The changing of the season feels different for some reason. This morning was the first day in which it finally felt like fall—the crispness in the air and the falling of the leaves. I was able to walk through my subdivision path at 5:00 am listening to music and feeling a sense of relaxation and peace.
Seasons are much like life. Change is always inevitable, but when will it happen and how will it affect oneself? Lately, the most minor things I’ve noticed have made me smile and happy again. I smirk and get a feeling of joy again and a sense of life’s urgency. A pick-me-up that is much needed as the days drag on and the darkness in the sky seems to last forever.
Embrace the seasons and cycles of your life. There is magic in change.~Unknown Author
Today marks our 14th year of marriage together. 14 years. Full of hard work, ups, and downs, accomplishments and successes, disappointments and mistakes. I’ve experienced how rewarding it is to be a couple and how lucky we are to have one another by each other’s side.
I’ll be perfectly honest, marriage is tough. Very tough. We’ve endured every emotion possible, but we continue to stay committed to our relationship and our core values remain the same. I’m thankful to have a woman by my side who has fought for me, as I have for her.
I have found that marriage isn’t defined by a big moment, but by a million little moments. The everyday things matter the most. The kiss good morning, the smile hello, the note in the car, the casual touch on the arm, or the tickle on the back. Hold onto the simple things and don’t dwell on the big picture. These are the things one should cherish the most. Always be willing to compromise, communicate and most of all be willing to forgive.
As I look around our house at the kid’s sports equipment on the floor, the half-drank juice cups on the counter, dirty laundry piling up, and dog mishaps around the house, I couldn’t imagine a better partner to make it through these life adventures. I’m a very lucky man.
Here’s to #14, Cori. I’m blessed and grateful to have you by my side. Happy Anniversary!
365 Days Stronger
It has been exactly 365 days since my final chemo treatment for cancer and receiving the news that I was in complete remission. I’m happy to report that I continue to be in good health after my 1-year doctor visit at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center a few weeks ago. I think back to the struggles that I had experienced daily and how much pain and exhaustion I endured while trying to maintain a decent size workload, juggling a family with young kids, and somewhat of a social life. Once COVID-19 hit, I knew this journey down the joyous “cancer road” would be placed solely on me. I found out later that I was on this road to recovery by myself even more so than I had once expected.
Since my final treatment, I have set out to make small changes to my lifestyle that includes more yoga (bad visual, I know!), self-meditation, prayer and daily Downtown Greeley walks on my breaks at work. I’ve found that these small daily rituals have helped with my mental state. One shop that I continue to get my daily refresh from that has a simple message sign outside is Blush Boutique. Daily I walk by this same message, “God’s Plans will always be greater and more beautiful than all your disappointments”. I have found that you can’t control all of life’s disappointments, but you can control your own happiness and wellbeing. I continue to be cautious, yet live life to its fullest in all aspects of my life. It is difficult to look back on, but I would never take back what I was able to accomplish during this time. Through God, I’m blessed beyond belief and I’m happy with the changes I continue to make both mentally and physically post-cancer treatments.
My blood draws and checkups have now moved to every 6-months and soon they will be yearly. Each time I enter the hospital I continue to have a queasy feeling of uncertainty, both from a medical and personal standpoint. To this day I continue to tell myself, “I got this”, each and every visit. I feel as if I am a “survivor” in many aspects of life and the disappointments will never outshine my triumphs that I was able to accomplish.
Here’s to the next 365!
When we first arrived at Big Bones Animal Rescue it wasn’t our families intent to begin to look for a dog. I knew I wanted a dog for our young kids, but not at that specific time. Our goal was to drop off donated food, cleaning supplies and tons of paper towel rolls since they were always in need. Big Bones is an animal rescue shelter just on the outskirts of Windsor, Colorado that generally takes in large breeds of dogs and helps place them in good homes. They also do an awesome job with fostering and the adoption of dogs as well. Once we arrived and began to hear the howls and barks for attention, I knew we were eventually going to be taking a pet home. I was very sceptical on a large dog, but to my surprise there was ONE cage of two extremely small mixed breed dogs that we fell in love with. One of the dogs caught our eye – his name was Rory.
Rory was rescued off of the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city known for euthanizing pets picked up off the streets that aren’t claimed within a specific amount of time. He was transported to Big Bones Animal Rescue in hopes of finding a forever-home, even though the mixed-breed didn’t match the facility. The owner let us know that he was a Dachshund – Spaniel mix and was roughly 8-10 months old.
From the get-go he was a bit timid but eventually warmed up and was friendly with both kids. He ran circles around them in his chain linked cage and had that look of, “Get me out of here!”. With the light snow from the previous evening and mud build up on the group, I could see why. After only one other visit, he became ours and we became his “parents”. We already assigned tasks for the kids to take part in that would teach them about the responsibility of owning a pet. In the end, I knew I would be the food giver, water refresher and poop picker upper. (….always fun!)
Rory has now been with our family for almost 7-years. In those 7-years he has brought so much joy, happiness AND a bit of struggle. As a puppy, we have endured him chewing up every phone charger, my work glasses, heals of expensive shoes and many other odds and ends things. Recently he has also ventured into scratching and chewing up door frames whenever we leave our home. This continues to be a struggle even though we know that it is a fear of being left alone and isolated. He also adopted a habit of hunting down ANY of my sweaty workout socks from the bedroom and bringing them out to the living room to naw on. Always fun to play “Find the sweaty sock in our house”. With these minor setbacks, he has become such a great addition to our family.
To this day, Rory continues to light up my day. When going through chemotherapy sessions for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year, he was always by my side at home. He knew exactly when I was about to take a turn for the worse and would nuzzle up against my bare skin in bed and push his body up against mine. It was almost a sense of comfort for both him and I. He knew exactly when I was going to get sick and he showed his affection in so many ways.
These last few months, he continued to help me through life struggles. He would lay with me on the couch during the early morning hours or in the guest bedroom with his chin on my lap with such a selfless expression. He knew I was down in the dumps and continued to try and lift me up by pushing himself upon me. I believe his sense of awareness is what has helped me through many of my emotional battles. Rory was my pet therapy dog before I even knew I needed one.
As the saying goes, “Dogs are man’s best friend.” I would have to agree and I would even go as far as to say that they are better than humans. Dogs will be by your side through thick and through thin. They greet you as you arrive home with a happy wagging tail and find a way to always pick you up when you are feeling down. They keep you motivated to go on daily walks and protect you when they sense fear. Dogs just know “how to be a good friend”.
Rory is still going strong and keeping me active. We continue to walk daily, cuddle on the couch in the morning and play tug at night. He still loves to chase squirrels and I still find random sweaty socks in different places around the house. 7-years ago I wasn’t expecting to adopt a dog, now I’m wondering how I have ever lived without him. Not only has he been a great addition for our family, but he has also been such a great addition for my own well being. Thank you Rory for being such a good friend.
Listen to your Heart
The world is giving me answers each day. Learn to listen to both sides. The good will always out weigh the bad.
Listening to the GOOD (no order)
- Anika – dedicated, healthy, happy, sensitive, caring, athletic, beautiful
- Andrew – smart, passionate, intense, innovative, spunky, funny, driven, handsome
- Devotion time
- My Mom and Dad
- Time alone in the morning
- A warm house
- Great sex
- Cars that work
- Church and God
- Morning cuddles
- Weather changing
- Friends that care
- Having a savings, 401K, Pera accounts
- Work and employment
Listening to the BAD (no order)
- Times of despair
- Not knowing the future
- Not having trust
- Social Media
- Early morning curiosity
- Sleepless nights
….and we are off! A very special date night that includes dinner and a special VIP father-daughter dance to top off the evening.
I can’t tell you how special this evening is for me to be able to spend precious time with Ms. Anika all to myself. These past few months have been extremely difficult, but she continues to remind me of how amazing life really is and how not to forget the simplest of things that make you happy. Time together. She cheers me up when I’m down and places a big-fat smile right back on my face no matter what the situation presents. Not only do I love her kindness and compassion she exhibits to others, but also for her heart that she shows for her Dad. (yes.. even when he tries to do a TikTok dance that isn’t remotely close to what she is doing)
Although she is growing up fast, I know that I will cherish these one-on-one times that we get to spend together. you, Ani!
A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.Charlotte Sophia Kasl
Nice Guys, Finish Last
I have to admit that the statement, “Nice Guys, Finish Last” never resonated with me heading into the dating world. It was a statement that was thrown around, but clearly, I never felt the need to associate it with me or my personal characteristics.
I believe in society there is a common misconception of there being only two kinds of men.
- Nice Guys
- Bad Boys
But nothing could be further than the truth. A nice guy is classified as a pushover and afraid of speaking his mind. The bad boy is the reckless, alpha male that shows leadership but doesn’t care. Yes, I feel most women want the misguided adventure of the bad boy, but the security of the nice guy. It certainly is a struggle for most males, including myself to find that middle ground.
However, I believe there should be a third option – a “Grounded man”. A man that is kind, polite, courteous, and considerate. He knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He isn’t afraid to say, “No”, on occasion and is able to speak his truth. Ultimately, a grounded man who values himself and his well-being.
Do Nice Guys Finish Last? Yes. Simply put, nice guys finish last because they are scared to be themselves and may not even know themselves at all. They’ve allowed themselves to be a doormat and have convinced themselves that it is okay because they are caring and thoughtful. Being caring and thoughtful is great, but not at the expense of being yourself. I’ve spent the better part of my life being a people pleaser. I’m not one who wants to be confrontational or to disagree, especially with those closest to me. I found myself slowly conforming to the “Nice Guy” syndrome lately and I need to find the strength to ease away.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. But it’s the truth.
For the past 11 years my wife has dropped our kids off each morning for school and has whispered a small phrase that I have taken to heart. As they pull up to the front of school, both kids gather up their backpacks, give kisses and spring out of the car. Prior to running up the school entrance, they turn to my wife for the “saying”. It is a small saying each day that helps give them that added boost of motivation to be their absolute best. As cringey as it might be, we even picked up cheap Hobby Lobby artwork signs that mentions the same phrase for each of their bedrooms. (…yes 40% off!)
“Be Brave, Be Kind, Be True, Be You!”
To be honest, both of us could care less if either of them come home with straight A’s on their report cards. Our goal as parents is to nurture them into being kind, caring and respectful to themselves and others. We want them to be able to adventure into doing new things and take risks. Finally, lead them in the right direction as they enter into into this crazy world and to push for to be their very best. Very cliché, I know, but true.
Personally, after hearing it for so long, I can honestly say that I have never held myself accountable to our own expression. Something that we have pushed to our kids over and over and over again. Deep down I know I need to be more BRAVE through these hard times. Be more KIND to my surroundings. Be more TRUE to my own thoughts and feelings. Finally – be more ME and try not to be someone I am not.
When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.-Dr. Seuss
Scripture I’ve been reading over and over.
MY FACE IS SHINING UPON YOU, beaming out Peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face to Face with Me, your Peace. As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out, “Help me, Jesus!” and I will lift you up.Philippians 4:7; Mathew 14:30; Hebrews 12:2
The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me, the One who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today’s waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future! Stay close to Me.
Happy New Year! I try to be such an optimistic person. No matter how terrible things might feel at a given moment, I firmly believe they can get better. 2020 has not been an easy year (understatement of the year, no?). It has brought so many emotions to my life including battling cancer, inhaling Colorado fire fumes, political drama, virus pandemics, marriage derailments and pretty much every other negative under the moon…. and back.
I try not to dwell on the negative, but look toward the future of being the best husband, father, friend and co-worker I can be. I have so much to be thankful for and to know I’ve withstood so many difficult hardships this past year has honestly made me who I am today. As the clock ticks towards midnight all I can honestly say is, “Bring it on 2021… I’m ready for you!”
Here is to health and happiness to you and yours in the New Year. We’ve got this!
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”— Thomas Jefferson
It has been quite the journey when I took up running in 1990 after I knew my 125 lb. frame couldn’t take the hits and pounding of football. (Ahhhh… the days of great metabolism and being able to eat 3 Big Macs and feel fine). Ever since joining cross country and track in high school, I have never looked back. It was a sport in which I could participate in and have fun with. I was never the fastest nor did I run the furthest, but I always gave my full effort to compete against myself and my previous times. I never knew that I would continue my running journey at the ripe age of 47.
I’ve experienced the highs and lows of running competitively. The thrill of finishing races and knowing you’re mentally drained, physically exhausted – yet still feel accomplished. I’ve also experienced plenty of ice packs, cold/hot creams and cramps that would rival my wife’s cycle on any given day. (just less shouting…)
I love knowing I’m passing on my running habits (as I run side-by-side) to my kids. It is awesome to talk strategy of pacing our runs, beating the boys ahead of us in races and pushing to go that extra city block without walking. To see my kid’s passion and sweat as they accomplish goals this early in their lives is pure joy as I started late taking up running as a hobby. I know that someday they will be finishing way ahead of me at the finish line wondering, “Where is dad at?” And you know what?
I’m proud of that!I am happy to report that a “Casey” milestone took place recently since I began run-tracking with Nike+ on my 13 year anniversary. I finally hit a total of 3,000 running miles!
The “good” about this accomplishment for me:
- 13 years of Nike run-tracking since June 2007. *cough* year off due to a “setback
- 3,000 total miles = 231 miles a year.
- In comparison – I almost ran to New York AND BACK which totals 3,250 miles.
- I still have knees and they work!
The Bad about this accomplishment:
Technology. I’ve endured every type of Nike tracker and technology enhancement that would include carrying a huge DiscMan, shoe chip (never worked), Nike shoe tongue insert (battery died all the time), IPod Nano w/app (no GPS), IPhone app (how ridiculous did I look running with a strapped plus sized phone to my skinny arm) and currently a Nike Apple Watch.
I can honestly say that 4:00am runs have made me who I am today. Not only physically, but mentally. You learn to adapt with the struggle of going out in 4 layers of clothes with an inch of snow knowing that your mind is at peace. It is only you, the pavement and nothing else. These runs have honestly solved many of my personal struggles and have made me a better person in the long run. *pun somewhat intended*
Anyway, sorry for the long post. Here’s to the next 3,000 miles!
Figuring Me Out
I’ve found out that one of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether it is guilt, anger, love, loss, or betrayal. Change is never easy. I fight to hold on when I should fight to let go.
At times I expect too much from others and I believe that this is a downfall. I expect them to be honest and love me the same way that I do them. I’m not saying that this is right, nor am I saying that this is wrong. It is just how I feel.
I also love knowing that whenever I start feeling down, I will always have someone in my life to lift me back up. I’m surrounded by some amazing friends and work professionals that I know I can count on when life starts bringing me lemons. (not the lemons on the side stand at the grocery market, but the bag of lemons you find at Costco that you know you will never use.) Darn it life, I don’t even like lemonade.
Man. I’m generally not one to be in the dumps. I’m usually known for the shoulder to lean on. Quote to live by today: “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.”
I need to be a better me and stop worrying about us.
My Cancer Fight Journal
December 16, 2021:
Well, I'm nearing my 1 1/2-year appointment and everything has been smooth sailing. Blood work is still good and I'll begin visiting the doctor yearly. Good to be cancer free!
December 30th, 2020:
Six month check in and it took only 20 minutes total for a blood draw and virtual check in with the doctor. My white blood count is still normal and I feel 100%. I'm still checking in every 3 months, but we will be switching to bi-yearly soon!
Still happy to report - CANCER FREE.
September 22nd, 2020:
Three month check in at MD Anderson Banner Health NCMC and I am happy to report that I have a clean bill of health! My check up went extremely smooth and the results came back from my blood draw very positive. Either normal or 'better' than expected.
Still CANCER FREE.
June 28th, 2020:
It has been almost exactly one year since I started getting sick and nauseous. The next 3-months were a whirlwind of tests and having my life changed finding out I had Hodgkins Lymphoma. I received my final PET scan last Thursday (after 30-days post chemo treatments) and I'm happy to report that it came back a COMPLETE REMISSION OF CANCER. My tests, physical exams, and scans show NO SIGNS of cancer.
Through this time, I told myself that I would accept any result - good or bad - as long as I lived by a few things:
May 18th, 2020:
My final chemo treatment! I've worked hard to get to this stage - 12 of 12! It has been a crazy 6-months, but I'm proud of how I've handled the roller coaster and the ups and downs of having cancer. I can finally say that I'm on the downward spiral of ending this god-awful disease in my body. As I sat in the final sitting, I wasn't sure what to think. Will it come back? Will I have any of the symptoms that I had prior? Will I be cured and never have to endure this again? So many questions, but no answers now. I will have to wait for 30-days for my final PET scan for a diagnosis.
As I sat there experiencing my final treatment, I had a HUGE surprise waiting for me outside after treatment in the garden atrium. Friends and family gathered outside to cheer on my final treatment. A Greeley Tribune reporter interviewed me and to my surprise, a cheering section of NCMC - MD Anderson staff, nurses, and doctors cheered me on as well. I'm not one for the spotlight, but it did make me feel extremely special.
March 9th, 2020:
COVID-19 has hit and I knew at some point I would be taking my chemo treatments solo. With an outbreak of over 2,000 cases in Weld County and 5 deaths, I knew that the hospital would only allow patients to enter the hospital facilities. They took my temperature at the front entrance and I had to wear a protective mask at all times for all of my procedures. Most of the time I would chat with the nurses or watch movie after movie on my iPad. Treatments took almost 4-5 hours at a time and dragged on and on. Worth it for sure... but LONG.
February 24th, 2020:
Welp. Sayonara eyebrows and underarm hair. It was nice knowing you.
February 10th, 2020:
Inbetween bags of chemo, they always shoot in a batch of saline that flushes out the line/port that totally gives me the heebie geebies. Yes, I dry heave and totally get the chills. It is the absolute worse taste and I can never get it out of my mouth. Even thinking of it now gives me the shakes.
Think of your worst college drinking episode TIMES 2 or 3. That is how I feel about saline flushes. 🤮🤮🤮
January 27th, 2020:
A quarter of the way done with chemo treatments, so this means a PET scan to see how things are looking. Cori and I were pleasantly surprised by the results especially after pressing REFRESH, REFRESH on the online results page. We cheered as we read bullet by bullet.
- There has been a significant interval decrease in size and resolution of uptake associated with right internal mammary, mediastinal, peridiaphragmatic, and bilateral hilar lymph nodes.
- Liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and kidneys are stable in their non-contrast appearance, without suspicious FDG uptake.
- A decrease in size and resolution of abnormal uptake in the spleen.
- No new FDG-avid process.
In Layman's terms - We are rockin’ it and things are looking GREAT at the halfway mileage check-in. I feel so much better with no out of the blue vomiting/chill episodes and I feel well enough to exercise and start being myself again. Plus, no further spreading of cancer cells.
January 1st, 2020:
It is always strange going into our master bathroom now with a HUGE wired basket of medication, creams, dental rinse, and everything else that should solve any small stipulation I might endure. I have pills prior to getting nauseous and post-nauseous. Special dental toothpaste and rinse to help keep my teeth sustainable during treatment. Creams for my port to use to help prior to chemo treatments. Also just about any med under the moon for heart-burn and sleep medication. For someone that didn't take any type of medication prior, it is sad to think that my body will be consuming quite a bit moving forward. *sigh*
December 24th, 2019:
It was the night before Christmas and all through the house....
We celebrated with family at our new house and unfortunately I had to stay in the bedroom for most of the evening due to feeling sick and out of it. Low energy has been hitting me lately and I seem to sleep for hours on end. Extremely sad to miss today, but I have to rest up for Christmas Day! I hope I'm able to experience my favorite holiday without an episode.
December 12th, 2019:
And so it begins. I wasn’t sure what to expect on my 1st chemo treatment. Walking in I felt anxiousness, anxiety and some fear. How would my body react? I was introduced to a few of the nurses on staff that I will be visiting often in the next 6-months. All were very helpful and gave me a visual of what to expect and walked me through the steps of treatment. I found out that I will have a ton of pills to take at home to prevent nauseousness, constipation, vomiting and just about everything under the moon for preventing sickness. I almost felt like I had to accept defeat at home with sickness.
Looking around the small-cramped room I noticed an ex-military patient; a rough, thin man and a few elders receiving chemotherapy. Again, I question why do I belong here and what did I do to deserve this?
During treatment, I was able to watch episodes of, “This Is Us” and get some odd reading done. Cori gave me great support and comfort on the first day of chemo. I remember feeling a bit woozy, but overall, pretty good. It took close to 6-hours on my first treatment since my initial pre-med checks came back late. Bag of drips, after drips, after drips heading into my chest port. In the back of my mind, I have thoughts of, “Is this really helping me?”
I left the hospital feeling “okay”, but that would all change fast once I arrived home. Sick. No energy. I crashed at 7 pm and curled up in the fettle position for long stretches of time. Deep down, I was hoping that I didn’t feel like this for my entire treatment. I didn’t want this to continue - I must bounce back!
When you can't find the sunshine, be the sunshine!
December 11th, 2019:
Another surgery today which included getting my chest port placed by my collar bone. I showed up two hours early for the surgery and it seemed like Cori and I waited… and waited… and waited. We had already signed all of the documents, met with the surgeon anesthesiologist team and multiple nurses. While we waited behind closed curtains we overheard MANY conversations that made us chuckle. Behind curtain number 1, an older lady going through a hysterectomy. (remove a woman’s uterus or womb) She was extremely worried that she was going to lose her ability to orgasm or that they were going to do something with her clitoris. The doctor reassured her that she would be fine and not have to worry about this. She continued (extra loud) that she wanted to continue to have pleasure after the procedure. I, unfortunately, had to break out laughing hysterically causing Cori to interrupt with an “shhhhhhhh”. It is always nice to have humor during this time of despair and unknowingness. Cori brings out the best in me, especially with laughter. Curtain #2 wasn’t as laughable as the gentleman was going through an amputation. With the humor, It is also very tough to hear about others’ hard times and what exactly got them to this space next to me.
The surgery only took about 30 minutes and I woke up in an extremely groggy state. Touching around my upper cheek, I felt like a giant rock was stuck in me. I better get used to my new addition that I will be carrying for 6 months under my button-down and tie for work. I felt like a part cyborg ready to take on the world. Only this cyborg had very little energy and needs to get mentally prepared for the poison that would be pushed into my body tomorrow. Yes, chemotherapy starts tomorrow. OH YEA -we also called my new addition PORTY. Why? Just because!
December 4th, 2019:
I'm not the one to talk personal stuff about myself on social media outlets, but I thought it was time to let friends and family know what I was going through. Strong support and prayers are always key and I know that I have that with family, friends, work and church. When I finally got around to reading the 150+ comments it brought me to tears. It wasn't that I was too busy to read them, I just didn't want sympathy or condolences. I'm a strong man, but after reading them... I needed the comfort knowing I have some pretty awesome people in my life.
I’m generally a pretty “quiet and keep my personal stuff to myself” type of guy. It is extremely hard for me to post depressing news, especially about myself. These past 5-months have been extremely tough. With every smile, I present in public, deep down it has been a struggle. I’ve recently been diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma. Behind closed doors, it has been a whirlwind of reoccurring fevers, vomiting, and a constant nauseous feeling. During this time my body has left me depleted and exhausted. The crazy thing is that between these episodes, I’ve lived a very normal life doing my everyday things. I’ve always been one that has never needed to go to the hospital, except for basic wellness checks. Also, I’m diligent in working out daily, eating somewhat healthy and making sure I take care of myself. This news comes as a complete shock to me, as it probably does you. Me, cancer? I know the upcoming months will be tough with multiple chemo treatments and long hospital visits. My head stays high though and I will continue to live life to its complete fullest (as I did prior). No, I’m not looking for sympathy or condolences - I will continue to be the same happy-go-lucky guy that you’ve grown to love - or hate. I’m blessed to have a pretty awesome support system in my life which includes family, friends, work, and church. Plus… look at it this way - I will save a ton on razors! *nudge nudge* Also, thank you, Cori. She has been my rock that has been by my side through multiple tissue biopsies, a bone marrow biopsy, PET scans, surgery, and multiple ED visits that have lasted into the morning hours. Not to mention, she has kept me settled and calm through this whole process. I’m extremely lucky to have her as my best friend and someone who I can count on always being by my (bed)side. I know this roller coaster called life will be heading back up the track soon and trust me, I’ll be the first one raising my arms up ready for the next twist and turn that it makes! Prayers UP!
December 4th, 2019:
It is cardiovascular and respiratory time! Late afternoon procedures to make sure I'm prepped and ready to go for chemo. My heart and lungs both check out and are in top-notch form! As a runner and someone that believes in daily physical fitness, I didn't have any doubt I would be a-okay on this fore-front.
Cori and I stayed for an extended hour to catch a "Cancer 101" class which discussed what to expect during and after treatment. As others entered the room, I was in disbelief. Most were in their early 70's or later. I was surrounded by many that have lived through World War II. This was the first time I felt out of place and thought to myself, “Why me?” We were presented with a powerpoint and question/answer session that discussed everything from chest ports to the side effects of chemotherapy. It was eye-opening and looking around the room it was the first time in which it hit me - I could die from this.
"One day at a time, one step at a time. Do what you can, do your best. Let God handle the rest." ~Michelle Jones
December 2nd, 2019:
Today I was diagnosed with Stage III Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It might have been one of the toughest phone calls to answer because deep down, I already knew the results. When my cell phone rang, I saw the dedicated hospital phone line from numerous other calls I’ve received. I snuck off to the quietest place at my work - In the mailroom of our administration building. Low and behold, the call was short and sweet from the doctor that performed the surgery. He proceeded to tell me that I do have cancer and reassured me that it is treatable and I will enter into chemotherapy to help kill the disease. Let the journey begin….
November 24th, 2019:
Incision time. Yes, 4.25” incision in my groin area to remove a single enflamed Lymph Node. I was knocked out completely this time, but woke up in a groggy state of, “What just happened to me”. I remember a sharp pain in my pelvic area when waking up, but overall the procedure was a success. It would take around 6 weeks to heal and I was limited to only 5 lbs of lifting. Taking the first peek below my waste it almost looked like a scene from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. They used skin glue instead of staples or stitches which frightened me even more.
My Speedo modeling career is officially over before it had even begun.
November 19th, 2019:
They chose to take a simple tissue sample of a lymph node in my groin/pelvic area and place a savi scout on it for possible surgery. The needle was close to 5", but for the life of me - I didn't feel a thing. I could have witnessed the whole procedure but chose to look away. Needles and I don't seem to get along, even during the many blood draws I've already endured. The nurse contacted Cori in a rush mentioning that 6 samples came back negative for cancer, but they were waiting for a few others. We were extremely excited about the news and celebrated with joy. The next day, we were brought back down to reality knowing that the final sample showed a trace of lymphoma. Not the news we wanted to hear and it was even harder to hear it from Cori. She was in tears over the phone. They wanted to conduct 3-hour surgery to take out the full lymph node. Leading into Thanksgiving, it was tough to understand and comprehend. Now surgery?
November 7th, 2019:
Another visit to the ED due to vomiting, nausea and chills. The swings are in full effect. Blood work completed again and extremely low on white blood cells again. My body is fighting something, but we can't pin point what OR why. Frustrating. Cori was by my side again and kept me company. It is nice to have someone to joke with and poke humor with. We enjoyed a midnight run to Taco Bell right after.
Who would have guessed the doctor and nurse's names would be "Sparkle" and "Comfort". Also, who would have guessed that the doctor's preliminary dignosis from the ED was correct, but not carried out until a month later.
October 18th, 2019:
I was told it would be best to have a PET Scan to show if I had any abnormalities in my abdomen. I complained of my sides hurting at times, but nothing excruciating by any means. I had many small fatty pockets that were pointed out to me when I would receive a body massage from therapists. Nothing to be concerned about, but for me to make sure I keep my eyes on them. Wellness checks even came back as simple lipoma or fatty tissue under your skin that were most likely harmless.
Back to the scan. A fraction of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) was injected via IV into my system which caused my body to go extremely WARM. I had the warm feeling running through my body and it almost felt like I pee'd myself. What a feeling.
The PET scan came back with inlarged or inflamed hypermetabolic nodes in multiple areas of my body. It was crazy to see the scan and all of the different red areas that were traced. It also showed a borderline enlarged spleen. The final report mentioned - query lymphoma. This is the portion that scared me the most pulling up my online portal online.
August 29th, 2019:
Happy Birthday to me! I was admitted today to the Emergency Department due to vomitting and low energy. When arriving in the late evening hours, it was a bit scary. I had a very high fever as well, but when you are surrounded by others with major wounds it is hard to justify me being there. It was a tough go with cords coming out of everything possible place on my body. Very low white blood cell count again. I still had a sense of humor, but I knew I would have loved to be elsewhere on my birthday. Blowing out a candle on a cupcake or unwrapping a gift or two. I was discharged, but our kids were left at my mother and father-in-laws until the early hours.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
Love the life you live. Live the life you love.
While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.
A few quotes I’ve been living by.
- “One lie is enough to question all truths.”
- “A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.”
…and drum roll please
- “I respect someone that respects me when I’m not around.”
Children are like flowers. Let them bloom by giving them your warm smiles, your soft gentle words falling on them like rain and your art of confidence. You will be amazed at your own garden.
Dancing the Night Away….
One-on-one time with my daughter rarely comes around. When the local father-daughter dance was announced, it was such a perfect opportunity to spend an evening of food, fun and dance. I’m hoping it would be a night that she remembers, just as much as I will. We were able to talk about her 2nd grade classes, sports, music and the dreaded topic - boys!
I must admit, the night meant just as much to me as it did to her. (if not more!) She still “likes” to hang out with her dad. She isn’t ashamed or doesn’t do an “eye roll” when I bring up a discussion. It is nice to know that she still looks up to me and my standards.
Anika will always be my girl, but it is sad to think that in the near future she will be escorted by another boy. (many years in the future - thank goodness!) I hope she looks back on this evening and knows how she is supposed to be treated on a date. I did my best to set the bar as high as I could.
Tugging at the Heartstrings
Valentine’s Day is best known as the month for love and giving. This was certainly the case at Ann K. Heiman Elementary as the school celebrated Valentine’s in rare fashion by dedicating the day to a very strong and brave young man. Jason, a kindergarten student at the school was diagnosed with a rare heart defect called CHD. Congenital Heart Disease means that he was born with an abnormally structured heart and/or large vessels. The “Heart Hero”, as staff and students know him as, is currently #3 on a waiting list for a brand new heart. This past week, the entire school came together during “Jump Rope for Heart” dedicating a string of hearts composed of 680 student signatures for him. A huge box of “get well” valentine notes was also presented. Finally, Mrs. Holly Kerkes’ 5th-grade class sewed together heart pillows in their life skills class that they presented to Jason and will give to other children at the cardiac ward in which he will eventually be receiving a new heart.
It was touching watching the Heiman Husky student body, staff, and administration come together and support Jason. I tend to put myself in situations and ask, "What if it was my son?" These questions always rattle me a bit and I can honestly say - It would be tough. Emotionally and physically demanding.
I've learned first hand, do not take the smallest things for granted. The holding of your child in the morning. Playing at the park and laughing. The tucking in and prayers at night. Cherish them and hold on to them for as long as you can.
It will be such an uphill battle for our “Heart Hero”, but we will continue the chant - “Good Luck Jason - Huskies don’t give up”!
Heiman Elementary (3500 Palermo Ave, Evans, CO) is currently seeking community donations to support Congenital Heart Disease month and the family of Jason. They are currently seeking coloring books, 8 pack crayons, playdoh sets, baby blankets, kids DVDs, iTunes gift cards, restaurant gift cards and travel size games/puzzles.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
Capturing a Child’s Mind
Children are like sponges. They take in everything. It is said that between birth and 3 years of age, the human brain increases to 80% of its adult size. Watching a child change from a clumsy toddler into lively explorers of the world is fascinating! What an experience today to be part of the learning process in the classroom. To see a teacher's method of focusing the student and capturing the excitement as they succeed.
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
To witness a young student's face light up as they hold technology is pure exhilaration! Google AR presented today and students were able to experience “expeditions” that allowed them to seamlessly interact with objects through a phone and flat surface. They were able to walk around the objects, get in close to spot details and step back to see the full picture.
The future of education will be in some sort of device (unfortunately) and it makes you wonder what student's will be using in the future to study DNA strands, marine biology, and architecture 5-10-20 years from now.
I'm excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality, which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world ....
Fall. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale." 🍂🍁🍃
✨ Love you to the moon and back and more than all the stars in the sky! ✨
Family is a unique gift that needs to be appreciated and treasured, even when they’re driving you crazy. As much as they make you mad, interrupt you, annoy you, curse at you, try to control you, these are the people who know you the best and who love you.
🎶 Summer lovin' had me a blast Summer lovin' happened so fast I met a girl crazy for me Met a boy cute as can be Summer days driftin' away To ah, oh, those summer nights 🎶
Sometimes I catch glimpses of the woman she'll become some day and I realize how fast time passes. She amazes me with every breath she takes and how precious the time is to spend a simple afternoon at the park with her.
Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.
I believe in the ocean curing all bad moods. I believe in the waves wiping away worries. I believe in seashells bringing good luck. I believe in toes in the sand grounding my soul.
My son is obsessed with Legos. Box after box and set after set, it is nonstop building. I'm proud of his dedication to finish sets that are 5 grade levels ahead of him. I only become hesitant when he starts showing frustration due to pieces being placed wrong 10-pages back in the instructions. The sense of "accomplishment" on his face as he dumps 6 bags out on the table and remains seated for 3-hours until the set is completely finished is very rewarding.
Well, my wife and I caved. It was time to introduce him to the Mecca of all Mecca experiences - LegoLand for a week. His face lit up as soon as we arrived at the resort in Carlsbad, California. Imagination and creativity were around every corner as he witnessed structures that were 5 times his size built entirely of Legos. He was in his own world and I couldn't be more happy for him.
Yes, Legos are developing his fine motor skills, encouraging creativity and pushing him to problem solve. As for me? I'm finding ways not to step on misplaced pieces on the kitchen floor each and every morning.
The sound a box of Lego makes is the noise of a child's mind working, looking for the right piece. Shake it, and it's almost creativity in aural form.
As a parent, it is always fun to see a bit of yourself come out in your child. If it is the creativity of an art project or the cringing at a hard math problem. My heart is full when I watch my daughter compete at the highest level in sports. She is passionate, driven and wants to be the best teammate.
Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.
The surest path to success is to surround yourself with brilliant women
Hot Air Balloons
Whenever we leave the ground and take to the sky, I’ll smile as I’m gazing down, cause I’ve always wondered why we don’t need feathers to fly.