Every One Is Right

So Wednesday night I am home from the hospital wondering when the results of the biopsy/autopsy of my rib will be available. I have an appointment with the surgeon on Monday to learn the results. But do I really have to wait until Monday for the results? I think not.

Christy knows everyone in the pathology department. She will know Thursday which doctor will be assigned to examine my rib. She knows the head of the pathology department and has his personal cell phone number. I think we will know before the surgeon even knows.

The head of the pathology contacts Christy on Thursday. He tells her that the specimen was examined by one of his doctors and no cancer was found. He also examined the rib and found no cancer.

The doctor told Christy they had one more test to run and they would not know the results until Friday. Friday they told her that all tests were complete and no cancer was found. Yahoo!!!

I said, “So much for the cancer surgeon being so confident that my cancer had spread.”

This was great news. I was cautiously optimistic with the results. I am always concerned about what else could go wrong. It just seemed too good to be true with all the pain and discomfort I had been having. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This time though I was convinced that was not going to happen. I had two pathologists saying they found no cancer. What more did I need?

With the pathology information and many people waiting to hear about the results I posted on Facebook that the tests were completed and Brutus was not found.

It turns out that I was a little premature in my announcement.

We went to KC to see the kids that weekend and had a good time. Except for the trip to Lawrence to watch KU play Villanova, that was not good.

So we get back into town and we have a meeting with the surgeon on Monday to go over the test results. I told Christy to pay attention to who the doctor spoke to while we were there. She did not agree that he had ignored me on our last visit. I told her to just watch.

So once there to meet with the doctor it was just the three of us in the room. No other white coats today. Once again he directed his conversation toward Christy. I found a cosmo something or other to read. I was listening to their conversation.

He spoke about the pathology report and that it was negative for cancer. He showed Christy the report. He did not show me. I was taking a survey I found in cosmo.

Christy told him that she had talked to the pathologist last week about the results. We were happy.

This is when the other shoe dropped or I should say a steel toed boot kicking me in the ass.

The doctor announced that he did not agree with the report. He said that lots of mistakes can be made through the process.

He explained that what he had seen during the operation was bone that had been damaged from cancer. He did not understand why it was not showing up on the other tests. He is a cancer surgeon and he knows cancer when he sees it.

Christy leaned forward and told him that maybe he was the person making the mistake.

Boooyyy things just got interesting. Christy was coming out swinging. She had the doctor backpedaling. She hit him with a right and then a left. She then threw in a hook to the body and an upper cut to the jaw. The doctor was trying to do the famous rope a dope, but it was not working.

The doctor looked at me and tried to engage me in conversation for the first time. His eyes said save me. I do not think he was used to someone questioning him.

I just stretched out in my chair and placed my hands behind my head. I needed popcorn. I was thinking you two go ahead I am fine right here.

Well when the bell rang, and she went back to her corner, the doctor continued.

He explained that he was a cancer surgeon. That is how he made his living. He knows what cancer looks like. I would have used the duck analogy but he continued saying that if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog then it is a dog.

He said that his belief was that the cancer had spread into my bones. He knew that is not what I wanted to hear, but that was what had happened.

Based upon the scans and what he personally saw inside me he said that I had metastatic prostate cancer in my bones. He believed that the disease had spread into several of my ribs.

During the conversation I then learned that he had taken my entire fourth rib. I thought that he only scooped out pieces. He said that the entire rib was diseased and he took it.

Now I thought that he had cut it out. But no, he explained that they have a special pair of pliers and that he just broke off pieces of the rib with the pliers until he had it all.

He then spoke about how he felt that I should have another surgery and that he should take the ribs from my right side that showed possible tumors and have them sent to the pathologist.

This was the surgery that I did not want. This was where several ribs would be taken and he would replace them with some sort of fake rib.

Christy was about to come out of the corner for the next round. I sensed that he felt another ass kicking coming and he pulled out his cell phone and had my oncologist on the phone in a matter of seconds. How did he do that?

He told Dr. O that he had Mr. Brown with him discussing the test results. I heard Dr. O say “Kevin.” It is good that your doctor knows who you are, but it probably is not that good. I sensed that they had already talked about my need for another surgery. Dr. O agreed with the surgeon that I should have the second surgery. They got off the phone.

The doctor continued with his passionate case that I needed the surgery. I gave in. I agreed to the surgery.

We left with the agreement that his people would call my people to set this whole thing up.

Walking to the car Christy made the comment that the doctor at first was ignoring me and only talking to her. I said that he only started talking to me when he became scared of her. I know exactly how that doctor felt.

That was on Monday. On Wednesday the surgeon tracked Christy down in her lab. He told her that he had been talking with several doctors familiar with my case and he had decided that he would rather again operate on my left chest area. That was still the area they were most concerned with. He no longer wanted to operate on the right side.

Once I received that news I called the doctor’s office. I spoke to the lady that does the surgery scheduling. I informed her that any surgery on my body was now cancelled.

He had convinced me that the right side needed attention, and then he changed his mind. What the hell was going on? Enough of this bullshit!! No surgery!

So let’s review what we have so far:

CT Scans and Bone Scans show the disease has moved into my rib bones.

Surgeon: He saw the dog and it was not a little dog, but a big cancer dog.

Pathologists: Well we found no dog.

Oncologist: He still does not want to commit at this time. Great! He is probably a cat person.

Urologist: He is not aware of what has been happening. It is time to pay him a visit.

I credit Dr. U with saving my life. He correctly diagnosed me when Dick did not and performed the cancer surgery.

When this all started, I went to see him for a second opinion and when we met he did a DRE that sent me to the ceiling. I had never had an exam like that. I thought that this meant we were getting married. Put a ring on it doc. I later lay on the exam table waiting on my cigarette. He then told me that I was in very bad shape and needed surgery NOW.

He told me that my cancer had spread out of the gland and that he was very concerned for my welfare.

Dr. U is a little older than I am and much older than my other doctors. He is my Wise Old School Doctor. We get along most of the time. He has gotten a little irritated when I have chosen to follow other doctor’s advice and not his. Still we’re good.

I had lab work done before seeing Dr. U and so the first thing we did when we met was go over the labs.

He gave me great news. He said that my PSA number was zero. He thought that I would never see my PSA drop to zero, but it had. Fist bump time.

Many times I have written about my lab numbers, but I have never explained what they are looking for. They check for several different things, but the main number they are concerned with is the PSA number which stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. A normal prostate will produce this PSA protein. Cancer will also produce PSA. So when you have surgery and have the prostate removed you should no longer have the PSA protein in your blood. If you do, it is a sign that malignant cancer cells have escaped the gland and are producing PSA on their own. I had a very high PSA after surgery. After surgery it should be zero.

Now the number had dropped to zero due to my drug treatments. I am scheduled to go off treatment. I asked how long the PSA would stay at zero. I knew that this was not a question he could answer. I was testing him.

He said that it would be zero until it wasn’t. We both laughed.

No one knows how long the number will stay depressed. It could start going up very soon indicating that Brutus was once again growing and spreading. It could stay depressed for a year, and then return. The drugs have shrunk the tumors to undetectable levels at this time. The tumors are dormant. They are not dead. Brutus will grow again.

We were standing in an exam room when I asked the doctor what he thought of the biopsy results.  He pointed toward the chairs along the wall and said, “Kevin, have a seat.” Not good. He seldom calls me by my first name.

Dr. U does not like to be the bearer of bad news. He avoids it at all costs. His favorite way to avoid tough discussions is to say, “Let’s talk about that next time.” I have had to overcome that before and then turn into an interrogator to get information out of him.

We sat down and the conversation went like this. I will paraphrase. I had to pay attention. Christy was not there.

Doc: When we first met you were in very bad shape. Your PSA is zero today, but it will not stay there. You are not curable and the cancer will return. When it returns it will be in your bones.

Me: Say what doc!?

Doc: Every one is right. Your cancer has spread into your bones. The tests are correct. Your surgeon is correct. The pathologist is correct.

Me: Doc you are going to have to explain that to me.

Doc: The CT Scans and Bone Scans are showing where your bones are trying to heal from the cancer. Your surgeon saw the damage the cancer had caused. It is there. The pathologist could not find the cancer, but the cancer is there. They could not find it, because the drugs you are on have finally been able to get the upper hand and have shrunk the tumors. They have shrunk so small that they are not detectable to the pathology tests. Therefore, negative results from the test. The cancer is there in your ribs. I am sorry. We have drugs and they are coming up with new treatments all the time to help you survive.

The Wise Old Doc had seen this scenario before.

He told me that with hindsight he now believed that the cancer was in my bones before surgery. They were microscopic cancer cells and did not show up on tests. My pain is what has lead to the discovery of the spread of the disease.

His explanation made perfect sense. It definitely was not what I wanted to hear, but finally someone had made sense of what was going on inside my body.

We parted and before leaving the building I made another appointment to see him in a few weeks. At least I think I did. Things were a little foggy as I was leaving.

When I first started this treatment process dealing with the side effects of surgery, radiation, pills, and shots made me sick. The treatments were what made me sick not Brutus. All the complications I was dealing with were manmade.

Now things have changed. The pain I had been feeling in my ribs was caused by the cancer actually attacking my body. Brutus is trying to kill me from the inside.

This is devastating news. I have written about what this type of diagnosis would mean. I will not go over it again. I will just say that my prognosis is terrible, and I do not want to talk or think about it.

I purposely am posting this essay on the weekend so that the great people I work with can read it and adjust. Some might talk with each other. Some might text me. I know this will hit many of them just as hard as it has hit me. Well maybe not quite as hard as it hit me.

Cancer is chaos and I should not be surprised this has happened. It seems things change on a daily basis.

People will want to know what they can do for me. Right now I just need some space.

I am still trying to figure out what is next. It seems like I am on a never ending cycle of scans, blood work, shots, pills, doctor visits and picking up my dry cleaning. Cleaned, pressed and starched. You think I do that shit? Hell no.

Now if I could only figure out how to clean, press, and starch Brutus.

Kevin

Religion

At work my detective partner is named Dave. I take Dave out in the field with me when I think I might get my ass shot off of someone’s porch when I knock. I realize that it might be nice to have a back-up at times or at least a witness to my demise.

Dave’s father is a retired minister. I would say that Dave is probably a little more religious than I. His office is next to mine and we have had some deep discussions at times. A few talks have been about religion or I should say my lack thereof.

With my current situation in mind Dave asked me one day if I ever prayed. I told Dave “No.” I have never in my life prayed for myself. Whether it was about cancer or anything else.

Now I guess I have to qualify that statement, because I think that there have been times in my youth that I have asked God to please make the bed stop spinning and if he could do that for me that I would never again do what I did last night. Also in my youth maybe I have said to God, “Please don’t let her be pregnant!” Maybe or maybe not, college was a good time. I do not think those wishes really qualify as prayer.

I have never asked God for a cure. I have never asked God to stop the pain. I have never asked God for strength. I have never asked God why. Why me? I have prayed for others, just not me. If someone wishes to pray for me I appreciate that very much. I appreciate everyone’s prayers, thoughts, and wishes. They keep me going.

Maybe I should ask God to kick our state legislators in the ass, and get them to increase funding for our schools so that some bright kid might one day discover a way to help people suffering from disease. Yes I might do that.

Some people when reading this will say, “Well Kevin if you prayed you would not be in the deep shit you are now.” Maybe they are right or maybe not. Maybe I will get the opportunity to meet God and when I do I am going to have one question for her: WTF!!

I do know how to pray. Hell I was born and raised Catholic. I went to Catholic grade school and I was an altar boy. I have been a recovering Catholic for about 40 years.

In Martinsburg Sister Mary Peter Damien was my teacher for 1st and 2nd grade. Both classes were in the same room. Sister Mary Black & Decker was the shop teacher. I know old joke, but I still laugh. You must remember that one of the reasons for this blog is to make me laugh, and laugh I will.

When older I would sometimes go to confession in Martinsburg, sometimes in Wellsville, other times in Mexico, MO. I had to try the different churches in order to learn which priest was the most lenient. You know, I needed to know how many Hail Mary’s I was going have to say if I had an affair with the lady next door. Hahaha.

Often I found myself in Mexico on a Saturday and my mother liked to go to confession at the church there. I did not like it there.

The church had more than one priest, and I learned quickly that if you told one of them that you had missed church one week that your penance was automatically going to be to say an entire Rosary. That was a lot praying. You would have thought that I did sleep with the neighbor’s wife. I thought that was a little harsh for missing mass.

The Church had two or three confessional booths. Cannot remember how many, but for this story we will say three. It was my task to try to figure out which confessional booth Rosary priest was hiding.

So I walk into the Church and I can hear Don Pardo yelling out, “Kevin do you want what is behind curtain #1, #2, or #3?” This was a big decision. I had no time for the Rosary. I had to find the right priest. Don would not let me phone a friend for help. I picked #2.

So I get in there and start, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. My last confession was……”

Then I hear the priest. Ooooh noooo. It is Rosary priest. So that day I decided to add another lie to my lie list and not mention having missed mass since my last confession. I was told to say a couple of Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s and I was out of there in time to get with my friends for a Saturday night party. You know us Catholics.

At college I went to the Newman Center (the Catholic church on campus) a few times. I decided that it was not for me.

Religion never really was an issue until Christy and I were in serious discussions about our relationship future. She was Methodist and she told me that she would not become Catholic or be married in the Catholic Church. Hell I did not care where we got married. I just wanted to have sex.

It did matter a bunch to my Irish Catholic grandparents. So I was able to get Christy to go and meet with a priest. We enrolled in education classes with the knowledge that she was trying to keep peace in the family. We went to class every week with other couples.

The priest made it a point to make sure that everyone abstained from sex before we were married. No problem. Well it wasn’t for awhile. Also the priest would sometimes ask.

You see we were living in separate apartments, but our leases were up one month before the wedding. We found a place and moved in together. This is where we would live after the wedding. Did I mention that it was just a month before the wedding?

I was walking behind Christy one day and she bent over to grab a can of corn. I do not know what happened, but it happened. I could not control myself and we had sex right there. Hopefully the priest would not ask.

So we are back in class a few days later and the priest he asks if we have been abstaining from sex. I guess I could have lied and added that to my tally at confession, but I told him the truth.

I told him that she had bent over for a can of corn and I could not control myself and we had sex right there.

The priest told me that we were no longer welcome into the Catholic Church. I said, “Father that is okay, because we were no longer welcome in Kroger either.”

Hahahaha. Gotcha.

Okay. Okay. That was supposed to be part of an April Fools post but April Fools was on Easter this year. Did not think that was a good time for this post.

Anyway most of what you have read here is very true. Some is not. You figure it out.

I am not trying to challenge anyone’s religious beliefs. I guess I am still on that road trying to figure out my own. Hope I have not pissed off too many friends and family, but at this stage of my life I guess it does not matter.

By the way we were married in the Methodist Church. Seven years and one great granddaughter later my grandmother got over it.

Seriously I am not sure of the existence of Heaven or Hell. I figure that when I die that I will either go to sleep and never, never wake up or wake up in Heaven. I really am not in any hurry to find out, but my money is on the former.

I am spiritual, but do not consider myself church religious. I see God when I see a couple sitting on a park bench holding hands. I see God when people do unselfish things for their fellow man. I see God in the eyes of my Camden. I am in no hurry to leave.

Several years ago I stopped going to church. It did not feel right. No matter how many times good intending people ask I have no plans to ever return.

I do not want to have a church funeral. I would rather have a big party in which I am the host. Video recorded of course. I will welcome everyone there and say sorry I could not be there, but I am dead.

I will have a recording of myself asking questions for a game of Dead Man Trivia. You know trivia questions about me. Questions like who is the world’s greatest band? One of the kids better get that one. I want everyone to have a good time.

Maybe I will see you there. Maybe not.

Kevin

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  Henry David Thoreau

Surgery

In the March 18th post I was talking about needing a rib biopsy and how they were going to give that a try in an attempt to avoid surgery. I had two meetings with the surgeon. The first was with just me and the second one Christy was there. The meeting with Christy present was so different than my meeting. Let me explain.

The doctor was a Via Christi cancer surgeon. Christy works for Via Christi in the lab at St. Francis Hospital.   She has a degree in Laboratory Sciences from the University of Missouri. She is a blood specialist and works with cancer patients who have leukemia and other cancer blood disorders. At St. Francis the color of scrubs you wear designates what part of the hospital you work. When the doctor walked into our room along with several other people in white coats his attention and focus went right to Christy. He could tell from the scrubs she was one of them so to speak. I am not ever sure if he knew if I was there. I was okay with that.

They started talking and it was like I had been sent to the kid table during a holiday dinner. I one time tried to say something, but I think the doctor raised his hand like do not interrupt the adult conversation. All I wanted to know was if they had a ball or something for me to do while they talked about my future.

I later asked Christy what he had said. She said that he told her that I was fucked. Hahaha. You know Christy did not say that. She never uses the F word. Well not often anyway only when she is really mad at me. Who would ever be mad at me? Do not answer that question.

Okay he did talk to me a little. I kid you not it was very little. I guess he needed me to agree to his plan. Christy was nodding her head so I said okay. The plan was to try a needle biopsy and if that did not work I would have surgery.

March 26th was the day they finally set up the biopsy at St. Joe Hospital. I arrived early that morning and met with the radiologist that was going to try to stick a needle into my fourth rib on my left side. Scans had shown that I had a mass, tumor, or lesions on both my left side and on my right side. The word choice, I guess take your pick. I have heard it called all three by different medical people.

They decided to do the left side instead of the right. They were more concerned with the left side because it was the most recent tumor/lesion to show up on the scans. The mass on my left side was very close to my heart and in the back of the rib bone up against my lung. It was going to be a little tricky for the radiologist to get that big ass needle, it was big, into the bone and not punch through it and hit the lung (bad) or the aorta (very bad).

The procedure was done with the use of a CT scanner. They would cut a little then place me into the scanner to see what they were doing and if it was going well. Take me out and do a little more work and then put me back into the scanner to see if things were good. In and out I went over and over. Yes I was awake during the procedure. They numbed me up and I really did not feel anything.

Parts of it were kind of funny. I had to laugh when they brought in what sounded like an impact wrench that you use to change a tire. I even felt my skin being twisted when they put that thing in me.

The doctor was trying to put the needle into me at an angle so that he would not go through the bone and into the lung or aorta. They had everything set up to get me into emergency surgery in case the needle slipped.

The only time it really hurt was each time he actually tried to penetrate the bone. The needle slipped off each time and I would move about a let out a yell. The doctor kept saying he was sorry and told him not to worry about it. I told him thatiIt did not hurt that bad, actually it did, but I wanted him to get it over with and be successful. He finally gave up.

What he needed to do next was to mark the rib so that the surgeon could take the correct one out. He actually put a treble hook into me. It was placed under the rib and a metal wire was attached to the treble hook. The wire would be several inches outside my body and the surgeon would follow the wire down to where he needed to cut. Fishing for ribs.

Now this is not how things were suppose to go. I had no idea that surgery would be done right after if the biopsy was not successful. I do not think the surgeon wanted it that way either. He was on a staycation with his kids. He had to come in on his days off to operate. Once that hook is put into you they have to operate soon. They wanted to operate the next day, but could not get me on the schedule. Wednesday would be surgery day.

I went to recovery after the attempted biopsy, but I wanted out of there. I was able to get them to let me go home. I was out of there by mid afternoon.

I needed to contact my supervisor, Travis, and let him know that I would probably be out of the office the entire week. The pain was actually bad. I was told not to move around so that the hook stayed in place. Like I was going to go on a run or something.

Christy had spoken to Travis and had told him what was going on. I still felt the need to communicate with him.

So I plugged Travis’ phone number into my phone and started texting him. Now in the past for some reason I have not been able to text him. So I started over from scratch and plugged his number into my phone.

This was the first message.

Now we like to have fun with one another and when he said this was not acceptable, I figured that I would play along. So I offered to work a half day. Like that was going to happen.

With his next response I started to get a little irritated and pissed. He was about to make my list.

It is common knowledge around work that I have a list of names that if I am ever told I have six months to live that you better hope you are not on that list. Travis worries that he is on that list. I keep him thinking that. He really is not on it. I like the guy, but he was getting very close to being on that list.

Then when he started talking about Christy I knew he would not go that far. I got to wondering who the hell I was talking to. I checked the number and the last digit should have been a five and I plugged in 6. I was not talking to Travis at all.

How funny. I really enjoyed the humor of the situation.

Travis can rest easy. He has not yet made the list.

Wednesday the 28th was surgery day. I had to be at St. Francis at the ungodly hour of 5:30 A.M.

Surgery was scheduled for 7:00.

So I am in a big pre-op room with probably a dozen people all waiting. I was in an area with a curtain drawn around me and all these people kept coming into the area to talk and then later prep me for the surgery.

The anesthesiologists came by and with him he had Doogie Howser 1. He explained that Doogie was going to be assisting him. I was thinking where the hell did they get this kid? I have clothes older than this kid. Yes my fashion is a little outdated.

Then the surgeon who was assisting the surgeon came by. The assistant was one of those white coats that had been in the room when the doctor was talking to Christy. The assistant to the assistant who was assisting the surgeon I had never seen before. He was Doogie Howser 2. I asked what his role would be. He was going to just observe. Good because I was going to object to Doogie 2 touching me at any time.

My chest was being shaved by a lady and some sort of jelly it seemed was being rubbed all over me. The room was ice cold and so was the jelly, and so were the ladies hands. Each time she touched me I could not stop from laughing. She told me that I was the only patient in the place laughing and that I needed to calm down or all the other patients would wonder what was going on. I could not help it.

I looked under the blanket and then I told the lady that she needed to call hospital security because I needed to make a police report. She asked what I was talking about. I told her that I came in here with a six pack and she had turned it into a jelly belly. She laughed and told me that everyone my age that leaves the hospital leaves with a jelly belly. That did not make me feel better.

So the doctor came by to talk, but by this time they had let Christy back to where I was and of course he was talking to her. That was okay because Doogie 1 had given me something before they even wheeled me out of that room and I was almost off to La La Land.

They wheeled me away and a few hours later I woke in recovery. I went home that night.

In a few days I will talk to you about the results.

Kevin

Chaos

I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking my coffee looking out into the yard at the bunnies running around and I was thinking of all of the things I wanted to do this spring. Playing ball, travel, running in races in which I will collect more t-shirts that Christy will try to hide or throw away, and of course trying to get well. I had many thoughts running through my head. I also thought about how chaotic and hectic the last month had been and if someone would ever be able to explain what was happening with Brutus.

I thought about what I needed to do to be able to get myself in shape to run the Zero Prostate Cancer 5k in about a month. I was wondering if my body had healed enough to even allow me to start running again. Last year I walked the race. I said that in 2018 I would come back and run. Not sure that is going to happen. I stopped running late last fall when the pain got too bad in my ribs. I am disappointed.

When I thought of what I needed to do in order to get back into shape I thought of my old trainer David Pace.

Dave and I have known each other since the 4th grade. We went to grade school, high school, and college together. We lived together a couple of years while at the University of Missouri in Columbia. We have a lot of history in which some has been pretty wild. I have many stories. I will not tell them here, at least not yet.

Several years ago Dave took a job in Wichita and he called me about where he and his family should buy a house. I told him that he needed to be in the Maize school district. He ended up buying a house two blocks from me.

When I was the most active with my running I would come home from work and go for a 3 to 5 mile run most nights. The weekends were for the longer runs or races.

Funny thing happened with those long weekend runs with Dave living two blocks away. I found myself leaving the house and jogging over to his place. He would invite me inside and grab two frosty mugs out of his freezer and two Bud Lights. Now that is what I call training. If it was before noon I would put a cornflake in the mug and call it breakfast. I do not think my times improved that summer. That is okay. I enjoyed the talks.

Dave and his family lived here several years. They moved away and now live in the KC area. My training has never been the same. Erin does not live far from Dave and Julie. I am planning on being in KC in a few weeks to see the kids. I might run, no I will drive over and knock on Dave’s door. Maybe drink a beer.

Dave has always been a very good friend. As I have been going through this cancer process his impact on my life has been even bigger.

He started by sending me cards out of the blue every so often that greatly helped pick up my spirits. Dave I cannot tell you how much those cards meant to me. He called so often that he at times was annoying. Just kidding Dave, but if you do know Dave as I know some of you who are reading this do, you know that he can be annoying at times. I love you Dave. You are one of my besties

When Dave would call I sensed that he was worried that he was going to lose a friend. He needed reassurance from me that I was not going anywhere. The problem was that I was also worried that he was going to lose a friend. Hell I am still worried he is going to lose a friend.

I felt the need to convince him that I was fine and that everything would be okay. I think at some point he finally started to believe. The problem was I did not believe what I was selling.

I also feel the need to convince each of you that I am going to be okay. Hell sometimes I start to believe it. In the short run I think things will work out. The long run, well who knows? In the long run I guess we are all dead. The problem is my long run is most likely shorter than most.

I try to stay as positive as I can. Being positive helps me get through the day. But I also have to face reality and at times it is very difficult to stay positive. It seems that for every step forward I have been able to take, I soon find myself taking two steps back. That has not changed. I get good news and soon the bad news follows.

I talk about Dave as an example of the support I have received since this mess started. Many of you have contacted me and let me know that I am in your thoughts and yes your prayers. I greatly appreciate that. Having that contact is what has kept me going, and will continue to keep me going. Thank you.

People who I do not even know have contacted me because they somehow found the blog. Some are cancer patients. I have exchanged emails with many of them and I am glad that they enjoy reading what I write and have found the blog helpful for their situation.

I have been called brave by some. I greatly appreciate the thought, but I am not sure that is the adjective I would use to describe me. You see I just do (most of the time) what my doctors tell me to do (they might disagree). I show up for my appointments. Show up for the scans and other tests. Let them cut on me when they have been able to convince me of the need. I just do what needs to be done.

Stupid is another adjective that some might use to describe me. At times that one is fairly accurate. I do not consider myself to be a stupid man, but I do at times play one in real life.

I have had contact with friends that I have not spoken to or seen in years. That has been wonderful. Sometimes I think that I have pushed too hard. I have at times said things I wished I could take back. I want to apologize for my stupidity. I would hate to lose contact with the people I have found. Sometimes I feel that I am running out of time.

My work family has provided me with so much support. I cannot find the words to explain to each of you what you mean to me. You have seen me at my worst. Each of you has done wonders for my spirits and your support has kept me going. Thank you.

Much has happened since the last post on March 18th. I had surgery and the surgeon talked me into another surgery, because he did not like the results of the first surgery. After I agreed to another surgery things changed, like they always do. I let the doctor know that I no longer wanted the surgery.

I have had more scans and tests. I have seen my doctors over and over. I am having another scan this week and another appointment with the surgeon to listen to him tell me one more time how he is going to help me.

I have a friend in town that is a cancer survivor and I was talking with him about all the crazy things that have been happening the last several weeks. He told me that when he was dealing with his cancer that his doctor told him that the best description he could give of cancer was that of chaos. Cancer never stays the same. Each day it is different. This causes chaos in treatments and in the patient’s daily life. Yes chaos is a good description.

Being a mush brained TV addict I thought of Maxwell Smart along with Agent 99 fighting the deadly spy’s from K.A.O.S. Brutus is an agent of Chaos and K.A.O.S. I need to call Maxwell Smart for help. Let me get my shoe phone.

I have found this past month to be especially physically and mentally challenging. My emotions have been all over and I find myself depressed at times. You will understand as this week unfolds.

I am going to do the post a little different than the past. I am going to try to write shorter posts and just post more often throughout a week or so. That means more work for Erin. I am sure she will not mind. I am going to give that a try because I am not sure anyone wants to slog through a 10,000 word post.

Let’s get started.

Kevin

The Luck Of The Irish

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and Justin and I went downtown to Lou’s for lunch and to drink some green beer. Lou’s and the entire area were packed. Justin knew the bartender so we got good service with our drinks. Lou’s is right across the street from the Intrust Bank Arena where the NCAA Tournament was being played. Getting food was impossible. So we had beer for lunch. Not the first time that has happened. Of course Justin forgot to grab some cash when we left the house so dad had the tab. I did not care. I had not seen him in a month and I was just glad he was home for the weekend. We needed to talk. He leaves Monday.

Last night I went with my good friends Lindsey and Deann to the tournament. The games were great and the conversations were even better.

Lindsey, Deann and I

We watched KU hold on to beat Seton Hall and then saw the shot of the night to end the Michigan game. A last nanosecond three for the win.  Exciting! I would describe the shot, but I am sure you saw it.

I was a Michigan fan for the night. I had them picked in my bracket to defeat Houston. Not that it probably mattered since my bracket was officially busted. I had picked Virginia to win it all. Damn.

The Michigan player who took that shot must have been feeling the Luck of the Irish this St. Patties Day. Maybe he had been at Lou’s earlier drinking green beer listening to the bagpipes?

Deann and Lindsey

All I know is that I also could use a change of luck. As the saying goes if it weren’t for bad luck I would have no luck at all. I am even part Irish. The Sheridan clan came to America years ago from Ireland. I have a little Leprechaun in me. Please no short jokes. I have heard them all.

If I am ever able to capture a Leprechaun at the end of a rainbow I would not be interested in his pot of gold. Rather my wish or change in my Irish Luck would be for better health.

In December I was experiencing pain in my ribs. I went to my primary care doctor and x-rays were taken. He reviewed and showed me the x-ray. He pointed to a dark spot on the x-ray in the area where I was having the most pain. He said that what we were looking at was a tumor.

You could hear a pin drop in that room when those words came out of his mouth.

No one said a word, but everyone in that room was thinking the same thing and knew what that news might mean.

With many advanced prostate cancer (PC) patients a natural progression for the disease is that it metastasizes into the bone. The hips, spine, and ribs are three of the disease’s favorite places to travel.

Most of stage 4 PC patients will have their cancer eventually metastasize into their bones. Prognosis at that time is very bad. Most die within just a few years.

That is what was racing through my mind as well as everyone else’s.

The doctor told me that I needed to see my oncologist ASAP.

It was getting close to Christmas and my oncologist was on vacation. I finally got a call from his office while I was in Houston the day of the Tiger’s bowl game. The game sucked. Enough said about that.

They wanted me at the hospital that afternoon for a CT scan. Sorry folks no can do. We scheduled the scan for the day after we got back.

The CT scan confirmed the tumor. I was told that I would need surgery, and I was given the names of several surgeons. I made appointments with a few of them for interviews.

Now this is where it actually got fun. I interviewed the first doctor on January 9th. That was a blast. I would gladly see him again and pay the $40 co-pay just to laugh. That was 30 minutes of my time well spent.

The first thing he told me was that he had gone over my history and he commented that I had been through a lot the last few years. WHAT…WHAT did he just say. He had been over my history. He knew what I had been through. I liked him.

My experience is that does not happen that often. Hell, it took a couple of visits with my PCP before he stopped asking why I was on the medications I was taking. Dah, doc I told you the last time that I have cancer. Read the damn chart. Finally I got pissed. He remembered me the next time.

The surgeon asked about my work. He asked what was my favorite cop show? I told him Barney Miller.

He told me that was funny because his favorite medical show was also a comedy, Scrubs.

He then started rattling off Scrubs dialogue that he had memorized.   “Everything comes down to your poo! From the top of your head to the bottom of your shoe, we can figure out what is wrong with you by looking at your poo!” He was a funny guy.

Then he made a comment of how true that statement was in medicine. I was wondering if he wanted a poo sample. He did not. I was relieved. HAHA

We talked about the surgery and as we talked he let me know that he was probably not the person for this particular type of surgery. He was a general surgeon and he said that I needed a thoracic surgeon. Whatever the hell that was. He did explain to me the issues and what would be done. It did not sound very pleasant. He gave me a name and made a call to set up an appointment so that I could see the doctor ASAP. It helps to know people.

So a couple of days later I saw the thoracic surgeon. I was wearing my usual attire which consisted of a MIZZOU hoodie and a Cardinals t-shirt.

He saw the t-shirt and we started talking baseball. He had sharpened his skills (you like that) for three or four years at Washington University in St. Louis. I liked the guy.

He described the surgery and explained that a few ribs would most likely be taken out as well as some surrounding tissue. He would reconstruct the area with some sort of fake ribs. These fake ribs would then keep what is in my chest cavity in place and not leak out of the hole where the ribs were.

I think he was going to use something like a little McCulloch chainsaw to cut them out then weld them in there or something like that. I do not exactly remember. Christy could not be at that appointment. That is her job to remember and understand this stuff. All I remember is that he was not sure if I would be able to play softball this summer. I no longer liked this man. He was all business. Not as funny as the poo doctor.

Then he got even more serious. He told me that he believed that the tumor in my rib was the spread of my cancer. He said that he wanted me to have a bone scan to see if I had any additional tumors. He said that he suspected that I did. He said that if the bone scan found any additional tumors that he would not operate. He said if more were found that surgery was not going to help me. He felt that more tumors would be coming.

I told him that I wanted to get things started as soon as possible, because the last week of February we were going on vacation to Hawaii. I wanted to be fully recovered.

He then told me that I would not be going to Hawaii if I had the surgery now. I told him that I would not have the surgery if it was going to stop me from going on vacation. I told him that everything would have to be put on hold until we returned. He asked that I have the bone scan soon, but understood my desire to wait on the surgery.

He then asked me if I was having any pain in my ribs on the left side of my body. I looked at him and paused for a moment and then told him no. That was a lie.

I saw the surgeon on January 11th. I had recently started having some discomfort in the ribs on my left side. It was just a slight nuisance discomfort. Nothing like what I was having on my right side.   I had been keeping that a secret. No one knew. Not even Christy.

I told him no because I did not want Brutus to win. I did not want Brutus to keep us from going to Hawaii. Let me tell you about Brutus.

Last fall we had a “Name Kev’s Cancer” party at Erin’s in Olathe. I was growing tired of saying the word cancer or calling it my disease. It needed a name. Christy came up with “Brutus.” I loved it. I thought of the Popeye cartoon and his nemesis Brutus. Brutus was big and ugly just like I envisioned cancer. Popeye was always able to save Olive Oyl from Brutus by eating his spinach. Hey I like spinach, and I like girls. Perfect.

Christy did not know about the cartoon. She tells me that she did not grow up a mush brained TV addict like I did so she did not know who Popeye, Brutus, Olive Oyl or Wimpy were. Poor child. She came up with Brutus by looking up names for dogs.

So around the family whenever I start talking about Brutus they know what I am talking about. Now you do as well.

I was concerned that if I told the doctor about my left side that he, my oncologist, wife, kids, mother, friends, the dog would want me to cancel the trip and get this resolved. The problem with that in my mind was that I did not know where that might take us. I was concerned that this might be my only opportunity to take this trip. In a worst case scenario things might go bad. I was going to Hawaii. So for once I kept my mouth shut.

The scan was scheduled and he would contact me when he had the results. I got to thinking about that scan. I was convincing myself that what was causing pain and discomfort in my ribs was not cancer. It just had to be something else and therefore that scan was going to be a waste of time.

I later called the doctors nurse and canceled the scan. I told her that I felt that the scan was not going to find anything.

I then told her that if the doctor was right that I did not want to know before going on vacation. I did not want that hanging over our head. I wanted to have some time away and not think about troubles.

I told her not to call me that I would call her. Maybe then I could get away with not having the scan at all. Not a chance. Christy made me call the nurse a week before we left for Hawaii to get the scan scheduled. Damn.

So I call and the nurse wants to know when we get back. I tell her that we will be back February 28th or maybe March 1st. So she tells me to be at St. Francis Hospital radiology department at 8:00 A.M. on Friday March 2nd. Hey I am still on vacation that Friday and I do not want to be at any hospital that early. She said 8:00 A.M. Damn.

When this process first started my oncologist wanted me to have chemo after the radiation treatments were over. We agreed that I would have chemo treatments in like September or October. I was later able to dodge chemo by going on a zytiga/lupron cocktail of drugs. Lovely stuff, NOT!! Anyway chemo was supposed to be for 18 weeks so when looking over the calendar it was supposed to end the first part of February.

I told Christy that we needed to take a trip. We talked about the one place we each most wanted to go in our lifetimes. Mine was Alaska. Hers was Hawaii. So Hawaii it was. Now we did discuss it for maybe a few minutes. I had to admit that Alaska in February might be a little cold. We will do Alaska another time.

We arrived in Hawaii on February 21st. We had a great time. If you have not been there I would recommend that you go. Take a raincoat.

I ask that you not wait until you are sick or have an incurable disease. I have to admit that if it were not for Brutus we would not have taken the trip. It was a trip that we had talked about someday taking in the future. For me the future is now.

I was in Missouri last October and I went to dinner with one of my college roommates and his wife. Greg told me that he was a little envious of me in that I had just gotten back from a trip to the Pacific Northwest and we were making plans to go other places. I was trying to do what he would like to do.

Greg, just do it. People let’s get off butts and make living a priority.

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions are searched for.

-Dr. Maya Angelou

This quote sums up my feelings about the trip. Unfortunately the problems still exist. When we returned from paradise they had to be confronted.

We had flown out of the KCI Airport and when we returned we were able to take Cammy off of Erin and Steven’s hands and take him home with us. The kids would then drive down and spend the weekend with us.

Got home March 1st and who knew a two year old could wear you out so much. I loved it.

March 2nd I went to the hospital and had the dye shot into my body at 8:00 A.M. They told me to return around 11:30 for the scan. I had to wait for the dye to be taken into my bones before the scan. I went home and got Cammy and took him to the office. He is a babe magnet. Better than a puppy. They loved him there. We were wearing our matching Hawaiian shirts.

Took him home and went back to the hospital. There they put me into the machine and the fun began.

When finished I was taken out of the tube and I walked over to where the tech was looking at the pictures.

In the images I could see a large black mass on the right side of my body in my ribs. The unfortunate thing was that I could also see a smaller black mass in the ribs on my left side.

Another tumor! Damn!

I guess I would not have to tell anyone about the discomfort on my left side. It was easy to see in the picture.

The surgeon was right and I was wrong. Imagine that. I was still glad that I did not have the scan done before the trip. I now had to go see my oncologist.

Dr. O first started off my visit talking about my most recent lab results. The numbers were looking good and I was due for another Lupron shot the beginning of April. He told me that a person in my position should be on continuous hormone treatments. I should stay on Lupron until the cancer had developed an immunity to the drug.

This was going to be a lovely meeting.

I told him that I would not do that. That I was going off Lupron and that there was no way I would take that drug continuously. He said that for me the standard of care was to stay on continuous Lupron. The standard care for whom? Obviously not me. I do not like Lupron Sam I am. I told Dr. O that when the numbers start to go up and reach a certain level we can once again discuss Lupron, but I was done for now. He asked if I would be willing to stay on the drug for at least six more months. I said nope. I should have told him that I was tired of buying Adele CD’s every time I went to Target or Walmart. Damn hormone therapy. Next item on our agenda please.

We then moved onto the pleasant topic of the possible tumors. He started talking about surgery, radiation, and more drugs. I was thinking stop, stop, and stop! This could not be happening, but it was.

I should not have tumors in my bones now. Yes at some point that most likely will happen, but not now. The cancer should not spread while my numbers were going down on Lupron. At least that is the theory. My numbers were going down indicating that the cancer was slowing down. It should not be spreading. This could not be happening and it must be something else. Maybe they are benign tumors. Maybe it is a totally different cancer. I do not know but if in fact I do have PC tumors in my bones that would be very bad news.

You see it is suppose to take several years for that to happen. Then when it does you have to face the reality that you might only have a short time left.

Brutus had escaped my gland and had infected my lymph nodes and gotten into my lymphatic system and maybe into my bloodstream. Brutus was circulating my body looking for a home. It loves the red blood cells inside bones and will often become a homesteader there. But this was not supposed to happen now. My scans from 15 months ago showed none of this. If this is true then I have a very, very aggressive cancer. I cannot think that this is true. I do not want to think this is actually happening.

Dr. O was also stumped. He agreed that this should not be happening while on treatments, but that in some cases it does. Damn.

I asked him if he thought that what was showing up on the scans was a spread of my cancer. He said that he did not know. Damn.

He said that we needed to find out and the only way to do that was to have it surgically removed and biopsied. He wanted me to have surgery. He said that they would be unable to do a needle biopsy and surgery was my only option. Damn. Damn.

No Dr. O there is another option, and that is to say “fuck it” and take my ball and go home.

You see I have not had the best of luck when it has come to medical advice. Yes I have confidence in the people I have chosen, but they are people. They make mistakes.

Let me tell you about my first doctor and provide you with a little Kevology.

When this process first started Dr. Richard Little (not his real name) told me that I was stage one and what I had was very curable. Well DICK!! was wrong. I so wanted him to be right. I fired DICK!!

I was told after surgery that they had gotten all the cancer. That doctor was wrong. Again I so wanted him to be right.

Today I want so badly for my doctors to be wrong.

I no longer consider myself a patient of any of my doctors. Yes I am a cancer patient, but I am not their patient. I am their employer. I no longer blindly take their recommendations. They tell me what they think and I make a decision on what will happen. What I feel is right for me.

The problem I run into is that my medical team cannot agree on what should be done. I get different advice from each doctor. My oncologist and urologist seldom agree on my treatments. I listen to each and then make a decision. Sometimes I split the baby down the middle by taking pieces of advice from each. Neither is happy.

I did follow DICK blindly at the start of this process. I thought that the doctors knew best and had all the answers. I admit that I also liked what I was hearing, and that was I did not need surgery. Under DICKS guidance I waited over a year to have surgery. That was a big mistake that I hope does not cost me my life. Always get a second or third opinion. When something does not feel right get more answers. Maybe another day I will go into more detail about that experience with DICK!! and his misdiagnosis.

Dr. O did not want to take a guess or give a probability about what was in my ribs. He just said that we needed to find out and if it was the spread of my cancer then we had some treatment options.

When he said “I don’t know” I thought about the ball team I was putting together. The conversation should have gone like this:

Dr. O: I don’t know.

Me: You know my third basemen?

Dr. O: Who?

Me: No doc, Who is our first basemen.

Dr: Who is on first.

Me: That is what I am telling you doc.

Dr: What?

Me: No doc, What is our second basemen.

Dr: I don’t care.

Me: Doc! Pay attention! I Don’t Care he plays short.

I could go on but I won’t. Sometimes I feel stuck in a vaudeville act. Or wish that I was.

One thing I do know about baseball is that many hitters guess at what pitch they think the pitcher will throw. Doctors are like guess hitters and Brutus is on the mound.

Of course the hitter and doctor are making educated guesses, but still guessing.

The early stages which would be like Class A or AA baseball in which Brutus might not have that many pitches he can command. You can sit on the fastball in fastball counts. Doctors can handle Brutus.

When he advances to AAA (stage 3) or the show (stage 4) he becomes much more difficult to hit. He has many more pitches and gets you off balance. Doctors have a much more difficult time in identifying his pitches.

So right now I am up to bat and Brutus has gotten a couple of quick strikes on me. I am trying to get into his head and I yell out that he pitches like a girl. He is not happy. I am guessing that he will throw something off speed to the outside of the plate.

I dig in waiting on the curve. I am going to Altuve that pitch deep into the seats. Altuve is one of my favorite non Cardinal players. I gotta root for the short guy.

I step out and just like the Babe and Hamilton ‘Ham’ Porter I point to center field letting Brutus know where I am planning on launching his pitch.

I dig in and move closer to the plate. The windup, the pitch, and I am now leaning out over the plate. Brutus is pissed and so he did not throw me his curve. He threw a high and tight fastball. I cannot get out of the way in time and the pitch hits me in the ribs. Hurts a little, but I do not show Brutus that it hurts. I take my base letting Brutus know that I will later get another at bat.

My medical team will now get their chance to bat. I hope they guess right this time and can knock me around for the score.

Dr. O sends me back to the thoracic surgeon. I have learned that this type of surgeon specializes in the organs within your chest. This doctor’s primary specialty is lung cancer.

Dr. TS tells me that he has talked with Dr. O and that Dr. O wants to be very aggressive in finding out what exactly is in my ribs. He will operate even though another tumor has been found.

The doctor will first check with a radiologist to see if there is any chance that they might be able to get a needle into the bone for a biopsy sample. If they can try then we will do that to avoid the surgery. If the needle biopsy is positive then he will not operate. If negative he has to assume that they missed the target and surgery it is.

I can tell that he thinks my cancer has spread and he would rather not cut me open. He will do it because Dr. O has to be 100% certain what it is.

He is going on vacation so the surgery will be scheduled for the first week of April. I guess since I made them wait six weeks they can make me wait two more. I really am in no hurry. Hopefully the needle biopsy can be done next week.

That gives me a few weeks to think this over. I am not sure I want surgery. What if it is something else and the surgery was not needed at all?

If it is cancer will I gain a benefit from treatments now or would later make that much difference? What will my prognosis be with and without surgery? These are the questions I will soon be asking Dr. O. I have about ten days to give a final answer on the surgery.

You see I do not want to be like the pig in the farmer’s joke. You know the joke right? Okay here it is.

A man notices a three legged pig running around the farm so he asks the farmer what was up with that pig. The farmer explains that was a very special pig almost like a member of the family. He had warned them when their house was on fire and they all got out alive. He said a pig like that you do not eat all at once.

I feel like that pig. This would be my third surgery in twenty months. When will they stop? What might they want to cut out next? I do not know. I do not think they know either.

I am confident that this is nothing. The tumor or lesion or whatever they want to call it will turn out to be nothing. I am concerned that to prove that I am okay they have to cut me open, another mutilation.

I hope at some point my Irish luck will change and we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I just hope that it is not the light from the proverbial train.

I will post, or I should say Erin will post when we have the answers. I wanted to wait until everything was done, but I have been getting to many questions about how I am doing.

Hope this helps.   It has helped me.

Kevin

A Child Cries

A child can cry for many reasons.

But, when a child cries because they have been picked up and thrown around and now that child has broken bones; I get involved.

When a child cries from being shaken so violently that they are vomiting due to a brain hemorrhage; I get involved.

When a child cries from the trauma of being sexually abused; I get involved.

You see Camden I have been a law enforcement officer for many years. I started “The Job” in 1986. It seemed the thing to do at the time. Many days I question that decision. The first five years on “The Job” I could not believe I was getting paid to do this. After about five years my attitude changed to that of I am definitely not getting paid enough for this abuse. People call you names, punch and kick you, try to run over you with their cars, pull knives and guns, and those were my good days. People have tried to hurt me. Some close calls. I am still here.

I have had to make far too many life changing decisions over the years. I have had to take a life. Camden, I did not take this job to hurt people. But I did not take it to get hurt either.

I have been a detective since around 1996 I think. I really do not keep track of such things. Nor do I keep track of awards and medals. They are in my sock drawer. That is where they will stay.

Camden as a detective I have investigated about every type of crime. I have worked in the property crimes section. I have bought drugs as an undercover investigator. I will not forget the day that I was wearing a wire and I was being driven around by a drug dealer who did not know my true occupation. He was introducing me to people who I then bought drugs from.

Later that evening I learned that for several hours my back-up did not know where I was. The wire had malfunctioned and if I needed any assistance during those hours well I was on my own. The Calvary would not be coming. The wire later started working and they found me. They probably should not have told me what happened. I did not do that job very long.

For several years I worked night investigations where we mostly dealt with robberies, rapes, assaults, and homicides. Crimes that had just occurred and you went home when the work was done. Sometimes that would be late the next morning after working all night. Many days I had lunch with the day guys and would then go home and get a few hours of sleep before starting all over. From there I moved to robbery where I stayed for several years.

Now I work in what is called The Exploited and Missing Child Unit (EMCU). I have been with the unit almost seven years. There we investigate cases involving the physical and sexual abuse of children. We only work child victim cases. Unfortunately we are very busy.

At EMCU we work with social workers from the Department of Families and Children. Our office is located inside the Child Advocacy Center. We are in a remodeled very large old grade school. I have both a white board and chalk board in my office.

The CAC has advocates who work with the family and with the child along with the social worker to provide services. We have six full-time therapists that work with our victims and their families. We are almost a one stop shop. Still trying to get medical into the building so that the medical exams can be done here and the evidence can be collected so that the families do not have to go to one of the hospitals. The offices and exam rooms are here just waiting on the medical team to move into the facility.

Camden, the work we do is difficult. The cases can be hard to prove and they are definitely hard on a person emotionally. People comment all the time that they do not know how I am able to do this type of work.

Detectives working in other units tell me that they could not do this type of investigation. They do not feel that they could keep their cool when dealing with the suspects we deal with. The cases can and will get to you over time.

Let me tell you Camden how I am able to do this work when others are not.

It is about the kids. The children we talk with share their deepest and darkest secrets about their abuse. They share this with you in the hope that you can help them. You definitively are not going to be able to help if you let your emotions take control over judgment. In order to help you have to be focused on what you need to do in order to build your best case. If I were to reach across the table and grab the suspect by the throat I might feel better for a moment, but I would not be helping that child.

You learn how to control your emotions. You can yell and scream and cry another time. And I do. You cannot look at these kids and not feel their pain. Their pain becomes your pain. At some point you become numb to the pain. You have to in order to continue. Barriers come up. Emotions are suppressed.

Sometimes we are successful in prosecuting these crimes. Other times we are not. That bothers me.

Over the years at EMCU I have interviewed over a thousand kids. I have probably worked around a thousand cases.

It is my job to bring the facts out of the darkness and into the light in order to help the child. Healing starts with the disclosure interview.

Camden let me tell you about two extremely strong young women I have met. I will not use their real names. This might help you better understand what I do.

I first want to talk about Stephanie. Stephanie was eight years old when I met her. It was a summer weekend and I was called at home on a Saturday to go to the office and assist patrol officers with a sex abuse case.

As often happens on the weekend the patrol officer arrived at the office with the victim before I did. Stephanie was waiting for me in a play room. An officer had also given her a couple of butterfly stickers and she brought them with her when we went into the victim interview room.

Stephanie told me about what had happened to her. Things she had never shared with anyone. Things she never wanted to talk about. Things people do not want to hear. Things that make people question how anyone can do this job.

Normally at the end of a child interview I will ask them if they have any questions for me, and that is what I asked Stephanie. Most kids say no or they have one or two questions and out the door they go. Not Stephanie. She wanted to know many things about me.

I had asked Stephanie questions about her family and who she lived with. She asked me many of the same questions. She had been paying attention.

She wanted to know all about my kids. We talked about Erin, Justin, and Amy. Stephanie learned that Amy was home for the summer from college. She learned that Erin and Justin thought they were adults and were out on their own. Since Amy was at home we talked about her the most. It was the longest conversation I have ever had at the end of an interview with a child. Was she really just eight years old?

I answered all of her questions and I was thinking how this interview was being audio and video recorded and might possibly be played in court. Oh well I guess they could redact the end of the interview.

Before leaving she had one last question. No child had ever asked me this question before nor has a child asked me since. She wanted to know if I, like her, had ever been a victim of sexual abuse. I answered that question as well.

As we were leaving the room she stopped to give me a hug. She had the two butterfly stickers in her hand. She handed me one of her stickers. She told me that she wanted Amy to have her sticker. I believe that Amy still has the notebook where she placed the sticker.

I will never forget Stephanie.

I met Mary when she was sixteen years old. Her nightmare started when she was seven. This is her story.

One day in July of 2012 Mary’s mother was looking through some of her husband’s belongings and found nude photos of Mary. When her mother questioned her about the photos Mary told her mother that her stepdad had been sexually abusing her. The police were called and Mary was taken to the EMCU office to see me.

Anytime a close family member is a suspect in a case a social worker is assigned to assist in the investigation. My friend Sarah from the Department for Children and Families was assigned to the case with me. We interviewed Mary that day and Mary was interviewed several more times over the coming months.

When we sat down with Mary, Sarah told her that she was now safe. The tears flowed. The conversation began. Mary took back her life that day.

We learned that the sexual abuse started when Mary was seven years old. It did not stop until the day we met.

Let me try to explain how long term sexual abuse occurs and why the victims feel they have no way out.

At seven Mary did not realize what her stepdad was doing was wrong. She thought every girl her age went through this with their dad or stepdad. When in middle school she realized that this was wrong.

As she got older the shame and fear she felt was used against her by stepdad.

He convinces her that it is her fault and if she says anything that the family will be broken up and that her mother will hate her.

He will tell her that if she says anything that her siblings will not have a father because he will go to prison and they will blame her.

She is told that if it became public that people would think of her differently. She is silenced, and the abuse continues. Her only way to stop it she thought was turning 18 and moving out.

What I heard from Mary during our interviews I have heard several other times from other Mary’s I have met over the years.

The suspect returned home while officers were there and he was given a ride in a police car to my office to see me. I sat down with him for a few minutes and talked. We did not get very far into our conversation when he decided that he no longer wanted to talk with me. Damn, I hate when that happens.

You see I want very much for the suspect to talk to me about the allegations. I do these interviews all the time. They do not. Most have not thought out how they are going to explain away the allegations. So they lie.

If I need to become their best friend while in the interview room then I will do that. If I can get them talking then I am winning.

The more they talk the more they lie and the bigger the hole they dig. Eventually I will point out the lies and inconsistencies in their story. Sometimes they confess. Even without a confession the lies are gold.

Not being able to talk to Mary’s stepdad made the case a little more challenging.

Search warrants were executed on the suspect’s vehicles, computers and other electronic devices. A considerable amount of evidence was found.

We conducted dozens of interviews with family and friends. We were able to find another victim and he was later charged with the sexual abuse of that family member as well.

It took about fifteen months for Mary’s case to go to trial. Mary testified at the trial. She did a great job. Many detectives, social workers, advocates, and therapist were there to support her.

As the case detective I also spent a considerable amount of time on the stand during trial. I am always relieved when the case finally goes to the jury for deliberation. I can breathe a little easier.

Leading up to trial I ask myself if I have done everything I possible could on a case. I lay awake at night beating myself up about an interview and going over things I should have asked or thinking about things that need to be done. I wonder if I have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. I ask myself what is it that I need to do to make this case better. I lived and worked on Mary’s case on and off for those fifteen months.

Unlike TV detectives who quickly solve their cases and you only see them working one case at a time real life investigators are working multiple cases. We come into work each day and find new cases, new victims. We then play case triage and try to prioritize the best we can.

I left the court house when Mary’s case went to the jury. I normally am not present when the jury comes back with a verdict. I am on to other cases by then. This case was different. I was called when the jury announced they had a verdict. I was able to make it back before the verdict was read.

He had been charged with multiple crimes that occurred over the nine year period that Mary was abused. He was found guilty on all counts. He would be spending the rest of his life in prison. He will never get out. A few months later he was sentenced to 80 years in prison. He has to serve 51 years before he is even eligible for parole.

When the verdict was announced I immediately walked out of the courtroom and headed for the elevators.

Mary followed me out of the court room. She started walking fast toward me. I could see the tears in her eyes. We hugged.

The prosecution team then came out of the court room followed by Mary’s family and friends. I told her that I would talk to her later and she turned to meet the others.

The elevator had not yet arrived so I started to head toward the stairs. As I was walking away someone grabbed my arm. I turned around and saw my friend Kelly.   He was at the court house on a different case.

He had seen Mary approach me at the elevator. He said to me, “That is why we do what we do. That is what this is all about.” I nodded and headed down the stairs.

Mary is a very strong young lady and I am so proud of the person she has become. The CAC puts on a Hero’s Gala each year and Mary has been one of their honorees.

Mary has become my friend. I see her a few times each year. She will come by the EMCU office to visit with everyone. Sarah and I recently went to her house to see her new baby boy and to take gifts for the baby and her two year old son. And of course we took diapers. I got to hold the baby.

Tomorrow is Mary’s birthday. We are having lunch.

I am a better detective for having known Mary. Hell, I am a better person.

Camden I hope this gives you a better idea of what I do, and who I am.

I am very proud of the people I work with. I am proud of the work we do. Sometimes we do make a difference.

I plan on continuing doing this job for as long as they will let me. The past two years have been rough and at times I feel that I am letting the team down.

I have missed so many days the last two years. I am not yet able to carry the work load I once did. I get fatigued and many days I am at work even though I am not feeling well. My work family sees me every day and they know what I am dealing with. They have done their best to try to help.

We are on call out status at all times. I have been called into work many times to start an investigation.  The last two years that has not happened as often. I wonder if it because I am the oldest person in the unit? Maybe they feel that old people should not be woken up at 2:00 A.M. Or they do not call because of my illness and they figure I need the rest to help my body heal. Maybe it is a combination. I continue to sign up for the call outs and let them know I am available.

Each night that I am on the call out list I make sure that I have clothing set out in another room so that I will not wake Christy if I have to leave. I have my gear ready including my Blues Clues notebook.

I have the phone charging on the nightstand by the bed. I check to make sure the ringer is turned up and not muted. I check the phone several times. You gotta watch out for those phone fairies. Maybe that is my OCD or maybe just my ACDC. Not sure which.

The nights that I am on call I fully expect the phone to ring, because… I know… that somewhere… out there… each night…A Child Cries.

Det. Kevin Brown
Exploited and Missing Child Unit

Let’s Talk

It has been a few weeks since my last essay and I have a lot to say.  This might be a long one.  Go ahead and have a seat or lie down on the couch.  Put your feet up and make yourself comfortable.  Here we go.  Let’s talk.

I stopped taking most of my medicines in December and I feel so, so, so, much better.  Not sure that was the best move, but it sure felt like it at the time.  The nausea and extreme headaches have gone. I have not hugged the trash can in my office for weeks.

So when you ask me how I am feeling the answer will be “good.”  Now you have to understand that my good and your good are different.  I will always be dealing with side effects from surgery, radiation, and medications.  I have stopped taking the oral medications, but will continue with hormone therapy for a few more months.

What I am saying is that your good will always be “gooder” than my good.  Is gooder a word?  Well it is now.

 

 

(Everyday is a good day with Cammy)

I look normal.  I look fine.  But I deal with things that you do not see.  I have good days, bad days, and ugly days.  Most often my days are a mixture of all three.  I can be walking along feeling fine and the pain hits.  That pain can literally knock me to the floor.  We are working on trying to solve the pain issue, but for now I have tabled all of their recommendations.  I guess you can say that I am taking their recommendations under advisement.

I mentioned that I was no longer taking any pills.  The goal of the meds I was taking was to shrink any existing tumors and to slow cancer cell growth.  The numbers showed that the poison I was taking was working, but not as well as had been hoped.  The fractional drop in the numbers we were seeing in my opinion did not justify the side effects I was going through.  The cost vs. benefits did not add up.  So I stopped.

Christy pointed out that I was taking the meds to decrease the probability that the cancer will kill me.  She fears that my numbers will soon start to go back up.  She is probably right.  She has the brains in the family.  I am the looker.  You know the eye candy.  Shut up Erin!  I know that I am probably the only one laughing, but laughing makes me feel good.

Christy worries.  I understand that.  I think she would like to see me stick around a while.  We have talked at great length about the future and all the uncertainties of life.  She knows that what is important to me is having more life in my years rather than adding more years to my life.

I want to live not just survive.  Constantly being sick is not living.  Christy has a front row seat to what is happening.  She is a witness to what I am going through.  She understands that quality of life is very important to me and that future decisions will be made with that being the most important goal.

When someone in your family gets cancer everyone gets cancer, especially your spouse.  I try to comfort Christy the best I can.  I often grab her by the shoulders and pull her close to me.  I look into her eyes and wipe away her tears.  I tell her that everything is going to be okay.

So where do we go from here?

Advanced prostate cancer is a progressive, and life shortening disease.  When I say advanced cancer I mean cancer that is not curable.

I like to look at it as a currently incurable disease.  I am hoping that sometime in the future that some smart researcher will find a cure.  I hope that will happen.  I suspect that it will not happen in my lifetime.  I think amazing advances will be made to help people and maybe even help me, but I do not think a cure will be found anytime soon.

I mentioned that I am currently on a hormone therapy treatment.  It is called androgen deprivation therapy.  (ADT)

Androgen deprivation therapy is often used when dealing with advanced prostate cancer.  Androgen hormones are what feed the prostate cancer.  Testosterone is an androgen hormone.  Lupron is used to reduce the amount of testosterone in my body.

You see or hear commercials about men with low T needing to take supplements or drugs to increase their testosterone levels to get them to feeling like a man again.  Well I not only have low T I have no T.  Yup zero.

A side effect of the Lupron that you can see is the weight gain.  The suppression of testosterone causes weight gain.  I was told to expect a 25% increase in body weight.  I went from 155 to 185.  Right now 175.  None of my suits fit.  I had to buy new clothes.  Damn.

I took one suit to my tailor.  I refuse to take all of them.  I hope to lose the weight eventually.  Hopefully when off the Lupron in April the testosterone will recover and the weight loss will be easier.

I have to deal with several nasty side effects due to no T.  One of them being hot flashes.  Ladies I feel your pain or should I say heat.

My office door is near a rear exit.  Sometimes the flashes are bad enough that I will walk outside in the nine-degree weather we have been experiencing to cool off.  It helps.  Next time I will try to remember my key card so I can get back inside.  I had to walk to the front entrance to get back into the building.   It was a long cold walk.  Where is a hot flash when you need one?

With no testosterone in my body the ratio with estrogen is out of balance which causes the hot flashes.  I want to start taking off clothes, but that is not an option at work.  It might be an option when shopping at Walmart.

Men can be such bitches.  When asked about my treatments I have tried to explain the hormone treatments.  I no longer do.  I got tired of the girly man jokes.  The next guy who makes a girly man joke is getting hit with my purse right upside their head.  Take that bitch.

My next Lupron shot is scheduled in April.  I am going to tell them no thanks.  I will then be off all drugs.  Then we will see what happens.  I am so looking forward to being completely off everything.

I will then be tested every few months to monitor the growth of the cancer and when it reaches a certain level I will be back on treatments.  When I return to the treatments I will be sick again.

I asked my urologist how long I would have to continue this cycle of on and off treatments.   He gave me his best “Squints” impression and told me “for-ev-er.”

I will be on this cycle of treatments for the rest of my life or until they stop working.  Some patients stay in this cycle for many years.  I call them superstar patients.  They do not get better, and it might get worse, but does not become terminal.

Advanced prostate cancer patients will never beat the disease, but if treatments are working the disease will not beat them either.  They will battle it to a draw and will die of something else.

This is where I am now and where I hope to stay.  But I have to deal with the reality of my specific disease characteristics, and the treatment options currently available.

Based upon my age and disease characteristics at some point treatments are most likely going to stop working for me, and my cancer will go from being incurable to terminal.

Hopefully this will be many years from now and maybe additional new treatment discoveries might extend my life.  Unfortunately no matter how much I hope I might not become that superstar patient.  The disease might progress faster than expected.

I have asked my doctors how long I have.  The only answer they will give is that it all depends on how I respond to future treatments.  If the past is an indicator of the future I could be fucked.

Most people will not leave this earth without having to deal with some sort of adversity.  This is mine.  It is what it is and we will deal with it.

Some people refer to what I am going through as my new normal.  To me the “new normal” is like the phrase “journey” or being called a “survivor.”  I do not agree with any of them, but if someone else is comforted by these words then they should use them.

To me this is anything but normal so I refuse to say this is my new normal.  I want to work to getting back to the old normal, but I know that is impossible.  This disease has taken so much from me.

I have been mutilated, burned, and poisoned.  More will be coming.  This is not normal.  My life has been forever changed.

People ask what they can do to help.  Others do not know what to say.

There is nothing at this time that you can do to help.  Let me take that back.  The one thing you can do to help is to stay in contact.  Talk with me.  I want so much to talk with you to find out how you are doing and what you have done in the past and what you plan for the future.  I want to hear all about your vacation and talk about your children and grandchildren.  That would make me smile.

We do not need to talk about my cancer.  This is what I have to deal with.  You do not need to deal with it as well.  If you want to ask some questions that is fine.  I will answer.

I do not want you to feel that you have to come up with some magic words too console me.  That is not needed.

I only ask for your presence, and your time.  I am not contagious.

That would help me in my attempt to live a normal or new normal life.

When I think about it I have become a different or new person.  A New Kev so to speak.  Old Kev still exists, but has become hard to find.

New Kev has taken over and Old Kev is not sure he likes that.  Old Kev likes some things about New Kev.  Other things he does not like.

When I find Old Kev I am going to tell him he no longer has to be angry.  Even though he has much to be angry about, the anger does not help. He needs to let the anger go.  I will tell him to smile more and enjoy life.

I would tell Old Kev that he has been strong, but that his constant vigilance has taken a toll on him physically and mentally.  I would tell him that it is time for him to stand down and to let New Kev carry the load.  I would tell him that New Kev has his back.   I would tell Old Kev that I know that he is scared, and that is okay.

I would tell him that Christy wishes he did not use the “F” word so much.

I would assure Old Kev that the fight was not over.

When I find old Kev I am going to grab him by his shoulders and pull him closer to me.  I am going to look into his eyes and tell him that everything is going to be okay.  That is the least I can do for him.

Some people say that everything happens for a reason.  Well fuck, fuck, fuck, that!!!!

Wow!!  I think I just found Old Kev.  Let’s Talk.

Kev

The gift

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.

IMG_0914

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!

IMG_5617

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.

Love,
Papa

Introduction

Let’s just address the reason for this blog right up front.  I have stage 4 prostate cancer.  They tell me that the cancer has advanced too far and is not curable, and that fucking sucks.

Let me explain my word choice.  You see if you are going to be a reader of this blog you will need to be sure that you have your big boy/girl panties on because I plan on using big boy words.  As for me I wear my big boy Depends.  Prostate surgery and incontinence you know.  That radiation did a hell of a number on me as well.  Fuckers!

Anyway I find that the F word can be used to help explain many things.  I use the word as a noun, verb, and adjective.  So you will probably see it from time to time.

Moving on:  Okay Kevin you have cancer, why the blog?

I am writing for a couple of reasons:  One I find it to be a form of therapy.  I talk to myself a lot and if you are a writer you get to answer.  The second reason is for my three children and grandson and any future grandchildren.

My kids are adults and have moved on with their lives.  My home will always be their home.  The job of a father is never over, but I do not have the influence nor do they need me like they once did.  And that is good.  With the kids we have memories that they will have for the rest of their lives.  If things turn ugly we have had our time together.

With Camden it is a different story.  Camden is my two-year-old grandson.  I love him more than I can ever explain.  My greatest fear in all of this cancer shit is that my time will come before he has had the opportunity to form lasting memories of our relationship.  I can only remember bits and pieces of when I was say five, six, seven, or eight years old.  I would imagine that his future memory of what was going on in his life at that age will be cloudy as well.

So I take videos with him as often as possible, and you will see those here and on Facebook.  I will use this blog to say things to him that maybe he will be able to look over in the future and smile.  I hope, I hope, I hope, that maybe something will happen to change things and Cammy and I will be able to sit down together and read over these pages years from now and laugh.  Unfortunately that is most likely not going to happen.  So these pages will be my branches that I am leaving behind for Cammy.

I read a story many years ago that stuck with me.  In that story a son was taking his mother up a mountain to die.  As he carried her up the mountain she would grab branches from the trees and drop them onto the forest floor.  The son asked her why she was doing that and she explained:  We are going up the mountain together, but you will be coming back down alone.  These branches are to help you find your way.

Maybe something I say here will help my family find their way in a world without me.  I hope that is not anytime soon.  But as I have always said you gotta be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

You will be learning a lot about me here on these pages.  I will try to be as open as possible and that is really hard because that is not me.  I will be talking about my hopes and fears, and at times that might get uncomfortable for me or you.  If that turns out to be the case and you feel that I am providing TMI, I ask that you stop following the blog.

I hope to also help others with cancer. I will be talking about my treatments, doctors, and insurance companies.  I guess the entire medical establishment.

For those of you who decide to check in from time to time all I can say is strap on your seat-belts, you are in for a hell of a ride!

You will learn that another reason for the blog is just to get myself to laugh.  You might laugh along with me.  I will probable laugh harder, according to my kids.

So that is kind of an intro to what you will find here.  Oh I almost forgot.  I probably need to introduce myself in case someone finds their way to this page through a Google search because they also have cancer.  Welcome.

My name is Kevin Brown and I am 58 years old.  I am the father of three and husband of one.  I am a cancer patient and I will forever be a cancer patient.

Until next time keep on Living…Loving…Laughing.

-Kevin

“Time is shortening. But every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me.”
-Ingrid Bergman

I’m Thankful For

Around Thanksgiving through Christmas you see lists made by people describing what they are thankful for. In the past I have not really done much inner reflecting on what I am or should be thankful for. But I have found myself thinking about what all has happened this past year and realized that I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Not just during the holidays, but things that I need to be thankful for each and every day. So today I am going to talk about one of the things that I am thankful for.

Ice cream, yes ice cream; I am thankful for ice cream. You are probably thinking: What the hell Kevin, you started off with what seemed to be a serious topic and now you want to talk about ice cream. Bear with me. There is more.

Most kids like ice cream, right? I spent a lot of time with my kids eating ice cream at home, at the Dairy Queen, Braum’s, Jimmy’s Diner, Wendy’s, Baskin Robbins etc.

I remember being at a restaurant and they had put us in an area off by ourselves (smart people) except for one older couple we had the area all to ourselves.

We were having shakes and the kids decided that it would be fun to blow into the straws and watch the shake explode. We were having a good messy time. We laughed and laughed and were very loud. I noticed the couple watching us. I walked over to them and apologized for being so loud. The man said that they were not concerned about the noise. He and his wife said that they were just enjoying watching us have so much fun with the kids. I am thankful for ice cream.

My girls danced on their high school dance teams and after most football and basketball games we would end up at an ice cream store. No matter if I was with Erin or Amy we always had at least a couple of their friends. Their friends learned to love, no I should say like, no I should say tolerate, yes tolerate sports talk radio on our drives to the ice cream store. When I see McKenzie, one of Amy’s high school friends, we still talk about listening to sports talk radio.

Once at the store we would have our ice cream often with what I called victory sprinkles. You know the little candies you put on top of ice cream after a win or even after a loss. No matter the outcome we deserved victory sprinkles. We would talk and laugh. I learned a lot about what was going on in my girls’ lives while at the ice cream store. I am thankful for ice cream.

Erin and I enjoying some victory sprinkles

I coached or helped coach many of Justin’s sports teams. We too spent a lot of time in ice cream stores. Frosty’s at Wendy’s were normally our first choice. There we would talk about the game, and at times I was able to crack his armor and we would discuss life. The ice cream helped break the ice so to speak. I am thankful for ice cream.

When they moved away and started attending that school that shall not be named I eventually got over it. I started enjoying going to Lawrence for visits and exploring Mass Street. There we go to Free State Brewery and have a meal and of course a beer or two. We then head to Sylas & Maddy’s for some great ice cream.

This year the kids have been coming home maybe a little more than in the past. They have been coming home to spend more time with me. Things have not gone as hoped in my cancer treatments.

When they are home they normally find a well stocked freezer of ice cream. A lot of fun conversations as well as serious conversations started this year while having a bowl of ice cream.

IMG_5446

Amy and I on an ice cream run. Shoutout to Chance for helping us pick out the best ones! — Harps in Bentonville, AR, 2012

This Thanksgiving we were at Erin’s house. They bought their first home this year and moved from Overland Park to Olathe. I do not know the Olathe area as well yet, but while driving around exploring I found a Dairy Queen in the neighborhood. That is all Cammy and I need.

The family will all be together in Wichita the weekend of December 16th. I am sure the topic of my heath will come up and I will update them on how things have been going and what are my next options. I will be reporting on the conversation I had with my oncologist during my appointment on the 14th. Once again not the best news, but could be worse. I am going to need some ice cream. Maybe even a few beers.

It will go something like this. The kids will go to their mom first to talk about how I am doing, and what kind of mood they should expect when they corner me. They will formulate a plan on when and how to approach me. Or Erin will just come out and say, “Well dad WTF is going on?”

I taught her well.

When they come to me I better have the same report as mom or I will be in trouble. I will be accused of holding back information. They have ways of making me talk. It usually involves ice cream.

So sometime during our visit I am sure that I will be taking them to an ice cream store.   I am thinking Cold Stone. I will order my two scoops in a bowl, and with the HOPE for a better future I will ask the server to add a few victory sprinkles.

Take… that… cancer.

Yes I am thankful for ice cream.

Kevin
Optimist
Pessimist
Trying to live in reality
MIZ