Pattie & I Start Work On Cancer Project To Aid Newly Diagnosed Patients Today

It is already 9 PM Saturday night. Pattie and I have been busy consulting with a PR firm out of Los Angeles all day–and we are far from finished. The firm is producing a film designed to help newly diagnosed cancer patients cope with the wide variety of challenges associated with their disease. I’m excited about the project, but it is getting late and the crew needs to head back west Sunday morning. Since it is unlikely either one of us will get another chance to post until later tomorrow, I wanted to let all of our fellow cancer patients, survivors and caregivers know Pattie and I are thinking about you always!
Feel good, keep smiling!
Pat & Pattie

Yes Dear, I Am An Idiot!

I just read Pattie’s post, telling the world about my am/PM airport mix-up. (Anyone know why am is supposed to be written in lower case and PM is in caps? Just asking…) I’m actually OK with it and, yes, I am smiling! I’m not sure why, but whenever I make a really, really big mistake, I’m usually not so hard on myself. Still can’t comprehend how I could have screwed up so badly. Guess I know the flight I wanted should have been leaving at 7:30 am. My brain just saw what I assumed to be true! (Makes sense to me, but then we have already established I’m an idiot!)

A Short, Final Word (For Now!) About Breast Cancer Screening

1900 to 1. Those are the stats. For every 1900 mammograms taken on women under fifty years old with no suspicious symptoms, only one case of breast cancer is discovered. Worse yet, these mammograms produce a large number of false-positives which then require further (unnecessary?) testing and biopsies. What about all of the radiation these young women are exposed to? The cost? The stress and worry? Then again, what if we can save that one life? Isn’t a life worth the extra cost and inconvenience? Tough decisions. I know I’m a man so my opinion doesn’t count. But based on this date, I strongly agree with the task force’s recommendation to cut back routine mammograms for women under fifty. I’m not sure how I feel about their negative feedback about self exams. The task force says don’t bother, they are a waste of time. But what can it hurt? No cost, just a little time.

Happy Halloween!

Pattie and I don’t have children. Her first dance with cancer at age 34 took care of that! But tonight we both enjoyed escorting our two young nieces around our new Florida neighborhood–in unusually sunny, warm temperatures, even for Florida–while they went trick-or-treating. Fun! I forgot about my cancer for hours–at least until the youngest girl, Marley, asked me to carry her for a block or two. I’m still not supposed to lift more than 25 pounds, but how can you deny a five year old a ride in her uncle’s arms? You certainly can’t say, “Sorry, dear, but I have cancer and can’t lift more than 25 pounds!” So tonight I have a sore, aching lower back–and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Happy Halloween!
Pattie and I want to remind you to take time out and remember what it was like to be young, and healthy, and worry free. Hallmark holidays like Halloween are perfect opportunities to do just that! Feel good and keep smiling! Pat & Pattie

Do You Ever Think About Getting Another Type Of Cancer?

Yesterday I poked fun at my chances of getting brain cancer from my cell phone, or skin cancer spreading from a new discolored spot that was growing inside my ear. I have several questions to ask my fellow cancer patients out there: Do you every think about or worry about developing another, unrelated form of cancer? Like me, don’t you ever think about how your current chemotherapy might (should!) be working against any secondary cancer as well? After all, in a perfect world (I know, I know – then we wouldn’t have cancer in the first place!) shouldn’t that be the case? Shouldn’t the chemotherapy that is working for us also be working against and preventing additional cancers? A guy can dream, can’t he?
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat

Is There A Perfect Place?

September is my favorite month. Warm, hazy Wisconsin sunny days. Leaves turning color. Low humidity. Perfect! Except for the always present feeling of desperation – Trying to hold on to perfection but knowing, in just a few short weeks, the cold is coming. It’s like water leaking through your clenched, cupped hands. Now it’s there, now it’s gone. Squirrels, urgently racing through the leaves on the forest floor, looking for acorns and nuts to store for colder months ahead. Geese, in their awkward, never perfect “V” shaped formations, honking and urgently flying south.

Twenty-Two Wonderful Years!

I flew down from a multiple myeloma conference in the Twin Cities late last night to spend the day with Pattie in Florida. It is our twenty-second anniversary today. Twenty-two challenging, wonderful years. Pattie is a three time cancer survivor. I was her caregiver for a number of years while she recovered from her first surgery and later, while she endured a second major surgery and six grueling months of chemotherapy. Now, Pattie is my caregiver while I deal cancer. Our love and relationship is stronger than ever. You could even say cancer has brought us closer together. We have a bond most couples don’t share. It was a special day today. The best part: I get to stay down here with her for a while!
There are no guarantees. But for now, she’s OK, I’m OK, and that’s why I feel good and will definitely keep smiling! Pat

Don’t Fear A Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

I knew prostate cancer was one of the most common forms of cancer. But it didn’t hit home with me until recently. My father was diagnosed and treated almost 12 years ago and has been fine until recently, when his PSA has started to rise. My best friend’s father learned he had prostate cancer last week. And I know a number of other people that are successfully dealing with the disorder. The encouraging news is that there are so many men, alive and well, who have been diagnosed, treated and are now living normal or near normal lives. Hormone treatments for prostate cancer are not new. But by using new combinations of hormonal therapies, many patients are able to stay alive even after conventional surgery or radiation therapy haven’t done the trick. In my book, Living with Multiple Myeloma, I share an exchange I had with my radiation oncologist shortly after I was diagnosed. “If I had to have cancer, isn’t myeloma a good one to have?” I asked. Dr Wang’s response: “No, prostate cancer would be much better!” Why did he feel this way? Because using radiation and/or surgery and/or hormone therapy has been so successful in curing prostate cancer. Not just slowing it down, but curing it. My father’s has most likely returned because his cancer had spread beyond the prostate before he was diagnosed and treated. So if you, a friend or family member hears the dreaded “I think you have prostate cancer.” from your physician, take comfort in knowing the future may not be as bleak as one would think. Think of it as a hopeful diagnosis, try to stay positive and, of course, feel good and keep smiling! Pat

Why Are We Surrounded By Cancer?

The mother of a friend with myeloma remarked recently: “Every where I go, I meet someone with cancer! I can’t remember ever feeling that way before.” I agree! Of course, I talk about it a lot. Someone will see my e-mail ([email protected]) and comment about a relative or friend and ask me about it. Last year, I was dining with friends and family… Everyone at the table had or once had cancer! So what gives? Is there more cancer these days, caused by an increase in toxins and/or unhealthy lifestyle? Is it people are diagnosed sooner and the cancer is more accurately identified? Or (this is my theory) is it that patients are living longer with their disease? What do you think?
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat

Find Purpose, Live Longer

In an article published in the November, 2009 issue of AARP Magazine, Dr Harold G. Koenig of Duke University Medical Center states that “People who feel their life is part of a larger plan and are guided by their spiritual values have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, a lower risk of heart attack and cancer, and heal faster and live longer.” The article sites a number of large studies that support the Doctor Koenig’s statement. “Those who felt their lives had meaning had significantly lower rates of cancer and heart disease than did those who didn’t feel this way.” I absolutely subscribe to this theory. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was relatively passive about the process. I was already in a great deal of pain even before I started my radiation and chemotherapy which left me weak and disoriented. It wasn’t until later, after I decided to begin writing and to dedicate my life to helping others with cancer that I began to fight. To feel that I must defy the odds and live! After all, I had so much to do and so much to say and so many people to help… I wanted and needed to live! Now, I can’t prove that my revelation, my epiphany is extending my life. All I can definitively say is that, pain or no pain, it is a lot easier to get out of bed every morning now that I have a purpose and a cause bigger than myself, my family or my friends.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat