B.B. has lost exactly 0.0 pounds since our last post.

Hey! Hey! We’re back!

It seems as if this whole cancer thing, including this blog, was a lifetime ago. It’s crazy to know that it was only four months ago that we completed nearly a year’s worth of cancer treatment and three surgeries. Wow, we’ve come a long way! We’ll pick up where we last left off.

Christmas Morning Joy (or maybe it was the mimosas)

Sam completed his 14th round of chemotherapy on December 23rd. Christmastime was a little bittersweet, but mostly sweet. It was such a relief to know that our 8-hour infusion center days and long sleepless nights at the hospital were finally over for the foreseeable future. However, the continued side effects of chronic treatment were inescapable through the holiday season. Around the second week of January Sam started to perk up, thicken up, and eventually his hair reappeared! We got clearance from the oncologist to head out of town in mid-January and we headed south to the Emerald Coast for nine days of beach fun.

Surf’s Up!

Our wetsuits were a little too tight. Sam's ripped big time.

Some incredibly generous and loving family friends loaned us their beautiful beach house and studmobile for our cancer-free vacation. Every single day at the beach was amazing. The weather was warm and sunny, Sam’s appetite was back, and our life that once seemed so threatening and complicated was a world away.

Stop staring ladies. He's off the market.

Here are some highlights of our beach fun!

Beer and Cheetos! Life is good. Sorry Dr. Keedy!

Sam is proving that you only need one clavicle to kayak and wave at the same time. Mom, we've got to get you some photography lessons 🙂

 

Sunrise

 

Sunset

Nine Days Of Smiles

 And Drumroll Please…

TWO Helicopter Rides! 

Not nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be.

Say What?

I feel like the helicopter rides involve some explanation….so here we go. When Sam was sick, we became infatuated with helicopters. If you’ve ever hung out around Vanderbilt, it’s easy to understand why. Vanderbilt Hospital has three helicopters. It seems as if they are always taking off or landing. These helicopters are loud and humongous. Occasionally, we’d see the LifeFlight crew and pilots throughout the hospital. They are like celebrities and wear really awesome jumpsuits. We got so excited and so obsessed with helicopters that I promised Sam that we’d fly around in a helicopter (and not a LifeFlight helicopter) as soon as he felt better. Until then, we were entertained by remote controlled helicopters that we flew in our apartment.

Little Toy and BIG Toy.

After several months of practicing landing on coasters, harassing the cats with them, and accidentally scratching our tv many times, we were able to get on a real helicopter. We went on an early morning ride and a sunset ride. It was unreal to turn a wish into a reality so soon.

Our nine days of heaven were more than we could have ever hoped for. These days helped settle our nerves and propelled us into our new life together.

 Our New Life

Life these days is pretty fun. Wait. Scratch that. Life these days is TOTALLY FREAKIN’ AWESOME! We have a new set of challenges but it’s nice to feel like we have our life back. We’re mostly normal now, with a few quirks. There’s a long list of continued side effects for chemo patients. The two main side effects that directly impact our life are fatigue and short-term memory loss. The doctors say that it will take about one year for Sam to feel like himself again. He can get tired very quickly and his energy levels aren’t what they once were. We combat the fatigue with an early bedtime, naps, and trying not to do too much in a short period of time. Sam goes to his office three days a week and works from home two days a week. These tactics are all helpful in maximizing Sam’s work potential and energy levels.

Working from home looks like this:

And

And

The short-term memory loss will eventually go away (Sam disputes he ever had a working short-term memory). We’re able to deal with this by writing lots of notes, emails, and checklists. We also have to exercise extreme patience. A trip to the grocery store might include all of the following for Sam: getting to the car and realizing that he doesn’t have his keys, arriving at the checkout counter and realizing that he doesn’t have his wallet, and leaving his favorite hat in the grocery cart in the parking lot. Doh! Sam always has a great attitude and more patience than anyone I know. He handles all of this with a smile on his face. Cancer has given us the gift of patience and perspective. Most things that were once a big deal or frustrating have become no big deal at all.

These two minor new realities don’t stop us from doing anything. We’re back to doing everything we love. Sam has gone to concerts, movies, mountain biking, and has eaten a million bacon cheeseburgers in 2012. If you saw Sam today, you could never even imagine that he was so sick just a short time ago. Sam is twice as handsome as he was before he got sick. We believe we are both incredibly happier, healthier, and more appreciative now that life has a whole new meaning. We continue to meet people and hear from people that offer us unending hope and friendship.

No Photoshopping required. He looks that good.

One Year Ago Today. Cancer Thingies.

One year ago today, Sam was diagnosed with a highly aggressive malignant bone cancer. On this day in 2011, sisters-in-law became sisters and friends became family. It was this day that our world we once knew abruptly came to an end and our new life of battling a disease began.

After eight months of harsh treatment, three surgeries, and countless setbacks and tearful days, we only know one thing for sure. We are thankful. We are thankful for the two oncologists who worked with us and continue to give us confidence, thankful for the endless love and support from all of our family and friends which includes everyone who reads this blog, and thankful that the whole cancer thing is over for now.

You commonly hear people who have battled cancer or dealt with a tragedy say that the tragedy or disease does not define them. We think our saying is, we don’t let cancer get us down. The cancer community and grim life of a year of illness, hospital stays, and uncertainty is a world we never thought we’d be a part of. We are though and we plan on making the most and best of it. When Sam has been cancer-free for a year, we will be eligible to counsel other families who are going through what we went through. We look forward to working with cancer patients and their families in 2013. Throughout Sam’s rigorous treatment, we took thorough notes and can’t wait to share our knowledge with others. Sometimes when we try to rationalize a crappy cancer diagnosis at 27, we can’t help but think that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be. We plan on making a difference to other cancer patients and their families.

It’s easy to get lost in our own thoughts. Usually once a week, all the “what ifs” and the daunting insurance paperwork and medical bills creep into our lives. As much as we would love to put the whole cancer thing behind us, we know we’ll never be able to. It’s a part of our life together, but again, we don’t let it get us down. We tackle everything as it comes up and move on. We have plans to travel to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle this year. Instead of spending the weekends sick in bed, we spend the weekends biking, grilling out, and throwing the frisbee (seriously, clavicles are so useless). Our oncologists tell us to live our life as if the cancer is not coming back, so that is what we’ll do. Party on!

 It’s All Good In The Hood

We do a lot of smiling these days.

Since we last spoke to you all, Sam has gotten two CTs, an MRI, and had his labwork checked out three times. Dr. Keedy says that there is no evidence of disease. Woo hoo! Sam has also gained more than 30 pounds since his sickest days (thank you Momma Bledsoe). We just got all of this information last week and are thrilled that we can keep on partying on. When we went back to Vanderbilt last week, women from all over the cancer clinic were coming out from behind their desks to check Sam out. They were hooting and hollering. I thought I was going to have to beat them off with a stick. The compliments were flattering and they all said that seeing Sam look the way he does, rejuvenates them. It was a unique experience for us. We have until the end of June before we head back for more scans. Until then, we will just assume the cancer is gone for good and look forward to a year of traveling and fun times to make up for last year.

A Big Ol’ THANK YOU!

It’s hard not to get emotional writing this blog. Thinking about where we were and where we are now makes us feel like the luckiest people on the planet. We owe almost all of our happiness and success to you all. The unwavering support, thoughtful acts, and love is what made Sam well again. We now make it a habit to hug people instead of shaking hands or just waving hello or goodbye. We’ve given out a bajillion hugs this year and we’re just getting started. We have a lifetime of saying thank you, showing appreciation, and paying forward everything you all did for us. Thank you for seeing us through till the end and thank you for helping us get our lives back to this new normal where our fear is limited, our confidence is high, and our happiness is immeasurable. We love you.

 

Love, gratitude, and a big hug,

 

Sam, Leslie, Theo, and BB Bledsoe

 

 

10 Responses to “A Year of Love, Laughter, and Cancer.”

  1. Ashley said

    So excited for the Bledsoe clan!! I love y’all so much!!

  2. Kevin said

    A big ol’ heartfelt congratulations to you both. Been thinking about you guys for the past year and your strength and positivity is incredibly inspirational. Would love to see you both in TN next time Christine and I come down there, but we’d love to have you guys up here in RI as well.
    Again, so happy for you both and wishing nothing but continued health and happiness.

    Kevin + Christine Gross

  3. dad jackbob said

    Welcome back to the life you 2 deserve!
    The fotos are awesome; as are the observations and lessons learned for u 2 moving forward…
    You are both loved by everyone so much!
    Talk about “a road less traveled”.

  4. Peg Gilfillan said

    Knew you could do it! Proud of you both. We keep you in our prayers.

  5. Jeanne Gore said

    Stylin’ Sam!!! What an awesome attitude you both have. You bless the rest of us with your courage and your spirit. God continue to bless you both.

  6. Amanda Ray said

    Made my day to read this! I feel the need to thank YOU for sharing such an inspiring story.

  7. Louise Connell said

    This is just great news!
    Bill and I are so thrilled for you both.
    Have a wonderful time at home or in your travels – and come see us in CA some time.We live in the Santa Ynez Valley, which has bikers everywhere!

  8. Max said

    Such great news to read/see! Glad you’re doing well and have only bright days ahead. Thanks for the update. 🙂

  9. Richard Berg` said

    Sam – Leslie
    I go to church with your Dad…. at COGS.
    I have been following your blog for a long time… and share it with about 15 guys who are in our Friday morning men’s group.

    Words can not express how happy I am for you two… and,yes, I love bacon cheeseburgers, too!

    Loved the “Studmobile”… as Jack about mine… I offer one for a Saturday morning cruise to you….

    So amazed at your Blog and spirits.

    God’s grace and peace to you both.

    Richard

    • Jim Sobery said

      Next year as you befriend those battling cancer your “Things About Sam & Leslie” attitude will be priceless to patients and their family.

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