Giving Thanks

19919789It is Thanksgiving today in the United States. Despite my diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and going through chemotherapy treatments I feel there is a lot to be thankful for. Wait, make that because of what I am going through with cancer I know I have a lot to be thankful for. Going through cancer has made me appreciate just how good the world is and how great the people in it can be.

First I am thankful for my great neighbors. I have multiple neighbors who have offered to help around the house, have brought meals over, and a multitude of other things. I am truly thankful for these wonderful neighbors. Plus I think it has given my wife peace of mind knowing that as I sit at home recovering from chemo that any number of neighbors are a short call away in case she is unable to get a hold of me for some reason. Having good neighbors really reduces the stress on her.

Next up is friends and acquaintances. Sometimes in life it feels like I don’t really have a lot of friends. I’m sure a lot of other parents can relate to the fact that it is hard to have a lot of friendships when you are constantly traveling for kids sporting and school events. During times like this when I have cancer I found out how many people are willing to step forward and offer help. So many people have offered to help that I actually lost track. Even though I have not taken most of them up on their offer to help, I truly appreciate the fact they made the effort to help me and my family during this time.

Family has always been important to me, even if I never let them know. Both my family and my wife’s family have gone above and beyond to help us get through my cancer treatments. My wonderful mother-in-law has brought me meals while I do my chemo treatments and a brother-in-law has been there for me twice during chemo when my wife was unable to be there. My brothers and parents have helped just by being themselves and supporting me. I am truly blessed with family.

I am also thankful for the greatest wife in the world to help me get through my cancer treatments. Mindy is truly my soulmate and I don’t think I would be as mentally strong through this experience without her support. I only wish I could do something to reduce the stress on her. She really deserves a break.

Finally I am thankful for my boys. With my being on chemo the boys have had to put up with some major changes. They have handled these changes better than I believe many adults would. The boys have also stepped up to help me when they think I am overdoing it. My wife and I are truly blessed with great children.

To anyone reading this I would ask for you to think of those in your life you are thankful for. It is easy to get depressed or overwhelmed when going through cancer and/or chemotherapy. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of cancer, I would urge everyone to stay positive and focus on people who are there to support you.

Getting a white blood cell and friend boost after chemo

Blood cell types vectorOne day after receiving my first chemo treatment I decided to start this blog. Also that day I had to go back to the cancer center to get a shot which would boost my white blood cell count. In this short post I will share that experience.

In the previous post I noted how tired I was during the days following chemo. It is then not surprising that I forgot making a trip to the cancer center for a shot which would boost my white blood cell counts. Luckily I keep a log of everything going on so I don’t miss out on anything I’ve done. Actually I would recommend all chemo patients keep a log of some sort due to “chemo brain” (more on that in a future post).

A good friend took me to the appointment. I really appreciate him doing so. My wife has already been overwhelmed trying to keep up with work and caring for me. In the last few weeks I’ve learned how important it is to accept help from friends and family. This friend in particular really helped me to stay positive. Before and after the appointment we drove around and just talked. Talking seems to sometimes be a lost art these days due to technology and social media.

At the appointment I received a shot of Neulasta (pegfilgrastim). Chemo is effective against many types of cancer due to the fact it prevents cells in the body from dividing and growing. Since cancer cells rely upon diving and growing it is possible for chemo to attack those cancer cells directly. Unfortunately however chemo also affects many good cells within the body. White blood cells in particular are attacked by chemo treatments. This means chemo patients have a dramatically increased chance of getting an infection. Neulasta is a common white blood cell booster used by chemo patients.

In the future I may not have to go back to the cancer center to get this shot. Originally I was supposed to have a Neulasta Onpro. The Onpro is a cool little device that is attached to the arm. At the designated time, in this case about a day after chemo, the Onpro device will automatically give the patient a shot of Neulasta. This is great for chemo patients since they don’t have to make an additional trip to the doctor. Since the hospital pharmacy was out of the Onpro devices on the day I had chemo, it was necessary for me to come back for the shot.

I’m not really sad the hospitals pharmacy was out of the Onpro devices. Going back to the doctor meant I was able to hang out and talk with my friend for a while. Looking back I let work and other projects get in the way of hanging out with friends. After I am through the chemo process I hope to change that and become a better friend to many of the people in my life. It’s sad it took getting cancer for me to realize how important friends really are.

I’ll end this post here. Even though getting my white blood cells boosted was the reason for my appointment that day, I think it is more important that I learned a life lesson. My understanding of how important friends are was boosted. Perhaps the world today would be a better place if people just understood how important friends are and took more time in their lives to spend time with friends.