At University Hospital Feb. 2011

At University Hospital Feb. 2011
February 11, 2011 at University of Utah Hospital

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Full disclosure . . .

When Phil was first diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, I felt like a robot going through the motions. I woke up each morning hoping it was all a bad dream. I dressed, went to work, came home, fixed dinner for Phil, went to bed. Nothing felt real. I had no brain; I couldn't reason; I was prone to frequent meltdowns; I lost patience with platitudes. I cleaned frenetically, keeping myself too busy to think, and when everything in the house was spotless, I painted three rooms in one week. Then I moved outside and viciously hacked weeds with unparalleled vengeance till the rusty red earth was smooth and unmarred. It felt like fighting back. "Take that, you wicked cancer!"

A good friend said, "Eventually you'll find a groove and be able to function again." Thanks, Michele. I think I’ve found that groove. Our "new normal" is not what I would ever have asked for, but it seems to be working, for now, and I'm thankful for that.

Although our lives revolve around chemo, cancer does not define who we are. Life goes on and life is good. Our son Adam is getting married September 3. Our grandson Josh will have his 8th birthday this Friday and be baptized soon. My job is a comfort, although I’m on a much less demanding schedule, and I’m looking forward to giving a presentation at a national conference in September.

Phil continues to get chemo every two weeks, but somehow, he's working harder than ever despite his continually diminishing strength and appetite. Chemo may zap his energy, but it can't touch his optimism and positive outlook!

There was a little bump last month. Gayle, his infusion nurse in Moab, discovered that Phil's potassium levels had tanked so he got two hours of potassium before they could begin his five-hour chemo infusion. That was a rough week for Phil and he ended up staying at Shon’s two nights, instead of one. I don’t go with Phil when he’s in Moab so it’s a great comfort knowing Shon and Rossana are watching out for him. Thanks, guys!!!

Once a month Phil sees Dr. Weis at Huntsman and sometimes we can travel home so Phil can have chemo in Moab the next day. That way we miss less work. Last Monday Phil had chemo at Huntsman and was too sick to travel till Wednesday. But the enforced rest was good and seems to have helped his strength return much faster. This weekend has been like a second week after chemo, instead of a first week. I’m encouraging Phil to experiment with this concept of "resting more" to see if it works next time. (Wish me luck with that!)

August 12 was the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, held on the high school football field in Moab, and Phil was heavily involved. He and Shon set up a broadcast booth and provided live, continuous coverage throughout the night. Our daughter Liz and her 5 year old daughter Anna came from Park City to support their Dad/Grandpa and that was a great joy! I set up a tent and an air mattress near the broadcast booth so Phil could rest. He seemed determined to pull an all-nighter, but sometime after midnight he crashed. Phil usually drops into bed between 6 and 8:00 p.m., depending on how late he gets home from work, so midnight was quite an accomplishment. Around 3:00 a.m. the air mattress was pretty deflated and Phil was freezing under two thin blankets. Temps in the day averaged 100+, but fell into the 60s at night, and since Phil has very little tolerance for cold (thanks to chemo), he pulled out and went to the radio station where he could warm up and catch a few zzzzzzs in his recliner. However, he was back at the Relay broadcasting live again at 5:00 a.m. What a fighter!

Of course, Relay for Life is about forming teams, raising funds, and keeping at least one team member walking around the track all night. The event always swings off with a Survivor’s Lap. As all the survivors gathered on the track, a torch was passed from survivor to survivor. Without his knowing, Phil had been selected for the great honor of leading the Survivor’s Lap carrying the torch. This came as a complete surprise. Phil fought tears that could not be restrained--he was so astonished, humbled, and grateful to be recognized and honored by his peers. As broadcast co-anchor, Shon made the announcement and spoke of Phil’s current battle with cancer, his indomitable spirit, and his many friends in the community who look up to him and are lifted and inspired by his courage. (If I can figure out how to load video and post pictures, you'll be able to share this exciting experience. I'll work on it.)

What’s next? We look forward to September 12 when Phil will have a CT scan so we can find out if the chemo is still working. We'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, thanks to all of you for your faith and prayers. We couldn't do this without you!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the update. I spoke to Phil Friday night at the football game here in Moab. His spirit is wonderful and his determination is an example to me.

    I relish his friendship and count it as a wonderful blessing in my life to know Phil.