I have to admit that I have been a little depressed this Christmas season. This year things have not gone as I had envisioned. It has been hard at times to keep a positive attitude. Some days it is impossible. Cancer sucks and it beats you down making it hard to even have the desire to get out of bed. But we continue to place one foot forward and then the other. We keep going, but life has still sucked. Maybe things will get better, but it looks like not anytime soon.
I met with my doctor on December 14th to go over my latest test and to let him know how I was feeling. I had to be honest with the Doc and I told him that I felt like shit, but that I was willing to continue being sick if the treatment plan was working. I learned that the remission we were hoping for by using this experimental drug protocol was not going to happen.
Months ago when we returned from our vacation in Seattle the plan was that I would start chemo. Once back I had another meeting with my doctor and he had another alternative he wanted me to consider. A new clinical trial had been completed showing promising results with patients with stage 4 prostate cancer. Patients like me with some of the same characteristics as my disease.
It was a small study, but showed promising results. Some of the patients had gone into remission. He estimated that the probability that I could go into remission at 25%. I understood that the probability of a remission with chemo was less.
I thought so why are you asking me which one do I want? WTF Doc we are going for a remission screw chemo. I never wanted to do chemo anyway.
He then explained that the treatment was not FDA approved and considered experimental by insurance companies. The drugs cost $10,000.00 a month and that most insurance companies would not pay for it.
I told him to submit it to the insurance company and if it was not approved then chemo it was.
Well everyone about shit their pants when the insurance company approved the drug. Not me. I do not shit my pants. I do piss my pants, but do not shit them.
I went on the drugs.
On December 14th I learned that I was not going to be one of the 25% to go into remission. The numbers were not where they needed to be, and the side effects I was experiencing were too severe to continue.
The last four weeks using the drugs had made me very sick. October and November were not bad, but December was kicking by butt. The side effects were getting worse. I was taking more pills to combat all the side effects the drugs were causing just so I could continue using the drugs. I was taking more pills to help control the side effects than I was to control the cancer. Still it was worth a try.
I still have the medicine inside of me from my ADT shot therapy. Good old Lupron. No more Zytiga at this time. I am down to one pill bottle in the morning and evening instead of five. I still take Percocet when the pain gets really bad. Hate that shit, but it does help me sleep.
Oh I did find out that one of those pills I was taking was for the dog. Hey early in the morning when it is the first thing you do is get out of bed and walk downstairs still half asleep all I do is see pill bottle then take pill. The pills for Winston were also on the table. The Tiger Dog pills must have been the only pill working. I kept scratching the front door then went outside for a few seconds then back inside then out and back several more times. You get the picture. (Just Kidding – Maybe)
So no remission along with being sick adds up to the blues. My spirits did change on December 23rd at 9:30 P.M. That is when Amy Brown walked through the front door. She announced that she wanted to go look at Christmas lights. I really had not been in the mood for driving around looking at lights. I was in a certifiable “Bah Humbug” mood, but Amy usually gets what she wants. The baby you know. So off we went.
We went to Candy Cane Lane which is an area of houses that we had been to many, many times in the past. This time was a little different. I decided to park the car away from Candy Cane Lane and we walked there to look at the houses. Yes it was very cold, but the wind was not blowing. Oklahoma blows you know. That is why we normally always have a south wind. Not tonight. Thanks Oklahoma.
So we walked around and were able to spend much more time looking over the decorations. No cars hurrying us along. Just had to dodge a few of them, but hell I can dodge a wrench. (Patches O’Houlihan)
We talked to people in their cars and spoke to a few home owners and talked about their decorations. One house had lights reading, “Happy Birthday Jesus.” I never found out where to go to get my treat bag.
We took pictures, and talked and laughed. This was a moment that I will cherish. This was fun times with my Amy. The blues were gone. No more feeling sorry for myself.
Over the next couple of days I enjoyed time with Justin, Amy, and Allie. Amy introduced a new game to the family called ‘The Chameleon.’ I am now the South Central Kansas Chameleon Champion. Okay, Okay maybe Amy is, but she cheated.
Christmas Day was a little different as well. I was going through Cammy withdrawals, and the blues were trying to sing again. Then the snap shits started.
I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking my coffee when the first snap chat arrived. I was able to watch Cammy playing with his gifts from Santa. Let me tell you he you really made out in the gift department from Santa and everyone else. He could open his own store. I guess that is to be expected when you are the first and only grandchild on both sides.
When the snaps stopped and he took a break from playing Cammy called making it face chat time. Is that what you call it, face chat? Well that is what I am calling it today. One word or two? Hell I do not know. Moving on.
I am sure Erin dialed, but when we spoke Cammy was not going to give up that phone. He wanted to show us everything that Santa had brought. He started walking around and yes Nana and I got a really good look at the floor (Vacuum Erin). Also had a good view of the walls, and ceiling. It also made us a little bit dizzy at times.
During all of this he was actually able to show us what Santa had brought and he told us all about it. He also hung up on us two or three times, but that is normal.
Cammy I so enjoyed the snaps and face chatting and attempting to have a conversation with you, but I want to tell you that as you get older that you will learn that the best gifts that you will ever receive will not be found under the tree. They might also appear at other times than Christmas.
I did not bring it up when you called. You are only two years old, and dah, would not understand. When you get older and are reading this I think you will understand. But now as a small child it often does revolve around what is under the tree or in the corner tucked away. Right, Ralphie?
I do want to take this moment Cammy to tell you about one of the best gifts I ever received in my life. His name was Grandpa Albert. We were very close and he was more of a father to me than my father ever was. I spent more time with him than any other man. As a small child he took me to St. Louis many times to see the Cardinals. He is responsible for my deep devotion to the Cards. I hope to pass that devotion onto you.
I think of him often. Grandpa died 31 years ago. I still miss him. The sadness I feel after all these years is still there inside me. It will always be there. I do not care if someone tries to tell you differently my experience is that you never really get over the loss of someone extremely close to you. You just learn to live through it.
Cammy I have found myself thinking about Grandpa often this Christmas. He was my grandfather and I am yours. I hope that as he looks down on us that I have made him proud. I would like to think that I have.
Christmas night I asked Amy what was the best gift she had received this year. She told me that her best gift was looking at the Christmas lights and spending time with me. Our moments!
Everyone needs an Amy. Everyone has an Amy. We just need to open our eyes and our hearts and live and love in the moment we find ourselves.
Your moments are all around. Sometimes we are just too busy to see them.
Your moment might be taking a hike or bike ride and sharing that experience with family or friends.
Finding the man or woman of your dreams and telling that person each and every day in words and/or deeds that you love them.
One day Camden you will find your best gift somewhere other than under the tree. Amy gets that. I get that. Someday you will too.
Live and love in the moment. Cherish your experiences. Make them count.