1 Year Cancer Update & Reflections
So it is December 23. The daylight is lasting a bit longer than it has the past 3 days…lol. The Sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky, out my front window at least. I feel pretty OK for this time of the year.
We opened Christmas gifts with the family this morning and it was a nice time.
I have been quite absent from the blog this year, only managing to write a handful of articles.
I’ll go through each month and highlight some things, but if that is too long, here is my cancer update.
I am pretty much recovered from treatment. It is hard to say what is just being 40, and what is from the cancer and treatment. The leftover symptoms that I will probably deal with for the rest of my life are:
Peripheral neuropathy. Because the chemo was “curative,” it was applied very aggressively in order to save my life. So I have permanent nerve damage in my hands. Now I have to keep my hands warm and dry, particularly my left hand. Which is not easy, when you work outside with water. If my hands get wet and cold, it feels like someone burning my hand with a lighter on my finger tips and particularly my left thumb. Needless to say, it makes work very difficult especially in the colder months.
Nerve Damage From the Surgery: Orchiectomy. Sucks. I still cant feel anything from the incision site, down to uh…yeah…down there where the cancer was. It doesn’t really bother me, but it is really weird to not have any feeling there.
Bladder issues: Since chemo, I have had sudden and very strong urges to go. And when it happens, I need to go NOW. Which makes it really difficult when you work on a roof half the time! So I have to limit my coffee intake in the mornings. Which I suppose is a good thing.
Strength: I am getting strong again. I am still not where I was prior to diagnosis,and I will probably never be where I was when I was training 5 days a week, but I am gaining it back, slowly.
Lung Toxicity: I have a bit of decreased lung capacity now. I am a permanent card carrying member of the no scuba diving club, and I cannot have high pressure oxygen applied if I was in an accident etc. A small price to pay for my life.
I think the biggest surprise for me is that I am over year removed from chemo. Here is a pic of me from a year ago. My hair is certainly fuller now than it was back then.
On December 04th of last year we went to Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs) and stayed at Daphne’s place. It was just what the doctor ordered. I was 3 weeks post chemo, and I loved it.
Last December on the 28th, we moved to BC affordable housing. I was still very weak, and over a dozen of our church friends and family showed up to help us move. It was a blessing to have very affordable rent while I was in recovery. But this house never felt it home. It felt like a part of my treatment & recovery. It was necessary, financially, for us to move, and it was a blessing. But now we live in a whole house with a big yard, very close to the Maranatha Church building where we are members.
I had been planning a business since my chemo ended in November. I had a business plan done, and a website, and all the equipment I thought I would need. I knew I was not going to be able to return to the landscaping I was doing, since I was too weak. I started doing house cleaning, janitorial, and carpet cleaning on a very part time basis. My first client was an “emergency” carpet cleaning on January 11th, for a young couple from our church family, pictured here. A week later I started weekly cleaning for a family member, as well as a janitorial contract for someone from the church.
At the end of January I got sick. Really sick. Coughing. High fever. I ended up going to the hospital. But it turned out to be just a flu and my blood cells had returned to their full count and fought it off in time.
A couple from the Church at Cloverdale hired me to do a ton of work around their house. I really appreciated this!
He asked if I could clean his roof.
So I did research, joined the Roof Cleaning Institute of America, and learned how to do soft-washing. I had never even considered roof cleaning, but once I posted before and afters of his roof, the phone started ringing!
March got busy. I bought a small 25 gallon tank and ATV sprayer and mounted it in the minivan…Teresa was not happy lol
I was still weak. And all the work was taking its toll.
Time to hire an employee & purchase a trailer for the minivan to tow so we could get that tank out of the minivan. Wow. That escalated quickly!
April / May
Cancer update: We found out that the residual growth had shrunk from 4cm to 3cm. Good news! But the thought of cancer still being there was nagging in the back of my mind.
In May we celebrated our 16th anniversary. It was different than the other times. We didn’t take it for granted this time. Cancer changes some things!
Work wise, our roof cleaning was booming, and we purchased a dedicated air pump for our soft-washing side of the business, but it didn’t fit in our little trailer. So it just sat unused for the month.
We were so busy that we subbed out our first job to another local contractor. Not something I wanted to do, but we couldn’t handle it at the time.
As business continued to grow, we purchased a commercial grade pressure washer. Now our little trailer was definitely too small. Mid month we purchased a Truck and put the pressure washer in the back.
We needed a bigger trailer, but couln’t afford it after all the equipment we had purchased. Blessings continued as a brother from the Willoughby church had hired us to do his roof and siding etc. We worked out a deal and he gave us his trailer as payment! Not only that but he helped us to set it up. For that I am truly grateful! Now we were set up like a real contractor.
July / August
Cancer Update: I was really struggling with anxiety/depression. I was unable to shake the nagging thoughts of the residual growth, compounded with e stress of running a business. My doctor prescribed meds. I was hesitant to take them, but did. They helped a bit.
The end of July through August was slow for work. We took some time off and I volunteered as chaplain at Stepping Stone Bible camp. It was nice to spend time with family.
At the end of August we took a family trip to Vernon, to spend some time together before school started.
The kids started School. Kaitlyn in grade 6 and Meagan in grade 3.
Since work was so slow over the last 6 weeks, we decided that I would not go to school and we’d wait another year. The day classes were supposed to start, I called TWU and said I would be dropping all my classes. They called back, 3 hours before class, and told me that they were paying for half of one class for me. SO I went to school. I took one class – Biblical Hebrew.
Cancer Update: On Sept 21, I found out the results of my CT scan. The residual growth shrunk from 3 to 2cm. My oncologist believes the cancer is gone, and this is just dead tissue, since it has shrunk 3 scans in a row. The odds of a recurrence are at about 8% right now. Just enough to still bother me haha…
I had joined an association of professional exterior cleaners called teh United Association of Mobile Contract Cleaners, or UAMCC for short. Teresa and I headed off to Orlando for the annual convention. She sat at the pool, and I learned a TON from the experts and old dogs in the industry. It was definitely a great experience. Then we enjoyed the week by heading to Disney World, and just spending time enjoying the hot weather.
November 1. Time to move. Again! Less than year after moving in to the “treatment” house, we left and moved into our new home. With space for the family, a large yard, and room for the business. And it is a few blocks from the church. It is a blessing that we could get this house! So we moved 3 times in 22 months.
November 7. Cancer Update: Officially 1 year post chemotherapy! I stopped taking the anxiety/depression meds for the side effects. I seem to be handling it well without meds.
School Update: I wanted to drop Hebrew. It was not clicking and I was frustrated. But I didnt. Teresa wouldn’t let me.
Business wise, we hit a slow time for washing, so we jumped into supply and install of commercial grade Christmas lights. It was a risk financially, but has worked out well.
Well, here we are. That was my year in a nutshell. If it isn’t completely obvious, work has been an overwhelming part of my life. I have been struggling to separate home life and work life. It seems that almost every waking hour is spent either physically working, buying materials and supplies, doing estimates and quotes, or doing paperwork. No wonder I have had no time to blog.
So we have come into a very slow season. No phone calls are coming in. No estimates. No quotes. No emails. So I am taking some time off to recharge. So now I can take stock of my life. I can consider the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us and where we are going from here. The Lord has certainly been good to us.
It is Christmas. The time we remember that our Lord Jesus was born as man, to live a life of righteousness for us, to die for us, to rise again for us, to ascend for us and who intercedes for us… and I have been neglecting my relationship with him. The irony is that a year ago, during my chemo and recovery, I was able to spend a lot of time in the word and in prayer and with my family. He seemed ever so close. I strangely miss that time during my chemotherapy when He was near. To be clear, I don’t miss treatment. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. But the Lord is true to his promises and he was near in my darkest hours. Oh he is also near now, I just have not been as keenly aware of his presence, because of other distractions. So at Christmas, I am going to forget those distractions and can look to his great promises in Scripture.
Merry Christmas to all of you. May the Lord bless you in 2018!