Thursday, February 28, 2013

Let's Examine the Positive Side


You wouldn't guess that there are actually some perks to having cancer.  Okay, maybe "perks" isn't quite the right word.  But you know what I mean.  There are some things that definitely make having cancer not quite as bad as it seems.  Well, that's not exactly right either.  Let me try this again.  Ahem.  Cancer sucks and chemo sucks and with that much suckiness you have to try and find things about your life that don't suck or you'd likely throw yourself off of a very high ledge.  Yes.  I do believe that's what I was trying to say originally.  So, in the spirit of positivity, here are some things that don't totally suck.

1) Presents.  Our patients have received lots of them.  Last week, Dad was sporting a t-shirt someone had given him that said, "Cancer is not for sissies".  And I swear Sam get's a new plate of amazing looking baked goods every single day.  If you plan to get cancer at some point, it would be a good idea to plan it far enough out from your birthday that people arent tempted to try and "double up".  Just sayin.

2) You actually save money.  Now, I'm not sure if you know this or not, but Dad has been going to the same barber since I was like, yea big.  So I can't imagine he's been shelling out the big bucks for his haircuts over the years, but now?  He's got a few months to dodge that bill and start filling his piggy bank.  Or maybe use it to invest in some great hats.  FYI He recently requested a turbin.

3) Guilt free lounge time.  In your adult life, you will likely never have as good of an excuse to sit and do nothing for long periods of time than you will when you're getting chemo.  It's a great reason to upgrade your Netflix account, grab your snuggie, and get caught up on Downton Abby.  I mean Chicago Fire.

4) The excuse of excuses.  If you're supposed to be somewhere important and your buddy calls you up to find out why you're a no show, you simply say, "yeah, sorry, I have cancer".  It's that simple.  No one can argue with you.  No one can even be upset with you.  It is literally the ultimate excuse.  It might be the only time in your whole life that you can get out of garbage duty with nary a complaint.  You might get the silent treatment for an hour or two, but you can live with that.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ashtyn's Army

Dad sent me a link last night to the website of a little girl who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.  She just so happens to be the same age as my oldest child.  Her name is Ashtyn and she's fighting for her life at Primary Children's Hospital.  Ashtyn's family's strength is contagious.  Please go read her story and leave her a message if you feel so inclined.  I told her that Dad and Sam are being treated at Huntsman, and that they'll be sending her their "happy vibes" on Thursday.

Go Ashtyn!  We're all fighting right along side you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Aaaaand He's Back. Again.

Emergency rooms are so much fun.  He couldn't stand to be away from one any longer so we decided to drop in.  You know, for old times sake.  They were worried about a blood clot in his leg so they kept him over night to keep tabs on the situation.  I just received news that he'll be home soon though.  Crisis averted.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

On Fairness


Why is it that one of the first phrases a child masters is, "it's not fair"?  All 3 of my older kids learned it early on and they still put it to good use.  My 2 year old is following suit.  On Saturday's, we have the rule that they can't play with friends until their jobs are done.  Almost every single week, one of my two older boys will get his jobs done quickly and then head out to play.  Without fail, every time this happens, the other one will throw a fit and point out how, "it's not fair" that his brother gets to do something fun on Saturday and he does not.  It doesn't matter how many times I point out that his brother got up and did his jobs, and that's why he gets to go play.  In his mind, it's just not fair.  Never mind that there is still dirty underwear and candy wrappers crammed down the side of his bed.  Pay no attention to that.

As parents, we spend a lot of our years teaching our kids what it is to be fair.  We teach them that conforming to rules and standards isn't only a moral obligation but a good way to keep life predictable -  work hard in school?  You'll get good grades.  Treat people with kindness?  You'll be well liked.  Practice something you want to be good at?  You'll get better at it.  By the time we're all grown up, we have a concrete understanding of this concept of fairness.  We don't really feel the need to cry, "it's not fair" anymore (unless we see our kid totally get pushed in a basketball game and the ref calls it a travel - ahem).  So why then, when something hard like an illness or an accident is dropped into our lives, is it our knee jerk reaction to say, "it's not fair"?  

Honestly, I believe it's a very human reaction.  Suddenly, the rules in this game of life have been changed and nobody bothered to tell us.  But the truth is, fairness doesn't apply to the game of life.  How many times have you said to your kids, "too bad, life isn't fair"?  The phrase is rather cliche, but it's very true.  If life was fair, there wouldn't be children who's lives are cut short because of terminal illnesses.  If life was fair, there wouldn't be car accidents that leave people disabled for the rest of their lives.  If life was fair, all the rapists and murderers in the world would be riddled with cancer.  If life was fair, people like Dad and Sam wouldn't have to go through all this crap.  But life isn't fair.

As most of you probably know, my parents lost a 4 month old baby to SIDS about 30 years ago.  I was only 3 when it happened, so I don't have many clear memories of that time.  With children of my own now, I feel sick when I think about what it must have been like for Mom and Dad.  But Mom recently told me about an experience she had about a year after they lost their little Eliot.  She said that at the time, she was still struggling with the, "it's not fair" thing.  She went to speak with a counselor because these thoughts just weren't going away.  As they began talking, she felt herself becoming increasingly upset.  It didn't take long for her frustration to bubble over and finally she asked him the question that was so deeply haunting her.  "Why?  Why me?"  And this is how the counselor replied. "Why not you?  What makes you think that you should be exempt from having to go through heartbreaking experiences in life?"  This answer changed the way she viewed life's challenges from that point on.    

I really don't believe there's a reason that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  Things just happen because we are mortal beings living in an imperfect world.  I think the need we feel to want to blame something or someone (usually God) isn't because we believe that there's actually a culprit out there.  It's because we think that maybe placing blame on something other than bad luck will possibly lessen the pain we're feeling.  It's understandable.  We've had "fairness" pounded into us from day 1.  But when life gets all screwy on us, fairness becomes that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

All of this really only leaves us with two options.  We either go into defense mode in an effort to protect ourselves from feeling deceived by God, or we go into silver lining mode (it's a mode, I swear) by putting our fate in the hands of God and acknowledging little miracles along the way.  Mom and Dad?  They're silver lining people.  From the very beginning of this thing, they put their trust in the Lord and knew that they'd be able to handle whatever came to be.  They know that there's something bigger at play here.  That's not to say that it isn't daunting at times for them to think about what they're in for in the coming months.  Let me tell you, daunting doesn't even begin to cover it.  But if you know them at all, you know that they will continue to be on the hunt for silver linings.  If I've learned one thing from all of this, it's that miracles happen every single day, but they're not always handed to you on a silver platter.  Sometimes you really have to look for them.  It's not easy, but it's so worth it.

How does fairness tie in to all of this?  It doesn't.  That's the point.  Fairness simply doesn't apply to life sometimes.  But you wanna know what it does apply to?  My kids being able to play on Saturday.  Someday I hope my son can wrap his head around the concept of fairness.  But until then, I'm happy to dole out the injustices.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chocolate Cake Makes Everything Better

We've had a rather eventful few days.  Friday, my little brother Mason flew in from Arizona as a surprise.  Of course we turned it into quite the ordeal by dragging Dad up to the ski resort to watch the grandkids ski (or so we told him), only to have Mase add the finishing touch by skiing down for a surprise bear hug.  It was epic.

Dusty, Sam, and Will were apparently off in the woods when I took this picture.  I would have gone looking for them but I'm scared of woodland creatures. 

Dad's been saying for several days now that his hair has been feeling "dead".  Of course we all knew what that meant was coming.  Sure enough by Saturday evening, he was losing his hair by the fist full.  It was definitely time for the customary shave.  

I think every cancer patient dreads the loss of their hair.  Not because it's so unbearable to live without hair for a while.  It's because this stage somehow represents the fact that you're very very sick.  There are other things that obviously remind you of how ill you are, but this is a reminder to not just you.  It's a reminder to everyone around you.  I think no matter how many times you tell yourself that it's just hair, and that it will grow back, it's very difficult when the day actually comes.  you suddenly become a bona fide cancer patient.  And that's just plain hard.

So what do you do?  You turn it into a celebration.  You have a big party with awesome food and chocolate cake (there HAS to be chocolate cake).  You go outside in the dark and play in the snow with your headlamps on.  You sit around the dinner table and have the most hilariously inappropriate conversation you can possibly think of with your family.  You scare the pants off your brother's new girlfriend (well, we do at least - sorry Mase).  And then?  You have a ceremonial head shave.  You document it well, because you know that someday you'll all look back at this and laugh.  You shave it into a mohawk first.  I mean, everyone wonders what they'd look like with a mohawk, so here's your chance to find out.  Then you shave the rest.  You take pictures and laugh throughout the process.  And if you're Dad, you tell everyone that you've been looking forward to this day because you know it means the chemo is working and you're getting better.  Of course.  What else would you expect from him?  The glass is always ALWAYS half-full.



Check this out.  Dad's cousin from Belgium and his nephew from California shaved their heads in his honor and sent him their selfies.



How's that for loyalty?
  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hodgkins 101

I've been throwing around the words Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkins like they're somehow major topics of conversation for more than a handful of people.  As a family, I think we all agree that Hodge and Non-Hodge are self absorbed attention whores (sorry Mom, but you know it's the truth).  However, I'm pretty sure Google may have already imploded due to the number of times we've researched these diseases.  What can I say.  We pander.  So, to spare our beloved Google any further stress, I've decided to share with you some articles that I think best explain what we're dealing with here.  Lets start with Hodgkins as it was the first one to turn our peaceful lives upside down.  

This is a post I stumbled onto a few days after Sam was diagnosed in December.  It's from the blog of a former Hodgkins patient who's been in remission for 2 years now.  I think you'll find it very informative.


*I apologize in advance for the colorful language.  

Buck-toothed monkey face syndrome


I am a scientist, so I like to understand things. Since I have a bit of time off work I've been reading through the literature to try and figure out exactly what is wrong with me. Well, there a lot of things wrong with me, but we'll just stick to the Hodgkins. Basically it's a cancer of the lymphatic system where the body screws up the production of a certain kind of white blood cell called a lymphocyte.Let's take a close scientific look at one of these cells. The figure above shows a healthy B-cell on the left, and one of the screwed up cells that are gumming up my lymph nodes on the right. I'm no medical doctor, but I think I can see the problem here. My cells are missing that little thing that looks like a purple straw sticking out the bottom. Ditto for the yellow Q-tip on the left, and the Y-shaped stick on top. Apparently someone forgot to water the little red beansprout because it didn't show up. No sign of Blk, Syk, Lyn, SHIP and the rest of those orange assholes. They couldn't even be bothered to get out of bed. Thank God we've still got the carrot thing on the bottom right, otherwise I'd be totally screwed. The pieces of cucumber sticking out over there look fine too. Nice job guys. On closer inspection my cells look like a bit like a buck-toothed monkey face. I know I'm going to spend the next few months in a doctor's office hearing 'blah blah Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin's Lymphoma" but in my head I'll be hearing "blah blah buck-toothed monkey face syndrome".

Any questions?

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Post of Reflection and Classy Dance Moves

The day of Dad's bowel resection was really something.  We went from laughing hysterically to crying hysterically in less than a few hours.  It was the worst emotional whiplash imaginable.  I've got the video footage to prove it.  You're welcome Father.

Mom got him to the hospital about 90 minutes before his scheduled surgery.  Naturally, the 90 minute wait turned into a 2 1/2 hour wait.  I arrived just in time to see this...

video

Only to be followed by this (keep in mind he had been given juuuust enough medication to help keep him relaxed, which made him ever so slightly tipsy - as hilarious as regular Dad is, tipsy Dad is so much better)...

video

By the time his surgery actually rolled around we were all feeling pretty dang good about the whole thing.  Mom, Pete, and I camped out in the waiting room for about an hour and a half at which point his surgeon came in to talk to us.  I had already seen several surgeons come in and chat with their patient's families right there in the waiting area, so I immediately became nervous when he asked us to meet with him in a nearby consultation room.  I remember feeling my heart rate double.  Heat rates are smart like that.

I'll spare you the details, but we were led to believe that Dad most likely had a fast growing, incurable form of intestinal canser.  Dr. Doom was even throwing around time lines.  The kind of time lines that literally knock the wind out of you.  In full disclosure, about 5 minutes into the conversation, I stood up and stormed out of the room (Me?  Dramatic?  Noooooo...).  I don't know what happened.  I just suddenly couldn't listen anymore.  So Mom and Pete sat there calmly and asked as many questions as they could think of.  Then they fell apart too.  We started the painful process of calling our siblings to deliver the news that we knew would change their lives.  It was heartbreaking.  Plans were altered and flights were booked.  Because the only thing we cared about was being together.  

We knew it wouldn't be a good idea to tell Dad everything the Dr. had said until he was recovered from the anesthesia, so we faked it.  We put on our happy faces in his room, which was surprisingly not all that difficult, and then we would each take our turn to go out to the hall and have a good cry.  This cycle went on for several hours.  I still haven't asked Dad if he suspected that we were all putting on an act that night, but he probably did.  We're pretty sucky actors.  I love this clip of Pete, Dusty, and my husband Ryan walking with Dad and his nurse down the hall only a few hours after surgery.  They have their game faces on.    

Never mind my man voice in the background. video

The emotional torment of the 48 hours after his surgery is something that will never leave me.  It was two full days of desperately searching for what we knew there was no answer for.  Why him?  But then, almost like a miracle, a ray of hope appeared.  We were told that the canser was actually testing more like lymphoma.  I think we were all hesitant to even consider the possibility until a day or so later, when Mom sent out a text that said, "Good news (I think)!  Dr. just called to say the path report is definitely lymphoma.  Never thought I'd be celebrating lymphoma".  The kind of news that usually makes people collapse in a heap of woe and tears had us literally celebrating.  I even started doing the Cabbage Patch when I read her text.  In my running clothes.  At a soccer game.  Just keepin it classy.

Here.  Now you can be classy too.  

Oh YouTube, what priceless little nuggets you provide us with.

Not a day has gone by since that post-surgery chat we had with Dad's surgeon that I haven't thought about how fortunate I am to have such a stellar family.  They are all incredible as individual people and as individual young families.  But together, as a group of brothers, sisters, and parents who all have each others backs, they are immovable.  They are rock solid.  And canser will not change that, no sir-ree.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I'm Writing a Book

I was up at the hospital with Dad last night, and although the serious complications seem to be under control, the harsh realities of chemotherapy are definitely setting in.  We held a pep rally complete with spirit fingers and a few back handsprings to get him to eat his dinner, which actually worked!  Right up to the point where his stomach rejected our efforts.



Now, of course I can't relate to most of what Dad's been going through, but there's one thing I get.  Throwing up.  I'm something of a puking prodigy, if I do say so myself.  Dad has had more than his fair share of holding my hair back while I hork my guts out.  He's never as much as flinched.  And yesterday as I sat there, seeing him in such discomfort, I couldn't help but wish it was me instead.  I mean, it only makes sense.  I've had way more practice than him.

Watching a parent suffer evokes indescribable emotion.  It's painful, and sweet, and extremely raw, all at the same time.  Sometimes I leave the hospital feeling encouraged, and so hopeful that I literally skip down the hall to the elevator.  Other times, like yesterday, I go home aching over the fact that I can't switch places with him.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for Dad and his siblings to witness their own father battle Parkinson's disease for 30 years.  It had to have been heart-wrenching.

I'm so thankful that this phase of Dad's situation isn't permanent.  Actually, I'm thankful that there's a good chance this whole thing will all be a distant memory at some future point.  But until then, he'll probably have 3-4 days of being wracked with nausea  in between each of his six treatments, during which time I'll happily force feed him, and then give him my best puking tips.  I should write a book. 101 Ways to Harf.  New York Times best seller, no doubt.

Today is a big day for Sammy.  He'll drink some dye and then let them take pictures of his insides.  Tomorrow, he and I have a hot date scheduled to go view the results.  Then we plan to hang out and watch YouTube videos while he's infused with all sorts of exotic fluids. We might even get a little crazy and go for a walk around the treatment room.  Who needs dinner and a movie when you can have chemo and a CAT scan?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Chemo Birthday

Sorry about the whole going private thing.  We'll probably change it back at some point, but for now you'll have to log in to read about cancer.  Have I mentioned that I hate cancer?  In fact, I dislike cancer so much, that I hereby declare it as being unworthy to be spelled correctly.  So from this point forward I shall spell cancer, canser.  Ha!  Take that cancer.  I mean canser.  

Okay.  Let me get you all up to speed here.  Sam is doing great and taking his chemo like a freaking champ.  He breezes through his infusions and so far the most annoying side effect has been feeling very fatigued.  He gets up and goes to work EVERY. Single. Day.  Which quite frankly, is pretty incredible.  And he's only puked once!  If this somehow ends up being the extent of his side effects, it would be the equivalent of winning the lottery.  But all things considered, he's handled everything extremely well.  We're holding our breath for this week's scan that will show if this particular type of chemo is proving effective.  Here's to hoping for those freakishly large tumors to be, well, less freakishly large.

In other news, most of you probably know by now that Dad has spent the last 5 days up at the Huntsman Canser Institute relaxing, recharging, and just generally having a fabulous time.  But let's back up a little.  A day or so after he was released from the hospital initially, he started having pain in his kidneys that he thought was kidney stones, because, you know, he wasn't quite miserable enough.  He made a late night trip to the emergency room which resulted in a ransacking of the medicine supply room, after which they injected him with a dose or two of everything they found.  They even sent him home with a drug that made him hallucinate about fighting monsters.  Street name: Ecstasy.  Anyway, two trips to the ER and his general surgeon's office later, the situation had become significantly more serious.  And then a miracle happened.

I have this aunt named Nancy.  Actually, I hate calling her my aunt because it doesn't even begin to describe what she really is to my family.  And over the past two weeks she's been more like a guardian angel than anything else.  We still don't know how she did it, but on Wednesday afternoon she made some calls and worked her oncology mojo, and somehow convinced the folks up at Huntsman's to admit Dad.  Truth be told, I believe she saved his life.  Thanks Nanc Superwoman, we owe you one.  It wasn't long after checking him in that we realized how serious the situation really was, and still is for that matter.  It went from hopefully, maybe, possibly starting chemo sometime next week, to "please roll over so we can stick this extremely long needle in your hip and take a sample of your bone marrow, then we'll proceed with a spinal tap, then surgically place a port under the skin on your shoulder, and oh, by the way, we need to start chemo TODAY", which is always comforting to hear.  Needless to say, they weren't kidding.  See diagram below.  


He'll complete a total of 6 (I think) treatments of R-CHOP chemotherapy which consist of,  
*Rituximab  
*Doxorubicin (it's bright red)
*Vincristine
*Cyclophoshamide 
*Prednisolone
If you can pronounce even one of those drugs correctly, I'll personally deliver you a fruit basket.  

The first treatment was on Saturday, which was also Mom's birthday.  She was honored to spend it watching toxic chemicals dripping into Dad's veins.  But nothing could keep them from enjoying a good birthday spoon. 
I will be thoroughly reprimanded for including this picture, I'm sure.  But I had to do it.  It's the perfect reminder to me of what canser can't do.  This poem is posted right outside Dad's room in the hallway of the hospital...

Canser is so limited...
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

I can't tell you how touched we've all been by the amount of love and support that has been shown to our family.  My parents especially.  As difficult as this has been, and will continue to be, our faith in God's plan for us remains unshaken.  If anything, it's been strengthened.  I can't even begin to count how many times over the past two weeks I've heard Dad say, "I'm so lucky",  which would mean he's either completely mad, or truly an eternal optimist.  I think we all know it's the latter.

No word yet on when he'll be released from the hospital.  But I have to tell you, that John Huntsman is all class.  The facility is beautiful, and the food is great-ish.  I mean, I can think of less pleasant places to be.  Kind of.  Not really.    

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Going the Private Route

For right now, we've decided to make this blog private.  If you'd like me to send you an invite please leave me your email adress in the comments section, or you can email me personally at annielewis@mac.com.  I should have it up and running in a few days.

A ginormous thank you to everyone who's shown so much love and support to my family over the past two weeks.  We are in awe.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super-Bald Sunday

Most people spend Super Bowl Sunday hanging out with friends, eating hideously unhealthy food, and watching football.  But we are not most people.  As a family, we often times make the conscious decision to go against the flow of traffic so to speak.  Yesterday was no exception.

Sam's hair has seemingly been taking refuge everywhere except his head.  He expected this to happen, but when it actually started, we could all tell he was a little bummed.  We don't like it when a family member is bummed.  In fact, we've been known to go to extreme measures to cheer up our bummed.  So instead of watching the Super Bowl yesterday, we shaved each other's heads.  It was exponentially more fun than watching football.  I wouldn't be surprised if eventually it become a family tradition.      


 Pre buzzathon

Saying goodbye

Notice the precision

Remember Mr. Noodle on Elmo's World?  Tha's all I have to say.  

Good news.  If Sam's eyebrows jump ship too, I think we've found a solution.
Handsome yet dangerous.

Mr. T  Sam

Moe?  Larry?  Curly?  I can't decide...

I've always wondered what it would be like to shave my husband's head.  Now I know.

Post-buzz shot (minus Scott, Minda's husband) 

Best picture of the night.  After an evening of trying to manage his post operative pain, Dad decided he had to head back to the hospital to find out what was going on.  They spontaneously rallied for a group hug right before he walked out the door.  Oh, how I love these men.  They make the world a better place just by being in it.

Cancer is a tough thing to deal with.  But believe me when I tell you that there are blessings that can come from it.  You just have to be willing to see them.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Well Hello Cancer, Please, Make Yourself Comfortable

So, it turns out that if you have what seems to be a dinosaur egg lodged in your armpit, you might have a reason to be concerned.  We learned that the hard way about 6 weeks ago when my little brother opted to get his armpit egg checked out instead of waiting to see if it hatched.  What's weird is that it kind of hatched anyway.  Well, it didn't so much hatch as it did copy itself a billion times.  That's the thing about lymphoma.  Those damn lymphocytes don't know when to stop.  You know, kind of like gremlins.  And pretty soon you've got a lymphocyte party going on inside your body, but you didn't get the memo.  By the time you realize something is not quite right, you've dropped 20 pounds. you're having night sweats that would rival any menopausal woman, and you've got a dinosaur egg in your armpit.  After several rounds of testing and the eventual removal of the over sized egg, which was actually a tumor (surprise!!!), he was told that he has Hodgkin's Lymphoma, stage 4.  Aka: cancer.  That was 1 month ago.  He's now had 2 of the 12 recommended chemotherapy treatments, which so far, haven't sucked nearly as bad as he was anticipating.  We've all been kind of psyched about that.  But let's journey on shall we?

About 3 weeks ago my dad had a run in with the stomach flu.  He got over it pretty quickly but couldn't seem to kick the dull ache in his abdomen.   Enter extremely high doses of Advil.  A week later he was still in pain so he took a quick trip to the ER for a CAT scan.  Results were unclear but they said it looked "cloudy" (code for we don't know).  There was also a small portion of his small bowel with a "thickened wall".  Pain continued, and seemed to be worsening, so naturally, my mother dragged him in for a colonoscopy, which I'm sure he deeply appreciated.  He was actually excited to announce that the doctor told him his colon looked like that of a 20 year old kid.  We were all very proud.  He was then referred to a general surgeon, which really should have tipped us off, but alas, we remained blissfully clueless.  Until of course, said general surgeon suggested removing the thickened portion of his bowel and the"cloudy-ness" surrounding it.  That recommendation didn't sit well at all.  Surgery was scheduled and then immediately cancelled.  But the pain remained.  Second opinions, third opinions, and even our beloved Google didn't seem to have any good answers.  And really, if Google can't come up with something that fits, you know you're screwed.  There was nothing to do but reschedule the surgery.  Which brings us to last Tuesday.  5 days ago.  My dad went in for a bowel resection.  And yes, it was every bit as fun as you might imagine.  He loved waking up to staples in his belly, and who needs that 6 inches of intestine anyway.  What he didn't love was receiving the diagnosis (that diagnosis story alone could fill an entire blog, so I'll tackle it later on).  He has Diffused B-cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (stage 4).  Aka: cancer.  

So let's do the math here.  My brother has lymphoma, and my dad has lymphoma.  Now, I'm not good with numbers, but my calculations tell me that that's a lot of people in one family to be diagnosed with cancer within the same month (or year, or decade really).  Surely, it must be genetic, you say.  But that's not possible for two reasons.  One, they're two entirely different types, and two, my little brother is adopted.  So yeah, that theory's out.  My mother is starting to think it's her cooking, which if you know my mom, you know is an absolutely insane notion. The truth is, there's nothing that could possibly link these things together.  In fact, nobody has any clue what even causes these specific cancers.  They are their own dictators and they don't discriminate.  So really, our only choice is to give them the bird and bust out our machine guns.  That's right leukocytes, the party's over.

I've started this blog to keep our family and friends updated on Sam's (my brother), and Bruce's (my dad - but referring to him as "Bruce" seems weird and unnatural, so I'll just call him Dad) treatment and progress.  It's also for any other people out there who may have stumbled onto this blog because of their own or a loved one's unfortunate diagnosis.  To all you folks, my heart aches for you in a way I never could have imagined.  But don't despair.  Join with us in this adventure of the most undesirable kind.  Oh, and bring you're gun.  Unless of course you live in New York.  You guys can bring your, um...sling shots.