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The Start of "Cancer Treatment Plan B"...sigh
Journal entry by Michael March — 5/31/2016

There are people in all of our lives that just show up, out of the blue, but right on time. I have known two men that have walked into my life like that, and both of them were preachers, pastors, or whatever they wish to be called. I have called them "My Preacher Friends". The first I have not seen in decades, but vividly remember spending time at his house with the guys, lifting weights, listening to ZZ Top, playing football at the pipeline, going camping in the dead of winter, and sitting around talking about God, and Jesus Christ. I went to his church, I know he saved my life the first time I thought I had blown it. He was putting my own "Angels and Devils" on my shoulders to task for the first time. The Angels, of course won. His name is Bob Elliott.

My other "Preacher Friend" was with me today on a very sad trip to Johns Hopkins. I knew what I was getting ready to face again, and Tammy had so many other things that we needed to get information about, so Larry Veach was at my door this morning at 6:30am. I fell asleep around 4:30am, and was up at 6:00am. I thought I would do what I normally do. Sleep all the way to Baltimore. But that never happened. We sat there and talked, and talked, and simply figured out how to save humanity. I just could not sleep through that. We used to have lunch together at least once a month.

I feel overly blessed to have had these two men in my life that gave me a much deeper faith than I otherwise would have had. It is not often a kid can just sit there and talk about what is going on between their ears, and have some of the unanswered questions, remain unanswered, but fully understand why. I am blessed to have such wonderful fellowship with great men on both sides of my life. I will never be able to repay either one of them, but I want them to know, and anyone that ever reads this, that I love them both, love their humanity, and love how real they both are. I simply say thank you.

As most already know, this past Friday the 8th infusion was stopped, and I was dropped out of the clinical trial. An inflammation was in my lungs, and I was put on super strong steroids, and was told to come back today. I went back, got a few more scans and asked a lot of questions. After letting the HopDocs know I could breath much easier, and being told that was great, so the steroids were working, however the "Cancer Mark 3: HPV Lung: Treatment Plan A" was not just working for me.

First off, I got the scans, and more or less just left. They need time to look them over, and we are still at least two weeks away before "Cancer Mark 3: HPV Lung: Treatment Plan B" starts. Luckily I have been deep into "Cancer Mark 2: HPV Throat: Pre-Treatment Plan A" since about January 5, when they told me I had 6-12 months to live.

"Cancer Mark 2: HPV Throat: Pre-Treatment Plan A" is all about eating as much ice cream as one can successfully stuff into your pie-hole. I knew during "Cancer Mark II" there would come a time when I couldn't eat, or it would hurt too much to eat, and I was given a percentage of body weight I could lose before a feeding tube would be inserted in my side. So I did the only thing a 25% Italian could do. I hit the Pasta Bar.

While "Cancer Mark 1: Kidney:" saw me lose only 42 pounds, "Cancer Mark 2: HPV Throat:", I lost a total of 65 pounds. I went about 1-2 months of barely being able to eat, and I felt fortunate to be able to sip water. I had a feeding tube stuck down my nose twice, and after pulling it out the 2nd time, I decided I would rather die, than have a third one inserted. The HopDocs honored my request, and told me I had about a week or two left before my body would start shutting down before I died shortly thereafter do to the lack of food, and I had already exceeded the weight-loss limit. I was okay with that. I was done.

I sort of recovered, started to eat again, and over the next 10 months tried not to gain it all back, but felt like I needed to. Which is what I did once I was given the death sentence. I have not denied myself a single ice cream cone, or Popsicle, unless they are Sugar Free stuff. I need the full blown, full fat, pack it on your hips, type of ice cream. If it says "Less Fat", I say move over buttercup... unless you are actually a buttercup, in which case I say "How you doin'?" - with a sly wink, otherwise I need to pack on enough to live out my dreams of dying weighing what I did while playing High School football!

I was even told by a few of the local hawties, as the kids say, whose names will remain hidden (one rhymes with Matie, the other rhymes with Bandace), told me that the first thing they both would do, if they were given the same news I was given, is they would both become the first members of the "Gaggle of Noobs All You Can Eat Buffet Diving Team". They were slightly upset to learn that we already have a team captain (last name rhymes with LaFarte), that has been Team Captain, and Team Reigning Champion for three years in a row (year 4 is still in dispute over the infamous "The Purple Jello is too a food" disagreement with a gentleman whose last name rhymes with Biller), and four belt holes running, but I digress. Back to the story.

The next step is the reason I have been deep into stuffing my pie-hole. The next step is Chemotherapy. The nasty type. The stuff that will bring me to my knees again. The stuff that will make me question my love of life again. The stuff that will want me to surrender to the lesser angels on my shoulders again. Hopefully, just like before, I will simply close my eyes, bite my lip, shed a few tears, and wait for the sun to come up just one more time. Then repeat as often as I can. Until that one day, when it will not rise or set for me, and that is what this is all about.

Of course I will be in control of how or when, or if I say "Stop, I'm done, I've had enough, I give up, please let me go." That is where I am right now. I can decide to take that step into the world of Chemo, or just do nothing. Or go from Chemo, back to nothing. But I more or less only have one shot at the Chemo so, there is no debating the obvious answer.

However this goes, I will be entering the actual first act, of the final journey within 2-3 weeks. How long the first act lasts will be dependent upon how much I want to go through this again, while knowing there is no other side to get to. Other than seeing the loved ones waiting for me, finally, after all the years apart.

I have always said I would give anything to see my Father, and my Grandparents again. That has always included saying goodbye to all I have ever known. Simply the last obstacle will be this thing, we call life.

Then I will just say goodbye, and let it go.

Mike

PS. I will lose my hair this time around, and will most likely just auction off the chance to have someone do it for me. Highest bidder wins, with all money going to the Winchester Cancer Center. It's only hair, and if it can help raise a little money for a great reason, why not. If anyone wants to sit beside me also willing to put your hair to the test, please, be my guest. At least you hair will grow back. Right?

My head, and heart hurts from staring at my own belly button over the past 96 hours. I needed to escape into the darkness that helps the sun shine even brighter, within my own mind. Allow me a little respite from the endless stream of tears, I strain to see through while thinking about leaving my wife Tammy, my family and all of my friends. I still have to find a way to say Goodbye to hundreds of you.
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