Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Year

Sunday was my birthday. I kept it quiet and with the family. It was about the best day I have had in the last year. This is the anniversary of my being diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I wasn't sure how I would feel. What feeling would come up. I just wanted to be in the moment.

On Sunday night, I woke up with an incredible feeling of accomplishment; I did it! I did it! I kept saying to myself as a cried tears of relief and gratitude. I said I would beat the cancer and I did. I didn't do it by myself though.

As I felt my self grow weaker and more sick, I got into action. I talked to Adam and other freinds to let them know what was happening and asked for their help. I knew I was asking a lot. Within days a support group of more than 100 freinds family and neighbors was mustered. I was surrounded by a team of folks that were going to take care of me and all of the responsibilities that I wouldn't be able to take care of myself. I felt incredible gratitude.

With the security of knowing everything was OK I went into patient mode. I went to countless doctors appointments. I started taking drugs that are essentially poison. The pain I was experiencing grew greater and greater. I slipped into a fog of morphine use. I was furniture in the room instead of a contributing member of my family. I was a liability. I got nauseous and started loosing weight. Leaving the house became a major hardship and a trial of pain. Walking to the bathroom was my limit, sometimes more than I could do.

The whole time the Chickenhawk was taking care of me. She was talking to the doctors and understanding what they were saying. I just couldn't do it. She took me everywhere. She cleaned up my puke and poop and piss. Her family rallied around her. Her Mom and Dad came and ran our house for weeks, feeding the kids, taking them to school. Her Sisters either came to help or took the kids for weeks at a time or both. We missed our girls terribly.

My community stood up around me. We had a work day in which 50 people showed up to do all the yard work and projects that I would have done for the next year and cleaned the house from top to bottom. So much happened in that one day it was amazing. Friends brought meals, planted the garden with herbs to ease the pain, made music, made art, made bread, just sat with me while I rambled my morphine/ nausea/ pain ramble.

The original treatment plan stopped working. The doctors recommended plan b, a stem cell transplant. We began the long process in June. I started chemotherapy. Long painful drives to Stanford, overnight stays in grungy motels or hospital beds became the norm. I'd get filled with poison and drive four hours home. The nausea got worse. I puked all the time. I lost weight. I got hospitalized. Then I got more Chemo and the whole thing started again, home, sick, hospital I cant remember it all.

Then came the actual stem cell transplant. For the first three weeks I was really bad. Almost died. Weeks were like days. Minutes felt like hours. KT, Adam, Billy, David, Mom and the Chickenhawk stayed by bed the whole way through. It was a trip to hell. I walked out the hospital 2 months after going in.
My body was wasted, I could barely walk. I had to have supplemental O2. My dad sat with me in the medical apartment and patiently took care of me. We went for walks... up to 100 yards!

I finally came home. I was still a liability but I was getting better. I had to re-learn so many things. I was really weak. I was with my kids! I started driving again. I got sick. I got better with out spending the night in the hospital. Then I got sick again, and recovered again. I started feeling good. I found out the cancer was gone! I started getting off of the drugs and my brain came back. I walked out of the fog. I started caring about things other than my health. I started exercising my body. I got stronger. I slept less. I spent more time with my girls. I felt love. I feel love. I made it. Thank you, everyone that helped me. I couldn't have done it without you.


Anonymous said...

Spencer, I cry tears of joy & gratitude with you. I feel so blessed. Our prayers, hopes and dreams are answered.

I stand along with you to officially thank all of those who helped.

You're the man!

Love and hugs,


Anonymous said...

Spencer, happy, happy birthday! We're so glad to hear that you continue to get stronger and better day by day and week by week.
Cathy and Ray

Anonymous said...

spencer-you are undeniably the man!!! thanks for posting-i love reading it. stay focused on the future,

Heather Brooks Freer said...

Happy, happy Birthday, Spence! Looks like you get the yellow jersey. We love you!

Ray said...

You are an amazing man Spence. Jenni's and my heart are filled with joy for you and your amazing family.

Much love,
Ray & Jenni

bikesgonewild said...

...happy birthday, spencer..

...adam & adrienne gave me the chance to come up & be a part of your community for that work day & sharing that short time w/ you, your family, friends & neighbors was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life...

...thank you for this post...we all worked hard for you 'cuz you guys needed it & personally i feel like i've just been paid back a thousand times over...

...somewhere down the road when it's right, we gotta do a ride...

Jesse said...

Glad you're making it back! The day I got hit is now my life day, and more important than my birthday.

el jefe

Anonymous said...

good morning..and a great way to start my day...albeit a couple of weeks late..but as always, a great piece of YOU shared with us...Thanks for that! We love you all! Nana