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 olfactory...food 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 year...it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Later that week we met with oncology and got some spectacular news...no 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!