Diagnosed With Cancer, What Now? Kathy’s Team Fist Bump Shares Their Experience.

Having yourself or a loved one diagnosed with cancer is a terrifying ordeal. Confusion, fear, and uncertainty make all physical movement seem clumsy and jerky, as if your brain is in shock, making communication with your nervous system impossible. Sudden flash-backs to happy moments in your life collide violently in your mind with flash-forwards of the possible dark, lonely days and nights ahead.We Do Not Know How Strong We Are

Within the first few days of learning about the cancer, I think it is important for the caregiver and patient to start building a plan to fight it. Stop looking up “cancer” and “life expectancy” on google! This will throw a wrench in your ability to cope and accept this nightmare. Wait for your doctor to learn more about your tumor and discuss it with you! Then do your research.

Once the shock wears off you can start preparing for the battle. Here’s a list of steps we took from diagnosis to the first session of treatment. With this you will get an idea of the agonizing steps you must take before treatment begins. Do not think it will be a quick process; it is slow and agonizing!

We understand the fear you feel and want to make this as simple and stress free as possible for you.  Please understand that this is not a MUST DO list. I did a lot that first week because I felt a need to get this done to speed up Kathy’s first treatment session. Not all of you have time to do what I did. Adjust it to your schedule and use what you want, discard the rest.

At the end of this publication we have included links to the US News top 20 cancer centers of 2016, various organizations we contacted, and organizations that might be able to help you with travel, flights, and housing on your trips to receive treatment. Also included are notes I jotted down during communication with these organizations.

We hope this helps! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. Click here to send me an email with your question.


Week 1:

  • Have the doctor that diagnosed your tumor set up an appointment ASAP for a biopsy.
  • Begin building your support system: Tell your family and close friends. You WILL need this! I can not stress enough how important the prayers and words of encouragement from around the world have been for us.
  • Tell you employer: Hopefully your employer will be as awesome as mine and Kathy’s. Not only did they treat us as humans, but in both our cases they said they had our backs and to not worry about our jobs.
  • Contact Cancer Centers: Do your research and find a nearby cancer center that you feel will be a good fit for you. The places I contacted said they couldn’t make an appointment until after a biopsy had been done and a pathology report created. Be sure to go ahead and give the person you are talking to all the patient’s insurance information so they can get started on creating a file for you or your loved one. Also, ask them what additional information they need you to fax them in order to get the ball rolling ASAP.
  • If you do not have unlimited funds contact your bank and explain your situation. I was able to secure a low interest line of credit that only charges interest on the funds I use. It is very similar to a credit card, but without the 18% – 25% interest rate many charge.
  • Begin prepping for a fundraiser encase it is needed: You should have this prepared encase you need it down the road. I may have a low interest line of credit but I do not want it to build too high a balance and cause BIG problems down the road. You can also look into having shirts printed up as part of your fund raiser. You will be surprised by the number of family, friends, and strangers that want to help you out.
  • Invest in a good day planner that has calenders and additional space for notes. You will be writing down a lot of dates, observations, and instructions. It will not be a waste of money.
  • Be prepared to find out just how powerful your love is. Spend all the time you can with family.

Week 2:

  • Plan your rolls in this battle: In Kathy and my case, we decide that Kathy’s only job will be to fight this cancer with every core of her being. My responsibility, as husband and caregiver, will be to deal with insurance companies, finances, doctor appointments, and procedure appointments.
  • Create your own private support group. We decided to start Team Fist Bump, which is our own private group open to anyone willing to say a prayer, give a hug, fist bump, or send an inspirational message Kathy’s way. We have hundreds of members today that we keep in touch with through social media. Kathy and I receive a ton of strength just by reading comments left on our Facebook post we put out allowing the “team” to follow Kathy’s progress and experiences.
  • Have the Cancer Centers you have in mind contact the hospital where the biopsy was, or will be done, and your primary doctor to request all medical records so they can add this to the medical file they are building on you. Remember to double check with them that this has been done.
  • Hopefully you will be able to have the biopsy done during the first week. In our case the biopsy did not occur until the second week. At which time I told the hospital where the biopsy procedure was taking place that our cancer center of choice (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), requested that I drive the pathology slides to them once they have been made available. I was told when and where to pick them up without any problems. I also request that the pathology report be faxed to Kathy’s primary doctor and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Be prepared to wait a long, nerve-wracking 3-4 business days for the pathology results of the biopsy. Note: Be sure to find out the specifics of the pathology slides your cancer center requires. I brought stained and had to make another trip to bring unstained.
  • Be prepared to find out just how powerful your love is. Spend all the time you can with family.

Week 3

  • After the pathology results are in and slides/reports have been received by your primary doctor and cancer center of your choice, you need to check on whether a PET scan will be needed. If so, get this scheduled as soon as possible. While the cancer center of your choice might make an appointment with you now that the cancer type has been verified, a treatment plan can not be put together until the PET scan. This procedure will show if the cancer has spread from where it originated. Once this is done your cancer can be staged and a treatment plan put together. The radiology report usually takes just one business day to complete.
  • Ask yourself if you might like to have a back up, local oncologist on stand-by should the need ever arise. Kathy and I are trying to cover every angle of this battle. We do not want to chance an emergency coming up in the future with our only option being to drive over an hour to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We want an oncologist that works out of our local hospital that has a fantastic emergency room only 15 minutes from our home.
  • Begin a journal. This is helpful when discussing symptoms and mental state with your doctors. It is also a good form of therapy. Not just for the patient, but the care giver as well.

Week 4

  • If your PET scan shows that the cancer has not spread then the cancer center should be able to tell you what your treatment plan will consist of. If the cancer has spread then they may want to go in and do another biopsy. Kathy’s PET scan revealed that the cancer had spread to a half dozen lymph node along her trachea and the pelvis region – more specifically, in the marrow of the  ischium bone.

During this week, because the pathology reports of Kathy’s cancer have been received and reviewed by Memorial Sloan we are finally able to make our first appointment there. Our oncologist wants to start chemotherapy, but not until he sees the pathology report of  the mass in her pelvis.

We ask the doctor if he is going to biopsy the lymph nodes around the trachea. He tells us he wants to go straight to the area that is the greatest distance from what he believes to be the starting point of the cancer, in her lung.

  • Ask your oncologist if he can have further molecular testing done on the pathology slides to sub-categorize the type. This testing showed Kathy’s cancer to be of the KRAS mutation. Now we can be added to a data base that will be used to help other individuals down the road with this same type. The testing might also come in handy when treating your cancer.

Below you will find links provided by the American Cancer Society where you can gain a better understand of this:

Tests for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (see “Molucular Tests” section)

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html

Targeted Therapy Drugs for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/treating/targeted-therapies.html

>General Informaiton about Molecular Testing and Cancer:

Cancer in the Twenty-first Century (see “More targeted therapies” section)

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/history-of-cancer/twenty-first-century-and-beyond.html

Personalized Medicine: Redefining Cancer and Its Treatment

https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/personalized-medicine-redefining-cancer-and-its-treatment.html

Tests used on biopsy and cytology specimens to diagnose cancer (see “Molecular genetic tests” section)

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/tests/testing-biopsy-and-cytology-specimens-for-cancer/special-tests.html

If you have any questions or need additional information, please visit The American Cancer Society or call their National Cancer Information Center at (800) 227-2345.  Cancer Information Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist you.

Week 5

  • We attend a consultation with the doctor that will be performing the bone biopsy on Kathy’s hip.
  • If you need to stay a night near the facility you might want to ask the cancer center if any local hotels offer discounts for patients. If they do give you a discount code always ask the hotel for their regular rates also. At times, because the hotel’s prices fluctuate, the regular rate might be cheaper than with the discount code.

We chose to do this for several reasons. Although the drive is only a little more than an hour away the satellite facility we use is still in a suburb of New York City. The traffic is horrendous and we don’t want to chance an accident causing us to be late and possibly miss an appointment. The second reason is because it gives Kathy a chance to get a good night sleep only 3 minutes away from Memorial Sloan Kettering. Arriving well rested and refreshed has become very important to us both.

  • Two days later the procedure takes place. Kathy feels nothing during the procedure and is sore for a week after. Nothing she can’t handle though. The pathology report will take 3-5 business days.

Week 6

  • Kathy is still sore from the bone biopsy but able to work.
  • We meet with our oncologist, whom gives us the pathology results of the bone biopsy. In Kathy’s case the mass in her pelvic region has originated from the mass in her lung. They are both the same type, adenocarcinoma. We are told that her cancer has reached Stage 4.
  • Ask your doctor if the PD-L1 level has elevated past 50%. We are told that the lung pathology report shows she has a cancer produced protein called PD-L1 elevated to a level of 80%, which puts her over the 50% level and qualifies her for Immunotherapy (Definition: Treatment of disease or other disorders by strengthening the body’s immune system). A relatively new treatment using the drug Keytruda, which does away with many of chemotherapy’s nasty side affects. Clinical trials show an impressively high percentage number of halting the tumor’s growth, and in some cases shrinking the cancer cells.
  • Whatever treatment you will be receiving, ask your doctor if you can have a more resent CAT scan taken just before your first session of treatment. This image will be used to compare with a future image taken after you have gone through several sessions of treatment to see if the tumor growth/growths have slowed down or stopped completely.

In Kathy’s case, she will receive three sessions (each being three weeks apart) and just before the forth session she will be given another CAT scan which will be used to compare the tumor sizes with the last scan taken a few days before she started treatment.

  • Our doctor’s answer to the question, “What is our ultimate goal here with this treatment? Our best case scenario?”

Answer: “Kathy will always have the cancer in her body. Therefore she will need to receive treatment for the rest of her life. The purpose of the treatment will be to stop the cancer cells from multiplying, stop it from spreading, and hopefully shrink it.”

Week 7

  • Germ proof your home and practice good hygiene. We bought numerous bottles of Purell to carry on our person for trips outside of home and one bottle sitting next to our front door for guest to use before entering.
  • As the days and weeks slowly, and oh so agonizingly slip by, you and your loved one might be lulled into a false complacency. You begin to adjust to the new norm of your life which involves lots of hugs, doctors visits, searching for aide of one form or another, and continuing as much of your normal routines as possible. We have discovered that the brave fronts we have put on throughout this ordeal are starting to unravel. No matter how tough you think you are, your mental health will suffer. Be prepared for breakdowns.There are so many hard questions that need to be asked. Look into therapy as a means to effectively deal with painful topics such as the future. The future? By far, this is the most difficult topic for us.
  • Finally! 46 days after Kathy’s diagnosis her treatment will begin. 1st session of immunotherapy!
  • Her only side effect has been fatigue felt the day after treatment sessions. After the first day she has felt completely normal, physically.

Below you will find a valuable list of resources that can help you:

US News Lists Top Cancer Hospitals for 2016

The US News rankings use four measures as part of the total score: reputation with specialists (27.5%); survival (37.5%); patient safety (5%); and other care-related indicators, including nurse staffing (30%).

  1. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City
  3. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  4. Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, Boston
  5. UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
  6. Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Florida
  7. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/University of Washington Medical Center
  8. Cleveland Clinic
  9. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
  10. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
  11. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  12. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia
  13. Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital, California
  14. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
  15. Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St Louis
  16. University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill
  17. New York–Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, New York City
  18. USC Norris Cancer Hospital-Keck Medical Center of USC, Los Angeles
  19. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  20. City of Hope, Duarte, California

Organizations For People With All Types of Cancer

If you need help you must get busy and start searching. DO NOT count on one organization for several reasons. You might make too much money, you might have a disease not on their coverage list, you might live too close to the treatment center, or they may have run out of funds. Most importantly however, this cancer is yours or your loved ones. No one will feel the urgency you do to get things in motion. It is your responsibility to find help and get things moving. You might have to say things your not use to saying in order to speed some lackey up in his/her job. Do it! This is a battle and your the general.

First, do your research, then grab your phone, pen, and pad. Make sure you wont be disturbed, and start calling. Good luck and remember that you are not in this alone. Mine and Kathy’s prayers are with 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 8-Team Fist Bump is Intensifying (January 6-12)

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)

Me & KAthy @ Moon's
Just one of the many Adventures Kathy and I have shared. This picture was taken by a very dear friend, Moon. It shows us on the bow of his boat as he is transporting us to his camp (Kamp Kouillion) , hidden deep in the swamps of southern Louisiana.

Saturday, January 6, 2018 – Both Kathy and I have learned that browsing through support groups on line can be painful and terrifying – neither of us are ready for this yet, if in fact, we ever will be. I did, however, join the Facebook group, Cancer Sucks. My plan is to do nothing more than share a link to this journal with them for others to use if they like. It didn’t take long to receive a comment from a lady in Australia who told us a little about her experience using Immunotherapy. Her diagnosis is Stage 4 lung cancer (Same as Kathy) and it has spread throughout her body even more than Kathy’s. Here’s what she has to say on the subject of Immunotherapy:

“I have stage 4 lung cancer I suggest you research immunotherapy. My tumor has shrunk from 7.4 cm to 3.5 cm and I have mets (metastasized) to the spleen, liver and right hip. They think the one on the hip has gone and the spots on my liver have nearly gone and the ones in my spleen (2) have shrunk. I feel well and am doing everything I did prior to diagnosis. My husband was very teary at first but he’s so happy I’m improving.”

Inspirational stories like this are just what the doctor ordered. These stories, prayers, and well wishes make a very powerful drug all in themselves! Go Team Fist Bump!!!

– 2:00 PM, Kathy and I journey to Lake Mahopac, in order to celebrate Little Christmas with the kids. Danielle, Wolfie, Kathryn, and Isabella host a dinner that we (Kathy, Katie, Lou, and myself) thoroughly enjoy.

There’s something about spiral ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, and mac-in-cheese being passed between family members at a dinner table that just makes the world a fantastic place. We followed this dinner up with a dangerously delicious lemon cake created by Katie. Full bellies and family, what a great evening it was.

Everything was absolutely beautiful. Except I have noticed Kathy’s cough is more frequent. She thinks it might be the cold, dry air NY is having to put up with at present. I sure hope so.


Sunday, January 7, 2018 – We enjoy a day together. Kathy prepares dip and fills bowls with chips. The high-light of this day is watching the New Orleans Saints whoop up on the Carolina Panthers for their first game of the playoffs. A great day!

Kathy is fatigued from the treatment.


Monday, January 8, 2018 – 7:00 AM, Kathy goes to work.

– 9:00 AM, after visiting my office to get my short term disability paper work started, I decide to work the phones a little, in behalf of Kathy. I don’t think I’ll ever stop looking for ways to make things easier for Kathy.

Originally, my plan is to call several of the contacts that I had received from different organizations. But I never get passed my first call. It is to Cancer Care, (800) 813-4673, where I speak to Rick. He is a social worker that has been working at Cancer Care for 20 years. This guy is very easy to talk to and more than willing to help me. It surprises me when he ask how I am doing, as a care giver.

This has happened once before and I realize that I had forgotten to mention it in the journal for that day. It was on New Years Eve Day. As we were getting ready to leave for Momma North’s house for my Birthday Celebration, my dad calls to see how we are doing. He has been a caregiver for my Step-Mother, Barbara, for over a decade. He wants to know if I am okay. He shares with me the importance of staying healthy (mentally and physically) in order to be a good caregiver. I have thought much on this since the call and am planning to get a physical in the near future. Thanks dad.

Back to the present…Rick and I talk for a good half-hour and it does me a world of good. This is the first time that I realize therapy might be helpful to me. I have been thinking that I am handling this well, but am amazed at how good it feels as this guy effortlessly works to unravel the confusion and worries I have wrecking havoc in my mind. He helps my thinking to become focused and clear again. Attention caregivers: Give these people a call. It is worth it!

As we continue talking, and he goes into further detail about his organization, the most impressive thing I learn about is it’s virtual workshops, that cover about any subject you can think of. FYI, every workshop you find on this site is hosted by a renowned oncologist or other professional dedicated to helping cancer patients and their families. To register for upcoming workshops click here. If you would like to browse the countless workshops that they have archived click here.

Cancer Care does not offer lodging assistance. However, they do, “offer limited financial assistance for cancer-related costs such as transportation and child care, and our oncology social workers can help you find resources.” Also, on this page you will find helpful links in finding other resources.

Rick emails me an application to fill out for a 1 time/$100 travel assistance grant. He then gives me a few more contacts to check out:

Joe’s House is a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization that was created by Ann W Calahan in memory of her late husband Joe. Joe battled cancer for six years, having treatment in Texas and New York. Finding a suitable place to stay was a challenge and after Joe’s death in 1997 Ann vowed to find a way to help others in the same situation. In 2003 Joe’s House website launched and fulfilled that promise.

Joe’s House website lists thousands of places to stay across the country near hospitals and treatments centers that offer a discount for traveling patients and their loved ones.

The Healthcare Hospitality Network, Inc. (HHN) is a nationwide professional association of nearly 200 unique, nonprofit organizations that provide lodging and support services to patients, families and their loved ones who are receiving medical treatment far from their home communities.

Patient Advocate Foundation’s Patient Services provides patients with arbitration, mediation and negotiation to settle issues with access to care, medical debt, and job retention related to their illness.

Financial Aid Fund, This independent division of Patient Advocate Foundation provides small grants to patients who meet financial and medical criteria. Grants are provided on first-come first served basis and are distributed until funds are depleted. Qualifications and processes for each fund may differ based on fund requirements. Patients who are interested in applying for financial assistance should start by calling this division toll free at (855) 824-7941 or by registering your account and submitting an application online here.

Co-Pay Relief, The PAF Co-Pay Relief Program, one of the self-contained divisions of PAF, provides direct financial assistance to insured patients who meet certain qualifications to help them pay for the prescriptions and/or treatments they need. This assistance helps patients afford the out-of-pocket costs for these items that their insurance companies require.

Specialized CareLine Programs, In addition to PAF’s core services, they operate these additional dedicated programs to meet the needs of patients. These programs are supported through grants and partnerships.

In addition to these resources, Rick also gives me some contacts that are fantastic groups for caregiver to caregiver assistance.

My Cancer Circle is a free, private community to help support caregivers of people facing cancer.

Imerman Angels provides FREE personalized one-on-one cancer support for cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.

Imerman Angels was created on the belief that no one should have to face cancer alone and without the necessary support. At 26 years old, Jonny Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer and began his fight against the disease. Throughout his experience, Jonny was lucky enough to have loving support from his family and friends but had never met anyone his age who was a cancer survivor. He wanted to talk to someone just like him, someone who truly understood, and was intimately familiar with his experience. In short, he was looking for someone who had already faced the same type of cancer. This was the beginning of Jonny’s vision and in 2003, it became a reality when he founded Imerman Angels.

After speaking to Rick, I highly recommend that any caregiver or patient feeling the stress or depression associated with this disease call them. There is absolutely no chance that the person who answers your call is not a licenced social work trained in helping people with our problems. Give it a shot, I’m certainly glad I did.

– 3:30 PM, Kathy gets off work. When she comes home she tells me that during the day, while walking down the hall, she breathed in a mist from something like Febreze. It caused her to go into a coughing fit that lasted about 15 minutes.

While coughing into her hoodie, she constantly watched for signs of blood. None was visible, but a lesson was learned. She must be mindful of her surroundings and keep clear of any and all fumes. She’s okay, but was definitely scared by the experience.

For supper we eat crab cakes, and nap in front of the TV until bed time. She is pretty tired tonight.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018 – 7 AM, Kathy goes to work. Nothing out of the ordinary occurs. She comes home, we eat, shoot the bull, and go to bed at old people hours.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018 – 7 AM, Kathy goes to work. The rest of the day is a copy of yesterday. Ordinary in every beautiful way.


Thursday, January 11, 2018 – 7 AM, Kathy goes to work. I am continuing my little projects that have become the norm to me since my inability to return back to work.

– 12:52 PM, I call Kathy at work. She tells me that she has had a persistent cough all day, that is becoming quite bothersome and concerning. She explains to me that it starts with a tickle in her throat and is a dry cough. I tell her I’m calling Memorial Sloan Kettering.

I get through to Dr. McFarland’s office and pass on the information that Kathy had given me. I want to know if I need to bring Kathy to the hospital. The lady says that she will pass this on to the people who need to know and I’ll be getting a phone call back later.

– 3:45 PM, Kathy is walking in the door when the phone rings. It is a triage nurse from Memorial Sloan Kettering. She ask if Kathy has a temperature. After explaining that Kathy has just walked in the door she tells me she will call back in 5 minutes. “Have her take her temperature.”

Kathy does, it is 98.5°.

The nurse calls back and I hand the phone to Kathy. After the nurse learns that there is no fever she begins asking more questions: do you have a chill, a shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.

Kathy is able to answer no to all questions. The nurse thinks that all this coughing is a side effect of the drug Pembrolizumab (Keytruda’s generic version), that she received during treatment. The nurse reassures Kathy that this is not uncommon.

We both breath easier, but I learn later that Kathy’s imagination will be causing her a lot of panic this evening.


Friday, January 12, 2018 – 7:00 AM, Kathy goes to work.

Weather will be getting worse throughout the day so I make a run to the store. On the way home I call Kathy at work. This is when she tells me about her fears the night before.

Last night, while I was out cold on the sofa, Kathy’s imagination was taking her to bad places. She was terrified that I might have to take her to the hospital and a determination would be made that she would no longer be given Immunotherapy. Because of this she was praying that the cough was nothing more than a cold – something she can easily cure before resuming treatment.

I reassure her that the cough is a common and minor side effect; that the only way they will take her off of this drug is if it were doing something seriously bad, like destroying her liver. She knows all of this, and reminds me that this is how her mind can take her to scary places. I totally understand.

– 9:54 AM, I open Face Book and see that I have been tagged, along with Kathy, in a post from a family member who teaches school in Connecticut. This school holds a morning prayer broadcast to all of the classrooms via an intercom system. The video below is but one example, out of hundreds, where Kathy is being remembered in prayer. Team Fist Bump extends into the Heavens!

– 1:00 PM, Kathy comes home from work and lays on the love seat, trying to take a nap. She is feeling tired and achy. After a while she tells me that she might be able to nap if she eats something. She wants to make me my all time favorite, omelet and home fries (favorite only when she makes it!).

I offer to make us an omelette, and she says, “You can’t make it like me.” I offer to go pick something up. She says, “I don’t want you going out in this weather.” So, I give in with a smile, and say, “Fine, I wont argue no more. I’m getting some of Momma’s eggs!”

It’s amazing how good her home fries are! After we eat she seems to feel better.

I am now watching my UPS app for when our Team Fist Bump T-shirts will be dropped off. We are planning to deliver a couple of these shirts to Bill and Nancy, good friends that we haven’t seen since before Kathy’s diagnosis. We have visited family recently, but not friends, and I am looking forward to hearing some of Bill’s vulgar stories. We were suppose to go on a double date (we all celebrate our wedding anniversary around the same time so this was to be our anniversary dinner) to the Texas Road House, but this never happened.

– 4:00 PM, Bill text me that he and Nancy have been going through a nasty sinus infection. He didn’t want to put Kathy in jeopardy of catching anything. We postpone the visit.

– 5:30 PM, Official Team Fist Bump t-shirts are delivered! They look great! Here’s a picture of our family wearing them and a clear image supplied by the printer.

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!!!