Monday, November 22, 2010


For convenience and consistency, this blog will continue to be updated at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bad News Makes You Quiet

Good news makes you quiet too. I barely typed a word here for the last few years because life was grand, cancer was becoming a thing of the past was grand.

Life sucks today.

Since I last posted we have found that the lump under Leslie's arm was cancer. Again.

She has the same breast cancer as before, only now it is at Stage IV. That's the stage right before they put you in the ground. Yea, it's scary! Her entire left side is "involved", the lymph nodes near her heart are diseased as well as the lymph nodes under her right arm. Oh, her left breast is completely clear. No cancer there. Bob is a devious little bastard.

The area under her left arm, where the tumor was removed, is still oozing fluid. They originally placed a small tube in the incision and added a receptacle to contain the fluid that drained. That lasted a week. The doctors went back, removed the tube, leaving a hole in her armpit that drained fluid. The body has a way of finding something to put into voids. The human body hates a void. It creates fluid to fill the void. Lots of fluid. With a hole left in your armpit, you would drain fluids too, Leslie is proof of that. It's been oozing since they first removed the tumor. (In case you're wondering, they removed A tumor, not ALL of the cancer. She is so far advanced that they couldn't possibly have removed all the cancer. They just took the big, obvious chunk and closed her back up. Not doubting that choice, just filling in the facts here.) So she has a hole that you could put a drinking straw into, in her nice and warm armpit. Sounds wonderful, especially when you know that the fluid produced is heavily protein rich, just the kind that bacteria love. So she got infected. She is now on antibiotics. We are hoping that she is recovered and well enough tomorrow morning to make her appointment in Aurora, CO. If she's not over the infection, she won't be well enough to be poisoned again on Thursday either. Ain't that a riot?!?

We're going to the Anschutz Medical Pavilion to gather a second opinion. Since Leslie has been diagnosed with cancer she has trusted the opinion and service of her oncologist in Cheyenne. We have ZERO doubt that she has done a wonderful job and provided the best possible care for Leslie but, since it IS stage IV, we want a second....and third...and fourth opinion...and, well, you can guess, we want someone to find a cure.

Insurance is a funny thing. Because Leslie took the initiative to save her OWN life, her oncologist did not suggest that she find a second opinion.  Ponder that.  Insurance wants a doctor to say "I spent all this time in College and Medical School and I work in this field because I care about people and I truly care about them...and by the's the number of someone that you should call....that might tell you that everything I truly believe will save your life...... Is Wrong" 

That's a second opinion, folks. It's not just an ego check for a damn well trained physician, it's asking to get into a debate over a patient's care. After the initial doctor has done their very best. It is always going to be taken as an insult. I appreciate that. I mention that because the difference, to an insurance company is this: If you are told by your doctor to find a second opinion, and they recommend a second opinion, you may obtain that second opinion as part of your continuing health care. If, however, the real world intervenes and the doctor of record feels, rightfully so, that they have given you the very best advice that they can give to you because they care about you and don't want to attend your funeral and does not offer a referral to a second doctor for their professional're screwed. That subtlety will cost you $500 for the first visit to the second doctor. And WAY more after that.

I am writing in a blog at midnight because I am so incredibly furious, frustrated and offended by cancer, insurance, doctors....CANCER...that I can't sleep anymore. I think that our oncologist is awesome. She cares. She really cares and would never, for a second, do anything less than save the life of my wife.

She's MY wife, I want a second opinion. A third. Did I mention the part about wanting a cure? 

 You get the idea.

We don't get to go to the second opinion because we don't have enough money to pay for it. We cancel the appointment that could:

A) Tell us that the course of treatment prescribed by her oncologist is correct, the very best treatment available and that we are in good hands, ready to have a happy life. (That's my favorite one, in case you were wondering)

B)Tell us that the course of treatment we are prescribed is quite good but that the ridiculously funded studies that they have at their disposal offer an alternative approach that offers better results (i.e., Life) and can be obtained by filling out the following form......(Ok, a new favorite...)


C)You guys are screwed. Your oncologist is awesome, she's done all she can and there is nothing we can do but "make her comfortable". (Never a fave, not at all)

Again, I am whining and bitching, but it has got to come out. I want the insurance to find the best way to keep my wife alive and happy. You would too. I wish I were rich. I wish I had a cure.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The view from the room

Here I am again, sitting inside a hospital room at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. This time Leslie is in surgery, finally, to do a biopsy on the growth under her left arm. You remember this, it's the same side that she had the lump removed from that proved cancerous. Same surgeon, same hospital, same anesthesiologist even. Cool. Hopefully different results this time.

Leslie's boss, the one that wouldn't let her have the surgery a couple weeks ago because it wasn't "emergency surgery", has spoken a grand total of fewer than a dozen words to Leslie since then. That's probably a bonus. So glad she enjoyed her unscheduled day off that delayed this trivial surgery. Sure wish the rules of life allowed me to punch her in the nose too, but that's a different story.

So Leslie gets to be carved, just below the arm pit, using the same incision mark as before. Nice to know they're reusable. We will wait for word from Dr. Parnell, hopefully sometime tomorrow, regarding the "Well, is it cancer or isn't it?" issue. And yes, we'll pass that tidbit of information along as we hear.

Not a lot else happening in the world of the TETWP blogosphere so I'll just hush for now. More to come......

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Soooo, it's been a while.

Man, talk about a bad case of deja vu. Sitting here at home today while Leslie is at the surgeon's office having a lump examined. Same doc that did her initial biopsy and both lumpectomies. Leslie goes in for a biopsy on Monday, assuming that her boss will allow her time off. Unbelievable concept that shilling license plates is a higher priority than a biopsy of a lump that has grown exponentially but I guess that's what makes this woman such a snag to begin with. The boss, not Leslie....just to be specific.

So, yes, here we are again. Singin' the same old song....

Leslie has a lump under her arm that has been hurting for a while. Finally got her to listen to the advice that we keep spewing; find out what's wrong, don't take "let's check it in 6 months", and keep pushing for answers until you get one. She has been examined and told that it's nothing. Excuse me, if a lump in your arm pit hurts so bad that you can't put your arm down, you can't sleep on that side and it's grown so big that you can raise your arm and SEE the lump....Just a hunch here, it's not NOTHING!

 Knowing that it will be a crazy week with our son starting school and trying to get a biopsy done and heal from the surgery and all of that good stuff, Leslie took vacation days this week. It took some work but she got scheduled for the biopsy this morning. Finally. She went to see Dr. Parnell this morning, left her cell phone at home unintentionally, and had to call me from the Doc's office to let me know she's got a biopsy scheduled for Monday. Well, I got to tell her that her boss, (My wife requests that I don't use her bosses name so I'll respect her wish), had called and was telling me that Leslie needs to call her right away because they already have people scheduled off on Monday. One of those people is on the schedule for a vacation day. Way to go, doing the right thing and living well. The other person doesn't have a name on the schedule nor is there any indication of someone being gone or scheduled for vacation time. Of course, we can all figure this one out, our buddy "the boss" is taking the day off but doesn't bother to be held to the same standards as the rest of the office.

Got it. It's a business that needs to be run and this short notice time off request is dang sure an inconvenience. Really, I get it. I ran/ managed/ owned businesses for many years and understand that life gets in the way of your fricking schedule. Now get the hell over it, let my wife go get cut on so she can find out if she has a deadly cancer inside of her or if it's another reason that she's growing large foreign objects inside her body.  Perhaps you forgot, "the boss", that Leslie has already been diagnosed with a vicious, fast growing cancer a mere 6 inches away from where this growth has manifested itself. She went through three surgeries, chemo and radiation to kill the last one. And no, we haven't forgotten, "the boss" of the Laramie County Wyoming Treasurer's Office, how much of an inconvenience that it was for you. I'd like to apologize for making your schedule such a difficult task by insisting on proper health care for my wife. We're already quite aware that you were, and still are, trying to get my wife fired because you feel she's taken more than her share of time off. My goodness how I hope you get cancer so you can get a well deserved vacation. I don't want you to die, or even get terribly ill, just go through the hell that any woman goes through when fighting cancer. See from this side what it feels like to find that lump, what it feels like to feel the fear shoot through every fiber in your body. And then feel the cold slap of a boss that tells you that you can wait until the schedule is open to find out if the cancer is back. Way to go, you intolerable.......(insert derogatory term here).

And let's not forget that "the boss" of the Laramie County Treasurer's Office in Cheyenne, Wyoming has stated that my wife is personally responsible for the cost of health insurance rising in their office. This statement in spite of the fact that "the boss's" friend ALSO had breast cancer while working in the Laramie County Clerk's office. "Friend" is running for Laramie County Clerk of the Court so I can only deduce that "Friend", in an attempt to garner an elected position, holds more power over the cancer gene and that her tests and treatment had NO effect or impact on insurance rates. Absolutely NO disrespect to "Friend", I wish her well in her battle with cancer and I wish her well in her friendship with "the boss". She'll need help on both fronts.

So now..... Leslie can't have Monday off so she's rescheduled for September. Sure hope nothing grows while she's at work.  I'm just feeling rather bitter about this whole thing but I guess that's nothing new. I still hate cancer and I'm not much of a fan of Leslie's boss.

But I DO Love My Wife!  Hang in there, babycakes, we'll whup whatever needs whuppin'!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Ok, ok, I get's been a while.


Life got in the way. That's a GREAT thing!

So here's the newest news:

Got done with the chemo as you read in the last entry and then took a few weeks off to heal up and get ready for radiation. Healing went quite well although the anticipation of the radiation was a little annoying. We'll deal with that one. Leslie went through 33 doses of radiation consisting of a treatment each weekday for 6 1/2 weeks. They weren't painful and they were very quick. She would go in on her lunch hour from work, check in, get changed and head off to the treatment room. Once there she got onto the table, got into position and they nuked her.

(I'm going to have Leslie add in the details of this since she can tell it better and more accurately than I can...that's gonna have to wait for her to sit down and type it all in here so don't blame me on that one.)

There will be much more to post in the near future but this will let you know that we're still alive and kicking. Details to follow.

Thanks for the prayers. Send money to your favorite cancer fighting agency....Today!

Saturday, March 22, 2008




Leslie had her last chemo treatment on Thursday.


She will have some follow up visits to the infusion center to flush the port but the last of the chemo is done. Finis, Finito....DONE, baby, Done!

Roughly 3 weeks from now she'll start the radiation treatments that will be every weekday for 7 weeks. In the meantime, it's just time to rest and time to celebrate.



Oh yea.....


Wednesday, March 5, 2008


If you'd like to know what it feels like to have gone through 6 treatments of chemo and have 2 ahead of you it is simple to describe.


Really, really tired.

Tomorrow is number 7 for chemo, number 3 for the Taxotere and we are all tired. Leslie is having a rough time sleeping, her joints and muscles ache all the time and it is wearing her down. She tosses and turns and gets, maybe, 4 hours of sleep on any given night. She goes for treatment tomorrow and she'll be ok until late tomorrow night. At that time her muscles and joints will ache. Her fingernails and toenails are showing the telltale dark lines and they are starting to hurt. By Friday morning she'll be having muscle spasms that feel like she's being shot with a paintball gun and that will continue through Sunday or Monday. She won't sleep much. Because of that, I won't sleep much. Jared doesn't seem to want to sleep much either but I am reasonably sure that it's unrelated to chemo, I think it's just being an excitable 3 year old. That doesn't make it any easier for anyone to sleep but at least it's not a direct effect of chemo. That would really tick me off.

On the bright side, since we're not sleeping, we get to spend a lot more waking hours thinking about how lucky we are. I've come to the conclusion that the vast majority of people on this good earth are related to someone with Breast Cancer. I was talking to a rodeo stock contractor last night about working a show and he told me that his mother lost her battle with Breast Cancer 30 years ago and his wife is a 6 year survivor. I guess the treatments have improved and the survival rate is outstanding now.

Thanks to the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the many other outstanding organizations that are fighting this fight it is finally being won. Don't give up the fight, folks. It takes a LOT to kill cancer and every penny you donate to finding a cure is a penny that might save the life of someone you love.

We're tired but we're damn sure not done fighting.

Thanks for all the support!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Catching up

Well it's been a fun January for all of us. Leslie has continued with her chemo treatments every other Thursday and that has kept her pretty well bed-bound from Friday through Monday afterwards. By Tuesday she's starting to feel better and is usually doing well by Wednesday afternoon.

On January 24th she was given her last dose of the horrible red Kool-Aid of Death stuff. You know, the one that has the infusion center nurses donning gloves and gowns when they hold the container. Yea, that's the stuff that they were pumping into Leslie to make her feel so awful for a week after each infusion. It's done now and I'm quite sure that Bob didn't do well battling it so it's another step forward in the Death of Bob.

Leslie has held up to all of this incredibly well. I gain new respect and admiration for her every day as I watch what she goes through and witness her strength and determination. I put her to a really tough test a while back though, just cuz I was sure she'd crumble like a dry cookie and apparently I was in need of some hospital hospitality. (This might also explain why the ol' blog hasn't been updated recently)

The night of January 9th my back had been hurting. I was pretty sure I was just sore from hand loading buckets of nails at work but since I couldn't get comfortable in bed I decided to go sleep on the floor so Leslie could sleep. She had chemo the next morning and I wanted to let her get a good nights sleep.

That didn't happen.

About the time I got to the living room to lay down I started feeling REALLY sore and nauseous. Then it got worse. When I could finally stand up again I went and woke Leslie and asked her to drive me to the Emergency Room. We took a nice drive through the streets of Cheyenne on our way to the ER. When we got there it dawned on me what was going on. As the attendant was asking me to describe the pain, I related that it felt like I was about to give birth and I had a flashback to 1982. The year I had a kidney stone. Yeps, this was the same thing as then.... no way to get comfortable, no way to make the pain stop and when it peaks it feels like you're about to foal out. (Do the physics in your head, this HURTS!)

I had to wait about 15 minutes to get someone into the room once I had done the paperwork and was in the process of doing the "OmygodthishurtssoincrediblybadIcan'tstanditanymore dance" and trying my very best to let Leslie know that No, in fact, there is NOTHING you can do to help when my two new best friends showed up. I don't recall names or faces but I do know that they showed up with really good drugs. Fast acting, pain killing, damn near coma inducing drugs. My favorite kind! I'm pretty sure I went through the same MRI picture taking tube that they put Leslie through to verify her cancer but I'm not entirely sure. (Did I mention the drugs?) I do know that the pain went away and the only coherent thing that I vaguely recall saying was in response to my new best friends asking me how I was feeling. I think I responded (in your very best Fast Times at Ridgemont High/Spicoli imitation please...) "I am soooooo stoned..."

Did I mention that Leslie was there?

She got to watch a very perverted version of the shoe being on the other foot. She was stuck in a corner, unable to help, and feeling very frustrated by all the medical people doing a lot that wasn't making a noticeable difference. (Except, of course, the drugs, don't forget the drugs!)

I felt very bad for her having to deal with me. I have been trying my best to make things easier for her so all she has to do is concentrate on killing Bob, getting better and staying healthy for another 50 years or so. This was certainly not the best thing I could do to help her with that plan. We finally left the ER at around 4:30 am. Leslie got me into bed and then herself. At 6:00am she was back up to get Jared off to daycare and get to the infusion center by 8:00.

Yeppers, after that exciting evening she still had to get up and be a Mom and then go kill part of herself. The woman is amazingly tough! She managed to get a couple hours of sleep in the infusion center but was she ever tired that night.

I managed to pass the itty bitty teeny weeny kidney stone the following Thursday morning and was back at work on Friday with no ill effects. I just had to laugh at people at work that thought I had been through a lot because of the kidney stone. Heck, I got drugs and new friends. Leslie has been doing her fight with the assistance of some very nice people that stick needles into her and then inject her with poison with the full intention of partly killing her. And she does it every two weeks! She wins the toughness award hands down.

So that's what's been happening in January. February 7th we get to try a new type of chemo medicine that is supposedly not as heavy duty as the Kool-Aid of Death stuff. We'll see and we'll let you know when we meet again.

Thanks for reading and letting me blow off some steam. Hope you get a giggle while taking an inside look at our life with Bob.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mommy, where is your hair?

12 30 2007

We all slept well last night and late into the morning. Jared came bouncing in around 8:30 this morning and I think that was the first that anyone even stirred since last night. Sleep has become a valuable commodity around here so it was particularly nice to sleep in. Leslie wore her sleeping cap for the first time last night. She was afraid that the stubble would fall out and make a mess on the pillow. As it turns out, it was too warm and she had to take it off so she could cool off and sleep. The stubble stayed in just fine. Even though her hair is falling out it does it in a way we hadn't anticipated. Since it has been cut so short there isn't enough weight to pull it completely out. The short little stubbles fall from the root but stay attached by the skin. When she lays on her head it feels like hundreds of little needles sticking back into her head. There's something your average Joe/Jo doesn't get to feel everyday. Guess it's a new meaning to being on pins and needles. (Oh go ahead, you wanna laugh....)

Leslie didn't feel well this morning so we took things easy. I made breakfast and we got to just hang around the house and relax. Leslie looks great in her new 'do, it is amazing how someone can be so beautiful in a crew cut, she just looks like a million bucks though!

This afternoon Jared and Leslie went down for naps. Jared got up around 4:30 but Mommy stayed in bed. It's been the 3rd day after chemo that really kicks her butt so it wasn't a big surprise. Mommy slept most of the day today and went to bed at 9:30 for the night. She feels terrible, her hair fell out and she's got cramps from another of God's great gifts to womanhood.

Probably best to stay in bed all day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Take Care of Yer Friends by Baxter Black (The card from Eric)

Take Care Of Yer Friends
by Baxter Black

Friend is a word that I don’t throw around
Though it’s used and abused, I still like the sound.
I save it for people who’ve done right by me
And I know I can count on if ever need be.

Some of my friends drive big limousines
Own ranches and banks and visit with queens.
And some of my friends are up to their neck
In overdue notes and can’t write a check.

They’re singers or ropers or writers of prose
And others, God bless ‘em, can’t blow their own nose!
I guess bein’ friends don’t have nothin’ to do
With talent or money or knowin’ who’s who.

It’s a comf’terbul feelin’ when you don’t have to care
‘Bout choosin’ your words or bein’ quite fair
‘Cause friends’ll just listen and let go on by
Those words you don’t mean and not bat an eye.

It makes a friend happy to see your success.
They’re proud of yer good side and forgive all the rest
And that ain’t so easy, all of the time
Sometimes I get crazy and seem to go blind!

Yer friends just might have to take you on home
Or remind you sometime that you’re not alone.
Or ever so gently pull you back to the ground
When you think you can fly with no one around.

A hug or a shake, whichever seems right
Is the high point of givin’, I’ll tellya tonight,
All worldly riches and tributes of men
Can’t hold a candle to the worth of a friend.

Good-bye hair

Today is a rough day.

I know we've had some pretty darned amazing things happen to us recently and I truly am grateful for these blessings. I have not forgotten them either. Today just sucks.

Leslie started losing her hair this morning and it came out in larger and larger quantities as the day progressed. Good thing she had it cut short before today. Even though we knew it was coming and we laughed and joked about it before hand, it is a pretty horrible thing to experience. Leslie started out by running her fingers through it and showing me that 10 or more hairs were coming out pretty easily. Later tonight she was reaching up and pulling at it, surprisingly gently, and having a tuft of hair in her hand (See first photo, she just kept sliding her hand through her hair and got this big ol' ball o' hair. Fun, huh?). Even though we never actually got to a bald spot we decided it would be a good time to go ahead and shave it down to the nubs. Since Jared had a difficult time when Leslie got it cut from long to short we decided that we'd better be pro-active and let him be a part of the barbering. We dug out the electric shears and plopped her in the middle of the kitchen. With Jared standing by we started out at the back and worked toward the front, buzzing along and taking her hair into a style that any U.S. Marine would be proud of. Hoorah, Mommy is a fighting cancer and has the right hair style to get the job done. Jared couldn't care less. He was off to play with Pizza Elmo, he didn't care about Mommy getting a hair cut at all. Sure worked out well to be pro-active, huh?

We got done and Leslie went downstairs to shower. It had to feel good to get all of that hair off. I let Jared go play for a bit and it finally hit me. This is real, it's scary and it is absolutely NO fun at all. I sat on the couch and cried. My wife was losing her hair and it hurt her. She has cancer and is scared and she isn't herself and she doesn't have any strength for 4 days after chemo and this sucks. It really sucks a lot. I sat there on the couch and cried like a baby. I cussed God, I felt helpless and I felt sick to my stomach for not being able to do anything to help the woman that I love. And I cried some more. Jared came back in and I told him that Daddy had sneezed and needed to wipe his eyes and his nose. I know, it's not the truth but do you really think a 3 year old needs to understand cancer, pain and all of this? I didn't think so. It felt good to cry but it hurt again when I felt I had to lie to Jared. Damned spiral of joy, huh?

I have been trying very hard lately to strengthen my relationship with God but I still feel betrayed by Him. I know that I'm wrong, I understand that, but I haven't gotten over the hump yet. Thankfully God is above me in the forgiveness chain, I'd be in far worse shape without Him. I'll get there, don't worry, but it's taking some time. I'm sure I'll come out at the end of this with a far greater relationship so I guess it's another one of those things that I can't understand but I'll appreciate later. Getting kind of tired of learning things this way. I'm thinking that a map might be easier but I don't think that will happen. Guess we'll all have to take some wrong turns along the way in order to find our way home.

The chemo started to take its toll tonight too. Leslie is feeling pretty tired and pretty weak after her shower. It's time for bed so I hope that tomorrow is a much better day. It'll be day 3 after chemo, probably gonna be a crappy cancer day but at least I've got a family that I love to take care of.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


So we had a pretty fantastic morning and sure don't deserve a day any better than we've had today. Good friends and family will make you feel like a million bucks anytime. What could be better?

Glad you asked.

As we're driving back to Cheyenne from having lunch with Eric, Diane and Memphis and feeling absolutely on top of the world we get a phone call from my friend Dan. We didn't have the phone in the little cell phone holder so we actually heard it ring this time. Dan wants to stop by and visit around 3pm. Sounds great, we'll have time to get home and get Jared down for a nap so this should work out just right. Jared will need his sleep because he's got the hots for Dan's daughter Danielle. She's 13 and the apple of Jared's eye. Poor Dani just smiles at the boy and he's all twitterpated, it's so cute it's nearly sad.

We boogie on up the highway and get to the house, get boy put down for his nap and dive into the newspaper to catch up on the world. Around 3:15 Leslie sees a figure moving up the front steps. She gets up as the doorbell rings and there stands a young man that looks vaguely familiar but she doesn't recognize him. He asks if I am home and she says "Yes he is, come on in". He says he'd just like to talk to me and stays on the porch. I go to the door and see this young guy standing there, dressed in western clothes, wearing a cowboy hat and I wonder which rodeo I might know him from. He looks at me and says

"Are you my daddy?"

Yep, that's what he said. No kidding, no exaggeration, no lie.

I replied, about half stunned

"I don't think so..............."

Just as my mind is racing to figure out exactly who this kid is I see movement over his right shoulder and hear a voice in the background. At the same time as the voice is starting in the background I hear the young man say "I'm Tex's oldest boy"
Dagnabbit TEX! YOU S.O.B.! Ya had to drive a thousand miles from Greenville, TX but you got me, you dirty rotten sonofagun!

I'm standing face to face with Travis Phillips, oldest son of Terry "Tex" Phillips and his lovely wife, Melissa. I haven't seen them in more than a dozen years and this is how they show back up. Pretty good once you step out of the shock and realize that you've been had. Tex, Melissa, Travis and Austin have all made the trip up from Texas to visit with Melissa's brothers that live out towards Horse Creek and figured that they oughta stop by and visit. Man, oh man, was it good to see them. And they brought Dan and his family too! Dan, aka Pup, his wife Deneen and their daughter, Danielle are rolling with laughter as they cross the street. Tex and his family are rolling as they make their way up the sidewalk and I'm still standing there with my jaw on the ground.

It's good to have friends!

We sit around and visit and catch up for the next few hours. Leslie has heard of Tex and his family but I didn't think I'd have a chance to have them all in the same state any time soon.

What a great day!

After visiting for a bit we decide to head out to dinner. Tex tells me that since he read my blog about Leslie they knew that they had to come up for Christmas and take us out for dinner. He says it sounded like we could use it. He was right. Of course, we're always ready to visit with good friends and dinner at Texas Roadhouse so this was a double bonus for us. (Does it seem odd that you would drive a thousand miles from Greenville, TX to Cheyenne, WY and then decide that Texas Roadhouse would be right for dinner?)

After dinner and a few dozen stories from the "Good Ol' Days" we figured that the only person that we hadn't seen was my friend Chuck. A hundred years ago it was Chuck, Pup, Tex and I terrorizing the town of Cheyenne. Tex moved away, Pup moved away, I moved away and Chuck stayed. In the last year, Pup moved back and I moved back. Life comes full circle when you're not looking. Since we hadn't let Chuck or his wife, Ricki, in on the fact that Tex was back we figured we probably ought to have a little fun with that one too.

We all roll up in front of the Griswald's house (aka Chuck and Ricki, with help from daughter Kimberly) and take our positions. Chuck and Ricki's house is a full fledged light and sound show for the holidays. Christmas and Halloween are absolutely events to behold on their front lawn. I should know, we stop by every year to check out the lights. With Jared able to grasp some of what's happening we make the trip by their house a couple of times each year. That little boy just loves all the lights and Chuck and Ricki do NOT disappoint.

Years ago when Chuck was stationed somewhere in the deep south he learned a term that the locals use to describe a location. Any location. Yonder is the word and the joke that came back with Chuck is that all he really wanted to find while he was in the south was exactly where in the heck "Yonder" was. Ok, not a terribly funny joke but it makes us giggle.

I tell you that so I can set up the following transaction that takes place on the front steps of Chuck's house. Travis, my long lost son, saunters up to the house and rings the doorbell. Kimberly answers the door and Travis asks for Chuck. Somehow Travis has asked Kimberly to ask Chuck if he knows where "Yonder" is. (Look, it had US rolling on the snow....)
Chuck shows up at the door, looking more than a little perplexed, as Tex walks around the backside of his car. Handshakes, hugs and a lot of "Man, I haven't seen you in forever" later we all decide to call it a night. A really fantastic night.

The end to an amazing day and one that will remind me for years of exactly how lucky, how blessed and how loved my family and I are.

Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Eric 2

I've already told you about my friend Eric. He is a terrific friend and a good man and I am proud to know him. His wife and daughter are waaaay too good for him though. I talked to Eric a couple days ago and he said that he and his family would like to meet with my family before Christmas. As he explained it, they had been working on a project for a couple of weeks and wanted to give it to us before Christmas. I figured that a chance to visit with a good friend would be a darn good Christmas present to all of us.

Today is the 23rd of December, two days before Christmas and it's a pretty solemn time around the Land household. We've been spending money at a pretty fantastic rate going to see Dr's and all of that good stuff that needs to be done in order to kill Bob and make cancer a thing of the past. It seems as though every time we drive past a Doctors office we drop a hundred dollar bill. I know it is the right thing to do, heck, it's the ONLY thing to do but it is still rather depressing. My work has been very slow lately and we have even had the building shut down early so the paychecks haven't been full for a while. Between taking extra days off to care for Leslie and having the job shut us down early I haven't seen a full paycheck since mid-October. The way I figure it, my paychecks have been about a wash with what we've been spending between Dr. visits and medicines lately. That has left us living on Leslie's paychecks so it's been rough but far from impossible. For Christmas presents this year Leslie and I took some names from the Salvation Army tree at work. I got to buy some gifts for a 5 year old boy and she got to buy gifts for a 7 year old girl. Merry Christmas! I have to tell you, it felt REALLY good to do that. We got some things for a certain 3 year old boy named Jared, of course, but we decided that we could forgo having presents for each other. We'd spend our money on Dr's and medicine and have a Merry Christmas for many years to come. Good deal to me!

We load up in the car and head down to Fort Collins to meet with Eric and his family. We're cruising down the road and finally wonder why we haven't heard from Eric yet. He left his house early and was already in Fort Collins about the time we crossed the Wyoming/Colorado border so he was going to find a good place to eat and call us to let us know where to go. As Leslie picked up the phone to call him it was buzzing and ringing. We laughed when we figured out that we couldn't hear the phone when it was in the little cell phone holder. Ooops. Eric had already passed us going northbound to our southbound and was in Wellington. He told us where to meet them so we flipped around and headed back towards across our tracks. We slide as we pull onto the ice sheet parking lot and slide over to the restaurant. Yeps, it's gonna be a white Christmas this year!

After exchanging hugs and hand shakes and "Oh My God, he/she has grown soooo much's" we sit down and order things up for lunch. It's always a pretty good time when we get together but it is particularly nice this time around. We've been needing to get out of the house and visit with friends and the Myrick's sounded like they needed it too.

We visit a while and pass the time as lunch waits to arrive. Eric leans over and hands me a Christmas card and, with that crooked grin of his, says that this is what he and Diane had been working on for a couple of weeks. He says that they wanted us to have this before Christmas. I've known Eric for a long time and he's never taken the time to sign his name to a Christmas card much less hand deliver one so I kinda wonder what's going on. As I'm opening the card Eric is telling me that he had spent a long time looking for this particular card and that he finally found it. You would have to know Eric to know how much it means for him to go card shopping. Believe me, it's a MAJOR event! Now it gets kind of mushy about now but I will warn you that it would have been a heckuva lot mushier if I'd had my glasses with me. As it is, I open the card and look at the very small type and then look at my very short arms and then look back at the very small type and realize that I'll be reading this card at another time. Dang glasses are never around when you need them. I open it up and see a wad of cash inside the card and I look over at Eric and tell them "I can't let you do this, man". I know that Eric and Diane just recently bought a house and that money has been pretty tight for them and I just can't accept cash from them as a present, no matter how good the intentions. Eric replies (and the mushy part begins...) "We didn't do it, a whole LOT of people did" I hand the card over to Leslie to let her have a look and perhaps read the dang thing for me and as I look back I see Diane just grinning from ear to ear and Eric is doing the same thing. As it turns out, Eric had mentioned that we had been having a tough time lately to a friend of his at work. This friend dishes up a couple of Denver Broncos tickets that Eric raffles off at work. Some folks didn't care to get in on the raffle and they just pitched in a few dollars here and there too. The dollar amount isn't important here but the fact that so many people cared enough to help us out is overwhelming. For the most part these are people that don't know us and will never meet us. They cared and they shared and they made us feel incredibly lucky to have what we have in this world.

To all of you that shared... THANK YOU! The Lord works in mysterious ways and he sure back doored us on that one. I've been whining and sniveling about how I was having trouble with my faith lately and then this came along and just whacked me right upside the head and back onto the path.

Eric, Diane, Memphis and critters... You made Christmas right. You did something for us that we can never say Thank You enough. I've said it before and I'll say it again, friends are the measure of wealth in this world. You don't need to have a lot, just one or two really good friends in this world will be all the riches you will ever need. Thank you for enriching our lives.
I don't remember much about the meal we had today but I do know that I enjoyed it with friends that are family and it was a wonderful time.

As we finished our meal and our time together we ended things as we began. Hugs, handshakes and all the standard fare. While we were driving back home Leslie read the card to me and I got pretty darn misty over the whole thing again. It's a good card, Bubba. Just right.

I'll be heading down to Denver to visit with them again in January and I'm pretty excited to see them all again.

You would think that this was about as good a day as anyone could have and you'd be right. The thing is, it's just getting started.

More to come...........

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Poison is good!

Yeps, good ol' poison. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, death in a bottle. Yummy. Oh, wait, the Dr. types call this stuff medicine. If you're a cancer cell, it doesn't matter what you call it because the stuff does what it is supposed to do....kill fast growing cells like cancer, finger nails, hair, taste buds, all the stuff that makes your mouth feel like a good place, etc. It works really well!

Bob must die! Bob must die! Bob must die! (Insert evil villain laugh here....)

Bob must die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, got it, cancer bad and dying. Dead. Done. We're now killing Bob's potential offspring and any other cells that thought about going to the dark side and becoming cancerous.

For anyone wondering what it feels like to have chemotherapy, today must be your lucky day, I' m gonna tell you. You've already read about the 3 inch long needle inserted into the medi-port in your chest and the 18 inches of tubing that are attached to it. Not particularly bad there but when they start attaching that tube to the medicine your life changes forever. This is a good thing in the long run since this is how cancer is killed and prevented for the future. The only downside of this is that the chemicals that are injected into your body are NASTY!

They start with a little saline solution to get the tubes working and get you comfortable. Once the saline is moving they bring in the anti-nausea medicine. Chemotherapy is poisoning your body and it makes you very queasy to put it mildly. You are told that the anti-nausea meds will last for about 6 hours and that if you start to feel sick after those meds wear off that you should take a little pill version of the anti-nausea meds. They are very adamant that you take this pill at the first sign of nausea because once you throw up the first time you won't be able to stop. The only chance you would have is in the form of that little pill and if you take it once you've started vomiting you would simply toss it back up before it could work. Pay attention, there is a test! Vomit once, you'll continue for hours. Feel sick, take your pill. End of test.

We get through the saline and the anti-nausea medicine just fine. Once they start with bag # 3 in the cocktail is when the real killing begins.

Bye Bob's grandchildren!!

We're finally getting some medicine that will kick some cancer butt. It is an incredible relief to see that bag get attached to the tube and see the meds start flowing. It feels like we are finally able to do SOMETHING about cancer. We've had it carved out and let the scars heal but now it is really a chance to be aggressive, pro-active, on the offensive. We're taking the fight to the disease instead of the other way around. It feels GOOD! (Probably better to me since I'm just sitting in a chair next to the lava lamp reading a book and glancing over to watch the nurses, Pat and Amberlee take care of the cancer fight champ of 2007/2008, Leslie.)

Once that bag has dripped through, about 15 minutes, it's time to introduce bag #4 which is chemo drug #2. This is the stuff that looks like Kool-Aid gone terribly wrong. Very bright red and, I swear, it has an ominous presence. That might be aided by the fact that when Pat comes in to attach this bag she is wearing a chemical suit, mask and gloves. Hmmmm, any questions about whether or not this stuff is Cherry flavored head right out the door.

This bag needs to flow slower so it takes about 2 1/2 hours to get this one done. Take your time with poisons, that's what Momma always told me.

Once all is done they drop another bag on Leslie to clear the lines and make sure she got every last drop of the poisony goodness. She did. By the end of the night she has gone through 3 of the anti-nausea pills because the nurses and doctors have instilled a fear in her of vomiting for hours. She doesn't vomit once but she doesn't sleep very well either. The fear of endless vomiting and the ever present knowledge that you just willingly accepted poisons into your body that will cause your mouth to develop sores, your hair to fall out and your fingernails to become paper thin doesn't bode well for a wonderful night of rest. With the aid of these suggestions Leslie tosses and turns the entire night, waking briefly to check her hair every 15 minutes or so. The drugs and suggestions (not sure which is more powerful here) have her scalp and head tingling enough to make Head and Shoulders proud. She doesn't lose any hair the first night because it's supposed to take about 2 weeks on average. The tingling she feels is the chemotherapy working and doing the thing it is supposed to do, kill. Guess we wouldn't want to go through all of that and not have it feel like something was happening.

We are doing this willingly because the thought of cancer is far worse than the cure. The cure, however, is pretty rough. The people that fight through this and survive are amazing. My wife is amazing. She is strong, brave and determined and will do whatever is needed to stay on this side of the daisies with Jared and I. She becomes my hero more and more each day that I watch her get up and push past the fear in order to have a normal life. Anyone wondering why you see so much pink for supporting breast cancer need only to live a day of this life to know that better cures, better prevention and better awareness are desperately needed. Supporting breast cancer research allows for improvement in all of those areas. The beautiful thing is that any type of cancer cure will eventually bring about the end of cancer and the end of such horrible cancer cures. One day at a time, one dollar at a time, one person at a time. I saw a great T-shirt that said " Now that we have made it acceptable to talk about breast cancer, let's make it unneccesary." That's brilliant. Do what you can, please. I will continue to work with Tough Enough To Wear Pink and Susan G. Komen For the Cure. That is something I would have done even before October 25th but now it's personal. Bob must die and you can help. You do not want to have someone that you love go through this. Be aggressive, be pro-active and give some cash to aid in the prevention of cancer. Thanks.

Ok, I'm off my soap box but I needed to throw that out there. Better now.

Stay tuned for the next installment of "Bob must die, save the boobies!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chemo - Take 2

Friday the 14th of December, 2007.

A good day.

We get to the hospital shortly before 8am. I drop Leslie off and take Jared on to DayCare. It's a good day for a kid to be in daycare. Jared is only 3 but he knows that Mommy has an owie. He knows that he can't play rough with Mommy but that's ok cuz Daddy takes care of that stuff anyway. Mommy spent a big part of the night last night showing Jared what is going on with the gigantic 3 inch needle inserted into her chest with the 18 inch long tube attached to it. Ok, he didn't really see the needle but he saw the gigantic clear band-aid that held it in place and thought that was really cool. As a boy of 3 years will have definite ideas on how things should be done it was Jared's idea to give Mommy some better band-aids. Curious George band-aids to be exact. There are photos but no test here. By the way, check out the new hair-do. Leslie's cut it short so when it falls out it won't be quite so traumatic or messy. Fun stuff! Also be sure to notice Leslie's new friend. Jared and Daddy made a pink bear for Mommy to hold when she is getting her medicine. Mommy named her Chemo-Sabe. Mommy is very clever.

I get back from dropping kidlet off and head up to the 3rd floor where Leslie is already waiting in the infusion center. She's got her self into one of the nice leatherette recliners that are marked for patient use only and is already receiving fluids through the big 18 inch tube that is connected to the gigantic 3 inch needle that is inserted into the medi-port in Leslie's chest. (Bet you're getting a feel for how this stuff is connected by now, huh?)
I say hello to Pat and Amberlee and grab a seat across from Leslie in the infusion room. They start things off with a big ol' bag of saline to make sure everything is working ok. Follow that up with some anti-nausea drugs and then we wait for the poison/medicine from the pharmacy. Once it gets there we start dripping that into the mix. The first one goes pretty quickly and we're ready for the second one by around 9:30. The second bag just looks bad. It's bright red and immediately leaves a bad taste in Leslie's mouth. Amberlee is kind enough to give her a piece of chewing gum to help get rid of the taste. Both Amberlee and Pat are fantastic. Pat is a breast cancer survivor and Amberlee is just plain sweet. Thank you ladies!
While Leslie was receiving her meds today she got to meet another young woman with breast cancer. Tina is a few weeks ahead of Leslie in treatment and has moved on to the second type of chemo medicine. She has lost her hair and wears a knit cap to keep warm. She's a very kind woman and I can see that she and Leslie will be getting along well. Tina's son and husband both shaved their heads when she lost her hair. Very supportive and she seems to appreciate it greatly.
Once the chemo treatment was over we packed up and headed out. Leslie said she felt great at that point so we grabbed a bite to eat and she went on to work. By the way, if you're in Cheyenne and have a hankering for a great slice of pizza, drop by Mondello's. Great food and very friendly people.
Chemo is done, no big deal, Leslie went back to work, I went home. Boring day. Don't know what all the stress was about.


Thursday, December 6th is the day slated to begin Leslie's chemotherapy. We are so incredibly excited to get things moving forward and really begin the final stages of healing. Dr. Batezini's office had set the appointment for 1pm and we needed to check in at admissions at the hospital at noon. From there we would go to the infusion center for a blood draw and then to Dr. Batezini's office for a quick meeting and then back down to the infusion center where the joy of injecting poison into Leslie would commence. Yay! It's a hospital, they're professionals, this is gonna be cake.


Our little boy, Jared, develops a case of Pink Eye on the Monday before the appointment. From there Leslie develops a cold and laryngitis. Dr. Batezini determines that the Pink Eye might be an issue since chemo inhibits the body's immune system. Not a good idea to get sick with Pink Eye and then weaken the ol' immune system.


We can wait.

Jared gets better by Wednesday and Mommy/Leslie gets better too so things are moved back one week to get a great start for chemo on Thursday December 13th. Yay. It's a hospital, they're professionals, this is gonna be cake. Birthday cake even, it's my Mom's birthday, this is gonna be great!


We go to the hospital and check in at noon on Thursday the 13th. (For those of you that know me and my little rodeo cowboy type superstitions you will understand that going to the hospital on the 13th is a MAJOR event for me. Not a good one either. Had it been Friday the 13th we would have re-scheduled. No kidding.) Zip through the paper work, this is going great, no need to worry about things on the 13th here. This is a hospital, they're professionals, this is gonna be cake.


When we get out of the admissions cubicle we take a wrong turn and go to the wrong half of the hospital. There are two sides, one that is for private practices and the other side for the actual hospital, giving us a 50/50 chance. We went to the wrong one. No big deal, we're only a couple of minutes late to the infusion center for the blood draw. Gotta get that blood work done so we can be sure you're healthy enough to put poison in ya! As we're getting the blood drawn and having the gigantic 3 inch long needle inserted into the medi-port in preparation for the chemo we are told that we will not be having chemo done today.

That'll stop ya in your tracks!

We're here, Leslie has a gigantic 3 inch long needle stuck into her chest with an 18 inch long tube hanging from it, we're ready to have poisonous substances injected into the 18 inch long tube that is connected to the gigantic 3 inch long needle protruding from Leslie's chest and they're calling a Time Out??!!??!!

Hmmm, it's the 13th. Dang good thing it's not Friday!

So we talk to the two women in the infusion center, Pat and Amberlee, and find that Molli from Dr. Batezini's office told them that she had told us that we would not be receiving chemotherapy today. The only minor glitch to that synopsis is that we never actually got that information. Ooops. This is a hospital, they're professionals, this is gonna be cake.

I'm fuming mad and can't hardly talk. Leslie, thank goodness, is able to work out a deal with Pat from the infusion center. Pat has graciously offered to stay late to get Leslie's chemo taken care of. All we need to do is get to Dr. Batezini's office, have our quick little meeting, and get back to the other side of the hospital so Pat can hook Leslie up to poison and make her sick. I mean better. Sorry.

We take off at a canter across the hospital and get to Dr. Batezini's office right at 2 o'clock. We are On Time for our appointment and things are looking up. We get the paper work taken care of while we wait and Leslie is excited to get something attached to the other end of the 18 inch tube that is connected to the gigantic 3 inch needle that is stuck into her chest. Her excitement wanes as we wait for AN HOUR to get in to see Dr. Batezini. By this time we've already called Pat and told her that there is no way we'll ask her to stay that late for us. We are both incredibly disappointed that we won't be doing chemo today but at last we finally accept it.

At 3:15 we finally see Dr. Batezini. She explains what will be happening during chemo and that we will be ready for chemo tomorrow morning. I will allow that I appreciate that Dr. Batezini is willing to take as much time with a patient as that patient would like. I don't like it when it takes an extra hour to get in to see her but I will say that she is very good when you finally get to have some time with her. I guess that's modern medicine for ya.

3:45 and we're walking out of the hospital with our new friends Mr. Gigantic needle and Mr. Tube. Yay, new friends.

We go home and eat some birthday cake for my Mom. Happy Birthday Mom!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Healing Takes a Long Time

So we all pile into the truck today and drive up to see Dr. Parnell for a post-op visit. Nice lady, that Dr. Parnell. She checks out the surgical scars, tugs on a loose suture and tells us that a skin discoloration is the dye that was injected into Leslie's breast prior to the surgery and that it will eventually go away. For those of you that might have this done in the future, going away takes a very long time. The surgery was October 25th, today is November 27th and the dye is quite easily seen from across a large room. That's ok, there are two jagged surgical scars, three blobs of green dye and numerous bruises still prominently visible. The thing that is gone from the equation is CANCER! We were told today that the labs show no cancer in any of the surrounding tissue from the surgery and the lymph node, that was biopsied again, is negative for cancer as well.


Dr. Parnell also told us of a possible chemotherapy option after the radiation. That would have us (as usual us = Leslie doing the hard part, fighting cancer, being brave, etc. while I sit in a corner and remain quiet so the grown ups can do their work) going through chemo for roughly 5 months then onto 7 weeks of radiation treatments and finally rounding out the cancer killing with another round of chemo that would last an entire year.

Leslie will be going to see Dr. Batezini (the oncologist) on Friday, the first appointment I'll have to miss through this ordeal. I have to work on Friday and don't have any spare time off available until somewhere around mid-January. I really hate being gone for this one but since it "SHOULD" be just a preliminary meeting to discuss the chemotherapy I figure I can be gone for that one. I've been making sure to save a little time off for the first day after the first round of chemo. We don't know what to expect there and I know that even if Leslie does well physically that I can be there to help be supportive on the emotional level. That's probably the one thing that people don't often talk about when it comes to cancer. It is absolutely exhausting to think about all of the what if's and possibilities. It seems that the night before a Dr.'s appointment no one sleeps because all you can do is toss and turn all night long. It really does wear you down to deal with this disease on a psychological and emotional level.

I mentioned the psychological stress that is brought about by cancer. I'll give you a good example. Leslie has had long hair for all of her adult life. She had long hair in High School. She had long hair in Junior High. She's had long hair for a long time. She went out last Tuesday to get a hair cut as a pre-emptive strike against the effects of chemotherapy. For anyone not aware of this, one of the major side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. The drugs are designed to kill fast growing cells like cancer. Unfortunately this also includes things like hair and finger nails. That's why your hair falls out during chemo. It's dead. Like the cancer (Die Bob). Dead. The psychological part of this little ordeal is that women aren't supposed to be bald. I'm not totally convinced that guys are supposed to be bald either, and considering my hairline, I'm a supporter of hair growth for all. It is rough for men to lose some of their hair, rougher still for a woman to lose some of it. When chemo starts to do what it's supposed to do your hair falls out in clumps. Big clumps of hair that were alive and on your head yesterday are dead and on your pillow today. With that joyful tidbit in her future Leslie decided to get a short hair cut so that when the hair falls out it isn't quite so traumatic. I hope it helps. She looks great with the new hairstyle but it is not her first choice. She would have liked to let it grow even longer. Cancer sucks. Our little boy, Jared, didn't quite know what to make of his Mommy when she came home from the shearer either. He was a little apprehensive about this woman that sounded like Mommy and kind of looked like Mommy but definitely did not have the same hair as Mommy. It took him 3 or 4 days to get used to things. That's just another of the subtle ways that cancer takes a toll. It can make your 3 year old look at you funny. Just wait until Mommy starts chemo and the little guy is trying to figure out who that lady is. That's gonna be some fun to explain. Any suggestions?

Well I guess that's about all I've got to pass along for now. I need to get some photos emailed off to family in Oregon that would like to see Leslie with hair above her ears. They haven't seen that since she was 3. Ironic, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Breathe In, Breathe Out....repeat (a lot).

Today is a good day.

Finally a chance to catch up on what's been happening in the wonderful world of breast cancer. First and foremost, today is a day that finds us enjoying the simple things in life.

Like breathing.

Yep, good ol' fashioned ventilating.

Breathing in, breathing out and not having to fight to get some air in the lungs. It's amazing how compressed you feel when you're waiting for the Doctors to tell you that the operation is over, that the cancer has been removed and that your loved one is recovering. It is difficult to describe how much pressure you feel while you're waiting for a glimmer of hope that this can be beaten. I spent 40 years waiting to find the right person to be in my life and I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of losing her barely 4 years into our relationship. I have no concept of how people feel that have been together for 45 years when cancer decides to interrupt the plan. I was lost, alone and absolutely terrified. I had friends and family supporting from all sides and I felt so incredibly alone that I can't describe the feeling. Thank you, one and all, for all your emails, phone calls and support.

So here's the catch up in a nutshell. (Ketchup in a nutshell, let it go....). November 12th, 2007 was the second operation by Dr. Parnell. This one removed excess tissue in Leslie's left breast that indicated positive for cancer. The operation is called a lumpectomy and is done to make sure that there is no cancer remaining in the breast surrounding the original tissue removal. (You remember, the one that started this whole ordeal back on October 25th.) The amount of tissue removed was roughly the volume of 2 golf balls. The original lump was the rough size of a golf ball. Simple math lets us calculate that there are now 3 golf balls worth of tissue gone from Leslie's left breast.

Let that sink in.

For anyone looking at your fingers and counting I will write very slowly for the remainder of this entry. Three golf balls worth of my wife are not where they belong and this is just the beginning.

The new tissue was sampled for cancer by the pathologist and was found to be negative. For those of you that have been through this and heard that word, you know that it is the absolute greatest word in the English language.

During the operation they also inserted the medi-port for the chemotherapy that will begin in roughly 4 weeks. So far that has been the source of the greatest discomfort from the operation. The medi-port is attached to a vein in Leslie's neck and is inserted under the skin in the neck and chest. Very clever but, at this point, annoying and painful in its' own right.

The final segment of the surgery was the lymph node removal and biopsy. As I mentioned, it was found negative for cancer. That is very exciting news since it means that the cancer didn't make it's way into the lymph system. Since it was contained in the breast then the chemo and radiation can be focused at the source. Bob will die! The incision made by Dr. Parnell to obtain the sentinel node is right in Leslie's arm pit. Very painful place to have a cut and it sure limits the amount of movement that she has right now.

Leslie went to work today and made it till around 11am. She got very flushed and tired and came home early. I don't think anyone is begrudging her leaving. The people she works with have been very supportive and understanding and that makes a tremendous difference in the recovery process.

Ok, that's enough for one day. I'll fill in some details over the next couple days. Thanks for reading.

Bye bob!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Just a quick note today. Leslie is home after surgery and the word is good. The sentinel node was cancer-free so the cancer has not spread. Healing is in progress. More to come later.

Thanks to ALL of you for the warm wishes and prayers!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Introducing "Bob"

Well yesterday was another fun filled day in the wonderful world of cancer. Leslie and I went to Dr. Parnell (the surgeon) for a follow up to her lumpectomy. The newest kink in the plan is that on top of having another surgery on Monday to remove more tissue, remove the sentinel node and insert the medi-port for chemo that we (and of course that still means Leslie, with me standing helplessly in a corner) get to go through radiation treatments after the chemo. I tell ya, if it isn't one thing it's another. The radiation treatments are to kill any possible remaining cancer cells in the breast. It's got some nifty side effects like making the affected area darker, think selective sun-tanning. Pretty cool. In a nutshell, she gets to be carved on like a Thanksgiving turkey (twice so far..), injected with chemicals that kill fast growing cells (like hair, finger nails and..oh yea...cancer) and then to make it wrap up neatly she gets to have radiation injected into her. Yea cancer! I'm betting you can see why the support of friends, family and others is so incredibly needed during cancer treatments. This stuff sucks.

Ok, you're wondering about the sentinel node. Good, so were we. The sentinel node is a lymph node located under the armpit. There are roughly 25 of these under each arm on the average person. When the surgeon goes in to do the surgery on Monday she will take the "sentinel node" which is the first lymph node in the string of them. Removing the first, or sentinel, node will allow it to be biopsied and tell us if cancer has spread to the lymphatic system. While the lymph node is being tested, Dr. Parnell will remove the extra tissue that tested positive for cancer that remains in Leslie's left breast. By that time we should have an answer to whether the sentinel node is positive for cancer or not. The good answer will be that it is not positive and then all that will remain is to insert the medi-port for the chemo and close up the incision. Let's hope and pray for the good answer. If the sentinel node tests positive for cancer then the next node in the string is removed for biopsy. The goal here is to find out exactly how far the cancer has spread into her lymphatic system. Dr. Parnell says that the most she has ever had to remove for biopsy is 15. We do NOT want to be part of a new record for her so we're hoping that the sentinel node is negative and we're done.

Alright, I titled this little ditty "Introducing 'Bob'" so I guess I should explain that one. While visiting Dr. Parnell's office yesterday we were sitting down with her right hand gal, Sue, to get the surgery scheduled and some paperwork completed. (With all the paperwork involved I'm becoming convinced that the Federal Government is actually behind breast cancer.) While we're sitting there, Leslie asked Sue if her type of cancer has a name, aside from the generic term of breast cancer. Sue proceeded to name off the 10 minutes of technical name as Leslie and I glanced at each other and grinned. No, you won't be reading the full technical name of this cancer in here. At least not for now. I looked at Leslie, looked at Sue, and looked back at Leslie. I said "So, we'll call it Bob". Ta Da...There you have it, the cancer has a name. Bob must die.

Along that train of thought...... My buddy Eric and I have decided to have some pink T-shirts made up that say "To heck with the whales, Save the Boobies!" Just smile and ignore us if you happen to see us wearing them. It's a little chance at saving sanity among the stress of this thing.

That's where we stand so far. Leslie is holding up incredibly well and is absolutely cherishing each card, letter and email she has received. Thank you ALL for your support, it truly does make the unbearable seem bearable.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


My buddy Eric called last night. Sure made me feel a lot better to be able to talk about this cancer thing with someone besides my wife. It's funny, I try so hard to be supportive with Leslie and reassure her that everything will be fine and yet I feel incredible stress when we're not talking about it. Talking with Eric (Thanks Bubba!) let me escape that pressure for a while and laugh about it. He offered to drive up with a hundred friends and said that everyone would shave their heads as a show of support for Leslie. That was awesome! It's incredibly comforting to know that people care and can show support like that.

Leslie has spent much of the morning reading the stacks of literature we received at the Oncologists office yesterday. We're trying to wrap our collective brains around all of this and get a full grasp. We go back to visit the Doctor that did the surgery on Tuesday to set up another surgery, remove a lymph node under her left arm to check for cancer there and insert the tube for the chemotherapy. Joy, joy! The Oncologist told us yesterday that she has a T-2 cancer at this point. The second surgery and lymph node biopsy will determine if it is a T-3 cancer. We're still getting used to the terminology involved and trying to pay attention to the Doctors when they tell us things.

The fact that two people that went to college can become so incredibly dense when talking to a Doctor is staggering. I guess this shows how powerful this disease is. Once you hear the word cancer your brain just shuts down and your head bobs up and down in an affirmative motion. It makes people think you're listening when all you're really doing inside your head is..."CANCER?????????????.............CANCER??????????????....... What do you mean CANCER????????. I'm healthy, I'm not sick , I feel fine, I can't have Cancer!"

Here's what we know so far. We need to have the surgery to determine how advanced the cancer is. We (and by We, I mean...Leslie, with me standing in a corner somewhere..) need to have the chemo port inserted and get ready for the joys of chemotherapy. We have also found that when one Doctor says that "This type of cancer is exactly what people have when you talk about breast cancer. It's not aggressive and you're not going to die from this. You might die when you're 90 but you won't die from this" that what they can really mean is "This cancer is aggressive, you need surgery, chemo and some luck." No wonder it's so hard to listen to the Docs, even they don't know what they're saying.

We're keeping our heads up and searching for positives. More to come......

Friday, November 2, 2007

In the beginning

I am a rodeo announcer living in Wyoming. I spent last summer driving to rodeos in Colorado to pursue the dream of announcing professionally and being able to make a living at it. I would leave on Wednesday mornings after my wife went to work and my son was at daycare. I spent Wednesday morning on the road and announced in Snowmass Village,CO that night. I was fortunate enough to have another rodeo on Thursday night just 30 miles away in Carbondale, CO. I spent the night in Snowmass and headed down the road to Carbondale on Thursday morning.

The good folks (and they really are fantastic people!) at the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo Series chose to have a Tough Enough To Wear Pink event to produce funds and awareness for Breast Cancer and Susan G. Komen For The Cure in Aspen, CO. I was immediately drawn to this event and worked very hard for months researching info to make the night a great success. I really busted my butt for this and the rodeo was great. rained that night .....and rained and rained and rained. Noah drove by during the barrel Rained! We did the best we could, raised cash AND awareness and made some new friends in the process.

After the time and energy I put into the Tough Enough To Wear Pink night I figured that I had probably earned some "Karma Kredits".

I was wrong.

On Thursday October 25, 2007 my wife, Leslie, had a lump removed from her left breast. The following day we heard the word that no one wants to hear...cancer. We are in the early stages of this battle and aren't quite sure what to expect but I will update as we know more.For those of you that pray, please do. For those of you that don't, we will pray for you.

We are ready to win this fight.