I SHOULD’VE EATEN THE BLACK-EYED PEASI have a feeling that this New Year’s Eve, I’ll look back on 2013 in a way I’ve never seen any other year. The year 2013 kicked off with me being a resident of Beeville after 20+ years of living in San Antonio. In mid-February, just after moving into my home on Fairway Ridge, I embarked upon a 10-week wildlife photo contest that would entail dedication, energy, time and a lot of work. In the middle of shooting for the contest, my appendix went haywire and I landed in the Beeville hospital with an appendectomy on April 15. Soon after, I was back in the field, taking pictures.Shooting for the contest ended June 2; on June 3 I discovered something that told me I needed to get to a gynecologist; the timeline appears below, but after an appendectomy, and then a hysterectomy leading to a cancer diagnosis on July 1, I will now and forevermore refer to 2013 as the Year of the Scalpel!THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOWAs I’ve known friends and relatives who have been diagnosed with cancer over the years, I was one of those who felt I never knew what to say or ask. I also never thought I would have cancer.Now that I am on the inside of this cancer thing, no longer an awkward stranger to it, I feel calm. I don’t want this to be a bigger deal than it is, but I don’t want to underestimate its importance, either. I want to respond appropriately to this condition in terms of the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and medical. In the interest of setting myself up for success, I want to do what I should and need to do to allow treatments to do their job. ACTION IS THE ANTIDOTE TO WORRYI am pleased with how quickly I’ve gone from my one detectable symptom to an appointment at MD Anderson:
June 2 – Noticed first symptom
June 5 – Saw gynecologist
June 5 – Had an ultrasound
June 6 – Gynecologist called to say I had an enlarged left ovary
June 10 – MRI and blood tests
June 13 – Saw gynecologic oncologist in San Antonio
July 1 – Hysterectomy performed, cancer confirmed. Serous cell cancer began in the fallopian tube and spread to the ovary, hence a Stage IIa diagnosis. No other tissue or lymph nodes involved.
July 4 – Returned home from hospital
July 7 – Contacted MD Anderson for appointment
July 9 – Anderson called with preliminary appointment date of July 29, pending confirming insurance and receiving medical reports
July 12 – Anderson called again to confirm July 29 appointment. I’m set!
July 28 – Travel to Houston with Raymond Butler, staying at the nearby apartment of Randy & Julie Vrana
July 30 – Appointment at MD Anderson at 8:30am, accompanied by Julie Vrana
MY STATE OF MINDI am not worried. I have done everything I could as quickly as I could, to get the ball rolling on evaluation and treatment.I am not anxious. My body and my spirit are strong, and I am up for this challenge.I am grateful. I am surrounded by family and friends who love me, and have already stepped up to help me in ways I can only describe as humbling. THIS BLOGI began this blog for several reasons. First, I want those who are interested in my progress and present circumstances to have a place to come for information. Secondly, I believe this will provide me with a worthwhile outlet for communicating my thoughts, feelings and anecdotes relative to being a cancer patient and obtaining treatment. Finally, perhaps it will become a resource to others who either have cancer or who care about someone who does. This is one of those pivotal life experiences that is mine to share, not keep to myself. It strikes me as selfish to go through something like this and not put it out there for the benefit of others! PHOTOGRAPHY AS THERAPYWhen I began my photography obsession in the spring of 2011, I had no idea that it might just be how I get through the rigors of chemotherapy. I’ve come to experience my time behind the camera as my zen state, an almost holy space that’s occupied only by me and whatever citizen of nature I’m photographing. It is a pure and peaceful place, and one that feeds my spirit. I embrace it as a gift from the Good Lord, one of many.So, tomorrow I’ll travel the easy distance to my dear brother John’s Nueces Ranch in La Salle County for a couple of days of photography. I will look for beautiful birds and deer in velvet. If I’m lucky, I might even find a nice snake to photograph…or a bobcat! I will spend time with the ranch managers, Keven and Debbie Currie, who have become like family to me. TO ALL, THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT ME!