I am healed, mind, body and soul. I know that is a bold claim to make since we all need tweaking here and there, but I feel 100% better today than I did when I was dancing with cancer. I am alive and loving it.
I have been testing my stamina and strength. Working back at the clock shop 32 hours a week and going to the YMCA Live Strong 12 week program, tailored for cancer survivors. Coming into my 4th week and enjoying the workouts. I am also working my days off on a tile job. It’s all good, I feel human again.
So we are discontinuing the gofundme.com account. Without it we would be in very desperate waters. I want to thank everyone a million times for your contributions. You are all fantastic, kind, thoughtful and the best humans on earth.
I will continue my three-month checkups and so far so good. I feel like I’ve had an overhaul and restoration. I’m like a brand new shiny 57 Chevy.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you all!!!
From pj (July 24, 2018):
Update #20. Went to the chemo doctor and got all good news. Lab work looked good except for anemia level. But it has improved and is now out of the danger zone. My thyroid levels were down so they have me taking medication for that. Apparently the low thyroid level is a result of the radiation. The doctor said I would have to take the thyroid meds for the rest of my life. That shocked me but I can live with it.
I also lost 10 pounds since my last visit. Not good. But my taste buds are returning and some foods I actually enjoy. Like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The doctor said I have to eat more food more often. I’ll be working on that along with creating an exercise routine. I have also started taking a special herb for added energy.
My energy and stamina has improved but still not where I feel confident to go on a typical photo shoot. I’m good for about five hours in a sitting and standing work environment. Of course this is exactly what I do at the clock repair shop which I have gone back to on a limited part time basis. It feels great to be half way out into the world.
The CBT and ACT groups I attend twice weekly provided by the VA has also made a difference. I will continue those through the summer and into the fall.
The doctor said it usually takes nine months to a year to recover from the cancer treatments. She also said it could take a year to a year-and-a-half for my metabolic point to go back to normal and for me get my weight back. I was a bit distressed about this news but once again I go back to my place of gratitude and say, “I’m alive, I’m alive.”
I was also hoping to hit the 100% “I’m all better mark by this time.” Not happening. I have to be patient and keep the healing machine going. I also realized there is a lot of trauma associated with the dance with cancer.
The other night I had a monster toothache. The pain reminded of the of the misery I lived with during the radiation and chemo treatments. I imagined the cancer had returned and then had an anxiety attack. It was strange and disturbing to realize how afraid I am of the cancer returning. I have been ignoring what had happened in the past year and thinking all is well. It’s a man thing, like hey “I don’t need no stinking map, I know exactly where I am.” I vowed to reexamine the impacts this dance with cancer has had on my psyche and inner self.
We are continuing with the Gofund me cause we are not over the hump yet. My teeth need work and I’m still at a very part time work status. The Gofund me has saved us. So thank you all for the contributions. Go well.
From To-Ree-Nee (July 23, 2018):
The last several weeks I, like many of you have been caught up in horror and disbelief of what has been going on in our Country. It's surreal, disconcerting and scary. Because I was so focused on what was happening on the larger stage, I haven't had the chance to update everyone on where things are at with Patrick.
He just had appointments with his Chemo and Radiation Doctors. The 3 month check-ups will be happening for the next year or so. While his doctors are pleased with his progress, he'd lost another 10 pounds. He's working very part time and on one hand that's been good for his psyche, I'm concerned he's pushing himself a little too much.
It's been a long rocky road to get here. And there is still more to travel in this recovery phase. His oncologist said it would take a year or more for his metabolic point to shift. That means it will be harder for him to gain weight. It's just part of understanding the healing process after the intense therapy of Chemo and Radiation. He still gets weak sometimes just walking across the room and he still needs lots and lots of rest but his creative Spirit is coming back. And that is wonderful to see.
We wouldn't be here without you My Beautiful Community and the hard fact is we still need support. Pj's healing will take the time that it takes and I'm doing all that I can. I know he's been concerned with my health and my emotional well-being and I'm just taking it one step at a time. We got this far. He's cancer free. And that is such a miracle. I know that there is so much going on in all of our lives but I want to thank you in advance.
Donations in any amount will be deeply appreciated. Big Love and Bright Blessings.
June 10, 2018:
To-Ree-Nee and I have traveled a long way. We are still here, I am still here. And I thank the Gods and Goddesses and the Universe for the special gift of living. In mid-August 2017 it will be one year since this journey began.
2017 was a hell year. We started off fighting Wells Fargo about the increased mortgage payment. Ultimately they won. It was an expensive battle we are still recovering from. But we managed to keep our house.
Within a few weeks after that I was diagnosed with the cancer and just a week or so after that our studio in Dunbar Springs caught fire. To-Ree-Nee has managed to piece together another studio in our home so she can continue creating. I have not yet been able to construct a dark room. So I am a man without a darkroom. But my office will be converted to a darkroom as soon as I get stronger. I’m getting excited about that. I miss doing my photographic thing.
In the meantime my body is rebuilding slowly. Today my blood test showed improvements. I am still anemic ,however, which explains why I get fatigued. My thyroid levels are also low. I recently had a problem breathing which I attribute to the anemia. The doctor said to keep eating properly put more iron in my diet and the anemia will eventually diminish. I received some meds for the thyroid.
I have been eating more types of foods since my taste is returning. My favorite food these days is egg salad. I have to eat constantly to keep my system running. It’s a balancing act. Some foods, even though they taste nice, upset my system. Considering I literally ate no solid food for three months this would make sense.
The feeding tube was removed and since then my health has improved. The constant nausea also disappeared. I no longer have to view that tube thing sticking out of my stomach. It also made a difference in my psyche. I was and still am clinically depressed. The cancer and everything else has not helped. So I enrolled in a special program sponsored by the Veterans Administration. It has been extremely beneficial. But it involves dedication, time and a whole lot of energy I have to fight for on a daily basis. But it is really a great thing and am thank the VA for being so attentive.
I am venturing out into the world more often. I can do errands and socialize and am good for about two hours a day. After that I get fatigued. This is amazing and I am so thankful. In the midst of the treatments I could barely move from the comfy chair. Next week I’m going to do a trial run for two to three hours at my former job in the clock shop.
One of the big take-a-ways from this dance with cancer is the realization that the body can endure an astronomical amount of destruction, but it takes much more time to heal than we can measure. Initially I was thinking this cancer would be like a bad flu and I would be back to normal within a few months. I didn’t believe the doctors when they said in April after the last chemo and radiation treatment that recovery would take up to nine months to a year. I have learned and accept the extraordinary long wait to a once-again-healthy-me. It is part of the cancer gig. So I wait, take baby steps, make adjustments, remain hopeful and most of all I am thankful to be alive and blessed with so many caring friends and family.
Update #18. Feeling better this week after adjustments were made due to side effects from medications. My body is agreeing with the new treatment process. And, the big one, "I got the feeding tube removed." As To-Ree-Nee says, "You are no longer a cyborg."
The tube removal has been monumental. Apparently the tube had a lot to do with the nausea and other stomach pain. No more nausea. Yahoo!! There are times now where I actually feel good and normal. I still need to get my strength and stamina back. Baby steps every day. But I am truly thankful I made it this far. Which is due to all of the prayers, well wishes and financial contributions. Thank you all very much.
I would love to be totally normal yesterday but it will take the time that it takes. In the meantime we are still needing financial support. Asking for this help is very difficult for us but when a two income household looses one, things can spiral out of control quickly. We are not consumers nor do we fall prey to materialism.
We are artists just trying to do good on the planet. So thank you for any contribution and please help spread the word.
Update #14: CANCER FREE, TOTALLY. Tuesday, the radiologist slipped the camera down my throat (ouch) and viewed the area where the cancer used to be. All gone, along with my tonsils. The radiation just evaporated them, along with the cancer. Potent stuff.
Although I am cancer free I am still weak and not able to get back to my routines, which includes working to make money. I was hopefully thinking I’d be all better by the end of April. That is not happening. Realistically it will probably be around the end of June. I had no clue it would be like this and it is wearing me down. That’s okay I always get back up.
I’m looking at alternative healing processes including herbal treatments, acupuncture and alternative pain-relief processes. This includes Medical Marijuana. None of these are covered by my medical so it’s out-of-pocket money we really don’t have. Hence the reason for continuing the GoFundMe. So far the GoFundMe has saved us from certain economic ruin. To-Ree-Nee and I are very grateful for all the amazing contributions.
We are gong to continue it for a bit longer until I get past this final phase. Please share and help us spread the word for a bit longer.
MARCH 23rd UPDATE from PATRICK:
Thank you all for your support during this Dance With Cancer. Not done dancing yet, but it feels like I’ve come around the bend and am headed for the finish line. The feeding tube is getting removed as soon as I can schedule it. I feel a tiny bit stronger every day. It’s great to feel almost human again.
I still have that buzzing in my ears and feel like I’m living with a low level grade of flu. There are some foods I can taste and others not so good. We have found some specialized remedies to help pull the residual chemo and radiation from my system. So we are still going after the cancer with a vengeance.
I have made a few little trips out of the house on my own. I’m good for about an hour or so before I start to get tired. I’m taking small walks around the neighborhood as well. My misery and despair levels have dropped dramatically. I can finally see the other side of this and truly believe I’ll be there.
The PET scan to tell if all the cancer is gone is set for April 9. I believe we danced it out of my system. I’m guessing and hoping by the end of April I should be at 85%. I have applied for a medical marijuana card and should be getting that mid-March. A bit pricey but well worth it for the pain and appetite. I still fell nauseous a lot and don’t have much of an appetite. The pot will help with that.
In the meantime we are keeping the GoFundMe up, as we still need it. I should be able to start work by the end of April. Once that happens we will once again be sustainable. We have come a long way and it has been a very trying and difficult journey. We could not have done it without the help we received from our amazing community, friends and family. For this I thank you a million times.
NEW UPDATE FROM PATRICK (January 28)
First of all I want to thank everyone for their support. I use the kind, heartfelt and hopeful words sent to me for inspiration. I reread them all the time. It's part of my life line. Thank you all.
In the meantime the chemo and radiation treatments are done. However, the side effects continue. I wake up every day hoping for some relief. None yet. The doctors told me it would be a long recovery. Silly me, I had created a different scenario. Now I realize returning to normal could be 6 or more months away. It just doesn't fit, but then I have never had cancer. So in the last few weeks I have had to examine my situation and attitude and make adjustments. I have decided to reenergize my initial plan, which means going back to my Marine Corps days motto: "kick ass and take names." I refuse to let this cancer beat me up. I am the solution.
To-Ree-Nee is fighting off a cold, working overtime to take care of me and business around the house ,and do her regular gigs that bring money into the household. She is amazing but this is wearing on her spirit and I am concerned about her health. The GoFundMe monies have helped us tremendously and are making a big difference. Without our community's support To-Ree-Nee and I would be hard-pressed to get by.
If there were any other way to get by we would do it, but until I can get back to work the GoFundMe is our lifeline. My job is waiting for me, but realistically I will not be able to work full-time for another three months. There may still be some surgery in the future and I still rely on my feeding tube for survival. The tube will stay for at least another three months. So it is still a ways off until our lives return to normal.
Okay, friends. Go well and thank you for your kindnesses and support.
LATEST FROM PATRICK (January 9):
Radiation all done, yahoo. The idea behind chemo and radiation is to tear the system down to kill the cancer cells. Unfortunately the healthy cells are destroyed as well. It will take another two weeks or so for the residual chemo and radiation to be the most effective. Because of this the doctors say don't expect much to change.
People often fool themselves into thinking all is well because they are done with the medications. At this point I must remain vigilant and keep up with the protocols. Final tests on whether or not the cancer is gone happens in 4 to 6 weeks.
In the meantime I have to adjust to a different way of living to find the best possible means to keep the cancer out. That is my next push, "learning and adopting to a more healthy lifestyle."
One of the biggest contributing factors to our survival so far as been the Gofundme campaign started by our good friend Bob Byars. Knowing that money will be available to keep us moving forward has eliminated the stress involved with paying the mortgage, utilities, insurance, buying necessary specialty foods, various medications not covered by the VA and unexpected car repairs and dental work.
To-Ree-Nee has shelved almost all of her client commissions and other gigs to keep us going. I would not be able to do this alone. At this point it is difficult to walk from room to room. Fortunately my old job will be waiting for me once I'm able to go at it.
I want to thank all of my friends and family for their heartfelt contributions. The words of encouragement, the prayers and Reiki are also extremely helpful and much appreciated. Thank you all.
December 19: Patrick has come to the hardest part of the chemo and radiation treatments: food has no taste (worse, it tastes "like rust"), his energy is very low, and it's a struggle just to keep going. On the other hand, he's still driving himself to treatments many days--remember, he was a Marine! He's had a feeding tube installed in his belly and even with painkillers, he's in a lot of physical pain.
To-Ree-Nee is soldiering on, helping Patrick with his meds and stuff, in rehearsals for an Invisible Theatre play (February, I think), and watching her own health and getting enough sleep.
The donations here have made an enormous difference for them, allaying anxiety about mortgage and utility payments. Enormous thanks to all of you who contribute!
In August, Patrick discovered a lump on his neck. Tests revealed that he had throat cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). Luckily, PET scans showed the cancer was only in two locations: his right tonsil and the lymph nodes on the right side of his neck.
Banner Cancer Center here in Tucson is providing his treatment, which consists of 7 rounds of chemotherapy and daily radiation sessions for 6-7 weeks. The good news is he has a superb team who are top of their field, and his doctor, Julie Bauman, an expert in this field, assures us that the recovery rate for this kind of cancer is 90 percent. However, she has emphasized that the process and treatment will be very taxing.
Patrick's chemotherapy and radiation sessions will start mid-November 2017. Needless to say, he won't be able to work while going through this ordeal, and To-Ree-Nee will be his primary caregiver. She has a few commitments for performances and small art projects; however, she will not be working as much as she's accustomed to. Thus, their household income will be drastically reduced for AS MUCH AS A YEAR from now.
This GoFundMe money is needed for mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, gas, etc. While he gets great medical coverage via the VA and Banner, this leaves them in a challenging situation in terms of everyday life and living expenses.
As we have all heard and read, the biggest reason people lose their homes in the U.S. is catastrophic medical situations.
SO. I'm asking you for your support. Money, of course, is paramount. And there are lots of OTHER ways to help: meals, gift cards or gas cards, transportation, being taken to lunch, massages, and running errands. PRAYERS AND THOUGHTS AND HEALING ENERGY ARE DEEPLY APPRECIATED, TOO.
Yes, $20,000 sounds like a lot, but we have realized that if 500 people were to donate $40, we would meet our goal. If you can give more, please do. If you can give less, that's great, too.
Most important, PLEASE SHARE THIS CAMPAIGN on all your social media platforms, so that word goes out far and wide.
To-Ree-Nee and Patrick have given so much to the Tucson community, in art, photography, music, teaching, on and on. We have all benefitted from their art and hard work. It's time for us to give back.
I have stepped up to be their Volunteer Coordinator, so IF YOU WANT TO HELP OUT IN PERSON, CONTACT ME DIRECTLY: (520) [phone redacted]. You can reach To-Ree-Nee and Patrick via Facebook and email, but they ask that you keep phone calls to a minimum.
To-Ree-Nee will be updating this campaign as things move forward and already you all have their heartfelt thanks!
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