Tuesday, June 21, 2011

That's All Folks!

Best Blog Tips
Recently my mother called to say hello. She asked "How are you?" I said I was good. "Really, how are you?" I assured her I was fine. She then said jokingly something about "Liar, liar, pants on fire." 

I wasn't lying per se. Physically my body is in pain, me though I'm okay/fine/good and soon my body will catch up to my mind.

Today was my nineteenth radiation appointment out of twenty. I met with the oncologist for the last time for about a month or two. In about six weeks my hip should be all healed up and me off the crutches. I'll be getting more CT scans, blood tests and whatever other fluids they see fit to test. 

THE CALL came about four months ago. A tumor the size of a kiwi was found on my hip. Later we learned I had plasmacytoma, a cancer. There is no numbered "cancer stage" for it, just something you have or don't have and some tumors are bigger then others. My oncologist said it was possible it was there for five years more or less. Of course there is no way of really knowing. 

For days and weeks after THE CALL my head was spinning. At times I just wanted to die and wanted to live to be 103; run away or never leave my room, scream, be silent; wished that no one knew, yet I wanted to talk to EVERYONE about it; prayed, wondered what the point of prayer was. When I watched TV I wanted to be literally absorbed into the screen and get to say witty one liners at the right time, then after watching I would vow to never watch TV again. 

Within 48 hrs I wasn't interested in going over all the details anymore to whomever called. I was glad people cared, however to no fault of anyone, it simply withdrew more energy than it gave. 

Those thoughts and more would swoop through my mind in a nano-second or two. It was exhausting. Just thinking about that whirlwind now is too stressful to relive. 

A day or two after THE CALL I was mid conversation with a friend, I said "I'll blog about the details and send you the link." It made sense to blog about my doctor appointments to keep my family and friends in the loop if they wanted to be. Several conversations I have had with some of my family and friends clearly indicates they don't read the blog - so whoever you are I'm glad you have read and shared this journey with me. Expressing what I was feeling about my appointments and new life, made the surreal real and was the most therapeutic thing I did.

Being diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer that mainly senior citizens get (two out of three who are black) struck me odd. For those that don't notice things like age or race I'm only 33 years old and white. 

For the past months I've been wondering what went wrong. The easiest answer is bad things just happen. Though it's true that bad things happen my gut said there might be more to the story. I've never been a drinker, smoker or drug user and whether I did or not, it seemed like I ate healthier than the average person. In short, I believe that my diet wasn't helping me.

With all the medical tests I got, one of the things found out was that I was getting adult-onset diabetes (Type 2). That's news worthy in itself, but I never brought it up because it pails in comparison to cancer and there was no need to worry more people (Mom and Dad). I already have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and hypothyroidism for people to worry about (Mom and Dad). 

Instinctually after THE CALL I cut back on junk food and within a month I lost a few pounds. Then I saw a nutritionalist and adjusted what I ate some more and lost a few more pounds. 

Type 2 Diabetes is usually for 45 years and older. If your reading comprehension is low or memory is short: I'M ONLY 33 YEARS OLD! 

I have only one body and this one body I have needs to take care of the only family I have. There's plenty of theories of why people get cancer, but Type 2 diabetes is due to a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. I can't change my genetics, but I can change what goes in my pie hole. Dieting has never worked for me, hence getting adult-onset diabetes at 33, so I have made a switch to less processed foods, more raw and organic - that's it.

My 30 pound weight loss is from my change of diet, not from getting cancer. I have only lost my lunch once during the radiation and that was about 4 weeks ago. 

Food is just one thing that has changed since THE CALL. My value system has been refined some and I truly look at the world differently. I have questioned and reevaluated every aspect I am aware of about my life, from my address, faith, family, friends, entertainment, money, education, the roles I have in peoples lives and theirs in my own life. Simply, how I think just is not the same. Thank goodness. There are certainly things I have changed and things that I am improving.

After today's appointment we went to a beach, I sat down and Myrtle walked everywhere. She picked up rocks, a small dead crab and dried seaweed. The scenery was picture perfect and the weather even better.  These are the moments I am living for.
Myrtle, first day of summer 2011
Today is the first day of summer and tomorrow is my last radiation appointment. This to me is an end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one and I want my life to reflect that. As of now I'm not interested in writing about my tumor, no matter how hip it is. My head is no longer spinning, I don't quite feel so confused or like my life is up in the air. In fact I feel more grounded now than I did pre-diagnosis. 

There are boundless things I want to write and talk about, but I will keep that between my journal, family and maybe friends.

For the record I know that prayer has worked miracles in more ways then I can express. Thank you for those that have prayed on my and my family's behalf. In return I have prayed every single day for those that are praying for me, that their burdens may be lifted and know that they are loved. Still, I don't understand the mechanics of prayer, meaning how it works, just that praying has helped my family and I. Thank you Mom for teaching me how to pray.

Thank you for reading, thank you for caring. For old times sake perhaps one more prayer for Myrtle's dad.

Lots of love, 


Feel free to email me rebalkin@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Have To, I Am Her Dad!

Best Blog Tips
I've heard Myrtle gets a lot of mentions on this blog, on my Facebook, in my conversations and in the comic book series I write with her as the heroin fighting crime by softening hardened criminals with her electric smile. I didn't know I was Myrtle-fying my all my conversations so much. Granted it took me a few months to mention her name without tearing up, so maybe I do mention her a fair bit.

In my defense Myrtle is awesome.

My view on the world changed when she was born. Not so much in logistics of life, but in my very mind and soul. I remember my Aunt Robin asking me soon after Myrtle's birth how my life had changed, my reply was "I didn't know how self absorbed I was before."

Today is Myrtle's birthday and at radiation one of the tech's, Julia, had a gift for Myrtle, a small stuffie pig in a ballerina outfit. Myrtle loved it and carried it around as she bounced down the halls smiling at all.
I was moved by Julia's small gift, as it was hugely thoughtful.

After radiation I met with my oncologist. Our meetings are brief and it seems like he's quite happy to be out the door ASAP. Though he does fully answer any question asked. Today I asked when will I have a clean bill of health. My optimism mixed with my naiveté wasn't mentally prepared for him to nonchalantly state "maybe" and "if". What got me was him saying it might pop up years, maybe a year or two, later as multiple myeloma (that's not a good thing). Statistically radiation has about a 9% of success. All I could think was my time with Myrtle is limited.

How lucky Myrtle is to have no idea why we go to the hospital everyday. How lucky I am to have a reason other then myself to be healed.

I cried on the way to the car. I cried driving to our stroll on the boardwalk. I cried on the boardwalk. I cried as we picked up Myrtle birthday cake and cupcakes. Coming home and sitting down I cried on my trusty recliner as Myrtle and her cousin Montana were colouring in the kitchen.

Faith had wrapped up gifts we were to give her at her party and I knew she would love them. But I learned something from Toy Story 3 and that is kids grow up. Incase Myrtle ever wondered if her father loved her I started writing. I then printed it out and taped in her birthday card.

Tribute To Myrtle On Her First Birthday

Myrtle when you were born it woke me up
Was I really asleep for 32 years?

Eagerly I have lost countless hours of sleep staying up late
Hoping you’d awake from yours
Losing sleep to gain memories was an easy choice
Especially now that you sleep through the night

Many mornings still asleep I hear you are awake with Mom
You make the cutest sounds with your “words”, “Dadda" being the sweetest
I get out of bed and say “Goooooood Morning! Helloooo Myrtle!”
No matter how tired

Your smile is too bright sleep through
The thought of missing out on your “firsts” easily rolls me out of bed

Mom will sometimes plop you on my sleeping body
Waking me from silly dreams
Usually you grab my face and I see your smile
Now I get to live out the dream of being your “Dadda”

Your personality is joyful and magnetic
This has made naps and bed time hard to do
Whether it’s yours or mine
Awake with you I get to experience this world I have missed

Perhaps I had been asleep for 32 years

May you always wake me up Myrtle

My life is for Myrtle, everything I have is hers from my time to what is on my plate. I never quite understood my parents' love for me. I rolled my eyes way too long about things I didn't like hearing. I didn't get "it". Regarding helping out in this time of need, my parents emailed me offering all they had, whatever they have to help, even if it meant selling their home to help. I thought it drastic at the time, but now understand how I would do ANYTHING for Myrtle, my parents too would do ANYTHING to help me. And they would.

Myrtle it's my hope one day you read this, you come from good stock.

Something my old roommate/cousin Andrew would say was "Celebrate success, no matter how small." Sometimes it was just "Celebrate success!" with a fist pump. Like most things, Andrew was right.

As I mentioned, today is her birthday. It felt it right to go all out, to really celebrate. We went to our favorite beach, had balloons, food and gifts. Though it was cold and rainy earlier in the day the clouds parted and sun shined on the part of God's earth we stood. Us three plus thirty-seven of our friends and family came to celebrate Myrtle. She may never have more well attended birthday party. Everyone had a great time, especially the Birthday Girl.
What the fuss is all about!
Leaving the beach I cried again. I wasn't sad, just so very grateful to have had such a fantastic time celebrating life - the life of my daughter. Yes, the party was for her and it was also for her parents - with all our faults somehow we produced Myrtle!

While the I'm going through the actual radiation all I think is "Where can I can take Myrtle after this?" When I pray for my health it's that I may live long that I may raise Myrtle. When I choose to eat healthier I eat to help my body heal so I can be Myrtle's father. Etc., etc., etc..

I know I am also a friend, nephew, cousin, uncle, brother, son, and husband. Frankly, all of you don't need me the way Myrtle does, she's barely a one year old and I'm her father. One day she'll plan her own birthday parties if she wants to and she might roll her eyes while saying "Oh Dad! You just say that because you you have to, you're my dad." She'd be right, I have to, I am her dad!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Doing it for the Sympathy or Empathy?

Best Blog Tips
Yesterday I remembered when in grade three braking my arm riding to fast on my brother Jason's black and yellow BMX bike. I was too small for it. My brother Dion wrote on my cast "Did you do this for the empathy or sympathy?" 

Ever wonder if you're the only one going through _________? I was yesterday feeling out of sorts in a way - I wanted sympathy or empathy. I have been open and rejected the idea of support groups. What I have learned from those that have or are going through cancer is that a similarity has been our reaction and others reactions upon learning of the diagnosis. But since my cervix isn't been removed; a mastectomy isn't required; and chemotherapy or surgery aren't on the agenda it seems others journey's are on another planet. Plus, it feels like out of the cancer options I was lucky overall. Nonetheless I wanted to see if there were others in Victoria with plasmacytoma so I Googled "plasmacytoma support groups, victoria, bc". 
The first link had nothing to do with plasmacytoma. The second and third were support groups for women (maybe ones I dated?). Which brings us to the forth and fifth ...ME! So it seemed like my support group is a mirror.

It got me thinking of what real support is. Nothing wrong with strangers being acquainted over cancer, but for me I think it might be just too time consuming and depressing (maybe). However yesterday my mother called before bed to say "Hey, how are you? Talk to me." My dad dropped by with some produce. My niece Montana is visiting and helping around the home, made me grilled cheese sandwiches. Myrtle, well she is an angel with a radiant smile and a goofiness that lifts my spirits beyond words.

I also considered what came in the mail yesterday.  I saw on the customs slip that inside was a "blanket" and "pens".  Pens? The blanket part I understood, the sender was from Sandy, Oregon, my Aunt Lyn,  a world renowned quilter (well in my world she is). Why she would send pens though was a head scratcher, "Well... she is getting older... but she not THAT old, is she?" I thought.

Nope, she's not. The quilt has patches for family and friends to write on, the "pens" are a bunch of permanent markers. Some of my American family had already signed some patches. A quilt wasn't a surprise per se, but being able to have people sign it was! Once more a quilt made me cry.

Over the weekend I had some side effects that were to be expected, just not welcomed. There was no radiation on Monday and today's was at 8:00am. In short I was anxious and had a hard time falling asleep. Open the window. Shut the window. Lie on my tummy. Lie on my side. What time is it? 12:40am! Okay no more looking at the clock. Lie on my back. Do I have to pee? I've been here more then an hour, I better go now. Have the window opened just a crack. I'm thirsty. 

On the way back from the glass of water I saw the quilt I've dubbed my "Sympathy or Empathy" quilt. I grabbed it and brought it to bed and thought of what was written by some of my support group. That I was loved and I could do this. It calmed my troubled nerves and I had a great sleep. Thank you Aunt Lyn!

When I received the quilt I wrote her this:

Dear Aunt Lyn,

Any Guesses what is keeping me warm as I type? I know it might take me a few days to think of something better than THANK YOU! All I can say is I look forward to when Myrtle can enjoy the quilt and comprehend the love you and the family shared with her daddy. 

Thank you and THANK YOU!

Lots and lots and lots of love,


Please if you are ever by and you want to sign it, please do, I could the use the sympathy or empathy. 

Myrtle showed she approved of the quilt in her own way. Montana encouraged her no doubt. 

In Myrtle's room.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When Is It Okay To Slap Ruban?

Best Blog Tips
A while back my niece Kathryn came for a week to help Faith out with Myrtle and me. It was a huge help and a new face was a welcomed change in conversation too. A little after that my oldest brother Dion texted me regarding his daughter Montana.
All kidding aside it was nice to know help was coming. Myrtle is the most social baby I know, she loves people and extra attention. Sometimes I'm not always having enough energy to play or help out with Myrtle when she's ready for it. So Montana here will be a welcomed addition. 

She arrived last night flying from Salt Lake City to Seattle. From there she took her first cab ride from the airport to the Clipper ferry which brought her to the island. My parents picked her up and dropped her off here. Knowing that Montana is a voracious reader (she's read the dictionary) I asked "So do you play Scrabble?" Before I knew it I was playing with a real live person (online Scrabble isn't quite the same). Caught up in the excitement of it all I realized mid-game I ought to let her dad know she arrived safely.

Montana has only played a Scrabble a few times, whereas I have played hundreds upon hundreds for about ten years. One might think I went easy on her, one would be wrong. One might think my I wouldn't gloat in my victory, one would be wrong. 
Montana: 169 & Uncle Ruban: 298
Truth is I was scared, the game started out with her winning and my guess is that she'll be winning in the end before she flies back home.
I'm blogging all the above for me to remember what sacrifices have been made on my behalf. It's not a cheap trip for Montana to make and I doubt not every 17 year old is willing to spend two weeks of their summer helping out their families version of Uncle Buck

After I blogged about the quilt my sister-in-law Colleen made me, the next day we had an hour long Skype video chat. Colleen showed me what each square on the quilt meant. She said that since we live far away from each other, dropping off meals, visiting or watching Myrtle of course wasn't possible. However, making the quilt was a way for her to contribute, to show love and support.

Dion echoed Colleen's sentiments; wanting to help but being 1,580 km's away he wasn't too sure how. He said "Well in the olden days a family would send over their daughter to help." Who knows, maybe in 17 years Dion will be sick and I'll be sending Myrtle down. Maybe I should start a quilt now incase Colleen ever gets sick.

We never know when someone will need help or what to do when that happens. I know prayer of others has helped me tremendously. I'm not sure still how/why it works, just that it has. My cousin-in-law Dana asked how I knew I was being prayed for and I didn't have a great answer. There are outward manifestations: having great health (considering I'm in the middle of cancer treatment); people crossing my path that have aided in my my healing; kind emails and phone calls; having not worked since September yet still eating and putting gas in the tank (thank you to those who donated). The inward/spiritual manifestations have been peace of mind, stillness of heart, faith and hope. Our soul needs that as much as our bodies require food and air.

My cousin Emily wrote "I will be thinking about you and Faith and Myrtle ...and praying for you as well since prayers are even better than thoughts... I will also be praying to know what I can do for you and your family. "

Sometimes the "do" is visiting, emailing, forgiving, more praying, phone calls, texting, paging, faxing, smoke signals or giving me a three pound bag of quinoa (thanks Cindy, I can't wait to Google what to do with it!).  Asking what can be done is appreciated and sometimes it's just as exhausting to answer too. 

On Thursday I had one of those days where I wondered how is life going to really work. Where is my dignity? How am I going to make ends meet? Will I really heal? Can I be the father that Myrtle needs? It doesn't matter what happened.  I suppose what "happened" was life plans didn't seem to be panning out and I was lacking faith and lost some perspective.

After all the help I've been given please slap some sense in me if I ever see another's lack and I not share. 

Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others...By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves." 
— Gordon B. Hinckley

Here I am with energy to write, but too sore to play with Myrtle and there's Montana playing with Myrtle. My brother saw that I was in need and sent his daughter to do what I can't. In fact while I was writing my Aunt Lyn emailed me "Isn't it amazing... when you need help... help arrives..." 

Yes, it is amazing!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

Best Blog Tips
After each radiation appointment I now take Myrtle and Faith somewhere, anywhere, for family time. We've gone to see the floating homes on Fisherman's Warf; fed the ducks (and the mooching geese, pigeons and crows) at the ponds at Beacon Hill Park; played at the parks at Willow's Beach and at Beacon Hill Park. Monday we stopped by our friends Mike and Julianne's for an impromptu play date for Myrtle and their son Owen. 

Today I drove around unsure of where to go, I wanted different yet fun. I did a quick turn and thought Myrtle would enjoy some play time with her cousin Seth who is about two weeks older then her. I was right, she had a great time! They looked at chickens in the back yard, rolled around on the trampoline, played with toys outside and inside. 
Seth showing Myrtle the chickens.
Sometimes crappy things happen and life is messy. One thing can lead to another and before you know it life looks different than dreamed of. After a week of radiation I thought it was silly driving for an hour through rush hour traffic only to just drive home - thus the idea family time afterwards was born. 

Walking down the path to Seth's door there was a single pink rose. I stopped to smell it, (it smelled wonderful actually), Faith smelled it, then I leaned Myrtle into it. Is it possible that because of this cancer nonsense I am now literally stopping to smell the roses? I'm slightly embarrassed that getting cancer and the treatments is what got me to reconsider how I spend my time, especially time with my family. These days I am so much more grateful for the time I do get to spend with them. More on this in a moment...

Today we met with the radiation oncologist for a Q&A. I asked why if I have a blood cancer is it that only my tumor is being treated. From what I gather the plasma (blood) cells that showed cancer were in the tumor, no where else. The radiation then shrinks said tumor into oblivion.
Daddy showing Myrtle the radiation machine.
I told the him the tenderness (aka pain, extreme discomfort) where the tumor is has subsided some and I don't always feel the need to use my crutches. The oncologist replied by saying that as the tumor shrinks there will be less pain, however with the tumor gone there will be a gaping hole in my bone where the tumor was. It will take about 6+ weeks after radiation for the hip to heal (much like if had I broken it). So to support the healing and avoid a break or fracture I do need to use the crutches. 

As the doc was about to leave Faith piped up and asked when we could have more children. The short answer is that I might not be able to, which also means I might be able to too. The radiation leaves a residue of sorts that could lead to deformities in a baby if one were to procreate within the year after radiation. So it'll be us three for awhile.

Faith was disappointed to hear that and expressed it as we drove away. BUT the kicker for me was what Faith said after. She was pointing out all the positive about this permanent or temporary delay. Could it be we're both growing to be more positive?! In the end we concluded that if Myrtle was our only child we're still the luckiest parents alive and be grateful for that. As a family we learned there's no use crying over spilt milk, especially if you can slurp up the stuff that's still good.

Not everything since we got married has gone as planned. Truth is not everything before we got married went as planned either. That's just life - it can get messy. Plan all you want, but sometimes an egg can hit the fan.

I didn't plan on going bald. But I love it. I feel more like a man not using hair sprays/gels/products, and living every boys dreams of not needing to comb his hair. As my brother Dion says "Hair is for girls."

I didn't plan to live on Vancouver Island. But (now) I love it. I can't believe I lived in Alberta and sometimes feel sorry for all my family and friends living there (please send your hate mail to rubanlivesincanadasparadise@vancouverisland.youdont). 

I didn't plan on being a new daddy in my 30's. But I love it. Looking back at my twenties, when I hoped I would be a dad, I was perhaps not the most selfless individual. Myrtle has a better father now than if she arrived when I first wanted to be a dad.

I didn't plan on getting THE CALL about a tumor that was a cancer, rendering me unable to work sitting on a recliner the majority of the my waking hours for months. As I've sat here  I've learned and experienced so much with the TV OFF. Enough that sometimes I'm brave enough to dare say to myself "I'm glad I got cancer." Though, I'm more happy for experiencing a positive change within, the cancer was just a catalyst. Happy that I've been able to bond with Myrtle and enjoy watching her roll over,  crawl and take her first steps for the first time. Happy her first words were "Dadda". I'm happy to say that my marriage is growing too. Our view of what's important has been altered, hopefully forever.

Today the oncologist said my hip bone will have scar tissue only a CT Scan can see and my hip will never be or feel the same as it was. 

But neither will I feel or be same either and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

♪ At first I Was Afraid I Was Petrified ♫

Best Blog Tips
Umm, I definitely intend on joining the Brotherhood. Shoddy journalism again HuffPost.
Apparently today is National Cancer Survivor Day, why am I always the last to find out? Maybe because I'm not technically a survivor. After further thought of two seconds, maybe it's just a USA thing. Okay, I just checked on Wikipedia via Google (as if there was another way) and here is what I read:
Yup, those Americans know how to be the first. Seeing that there is a National Cancer Survivors Day and today is that day and I have cancer and I have a blog, I felt it was apropos to express something.

One of the worst things about this blog and people knowing I have cancer is I'm that "guy with cancer." People say "Have you heard about Ruban?" Other person shakes head and says "Who's that and what happened?" "Oh you know Ruban, the bald guy with bad posture. Well anyways, he has cancer." "Yeah, that's right, I did hear about him, he's that cancer guy. Isn't he penniless and nearly dead?"

What's so bad about that? Nothing really. It's just odd being the one talked about. Don't get me wrong, if I hear that you had cancer I'll be saying "Did you hear who has cancer?" Later you'll hear "Ruban told me you have cancer." Then you'll say "Bald Ruban? Cancer guy? That's odd, I thought he was dead."

One day I won't be cancer guy, I'll be that cancer survivor guy. Will that mean I"ll have to wear the yellow bracelet, put a plasmacytoma awareness ribbon on my car (just Googled to see what one looks like and there isn't one, yet), or grow a mustache for Movember? Social protocols can be a jungle to navigate. 

The best thing about the blog is I have an opportunity to share my story, my "aha moments". (Side note: Who keeps on reading in Nigeria, Malaysia, Finland, Germany, South Korea, etc.? This puzzle keeps me up at night.)

Life has defining moments and moments you thought were defining at the time. Seeing my first concert in Grade 7, Young MC of 'Bust a Move' fame, I thought was a life defining moment. Years go on and life becomes more complex. Watching beautiful Myrtle being born; now that was a life defining moment! After her birth I felt guilty to going to sleep, afraid to miss her awake or her needing me. My life had more value than I ever imagined and I viewed the world differently. 261 days later a tumor is found on my hip. A month later I find out it's cancer. A month after that I find out what kind of cancer and that it is the kind that can be cured (50/50). 

Falling down the stairs yesterday was one too. I thought only the old and infirmed did that - I was shocked I did that. I know I walked too much, but chasing Myrtle on the beach with crutches isn't practical. It was a reminder I'm mortal and that when you fall you get back up.
Family day at Witty's Lagoon
In the past three months and few days I've cried more than Myrtle, reevaluated what has real value, prayed more faithfully, hugged tighter and say "I love you" more. Which reminds me, I love you. Aside from my love for you, what does this all mean to survive cancer? For starters, many have and had worse cancers and treatments, I'm very, very, very lucky and am very aware how lucky I am. For me to survive cancer is to not live like I'm dying, rather to live like I'm alive. Hold no grudges, be open to friendships and pursue my interests and dreams so my daughter can feel at ease to pursue hers.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Looking Great (Considering)

Best Blog Tips
This afternoon I've been reflecting upon a conversation I had with Brian Holmes who is the VP of Operations for Foster Health. On an earlier blog post I mentioned about the inexpensive organic produce I get delivered, Foster Health has since bought that company and for those interested their website is here. Anyways, it's been a few weeks since I've seen Brian and so it was nice to hear him comment today that I'm looking "great" (maybe he meant great 'considering'). 

Two months ago I went to Foster Health for my first time to see their nutritionist. Since then I adjusted what I eat and unlike a diet I haven't gone hungry and weak. Rather, without counting calories or going hungry I have lost twenty pounds of fat and feel stronger. This is all without exercising (though that was suggested). 

Of course my goal is not weight loss, rather it is giant cancer tumor cell loss. I've gone from not driving at all to driving a little more often. From needing help putting my pants on to putting them on by myself (like a big boy!). From having Faith literally grabbing my leg to lift it up on to the recliner, couch, bed or into the car, to me doing the lifting and now my leg is doing the lifting on it own!

One of the best things, which I have mentioned before, is there has been a lift of a brain fog. My thoughts are clearer. I am able to read and write more and beat most people at Scrabble. However, my grammar and editing skills still could use some tweaking. But I digress. 

So in two months I have lost twenty pounds, felt stronger and am more mentally alert. The real amazing part is that I'm in the midst of radiation treatment. Radiation isn't for the weak, wimps need not apply. We're talking side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bladder and rectal irritation, and low, low, low energy. With one more appointment I will be half way done and the only things from that list I have felt is nausea once and low energy. 

Though I do sleep 10-12 hours and nap or rest, I feel great (considering). My mom has noticed not too long ago that I have more colour and has commented that I "sure get around", which I trust she is referring my family outings. Today for our "after radiation family outing" we basked in the sunshine at Beacon Hill Park. 
Enjoying the water park part. Well I was, Myrtle might learn to love it.
This week my family doctor said plasmacytoma is something that "can just lurk there and pop up years later." My oncologist on Wednesday had similar words but was more optimistic by saying it's "50/50 that you can beat this, some people on this very island are walking around cured." Taking control of my health as I beat this cancer to it's death allows me to reassess what I am capable of and what I am grateful for.

So thank you Brian for saying I look great (considering?). Not many do during the middle of their cancer treatment; I feel very blessed. It might be true what "they" say, "You are what you eat" because I eat healthy and feel it (considering). Of course radiation has an accumulative affect and my well being could take a nose dive; however I am confident that I am better off eating this way, praying and being prayed for.

Brian, you don't look too bad either.