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Life-Threatening Illness & Reality Check

Bear Up North

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Well, this Bear had the fun and exciting SNIP SNIP this morning. Of course, they hit me over the head with an anvil (thank you, Road Runner) and dug out the evil glowing lymph node. The doctor made no comment to Katie (when he went out to the waiting area and told her everything went well) about whether or not Hodgkin's cells were visible.

It will be a few days before we know anything.....and with the holiday (and possible 4-day weekend for many docs and techs).....it will most likely be mid-week next week.

I am a little sore in the groin area (takes me back to my college days ;) ) and will probably walk funny for a day or two.

Now the nervous wait begins.....

Bear
 

kjel

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Bear Up North said:
Now the nervous wait begins.....

Glad everything went as planned. I will keep my fingers crossed for you.
 

zman

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You're not the only one that is nervous in this. Best wishes from out west, Oso. :)
 

Bear Up North

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Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr......

Today this Bear was supposed to get the results from last week's surgical biospy. The lymph node that the good doc removed has been sent to another group of possibly tinfoil-wearing master pathologists. The local path folks filed a preliminary report, along the lines of ".....irregularities in blah-blah patterns, with possible blah-blah-blahs.....". :-c

It will be at least a week more of waiting for the sample to be looked at by the new pathology group. Katie is so pixxed she slammed the phone down.....blaming me.....??? !!! ??? :-c

I think the stress of the wait is tougher on the caregiver than it is on the person with the BIG C.

This could affect our planned vacation, which was supposed to start with a visit to Stanamazoo's World-Famous Stanfest 2006.

Oh well.....

Bear
 
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Bear Up North said:
This could affect our planned vacation, which was supposed to start with a visit to Stanamazoo's World-Famous Stanfest 2006.
I hope you go on vacation and Have A Life. Surviving health problems sometimes means learning to live and laugh and celebrate life. Fretting and stressing tend to shorten your life and impair your immune system.


Crossing my fingers for you and your test results.
 

Bear Up North

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The Mayor of Pittsburgh, PA, started chemotherapy yesterday. He was diagnosed with a very rare form of lymphoma.....primary nervous system lymphoma.
_____

Tomorrow this Bear gets the verdict. Cue the DRAGNET music.....

:-c

Bear
 

Gedunker

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Crossing my fingers for you Bear, although I suspect everything's gonna be okay because the great powers that be need to see you spank RJ in some hoops.:)
 

Bear Up North

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Gedunker said:
Crossing my fingers for you Bear, although I suspect everything's gonna be okay because the great powers that be need to see you spank RJ in some hoops.:)

Thanx to all, including this post from The Dunkster, for all the nice words.

Concerning Panhandle Boy and his roundball skills.....let's just say that I could still take him while hooked-up to the chemo line. He's lost his touch because of excessive pool cleaning. ;)

Bear
 

Queen B

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Bear our prayers are with you...

I just checked a website for a friend of mine. She has Pancreatic Cancer and I think in her liver too. I have not been able to see her since her diagnosis. The last time I was in her town she was too ill.
 

Bear Up North

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Good News For Me - Bad News For The World

Just got the good news.....the pathology folks indicate the results from the PET Scan show no evidence of lymphoma. Yes!

Now here's my to-do list, based on that news.....

Unload the rifle.
Untie the hangman's noose.
Go back on the WW diet.
Put the brake fluid back in my Toyota pick-up.
Buy a new boat.
Get my G.E.D.
Re-design the transit station areas on my De Noc maps.
Break-up with Cameron Diaz.
Buy more Rolling Rock, while it still says "Mountain Spring Water".
Swim in Lake Superior.
Hide the "Honey Do" list from Katie.
Make, cook, (and eat) my first cudighis.
Sing in the shower.
Have wild xxx with Katie.
Clean my truck.
Take more vitamins.
Buy another Steeler shirt.

Bear
 

zman

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You made my day, Bear. Glad things are going well. Now get your ass out to Colorado, will ya? :)
 

Suburb Repairman

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Great news, Bear!

I'll be in Swanton July 24-28... This type of news certainly earns you free beer! :-D
 

Vlaude

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Bear Up North.... CONGRATULATIONS!!! Haven't followed everything real close, just off and on from when you posted awhile back, but I'm happy to hear the news!
 

Zoning Goddess

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So glad to hear it, Bear! And you have such an important list of things to accomplish now! (Where's the one about coming to a FLae-fest?):-D
 

JNA

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That is good news.

:-o That is an impressive list of things to do.
You need to add buying a Broncos Jersey. ;)
 

Richmond Jake

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Zoning Goddess said:
So glad to hear it, Bear! And you have such an important list of things to accomplish now! (Where's the one about coming to a FLae-fest?):-D
What she said.

If you need a place to crash after I kick your arse in roundball, and it will get kicked, you and Katie are my guests at Chateau Jake, next to the most beautiful beaches in the world and on the site of the best griller in the southeast. Oh, and the pool, too. Ain't life grand? BTW, there may be another guest here, too. She wants to meet you.
 
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Sends hugs

Yes, have had people in my family w/long-term illnesses. I am doing the Lance Armstrong Live Strong event in my area.

Also, you were right in the conclusions you drew from your illness. Really makes you sort out what your priorities are or haven't been.











Bear Up North said:
Those of you who have browsed my posts over the past year have seen ocassional mention of my chemotherapy treatments. I will give you the story and then ask a couple questions of the group. (Most of you are younger than this ole' Bear and your experience with this sort of thing is/was probably with your parents or grandparents.)

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma back in mid-1996. The same type of cancer that hockey great Mario Lemuix (sic?) was hit with. During that autumn I went through radiation therapy, every day, for four (4) months. Lost a bunch of weight, because I couldn't swallow (usually necessary part of regular eating).

In check-ups and tests and scans over the course of six (6) years I was pronounced (after five years) "cured".

In February of 2003 I started having fevers and severe night sweats. The trusty internet search led me to "menopause". Heh, heh.....not quite for this guy. That same Google search answered "Hodgkin's symptom". Numerous tests followed and, lo and behold......the evil Mr. Hodgkin's had returned. So, I was placed on the normal chemotheraphy regimen for Hodgkin's....ABDV (each letter signifying a different drug that they would pump into me).

I began chemo in July, 2003, and continued until mid-February, 2004. I lost some weight, gained it back when my doc scolded me for that. I lost all my hair....yes, ALL my hair. (I had been a bearded dude since 1969 !!!). My gosh, I looked like a dork.....ahhh, but with my bald beanie the youngen's checked me out.

In March and April I had the normal tests and scans.....PET Scan (very-sophisticated imaging process), CAT Scan, bone marrow biopsy, and a biopsy of a suspected lymph node. ABVD chemo works for Hodgkin's about 99% of the time. Can I win the lotto? No. Can I win a 50/50 drawing at a club? No. Can I fit into that 1% who don't get cured with normal ABVD? Yes.

Next step.....returning in mid-May to the University of Michigan Cancer Center (one of the best in the world). I will be indoctrinated with information on what is called high-dose chemotherapy, with a bone marrow stem cell transplant. Not fun.

They will inject me with a stem-cell growth-enhancing drug, wait awhile, then harvest stem cells and freeze them. Then, they give me 24-hour-a-day chemo for a few days.....high-dose. It kills everything in the bone marrow. After the chemo drugs have been pushed through me, they reinject the stem cells. I will be in the hospital for 2-4 weeks and off work for another 4 months. (I have never spent a day in the hospital, except age 5, couple days for tonsils being ripped out.)

Sidebar Note: In 1996 my wife was diagnosed with MS. Except for a couple flare-ups it has stayed inactive.

So.....everytime my wife and I start talking about "woe is us"...."bad luck".....we remind each other about REALITY CHECKS.

During a couple consultation visits at U of M's Cancer Center we sat in the waiting room waiting to be called. The room was filled with very young children, most without hair (because of chemo treatments), some too weak to get out of a wheelchair, some with chemical tubes hooked to them. Seeing these young cancer victims is emotionally draining. You just want to hug them and transfer what ever is left of your life into their bodies, so they can live longer. This is a real REALITY CHECK. My problems seem so small compared to them.
_____

My two (2) questions:

Have any of you had experiences with life-threatening illnesses?

Have any of you ever experienced REALITY CHECKS that seem to make your problems seem insignificant.

Bear
 

Bear Up North

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newurbanismgirl.....thanks for the nice hug. :) Appreciate the kind words.
_____

Today the news has a story about the teenager who is refusing to do chemotherapy. Polls indicate that quite a good number of people think that he should be forced to undergo chemo. I am not one of those. It is his choice and the choice of his parents.

Of course, my choice was to get radiation (1996), chemotherapy (2003), chemotherapy (2004), chemotherapy (2005), bone marrow transplant (2005). Modern medicine has kept me ticking. :)

The kid in the news has Hodgkin's. The news is still calling it Hodgkin's Disease, but that term has changed to Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Another noteable with Hodgkin's Lymphoma is Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector. He chose to go through the chemotherapy and is now pronounced "free and clear". :)

Bear
 

kjel

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Bear Up North said:
newurbanismgirl.....thanks for the nice hug. :) Appreciate the kind words.
_____

Today the news has a story about the teenager who is refusing to do chemotherapy. Polls indicate that quite a good number of people think that he should be forced to undergo chemo. I am not one of those. It is his choice and the choice of his parents.

Of course, my choice was to get radiation (1996), chemotherapy (2003), chemotherapy (2004), chemotherapy (2005), bone marrow transplant (2005). Modern medicine has kept me ticking. :)

The kid in the news has Hodgkin's. The news is still calling it Hodgkin's Disease, but that term has changed to Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Another noteable with Hodgkin's Lymphoma is Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector. He chose to go through the chemotherapy and is now pronounced "free and clear". :)

Bear

I'm of the opinion that he is old enough to make a choice for himself. One thing about Hodgkins though is that it has a pretty decent remission rate. My assistant manager a few years ago fought it and came out on top. Free and clear for 5 years now.
 

Bear Up North

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My niece's brother-in-law passed away this weekend. This morning I was talking with a family member and she was relating how the spouse (who I have not talked with in many years) was "in denial". When serious issues, such as health issues that are life-threatening and when the ultimate happens, people seem to handle that stress in different ways.

The death occured at the Cleveland Clinic, and when it happened, her response was along the lines of, "Well, I have to go home and clean the house."

On the surface that sounds very cold. But, drill down deeper and you have to just write it off as an example of the different ways we handle these sort of things.
_____

Over the last few months, Katie was used as a comparison with the spouse, because of the similarity of the situations.....life-threatening illness, high-dose chemotherapy, long-distance travel as a caregiver, lots of time off work to care for and run errands for the person being treated.

Katie did a super job. During my stay in Ann Arbor she made almost daily trips (about 75 miles), she did a lot of home care (needle insertion, yuck), cleaned my multiple drug ports (another yuck), effectively ran the household.

Safe to say, the world is filled with fine examples of people (and sig others) who help each other in a time of need. Hats off to all of those people.

:)

Bear
 

cch

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Sorry to hear about the passing of your niece's brother-in-law. But I'm glad to hear that you are doing well.

My mother has suffered with a kidney disease for most of my life. She had to do dialysis, then she got a transplant, about 12 years later that kidney failed and now she is on dialysis again, waiting for another transplant. There is now a dialysis center near their home, but the first time she did dialysis the nearest one was about a 40 minute drive away. To me, that seems like nothing. But my parents opted to train and do the dialysis right there in our home. I was in middle school at the time. My mom didn't want a permanent port sticking out of her stomach, so 4 times a week my dad had to insert giant needles into her arm (they actually did surgary to make her veins bigger there, so they could handle it) and she had to be hooked up to that machine, in our family room, for 4 hours at a time. My dad had to take so much time off work for the training, and he had to basically play doctor to her, which had it's good and bad moments. It was quite a sacrifice. And it went on for 2 1/2 years before she got her donor kidney. Does anyone else have stories about dialysis, particulary anyone else who has dealt with doing it at home. I've never met anyone else who's lived through that.

This time around she's been on dialysis for over 4 years now, waiting for a donor. Of course, I urge everyone to be organ donors. She's lucky there is kidney dialysis, but for most organ failures there is no such option.
 

Bear Up North

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cch......Sorry about your mother. Hang in there. Life throws a lot of lemons at us. We are in your corner.

Bear
 

transformer

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It has been awhile since I posted and I wasn't sure where to start, but this thread seemed most appropriate. My full attention has been with my family. What started out as good news turned to tragedy. I was thrilled when I found out Mrs. Transformer was pregnant. Although we were slightly older, we both looked forward to a baby. Our other children were also excited. About four months into the pregnancy we found out the baby had a heart defect. Although the heart specialist did not see the defect as a serious problem, (it was something that could be handled with surgery after the baby was born) we decided to have more tests. In hindsight I am not sure this was a good idea. The tests showed our baby had Trisomy 18, a relatively rare genetic disorder that is always fatal.

We had to go through the next three months of the pregnancy knowing our baby would die. There is a wonderful organization call StarShine Hospice that helped us through this period. We knew our baby was a boy and before he was born we named in Nicholas. Nicholas was born 2 months premature on December 6, which happens to be the Feast of St Nicholas. Nicholas lived for 15 minutes.

Up to this point our family had yet to experience the death of a close relative. It was the saddest day of my life and looking into the eyes of my wife and children it was certainly the saddest day of their lives.

They say time heals all wounds and to a certain degree its true. I can say that looking back on all the events that happened one of things that stands out is all the support we received from our friends and families. Tragedy has a way of bringing people together. As a young boy that only lived 15 minutes, Nicholas had a tremendous impact and touched the lives of many people well beyond our immediate family.
 

zman

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transformer, my thoughts are with during these sad times. I wish strength and good things upon you and yours. :)
 

JNA

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Praise and prayers for your entire family.
Continue to have courage and strength throught this sad time.
Part of that was your willingness to share with all of us.
 

nerudite

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Wow, transformer... I'm so sorry for your loss. It is really hard losing a family member, as I did recently. The only advice I can give is talk it through with somoene you trust or a counsellor. I wish I had done more that when my brother passed, and now it's coming back to haunt me a bit.
 

cololi

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Transformer, my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. So sorry for your loss.
 

Bear Up North

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transformer.....So very sorry to hear of your family's loss. My thoughts and prayers go to you and yours. You were very brave to share this with us.

Bear
 

Richmond Jake

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transformer, that must have been a very diffcult post. My thoughts, strength, and healing are with you and your family.
 

kjel

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Transformer....

My heart goes out to you and your family.
 

Rem

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I am sorry to hear about your family's loss transformer. Condolences to you, Mrs T and your other children.
 
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They say time heals all wounds and to a certain degree its true. I can say that looking back on all the events that happened one of things that stands out is all the support we received from our friends and families. Tragedy has a way of bringing people together. As a young boy that only lived 15 minutes, Nicholas had a tremendous impact and touched the lives of many people well beyond our immediate family.

I have been trying to think of the name of the artist (from the Rennaissance?) who lost a son and for some years painted very gloomy pictures, but later mellowed again. I also am reminded of the richness of the songs of Eric Clapton, who lost a son at a young age (I think the boy was 7). I believe the song "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart was written about Clapton's son, who would always remain a child in the memories of those who knew him as he would never have the chance to grow up.

((hugs))
 

transformer

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Thank you for all your kind words. As I said before the love and support my wife and I have recieved over the last year has been tremendous; and not just from family and friends, but from total strangers. Through this I have gained a greater appreciation of what is truely important in life - people.
 

Bear Up North

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Update & Other News

This Bear has plurasy. It's a problem with the lining of the lungs. It is not a fatal disease, although it used to be. Dang uncomfortable, though. :-(

It can be caused by a number of things. One of the causes is cancer, although not the type of cancer that I have beeen fighting for 10 years. I have been on a heavy-duty drug to fight the disease, since Tuesday of last week. Each day is a little better.

What caused it in this ole' Bear? Who the hexx knows.....
_____

During all of this plurasy business I have had to work very long days, because of a much more serious situation, with the infant grand-daughter of one of my supervisors at the workplace.

Hannah was born a few days before Labor Day. She was born with an under-developed heart. After a few days of consultation and testing in Toledo, she was Life-Flighted to the University of Michigan's Children's Hospital. At first they thought they would have to do open-heart surgery.

After a few days of further testing, though, they passed on that surgery. Little Hannah is struggling, but improving. Her grandma, my supervisor, is back at work.

Just imagine open-heart surgery on an infant, only a week old. Wow.
_____

Makes my chest pain seem pretty dang uninmportant.

Bear
 

kjel

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Sorry you aren't feeling too hot. Pleurisy can hurt alot I know. A friend of mine had it but it only lasted a week and she found that soaking in a hot bath seemed to help ease the pain a bit along with the happy drugs. Take it easy and rest!
 

Bear Up North

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Ovarian Cancer

There is a possibility that Katie has ovarian cancer. No estimate on the probability. She will go under the knife on the first Monday in October. We will know after that.

Earlier this week they attempted (again) to remove a kidney stone. Since the lithotriptor did not work (last month) they tried a "basket". During the bedside discussions the nurse said that men refer to this type of procedure as "brain surgery". :-c

A tiny basket is inserted and attempts to remove the stone(s). We are not sure if it worked, because the stone may have broken up into little pieces on its' own. She is still in some pain, but it may also be related to the ovarian thing.

It really seems strange for Katie to be going through this stuff.....
_____

Sunday's web edition of the Detroit Free Press had a very sad story. A young girl is dying and there is nothing that can be done. She has moved in and out of remission and now remission seems unlikely. She has told her father (who lost his wife to another disease just about a year ago) that she doesn't "want to die". All she wants to do is ride her bike, but that is getting tough to do, as her little body shuts down. Tear-jerking story that will not have a happy ending.

Bear
 

kjel

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Well wishes to Katie and hopefully the results come back as nothing.

I myself had the bejesus scared out of me by my new doctor who left a VM telling me to come into the clinic ASAP. Seems I have a bit of an issue with a kidney so I had to be the vampire's prey again and get to take Cipro. Hey at least I won't be contracting anthrax this week! Follow-up is tomorrow.
 

Maister

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Bear, we'll keep our fingers crossed for Katie until something is known for certain. It may be as simple as a cyst or some endometrial tissue (my wife had/issues with both and had a mortal scare when they first found a mass). If, however, it turns out she does have some sort of malignant growth, she has someone by her side who is profoundly familiar with the trials and travails of cancer treatment. She couldn't have asked for someone in a better position to understand what must be going through her mind than you.
 

Gedunker

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Yup, what Maister said. You guys are in our thoughts and prayers.
 

Bear Up North

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Struggles With My Brother

As I have mentioned before, my older brother (63) has Alzheimer's-like symptoms. When his family was in for Thanksgiving Day, we had a chance to discuss his condition with my sister-in-law, his wife. The actual diagnosis is a form of dementia, affecting portions of his brain that control balance and memory.

The day had bits of sadness mingled in with the usual dinner table discussions of family, friends, jobs, weather, sports, medical issues, my younger brother and his family, remembrances of long-gone Mom and Dad, animals, politics, and some bad puns.

My older brother just sits and stares. When he stands up he doesn't even know where to go.....he just starts walking in a direction, opening bedroom doors or going up and down the stairs. He was holding himself so I figured out quickly that he needed to go to the bathroom. I asked him if he did and he just started following me, saying nothing. He actually couldn't figure out how to get out of the bathroom.

In the kitchen I was busy cooking and had the old-time music machine playing The Beatles great new album, "Love". He came in the kitchen and I asked him if he remembered The Beatles. He just stood and stared at the stove, not answering.

Katie and I are very impressed with Karen, my bro's wife. She has to constantly watch-over him, night and day, 24-7. She is also raising a 14-year old grandson, because that boy's mother is living on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Retirement for my brother and sis-in-law has not been what they expected. The family is trying to talk her into moving to the Toledo area, so we can all be closer and be of help to her from close range. (They live in Painesville Township, OH, about 35 miles east of downtown Cleveland.)
_____

Update on Katie's condition.....it is NOT cancer, although she is filled with ovarian cysts, etc. She has to decide on the type of surgery to have, probably in the early part of 2007. Full hysterectomy or partial.

Bear
 
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