End of Cycle Nine From Both Sam and Leslie!

Please know that every single comment brings a smile to both our faces, most more than once. We go back and read old ones, read them to each other a couple times, and talk about how thoughtful and funny they are.  You are the best group of friends and family anyone could have going through this.

Here’s a short summary video of the last couple weeks.

Outta Whack

Greetings everyone!  We’re a little off our routine.  We had a delay in treatment because of Sam’s lung infection, so last week was chemo-free.  We were hoping that Sam would be able to start treatment the week after checking out from Hotel Vanderbilt, but the oncologist said, “No way Jose” (in a medically-big-word-filled kind of way).  Understandably, she was worried that Sam was still prone to infection and it was in our best interest to take another week off from chemotherapy.  That put us at this week for resuming treatment.

Having a delay in treatment is a blessing and a curse.  It’s a blessing because it gave us the opportunity to be away from the hospital for the week and live as normally as possible.  Sam deserves a major Whoop! Whoop! for working a full 40 hours from home last week.  Hooray for Sam, BB, and Theo, for all working together throughout the week.  A delay in chemotherapy is a curse because we make no advancements to getting towards the end of all of this. We’re still proceeding slowly though, and we’ll get there when we get there.

Chemo Talk

We are super excited to get this week over with.  This particular cycle is rough on Sam.  Fortunately, the FDA puts lifetime limits on certain chemo drugs and this week marks the end of his use of a nasty drug called Adriamycin.  Sam will no longer be able to receive Adriamycin and Dr. Keedy has assured us that life will get a little easier.


Will Now Become This:

What’s Next?

Now that this week is over, there are five more cycles of chemotherapy.  Each cycle is preceded by a week off from treatment, so that is 10 weeks total, if everything goes as planned. One lesson we’ve learned is that everything probably won’t go as planned.  For the sake of forecasting though, we’re going to pretend like things will stay simple.  That would put the last week of treatment at December 11th – 17th.  It would be very cool to wrap up treatment this year, but we’ll just have to wait and see if that happens.

Regardless of when we finish, we will throw what our nurse Laura calls a No Mo Chemo Party. The party will start in the infusion center and it will continue to the beach. The vision of a chemo-free vacation after finishing this part of our lives makes the light at the end of the tunnel glimmer and dance.

Maybe a little far fetched

 Bruce Dan’s Blog

While we were enjoying our stay at Vanderbilt, we happened to read an article in their excellent hospital newspaper, the Reporter, about the late Bruce Dan.  He worked at Vanderbilt as a doctor in his younger days, and passed away just this year from leukemia after a yearlong battle.  The article linked to his blog at http://brucedan.wordpress.com and we checked it out.  His near-daily posts are delightful to read.  Leslie loves it when I read aloud to her; all she has to say about it is ‘read another one.’  We recognize many similarities between his experience and ours, and he’s given us some very good, practical ideas.  He seems to share a common outlook and understanding with us.  His expression of love for his wife and appreciation for his family and friends is touching and instructive.  It’s hard to recommend a story with such a sad ending, but if you or a loved one is going through cancer treatment, you might find he gives expression to your feelings and experiences in a way that makes you smile with recognition.

 One Hell Of A First Year

We had our first anniversary last week! We celebrated it for the second time. The first time, we took advantage of Sam’s month off after his surgery, and threw down while we were both feeling well.  That’s another major Whoop! Whoop! Two celebrations are better than one. For the 2nd occasion, we just went on a walk and curled up and watched a movie. It really doesn’t take much to make us happy these days, a day together in good health is plenty.

A walk at Radnor Lake

We can’t help but think about everything that has transpired over the last year.

Nightmare is the first word that comes to mind. Cancer and chemo are a constant distraction.  There are no nights of uninterrupted sleep.  We could go on and on about the daily struggles and worry, but it’s just easier to say that the last several months have been scary.  We’re usually so frazzled that the cats probably think that we’re the looney ones. We have had a lot of really bad days these last few months.  We have an ongoing contest of which day has sucked the most.  Sometimes at night, we laugh when we go over everything bad that happened on that particular day.  Maybe it’s a little bit of sleep deprived insanity kicking in, but this always snaps us out of our funk and puts us at ease.

Looking out from the vantage of bad days and persistent weariness provides some perspective. Good times become more vibrant and easier to remember. We appreciate each other and our own time much more than ever before. Most of all, we realize that the most important parts of our lives are each other and our family.  It’s pretty cliche. But it’s true, and living this way, with constant uphill battles and tons of loving support in fighting them, makes you think about it in a way that changes your actions.

The more we talked about this past year, the more we realized how blessed we are.  Sans the whole cancer thing, we’ve actually had a lot of fun.  We got married, we traveled some, we added a precious niece to our family, we’ve learned a whole new medical vocabulary, we’ve had a lot of priceless family time and time with friends, and we’ve laughed more this year than we’ve ever laughed. This past year has been crazy and crazy fun.  Sam’s cancer has given us all more motivation to have fun and love like hell.  Maybe getting a little unlucky has made us all realize how lucky we truly are.  Some days we feel robbed, but we’ll spend the rest of our lives making up for this passed year.  Here is a video of some of our favorite pictures from this past year:

This video is proof that Sam does own shirts and occasionally chooses to wear one.

But only sometimes.

Steve Jobs said this in 2005, and it sure rings true in the face of a fight with cancer and midnight E.D. runs:

Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

We think he’s right, anyway =]

Unless something dramastic happens, we’ll update after the next round is done.  That may be two weeks or it may be more due to delays.  Either way, we’ll see you then.


Leslie and Sam

11 Responses to “End of Cycle Nine From Both Sam and Leslie!”

  1. 1 Kate October 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Sam and Leslie, that movie of pictures is my new favorite thing in all of Internet. Sometimes I make a joke, but this time I am not joking at all: it is awesome and wonderful.

    Now I am joking: Bacon in cookies? Cytoxan in ice cream? It’s a surprise a minute around there, and that’s just to do with food. So I can’t even imagine what other mindbending craziness goes on every single day.

    Not joking again: Love you both! Thanks for the post!

  2. 2 amy October 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I totally ditched my work to read your post.

    I love that last photo in the second movie. It is like a commercial for who ate their Wheaties. Leslie’s all, “Hooray! Oh look is that another heat of the race starting over there? Let’s go again!” And Sam’s all “ugh, I think i have been running with a turtle in my shorts since that last water hole.”

  3. 3 Suzanne October 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Love you both ! Suzanne

  4. 4 Ashley October 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I love you guys! Thanks for being there for me when I needed support! I hope we can catch some Preds games soon and/or paint some more 😉

  5. 5 Whitney October 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Hats! Babies! Cat feet!

    Keep it up, you two. I hope to contribute to the end-of-chemo celebration in December.



  6. 6 Tu October 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Just so you guys know I’m getting emails telling me if you guys posted a new post and well even though I should be studying for my Pharmacology and Prof. Nursing mid-term I decided to read your new post hahah. I’m slacking so much but reading your post was really fun with your videos and pictures. Wish you guys the best in the following weeks 🙂

  7. 7 Holly October 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Hi, this Sam’s cousin Holly! My mom (Bonnie) told me about the blog and I have been stalking it regularly ever since. Go, Sam! Woop, woop! Congrats on one year of marriage! 🙂

  8. 8 Jim Sobery October 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Bruce Dan’s blog is just as inspiring and poignant as you said, Sam and Leslie. I thought of Walt Whitman’s “Drum Taps” poems about his service as a nurse in Civil War hospitals. The bravery of our relatives nearing their end is also not forgotten.

  9. 9 Max October 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing Bruce Dan’s blog with us.
    Here’s another one I’ve found inspiring and a joy to read:

  10. 10 Therese October 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Oh, Sam and Leslie – you make me laugh, you make me cry. I came home from a crappy day, which improved when I saw a new post. AND – I didn’t have a crappy day, and I take it back. You two are an inspiration to us all.
    So good to see some dogs in the pix… 🙂 Big Bella was getting worried. Although the cats are pretty incredible.
    Hang tough, you two. Hugs from the Howells.
    PS – We’ll make sure Whitney gets home and stays home for a while so she can visit… 🙂

  11. 11 Michael October 25, 2011 at 7:25 am


    Carrie just informed me of your illness recently. I was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in August of last year. Reading your blog brings back many memories of the roller coaster that was 2010/2011 for me. I think you have a great attitude and support system which obviously is critical to beating this disease. It sounds like your cancer is reacting well to the treatment which is awesome to hear!

    Granted I am still only a year removed from diagnosis, with many more months of check-up scans to go until I can statistically rejoin the rest of the population, I want you to know that regaining a sense of normalcy in your life is very possible.

    I wish you strength as you continue to fight hard, I know you can beat this!

    Michael Oyler

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