I hope you are all doing well. What a month here!
April started pretty well with Easter and the great news that He has risen. What a message full of Hope for all of us down here on earth. I am not going to lie: I was also happy that Lent finally ended so I could resume my unhealthy habits I gave up during this special time. I am not saying that it was a full success all along the road – I failed terribly on a few promises (wine…) – but at least Lent gave me the motivation to do and be better.
So one of my goals during Lent was to go at least once a week to church. As we have a pretty busy schedule at home, between two working parents, two young kids and one teenager, I conveniently decided to go to the 0630 am mass, so I could go straight to work after mass. The first time I showed up, the Good Lord had a good surprise for me: Nila – who was my oncology nurse during my first treatment – was there too! She explained me that during Lent she goes go to church everyday, at 0630 am. Yes, she is in a different league 😉 But I hope one day I will be able to do the same. Anyway, what a great way to start the Lent season, with one of the best nurse on earth (I am also convinced that she belongs to this type of people that we call Angels).
So Lent over, here we are finally: April 2015. Special taste for me. First because April is the month I was first diagnosed with cancer two years ago (on the 15th exactly), and this year was the first year since my diagnosis that I was actually on remission during this occasion. So I had a lot of very mixed feelings about it. Of course I was extremely happy and grateful to be well and alive, but in the meantime, it brought back dark memories and pains from the last two years. I hope that years after years only the positive will stick.
And then, the day after the 15th, I attended the funerals of my friend and brother-in-arms Sam…
Sam was 39. If you don’t remember, I met Sam last year, during my second treatment. Nila actually introduced us to each other since we were both young adults fighting cancer. I must admit that at first, it was more our wives who connected, just because Sam and I were receiving chemo at that time and we were not always in the best shape to chat… Then over time, we got to know each other better. Sam was battling stage 4 colon cancer (he was first diagnosed in November 2013) and the plan for him was to go through chemo as long as needed. At that time, I didn’t really understand the big picture. But weeks after weeks, scans and labs were getting better for Sam and we were all hopeful that everything will be ok in the end. Then I finished my chemo, and the next time I saw Sam was during the summer 2014 when I was about to start the stem cells transplant process. He was doing great: the doc changed his treatment and he was spending less time in the infusion room. All good I thought.
Then I had my high dose chemo followed by the stem cells transplant, and when things got a little better for me, around September 2014, Kelly (Sam’s wife) posted Sam’s last medical results on their blog: the cancer was progressing again. Unfortunately, at that stage, there were less and less treatment options. Nevertheless, Sam and Kelly went on to research the best possibilities and they finally found a promising clinical trial down in North Carolina.
Weeks after weeks, I kept touch with Sam, mainly via emails or messaging. One day, as he was in the hospital in Norfolk for terrible abdominal pain, I had a chance to go see him. That was a good time. We had – I think – the chance to share meaningful thoughts. Sam actually started the clinical trial earlier this year. We were all very hopeful that this would be THE treatment that finally kills the beast. The Good Lord had a different plan…
What always amazed me about Sam was his resilience. No matter the storm, he never gave up. He was actually the one who would cheer people up! What a man, what an example for all of us. Rest in Peace Brother.
If you want to see by yourself which kind of amazing man Sam was, I invite you to watch this video. And if you want to know more, you can read the blog that Kelly maintains on Caring Bridge (you just need to create a free account).
I was saying earlier that April had a special taste for me because of the anniversary of my diagnosis. This year, April was also the month I had some medical checkups. So needless to say that I was a “little bit” anxious about these appointments. Fortunately, I am happy to report that so far, everything is good. I didn’t have any scan this time, only labs, but when my doc tells me that I am doing fine, Amen I say!
Lastly, April this year had a special taste for me because I was able to take some real days off. The first time in two years! By real days off, I mean days off not spent in treatment, recovery or surgery. I mean days I do not work and I can enjoy time with my family. Which we did: we enjoyed the first warm days of the season all together riding our bikes, fishing and walking the parks of our city. Yes, staycation if you prefer, but still vacation 😉 Hey, it’s better than nothing.
As always, I invite you to pray for my friends who are still battling: Sego, Shericka and Katie, and special prayers for Sam and his family. Thank you.
See you for the next story.