request that he make the appointment for a PET Scan because of speed factors, his absolutely wonderful nursing assistant, Jill, leaves the room to make calls. She returns to tell us an appointment has been made for Thursday, December 7th. I then ask Jill if she can fax the results of the biopsy to Sloan which she does right then. We thank them all and head home.

Our next goal to reach is the PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan scheduled for Thursday, December 7th. This  scan, using some sort of radioactive-glucose solution is injected and when combined with a CAT Scan, will show if the cancer has spread. From there a stage can be determined. Of course, this new stress is a biggy. The kettle slowly begins to build pressure again.


Saturday, December 2, 2017 – Memorial Sloan Kettering has an online portal available for patients to aide them in all aspects of treatment. I enroll Kathy in MyMSK.org Portal using a Patient ID# provided by Ismail. On the portal, I see a list of all items we will need to bring to our first appointment or have faxed to them ahead of time. This gives me a new purpose and challenge which I instantly start working on.

The Portal is a great idea that should be used by all patients and/or caregivers. It certainly simplifies things by reading this stuff in the comfort of your own home. If you have any questions about what you have read then click the “Message” tab and ask away. It also allows you to get ahead of the ballgame and be prepared for your appointments.


Monday, December 4, 2017 – We decide to find a local oncologist to serve as an emergency backup, should the occasion ever arise where I need to get Kathy to a doctor quickly. We do not want to be caught with our britches down at any point along this deadly path…cover every base you can possibly think of! So, I contact the office of Dr. Gnanamba Kondagunta, MD. Her name was given to us by a nurse working the oncology unit at ORMC, where we stayed overnight a couple weeks back. An appointment/consultation with the doctor is set for Wednesday, December 13, at 1:15 PM.

Kathy has been experiencing a numbness to her left cheek and gums, similar to a Novocaine injection at the dentist office. We learn that this is a symptom of cancer so we decide to call Columbia University Medical Center (NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital) and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to see which can schedule an appointment the soonest.

Because I have somewhat of a repertoire with Sloan (Ismail), I call them first. I get Ismail’s voicemail. I explain that I had the biopsy results faxed to him on Friday, as soon as we had received them. I go on to explain that because of the numbness to Kathy’s face and gums I would be calling Columbia next to see if they can see us sooner than Sloan. I tell him that I am at work, so call me there, have me paged, and give me a date for a first appointment. I then tell him I am calling Columbia and hang up.

I call Columbia and am passed around to 3 different  people before I get transferred back to the first person I had spoken to on this merry-go-round. My break is over so I hang up. I call them back on my lunch break and am finally connected to the right person who tells me the soonest they can see Kathy is December 20th.

Ismail must have gotten my message and started working fast. He calls me back and informs me that he didn’t have a time yet, but is working hard to get us in on December 14th. I tell him to call me back with a time and hang up. A few hours later he calls to say the appointment would be at 12:00 noon, with Dr. Daniel McFarland. I tell him to make the appointment and we will be there.

The lesson learned here:  The medical staff you meet anywhere will, in most cases, prove to be angels sent to help you or a loved one, but the administration is still run like a big cooperation. Getting the initial appointment never happens as fast as you would like, but if you tell them you are calling another fantastic treatment facility and going to the one that will see you the soonest, the train does pick up a little steam. Threaten their dollar if you must, this is for your loved one’s life!

My last phone call today was to the pathology department at ORMC to arrange a pickup time for Kathy’s biopsy slides that we would be bringing to our first appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The lady there tells me to swing by that evening after work to pick them up, which I do.


Tuesday, December 5th – Ismail, at Sloan calls me at work. He tells me that Kathy’s insurance has contacted them to tell them that Kathy wouldn’t be covered because Sloan was out of network. He goes on to say that our appointment might be cancelled. I tell him to not cancel the appointment, that I will call the insurance company to see what kind of games they are playing. I had spoken directly to them the week before and they personally assured me that Sloan was in-network. Ismail tells me to slow down and it would be best if I spoke to Sloan’s billing department first. He connected me…

I take a knee beside the phone I am using because of a weakness and pain in my gut that has suddenly started. Kathy is trusting me to handle this end of business and I am scared to death that I have already screwed up.

Natasha, in billing,  answers and pulls up Kathy’s info. She sees that Kathy is enrolled in United Healthcare’s Cancer Resource Program, and tells me not to worry, that this is a great program and everything is okay. She takes some information from me and officially enrolls Kathy for her first appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, on December 14th, 2017!

The evening before, while double checking that I had all required forms filled out to bring with us to Sloan, I notice that the biopsy slides they request us to bring should be “unstained”. The ones I picked up yesterday at pathology were “stained”! So, my next phone call goes back to the same lady in pathology who assures me she can have new slides ready for me. I tell her that we will be back to the hospital in two days anyway for Kathy’s PET Scan. I’ll swing by to pick them up while Kathy’s procedure is being done. She tells me that would be fine.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017 – After yesterday’s traumatic insurance scare I decide to get in touch with all involved insurance-wise. Timing my first break to coincide with business offices opening their doors for the day, I first call Dr. Kondagunta’s office to verify that our appointment is still on. All is good on their end, it was still a go! Next, for the same reason, I call Alice at the Cancer Resource Program. She assures me that Kathy is enrolled and that some paperwork has been mailed to us which will allow me access to Kathy’s information.

All components of this newly built, Fist Bumping Machine, seem to be working in perfect rhythm!


Thursday, December 7th – While getting ready to leave for Kathy’s PET scan appointment we discuss the idea of turning this journal into a book. I think it is a great idea and am excited as I tell Kathy that her name can be listed on the cover with mine as an author. We both feel that there has to be numerous people out there that can use this guide book as a therapy tool, which indeed, it has become for me.

Kathy and I arrive at ORMC around 8:30 AM for her 9:30 appointment. While checking in we learn that they have not yet received the prescription necessary for the PET Scan from her doctor’s office. We anxiously wait for Dr. Fruchter’s office to open so they can fax the script over. After a half hour it is done and we breath a sigh of relief knowing that we wont have to be delayed once again by having to schedule another appointment.

While seated in the waiting room Kathy shares with me that she doesn’t usually remember dreams, but the one she had last night kept her awake much of the night. She saw herself getting the PET scan and lighting up like a Christmas tree on the CAT image as the radioactive sugar solution, cluster at countless locations all over her body.  This is caused by the cancer cells (glucose gobblers) devouring these intentionally injected snacks. What can I say? There’s no need to speak out loud that this is a distinct possibility that we both pray does not happen.

It is about this time that we meet Sam. Her full name is Samantha. She is a Lab/Spaniel mix and her job is Therapy Dog of ORMC. This dog couldn’t get enough of Kathy. It’s like Sam sensed where she was needed and homed in on this. Kathy cant get over the concern for her she can see in this dog’s eyes. And the gentleness it shows her. I have heard of these therapy dogs but never seen first-hand their value in a hospital.

At 9:25 AM, Kathy’s name is called and we are brought back to a quite room. At 9:45 AM,  Kathy is given this radioactive glucose injection. She must remain as motionless and silent as possible, not wanting any muscles tensing up that might give false readings. Kathy busies herself by looking at pictures on her phone of Pill #1 (Kathryn) and Pill #2 (Isabella). Our grand babies for those that do not know.

About five minutes before they are going to wheel her into the procedure room I leave to run my errands around the hospital so I can be back before her procedure is complete. I go to pathology and pick up the “unstained” slides that we will need. I then call radiology to let them know I will need CD’s of both her CAT and PET scans to bring with me to Sloan. I get a voice recorder and leave a message. My work, or as much as I can get done is complete. I return to the waiting room and wait for Kathy.

About ten minutes later Kathy comes walking out with a smile. Another painless procedure for a very brave woman. My heart melts when I see her. We are told the results should be ready by the next day. We go home to wait…

Later this evening, Jill, at Dr. Fruchter’s office calls. She informs us that the results are in and request us to meet at Dr. Fruchter’s office at 930 the following morning.


Friday, December 8, 2017 – We both go to work like normal and tell our bosses that we will be leaving early for the results. Our plan is to return to work afterwards and complete our shift.

At 9:30 AM, we are escorted to the examination room where we take our seats and anxiously await the results. Dr. Fruchter enters and pulls up the PET scan report on his computer. He begins to explain that the PET scan shows 6 or 7, peritracheal and peribroncial lymph nodes seeming to be cancerous (Glucose Gobblers).

Our jaws drop.

All but one these lymph nodes are inside the chest cavity on the right side. Doctor Fruchter thinks Sloan will want to do a biopsy on the one outside of the chest cavity – at the base of the neck.

A real feeling of panic is beginning to settle in for Kathy and myself. Kathy sits there in stunned silence. I say the only thing I can thing of. “I need to get these results to Sloan immediately.” I explain that I already have the biopsy slides but never received a call back from radiology after leaving them a voice message the day before. I still need to pickup the image CD’s of the CAT and PET scans.

Jill says, “Give me a sec,” and leaves the room to shack things up in the hospital’s radiology department. God love that woman! She returns in 1.6 minutes. “Both CD’s will be ready to pick up in 45 minutes.” Thank you Jill!

As we are walking out, Kathy tells me she is going for the ride to Sloan with me. She wants to be there to keep me in check as I make my way through the chaotic traffic you find so close to New York City. Probably a good idea considering the way I was feeling at the moment.

We each return to work to explain that we are done for the day, which gives radiology the perfect amount of time to prepare the CD’s I will be picking up. In the radiology waiting room I call Sloan to inform them that we will be delivering the slides and CD’s within two hours. I am given a contact name and where to drop them off.

Thirty minutes later, two scared Nascar fans are heading south on 17. No worries though. Kathy has an uncanny ability to keep me calm. Occasionally, she had to grab the “crap-strap”, but for the most part the drive was legal.

The mission is accomplished. We return home, eat dinner, sit quietly, and discuss the two doctors we would be meeting with next week. Our local emergency back-up, Dr. Kondagunta, and Sloan’s Dr. McFarland. Both highly qualified oncologist. They will give us more answers and take away the confusion we felt at the moment.

Unfortunately, because we are publishing this piece a week late, I can tell you that these doctors will see things on the PET Scan that cause even more fear. The stress is horrible.

 

 

 

 

Update: Book For A Smile Exchange

When I started this project back in early October, I had no idea the impact it would have on me. The joy I feel in knowing that I have actually brightened a kid’s day in a small way is not something small to me. It’s a big deal.

My original plan was to get rid of the left over 1st editions of The Adventures of Nick and Billy I had stored in boxes under my writing table (click here to see the first post I published announcing Book For A Smile Exchange). I think this project has the potential to be a big thing and I plan to see it through; to continue it for as long as I am able.

Hopefully, a child somewhere, whether it be the hospital in Montana, the detention center in Florida, the school in Connecticut, the makeshift tent-city in the Keys, or several other place that recently received my book, a kid has a grin on his/her face as they read about the two boys preparing their camp in the swamp for an upcoming camp out.

Today I had the honor of meeting two women whose lives are dedicated to helping children. They were kind enough to accept a donation from A Book For A Smile Exchange for the children that pass through their facility daily. Meeting these ladies only strengthened my resolve to bring a smile to children through this project.

Orange Regionl CenterMichelle Rogers, Pediatric Nursing Director (Left), Myself (Center), & Michelle Ferguson, Child Life Program Coordinator (Right), at Orange Regional Medical Center, Middletown, NY.

I ask, that if any of you know of a place similar to what I’ve listed above that can use good wholesome reads for teens and young adults to please respond by listing the facilities name and contact information, Thank you!

FYI: The book these kids will be receiving is an award winning book. As one reviewer put it, “ …is a real page-turner with one dire event building on the next, making it exceedingly difficult to not consume this tale all in one sitting. Charming, funny, rugged, and terrifying—“The Adventures of Nick and Billy” is certainly one coming-of-age novel I highly recommend for young (over 12) and old alike!”.

young adult first

Lonely child photo credit to:    Jesús Rodríguez