Little Things That Turn the Day Around

I'm going back to the hospital today for an MRI. We know the cancer is there, this is to help pinpoint the locations for radiation. If I can have radiation. There is a real question as to whether I can get more radiation on the part of my spine that was radiated about six months ago. And I also have to go back to the chemo room. Not to visit my friends this time, but to get an infusion of a drug intended to strengthen my bones. It's funny, I drink almost a gallon of milk a day. It has to be skim, and it has to be ice cold. But that's actually down from many years ago, when I probably had a gallon and a half every day. Strong bones and healthy teeth. Who would have ever thought that I would have tumors eating away at my bones?

When I was on chemo, when I couldn't tolerate cold drinks for the first week or so of each cycle, it was tough to go without milk. How can you eat a cookie, or a brownie, or just about anything, without cold milk? I know that it's obvious, but I started thinking about the little things, the things that make us smile, the things that help us get through a day that is physically tough, or mentally, or both.

A chocolate chip cookie with milk. I think I've already covered that one. Ice cream, but I like the kind with all sorts of stuff in it, or on top of it, or both, if I can get away with that. I love jalapeno peppers, they remind you that you're alive. And what isn't better with melted cheese on it? I love a good mystery, or a book that takes me somewhere I've never been, and makes me feel at home there. I love the joy of discovering a new author, and realizing that he or she has written other books as well. I love most movies, and in this age of DVDs and DVRs and TIVO, I still love going to the theater and paying way too much for candy. All I ask of a movie is that it not be boring. And if stuff blows up, all the better. I love coffee. I actually drink iced mochas, which may or may not qualify as real coffee, and yes, I like the buzz too. Cuban coffee, the little shots known as liquid cocaine? Truly a gift from the gods.

I can go on and on. A great bottle of wine, or even a good one. A hot dog from one of the street carts in New York. A great slice of pizza. A good joke, a line I wish I'd thought of, a smile, a look, making someone else laugh. All of those can turn around a day. There is plenty of time to think about the big issues. My cancer, my prognosis, the treatments that are coming. I spend enough time thinking about the Beast. Sometimes, I just want to let something as simple as a good song take me away from all that, even if it's just for a minute or two.

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Wine - try Portuguese Port. Sometime when you are mellowing over a glass of it, please tell us what you want your legacy to be. Pointed question, sorry, just something I learned from cancer, to ask things when I think of them.

Sent by Irene | 6:53 AM | 6-13-2007

Your blog today reminded me of Jim Valvano's speech at the ESPY awards. As you know, his death from cancer was imminent but it was one of the most moving sppeches I've ever heard. He reminded us as your blog does today to appreciate the small things - to laugh each day, engage in thought and to get your emotions involved and be moved to tears for happiness, joy or even sadness. He said that is a full day!! I agree...

I hope that you will find the small and unexpected things today to make you laugh; you've already done enough thinking about where you are for today so skip over to thinking about the great moments you had in Hawaii, and if you are moved to tears today, I pray that it is out of joy and happiness.

Hope that your MRI goes well and that you get some great news to enable you to begin radiation once again.

I subscribe to Valvano's motto "Don't give up. Don't ever give up" and I sincerely hope that you do as well. You are a treasure Leroy. It is hard to find someone like you who has made "lemonade" out of the lemons in his life. We all enjoy drinking your lemonade so continue to squeeze the lemons as they come along.

Blessings and prayers as always.

Sent by Al Cato | 7:45 AM | 6-13-2007

Dear Leroy,
I'm catching up on the blog after a few days away. First, I want to say that I'm sorry it's back.
It's never enough to say that, but what you say in this post is true. It is the little things that get us through. The milk with the cookies, the coffee "treats", the empathy that friends offer, that someone that loves us holds our hand when there aren't ways to put our thoughts into words.
I'm going to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. You are a fighter and that makes a difference. You probably will never know the full impact that your words and thoughts have made on others, and how much of a difference THAT has made against the bigger fight against cancer.
Bless you.

Sent by Norma | 7:48 AM | 6-13-2007

Thank you for this one. It is true for all of us, whatever our circumstances, I suppose. I pretty much always get through days looking forward to little things. For me, mostly, they revolve around the food and drink treats. I could use more wonderful reading treats. I do also love and appreciate my daily blog readings! Thank you for the reminders to enjoy the little things! Joyce Smith

Sent by Joyce Smith | 7:55 AM | 6-13-2007

Leroy - I was so wanting to send to you today the message you wrote....that even though you're sad and the mystery of your future seems out of reach.....the mystery and fun of surprises everyday is still with all of us!!! With your spirit and courage, I'm sure you have lots of surprises and good times ahead......many good moments that outweigh the hard ones......saying my mantra over and over for you.......All Shall Be Well.........

Sent by Ruth Chermok | 8:25 AM | 6-13-2007

i try to wake up every morning with a gratitude list in my head, and adding what i could do for fun each day, even if little, makes a huge difference. You've inspired me to think about the things i love to eat as well, i am restricted a bit with my diet but not completely. thanks for reminding me of the good things as well.

Sent by Jenn | 8:26 AM | 6-13-2007

Your list is good, Leroy (except for the jalapenos). I add to it: Wet kisses on my face and sticky handprints on my glass front door from my 4 year old granddaughter. Ahhh. Something to turn the day around, alright.

Sent by Sandra Shuler | 8:27 AM | 6-13-2007

Leroy - first, let me see that I was distressed to hear (when I got back from vacation this week) that you had tumors again. I hope that you can overcome this.

Regarding your list, one of my strong memories when on chemo was of eating a peach. I love fruit but usually felt too sick when on chemo five years ago to eat it much. But one day in particular I remember feeling pretty good and eating this sweet, juicy peach. It was a simple pleasure, but it was the most delicious thing. It reminded me that often the simplest things are the best in our complicated world.

Hang in there, Leroy!

Sent by Art Ritter | 8:46 AM | 6-13-2007

Dearest Leroy,
You've don it again. Addressed some of my feelings for survival of the day. The
"little things". However different for each of us, they are so important. Keeping my sense of humor, holding hands
with my husband of 43 yrs, shopping (this is really a good way to forget) hee/hee ect.
Thank you for this blog & your thoughtful insight for all of us.
Love in Christ,
Jean Trobaugh
Ada. Ok.

Sent by Jean Trobaugh | 9:04 AM | 6-13-2007

Dear Leroy,
I'm thinking of you and all in our community every day! Stephanie, know that I carry you in my heart and will be with you during your surgery and recovery. Sending peace to you and your family. Leroy, it is so important to enjoy all those small things in our lives: a special song, an iced mocha, the memory of a favorite moment and those who surround us with their love. Although I don't have the beast rearing it's ugly head again in my life, I will never feel that it can't. It's been important for me to see what I have now and try not to fret about the future. Now, on some days, it can be easier to do than on others. I'm still trying to figure out what "normal" might be for me because it has a brand new meaning now.
The important thing is to hold on tight, go for the ride, try not to fall and know that if you do fall, there are friends to catch you! With you in friendship and love!!

Sent by Judith Tynan | 9:10 AM | 6-13-2007

I know what you mean. My mom is going through lung cancer now. Now the worrying begins...her leg hurts really bad...is it bone cancer...has it spread? That is the stress we are under now, waiting, wondering, worrying. So the little things that bring me joy now...her perfume. I got a bottle of it. I want to be able to smell her when I want to. She is so young, 57. So, today I put it on. We won't know anything until next wed but I look at the video I found of her holding my daughter, I didn't know I had it. In it, she looks at me, tilts her head, and smiles. Perfect. Little joys.

Sent by Gina B. | 9:14 AM | 6-13-2007

Oh man -
You re so right
Even sitting here in the office, these thoughts are a sweet respite

Emile

Sent by Emile | 9:16 AM | 6-13-2007

Leroy, keep thinking about all the small joys in your life, the million little things that keep a smile on your face and a positive outcome in your head. I just love a man who knows his chilies and his java. Try some red cayenne pepper in your lemonade. Don't give one ounce of your soul to this beast, instead give it to the people and things that you love.

Sent by Pat Z | 9:19 AM | 6-13-2007

The little things are good for everyone to remind themselves of, whether they are with or without cancer in their lives. We could all use a moment to take a step back and realize that life is something that we can take for granted, unless we stop to taste the iced mochas and smell the sunflowers.

Sent by Jennifer White | 9:19 AM | 6-13-2007

MMMMMM...good choices Leroy. Yeah, when I was on chemo cold things were a no-no and things with pepper made me turn green. However, I was a vegan for about 10 years and after surgery and chemo I CRAVED filet mignon. I had 3 in one week! Someone politely told me that red meat wasn't good for me. I laughed so hard and then went ahead and took another bite of meat and washed it down with one of those dyed red cherries! Now that's living on the edge.

Hang loose baby. Hope there are some things coming your way that give you a giggle.

Cyber hug,

Lori

Sent by Lori Levin | 9:31 AM | 6-13-2007

Thanks for the reminder that while cancer can sometimes seem to be our lives--that there's a bunch more life waiting to be lived.

I remember a few months ago giving one of my sister's permission to give me a swift kick if I ever was well enough to complain about doing my kids' laundry...I just wanted to be strong enough to do it. I meant it, too.

I'm off to face a pile of stinky soccer clothes...and a lovely cup of coffee, and a glorious Florida rainstorm. Scans and appointments will hold for today.

Sent by Heather | 9:31 AM | 6-13-2007

Remembering that life is good. Remembering those things that put a smile on our faces. Thinking about those things that give us pleasure. I'll add a couple..a book that I just can't put down, that gives me a warm feeling inside, makes me wish it was raining and I had nothing pressing to do so I could curl up with a blanket on my favorite chair and read all day. A snow day when even though there is stuff on the calendar to do, you just can't do it. It's found time away from time. Being summoned up to my daughter's room (this morning in fact) by her calls that she needs me- right now- and being greeted by a BIG warm hug. Walking around my lake. The smell of honeysuckle in the spring. Having the whole family at home. My teenage sons spontaneously coming up to me and hugging me.
Everyone should take the time to dwell on these pleasures. This is one gift cancer has given me. Appreciation for and acknowledgement of small things. And thank you, Leroy, for writing and verbalizing it.
Yesterday, I was sad. I wanted to tell everyone that my friend Leroy's cancer had returned. You are an inspiration and a great communicator. My heart is with you.
Stephanie, my heart is with you, too.

Sent by elm | 9:32 AM | 6-13-2007

To Jenn, I love your idea of keeping a gratitude and fun each day list. I'm going to do that. Thanks Jenn. Leroy thanks for your blog once again, you are such a good person. I used to keep a warm fuzzy list, I think I'll start that again too. Anything that anyone did or said to me that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, I would write it down and when I felt blue, I'd read them and it made me feel better. It worked for me.

Sent by Ruth White | 9:47 AM | 6-13-2007

I learned in February that I have cancer, and as of today, I've had a hysterectomy; breast biopsy; two chemo treatments and counting. When they say that there are "side effects", they aren't kidding, are they? Of all the side effects, what I most miss is my hair, which was typical Irish hair -- a great, wild, white mane that I could never tame, that I had to cut short just to keep it under some semblance of control, and that came to be my signature in the small Court House where I practice law. My wigs, and scarves, and baseball caps all have become a kind of outward symbol of the thing inside me, and I resist wearing them, I think to defy that cancer. Like, how can NOT wearing a wig be defiant? And in a small town, how can showing my fuzzy head in public be anything but shocking? But all these head adornements are so not me.

On the other hand, things could be a lot worse than hating one's wig.

Sent by Maryann Conway | 9:47 AM | 6-13-2007

Since it is 6:30 a.m where I am, and I have just gotten up (no Cuban coffee in sight), perhaps you all can understand how I understood Leroy to say that he really loves jalapenos on his ice cream...and I believed him, too!
Small joys, big tastes, gratitude, joy, good jokes: Signs of life in Cancer world and beyond.
Good luck with the MRI. Maybe drinking all that milk strengthenen your bones to resist beyond their normal capacity.
Go well, Leroy.

Sent by Ceese Stickles | 9:59 AM | 6-13-2007

I love that you said jalapeno peppers make you feel alive. Everytime after I recover from a chemo session a few days later I have to go out and eat something horrifically spicy. Along with wondering how my stomach can take it after after chemo, I think how wonderfully alive the spicy food make me feel. Glad to know I'm not alone in this feeling. My best wishes to you and everyone reading this blog.

Sent by Martha Hochman | 10:01 AM | 6-13-2007

To add my own to your wonderful list: comfort from an adoring pet, a big hug from my awkward but loving 17 year old son and tiny 11 year old daughter, the steadfast support of my spouse, and food, glorious food! These aren't necessarily in order of there importance in my life! (Otherwise food might have come first) :)

Sent by Marcia Greer | 10:05 AM | 6-13-2007

I have to add to the list: when I have been in bed sick, my kids and dog will all pile in the bed and visit. My 8 year old brings frog, bugs, baby birds in for me to see.
Also seeing my 15 year old run across the finish line for me.
I live through my kids. We try to keep thing as normal as possible. I am looking forward to seeing my daughter as mascot this next season. Simple things are a wonderful thing. Like I have said be for just getting a reprieve to go to Wal-Mart is simple thing.

Cynthia

Sent by Cynthia Philpot | 10:31 AM | 6-13-2007

To Maryann,

I can understand your resistance to wearing the wigs,hats,and scarves. I feel the same way. I don't wear them at home and I have earned a new nickname from my granddaughters. They call me Nana Fuzzball. I love the laughter and teasing that sparkle in their eyes. They keep track of the length of my fuzz and let me know if it is growing longer. This approach seems to be helping them deal with my illness and lets them feel a part of things. So I have become Nana Fuzzball. If I make it long enough for my hair to actually grow in again being Nana Fuzzball will be a memory I will always treasure.

Sent by Eileen Pruyne | 10:36 AM | 6-13-2007

Oh Leroy, my heart is singing,for you I have had the tought of the little things for the past couple of days...and I'm so proud you put in the beautiful, way with words you have,we are so blessed to have you.thank you....my giddy feeling came last night when I went to mcdonalds for a
"chocolate "DIPPED" ice cream cone.
I so wish we could share my Daughters chocolate chip cookies...she thinks "death by chocolate" most of the time.
Leroy, our hearts and prayers are so with you and Stephanie..think of the thoughts of the warm sun..and those little things...grandkids are the best..to bring that smile...and when I bring laughter to them...what a blessing...you guys I just a thought...think of all the money we are cheating the shrinks out of just by "our family"...Yep,one thing for certain...leroy, God still has much work for you to do.Blessings to all.

Sent by Sandy ^j^ | 10:37 AM | 6-13-2007

Friday nights with the kids, cuddled on the sofa, watching old movies, munching on my husband's famous nachos......watching my granddaughter practice her ballet moves....some moments cancer cannot have...

Sent by Kay | 10:51 AM | 6-13-2007

Leroy-

I will also be going for an MRI today. I'm also consulting with a new surgeon, and as I gather up all of my previous MRI, CT's, X-rays, anything you can imagin I think to myself it's weird to think that my life is summed up in negatives.

Then my husband offers me an ice cream cone and everything seems okay. I always have to remind myself lately, but it is the little things in life that matter most.

I will think of you with hope while I'm having my scans today.

Sent by Laurie | 11:14 AM | 6-13-2007

Hi Leroy,
The little things are oh-so-sweet. And food, especially, don't get me started. I was on chemo in November and Decemeber last year... each year Mom and I make a trip to Manhattan for a lunch at the Gramercy Tavern and window shopping. This year the whole family came along and joined me as I savored each and every bite of a filet mingnon, pureed potatoes, and green beans. I swear it all melted in my mouth. Later that day we went to the City Bakery for hot chocolate and cookies; I can still remember the tastes and smells of the entire day.

There is so much joy in the details.

I make sure I do something each day to remind myself of it. I think it is what gets us through.

All the best.

Sent by ejd | 11:20 AM | 6-13-2007

I will never have milk and cookies again in my life w'out thinking of you Leroy!

Sent by DiAnn | 11:23 AM | 6-13-2007

When my mom was first diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, the family became like food Nazi's, dissuading her to eat anything that didn't scream good nutrition. A year later, I wouldn't trade an anti-oxidant-rich blackberry for the buttercream-filled, chocolate-covered eclair, forbidden bowl of butter-drenched mussels, or fat-filled pint of Ben & Jerry's Rocky Road. It's those decadent treats that can still manage to light up her eyes and re-ignite her soul.

Sent by Lynne Rothschild | 11:33 AM | 6-13-2007

Leroy, I know exactly what you mean. During chemo/radiation and continuing faithfully for seven years after, I usually can sense the heightened energy and essence of seemingly small activities.

We catalog our favorites--mine includes walking to the Newark, NJ subway and noting the architecture of buildings, the grating of the fences, going on the PATH and watching the river and finally getting to NY and the World Trade Center, Vesey Street, the Borders book store, capping my amazing weekly expedition with another CD or book and of course, a coffee, all by myself--me--in varying degrees of strong fragility; me. And no cancer could ever take away my sense of self, only heighten it. Do you (the collective you) find your sense of self affected by cancer?

Leroy, what can I say? I send energy of love and light and will think of you when I chant....

In Healing,
Deborah

Sent by Deborah J. | 11:53 AM | 6-13-2007

What an incredible post, Leroy. Thank you very much.

So many of those little things you mentioned really made me smile.

I'd add, talking to old friends on the phone (I'm thinking that's a girl thing). There's also something my sister has dubbed retail therapy. That can really help. Chocolate therapy is always good. Taking a walk with the dog when the temperature is about 75 degrees. Getting into a bed just made with clean sheets. Cuddling at night with my 10 yr old son. Getting a good laugh.

When I was diagnosed, one of the very first things I did was jump in again, for the third time, to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I just wanted to get lost in Claire and Jaime land.

I'm so glad to read that other people want something spicy after chemo, which explains my strange obsession with nachos.

And Leroy, if you love jalapenos have you ever tried them stuffed with peanut butter? An amazing explosion of tastes in your mouth at once.

Thanks to Ruth for her mantra, All Will Be Well.

Sent by Jordis | 12:06 PM | 6-13-2007

Leroy, I try to engage in work, it takes my mind away from the cancer, at least for as little while. This is only when the treatments allow you the ability to even think, let alone work.

What you are facing is very scary stuff. A return to the Chemo room is not what you wanted, but is what you have. We just have to do what we have to do. Most of this is far from pleasant, but we must never give in to the cancer. I hope you get some good news, in the midst of all this bad news. Trust in your strength. All the best. Stan

Sent by Stan Wozniak | 12:08 PM | 6-13-2007

Hi, Leroy,

After reading your comments today, it felt as if I'd gotten a big hug. You reminded me that it really is the little things that make up "the good life." You mentioned the joy of discovering a new author, and that prompted this response, wanting to give back some of the good feelings you've given me over the past year. If you haven't read The Sparrow and its sequel The Children of God by Mary Doria Russell, you are in for a treat. And her book Thread of Grace is beyond my ability to praise enough. Let me just say, it rivals a hot fudge sundae from Dairy Queen in the 1960s.

Thanks for all your courage and dignity and for giving us a glimpse of the beauty of the human spirit during good times and bad.

Love and strength to you,
K??na

Sent by Kana Grant | 12:16 PM | 6-13-2007

Dearest All,
Today my mom got bad news...the always dreaded blood count is way up and treatment cannot wait until after my wedding in 10 days. I am her youngest daughter and the caregiver the first time around with her ovarian cancer. I took it especially hard this time as the cancer will have to be somewhere else now. I pray I have her for a long time to come, but those are answers we don't yet have.

Sent by Allison | 12:18 PM | 6-13-2007

Leroy,
We are always saying that we just take one day at a time. It is the little things that we do or hear or say each day that makes the difference each day.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts - your life.

Sent by dale | 12:32 PM | 6-13-2007

Leroy,

I'm glad you are back. All of us are entitled to as much depression and despair as we need to have, but it is wonderful when the sun breaks through the clouds. Now I don't presume to know how you feel, but your post today was a reminder to all of us that there is beauty and pleasure all the time if we are able to see it and experience it.

I'm so happy that today at least, you can.

Sent by Diana Kitch | 12:34 PM | 6-13-2007

Maryann and Eileen, I'm soooo with you on the wigless thing. My oldest son, 23, would tell me how cute I looked with fuzz-hair. I'd wear a hat most of the time when outdoors - either the broad-brimmed pink sun hat or my favorite for public places - the faded green bucket hat with the saying "No Hair Day" embroidered in front, another sicko cancer joke. I'm not going to let cancer steal my sense of humor.

Other small things to savor for us ladies - ditto on retail therapy, any time spent with girlfriends, any of the chick flicks that I used to think were too silly.

Also, any time sitting on a ferry boat to anywhere in New England - rain or shine. And most of all, any time with my extended family.

Sent by Sheara | 12:35 PM | 6-13-2007

Dear Leroy, I hope all goes well with your MRI. Today is the feast of Saint Anthony. I went to church this morning and lit a candle for my husband and a couple of extra ones for you and all the wonderful people on this blog that have become my second family. God bless us all.

Sent by sasha | 12:37 PM | 6-13-2007

Glad to see you are able to appreciate those very special small things. I thank God every day for them - looking at the birds from my lanai, reading the Sunday paper with my coffee and many more. Reading your blog is included! It is frustrating at times to get connected to your blog but worth the wait. Thanks for the reminder of all the good things. God Bless.

Sent by Vicki (FL) | 12:52 PM | 6-13-2007

Mmm Jalapeno Peppers and cheese..or anything mexican!! I try and focus on all the good things that happen in life. I Know the chemo room all of it and its tough to think of going back there. But if it helps the bones the infussion that is positive stuff.
I try and keep busy when times are hard..cause I think its important to keep our heads busy thats a good thing.
I think if we look at all the good things in a day thats positive. Like I could say: Driving down the road with the windows down..with the wind whipping my hair around for a change..Now that I have it for back. The smell of apple blossoms, birds singing, sun shining and blue skies..For a moment when I think that and life is good. Small things are good things..in our daily life with cancer. I tend to start being very grateful for what i have..even on a bad day.
I am off for some Moose Tracks Ice Cream.
Take care Leroy. Thanks again for this blog.

Sent by Kerry | 1:41 PM | 6-13-2007

Leroy_ something must be in the air today. The other site I go to YASG had an interesting question that put me in this same mindset.
A mother of a cancer patient was at a work seminar and the question was asked. What would you do if you only had one year to live? Most people said quit their jobs and travel the world...
My response was a bit different.
I think this question can and would be answered diferntly by one who hasn't really been diagnosed with something as sompared to someone who is really fighting for their lives. It seems we learn to really appreciate the simple and wonderful things life has to offer. And for the most part we don't have to travel to far off lands to find them...

Sent by Christine VanHoose | 1:44 PM | 6-13-2007

Hi Leroy - I was so pissed when I heard your scans came back positive. I wanted to puke and cry. But... that's no fun and counter-productive. The Mrs. got her port put in this AM and I'm really hoping she has a non-eventful chemo phase. Any tips?
Letterman had Warren Zevon on weeks before his death which they spoke openly about and Dave asked what advice could he give... his reply "Enjoy every sandwich". Damn good advice I would say.. wouldn't you?

Sent by Tim | 2:13 PM | 6-13-2007

Hey Leroy! The "little things". I find myself enjoying the little things too. Its also the little things that bother me too. I really enjoy meeting someone on the street and they say something funny or tell a really good joke and it makes me laugh loud and spontaneous. That feels good. For a couple seconds, I forget I have cancer and it feels good. The little things that bug me are my numb fingertips, drinking Gastroview before a CT, and my oncologist calling me "maam". We all figure out a way to transfer our anger and frustration to the little things because we know we have to handle the "the BIG thing".
I think of you every day. Stay strong!

Sent by Joyce L | 3:03 PM | 6-13-2007

Leroy, I love this post. Wishing you all the best today.

Oh, and I savor dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, by the way! Sort of counteracts the painkillers.

Sent by Lisa Lindstrom | 3:31 PM | 6-13-2007

Your post reminds me of a favorite movie of mine (Sound of Music) and song from it...(Favorite Things)...

I love hugs...smelling the world after a good rain... and seeing people smile... and laughing...

Jalepeno peppers are aweosme.. especailly on a good pizza pie...

Those are a few of my favorite things..

Leroy: hold on tightly to yours.. and enjoy your milk duds.. hope the MRI went well...

Sent by Krupali Tejura MD | 4:27 PM | 6-13-2007

A beautiful Montana morning, with white clouds hovering below the green mountains after a night of rain, on one side of the hill. Town, down below, in the other direction. Hiking up there with my dog- I'm free. No cancer, no bad prognosis, no real-life drama...Oh, yeh, and after all that exercise: Dairy Queen vanilla cone. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I feel like a "bliss ninny" because of the little things...Here's to those moments!

Sent by Nancy Mills | 5:10 PM | 6-13-2007

Hi All,

A friend of mine who died of lung cancer, used to say, "Every day above ground was good one."

I would like add to the list... The ocean waves, cicadas (yes I really love the sound), sunrises and sunsets, a deer in the forest, and whale breaching, and the songs of a humpback. I wish I could talk to my mom again.

Stephanie,
I am thinking and praying for you.

To all a good day.

Sent by Susan Chap | 5:31 PM | 6-13-2007

I started to reply about the little treats that I enjoy that turn the day around - right now it's Swedish fish candy, but that's not what did it for me today.

I just returned from giving a presentation to a ninth-grade class on what it's like to live with cancer. The presentation was my contribution to a coworker's child who is doing a year-end class project on colon cancer. I was a little apprehensive about doing this, and wasn't really sure what I wanted to tell a group of ninth-graders about my own experience with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis. I hate to admit that I winged it, but I really couldn't think of how or where to start, but somehow the words came to me. I was sort of surprised that I ended up with an audience who had my undivided attention, and asked some pretty good questions as well. I'm sure that I can't even repeat what I said, but the kids seemed to get it and were genuinely appreciative. I think that the message that I really ended up giving them was that as lousy as this roller coaster ride is, it's still good to be on it - it's still better to be alive, even on a ride that seems to have more downs than ups at times. Maybe as a reminder to all of us on the ride - we should all repeat Al Cato's remembrance of Jim Valvano's motto of "Don't give up - don't ever give up". You can see the see a video clip of Valvano's speech and read the text at the website for the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research: http://jimmyv.org/rememberingjim/espy.cfm .

Sent by Bob Maimone | 5:33 PM | 6-13-2007

Today I attended a weekly chapel service at our church. My wonderful surprise was the return of a woman who had been critically injured in an auto accident three years ago. I wish every one of you could have seen the utter joy and delight she spread among all of us. It was simply a moment to treasure and for that I am grateful. May each of you receive such a gift.
Peace, Joan

Sent by Joan | 6:05 PM | 6-13-2007

I suspect at the top of many of our lists is reading Leroy's blog. Thank you for what you bring to the lives of so many. I think I'll try reading your blog WHILE having cookies and milk.

Sent by Sandi Li | 6:29 PM | 6-13-2007

Leroy, Your blog is the first thing I read every morning. Even though your entry was so positive. It has been hard for to be positive today. Today was my 43rd birthday and I had the pleasure of spending most of the morning having pre-admission testing done for my upcoming surgery. It is I think my 5th surgery (chemo brain)...I can't keep up with it all. This suregery will entail 3 surgeons cutting out radiated tissue and replacing it with muscle from my thigh. All these surgeries were due to being treated for stage 3 colorectal cancer. As of my last scan (jan 07...the only date I can remember si 10/24/05 when I was diagnosed), I was still cancer free and my tumor markers were still low ( whatever that means). I go Friday to have them checked again. It is a neverending journey. I am not one to speak out about how I feel. I try to be brave and upbeat but today i just couldn't because you can't even enjoy your birthday with your family without having to deal with the beast. Many of the members of the cancer world have given me the courage to just come out and speak openly about how I feel. I am tired of doctors', hospitals, tests, scans and everything this disease causes you to have to do and have. I am tired of dealing with financese and insurance companies and I actually have a cancer rider and still have to haggle with them. I want to be the working mother of three again that could run from practice to another with my children. My husband has to domost of it now because I am either tired, don't feel well or haveing problems with my illeostomy. I have learned to listen to the possible good outcomes that all of my many doctors tell me and expect the worse. I am sorry for venting but it has been a bad day which I know everyone who reads this blog has experienced.I'll expect I'll wake up tomorrow and feel emotionally a little better and get the enjoyment back of just watching my kids grow. All of you have touched my life in some way or the other and you are all in my prayers.

Sent by Kim Lukich | 7:54 PM | 6-13-2007

Dear Leroy and this wonderful community,

I have been following this blog since the TV show aired and have learned so much about "living with cancer." My best friend was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer 3 months ago - she's 41 with an 8 month old baby. This blog has given me so much insight and hope.

The first weeks were horrible, but in the midst of it, we all grabbed on to the little things that give us all such pleasure and made them a key part of her fight. Her fight color - orange; her fight drink - margarita; her fight song - "Not Ready to Make Nice" -Dixie Chicks; and everyone on her fight team went out and got an orange pedicure(well, at least all the women). Throughout this difficult time there have been countless smiles, laughs and precious moments of enjoying the small pleasures of life.

Leroy, I wish you the best with your upcoming radiation and a buttery warm chocolate chip cookie and milk follow-up. Stephanie, I wish you the best with your surgery and may your families' smiles and hugs greet you at post-op. Thank you all for your wisdom.

Sent by A. V. Terry | 7:55 PM | 6-13-2007

To Kim,lay your head down...and say "thank you Lord the best part of this day is that it is almost over." Joy will come in the morning.Stephanie, Our Prayers are with you.

Sent by Sandra G | 9:06 PM | 6-13-2007

Dear Leroy.
Today is my first day to your blog. Just a little while ago I watched the Discovery Channel special "Living with Cancer." I dont remember when it originaly aired, but I asked my mother to tape it for me because I did not have a TV at the time to watch (I am a 20 year old college student who was living as a vagrant for a couple weeks while I was waiting for my new lease to start). Well she did and I did not get to see her for a while because of my work and living 2 hrs away. Finally I got the tape and relized that I had to have a VCR to watch a tape. After many weeks I finally accomplished my goal and watch it. It was great. It moved me and so many of the things that were said, I had thought myself at some point. I am only 20 years old, but I am a two time cancer survivor and it is something I am very proud of. My first experience was when I was five and the second one was when I was fifteen. Both were Acute lymphatic luekemia and I just celebrated my one year anniversary off of chemo. Since then I have been wondering how I can give back or help those who are going through the same experience. Your show was really amazing and I know that it helped so many out there feel better about what they are going through. I was sad to see that as soon as I checked your blog I found out that your tumors had returned and it hit me on a personal note. I have had the same kind of cancer twice and there is always a potential that it could happen even again. Every day it crosses my mind that things could change again but that never stops me from living my life to the fullest. Lance Armstrong said in the show that getting cancer changed him and he would not be the man he is today with out it. This is so true for me and millions of others out there. I cant imagine, and I dont want to imagine, who I would be without it. Cancer has been in my life since I was 5 years old. Scary as that may be, I dont know life without it. There is always going to be a risk and I am not going to let that get in my way. I dream of starting a family in the future and I wonder if I could pass this onto my kids (if I can even have kids... I am honestly too scared to go to lab and find out). Healthcare is a big problem for me. I will soon be off my parents plan and I have to make sure I can find a good job right away so that I have coverage. Even though I am off chemo, I am still Living with Cancer every day of my life as you are yourself. Its hard. It always is and always will be but we need strong people like yourself. Even though you are going through such a hardship you put yourself out there to help others and thats what makes you an amazing person. Thank you for your show and this blog. Keep up the good fight and keep posting things that I have thought of myself. It makes me feel that I am not alone out there. Hopefully I can find my way to help others personally like you have. I will be praying for you and checking your blog now regularly.

Sent by Eric Heffinger | 9:23 PM | 6-13-2007

I just finished watching the "Living With Cancer" show which I recorded almost 2 months ago. Why I couldn't make the time to watch it before tonight I do not know. What a huge impact that show has made already for me.

Leroy, your attitude and strength is truly amazing. I was 16 when diagnosed with testicular cancer. I had the same doctors as Lance Armstrong (or should I say, he had the same doctors as I as my diagnosis and treatments came in 1994?). I've had 2 reoccurances since then, but "clean" since my last surgery on December 31, 1997. Wow, almost 10 years - I didn't realize until typing this. But still, not a day goes by that I don't think about it all, what it meant then, what it still means today, and what it means for the future. Not for just for me, but more so what it means for my wife and to try to understand what she goes through now. I didn't know her when I was first diagnosed. But she was with me during the last reoccurance. She says she can't begin to try to understand what I must think about or feel like....but then I don't worry about myself and instead, think the same thing about her and how it impacts her.

Watching that show has motivated me to do something. What, exactly? I don't know yet. Maybe write a book, maybe just talk about it more. I don't know why, but it has never been something I openly discussed....not even with my family. Maybe it is because a part of me feels "robbed." Maybe it is because I don't want any "different" treatment or sympathy of any kind. I don't know why exactly. But the show made me realize I have alot of thoughts inside that I need to get out. I didn't realize how it has really been eating at me all this time just because I didn't let it out.

Leroy, I had not heard your story before the show, but I was gripped immediately. I wish you the very best and will now be reading this blog every day - out of concern and interest in you as well as to be part of a community where I might be able to release some of my own thoughts. Thank you for sharing your story, and the best to you and everyone here.

Sent by Andy | 11:32 PM | 6-13-2007

Leroy, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins is a wonderful novel that can transport you to places where cancer seems curable. And it's a fun read. Many blessings to you!

Sent by Dori | 7:13 AM | 6-14-2007

To Eric and Andy

You can do a world of good if you volunteer as a public speaker with your local cancer society. They use people to talk to organizations and schools. Imagine what you could do if you spoke to a group of teenagers, since you were both young when you went through it.

Sent by Bruce | 9:56 AM | 6-14-2007

I see you said you drink a gallon of milk a day. In his book The China Study, Colin Campbell describes strong evidence linking dairy products to cancer and heart problems. I have also seen this advice from other medical professionals also. I have drastically cut back on animal and dairy foods and eat more fruits and vegetables. After doing that, my last PET scan showed some improvement in my cancer whereas the two previous scans showed stable

Sent by John | 2:18 PM | 6-15-2007

It's funny how chemo can change your relationship with food in 24 hours. I love love love coffee and was drinking way too much of it. Chemo made it taste all wrong for me. Sad in a way but then you discover new foods that taste good. And at some point just before the next chemo treatment, everything starts tasting good again and you feel a little normal. At least that's how it is happening for me.

Oh and I love your writer's voice. I'm studying writing and I haven't found my voice but I can sure hear yours.

Sent by Liz | 11:04 PM | 6-15-2007

If you haven't read them try "The Life of Pi" (Yann Martell), "Confederacy of Dunces" (Kennedy O'Tool), "Lamb"(Moore), and "The Short History of Nearly Everything"(Bryson) have been good reads for me as of late. Also, "Full Catastrophe Living" (Kabat-Zinn) has provided some ease and perspective for me since my diagnosis. If you haven't tried a good ol' New Mexican burrito with eggs, bacon, potatoes, cheese smoothered in green chile, you should...jalapenos have only heat, roasted green chile has heat and flavor...

To a good day Leroy!

Sent by john | 10:34 PM | 6-16-2007

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