Monday, July 20, 2015

Weddings, babies, benefits...

Hold Fast Benefit:
There are events that are landmarks in life, some are sad but hopefully many more are happy.
Last weekend our community put together a benefit/celebration ranks amongst the high points in my life up there with my wedding and the birth of my children.  Paul and Stacey Bakala, Troy and Mark took the lead, and put on an event at the Westside Tavern on July 11th.  Myself, Regina, and my mom were picked up and shuttled to the Westside Tavern in a limo, and during the course of the evening in excess of 400 people came through the bar to wish us well, offer support and prayers, and participate in fundraising.  I have to confess it was overwhelming to me at times and many emotions were flushed out.  People from all walks of our lives came out and many of my worlds collided.  Very generous efforts at the event has left us with a sizable "war-chest" for the Cancer fight.  I did my best to address the crowd and NOT cry, I failed. Hold Fast Talk
Thank you to our entire community:
Paul and Stacey Bakala  

So whats this "Hold Fast" business anyways....
4 years ago today, my father died, it was the hardest thing I have ever been through.
After the fog of grief lifted, I went and saw my friend Travis Puckett to get a tribute to memorialize my father. My dad was a career Navy and Coast Guardsman so I decided to ge the nautical term HOLD FAST tattooed on my knuckles.  To me those words remind me to stay strong when things are tough, and to persevere through, essentially it is my dad reminding me to stay the course and get through it with my chin up, not matter what the trial or tribulation.
At the time I was completely unaware of HOLD FAST references in the bible, since my personal battle has started many of my friends have pointed them out to me.

On June 25th, I went in for my first Chemo, I was heavily symptomatic with coughing, stridor, and shortness of breath.  Dr Eaton was able to appreciate a 1cm tumor under my right clavicle, it was really easy to feel, and Regina was even able to feel it.
Well.......3 weeks later I go in for treatment #2 on July 15th.
No stridor, no coughing, and Dr Eaton was unable to find the tumor under my clavicle!!!!!
The mindset this puts me into is difficult to express.
Next CT scan is on August 4th for definitive progress, but these things can't be ignored.
Treatment #2 went well, since I wasn't battling symptoms, I didn't need to take heavy meds to suppress. I was tired and run down from the Chemo, but able to function.
After some medication adjustments the heart palpitations have stopped as well as the near fainting spells.  I am actually gonna start working out again this week, easy bike rides, a little stairmill, maybe some weight lifting.  #winning

Love from J-Pow:
Several weeks ago I took a phone call from current National Cyclocross Champion Jeremy Powers.
J-Pow wanted to know if I was ok with him "putting a little something together" for me.
I was honored and I said sure thing.  This is the result: Grit and Grind
The Facebook Page is here, with course info: Grit and Grind FB
Thanks J-Pow, Rapha, Motofish, Nuun, and Olympia Coffee. 
The ride takes place on August 2nd and is in Elma, Washington during the Rapha NW Classic Junior Stage Race.  Guess what??!!!!  I'm gonna sign up for it.

Thanks for taking to time to read and catch up with me.
Warm Regards,
Jim #holdfast #gobecauseyoucan #fullthrottle


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

treatment, nuts and bolts, weapons, world cup...

Getting it done....
So on June 25th 2015 I was given my first treatment of Chemotherapy.
It is still hard to hear those words coming out of my mouth, but that is the deal right now.
I was diagnosed May 6th and finally after much research and patience to enter into a clinical trial, action has been taken against the beast that lurks inside my body.

As a chubby kid growing up, and then an endurance athlete. I have always had this disdain for my body, never perfect, never just right, never light enough, never lean enough.
I described many of my training sessions, as flogging, punishment, sufferage, and trip to the pain cave.
In this situation I have to learn to love my body.... it is my perfect weapon to fight the intruder.
I have invested so much in it, my body is going to pay me back and give the fight it has been trained to do.  All those training miles, all  that punishment, is going to come back to help me win.

The mental shift that has occurred since my treatment has been massive, through the strength and power of the medicine, I now know that physical action is happening, this fuels my hope and faith.
Love can not kill cancer cells, but, the love I have felt from my family, friends, and community is potent fuel to motivate and inspire me to make it happen.
The first week or so after treatment was a fog, mostly highlighted by massive amounts of fatigue and  tiredness, after 5 days I was up and around and able to put in some half days at work.

Treatment and Clinical Trial:
One of the first things on treatment day, is review of the most current scans and studies.
The previous week I had a CT with contrast of my Chest/Abd/Pelvis.
The best news from here is that the CT scan refuted findings in the PET scan that the cancer had spread to the bones in my pelvis, this is a really big deal!!!!
The predictable news was that the tumors had grown in my chest, as my respiratory symptoms have been getting worse.  Recently I have had many incidents of Shortness of Breath with very little exertion, also I have had many incidents of near fainting especially during coughing fits.
It appears that the tumors may be impairing my vagus nerve and my recurrent laryngeal nerve.
Additionally the tumors are compressing a bronchus in my lung causing some partial obstruction and some impingement on the right atrium of my heart. This causes it not to fill properly, which causes an increase in HR in order to keep necessary perfusion of the rest of my body.
My chemo nurse was a "salty dawg" who assured me this medication was going to shrink those tumors and reduce those symptoms.
Well......2 weeks after Chemo my respiratory symptoms are starting to get better.
My next treatment is July 15th, I seriously cant wait to get in there and kill some more cancer.

As far as the clinical trial goes my selection for MK3475 is secondary, I will be starting with standard of care Premetrexen and Carbo-Platin, and will move to the test drug if those are not effective.

Because of some of  the news about cardiac impingement and several episodes of heart palpitations, I have decided not to ride or train for a little while, there is just no sense in pushing it.

In other news....
I was able to attend the Women's World Cup Soccer Finals with Regina and Isabella.
It was an amazing experience for all of us and it felt really good to provide that opportunity for Isabella.

The family is holding up pretty well, we are trying to keep things as "normal" as possible.
The girls are busy with lots of summertime activities.
Community support continues to be amazing.
I am working modified hours at OFD to take into account side effects from the treatment.

This Saturday night some friends are putting together a benefit and party for myself and my family.
The Westside Tavern is hosting, Kona Bicycles has donated an amazing bike for raffle, many other cool things for live auction including a signed Bass Guitar donated by the Foo Fighters.
Live band, lotsa good friends, come check it out if you have a chance.
Hold Fast Benefit

I will continue to ask for your prayers.
I do believe that God is going to see us through this trial.
I will prevail.

Hold Fast