Nick Jones

God, Life, Religion

Category: Cancer (page 1 of 6)

Kick Cancer in the Teeth

remissionOne year ago today I posted this picture with this blog post: Cancer in Remission. A few weeks ago I posted that it has been one year since I rang the bell and ended chemo. Today, officially, it has been one year since I was declared cancer free. You may not understand how significant that milestone is to me. Let me share with you why that is the case.

After I had the orchiectomy I was told that I was cancer free. We had expected that I would no longer need to worry about cancer and that I would be able to go on with my life. And so I did. I continued training for a triathlon, my wife and I got pregnant, life went on. Until less than six months later we found out that the cancer wasn’t actually gone, it had actually spread (read that post here).

At the six month mark after chemo both Julie and I were worried. Last time I didn’t make it past the six month mark. So when I did this time, there was celebration. And now I’ve made it to the one year mark. One year I have officially been in remission.

Now the statistics are in my favor (click here for a more in depth article about Testicular Cancer survival rates). Evidently the survival rate for someone like me with a regional cancer summary stage (meaning that the cancer had spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues) is 96% after 5 years. That’s a good number. That number encourages me. If I’ve made it one year without a reoccurrence, then I’m looking good.

It’s been a journey, one that isn’t finished. I’m definitely looking forward to the many years I have ahead of me.

One Year Later

One year ago, this happened (sorry for the video quality).

September 19, 2014 was my last day of chemotherapy. One year ago today I finished one of the toughest and most challenging journey’s in my life. Three months of essentially killing my body and then bringing it back again was an insane way to spend my summer. But I’m thankful that a year later I am still cancer free.

My journey isn’t finished. I still have regular checkups, chest x-rays, blood work, still working out the anemia thing (which by the way is looking better). But I’m thankful that I’ve made it a year without having to even consider doing chemo again.

Thank you again for all the prayers and well wishes. I know that updating this blog hasn’t been on my radar recently. I’m hoping in the near future to change that. I’ll explain that in a different blog post.

Until then, enjoy the celebration!

Anemia – Part 2

anemia

Last week I mentioned that when I had my blood work done things were a bit weird. Just to update everyone, late last week my doctor called me in regards to my second blood draw to let me know how it looked. He told me that my blood was still off, but (sometimes I love that word!), the numbers are heading back in the right direction indicating that I was fighting a virus.

This is good news, however he said I’m still anemic, but he did tell me my hemoglobin is heading back in the right direction. So now I continue the mental battle: is my tiredness due to the anemia or have I been pushing myself? With my triathlon coming up in little less than a week, we shall see what happens.

Anemia

anemia

It’s been awhile since I updated this blog. I haven’t even thought of it since January. It’s been a rough few months still adjusting to a baby in the house, finishing up an evangelistic series, and training for a triathlon. The blog fell by the wayside. But now, well, I have some news. I’m anemic.

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“Are you fighting a virus?” The words popped out of my oncologists as he entered the room. I was slightly caught off guard. I had been feeling just fine, just had a little runny nose which I figured was due to the pollen in the air (it is spring after all). He must have seen my questioning look and continued, “You’re blood work is a little wonky. A couple of the areas are flipped that shouldn’t be.” At the same time I found out that my kidney function isn’t exactly working properly, “You need to stop drinking,” he quipped (he knows I don’t drink).

I thought back and realized my daughter has been dealing with some sort of sickness for the last week. Coughing, runny nose, you know, cold stuff. I mentioned that to him and he said that this was probably the problem and that I was fighting a virus. So he scheduled a blood draw for the following week (which was yesterday).

But that wasn’t all the news. He also informed me that I am anemic. Not slightly anemic, not just barely anemic, but anemic. Enough so that he informed me that I needed to get more Iron in my diet ASAP. Everything started to click in my mind and things started falling into place. Over the last few months I’ve been trying to get back in shape to be ready for the Onion Man Triathlon at the end of May. Yet I have been struggling with my breathing quite a bit. I always seem to be out of breath, and I have been tired a lot. It was if a light turned on.

Of course he had some recommendations for me. His usual recommendation for people is meat. As well as knowing that I don’t drink, he also knows I’m a vegetarian, so he had two suggestions: over-the-counter iron supplement, cast-iron skillet. I’ve been clamoring to buy a cast-iron skillet for years, and now I had the prescription to do so, “Oh Julie. My Doctor says I need a cast-iron skillet” (I’ve been waiting years to say something like that).

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What is a anemia? Well you can see from the definition in the picture above that it is a condition where there is either a reduction of red blood cells or reduction in size of hemoglobin. Simply put, the red blood cells and hemoglobin carry oxygen to the various parts of the body that needs it. It’s extremely important for athletes to have larger red blood cells because they will carry more oxygen to the parts of the body that need it during exercise.

(Side note: this is why some cyclists in the past have done blood transfusions during a cycling race. The blood was taken while they had been training at altitude and the red blood cells could hold more oxygen and was put on ice until it was needed. During the race in one of the evenings between stages they would do a transfusion so the cyclists would be ready for the next stage.)

Anemia is not cool. There are many people that deal with anemia, and quite a few of them are vegetarians. It’s harder to get the iron in your blood on a vegetarian diet if you don’t know what to eat. Legumes (lentils, kidney beans), Grains (quinoa, oatmeal), Vegetables (collard greens, swiss chard) are all excellent carriers of iron (Here is a great site by the way dealing with iron for vegetarians).

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Being an athlete and loving triathlons, this was discouraging news. However, I felt as if there was hope. I would start the iron supplement, get the cast-iron skillet, add more foods with iron to my diet and be back to normal by the triathlon. My doctor looked at me and said, “Don’t expect it to happen that quickly. It could take a little longer than that.”

Translation: Don’t expect to break any records at the triathlon and take it easy. That’s what I’ve been planning to do all along. Now that just got a bit harder. I’m determined to compete, but it’s not going to be at a high level, it’s going to be to finish, and to finish strong. I’m a cancer survivor, I will not let this stand in my way.

Wellness Exam

welness

The church I work for has a wellness incentive. If you exercise (and record it) at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time, fill out a wellness profile annually, and get a physical exam every three years (every year if over 40, I got awhile for that yet) then they will decrease the cost of your health insurance. As an exercise buff it’s pretty easy for me.

Yet, there is this cancer thing hanging over my head. I’ve been off chemo for almost four months and yet I have only lost 2 pounds. It’s rather frustrating because I know it isn’t all muscle. And just as luck would have it this week was time for my physical exam. My doctor puts me through the ringer, checking my lymph nodes, blood pressure, turn and cough, the general physical exam. Then comes time for the blood work.

Thankfully I had thought ahead and remembered that it needed to be a fasting blood draw, so I hadn’t eaten any food that morning. Got the blood work done and the next day received the call. The results: slightly anemic (white blood count down a little bit), good cholesterol down from the last physical, and bad cholesterol up, by quite a bit. Enough that the doctor told me to get plenty of exercise and eat better.

I kind of lost it. Not on the phone, it was after the phone call had ended. What do you think I’ve been doing since getting off chemo? I’ve been exercising 4-5 times a week (cycling, running, swimming), limiting my caloric intact (about 1,900 calories a day), and I still had high cholesterol. Ugh. Not the news I wanted.

My wife finally just told me, “Channel that anger and keep working at it.” And it was then I remembered what my oncologist said, “It will take time. Keep at it, the weight will drop.” So, I’m going to keep at it. I will get back to where I was before cancer took over in 2013. It may take longer than last time, but I am determined.

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