Just say no to chemo

My last post was the day before Easter and a lot has happened in the following week! On Easter Sunday we went to church at 5th Avenue Presbyterian which had a full house this week. Usually they have the balcony seating closed down, but they had it packed the whole way around for Easter. I don’t get the logic of attending church just on Easter and Christmas. Those are the most crowded days to be there. If anything those are the days to avoid, but maybe it is a family tradition or something. Anyway. The weather was absolutely gorgeous that day and they had closed down 5th Avenue for a parade, so after church we wandered around the street a little bit and enjoyed the beautiful weather. To the left is a picture Ashley took of the family.

On monday we went in to get my blood work done and my platelets were STILL too low to start chemo. This is actually what I had secretly been hoping for because they had mentioned that if this was the case we might have to call it quits. The reason for this is because once your body starts slowing down in its regeneration of these cells then it is pretty much a sign that we have beaten it into submission. With each additional round of chemo your body regenerates these necessary cells slower and slower until it doesn’t regenerate them at all. Obviously that is not a good thing! So after we got the news that my platelets were still too low, Dr Rosen and Adrienne came down to talk with us, explained the situation and then very unceremoniously announced that I was done!

Despite my expectations, confetti did not drop from the ceiling and a marching band did not magically appear to commemorate the moment, although that pretty much sums up what happened in my head! Needless to say I was extremely excited about the pronouncement. We were 2 rounds of chemo short of the goal, but the logic is that if your body can’t regenerate then neither can any potentially remaining cancer cells. So now we will do CT scans of my chest, watch my lungs every couple of months, pray that there aren’t any more cancer cells in my body and get on with life!

While the chemo is done, that is just the signal that the rest of my recovery can actually get started now. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is kind of a weird time, because while the cancer stuff is coming to a close, dealing with the fact that I am left with one leg is just getting started. That being said, we have already made tremendous strides (oh so punny!) in this process and are about to make even more advancements since I can now buckle down and focus on this rather than spending my days laid up in bed on chemo!

On Tuesday Ashley and I went down to Madison Square Park and waited in the longest line I have ever seen for some Shake Shack burgers. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and despite the 45 minute wait for a burger, we had a good time. While waiting in line we spotted two guys who are characters in the TV Show My Boys (see creepy stalker picture here), and one guy who looked like a taller version of a friend of ours from Ad School named Ali (see creepy stalker picture #2 here). We were able to get a table without any trouble and enjoyed lunch in the park. After lunch we walked across the park to a place where they were installing a big art structure that looked like the artist had taken an image of a face, stretched it, and then recreated that image with some kind of heavy plaster. We grabbed a spot on a bench and spent a leisurely afternoon watching them slowly assemble the giant pieces of the installment with a crane (see pic here). Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in the city!

Wednesday was Ashley’s last day here and unfortunately she had to leave at the same time we went down to the Rusk Rehab Center for another prosthesis fitting. We had a great visit though, and it was nice that she could get back up here one last time! The socket fit was better than ever and I spent about 2 hours walking around on my new leg, trying to get used to shifting my weight back and forth from my prosthetic leg to my real leg and was able to walk some decent distances without the use of my crutches. I think the weight shift thing is the trick to walking normally and this was the first time I was able to really start getting a feel for that. I have also spent the past 2 months with my left leg balanced squarely underneath me, and so I have to relearn how to keep my left leg out to the side at shoulder width. Things have been progressing very quickly already, but it will still take a good amount of work to get completely back to normal on the new leg.

After talking with the rehab doctor and my prosthetist, I have decided to check into Rusk and do a week or two of physical therapy there. Apparently if you do the physical therapy as an outpatient you can only do about 30 minutes of physical therapy, 3 times a week. As an inpatient though, I get 3 hours of physical therapy a day and work up to wearing my new leg for 14 hours a day. We also work hard to make sure that the prosthesis fits perfectly and that I can walk independently by the time I leave. It sounds like this is the fastest way to get back to living independently and walking on my own, so I told them to sign me up. All the insurance approvals finally cleared late Friday afternoon, so hopefully I will be admitted first thing on Monday and can get everything rolling.

The doctors have been calling me a rock star for how quickly I am taking to the new leg, and I want to be able to walk independently in my apartment and around the office by the time I am out of here in a week or two. Apparently it is good to have a cane at first when you are walking outside, in case you hit an elevation change on the sidewalk or anything that causes you to stumble, but eventually that wont be necessary either. We’ll see how everything goes, but I think I will be able to take to this more quickly than they are expecting, or at least that is my goal! After I learn to walk again then I can get everything else going, like getting a new, non stick shift car and outfitting it with a left foot accelerator so that I can drive it despite missing my right leg, etc., and then getting back to work! Hopefully I will be able to have everything taken care of and be back at work around the beginning of June, but we’ll see how it all goes.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support as we have faced each step in this process. It means more than you know!

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10 Responses to Just say no to chemo

  1. peggy redfern says:

    Yay! What a great post! Keep up the progress.

    I think you’re a rock star, too. Someone needs to write a screenplay about all this.

    Love, Peggy

  2. jarret wade says:

    Congrats man, 3 more treatments before my next scan.

  3. Rob, I have been following your experience with interest and prayers. What an amazing story and attitude. I wish this could be turned into a book to encourage others. What do you think? Basically you have your title and you are in the process writing it. Keep up the good work and this amazing positive attitude. Blessings, Cousin Betsy

  4. Kim Hershfeld says:

    Good News! Enjoyed your update. I pray you are on the road to GA in June.

  5. Norma Dagley says:

    I agree with the others, you ARE a rock star!!! More importantly, you are a God star!! I have been praying for your progress. Thanks so much for your blog, it has given me the opportunity to pray for you in an informed way and be blessed by your progress!!

  6. Robley Shirey says:

    Your post certainly made my day. Our prayers are for you to grow stronger each day as you become more accustomed to your prosthesis. Definitely a rock star! Can’t wait to see you in Georgia!

  7. Zona Trahan says:

    confetti, confetti, confetti – balloons, balloons, balloons – fireworks, fireworks, fireworks – crowd cheering, clapping, smiling – hugs all around!!!!!

    Great news Rob. I played in a golf tournament today for American Cancer Society and had your name on a piece of paper in my pocket for good luck. The team of Elizabeth, Eva, Chris and Zona won first place!!!! So, you are a rock star!

  8. Terry Redfearn says:

    Rob: So glad to see your progress and thanks be to God that your chemo is over. Mary and I continue to pray for you and family. Looking forward to seeing you when you return to Atlanta.

  9. James Guthrie says:

    Rob: You’re the man. We’ve been keeping up and praying for you daily, sometimes hourly. Glad to see the end of the road is right around the corner. I know you’ll be running soon! Hope to see you all soon!!!

  10. Josiane Noufele says:

    Thanks Rob for sharing the positive news. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

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