Tag Archives: chemotherapy

Chemo? What chemo?

There are all different kinds of people in the world. And these different people handle things in different ways. There are people who are joyous and there are people who are miserable. There are people who are hilarious and there are people with no sense of humor. There are people who are smart and there are people who…well…aren’t.

There are people who have no pain threshold and who cannot handle being sick and there are people who can take whatever you throw at them in regards to sickness and pain.

And then there is Travis.

Travis has been this way for as long as I have known him. He works through the pain. The sickness. I would say that he ignores it but that would require an acknowledgement of it being there in the first place.

He handled kidney stones on his wedding day and did nothing more than joke his way through it.

He broke his arm last summer. The doctor told him it would probably require surgery and he could hope for limited use within a month.

He was wakeboarding three weeks later.

Pain and sickness don’t keep Travis down.

But….

Travis has never faced chemo before.

ImageTravis began chemo on Thursday. He started the day with some blood work and then met with his rockstar, Dr. Hamrick. Dr. Hamrick feels it is unnecessary to put Travis through the Y-90 radiation until they see that the chemotherapy is working on the lymph nodes. His explanation made sense so they will be holding off on doing that.

From there, they headed to chemotherapy. The hardest part of chemotherapy was the I.V. It’s amazing that this seemingly indestructible man can be brought to his knees by a small needle. Travis has said, “I have no problem or fear of you cutting off 80% of my liver. But can you do it without needles?” And he means every word of it…notice the napkin covering the I.V. in the picture…

But once the I.V. was in place, all was back to normal, and the chemo began. The first three hours of chemo was him getting no chemo. They gave him bags and bags of anti-nausea medicine and fluids. In fact, during his five hour ordeal, really only two hours were spent actually getting chemotherapy. The bag of Gemcitabine came first and then the Cisplatin. And then he was done. “The first two days should be the worst and then you should start feeling better. See you in two weeks.”

So those first two days…

By the time he got home he could tell his body was…off. Nothing major but his legs were…shaky. Trey’s graduation from preschool was that night so they headed off.

As he sat through the graduation he could almost feel the chemo filtering through his body. His legs were definitely getting weaker and he just felt…off.  He proudly watched his son “graduate” preschool and then headed home with his father-in-law. He figured some sleep would help. He was in bed by 9:00 pm and he slept.

Hard.

And woke up twelve hours later. Feeling…

Fine?!?

He got his tub time…walked around the house a few times…and finally decided, “this is ridiculous.”

He headed to work.

And, once there…he put in almost a full day of work.

When asked how he feels he likens it to “growing pains”. Some pain behind the knees…a jolt here or there…but, otherwise, fine. He sometimes gets a sharp pain in his liver but he imagines it is the chemo attacking his liver. He is definitely fatigued and sleeps more than he ever has.

But. All in all. He feels…fine.

He  was up bright and early Saturday morning.

He had a commitment to keep. He was walking a 5K.

His good friend, Bryan
Jones, has a son with cystic fibrosis and today was the annual Great Strides walk to raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis.

Today, just 36 hours out from receiving chemotherapy, Travis “walked it out” with Team Bryce Bryce Baby to support his friend.

Will it always be this good? We can hope. But it is unlikely. The first chemotherapy session can be “easy”. Although, I am not sure they meant this easy. But, as the chemo builds in his system each time, it will become more difficult. The fatigue will become worse and other side effects may arise.

But not this time.

As I write this post, I am doing so from bed. I got hit with a stomach virus on Tuesday that, literally, knocked me on my rear end. I was doing better yesterday until I decide it was ok to eat something. Three bites of a burger and some tater tots and I was right back where it started…up all night long doing things I won’t publicly post about. I, too, was supposed to walk in the Great Strides walk. I was in bed. A few minutes ago Travis text me. It said…

“How u feeling. Bet I feel better than u 😎”

Touché Travis. Touché. To which I simply ask…

Chemo? What chemo?


Walking Two Lines

What is faith?  What does “having faith” mean? Does it mean living in ignorant bliss? Passing through life thinking “God will take care of it”?  Does it mean making your decisions solely on the belief that God will provide, protect, heal without giving thought to anything else?

Does the employed not actively search for a job because he believes God will provide?  Does the parent not discipline because he believes God will steer his children?  Does the sick not get treatment because he believes God will heal?

Where is the line drawn?  The line between faith and reality?

Travis’ and Carrie’s reality is that he is sick.  He is really sick.  This week they learned that MD Anderson does not have a “special sauce” just as Dr. Hamrick, aka Dr. Rockstar, told them at their first meeting.  There is not a “miracle cure” being kept under wraps at the country’s best cancer hospital.  There is not a miracle cure for Stage 4 Cholangiocarcinoma.

I have faith Travis will be healed. Carrie knows Travis will be healed.  She says that she can see him in 7 years running Hemma Concrete, doing God’s work, donating his time to a cancer foundation…living.  And the doctors will be saying why is he still alive?

But. We still think, KNOW, he should be treated.  That’s a no brainer, right?

But what about the decisions that are harder to make?  Do some decisions mean your faith is weak?

Somehow.  Miraculously.  Travis has to walk two lines.

There is the faith line. He will walk this line because He believes God can, and will, heal him.  God will intervene.  There will be a miracle.

Then.  There is another line. The line of reality.  The line that says you are very sick and your life is not going to end on your timetable.  And as a responsible father and husband.  Travis has to walk this line as well.

What does this line look like?

It’s buying and filling out birthday cards for your children for every birthday you may miss.

It’s recording endless videos of yourself, with your children and wife, so they have tangible memories of you.

It’s sitting down with the camera and telling your sons how to get the girl.  And your daughter…to run from the boys.

There is a sweet girl named Lily who lost her dad far too early and she has written down questions that she wished she knew about her dad…just for Travis.  So Carrie is videoing Travis as he answers each of her questions.

Who would he want to walk Pippi down the isle?  

What does he think each of his sweet children will be when they grow up?

What is his favorite food, movie, band…???  

He is doing it all because he has to walk that line.

And just like starting chemotherapy next Thursday does not mean Travis does not have faith.  Neither do these responsible acts of a loving and sick father.

Travis is sick.  Yesterday he and Carrie met with Dr. Shroff to review the results of his CT scan Wednesday.  This CT scan provides a higher definition and better picture than the one he had a month ago when this all started in that emergency room in Birmingham, AL.  And my friends found out there are not three tumors in Travis’ liver…there are eight. One large tumor approximately 6.7 cm and seven small “satellite” tumors scattered throughout his liver.  Additionally, the lymph nodes in his chest are actually full of cancer.  Not the “small amount” they originally thought.

Are they glad they went to Houston? Yes! Do they like the news? No.  Two things came out of Houston they are so grateful for.  First, they  found out that the treatment plan their doctor in Atlanta suggested, the doctor in charge of Travis’ care, is the same as the Cholangiocarcinoma expert.  Second.  They also are so grateful they will never have to say, if we only went to MD Anderson like everyone told us to do. And this trip was made possible by a friend.  A new friend.  A dear friend.  Holden.  Thanks to Holden, they will never look back with that regret.  No regrets.

While Travis is sick.  Fighting for his life. He will have to walk two lines.

There will be times he simply cannot walk both.  Faith may dwindle.  And that is where we, the body of believers, step in and fill the gap.  Praying on his behalf when the reality line becomes too big to see past.  When the faith line is so narrow it can’t be seen.

Thankfully.  God doesn’t require perfect faith to intervene.  To give a miracle.  God never relies on us.  He knows He would always be disappointed.  No. We have to rely on God.

In the Bible, the book of John, chapter 11, describes Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  In verse 40, Jesus says to Martha, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”  But the story doesn’t stop there.  Jesus wasn’t laying out a requirement.  He was providing a gentle reminder.  How do I know?  Because as soon as He says it, He prays, and goes ahead and raises Lazarus from the dead.

Despite Martha’s faith.

Or lack of…

Because Jesus knows. Sometimes it’s just too hard for us to walk both lines.