Friday, March 18, 2011

Closing Death by Lettuce

I am sure by now this is not a big surprise, as I haven't written any new entries in months. This is actually a good thing, means I have other things going on in my life besides cancer... which is awesome.

I have had a lot of e-mails lately from people wanting to post articles and things on my blog, I apologize for lack of responses... I have literally been crazy busy.


Because I'm moving to Ukraine on Tuesday.

No seriously... moving... to.... Ukraine.

After months of jumping through hoops and pulling strings, I am finally joining the Peace Corps. The only appropriate word for how I feel is stoked.

That being said, I will be blogging again! Not so much about cancer, but about life and things in the Peace Corps, helping people, etc.

I've actually set up a whole website, mainly dedicated to photography. Eventually I will have it set up so people can buy my pictures and things. It isn't live yet, but should be by Monday.

It is

I will make that a link once it is live.

Thank you all for reading my blog; I can only hope its helped others as much as it has helped me.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Losing your cancer virginity

Cancer is surprisingly like sex. We all have stories about our first time. There's even bases before you "score" so to speak. And I don't think ever getting another diagnosis of cancer is every quite the same as that first time.

First base: Doctor finds a lump
Second base: tests
Third base: the phone call
Home: the face to face diagnosis

First base:
Student health... I was there for my yearly. The nurse practitioner walks in... first thing she says to me is something along the lines of, "so is this your follow up for chlamydia?" WHAT? NO, what are you talking about?... something about how last years tests showed whatever, someone forgot to call me, etc... (later this was discovered to be just a mix up, but fantastic start)... next, physical, "Do you know you have a lump on your neck?" Huh? Ok... Not really sure what thats all about...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A friend lost

I learned today that I lost a friend. We weren't close friends... we've had drinks together at parties... he was more of my friend's friend... people thought that we should be friends, and tried to get us to be friends because what we had in common was that we were both law school cancer survivors, and then young lawyers dealing with cancer. I think for this very reason we didn't actually become friends. Because it seemed like we were supposed to have this connection... but in real life, when you are with your friends, and hanging out... that isn't necessarily what you want your connection to be. Like so many things, I don't know if that makes sense.

I think its the same reason why I'm no good at support groups. Why I can't seem to muster the motivation to go to a cancer summit... talk one on one, or face to face with people. I don't like this world in my real world.

And yet, even keeping distance between us... I find that I am still hurt, that apparently there was this connection... a silent acknowledgment that someone else had a general idea of what you were dealing with... even if the circumstances were totally different. He was a mental cushion... someone I knew if anything worse happened to me I could call up and be like, how do I deal with this. I'm guessing it would have been a very awkward conversation... but it was an option that is no longer there.

RIP Adam Thomas

fuck cancer

A post from Adam's work

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"I'm not quite dead... I think I'll go for a walk now... I feel happy... I feel Happy!"

Ok, so I went on a hiatus... a very long, hiatus. A very long hiatus that may or may not continue. But, quite frankly, I haven't had that much to write about. And seeing as I sit in front of a computer all day doing work, and not even fooling around on the internet... I lose motivation to write when I get home.

So cancer related stuff:

My Peace Corps application got put on hold b/c they wanted a pathology report from May 2009 for a fna. I will not be leaving in September... and I'm still waiting to pass medical.

I despise being attached to a pill. I didn't have time to refill my meds when I normally do b/c I was out of town. I got to the pharmacy late yesterday, and she said she could fill one... I said Levoxyl... she filled allegra. I am one of those where i can feel when i don't have my meds... whether its all in my head or not doesn't matter... It gets to me.

I went to a law conference purely to go to the seminar on cancer patient rights. I made the mistake of sitting under the ac... this makes me fall asleep... I nearly fell asleep during the one thing i wanted to see. But out if it I learned about LINC

Pretty neat group. Help people w/ legal and business issues dealing w/ cancer. What I found really interesting is the guy who got up and talked about people losing their homes b/c of medical issues and not being able to pay their mortgage.

I was like... no shit, that's what I do! I modify loans and keep people out of foreclosure. We do free consultations, and have a damn good track record when it comes to saving peoples homes. So I'm working on extending our services out to LINC. I mean even just a free consultation to tell people what their options are is sometimes all people need. If you are in trouble... please please please don't go to some out of state mortgage broker company, or something that sounds like its a government program but asks for just an upfront fee for help. And definitely don't go to someone who guarantees you a modification or they can save your home. Try to get a modification yourself, work with a HUD counselor... then find a lawyer. One you can meet with. I'm dead serious. As cancer patients we are hell of persistent people that know about loop holes and know about how to wear down red tape... so of anyone, I would say our group in general can do this stuff on our own. But... if you are tired, and want someone else... use a lawyer and only a lawyer. I know they are hard to find... but there are too many scams out there. Hell, if you are out of state, I don't mind you calling me to talk things over, and if you want me to check on someone to see if they are legit, I'll do it for you. Just shoot me an e-mail. I'll try to organize this in a better e-mail later.... I'm suddenly having a flood of ideas.

I think I'll stop now, and regroup my thoughts...

Other random things, I'm trying to join up w/ the young lawyers group w/ the Virginia State Bar who just put out a cancer rights booklet... If you want want, or a bunch to distribute, I'll see what I can do to get my hands on some.

It also looks more and more like I'll be here long term. I'd like to start up and i[2]y in the area. Are any of my readers out there in Hampton Roads?

I realize its a bit of a scattered e-mail... but possibly more to come. And thanks to everyone who checks back here regularly. I know since June 17 there's been like 139 hits throughout the world. That means a lot to me. And is really what motivated me to write again... even if short and jumpy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anytime Fitness Total Body Challenge

So as you all may remember, my New Year's resolution this year was to put my life back where it was 5 years ago, namely by getting back to my pre-cancer weight. Now I've kept quiet about how all this as gone after this summer's weekly updates resulting in my embarrassment once I just stopped. But I've been doing the Body Challenge, and have in fact crushed my pre-cancer weight. My final weigh in this morning was -48lbs. I went from 217 to 169.

Below is the essay I wrote for the challenge:

A little over four months ago, I don’t think you would have found anyone more resistant to the idea of joining the body challenge than me. Basically I didn’t think I could really commit to it; I was unemployed, studying for the Bar exam, clueless as to whether or not I would be moving out of the area during that time, and just didn’t think I had the physical ability to really be competitive… and I need to be competitive. I was happy just doing my own routine, knocking off a few pounds here and there; why would I ever want to join something I couldn’t really commit to, let alone win?

Then Bill Garvey, the 2009 winner, and my step-dad started getting on me about joining, you know “keeping it in the family.” Then CJ cornered me in the gym. And then finally, my mom turned to me after noticing how much weight I already dropped, and was like, “so at this rate you’ll win the challenge without actually joining.”

I had started back at the gym right after New Years. I realize it’s a bit of a cliché, but everything in my world had sort of gotten flipflopped around and it seemed like good timing. I just graduated law school, moved back home, and was settling into another hectic few months of studying and waiting. But more influential than all of this was that I was coming up on my 5 year cancerversary. I was just 21, a senior in college, when I was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Yes, that’s the cancer of the one main organ in your body that controls things like weight and your metabolism. Since then, I’ve had enough yearly surgeries and radiation treatments to systematically destroy any body. Throw in the added stress of four years of law and grad school, and a set of bad knees from my days as a proper athlete, and this spells a recipe for physical disaster. I know I’m a stress eater, and I know that I probably pack on more weight because I’m always a bit strung out. The final blow came last February when I was told I would always have cancer; I would always test positive for it; it would always be there, and I would just need to watch and wait. The weight suddenly packed on with rapid speed.

Then New Year’s came along and I decided that five years of letting cancer effect my life was quite long enough. My resolution wasn’t so much to lose weight, but rather to put my life back where it was five years ago, which just happened to also include taking off the weight. In the end, the timing for the challenge couldn’t have been better. A month into it, I unexpectedly got a clean bill of health; it was like all the weight and stress dealing with my health had been lifted off my shoulders, and for the first time in five years I actually had the energy and stamina to get back into shape.

Initially I used the challenge as stress management while I studied for the Bar; you wouldn’t believe how many people didn’t have the endurance for the exam, and spent the months leading up to it completely strung out on caffeine and junk food. After the Bar, the challenge became a distraction. To make things more interesting I started throwing in totally random lessons for things I’ve always wanted to learn: tennis, golf, aikido, and even a surf conditioning class. All of my normal stress and anxiety got channeled elsewhere. Next thing I knew, I got a job, passed the Bar, and suddenly crushed my pre-cancer diagnosis weight. New Year’s resolution was more or less achieved before May.

I had a few hurdles with the challenge; little things, like I don’t particularply like meat and eggs (I’ve gotten over this), I couldn’t afford to work one on one with a trainer, and with my thyroid meds, I can’t take any stimulants/metabolism boosters/ or proper fat burners. Nothing is more depressing than having one of those days where you’re completely exhausted, you get to the gym, and all your friends are hyper pumped off of stimulants. It all made me push myself just that little bit harder to keep up with everyone else.

My favorite day was the day after the second Mt. Trashmore challenge; that night everything clicked. Bill and I went for a jog outside. Now I suck at running, I’ve never been a runner, I can sprint and jump, but not really run. Bill paced me at an awkwardly slow speed, and I went from only being able to run for about 3 minutes, to an hour-long jog. Like I said, everything just clicked, and I now wake up every morning and jog around my neighborhood watching the sunrise over the ocean; I can’t imagine a better way to start my day.

I can’t really explain how good it feels to have so much going on your life all at once the way things have for me over the last few months. And then to tie it all together by getting back in shape, crushing my goal weights, and pushing myself to do physical activities I didn’t think I would ever do again, is all overwhelming. I can’t believe I ever resisted joining the challenge, and I want to thank everyone who pushed me into it and through it, all the trainers, Bill, and most of all the whole Great Neck team. You’ve all been awesome!