Happy Valentine’s Day

skiingBack from my trip to CO and continue to feel quite strong in the aftermath; in addition to skiing, I got a chance to briefly visit an old childhood neighbor of mine who happens to live close to Denver and is recovering rapidly from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Ginny and the rest of her family have seen their share of difficulties – and then some – but they’re a bunch of fighters, and they inspire me immensely.

We rented a cabin in Silverthorne and skied Keystone on the first and third days, and did Breckenridge on day 2, which was my favorite. I had a bit of an issue acclimating to the mountain air the first day or so but by the time I got to Breck I was full of energy and had a blast. Local friends showed up and we had at least 2 dozen to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, plus 4 dogs. Lots of festive energy there (good thing I’m not much of a Panthers fan. Go Bears!). Thanks to my brother-in-law Matt for lending me the sweet gear, I was always comfortable and warm because of your generosity. And much love to Scott, Sean, JD and most of all Ken, who was always keeping an eye on this slowpoke and never left my side as I carefully made my way down the slopes.

The timing of my trip was such that I had to go right into my 9th chemo infusion the day after my return, but I was surfing on so much energy provided by my buddies on the trip that I took this round easily… the extra chemo is starting to affect me a couple days after by making me super tired, but a good night’s sleep along with remembering the fun I’ve just had gives me a good rebound.

I’ve determined that when I get to do really fun stuff, the side-effects from the chemo seem to go away temporarily. That tends to encourage a bit of selfishness and a want to say “no thanks” when stuff I feel I need to do comes up. But I claim to still be a grown-up, and as I have responsibilities to my work and family, I gotta do what I gotta do. That’s part of life’s struggle we all have to face, I guess. I can just feel it more now.

Next infusion is a milestone in that I will have my last pre-surgery CT scan immediately after and I can see the progress made since early December; my surgeons will take a look at what they have to cut out and I’ll be taken off of some of the medicines to prepare for surgery. I’m excited (instead of previously being anxious) to see this scan, as I know I’m going in the right direction here, and hopefully have made enough progress to save that left half of my liver.

As (I think) I mentioned before, normal CEA levels are approximately 2.5 µg/L; I’m at 2.8 as of Wednesday (I was at 20 when I was diagnosed). Not sure if I’m gonna hit that 2.5 mark but it appears my cancer ‘mothership’ located in my sigmoid colon is definitely being taken off-line.

Not much else to report, stay tuned for CT scan results in about 2 weeks! Until then, I thank you dearly for the continued supply of healing energy, it is keeping me going here. Love to all on this Valentine’s Day tomorrow, please hug and kiss your own ‘personal support system’ for me.

Rocky Mountain High

Sort of a weird day today: I’ve been invited to embark on a weekend ski vacation by Ken, one of my oldest friends and the best man at my wedding. I’ll be in Denver starting tomorrow with just a handful of my friends with whom I play Omaha Poker, trying to stay upright on skis for at least part of the 3 full days we’re there. I haven’t been on skis in about 9 years, and I’ve never been on any slope west of WVA, so this will be interesting. Helmets will be required for Young Eric.

The excitement of the impending adventure is tempered by the crappy non-stop rain we’ve had here for the last 2 days and the news that my cousin Dave succumbed to his pancreatic cancer this morning. Based on what I know from my aunt, his life was a bit difficult, having to seemingly always travel from Florida to see his daughter in Iowa, separated by divorce I think. I’m of the opinion that he’s in a better place now, and am content knowing his struggles here are done. Rest in peace, Dave… I love you, man.

On a more personal note, I’m still contending with the effects of the more aggressive chemo dosage, with the first stages of neuropathy settling into my fingers and tongue consistently now. It’s also playing havoc with my digestive system, my tummy feels like I ate shellfish that I probably shouldn’t have, if you get my drift. I don’t get hunger pangs or feelings of fullness, like my stomach is numb. I haven’t been skipping meals however, and continue to eat regularly, though I’ve just tipped the scales at under 200 pounds yesterday, which I’m sort of thrilled about even though I know I’m going to catch hell from my oncologist… I haven’t been at this weight since the Clinton administration. I’ve had to buy new jeans that fit me better and – since I’ve started to take up leather working as (yet) another hobby – I’ve made a better-fitting belt as well. So that’s sort of a positive side effect: weight loss thru aggressive chemotherapy! Eat whatever you want, assuming you’re not nauseous! Take some Imodium and enjoy the slimmer, new you! Buy new clothes and make leather-based accessories, if you’re handy!

OK enough of that, it’s silly. If you need me I’ll be on the slopes, or in the lodge, enjoying the mountains and recharging. Stay strong!