Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Shit got real again...

“There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness.”
-Some Asshole 2004

I may have been that asshole.
The point of the quote, is that sometimes in some situations you have to exude and possess so much confidence to complete the task, that you rub up against that NOT “super clear” line.
It served me well in the Coast Guard, the fire service, and in my athletic career.

Well... I applied a similar approach to my battle to be a Lung Cancer Survivor. Thus far it has served me well.

When I coached cycling, I taught the kids to master the things that they have control over, then when something comes along out of their control, they will have the skill, confidence, and a plan to deal with the situation with a cool level head.

Engage your own advice Jim Brown.
Because its time to get back in the race and focus just like you have done so many times in your life.



This is how it went down:

On October 10th I had routine scans done for cancer surveillance:
 Brain MRI (9 month cycle) | Chest CT Scan (every 3 months)

Here comes the cocky part.

10 days before the scan I told Regina that she didn’t need to come with me.
She had somewhat of a conflict and I assured her that “everything is gonna be fine". 
But that cockiness faded as the scan grew closer and that familiar foe “scanxeity” creeped in and ebbed away at the confidence.
I became pretty unsettled in the 48 hours preceding the scan, people around me sensed it.  Regina threw down the gauntlet and said there was no way she was missing the scan and its results. 

Dat shit didn't go so good.



Medical Mumbo Jumbo is above.
The more lay-term friendly explanation is:
There is evidence of cancer in my brain (2 confirmed spots).
There is cancer in my right 6th rib and it has eaten a 2-3 cm hole in the bone.
Fucking game changer.

There is just something about that evidence of 'cancer in the brain' part that changes things so much for those who have heard those words.
It doesn't matter how MUCH Cancer there is, just that there IS Cancer there.

I have had clean scans since April 2017. 
That progression was limited to 1 Lymph node in my chest and it was pretty minimal.  This is when I started Xalkori (2nd line of treatment).




Devastated

Deep Breath!!
Be stunned for a couple days.
Consult with your team.
Make a Plan.
Execute Plan.

Stunned:

We cried a lot.
When we talked to the girls about the new development, it was very hard.
Obviously we have had this type conversation in this very room before.
Bella is away at school so I called her after we had made sure she had support.
I went mountain biking for some fresh air.
I went on a short road trip with a couple of my best friends and got to see Bella play soccer over at CWU.

Consult:

There was a general plan in place for disease progression.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”  
                                                          -Mike Tyson

This was the 2nd time I have been punched in the face with disease progression, this time it hurt much worse that the first, because of the location and nature of the changes.  My team was on it right away and the clinical trial coordinator was in the exam room within minutes of the news.  The preliminary EKG and screening was done before I had even left SCCA for the day.
Dr. Keith Eaton is my team leader and he is my guy.
Jennifer Jacky-ARNP is his partner.
Together they bookend my care like no other team could.


I reached out to Dr Ross Camidge in Denver & Dr Alice Shaw in Boston.
I had traveled to see both for second opinions and they each told me that they were on my team from then until I didn’t need their help anymore.
Both contributed some great information and input to to the evolving management plan.  Dr Jing Zeng from the University of Washington department of Radiation Oncology was added to the team.

Make a Plan:

Scan the rest of torso and pelvis for metastatic surveillance.
Radiate the rib to try to alleviate the discomfort of the rib.
Start the clinical trial for Loralatinib.
Rescan Brain and Chest in 6-8 weeks.

Execution:(In progress)

October 10th: Begin washout of Xalkori (previous medication), Prescreening for Trial. 
October 16th: The rest of my torso and pelvis was scanned (scan was clean of further metastasis).
October 17th: My rib was radiated at UW to faster stop the lesion and relieve me of discomfort.
October 19th: Start Phase 2 Clinical Trial for the drug Loralatinib.
November 2:  9:15 am: 2 week Trial Labs and EKG (*required for trial).
11:40pm: Get on a plane to Peru (assuming blood work and EKG clean).
November 7: Celebrate 51st birthday in PERU.
November 17th: Return from Peru.

Yes I am still gonna go to Peru.  Is that Cocky?  Sorry....

The execution of the plan reads pretty smoothly and appears almost simple.
I can assure you that formulating and executing this plan in a timeframe that allows me to still go to South America on November 2 is an astounding feat.
My people GET SHIT DONE.

So, it is a set back, we can deal with it but we are not without our battle wounds. My entire family is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.

“Mom, this feels just like when daddy was first diagnosed”
-Lilly Brown Oct 12, 2018

We will be accessing some resources to help everybody deal with the emotional scars that this cancer journey has brought every member of this family.

The Brown machine rolls on, the kids grind away at school.
Bella just wrapped up her Freshman season at CWU Soccer.
Regina continues to touch others around her both professionally and personally.

I am going to be me.
I am gonna do it my way.
And I shall continue to rub up against that line.

In other news.

The Hold Fast Project Website Launched!!!
You can check it out here!!  
The Hold Fast Project  Thanks to a good friend for making that happen.

And yes I said I'm going to Peru!
I am going on an amazing adventure on Friday.
A Fresh Chapter  There will be some great stuff coming out of this!!!

Follow me here on the Instagrams:
Jump on there and give me the follows.
therealjimbrown  This one is still a baby, had to start over.
theholdfastproject She's a good one too eh?

Facebook Machines:
Big Daddy's Facebook!
The Hold Fast Project!

I am a Warrior.
I am a Thrivor.
I am the Exception.
I choose the Miracle.

Prayer Request:
Peace and levity for my girls.

Go out and Kick Ass at something today.

Oh and by the way blogspot and its ease of use sucks balls.

#holdfast
Jim





Monday, September 24, 2018

Just what the hell is going on!!!?????

Man....lots.

Clinical:

Starting out with clinical information.
I continue to be "minimized and stable".
I take Xalkori 2 times a day and it continues to do the job.
This will continue to be the course of things until there is a change.
All of my treatment will continue to be at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
Blood work every six weeks.
CT Scans every 3 months.
Brain MRI every 9 months.


What Else?

Had a great holiday season with the family.
Shredded on my snowboard ALOT.
Went to Supercross in San Diego.
Went to Harmony Hill Cancer Retreat Center
Stopped drinking Alcohol Feb 20th
Went to Jackson Hole. Click Here for Video Edit
Raced my Ebike at Sea Otter.
Celebrated 3 years of Survivorship May 7.
Regina became the Elementary Vice President of the Washington School Counselors Association
Isabella graduated.
I started The Hold Fast Project.
Went to Boston to see my brother take over as Base Commander.
Saw Foo Fighters at Fenway.

I seemed to have turned a corner in the last 7-8 months.
I have found a way to effectively manage my side effects so I feel better physically.
Bouts of depression have been minimal.

I am sure that eliminating alcohol has had an effect on how I feel.

The dismal 5 year survival statistic of 3% hangs over my head, but I am really starting to lean into the fact that I might be around for awhile.
I know I have said this from the beginning but now I am really starting to believe it.

In the interest of moving forward.....

I have been accepted into a program known as A Fresh Chapter
This organization organizes trips for Cancer survivors and patients to do international volunteerism.
In November I will be traveling to Lima, Peru to volunteer at a school with my group.
Additionally we will have the chance to visit Macchu Picchu.
There are several things that intimidate me about this trip:
Application: The process started last February, this was way outside of my planning comfort zone.
Cost: The program is expensive but I was able to raise all of the funds through my amazing network.
Travel: I don't travel well anymore, 12 hours on a plane is a lot for anybody, but this is gonna be hard.
Family:  I know how hard it is for Regina and the kids when I am away.
Anxiety:  Sometimes I am overcome with anxiety, one trigger is being away from my family.

These are all things that I either can, or have overcome.
I can do this.
It pencils out in my Time, Energy, Resource model.
It will be hard in some cases and it will stretch me, but the cost/benefit will work out in my favor.

The Hold Fast Project:

"The Hold Fast Project's mission is to turn my cancer experience into something positive while providing a service to others through inspiration, education, and advocacy."

We are looking at the prospect of launching a non-profit to help fulfill those goals.

Keep your eye on the social medias:
The Hold Fast Project Intagram
The Hold Fast Project Facebook Page
Website launching soon thanks to help from Redcloud Consulting

Well that is a fair amount of catching up.

I am a Warrior.
I am a Thrivor.
I am the Exception.
I choose the Miracle.

Thanks for catching up with me.

Warm Regards,
Jim

Here are some fun photos:

Good Times in the Mpountains

Jackson Hole

Bike Racin' at Sea Otter

Giving cancer the finger on my 3 year survivorship anniversary

Isabella's graduation

My brother the "Skipper"

Foo Fighters at Fenway


















Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Intimidation, among other things....

Clinically Speaking

For starters, if you haven’t blogged in 6 months, then you are a pretty shitty blogger.
Sorry.
In my last entry in May I had just started a new course of treatment after some disease progression on first line chemotherapy, so after 30 rounds I switched to targeted therapy which is basically 2 chemo pills a day.  These pills come at a tune of 15K per month.
The great news is that all identified disease progression has been reversed and after 6 months and 2 CT scans everything is back to “minimized and stable.”
We are continuing to wrap our heads around chronic disease management, and I have grown accustomed to the new drugs and their side effects.
I can tell you that it is much better than the roller coaster of Chemotherapy infusions every 21 days, and the recovery from each infusion.
CT scans every 3 months, with blood monitoring every 6 weeks.
My care team and support network continues to be amazing.

Maui Fun Times

 
Life Stuff

The Browns had a pretty great summer, lots of soccer, swimming, dirt biking, and time outdoors. The summer was capped off by an amazing trip to Maui for just Regina and I. We swam and relaxed, and for a week I was just another guy, not the guy with cancer, this was very liberating and we came back rested and refreshed.
Also in August, Bella committed to Central Washington University on a soccer scholarship, we are very proud of her and are happy to see all of her hard work pay off.
Click on this link to see Bella drop one of the most beautiful goals: Bella Banger

November 7th I turned 50 years old.
This is not a milestone that I take for granted.
I did it up relatively big over the course of a couple weeks:
-Trip to Nashville with some of my best friends. 
-Birthday party at Top Rung Brewing with an amazing group of friends.
-Mountain Bike ride on the actual day of my birthday with some hard core dudes in the snow.
I think we got after it pretty good, and I felt so much love.

Intimidation

In my pre-cancer life, Intimidation was not a feeling or an emotion that touched me much or had any impact on me.  It was a rare occasion that Jim Brown was intimidated by anything.
I have always been strong and confident in myself.
Recently I was having lunch with a good friend and we were talking about life in general.  I found myself speaking several times about being “Intimidated” by things in life.
These things don't seem like a big deal but for some reason they weigh on me, concerts, trips, work stuff, it's all very foreign for me to feel this way.
The mental and physical effects of my disease and it’s treatment leave me feeling fatigued often.
It seems that everything comes with a a much larger price tag, and that price tag wears me down.
I have been humbled by this experience beyond what I ever would have imagined, and things will never be the same.
I still apply my: Time... Energy... Resources.... model, to decision making and I weigh things out carefully to evaluate the impact they will have on me and the benefit that I gain from those actions.
I have found myself saying no, or backing out of commitments more often.

The highlight reel looks good, but there are still some rough days.
I am trying to regain some confidence in myself and “lean in” to my treatment success.
Daily Choice 
Daily Victories

“Don’t let cancer define you.”

What the fuck does that even mean??!!!
I have had several people say that to me, thinking that they are giving me good life advice.
I came out of the gate punching hard with cancer, and I feel 100% that my attitude has contributed to my success with treatment.
But.....I have been redefined by having cancer, there is no avoiding that.
It is metastatic, it is incurable, and it is considered “terminal”.
I will be receiving some sort of cancer treatment for the rest of my life.
Simmer on that for a minute......
I feel like I have approached this as a fighter and I have defied the disease.
I still Work.
I Snowboard.
I Mountain Bike.
I Dirt Bike.
I LIVE....
In fact.. many people tell me I live harder than most “healthy” people.
Yes I am a cancer advocate for lung cancer patients and an educator with regards to cancer awareness and prevention for firefighters.  Sometimes I'm "That Guy".
I am not defined by that, but It is a part of who I am now.
If I didn’t advocate and educate I would be negligent.

So I guess after a lot of thought, I kinda take offense that somebody would say that to me, especially this far into the game.  
DEFINED by Cancer is NOT me... never has been and never will be.

Take home message is: 
Think very hard before you say this to somebody battling cancer or a chronic disease.

All that said.....remember this.
I am blessed.
I am fortunate.
I never forget that, or take it for granted.

The Browns a gearing up for a great winter up in the mountains and we are gonna LIVE!!!!!!

I am a Warrior
I am a Thrivor
I am the Exception
I choose the Miracle.

Life is good.
Rad Racing Reunion at my 50th
Jaeger Shots on Capital Peak Birthday Ride
Birthday Tattoo



Monday, May 15, 2017

Maui, 2 Years, Disease Progression, Generosity...

So I will start with some awesome news here....
I am writing this blog post whilst on a flight to Maui.  An opportunity presented itself for me to get out of town and soak in some sunshine, I am going to embrace it and go live some life.  The amazing generosity of our community has provided some great opportunities for myself and my family as we work our way through the cancer journey.  This trip is just the newest addition to this generosity, I am humbled and at the same time overwhelmed.  I will be meeting and making some new friends on this trip, and I feel like my life is going to be tremendously enriched by the people and the experience.  For the next few days I will be riding bikes, swimming, snorkeling, and laying on the beach, I'll take it.......
Morning coffee in Paradise

2 years:
As of May 6th, 2017 I am  officially a 2 year cancer survivor.
The road has been challenging thus far but my team has made it happen.
Continue to believe that I choose the miracle, and the miracle continues to choose me.
I am a fortunate and blessed man.
New tattoo to commemorate my 2nd anniversary is in development and will happen soon.

Shit just got real, again....
On April 26th I had a CT scan to monitor my treatment.
For the first time since I started treatment the news was not awesome.
Up to this point everything thing has shown reduction and stabilization in disease.
This time was different.......
The CT scan showed what appears to be disease progression in 1 lymphnode.
Remember that my Lung Cancer had metatisised to my lymph nodes and bones.
This pesky Lymphnode went from .5 X .6cm to 1 X 1.1cm over the last 4 months.
I'm no rocket-surgeon, but that is double the size.
This is the ONLY place that showed any progression but it was enough to cause concern for Dr. Eaton.  I am NOT symptomatic from this development in fact I have been feeling really well and have been exercising more recently, since before I was diagnosed.
Dr. Eaton felt like my first line treatment of chemo infusions had run its course and that my cancer had adapted to the treatment.
Out comes my silver bullet......
Early in my diagnosis, I had my tumors genetically tested and as it turns out I have a mutation called ROS1, which has a targeted therapy that has proven to be very effective and durable in clinical trials.
Let me highlight the fact that only 1% of Lung Cancer patients have this genetic mutation, that in itself is amazing.
So why didn't you start this treatment earlier in the game Jim?
Because I was responding to first line standard chemotherapy so well, all of the specialists said to ride that train for as long as you could.
I sought out opinions from specialists in Denver and Boston on this subject.
So I rode that train for 22 months, and 30 rounds of infusions, and then the train ran out of steam.
So here I am starting 2nd line treatment, it is basically chemo in a pill form and I take it twice a day.  The side effects are expected to be less severe than chemo infusions and I will not be riding the roller coaster that infusions brought me.
I have several friends on this therapy and the reports are all pretty glowing.
This magical silver bullet of a pill (Xalkori) costs $15,000 per month.
Because my cancer was ruled to be service connected to my job these costs are covered.  I want to thank WSCFF, IAFF 468, D7VP Kelly Fox, Chief Larry Dibble, and City Manger Steve Hall for supporting my claim and helping this rightful determination be made.
The disease progression is something that we knew was eventually going to come, and I had big talk about how I was prepared for it, we had a plan, and it wasn't going to be a crisis, but when the Dr punches you in the face with the news of disease progression there is no easy way to receive that news.
The first few days were rough, but my treatment team was right on it and I had my new line of treatment in my hands only 5 days after the CT scan.
Our support network swept in and took care of us on the emotional and nuts and bolts side of things, I still am amazed at how much love has been extended to my family in this journey.
So our journey has a new pathway and a new rhythm to it, I am adjusting to the side effects and relishing the fact that I don't have to schedule my life around infusions, or miss almost a week of work once a month.
We will prevail.....many people have had it a lot worse than I have and I never lose sight of that....

Awesomer things.....

My work at the Olympia fire Department continues to be rewarding and impactful, I am proud to have a part of bringing EMS to the forefront of our priorities at OFD and love the people that I get to work with.

I have been doing some work on the advocacy side of things:
1.  Helping to reduce the stigma associated with Lung Cancer and raising awareness.
2.   Educating fellow firefighters on the risks associated with our in regards to cancer  incidence and helping teach practice that can help reduce our exposure to carcinogens that cause cancer.

I've been riding my bike 3-4 times a week for the last month and have incorporated some strength training into my routine, including deadlifts, power cleans, bench press, and squats. Bam!!!!!

The girls are doing well and thriving.
Lilly just turned 11 today, and is fresh into a new season with Black Hills Football Club.
Phoebe is loving middle school and just finished up Volleyball.
Bella just received her first offer for college soccer at Whitworth University.
She has a boyfriend who is a really great guy.

Regina and I are doing the dance that so many parents do, trying to create opportunity for our kids that we may not have had access to.
We really hope to try to get away sometime soon for just the 2 of us, but scheduling that is a challenge.  We are doing our best to live life to the fullest extent possible.

Despite recent developments, I have been able to manage the depression that stalked me all winter long.  Feed the good dog....

Maui Postscript:
I got back late last night from Hawaii.
As I expected it was an amazing trip that was highlighted by the people I got to meet and spend time with.  I saw some amazing things, I drove my bike around Maui with  the highlight being ripping some awesome descents.  I built on current friendships and established new ones.
Here are a couple of quotes from my friend Don O'Neill.

"Have you ever seen a guy in a red jersey, with stage four lung cancer climb a hill all day in 85 degree heat, and then go flying down the other side at 40 miles an hour for close to 40 miles in Maui, Hawaii, all while inspiring the riders that came to inspire him???? ........................
I have. I saw it today."

"As I say Aloha to Hawaii tonight I will be thinking of this man, Jim Brown, a firefighter, a husband, a son , a friend and a daddy from Olympia WA. The doctor says he has stage 4 lung cancer that can't be cured. You wouldn't know that from being around him. This week he taught me that cancer can beat up your body, but it can't contain the human spirit, it can't tame the human heart, and it can't define the human soul . As we snorkeled in the ocean together he told us that is when he feels free. The water and the waves make him feel free from cancer and the physical and emotional trauma it can bring. I am leaving Jim here for a few more days in the capable hands of my friend's Carter and Joe. He wanted to do some more snorkeling. Who could argue with that? We could all use some more snorkeling. GForce, Mr. Ron and I will see you all tomorrow at Safeco Field for Dan Wilson's Celebrity Softball tournament. We are gonna raise a million dollars together for area kids.! Until then, Mahalo🤙🏾🤘☝🏽 And Mahalo to you Jim Brown. Holdfast brother! Don"

Maui Crew
 Carter, Myself, Don, Joe, Eric, Anna

West Maui Loop Selfie
My new best buddy Carter Harrington Lt Commander USN

That seems like a pretty great way to come to a close here today.

Prayer Requests:
That Xalkori is effective in not only stabilizing my cancer but shrinking it back down again.
Stabilization of the side effects from my new medication.
Increased ability to exercise and do physical activity.
Restful sleep.
Peace for my family.

I am a Warrior.
I am a Thrivor.
I am the Exception.
I choose the Miracle.

#holdfast

JB





Thursday, March 16, 2017

Stability, Depression, Great Things..

Wow, it has been a long time since I updated my blog.
I would say the good thing is that I have been living life so hard, that I havent had time to stop and write about it.

Clinical Picture:
My status remains the same..... last CT scan was in January and my cancer remains minimized and stable.  After the first of the year we switched to a 28 day cycle instead of 21 days, the fact that my Dr was open to this is evidence in his confidence with regards to my stability.  This change will give me an extra 7 days in between treatments to recover and try to regain some "normalization" to my day to day life.
We are also extending the time between CT scans to 4 months, I guess the less frequent I have to have that radiation exposure the better in the long run.
I continue to be a living miracle and I am literally still on first line chemo, 29 rounds by the way.....that is how many I have had at this point.  Big #30 goes down on March 29th.  I have come to detest getting chemo, I love the people at SCCA and I love the fact that I am beating the cancer down, but the weeklong after effects really suck ass.
I continue to be able to function at a pretty high level with regards to quality of life, I do find that my general endurance is lower and it seems to take more energy to do many things than it should.  This causes me to run many things through my "Time, Energy, Resources" model when I choose to take something on.  In the end I still choose to do some things that can be quite taxing but I always try to consider the cost/benefit of the action and shoot for the beneficial things.

The Dark Passenger:
You may, or may not, know that I have struggled with depression along the way in my life, this predates my cancer diagnosis.  In the past I sought out counseling and took medication to help keep things in check, this is a personal thing that I never really shared much about, but I am coming clean with you here.  
I suffer from depression.
Guess what happens when you already suffer from depression and you are diagnosed with a "terminal" illness......engage tailspin.  
Some of the struggles and the crisis early in my diagnosis was connected to my battle with the dark passenger, some of my daily struggles right now with regards to my disease management include fending off the depression.  Most days I can keep my chin up and keep throat punching, but sometimes the "Bad Dog" creeps in and makes things difficult.  Several weeks ago I woke up in the am to go to work, family was already off to school and work, I lay in bed paralyzed with anxiety, the "Bad Dog" wanted me to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself, it took everything in me to get out of bed and move on with my day.  On my way to work I called my therapist, by chance... and divine intervention he told me if I drove straight to his office he could see me.  What ensued was a tearful hour of unloading and in some cases unintelligible blathering.  But.....I unloaded and was able to regain some perspective and hit the reset button.
I am not ashamed to admit that I suffer from depression, I see a therapist and I take medication to help mitigate it, that is who I am, take it or leave it.
Feed the "good dog" in your head, let the "bad dog" starve.
On to better things....

Living life hard!!!
With regards to living life as hard and full as I can, the 2 biggest highlights over the last few months have been a family trip to Mexico and a Backcountry Snowboard trip for myself in British Columbia. 

In late November Regina and I loaded up the brood and headed off to Cozumel, Mexico.  It was a big deal for us to pack up and take this on but I have been feeling pretty well and it seemed like the right thing to do.  We had to pull the kids out of school for a week to pull it off but it was well worth the sacrifice.
Our days were filled with relaxing, sleeping in, lots of snorkeling and swimming, great food, and amazing family time.  I came home from Mexico feeling the best that I have felt since before my diagnosis in May 2015.


Swimming with the dolphins in Mexico

The holidays were pretty mellow but included a family ski trip up to White Pass, once again great family time and activity.

Stellar days at White Pass

Right after the new year I had the really fortunate opportunity to go on a back country snowboarding trip out of Nelson BC at Baldface Lodge.
This is big, serious backcountry riding that is accessed  by flying into the lodge on a helicopter and then all of the days are done out of a snowcat.
This trip really fed my soul and recharged me, it was taxing out of the mountain, but in that really satisfying way.  Great evenings were spent in the lodge visiting with friends old and new.  There is never a lack of very high quality people at Baldface and I always walk away enriched by the experience and the people.  A big shout out to my friends Jeff Pensiero and Nate Mendel for bringing this together for me.  Baldface Footage
Big Mountains feeding my soul....

Mid January brought a trip down to LA and a gathering of some of my best friends in the world to attend Anaheim Supercross.  My buddy Gus got us connected with Team Honda and we got to do the races in a very VIP type of manner.  The trip also included a visit to the recording studio to see my buddies in the Foo Fighters which is always fun.  I am so fortunate to have such high quality friends and supporters in my life.
VIP with Team Honda
Some random dude holding fast...
Our family is settled into the hum of life that is living with cancer.
We look at it as chronic disease management, and we shape ways to live around it and try to maintain a good quality of life.  Weeks are filled with soccer practices and matches, Gymnastics, Dance Team, Volleyball, occasional ski trips, and oh yeah...Regina and I are both working full time.  It is a full and rich life and we try to squeeze and cherish each moment.  We intend to be in this for the long haul, I have friends with my same disease that are 10+ years past diagnosis.
I have graduations to attend, weddings to preside over, and grand babies that are gonna need to be taught how to ski, I have a lot left to do in this life.

In the "In over my Head" department:
For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.  This is an event that I had done many times over the years.
It seemed like a good fit, raise some money for LLS, challenge myself, inspire other cancer patients, these all are great ideas and reasons to do the climb.
The problem is that in my head I am still the same old guy, but the fact of the matter is that I have toxic chemicals coursing through my body to keep a killer at bay, the side effects of these toxins are profound and I have no control over them.  As I mentioned before my endurance is low and getting any type of consistent exercise is difficult.
By the time we got within 8 weeks of the event I knew that I had written a check that my body was gonna have a hard time covering, but I felt as though I couldn't back out.
5 guys from the department made the commitment to climb with me on the day of the event and make sure I got to the top, additionally I was able to climb with a special battalion of cancer survivors.  
I can do this, how bad can it be?
Umm....pretty bad.
In the end we got there but was not pretty.
Actually......to be honest it was beautiful in a twisted suffering kind of way.
Rather than rewrite it all I invite you to take 10 minutes and listen to my description of the climb during my visit to "The Ron and Don" show.
The Stairclimb Story
I think it does the most justice for the experience.
The crew that got me to the top
Here is one other project we have been working on.
Isabella's College Recruitment Video

Thanks for taking the time to check in.
I am a Warrior.
I am a Thrivor.
I am the Exception.
I choose the miracle.

Prayer requests:
Continued disease stability.
Increased endurance and stamina.
Total healing from Metastatic Adenocarcinoma.
Restful sleep.
Peace for my family.

Warm Regards,
Jim
#holdfast






Sunday, November 6, 2016

A fortunate man, milestones, mentorship.....

Fortunate
ˈfôrCH(ə)nət/
adjective
  1. favored by or involving good luck or fortune; lucky.
    "she'd been fortunate to escape more serious injury"
    synonyms:luckyfavoredblessed, blessed with good luck, in luck, having a charmed life, charmed
    sitting pretty

    I am a fortunate man, by definition.
I have lived a prosperous life with regards to life experience, family, financial means, work, community, and all of the things that have come my way in 49 years.
Then there is cancer, of course this is not a metaphor like the cancer our election has become...
We are talking about Stage 4 Lung Cancer, the real deal.......
We are talking about a 5 year survival rate of 3%.  
We are talking about a cancer that kills more Americans per year than Breast, Colon, and Prostate cancers combined.  
This is serious shit.
Yet...I am still a fortunate man.  
Things could always be worse and I never lose sight of that.
I'm upright, I'm working, I'm going to soccer matches, I'm active, I'm Climbing Mountains, I'm Dirt Biking, I'm living life with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, and that is how it is....
Despite the best of dreams that I have at night, I still wake up to that reality every day.
Cancer is NOT/NEVER a gift, but the fortune that has come my way after being diagnosed is immeasurable in its volume and depth.


Milestones:
My 49th birthday this year(Nov 7th) falls on another milestone.
Exactly 18 months ago to the day I was told of my cancer by Dr Redman.
We all know what followed... but in short I am equally happy about both milestones.
I also got to see Isabella's junior homecoming last week. 

So what is going on Clinically?
Over the past month I have had several key diagnostic tests done.
I had my first brain MRI since diagnosis and it was clean.
This was a big relief because Lung Cancer FREQUENTLY metastasizes to the brain.
My current treatment seems to be staving this off.
Every 9 weeks I have a neck/chest-and/pelvic CT scan to closely monitor what the status of my disease is.  Although the trend has been positive on these scans I always suffer from some level of Scanxiety....  this time around I had been feeling more tired and run down, so my confidence was a little bit on the low side.
Well......I continue to be the EXCEPTION, the cancer is minimized and stabilized, in fact there continues to be even the slightest disease REGRESSION.
Days like these are joyful but there is also a shit-sandwich to the deal....
Because right after I get good news like this, I march upstairs to the infusion bay to have the life giving poison of chemotherapy pumped into my veins, knowing very well it is keeping me alive, but at the same time is gonna kick my ass for the next 5-6 days.
I have really come to dread these treatments.  I have had 25 rounds of chemotherapy, that seems crazy to me, and the nature of my disease dictates that there is no end in sight, I will just continue to do the chemotherapy.
I am talking to my Dr about switching to a 28 day cycle instead of 21 days after the first of the year.  The prospect of 7 more days between chemo sessions is very appealing and I feel like I have arrived at a point of change in order to sustain durability and quality of life.

Mentorship = Post Traumatic Growth
Recently I was having a pretty rough day, I was generally feeling overwhelmed and emotional. I was on the verge of tears for no apparent reason, all while trying to put in a day at the office. My friend Kelly Fox(IAFF-D7VP) came by the office for a visit and told me about a brother firefighter from Great Falls, Montana named Jason Baker, whom had a new diagnosis of lung cancer.  Kelly said he would give my contact info to him so that Jason could contact me.  
I thought back to my first week of diagnosis and I realized I wouldn't have had the humility and the self awareness to reach out.  After putting more thought into it I called Kelly and said I wanted Jason's number because I WAS going to reach to him.
So I called Jason...as we spoke I was taken back to the same place that he was in.
I tried to tell him all of the things that I wish I had known in the early days of diagnosis.
One of the biggest things I wanted him to hear is that WAS NOT a death sentence, I was given the same news 18 months ago S4 Lung Cancer, but here I am today, not just surviving but Thriving!!!!  Over the past couple of weeks Jason and I have been in touch pretty frequently, he is learning the lay of the land with the specifics of his diagnosis and laying out a game plan.
Jason told me that our conversations and reading my blog helped him to awaken the Warrior inside that he needed to fight this battle, that made me feel really good.
We all hear about Post Traumatic Stress and PTSD, but there is a thing called Post Traumatic Growth and that is what I have achieved in my journey with cancer and by doing things like by reaching out to Jason.  Post Traumatic Growth
Thank you Jason, lets do this together.

Other Cool Stuff:

At the end of September I took RRNW riders Scott Funston and Calder Wood to Connecticut to race in couple high profile Junior UCI CX races.  It felt really good to being doing something that has been such a large part of my life over the past 16 years.
East Coast 2am Nutrition Program
Bella continues to amaze me with her skills on the soccer pitch.
Her team posted a pretty great season for a "rebuilding" year.
Bella was the "heartbeat" of the the team according to her coach.
She closed out the year by being awarded First Team All League Evergreen Conference for the 3rd year in a row.  Additionally she earned All Academic Honors.
Asskickers Inc.....
Last Friday I hatched a plan to go climb Mt Ellinor so I reached out to a couple of buddies in an incredibly last minute nature and got them to give up a day of their lives to chase my passion.
Ellinor is NO JOKE, It is a pretty serious climb and I take pride in the fact that I continue to challenge myself with adventures like this that many "healthy" won't even do.
That said.....It really challenges me.  Sumiting Ellinor video.
And then when I got there, an amazing surprise awaited me.
There was 1 other person on the summit when we were there....
Heather Johns who is currently fighting Stage 4 Breast Cancer, was there.
Holy Shit!!!!  What an amazing and inspiring experience.
So awesome to run into to others who refuse to lay down.
She is training to climb Mt Rainier, so amazing.....
Asskicking Cancer Patients on top of a Mountain
Royce Smith and Kevin Bossard escorted me to the top.
Well tomorrow when I wake up I will be 49 years old.
I am celebrating the day by going dirt biking, having dinner with my family, and getting a new Tattoo....because that's how I do shit....there may be some Jagermeister consumed along the way as well.

My continued prayers requests:
Restful sleep.
Continued disease mangament.
Complete healing from Metastatic Adenocarcinoma
Peace for for me and my family.

Lots of cool stuff coming up for the Brown brood, stay tuned.

Thanks for checking in.
Hold Fast.
Jim