10 Days Down, 20 More to Go

Just finished up treatment #10. 20 more to go. Some thoughts:

  • We have been running slow the last couple of days – waited an hour in the waiting room last night and an hour today. I just can’t get too upset about waiting in a waiting room. I only have one thing to do each day….
  • I met someone in the waiting room today from Scranton. That family would be a good family to be praying for!
  • I am having trouble figuring out what to do for the 4th of July. My kids are petrified of fireworks. They sit there afraid of how loud they are – and it is a mostly unpleasant experience. On top of that, I don’t do too well with them either. Lots of flashes of light and concussive explosions of fireworks make me go a little batty – it is sometimes unsettling. On the other hand, I have a place just a few blocks from the Art Museum in Philly – where there is a big 4th of July thing. We can probably watch the fireworks on the parkway and then walk back to my apartment. On the other hand, Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor are performing at the Art Museum on the 4th. I am sure Jenn doesn’t know who either one of them are, and I can name only one song between the two of them. On the other hand, it would be good to do something for the fourth of July. On the other hand, the family has had a bunch going on and maybe it would be good to relax for a bit and not push it to do something. I have no idea…
  • The music tonight was mostly forgettable. The first 15 minutes were songs from groups that had names like the Rhondettes or something like that…. But the final song was Stand By Me. Stand By Me is now tied for the lead in how many times I have heard it while getting my head blasted.
  • I have been seeing more hairs from my head on my pillow when I wake up. It seems like my hair is slowly thinning out in the front left side of my coconut. It is kind of disguising itself as male patterned baldness. Slowly thinning out is much less sexy than coming out in clumps…
  • I am 10 days in this, and here are my major physical complaints: I walked way too far on Monday or Tuesday last week, and my heel hurt for 5-6 days. I could still walk, but it hurt for awhile. I slept wrong on Friday night, and ended up with a significant kink in my neck. Couldn’t turn my head to the right for two days. Both of those were stupid. That is all I got right now.

10 Days In

Today is day 10. I am sitting in the waiting room waiting on treatment #10. After tonight I will have completed one third of the radiation treatments. 10 of 30 treatments. 2 of 6 weeks. Take that, the man! A couple of thoughts:

  • I have no idea what is actually happening when I am laying on the table and getting blasted by protons. I had thought it was like a Space Invaders type thing – that old arcade game where you had a gun at the bottom of the screen and had to shoot rows of aliens at the top of the screen. I had thought it was like a laser blasting away row by row of cancer cells. But that may not be the case. The doctor told me that the radiation kills the cells by changing the DNA within them – and then they die. So I don’t know – but blasting away rows and rows of cancer cells seems a lot more sexy.
  • There are three different sections of my treatment. I lay on the table, they lock my head in, and blast me in that position. Then they rotate me 45 degrees and blast me again. Then they rotate me another 45 degrees and blast me a third time. The first blasting takes about 5 minutes, the second 10 minutes and the third 5 minutes. It helps me time things while laying on the table. I have found there are landmarks throughout the 20 minutes. As soon as they lock the mask in, it starts itching my nose for about 4 minutes. There is a red aligning laser above my head that shines in my left eye for the first blasting. I know I am headed to the second position when that laser moves off of my left eye. About 5 minutes into the second position I can feel the arthritis in my left elbow kick in. I know I have about 5 more minutes before moving to the final position. The third position is easy to line up – so it is quick. After I hear the 12 pulses of radiation, I know that the technicians are on their way in to unlock the mask and I can let go of the immobilizers with my hands – and flex my elbows.
  • Last night – there was a different music station on. “Stand by Me” got me through the first position, then a blah song or two, and moving to the third position “Let’s Get it On” by Barry White. I thought it was great! It was the first dance song that Jenn and I danced to at our wedding!

What to Think?

I am not totally sure what to think about this…so many questions…


If it is effective and and one day treatment, why is it not available now for me? If there are less side effects, why is it not available now for me? Is there less side effects and less effectiveness?

Who knows…maybe it will be perfected years from now when I have to go through the next trial of cancer…

Back at It

(From Monday) I am back at it again – we are running at least an hour late in the proton center today. The waiting room was full when I got here around 4:00pm, and now I am the only person still here. My appointment is at 4:45 and it is now 5:45 and I haven’t been called back yet. But no worries – as I have told my doctor – I really only have one thing to do each day down here…get blasted in the head.

I find that there are a different group of people in the waiting room earlier than there are when I had appointments at 8:00 at night. There are more kids around. One kid wears a hat with the Texas flag on it – good. But he wears Dallas Cowboys shirts – stupid. Sitting, waiting and watching is heart breaking. I can’t imagine what it would be like to bring my kid here. Each person I see in this waiting room – or the waiting room back where the proton rooms are – their life has been significantly interrupted by cancer. Whether they are young or they are old – interrupted. People of all different races and ethnicities – interrupted. People who are fairly functional and people who can’t walk – interrupted. There is so much interruption with cancer – one of the tough parts.

I have been looking forward to this week. By the end of this week I will have less than 20 treatments left. That is great! I am grabbing lunch with people every day this week – which is fun. And it is fourth of July – so no treatment on Thursday – and the family is coming down to Philly for the weekend. All good!

I am going to find out something important today during treatment. I will learn how much sushi is too much for lunch when you have treatment in the afternoon. I grabbed lunch with a close friend from high school – and we went to a sushi buffet. I wasn’t stupid about how much I ate. However, I came close to being stupid about how much I ate.

The Definitive, Unarguable Ranking of Popsicle Flavors

It is hot in Philly. Obviously. It is summer. After the kids left, there were a handful of popsicles that were left over in the freezer. After walking back and forth to the hospital, I learned that popsicles are a fantastic balm to the sweaty mess I am after being outside. Last weekend in Scranton I bought more popsicles to get me through my time here in Philly.

As with every box of popsicles, there are good popsicles and popsicles that will stay in your freezer for years. Your kids don’t like those flavors..they get a little melty…they end up making the entire freezer sticky…they taste like ass, uh, I mean like sugary nothing.

So as a public service, here are the definitive, unarguable ranking of popsicle flavors. The good ones – hang onto – leave them in the front of the freezer. The bad ones, throw them out before they get lost in the freezer and frozen into all of the freezer burn that you don’t know what to do with. In my experience, there are four type of popsicles that are worthwhile. Here is truth – if I can buy it off of an ice cream truck now or could have bought it off an ice cream truck 30 years ago, it is crap. It is not making this list and is a waste of money. Take that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ice cream bar and Nutty Buddy. Take that red white and blue rocket pop.

Popsicle type number one: the cheap ones you get at the grocery store that have 12 popsicles and come in orange, red and purple. First, the sugar free type are definitely better than the sugar type. This is an easy ranking: Best is purple, second is orange, third is red. I don’t like red because I don’t need my lips looking redder than they are. That leaves us with a faux grape flavor versus a faux orange flavor. When you have to choose, the choice is always grape. Easy ranking.

Popsicle type #2 – the push up popsicles (Pop-Ice) that you get in the blue box at Walmart 100 at a time. They kid of look like the picture above, but smaller. They come in red, green, pink, orange, purple and blue. Clearly, pink is last. I am not sure what kind of fruit pink it is trying to taste like. Guava? Strawberry? Watermelon? Figure out your fruit, pink, and then you may move up the list. Blue is the second worst. I do not understand the fascination with blue raspberry. All it does it turn my kids tongues blue and make their poop green in the morning. Third worst – red. Red is dumb. Third best – orange. We are getting a little closer to tasting like fruit – and orange is not a bad taste. Second best – purple. In a competition between orange and purple, always pick purple. The best – green. I think it is supposed to taste like lime. But the last time I sucked on a lime it sure didn’t taste so sugary. Green is a new player in this game – raising the bar for all other popsicles.

Popsicle type number 3 – pictured above – the crappy push pops that you can get in most Walmart type places that come in a mesh bag by lots of 25 or so. These are ones that you want to be sure don’t get crushed on the way home from the store – good heavens, do you know how sticky your trunk would be? They are a little bigger, and the kids must sit at the kitchen table to eat them. I see red, purple, green, orange, light orange, two yellows and a blue. There are some of these that can be discounted right away: Blue – is there such a thing as a blue raspberry? I am not a horticulturist, but it seems like some GMO shit. I am fairly hesitant. Red – there is always the most reds in a pack of popsicles. If a lot of them are red, it means that red is a filler color. They want to spread out all of the good colors and supplement each package with filler. Red popsicles are dumb filler. Two types of yellow – These scare me and are going right in the trash. I guess one flavor is lemon…? But which one is it? I am not taking a bite of each one to find out. What is the other yellow flavor? Pineapple? Can we please ask Lifesavers how they have made out with the pineapple flavor? I am too nervous about yellow. Trash. Light orange is hitting the trash as well. What the hell is that? Orange is fine. Don’t mess with me light orange. Unfortunately, green is going in the trash as well. The absolute worst flavor of popsicle is green apple or sour green apple. It was a bad day in this world when someone decided that green apple would be a better flavor than lime green. The after taste is awful, the flavor is awful. Are you hearing me, Skittles? That leaves us with two popsicles – orange and purple. When choosing between orange and purple, always choose purple. It is better.

Popsicle type #4 – Outshine bars. These are nice, however, they only come six to a pack and I have never eaten one without getting an ice cream headache. They are shaped in such a way that they look like pudding pops – and we all know the mess that pudding pops make (Nathan – you are making a mess – go eat that in the grass outside – and then use the hose to clean yourself off). Here is how I rank outshine bars: 2. All other flavors. 1. Lime. It seems like it has real lime flavor in it! It takes awhile to eat it because of the sour, tarty, whatever flavor in it. Far and away the best flavor of outshine popsicles.

It definitive and unarguable. You are welcome!

7 Days Down, 23 to Go

I am 7/30ths of the way finished…or 3.5/15ths…or 1.75/7.5s. I am getting there! some thoughts:

  • The music worked out ok last night – Satisifaction by the Rolling Stones again – which is weird – at the risk of not knowing enough about the song – why do I keep hearing about not being satisfied while getting radationally blasted? I am a very content person. Then Dream On by Aerosmith. There is nothing like hearing Steven Tyler croon (or scream) while your head is bolted to a table. In other countries they may call that torture. To me, I call it high school.
  • I need to remember to wear socks to treatment – no flip flops or slip on shoes. For treatment, the technicians place a board under my feet as I lay down and then give me handles to hold that are attached to the boards. It helps to keep me from moving. (In other countries they may call that torture, but I guess it is necessary.). It doesn’t do the arthritis in my left elbow any good, but it should keep me from moving (Can you imagine if I moved while they were blasting me?). Anyway – I am not allowed to wear shoes, so my feet go right on the board. If I have been wearing flip flops or slip-on shoes all day long, my feet are incredibly gross and sweaty. If I walk to the hospital in flip flops, my sweaty, gross feet touch that board. I can only imagine how that board feels to the person getting blasted after me. Do they disinfect it every time? If I wear sneakers and shoes, it is just my socks that touch the board. Seems a little less gross for the person coming up next…and for me as well – what if some nasty footed person went right before me?
  • It is a good thing my kids gave me some “kick cancer’s butt socks.” I am wearing a pair of them today. Trucks and dinosaurs that say keep on trucking.
  • This morning, for the first time, I found 7-10 hairs on my pillow. Through proper examination, they seemed to be hairs that fell out of my head. I guess this is getting real.
  • Getting ready to head back to Scranton for the weekend. Can’t get out of the city soon enough. I have a treatment tonight and also have an appointment with radiation oncologist. Then I will hopefully be home by 10:30 – 11:00 for the weekend.

In My Head

Here is a good video of what is happening with the toilet in my apartment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDMUekfOR-E

It is getting into my head. 4:00 in the morning I will be awakened from my slumber with a little gurgling. And then I hear a watery explosion.

I am hesitant to use the toilet. I only want the bidet function when I am using a toilet with a bidet function. What if it explodes when I am brushing my teeth? Are my legs going to get wet? What if I am doing my business when it explodes…is it going to knock me off the pooper? What if I am in the shower, get out of the shower to dry off, and the toilet explodes and gets my legs wet? Do I just take another shower?

What am I to do? Should I Saran Wrap the toilet to keep all of the water in the bowl? And if that is the case, what happens when I take the Saran Wrap off? Will there be an explosion of gathered gases? What if I forget to take the Saran Wrap off?

Should I scoop all of the water out of the bowl to lessen the power of the explosion? There is a ladle on the kitchen sink that I know I am not using while I am here.

Should I keep a super powered plunger next to the toilet so that when I hear the gurgle, I can plunge away until the air pocket goes somewhere else? Turn the toilet upstairs into a bidet?

So many questions to figure out…

6 Down, 24 to Go

Things were close to on schedule today as I had a 6:15 appointment and was done by 7:20. Some good thoughts after six treatments:

  • On day 6, I am still not feeling too many side effects. I think my biggest issue right now is to stay hydrated and I will be ok.
  • Last night was my 6th treatment – one-fifth of the way through. Next week is the fourth of July – and then it is all downhill from there.
  • The music was forgettable last night – just started with Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics and then the rest of the lineup was blah.
  • I walked too far on Tuesday – and my heel is still killing me on Thursday morning. But – that is just a small thing…I will be able to get out and around on Friday.
  • There seems to be a community of people who are getting their head blasted at the same time I am. It is a good time for encouragement and support – we are in it together. It was a bit discouraging last night when one of the ladies who is in it with me left last night in a wheelchair. She had been walking every other time I saw her. There is a mother and father who bring their son – and he is almost done. That is encouraging. The last couple of nights I have been going a bit earlier – and have seen children leaving the office. That is sad.
  • I stopped into the ICU to see Jenn’s friend from college who was diagnosed with cancer shortly after her wedding. Let’s keep praying for her!

Volcanic Toilets

I am very satisfied with the apartment I have for the course of my treatment. It is close to the hospital. It is nicely located to other areas of Philly. It is a good size for one person. The kitchenette is a little small, but Jenn and I have adjusted.

I have come to understand that the toilet erupts every so often – specifically when the person in the apartment above mine flushes the toilet. It seems like the flush upstairs creates an air pocket that releases itself through my toilet. I woke up this morning and the toilet looked like our toilet in Scranton when Nathan and Gabe stand there having sword fights while peeing. At the end of the sword fight, or when someone runs out of ammunition, Gabe will look at the damage on the toilet seat and then look at me and say, “Haha!” There is a mess to clean up. My toilet seat was soaked with toilet water this morning.

This afternoon I was sitting on the toilet doing my business when I heard the toilet flush upstairs and started to panic…what should I do? Being the level-headed person I am, I thought I could outwit my volcanic toilet. I heard some rumblings below my anus and flushed the toilet quickly. This quick decision was good for two reasons: 1. Maybe it would create a corridor for the air pocket to come through instead of exploding through the water in my toilet and butthole. 2. I didn’t want whatever was in the toilet to be volcanically projected back onto my bottom. Good idea to flush.

So, I flushed, took a deep breath and thought, “Take that, the man!!!”

Three seconds later, the toilet volcanically erupted. Bidet.

I will stick it to the man some other time…