Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Yesterday I wrote about slamming into the lake bank. The photo to the right was taken about a third of the way into the return trip. I made contact with earth just below the trees at the center of the photo where the lake bank is almost a perfect vertical. I know the answer is no but I can't stop asking if I will ever grow up. : ) I wonder how fast I was traveling at the point of impact. Y.O.L.O. 

An hour after slamming into the wall, still in a lot of pain, but knowing I will only have a couple more days to ski before winterizing the boat, my daughter took the picture to the left. I love to water ski. To be honest, I was really good at it when I was 16 years old. I had considered joining the pro circuit before my coach fell through the ice and drowned. I considered doing a lot of things when I was 16. I didn't do many of them. I will be 50 soon.

The water is warm for Riffe lake but here in the middle of August it has still only reached 68 degrees. In the winter the reservoir is drained to minimum levels to make room for the massive amount melting snow that will pour down the mountains in the spring and continue throughout the summer. Upstream the glacial waters are still an eerie shade of whitish green. Though the water is not warm by any means, it is warm enough to leave my wetsuit in the boat. My ski, ( a Jobe Spectra, custom fit to me ), feels like a favorite pair of shoes on my feet. It's an antique by today's standards but it's the only ski I will ever ski on. To me it's an old friend. Mandy is really getting good at driving the boat. She always finds the flat water. The sun is slowly setting. The wind has died. Sunlight dances on the water. The tow rope comes tight...... I use to ski with a half boot on my back foot. This allowed me to stand in the shallows with my ski out of the water and 20 feet of rope coiled in my hand. I would signal the boat to go and when the rope came tight I would just step onto the ski  without ever getting wet. The idea of not having to get into this cold water is appealing but there is no substitute for the control a full boot on my back foot.    .... HIT IT!!!!  The V-6 engine and Volvo out-drive come to life. I have lost 15 pounds this summer and it shows. The acceleration shoots me out of the water. Mandy brings the boat to 32 miles per hour and holds it in a perfect straight line. She really is getting good at this. I don't feel 50. I feel no different then I did when I was a  cocky 16 year old showing off and out-skiing everyone on the lake. I turn to my left  round the first buoy and cut hard to my right accelerate across the wake set up and cut hard around buoy #2. Eight buoy's, eight perfect cuts. Thirty-two miles per hour on a 58 foot rope. After that I ski another 20 minutes freestyle before reluctantly letting go of the rope. I wish I could ski more but I am tired.

Today has been a perfect day on the water. It is now time for smores and after that .....tequila!!!

That is how we spent last weekend. It was so much fun. It could have been better had my persistent cough not been driving everyone nuts. I slept in the truck one night so everyone else could sleep. As it turns out, I have pneumonia and bronchitis and after a couple days on the antibiotics and two good nights sleep I feel fantastic. I can now celebrate my low P.S.A. numbers without the underlying fear that the lung metastasis is getting worse. With the exception of the Pneumonia, my chest X-ray looked great.

    If you have been diagnosed with cancer and you are afraid, I get it. I am afraid sometimes too. You have to remember that a diagnosis of  cancer is not a death sentence anymore. Even if the cancer is
 " TERMINAL " (like mine is) there is so much life out there to be lived. Go out and choke the living shit out of every day. When it comes to cancer there is one thing to always remember.
      THERE IS HOPE!!! Todd

Monday, August 26, 2013

Im so much older than 20

I love the mtv show ridiculous. At the age of 49 I should be smarter then the people on that show but I guess I am not. I wrote about the rope swing at Riffe lake in the letting go post. Saturday I should have let go.  I misjudged my distance and was not sure I would swing out far enough to hit the deep water so I held on for the return trip. Mistake.....big mistake..... huge!!!
I slammed into the side of the cliff full speed...chest first....and bounced down the bank to the shoreline. The segment "mansquirrel comes to mind.

Once again there were no video cameras. My daughter and her friend were too busy laughing and sweet wife was having a bought of tourhetres syndrome as she swatted a small swarm of overly curious honeybees that were convinced she needed pollinated. I was wearing a wet suit and a life jacket so I consider myself lucky not to have crushed my chest.. I still think I have some cracked ribs.
   I am at the doctors office this morning. My cough has worsened and I now have a fever of 100.5 average. I saw the chest xray. God I hope it is only pneumonia. The slides were kind of blotchy.
    My daughter says....
Y.O.L.O. ( you only live once)  I think it is true but be prepared for a little pain when you play like a teen.
The nurse just did my vital's. He was impressed. I sure get tired of seeing the Doctor.
    I will try to post some pics from the weekend later today. Y.O.L.O. Todd

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blessings and Tragedy

I have not written in over a week. The time passed quickly. It was a week of blessings and tragedy. It started with the arrival of our friends/family (Tony and I were separated at birth) from Las Vegas. We had an amazing weekend with them that made the prior two weeks spent painting and donning the guest room with new linens and curtains completely worthwhile. Now it is no longer considered the guest room but is now Tony and Ruthies Room. Looking back on the weekend it is amazing to me how two people who were strangers 6 years ago can be soooo much alike. It was with a heavy heart that we watched them pull away from the drive to head south. It was short lived as a mere hour later I was sawing logs. They wore us out.
  Monday at work was such a shock to my system I opted to play hooky on Tuesday to go salmon fishing with my brother and dad at bouy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia river. The fishing trip started great. I brought a 10 pound coho into the boat 20 minutes into the trip. I had to throw it back as it was a wild fish but still it was a very good start. I never got a chance to catch another. A phone call from my mom cut the trip short.
   Monday evening a 15 year old girl and her 18 year old sister were hit by a car while walking a dark, winding, country road. They were dressed in dark clothing. The younger sister died at the scene. Alcohol, drugs, or speed, were not factors in the accident. The driver did not see the girls until the moment of impact. He was blinded by oncoming headlights as he crested the hill. The girls were in the middle of the road on the other side of the hill. They never knew what hit them. The driver was my nephew. He is 22 years old and feels his life is over. The girl who died was a very popular athlete in our small town high school as well as an honor student and class president. Her father is the maintenance planner for the paper machine that I work on. I live in a small town.  Such a tragedy.  I fear the healing will be painfully slow. I wonder if it will ever come at all.
   Yesterday I found out my P.S.A. feell by 75% to 5.62 in the two weeks since beginning Zytiga.  The side effects are rough on me. Weight loss, loss of appetite,  nausea,  extreme fatigue, and a hacking cough.
   I am alive. It appears I will be for some time. Life is weird. Blessings and tragedy.  The moments pass quickly and whether we know it or not the end is just over the hill. I am thankful for my life and my many blessings. I hope I never take them for granted. My heart is filled with sadness for my nephew and the family mourning the loss of their sister and daughter.
   Life could end tomorrow.  There us no guarantee the breath I am taking wont be my last. I hope we all can keep from wasting this beautiful gift. When we do, we dishonor those who were taken from us far too early. :-( Todd

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Saved by Jury Duty

Yesterday I woke up at 4a.m. and was at work by 5:30. I worked from 5:30 to 11:30 and went home for a few hours of sleep. I returned to work at 5:30 p.m. and worked until 3:45 a.m. It is 7:25 a.m. and I have yet to go to sleep. Doesn't my employer realize I have cancer. I never thought I would be so happy to have jury duty but I am thrilled. I don't have to go back to work. I get paid for my time off and I get paid by the court. My plan is to be home and headed for dreamland by noon. That it for today, I am beat, Todd

Monday, August 12, 2013

Letting go

Five miles west of the town of Mossyrock WA. is Riffe lake. The lake is named for the town that was covered with water when they closed the flood gates of Mossyrock Dam. In times of low water you can still walk the mud covered streets and see the foundations of the long forgotten homes and businesses. The picture to the left was taken yesterday at a hidden cove half way up the lake. In order to be certain of a deep water landing you must let go at the very top of the arc. It equates to a 3 story drop. Fear makes it difficult to let go but if you don't then things can get really ugly. My life is a metaphor.

I think one of the most important things I have learned in dealing with this disease is to just let go. We can only control so much. We can try to hold it all together but it can really get messy if we try to control too much. I am having a hard time with Zytiga. I feel nausea all the time. I have so much congestion and I just really feel icky right now. I hope it passes but it is out of my control. In this case, like on the rope swing yesterday, the wheels have been set into motion and I am no longer in control. I choose to let go and enjoy the ride as best I can. I hope I feel better soon. Todd

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day two

I love the still of morning just as the the first rays of light breach the darkness. This is my time. Mandy and Michaela are fast asleep. The dog lies in my lap for his morning scratch and everything is right in the world. There is no cancer in this place. There is only the promise of a new day and of course there is coffee. The perpetual kaliedescope of color dances across the sky. I feel young. God is truly an artist. The first birds begin their chorus as others join in the celebration of life. The mist rises from the water. In the distance a duck takes flight. I think heaven must be like this.
     I use to take these moments for granted as I believe most of us do.
We are so busy. Our lives are consumed by so many things that really do not matter. Were it not for Mandy I might still be missing these moments. Through her eyes I am seeing it all for the first time. It is such a contrast to the place I will be in less than an hour. Where I work there is no silence. It is so loud that you feel it rather than hear it. The forests are ground into chips and cooked in a toxic soup until they are nothing but pulp. The temperature can exceed 130 degrees. The smell of chemicals and the pulping process permeates everything and stays with you long after the day is over. When my workday is finished I can't wait to be home.
    I feel good. I was told Zytiga works quickly. The pressure in my chest has eased. My cough is no longer dry and unyielding. This morning my hip popped back into place. The only side effect I have noticed is a metallic taste in my mouth. I slept soundly. It's Friday. Life is good.
    This weekend Mandy and I will get the house back together. My band will play at the relay for life and I will be the guest speaker before the luminary lap. I still have no idea what I am going to say. Sunday we will take the boat to the lake and spend the day on the water. Next weekend we will have house guests. The remainder of the weekends this summer will be spent camping and boating. School will start soon and life will downshift to a slower pace. The days will grow shorter and the smell of wood smoke will be in the air. I feel really good today. Happy Friday. Todd

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Here we go

5 a.m. Thursday August 8th. I just swallowed $168.00 worth of Zytiga and prednisone. I thought viagra was expensive.
   It was a sleepless night filled with what if's again. I am not looking foreward to work. I wonder if I can find a place to nap. " the coffee is done"  I am so tired. I feel like I am getting sick. I am congested and my cough is really annoying. Just ask my wife.
    I am so angry at someone who calls himself a Christian that even though I want prayer I cannot ask for it. Last night I could not meditate on psalms 103 verses 1-5. Those verses are my mantra. My mind is foggy. The voice of the unknown quiets not. Please let this medication work for a long long time. Please let the side effects be minimal. Please let my body tolerate the medicine well.
  Last night I kept waking up with the trial drug XL-184 on my mind. It is a drug approved for thyroid cancer that works on prostate and other cancers.
    Why am I seeing the glass half empty. My glass is overflowing. 7 years 2 months and 2 days into this journey and I have only exhausted 1 treatment option. (Cassodex)  I am still on Lupron and Provenge is forever. "Stop worrying dummy"
    I took my first dose of Zytiga 38 minutes ago. I feel good. I get to eat in 25 minutes. So far so good. Have a great day everyone.  Todd

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Same road....new journey

Today I begin a new journey in my battle with prostate cancer. I spent two hours with my oncologist yesterday. We discussed Provenge and my rising psa. His opinion is that the drug is still working. He is of the opinion that the drug will continue to work for the rest of my life. We were both discouraged by my rapidly rising prostate-specific antigen level. Psa. No matter how you look at it a rising PSA Is indicative of Disease progression. We both felt that A change in treatment was in order. Today I will pick up my prescription of Zytiga and prednisone. Today I will begin a new journey in this fight. I feel as though the odds are in my favor and that this new drug will do as it is advertised to do. My question is " why am I so sad"? Why is it that in my heart I feel as though this is the beginning of the end? I am usually so positive. For some reason my kick ass and take names attitude has taken a hit. It appears that there is a chink in the armor. I hope that this is a temporary condition. I hope that once I have started on this new drug and see how well it works that's my attitude will rebound. At present this sadness is overwhelming. I love my life. I lead a very active lifestyle and I am NOT ready for that to end. Will the side effects of the new medication be debilitating? Will I still be able to ski and water ski and hunt and fish and hike and kayak? Will I still be able to mountain bike? Will I once again lose my recently found libido? Will I still be able to work effectively at the job that provides the lifestyle we lead? I have all of these questions and so many insecurities about our future . I feel lost at sea battered by wind and wave. I know where my safe harbor lies and yet it remains out of reach.
   Today I am at work. I am 3 hours into my day and yet I have accomplished nothing. I wish the day would end. I wish I could just be home. My doctor told me he wished with all his heart that I didn't have to work at a place like this. His opinion is that my work place is a hostile environment. He feels that I am exposed to too many toxins and chemicals on a daily basis. he is not surprised that I have a permanent cough. he feels that although I have lung metastases they are too small to be causing respiratory problems. My reply to him was that may be true but how can I justify leaving a job that pays as well as mine does. I explained to him that I would like to retire on a disability. He only laughed. He said that people would take one look at me and there was no way that I would qualify for Social Security disability. bummer. Stage 4 terminal cancer and I don't qualify for disability. and yet there are people out there who screwed their brain up on drugs and they qualify as disabled. What a joke. I would laugh but it hurts too much and I am quite certain that it would send me into a coughing fit. I have so much more to say but at the moment my thoughts have become muddled. I hope that those of you who read my blog are enjoying it. please feel free to share it with anyone you think it might do good. Todd

Monday, August 5, 2013

The known and the unknown

Friday morning I got my test results and the numbers were way up. My P.S.A. more than doubled in the last two months since going off the cassodex on June 1st. I am currently at 22.25. It was deflating to say the least. I expected a drop in psa. (Did I really?)
I have ignored mild discomfort and a worsening cough for a month now. The proper verbage is I had hoped for a drop in psa but I really expected a jump. I did not expect a doubling. Friday night was the first nigbt in 7 years that sleep eluded me due to my mind pondering my mortality. It was the first time in years that I wondered how long I was going to live. I told Mandy yesterday that I was not worried about how long I would live but I wonder how long I will be able to live the life I love. I am sad. I spent the weekend watching Mandy descend a little deeper into the pit of despair. I am so sad for her.
    All of this said we have a plan. It looks as though Zytiga will be in my future. I worry about taking prednisone and what the side effects will do. I wish I could retire. 60 hours a week working in a hostile environment is taxing my immune system but seeing as I am not independently wealthy nor can I support my family writing I must continue to work. We have a saying here in the hell where I work. WTYD. Work Till You Die. I must work until I die. The only life insurance I have is that which is provided by my employer. I will not allow Mandy to lose me and the only true home she has ever known.
    Sometimes it sucks to have to be strong. I tell Mandy always, (it will be okay.... I am not leaving you anytime soon) I hope it's true. I promised her 30 years. Failure is not an option.
    I see my doctor in 8 days. I will know more then.

     I was writing this entry from my phone at work and I had to stop writing earlier. I just received a call from my doctor and he can see me tomorrow instead of next Tuesday. I am really happy about that. Sitting idle is hardest on me. I need to have a plan of action. I need to be working toward a goal. I hope that I can convince my doctor to prescribe the booster dose of Provenge. I still believe in spite of a rising P.S.A. that Provenge is my best bet for a long life. Provenge gave me 14 terrific months before disease progression. I was hoping for more but my true hope for Provenge is that it seems other drugs that follow Provenge work better because of it.
    I wish I could plan my life. I wish I could say for certain that I am going to be around in 10 years. I can only have faith that it will be so.I wish I had been better with money. I wish I had not lost everything in my mid 30's I wish I was out of debt so I could retire early. I wish I could take the fear and pain that my wife feels daily away. I wish I could make it better when she cries in her sleep. I wish I could give her security. I am so afraid I am going to die and leave my wife a quarter of a million dollars in debt. I am so afraid she is not going to be okay if I die. I am not afraid of dying. My only worry is for the hearts that are sure to be broken when I must go.
   My daughter stopped by with two of my grand daughters yesterday. They are so beautiful. I love them with all my heart. I need to be here for them. Who is going to teach them to fish and hunt and water ski. Who is going to be there to listen to them when they need to talk to someone other mom and dad. This disease is not fair. There should be rules that it has to follow.

     I want to say thank you to all who read this blog and for your many comments. My sole purpose in writing is to bring hope to men who must follow down this road and to the people who love them. Todd

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Waiting

From the time my blood is drawn at the lab until the test results are available is usually less than 24 hours. Oh how I hate those 24 hours. They seem to drag on and on. Nothing however is longer or harder on my nerves than those few minutes it takes on the phone to get the results.
    It is 11:30 p.m. August first and although I woke up at 4 a.m. today in order to be at work by 5:30 I am still wide awake. Today was my daughters 27th birthday. I wish I was 27 and had never heard of Prostate cancer.
   As I sit alone in the dark I am wondering what tomorrow will bring. If my numbers are down perhaps all of the phantom pains in my legs will go away. If they are up then what will the next step be. Will I go on Zytiga or mdv 3100. Will I still be able to work while taking those drugs. Will the next drug work as good as the last ones. It is going to be a sleepless nigbt.
   This really is the hardest part about this disease. I live life 3 months at a time. When I get my results back tomorrow, if they are good I won't think about cancer much for three more months. My wife will worry more than I do. At least she can sleep. Seven years one month and twenty five days since diagnosis and I still get uptight when I get blood work done.
   I am going to be 50 in three months and 18 minutes. I didn't think I would make it this far. I will dance at my grand daughters weddings. I will hold my my great grand babies someday. It is so tiring to always be strong. I am tired. It is time to sleep I think. Good night.