Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cancer Part 2

After leaving the hand surgeon's office I drove home and called my wife and mom to tell them what I just heard. I was in complete shock. When I got home my wife and I began looking up my cancer.

Google is a cruel mistress. The results were terrifying. My cancer is an exceedingly rare and aggressive cancer. There are only a few hundred cases globally documented of my cancer. Testimonials we found were from people who had it spread to their lungs, and some who died from it. Others had parts of their hands or feet amputated.

A short while later the hand surgeon called. He apologized for missing my appointment. He said he was prepared to see me on my original appointment date. He told me he was somewhat familiar with the cancer, and that it would most likely require at least a partial amputation of my finger to get negative margins.

The next day I went to work. I was able to get intake paperwork faxed to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. I was frustrated because it was a Friday and I wasn't able to get an appointment booked before the weekend. I worked Saturday and Sunday because I figured I was going to need my leave in the near future, and work would distract me.

Sunday night after work, my wife went to bed and I sat on the couch Googling my cancer. I read too many websites, and looked at too many pictures of amputated fingers. I became so upset my stomach turned and I got up to vomit in the bathroom. I almost passed out. I had to lay on the floor with my feet on the couch to get blood back in my head. Eventually I made it to the bathroom. I then endured a nearly sleepless night.

Needless to say I would NOT recommend Googling serious illnesses. If you need info, go to the NIH site to get basic info and STOP! If you need more, get it from your doctor, or have a trusted and medically knowledgeable advocate read up and advise you. Going down the Google hole is not good for the already stressed out mind.

The next morning I dropped my daughter off at school and stopped at the coffee shop when my phone rang. I recognized the number as a Roswell Park number. When I answered a female voice told me she was calling from Roswell and confirmed my ID. She then asked how I was doing and I answered truthfully. I was terrible. She then told me that she was my friend's wife, that she came in and my file was on her desk. She said she would help me get registered and get an appointment. I was so happy and relieved I almost cried.

I had an appointment for that Friday with the head of Roswell Park's Soft Tissue department. Knowing I was in, and in good hands was a huge relief!

I then went to Lowe's to grab a few things. When I left I decided to stop by my personal physician's office to see if he could review my file and provide advise. He graciously did. He told me I was doing all the right stuff and gave me a script to help with sleep.

Next I called an advocate for 9/11 First Responders. She works for Mount Sinai and was very helpful getting my claim started. She advised me that first responders often are developing rare cancers and she strongly recommended​ that I file.

All in all I started that Monday a stressed out wreck. But by 10 or 11 am I had made a lot of progress and was feeling like I was taking control, or at least starting to. I then went home and installed a closet organizer for my wife, whose birthday it was that day.

-------
I went to my first appointment at Roswell Park on Friday October 21. My wife and Aunt, who is a Hospice nurse, came with me. The doctor meet with us for over an hour. I have never seen a doctor give their time so freely, and with not a hint of impatience in my life. It was really remarkable. He answered every question we had and gave us a lot of information.

Unfortunately he said that the first doctor's diagnosis that the finger would need to be partially amputated was correct. Further he recommended removing a lymph node for biopsy to rule out spread to distant organs.

He told us that having the site treated with liquid nitrogen probably helped keep it small. The first surgery also probably removed all the cancer, but since the biopsy results showed positive margins, he felt the amputation was necessary.

He felt the recovery would be fairly straightforward, and that I probably wouldn't need therapy after. He scheduled my surgery for November 2.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Let's go Buffalo?

The Buffalo Bills' 2016 season ended yesterday with another embarrassing loss. They finished 7-9, and for the 17th consecutive season missed the playoffs. It's also their 21st season without a playoff win. The Bills currently possess the longest playoff drought in all of American sports. Including MLS, that's 133 teams.

They have finished the session with 6 to 8 wins 13 times during the drought. That's not nearly good enough to get in the playoffs, but it's also not bad enough to obtain a high draft pick for the desperately needed franchise quarterback. It's the worst kind of mediocrity.

The Bills will now be looking for a new coach and quarterback in the offseason. Their drafting has been consistently terrible, yet they still retained their GM Doug Whaley. Also not losing their job is team president Russ Brandon, who happens to be a former team GM. By MANY accounts Brandon still is GM in effect, or at very least meddles in football operations on a daily basis.

Possibly more disheartening is that Russ Brandon is now also the team president of the Buffalo Sabres. On the day the Bills' season ended the Sabres sat in last place in their division, and are charging hard for a 6th consecutive season without a playoff appearance.

In 2000, when they Bills had made the playoffs, but lost in their first playoff game for the second consecutive season, their president and GM John Butler was kicked to the curb. Yet for some reason Russ Brandon has lasted nearly 20 years with the Bills. He has been there in some capacity during every year of the playoff drought and even seen promotions despite continued failures.

Ultimately the blame now lies with Kim and Terry Pegula. Their honeymoon with both teams is long over. It hurts to say it. They seem like very nice people, and are probably doing their best. They may have saved the Bills from relocation, but for what? At this point being a Buffalo sports fan is an exercise in self flagellation. Until a complete firing of the entire executive staff of the Bills is administered by the Pegulas and a new staff composed of football people is hired, I will expect no change. Fans should stop giving them their cash and demand change immediately.