Sunday, January 10, 2016

Caleb's Cancer Fact Check

I find it interesting how little something matters until it invades your world. 
After being abruptly thrown into a world of hazardous drugs, infinite transfusions, endless needles, and a sincere case of sickness, I find it a bit amazing that so many people can live in their own blissful ignorance. 

This isn't another rant about Childhood Cancer Awareness. Rather, I'm trying to help open our eyes to the reality that every single day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. I'm really happy for all of the great awareness for Breast Cancer - I'm not against pink. However, where is the voice for the thousands of children that die every year? 
Where is the voice for the next generation of children?

Before Ewing's Sarcoma, I was totally ignorant to the realities of cancer world. Even though I planned to enter into pediatric nursing, I didn't have the faintest idea of the pain that cancer inflicts. 

Through this past year, I have talked to, played with, and cried and prayed for so many fellow cancer fighters that I have met. Together we are bonded by a reality that every human dreads. In 10 months I have watched so many incredibly strong warriors finally beat their cancer. Though I would wish them a long and healthy life, God has seen fit to take them out of this world.

Again, please remember that before cancer I didn't know more than most of you reading this post. But that is why I am writing. 

I am here to give a straight-forward, brutally-honest, candid presentation of what cancer entails. 

I've found that though people want to help, many times the things that they say only make our fight with cancer much harder.

For example, please do not tell me that I am doubting that God has the ability to heal my cancer . . . that really doesn't help me, and it isn't true.

I completely understand the incredible healing powers of God. He has healed people when Jesus walked the earth, and He has spared the lives of people throughout history even when their prognosis was grim. Yet on the other hand, God chooses to eternally free cancer fighters from their battles- whether we are ready for it or not. God's ability to heal cannot be a cop-out to help those who aren't even involved in the fight.

When you are with a cancer fighter, learn to love them and cherish the moments with them. Learn that though you can never understand what they are going through, you can at least give them what they need most - unconditional love and unwavering support. 

Anyways, that was my public rant / awareness post / wake-up call.

In no ways does the end of this blogpost apply to all of my readers! In fact, it may not apply to any of you. However, you would be surprised to hear the thoughts of those whom I have interacted.

So with that, this is the end of my coping with their thoughts.

Thank you for listening and learning from my journey!

Love to all my Caleb's Crew Supporters. You are all the best!

(Night out with my plowing partner, Lego)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Finally Meeting My Milestones

(Super excited to be surprised by my best friend, Will, up for a weekend!)

In the past week it has come to my attention that a lot of you are wondering, "How am I doing?". So for this post I decided I would go ahead and update on the happenings of my treatment.

As of last week, I received my final 5day inpatient chemotherapy. Due to the fact that scans are looking good, my "Tumor Board" and Oncology team decided to eliminate two entire months of chemotherapy- Totaling six treatments!

To me, I approach this with both excitement and concerns. 
On one half, this is amazing- the cancer is getting kicked and we are more concerned with the long-term side effects. (Notice "long term" here, that's a good sign!)
On the other half, I'm quietly remembering the not-so-beautiful odds that this cancer will return. Though my friends tell me to not let these ugly (and they are ugly) statistics haunt me- how do I not? They represent the enormity of my fight against cancer.
That being said- I'm nervously excited! 

This coming Wednesday I will be headed into the hospital for my last inpatient stay (2 days)!!! This is a huge milestone. In the last ten months of treatment, I have been inpatient at the hospital 130+ days. I am shocked that this day has finally come, yet way more excited to finally let my mind wander to the glorious days of normality that await me on the other side of treatment. After finishing my chemo, I will begin a few weeks of testing to see if I will make the cut for my Stem Cell Transplant. If I do, I will begin the second week of February. This grueling procedure will have me inpatient at the hospital for 3-4 weeks. Definitely won't be fun, but is very necessary. 

Overall, we can see that a lot is happening in Cancer-land. Milestones are being reached, cancer is being kicked, and normality looks almost within kissing distance. 

Yet, I find myself torn.

Now I am facing a different kind of battle. 

My main source of cancer-killing awesomeness is about to end.

What then?
How do I resume normal life knowing that my cancer could so easily return?
Has the chemo actually destroyed all of the cancer?
Will I suffer from a lot of chemo side effects?
Will I be joining the less than 30% that have beaten their Ewing's?

Which brings me back to the point of questions and concerns. One side of me wants to go absolutely nuts with the "Nursing Perspective" inside of me. The honest, statistical, fact-driven side of me. Yet I'm learning that with Stage 4 Bone Cancer- maybe that's just not good for my morale or mental state. Maybe it's better to leave my survival statistics to the One who allowed this cancer into my life. 

Quite honestly, I'm looking at just making the absolute most of these next five years. I want to be able to live life like a normal 20 year old. I want to accomplish my dreams of finishing Nursing school and take those trips around the world that I used to think were out of reach.

I want to live like my cancer will never return.

Honestly, the chances it will return far outweigh my chances of winning.

However, this is cancer-kicking Caleb, I have almost finished treatment . . .  

and I have an awesome life to live!!

(At 12:00 AM on New Years Day, the first thing I did was receive my last 5day dose! Way to celebrate, eh? )