End of Cycle Four!

Towards the end of last week, we were all a little bummed about Sam’s lab work.  Because his neutrophil count was so low, he wasn’t able to finish out the workweek in the office.  We feel very fortunate that Sam is able to work from home.  He says that working at home is a lot like being in the office except for no pants and kitty butts.

No pants, a kitty butt, and a pee sign all in one picture. Beautiful!

On Monday, Sam got his labs drawn and his neutrophil count had soared over the weekend.  I think we can attribute this success to Neil’s visit and all of the meat and pizza that the Bledsoe boys consumed.  Brotherhood is synonymous with eating. We had a lively weekend with Neil and the entire Bledsoe gang.

Weekend Food:  gelato, crepes, omelets, bacon*, ribeyes, pineapple upside down cake, brisket, chicken wings, Thai pizza, Hawaiian pizza, and veggie pizza with sausage

*Over the weekend, Sam led a discussion on the most superior brand of bacon.

Two handsome dudes.

2011 Survivors’ Day

This past Saturday, Vanderbilt University hosted a Survivors’ Day Conference and Celebration.  The conference had endless information, inspiring videos and speakers, and hundreds of survivors including Vanderbilt’s youngest survivor who is eight months old and their oldest survivor who is 86 years old.

The keynote speaker was Lance Armstrong’s mother, Linda. She is a tiny southern woman from Dallas, Texas.  With her thick southern accent, she entertained us all for over an hour as she recounted her son’s unbelievable struggles and triumphs and the importance of attitude.  At 26, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with stage four testicular cancer.  The abruptness of Lance Armstrong’s diagnosis and the immediacy of his treatment is very similar to our story.

As she addressed the audience, she stated that we were all members of a club that we didn’t choose to be a part of.  I found it comforting to listen to her speak about the harsh transition from leading a normal life to the daily struggles of taking care of her sick son.  She was genuine and inspiring.  I think she made everyone in the room laugh and hold back tears of sadness.

On a somewhat unrelated and slightly inappropriate note, Linda Armstrong Kelly said these words (you have to read this with a strong southern twang), “At age 17, I weighed only 100 pounds and gave birth to Lance who weighed 10 pounds.  It was like plucking a pear out of a brandy bottle!”  I had never heard this expression before.  I feel as if I will always associate pears with a grueling childbirth and will no longer find pears as appetizing as I once did.  Sorry to ruin pears for you also.

Here is a short interview of Linda Armstrong Kelly at the conference.  For some reason, her accent isn’t as detectable.  I think she was trying to sound more professional during the on-camera interview.

Tara and Leslie

My best friend, Tara, has an ability to find fun in everything.  She is all about celebrations even if kegs aren’t present.  She happily agreed to wake up early on Saturday to attend this conference and celebration with me in miserable weather.

Tara was at the hospital minutes after Sam’s diagnosis playing the role of the comedian and when Sam was hospitalized, she brought the party to the hospital.  Her loyalty, compassion, and 3:00 am karaoke skills deserve a lot of praise.


Cancer is not the only thing these guys have in common!

Sam and I love to ride our bikes.  We used to spend every weekend going to different parks all over Tennessee to ride our mountain bikes and eat at the local restaurants (first ride bikes…then pig-out).  We are both upbeat about being able to ride and wear ridiculous biking outfits together in 2012.

The Real Reason for This Blog

Sam had 30 hours of chemotherapy this week.  Thirty hours of chemotherapy equates to about 40 hours of hospital time and five hours of driving.  The logistics are the easy part.  Because this team (we’ll call it Team S.A.M.-Sarcoma Annihilating Machines*) is so amazing, none of the logistics are hard or complicated.  Our refrigerator is consistently filled to capacity and the Bledsoe bunch is always there with Sam when I have to be at work.  Team Sam rocks.

*The only other M word I could think of was marsupials.  I thought machines made more sense than referring to us as a team of wombats.

We were all so happy that Neil could accompany Sam on Monday.  The chemo nurses were tickled about the two of them playing Xbox together in Sam’s room.  Apparently, nobody has ever brought an Xbox to the infusion center.  How lame.

This week was a little draining.  The cumulative effects of the last two months seem very obvious.  It’s tough to sit in the hospital for so long and not feel emotionally overwhelmed.  It’s hard to believe that we were so carefree and merry only two months ago.  We definitely still have our unique spunk, but some days it’s easy to feel overrun.

Physically, the days are a lot harder for Sam.  Getting up the stairs to our apartment has become a long and dreaded process.  His appetite has been holding up, but his energy level has dropped significantly.  None of this is surprising, but it can be saddening to witness.  About three or four days after treatment, he perks up some, but nothing near 100%.

We are expecting the next several days to be trying.  The last time Sam received this much treatment, he was hospitalized the following week.  We are prepared for whatever might come our way and maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised with a low-key week.

Everyone makes this a lot easier on us.  Thank you.  We all know that the next several months are going to be difficult, but we’ve got to go through them together.

Infusion Center Paperwork

Sam has to fill out this smiley face sheet each time he receives treatment. We think it could use a little pizzazz!


Hospital Highlight of the Week

We got a visit from a therapy dog! Her name is Maddie. She loves visiting cancer patients and never gets tired of all the attention.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

In the midst of all of this chaos, two very important days passed quickly and with very little festivity.  Both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weren’t as heavily emphasized as they should have been.  Mother’s Day fell right after a surgery and Father’s Day landed near a neutropenic isolation time.

To both sets of parents-You are incredible.  We notice everything you do and know how much time and energy you spend making food, writing emails, going grocery shopping, running errands, and the countless other chores and favors you do for us daily.  Whether it’s a quest to find organic bacon or trudging up forty steps in the 95 degree heat to try to unclog our hair-filled drains (gross but true), we thank you. Our brothers and sisters have this same eagerness to help, thoughtfulness, and love.  You are the best mothers and fathers. Your love, support, and humor is the glue that holds this entire operation together.  We love you so much.


Love always,



4 Responses to “End of Cycle Four!”

  1. 1 Therese June 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Sam and Leslie – keep hanging tough. The blog is wonderful – one of the few things I’ve ever read that makes me laugh and cry at the same time. Love the M&M pain chart – it should become the norm. Tell Sam that Bella Dog sends love; unfortunately, she has still not passed the therapy dog test, but she sends her best licks and doggie kisses to two great people.

  2. 2 Dad June 27, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Infuzea Palooza? don’t get me started… no wait… before my time. Pizza pals! Spandex? I thought that gave you varicose veins; maybe not. M&m just introduced an M&M w/ a pretzel inside. Won some kinda award fer something, I bet the BING MASTER search engine has the scoop. Sam & Leslie, we love you more than than you two can know… only ’cause we don’t tell you often enough. But now everyone knows as well as you two.

  3. 3 Jim Sobery June 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    The example Linda Armstrong used makes us respect the pain poor brandy bottles must endure. For a memento click on http://www.littlegateswine.com/r/products/clear-creek-distillery-pear-in-the-bottle-pear-brandy

    The quality, humor and sense Things About Sam and Leslie provides should be very useful to others going through a similar experience. I wonder if The Lance Armstrong Foundation which unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer could edit and share it with others LIVESTRONG.org

  4. 4 Bill June 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Greets Sam/Leslie – I think this whole journey so far can be summed up in your own words… “unique spunk” definitely rings true here in the northwest. Know that the “west coast bledsoes” are thinking a lot about you guys… Take care. .ub

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