Saturday, October 29, 2011

Baldface Loop

Trying to get through some of the trips I've done over the last few weeks...definitely been busy and been having fun! Here's a little peek at the Baldface Loop that Doug, Paul and I hiked the last weekend of October. Beautiful day and a little spiciness scrambling up South Baldface.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chocurua 10.23.11

Had a stellar day hiking Chocurua today. Doug, Mark and I rolled out of Portland around 7:30 and were hiking by 9:15. Temps were cool. Little wind. Endless views. Perfect fall New England day! Brought the dogs with us and they were beat by the time we got back down to the car. All in all it was a great day out with excellent friends.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pemi Loop!

So I don't know how I talked Mark and Nate into doing this hike with me, but I must have left out little details like: 25 miles, lots of elevation gain and loss, super rough terrain, etc... Well they signed on and we met up at Mark's at 5:45 yesterday morning. We rolled into the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center a little before 8 and were on the trail shortly there after...

We made good time to the first turn off that really began the day. Up 4 miles to Mt. Flume and then along Franconia Ridgeline we went. Lots of steps, lots of people and lots of wind! It must have been blowing around 40 mph and there were a few time I almost got blown off my feet! There were literally lines up to the summits so we did the best we could to get ahead of the masses and skirt around the idiots who think it's a good idea to take breaks in the middle of the trail. Once we hit Lafayette we didn't even stop because we knew that once we started the descent over to Garfield we'd ditch the crowds. It was nice to be reasonably alone again, but we were only half way through the hike and really had to buckle down and find the mental strength to continue. We were sore, tired, hungry and thirsty, but we kept going. Not really an option at that point. It's cool how when you commit to a situation like this hike, the only way to go is ahead. Turning around or sitting down and spending the night wasn't an option.

We finally stocked up on water, got some food in our stomachs and hammered out the last 11 miles to the car. By the time we got there, all three of us were totally over hiking and only wanted to eat, drink, and go to of course, I'm ready to go again!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Big C Update

Hey Everyone!

I know it's been a while since you've heard from me, but don't let it discourage you. In fact, there's a lot to be encouraged by!

So I'll take everyone on a bit of a trip to see what the past 4 weeks have looked like since I got out of the hospital. First of all, I have to give huge thanks and hugs of appreciation to the wonderful staff on the Gibson Pavilion at Maine Medical Center, especially Deb and Jess who were night nurses and simply amazing. I wish everyone had their kindness and dedication. Between them and my wonderfully beautiful wife, my recovery has been smooth and seamless. Of course there's also huge thanks to my INCREDIBLE surgeon, Dr. Sara Mayo. I would happily trust my life to her any day of the week, though Tuesdays are her colon days :-)

I got out of the hospital 4 weeks ago today. Being wheeled out of the front door and whisked away to our new home in North Yarmouth was kind of surreal. I know I had it relatively easy and only had to spend six nights in the hospital, but it's really amazing how easily we take basic stuff for granted. Seeing the ocean, going 60 miles per hour, breathing fresh air, having your dog rest his head on your arm, even feeling the sun on your face. Don't forget that. Cherish every moment.

Getting home was fabulous. No longer did the hospital smell resonate in my had flavor...I didn't have to wheel around my IV cart...

My energy certainly wasn't back, so the first few days were spent resting and relaxing and moving slowly. We were kind of worried about how I'd do on the stairs, but those worries proved futile. In the hospital, the biggest relief to my pain came in the form of walking, so we brought Kahsi's old treadmill back to our house and put it upstairs for my use. When ever I was feeling the slightest bit of discomfort, I'd get on that thing, at it's slowest setting, and walk for 10-15 minutes. Amazing what getting your legs moving can do for you. My dad came up to help with things around the house and he was here when Robin came by Wednesday evening to drop off a truly incredible gift...a brand new John Deere riding lawnmower! Along with it came the biggest card I'd ever seen with everyone's names who contributed to this gracious offering. I'm happy to say that while I couldn't mow right away, it's my new favorite piece of equipment and the lawn looks immaculate now. Thanks to everyone from the bottom of our hearts. Your generosity and love is what makes this life so wonderful.

Kahsi and I had quite a few appointments during the first two weeks of me being home. We got my staples out (which makes for a very cool scar), we met with a genetic counselor and an oncologist.

The results from the pathology report had indicated that my cancer hadn't popped up because of any environmental factors but actually it was a genetic form of cancer. We weren't really sure what that meant and what the repercussions were until we met with the genetic counselor and the genetic oncologist. While I'm still waiting for some more test results, the general consensus is that I have something called Lynch Syndrome. According to statistics, 3-5% of colon cancer is caused my Lynch Syndrome. Basically what it means is that I've had an 80-85% chance of getting colon cancer throughout my lifetime. It also means that I have a 50-60% chance of getting it again, along with other types of cancers, though those percentages aren't nearly as high. So while on the surface it might seem like this sucks, I'm actually psyched to get this news because knowledge is power. I know now that my life will consist of a litany of tests to identify any cancers in their beginning stages and we can root them out immediately. Without this knowledge I could go years and years without getting further check ups. Now I get to have annual colonoscopies, upper GI endoscopies, abdominal CT scans (not in perpetuity though as they would actually give me cancer at some point!), and lots of blood tests to see if any tumor markers are present. To be perfectly honest, I say bring it on! One of the big lessons of this whole ordeal is that the uncertainties will always be there, but when it comes to internal workings, it's way better to find out what's going on early. I can handle a day of prepping for a colonoscopy once a's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Later that week we met with oncology and got some spectacular chemotherapy! My oncologist, Dr. Devon Evans, said that people with Lynch Syndrome are less likely to recur than people without it, and that chemotherapy drugs are less effective on Lynch Syndrome cancers as well. So with those two things known, he said there was a 1% chance that chemo might actually do some good. Hooray! While both Kahsi and I had been mentally preparing for chemo, it was a HUGE relief to learn I wouldn't undergo any treatments and I could focus solely on recovering from surgery and getting stronger.

Now that it's been 4 weeks, I'm feeling tremendously better. I actually just went for a 4-mile trail run on the beautiful network of trails that is right down the road at Pineland Farms. Temps were cool, a little rain in the air, and the latest Mumford & Sons album on the iPod...couldn't ask for a better recharge.

Now I'm gearing up for the school year to start in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to getting my feet back under me and continuing on this great journey with my wife, friends and family...and of course our dog, Kai.

Thanks to everyone for everything. I honestly can't tell you how amazing everyone has made me and us feel. From dinners to compost bins to lawnmowers to just coming over and hanging out...thank you!

We'll see you out in the mountains!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cancer Free!

Greetings Everyone,

After successful surgery on Tuesday and almost three full days in recovery we got great news this morning from our surgeon, Dr. Sarah Mayo. The pathology report came back today with the best news possible. The cancer did not spread through the lymph nodes or through the colon wall putting me at Stage 1. Basically this means that the surgery was able to remove the cancer from my body and we'll wait to see how this effects further treatments (i.e., chemotherapy). Things are progressing with my recovery (albeit it slowly) and each day brings new challenges for the seemingly simple. My big accomplishment for the day was finishing one saltine just under 3 hours! Kas has been the most helpful wife, nurse, cheerleader and companion. She gets me up to take nice long walks down the florescent lit hallway. She's always ready with a cool washcloth for my forehead and she gives the best foot-rubs in the world. I am truly blessed.

Some of the hard things right now are not having the energy I'm used to, managing the pain post-surgery and generally not feeling like myself. Some of the best things are knowing I'm cancer free (feels really good to say that!) and feeling the love and support of great friends and family. Also knowing I'm in great hands here in the hospital (Chip...the nurses love the care-package...nice move buddy). Looks like I'll be heading home in the next couple days. Kas and I will try to do our best to let everyone know what we need when we know we need it.

Thanks everybody for all your awesomeness! When you said you'd "see me on the other side of cancer"...guess what...I'm here!!