Intermission

No, not remission. Intermission. 

It’s been a while. About four months to be exact.

I think I’ve experienced my first case of writers block. 

That, or I am just sick of talking about cancer. 

Regardless, I feel like I owe everyone an update.

Beam me up, Scotty.

In February (one year after my initial diagnosis and several failed treatments) my oncology team decided we should give proton radiation therapy a try in hopes to fully eradicate this cancer. 

(Click here to learn more from a previous blog.)

For the entire month of March, I went to the Mayo Clinic everyday, twice a day and got zapped by the enormous proton radiation machine. The treatment was easy. If you have ever had an x-ray performed, thats the best comparison I could give. My side effects were next to nothing. 

Essentially, you are put into a specific position (depending on where they are zapping you) and are forced to stay still. Next, the giant machine makes a few clicks and beeps and rotates around the specific area for about 30 seconds. Thats it, you are done. It’s quite extraordinary and kind of weird. I left each day feeling like I wasn’t really doing anything other than show up.

Did it work? I don’t know. 

We performed a repeat PET scan Aprill 22nd which showed a “favorable response to therapy” as my doctors put it. I am not sure what that means exactly because the images from my scan still showed a small spot which could be scar tissue or cancer.

If you don’t remember, this is the exact situation I encountered in December (Click Here) which ultimately led to more biopsies and a confirmed presence of cancer relapse.

We have been in a “watch and wait” situation since the scan in April, but I get another scan on Friday, June 21st and we will decide what to do from there.

Until I hear that magic word *remission* I am not getting too excited for anything. 

With a few members of my radiation team on my last day. Amazing people.

The radiation oncology department gives tours of the facility each month. This is one of many treatment rooms.

My radiation mask. (Yes, they painted it for me.)

The table with a white sheet is where patients lay to receive treatment. Depending on which area of the body is being treated, you may be forced to lay in some crazy positions with masks, straps and other things to keep you in place.

The proton beam facility is three stories tall behind the scenes.

Bittersweet

My time with the military is coming to an end. 

As of this week, I am officially being medically retired and released from active duty. It turns out if you have cancer you are not really an asset to the military anymore. Fair enough.

Initially, I signed a four year contract with the Air Force, but am only going to complete about three and a half years of that.  As excited as I am to start a new chapter of life, wearing the uniform and serving our country has been one of the greatest honors and privileges of my life. Although I got diagnosed with cancer in the middle of my service and lost a good chunk of time doing what I love, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

The friendships and experiences I have made and endured will last a lifetime. Most importantly, the military has taught me more about myself than I knew.  Leadership, perseverance, integrity and determination to name a few things. Even if you serve for a few years, you have chosen to do something less than one percent of the nation decides to do. It changes you and will setup your life for a great future. Capitalize on the benefits offered to you. For those of you still serving, it’s hard to see some of these things while you are in the thick of it, but as you near the end, the realization will come fast. 

I should be completely out-processed, finished with service and moving back home to Michigan near the beginning of July.

Moving Forward

Honestly, I am kind of done with this cancer blog thing. At least for now. 

I feel like my time and energy should be elsewhere. 

I will be finishing my undergraduate classes in Political Science this upcoming fall and winter at Grand Valley State University. Rebecca and I need to move across the country and find a new house (If anyone is selling in the Hudsonville area, let us know!) and she is also starting a new fourth grade teaching position in Wyoming Public Schools. 

We have a busy year ahead of us and I think we should be focusing on the future right now. 

Originally, I started this blog to communicate significant cancer updates for my family and close friends. This made it easier for me rather than calling ten people and repeating the same story over and over. Now that we will be back home in Michigan, it will be much easier to communicate when we are in close proximity of everyone (sorry if you wanted to continue following along.)

Quite frankly, I am sick of talking about cancer. I understand and appreciate people’s concern and their desire to want to know what’s going on, but I’m burnt out. So I am asking a favor from you, no more cancer talk. Let’s let life move on. Maybe next time you see me you can ask how my classes are going or how our new house is coming along. I would enjoy that much more than “How is your health? How are you feeling?” etc.

Do that for me, please?

If I have spare time and find an interesting topic I feel like writing about (Click Here) I plan on still doing some blogging. 

For now, however, I am done with the continual cancer updates. It’s time to focus on the future. I hope you understand.

Until next time…

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