Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Food”

32 Years…A Timeline Of Survivorship

Today I recognize yet another anniversary of the day I finished my chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, now 32 years ago. Among my circle of fellow survivors, many of us recognize this date, while others choose to go with the date that they were diagnosed. Going with the diagnosis date as the anniversary date, is supported by a popular concept recognized by many organizations, that just being diagnosed with cancer, makes you a survivor. For me, I use my last day of treatment. Technically, March 2nd was the last injection I received, but I still had one oral drug I was taking until March 3rd.

As I am still following precautions for Covid19, tonight is going to be just as it has been the last two years, just a quiet night, likely a lot of reflecting. As I have mentioned many times before, thirty-one times before in fact, this anniversary is bittersweet to me, because of all the other survivors not just that I have known, but also never had the chance to meet, who either did not survive their battle with Hodgkin’s, or lost their battle with their late developing side effects, similar to what I deal with.

While it is no small fete to continue to survive cancer, now into my fourth decade, the health issues from the treatments that were used to save my life, are a major struggle for me as they continue to add up. This is now the 3rd anniversary that has followed yet another major surgery. I have had three major surgeries in the last three years, two of those surgeries last year. Two of the surgeries involved my heart, the other, a carotid artery.

Looking back, over the decades, in spite of what I have gone through, I would not change my mind in the decision to accept the treatments that saved my life. The alternative was a certain death from one of the most curable forms of cancer.

May 20th, 1990, just over two months of completing chemo, I got married (for the first time). Seven years later, I began a career that not only fulfilled me, but would provide me with one of the most important benefits of my survivorship, health insurance I had otherwise been denied, just because I had cancer.

Another big anniversary, 2004, I became a father for the first time and welcomed my oldest daughter, Madison.

Two years later, 2006, Madison would become a big sister to Emmalie.

In 2008, my life after cancer would change in a dramatic way.

This photo has been used many times on my blog. This photo was taken when I came home following my first heart surgery, an emergency double bypass that would be attributed to damage from the radiation used to treat my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This would be a major turning point for me. Because in spite of being told at that time that I was going to die, at any time from a fatal heart attack, I could not have wanted to live more. And to that, I credit Madison and Emmalie with giving me every reason to want to live. The thing is, I had no idea, this situation was not something once and done.

I had finally heard the term “long term cancer survivor,” and it was used to describe cancer survivors who faced late developing side effects from their cancer treatments. Health surveillance of me would discover that I had additional damage to my cardiac system (specifically my heart), my lungs, my gastrointestinal system, my thyroid, my upper torso (neck and shoulders), my spine, and more. The damage from my treatments was finally progressing enough that it was getting noticed.

I was determined though. Like I said, my daughters gave me the will to want “tomorrow,” a lot of “tomorrows” in fact. And that will would be tested, again and again.

Between March of 2012 and February of 2013, I would make five trips to the emergency room, one via ambulance again facing a potentially fatal event, the others less critical but serious nonetheless. Each time, all I could think about, were my daughters.

2014 would bring other challenges, not cancer related, divorce from my second wife, mother of my daughters, and the loss of my career, due to the rapid declining of my health. My determination to see my daughters grow up, into adulthood, could not have been any stronger.

In 2019, I would have my second heart surgery, a remnant from my 2008 open heart surgery, that had been left unrepaired, in what turned out to be false hopes of correcting itself via the open heart surgery.

Of course, later in the year, Covid19 would strike. But as my doctor once told me, “I cannot stop or reverse what is happening,” and that meant I would be extra challenged in 2021, not once, but twice. I needed to have my left carotid repaired, and eight months later, my third heart surgery, both performed while not only trying to not get infected with Covid19, but under the strictest of protocols in the hospital.

I expect a few of the upcoming years to be uneventful, at least I hope, which will allow me to steamroll to other exciting things that will happen in my life; my daughters graduating high school, college, and hopefully marriage and grandchildren. These were things I did not expect to see when I was told that I had cancer, and definitely did not expect to see, following that first heart surgery. But now, I will do all I can, and expect everything of my body not to let me down, so that I can complete my life.

On a final note, and yet another reminder of why I do not necessarily celebrate this day, I have a fellow survivor, going through open heart surgery today, again, another survivor of the treatments that cured her of her Hodgkin’s. But she is an even stronger fighter, in that she has beaten cancer multiple times. Gail, you are in my thoughts, and I will be looking for the updates on your recovery.

As I always do on this post, I will close with my annual expression, “as I continue down the road of remission, I will keep looking in my rear view mirror to make sure you are still following me. And if you are not on that highway yet, hurry up. It’s a great ride.”

A Shortage I Just Don’t Understand

Not since the great Liverwurst shortage at the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic, has my life been so affected. But it seems, there is a shortage of my favorite breakfast treat, the cinnamon fry from Publix. I do not eat them often, but oh are they ever the best when they are fresh and warm. Krispy Kreme eat your heart out.

Alas, the last several times that I have gone in search of these mouth-watering treats, now going on several weeks, the slot inside the bakery cabinet that they are normally located, is a replacement donut. When I ask, and plead with the employee how much I enjoy these baked goods, the person behind the counter acknowledges the fact that they are that good, but has no solid answer as to when to expect a new supply. Come on man, it is just dough and a couple other ingredients. This makes no sense. There is no shortage of dough.

Do you know what else makes no sense?

A self-created gas shortage. Now, in full disclosure, these are not my photos, but rather shared from other friends social pages, so I do not know if these are actually current pictures or where they are located. But besides the stupidity of the concept of rushing out to panic buy gasoline, when there is no shortage, is actually creating one. And I will at least give some credit to the ones using actual legal containers.

Ok, so this last one did happen today, and locally. Yep, can’t wait until this dope has to hit her brakes hard enough and the fuel starts slopping all over the car. Then again, she might be planning on re-enacting a Pinto episode (you have to be old enough to remember that fiasco).

A Russian hacker took advantage of our insufficient infrastructure and got into the system of one of our pipelines. It should never have happened, but the actions of the hacker shut down the flow of oil all along the east coast of the United States. That is the simple explanation. The hacking should be the only serious problem because, well, we have other things that are clearly vulnerable as well, such as our water supply, our electrical grids, and medical system just to name three. Our country is so behind in cyber security, these should be real issues. Instead, we, collectively, are creating another one, a self manufactured gas shortage.

First, there had been no shortage of gasoline to stations until people started going out, panic buying gas. The truth is, there was plenty of gas at the pumps and distributors until the panic buying started. Then the pipeline being shut down became a problem. In Florida, it was just sheer stupidity, because most of Florida does not rely on that pipeline, as it gets its fuel from Gulf resources.

So, there you have it. To quote Forest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does.” Once again, like the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, we have done it to ourselves again. Greed, hoarding, and just plain selfish behavior have done it again.

Now, about real shortage, how soon before those cinnamon fries come back in? What do we need to do to restore the flow of these yummy donuts?

I’m “Gonna Miss This”

It is inevitable.  It is something parents have to go through.  A child turning18.

Over the years, it has gone unnoticed by my daughters how many photos I have taken of them over their childhood.  It is safe to say, thousands.  They definitely notice now, and get teenage-level annoyed as I attempt yet another photo.  I try to explain to them, that I feel bad, as there are not many pictures of me with my parents to reflect on.  I want these pictures for them in the future.  And for me right now.

I spend a lot of my time, looking over time.  Time from when each daughter was placed into my arms to today.  I do this mainly in between visits with them, not being able to see them every day.

I realize, just because my daughter is turning 18, becoming an adult, she is always going to be my daughter.  I get that.  But right now, the world is not ready, or worthy of a child with such a beautiful and kind heart.  By the same token, the world does need someone like her, now, more than ever.

I have been celebrating with her this week, and she will turn 18 next week with her mother.  The next time I see her, she will be my adult child.  Gone are the days of reading bedtime stories, amusement rides, and lots of giggles being shared.  Now I have to hope that I have done all I can as a father to teach her the important things that will help her in life, from relationships, to careers, to money management, to being happy.

As a DJ, I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons doing weddings, and playing songs for Fathers and the brides, and annual Daddy/Daughter Dances.  And during each, I had the opportunity to play songs that would forever last in each and every dad’s heart as they heard it, and danced with their daughter.  As I look through the photos of my daughters, this soundtrack plays with an endless loop.  I love both of my daughters to the ends of this earth.  And as one becomes an adult, I am going to cling on to my other teen, for as long as I can.

So, I would like to share some special lyrics I have heard over the years.

Trace Adkins – “You’re Gonna Miss This”

“You’re gonna miss this.  You’re gonna want this back.
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.
These are some good times.  So take a good look around.
You may not know it now.  But you’re gonna miss this.”

Thomas Rhett – “Remember You Young”

“And hey, babies, crawling on the carpet, no, you won’t be that little for long.
One day, you’ll move away, but you’re still gonna stay this innocent after you’re gone.
‘Cause no matter how much time goes by, and no matter how much we grow up
For worse or for better, from now ’til forever, I’ll always remember you young.”
Alabama – “Never Be One”
“No. you’ll never be one again.  The two’s are tumbling on in.
Daddy’s little girl is growing up in the world.  You’ll never be one again.”
Tim McGraw – “My Little Girl”
“You’re beautiful, baby, from the outside in.  Chase your dreams, but always know the road that’ll lead you home again.
Go on, take on this whole world, but to me you know you’ll always be my little girl.”
Peter Cetera (of Chicago) – “Apple Of Your Daddy’s Eye”
“If I had my way, time would stand still.  You’d stay as sweet as you are.
But time waits for no one.  It never will.  Your gonna leave me soon enough.
I’m just sad ’cause you’re growing up.  Held you in my arms so tight.
I’d never forget the best years of my life.”
Al Martino – “Daddy’s Little Girl”
“You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold, you’re daddy’s little girl to have and hold.
A precious gem is what you are, you’re daddy’s bright and shining star.”
Darius Rucker – “It Won’t Be Like This For Long”
“It wont be like this for long, one day soon that little girl is gonna be All grown up and gone.
Yeah this phase is gonna fly by, he’s trying to hold on, it won’t be like this for long.”
John Berry – “How Much Do You Love Me?”
“Children grow and years go by, moms and dads get grey.
Little girls get married and give their dinosaurs away.
They’ll live their grown up lives and call their daddies now and then.
And from a thousand miles away I’ll hear her on the stairs again,
“How much do you love me?”  “How much do you really care?”
I touched heart, spread my wings and said, “All the way to there”.”
Steve Kirwin – “My Little Girl”

“You wrapped me ’round your finger, your smile made me melt.
I wished so many times I would’ve told you what I felt.
From your first steps to sweet sixteen, the rush of memories feels like a dream.

I see the woman in you, but for my whole life through, you’ll always be my little girl.”

Happy birthday to my “ting ting”.

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