Big Night

Tuesday October 25, 2016.  At 7:00 p.m. tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers will raise the championship banner they won in June (Phil Jackson and the rest of the NY Knicks will be on hand to watch).   One hour later, the Cleveland Indians will host the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series.  Too good to be to true right?

Ironically, the only Cleveland team I have seen live in the last six months — for reasons outside of my control — was the Cleveland Browns on opening day in Philly.  At 0-7 and playing their sixth different quarterback, the only question for the rest of this season is whether the Browns will figure out a way to play themselves out of the first pick in the 2017 draft.  I got to believe that will happen.  And of course, the quarterback that gets picked #1 in April will go on to play in All-Star games and win Super Bowls.  But we have the Cavs and the Indians, and as they said in Believeland, Cleveland fans are forever hopeful and loyal (i.e., the Browns will start next season undefeated).

There are a lot of story lines in this year’s World Series.   The last time the Indians won the World Series Harry Truman was the President (1948).  The Cubs have not won since Teddy Roosevelt was President (1908).  One of these teams has to win.  Indians and Cubs fans  have so many years of agony that either winner will enjoy this more than most.  At the same time, Indians and Cubs fans have so many memories through these years of losing (that are frankly more important than wins) that years of winning would have made unlikely.

I still remember going with my Dad to see Major League in a Cleveland movie theater in 1989 (I was 11).   If you haven’t seen that movie, you should.  Granted it was a movie theater packed with Cleveland fans starved of winning for decades, but it was the first and only movie I have been to where there was a standing ovation for a movie screen.  And the Indians only won their division — not the World Series!

I also remember taking the Cleveland rapid transit downtown with my buddies to see the Indians.   The Indians were so bad when I was growing up that you could get tickets for around ten bucks, which entitled you to an entire row in the bleachers.

As to the present day, of the many stories I have read over the last couple of days, one of the best stories is about the Indians GM Mike Chernoff (link included here) .  The other is about Jon Lester (tonight’s starting pitcher for the Cubs) and Anthony Rizzo (the Cubs starting first baseman) .  These stories need no explanation.  I am sure all you Clevelanders out there will forgive me when I root for Lester and Rizzo.  As well as the Indians, of course.

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While the regularity of my posts has gone down over the last couple of months, this has absolutely no correlation to my prognosis or how things are going.  I am still counting down the days to being done with the intense chemo treatments and returning to normal life.  We are very much on track.  And notwithstanding how crappy some days have been, I love my time with Jen and the kids.  I don’t usually have a chance to watch basketball practice at 4 pm on a Monday or Tuesday or go walking with Jen at 10 am on a Wednesday followed by lunch.  My appreciation for these “moments” is even greater as the light at the end of tunnel comes more into focus.   These moments, together with the unwavering support from family, friends and colleagues, lights a fire inside of you to come back from all of this and do everything a little better.  Jen helps to remind me of this (and everything else that is important) when I get down for stupid reasons (like being out of breath after walking up a hill or feeling like a slob).

On Thursday morning, we head back into the hospital for the last Methotrexate infusion.  In July and August this necessitated three nights at the hospital, but Jen’s medical counseling got us out after only two nights earlier this month.  [After the injection, you cannot leave the hospital until the levels of Methotrexate in your bodily are significantly reduced.  Drinking lots of water helps flush the Methotrexate out of your system.   If Jen comes into the room and I don’t have a 1.5 Liter bottle of water in hand, there are problems.]  There will be another chemo injection on Friday.  After a few days of recovery, we will start the second (and last) “Re-Induction,” which will carry us through mid December.  Although certain treatments can slip a two or day because of blood counts, we have less than 60 days to go.

State of Play

Saturday, October 1, 2016.  My last post (on August 11) was near the end of the first “Intensification” phase of my treatment and just before the start of the first “Re-Induction” phase.  I had just learned that the intense treatments were going to last through 2016; I was incredibly bummed as I had it etched in my brain that I was going to be back in the fall.  But we’re well past that now….

I distinctly remember Jen telling me in mid-August that once we got to September, time was going to fly.  She was spot on.

The first Re-Induction phase ends Monday (on Rosh Hashanah as luck would have it), with one more chemo infusion.  [I am not particularly fond of any chemo, but the chemo on Monday is one of my least favorite since it, among other things, makes my fingers and toes tingle for days].  I am thinking this is not the year to be skipping temple, so I am planning to go tomorrow night and early Monday with Jen and the kids (and we scheduled the chemo treatment accordingly).  I might even go Tuesday as well.

Notwithstanding 3 spinal taps, a steady regime of steroids and chemo pills, and 20 separate chemo infusions over the last 43 days, the first Re-Induction phase has not been so bad.  We avoided overnight hospital stays (really hoping not to jinx that now), only required two blood transfusions (both this past week) and neutralized many prior side effects from the chemo with various medications, including two shots of Lovenox each day — which continues to be my two least favorite moments of the day.

And while my energy level has been low and the constant poking from IV’s drives me crazy (especially the last two weeks when we had eight infusions in the span of 10 days), we have still been able to been able to enjoy many moments over the past seven plus weeks.  From weekends at the shore in late August; walks in the morning after the kids go to school; attending my cousin’s wedding in Boston with many family members; watching the boys play soccer on the weekends; visits with friends; having both our parents in town to help out; live fantasy football drafts for both Jake and Ryan (and constant adjusting to our line-ups ever since); to catching-up on television shows that I never made time to watch (and frankly I look forward to not having time to watch again).

No doubt one of the highlights of this phase was taking the big boys (Brandon is still too young) to the Browns/Eagles game week 1 in Philadelphia.  When I missed Jake’s birthday in May because I was in the hospital, I bought tickets to the game thinking I would be done with treatment.  While I was obviously wrong, there was no way I was missing that game.  And although I did not feel great, we made it happen.  It was a special day.  My dad flew into Philly for the day, and my father-in-law and brother-in-law (who also drove in from NY) came to the game too.  We were fortunate to get field passes on the Browns sideline.  And, as luck would have it, RGIII threw a football to Jake (Jake threw a tight spiral right back to him), Ryan got to throw a ball to Terrelle Pryor, and a Browns coach flipped us a game ball (which Jake held for a good 9 hours (as seen below) and is now in a case).  After that pre-game experience, it did not really matter that the Browns looked like the Browns.  Aside from getting our car towed at my father-in-law’s surgery center, it was a perfect day.

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In addition to driving me to the city for treatment or check-ups on a near daily basis and putting up with my mood swings and general shenanigans, Jen also does everything else around here (car pools, homework, waking up at all hours with one of the kids, breakfast, lunch and on and on and on).  Not to say she does not usually do all of that.  She does, but now also has to take care of me full-time.  I am thinking she might need (and no doubt deserves) a vacation.  The good news is Jen’s vacation is right around the corner.  By my count we have 79 days to go.  And we know exactly what is coming.  Starting as soon as possible after Monday, we follow the same course of treatment that started on July 26 and ends on Monday.  While some people take breaks in between the phases, we have yet to miss a day and don’t intend to.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year.  It is going to be a great year.