Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter YEAH

So I didn't make it to church today. I'm starting a new tradition where I feel like death on Easter and just want to puke my guts out. If you remember from my post last year, this really isn't that new. But my church attendance is really not the point of this post...

I didn't grow up attending church and I'm actually very thankful for that. I don't think my faith would be the same if I had grown up in church. I did grow up in a christian home and I was taught the meaning of Christmas and Easter, but we only really went to church a couple of days a year. I was baptized in second grade, but I don't really think I understood the meaning of what it meant. I really liked the idea of Jesus, but I'm not sure I realized the depth of what that decision meant. It wasn't until sixth grade, when my parents got divorced and I moved back to Texas, that I really started attending church. At the time, that was really what I needed. I needed someone to cling to, someone to lead me through a confusing time in my life, and I am so glad that the someone I chose was Jesus. I remember sitting in my aunt's backyard thinking "Wow. God really does love me. His love is limitless and he treats me WAYYY better than I deserve." Not long after I rededicated my life to Jesus. And then two years ago yesterday, I was baptized again in the Gulf of Mexico. When I was lowered into the ocean, a huge wave crashed over me. I don't know if it was just the timing, but I like to think that was God covering me in his love and grace.

Today, two years later, I never would have thought that I needed God as much as I did this past year. And the need only grows every single day. Without Him, I would have nothing. I would be lost. I would be lonely. I would never feel like I was enough. But because Jesus died on the cross for me, I can have the relationship I have with God. Because Jesus died on the cross, I know I will never be alone. Because Jesus died on the cross, I can experience limitless love. Because Jesus died on the cross, I can be happy because I know where I'm going. So thank you, Jesus, for giving your life for me so that I can experience perfect love that will never leave me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Guest Writer

Hey guys! This post is actually from a guest writer telling his story of how cancer affected his life. I just anted to write a short blurb before I shared the story saying that Cancer is not an individual disease. When someone is diagnosed with Cancer, their whole family has it. Although the disease is only attacking one body, the family is attacked in different ways. Families have to stress over financial issues, parents internalize driving spouses to drift apart,  siblings have no one to talk to about how they're feeling and may even feel left out or unloved because the parent's attention is on their sick child. Imagine having to watch a family member of your's fighting for their life, it's unhealthy. No one wants to go through that, but way too many people have to. So even though one member is physically sick, the whole family might as well be diagnosed. I'm serious, My Sister's Keeper captures this idea best. Anyways, this is a piece sent to me from the point of view of the caregiver. Enjoy!

Life's Lessons: What Cancer Taught Me as a Caregiver

It was a rough year in 2005, but it had some wonderful beginnings. My family went through an incredible high as my wife Heather and I welcomed our first baby. That was in August. Three months later, Heather was diagnosed with cancer. I learned some tough lessons that year and saw myself grow as a person, but the biggest achievement was learning to be a caregiver for my wife.

No one really tells you how to care for someone who’s sick with cancer. It's a process of learning what works. There are certain things that you have to do, but in those moments when she was overwhelmed by everything, I had to learn the way to help her best. I started learning how to be a caregiver the moment that we went to the doctor together to find out what was wrong. She had been sick for the past few months. Finally, the test results came back. She had malignant pleural mesothelioma. Some people feel numb when they're told that they have a deadly disease, but for my wife, I could feel nothing but overwhelming sadness. We had just built this beautiful life together, and now it was being threatened. We had to make some tough decisions that day to save Heather's life.

After that visit to the doctor, everything fell into an emotional havoc. There were days when I had so many things to do that I was too exhausted to even sleep, simply overcome by my thoughts. My wife was unable to work and we still needed to pay our bills, so in addition to caregiving duties, I also had to go to work as much as I possibly could and think about what I really wanted to be doing. I wanted to be there with my wife and baby. I kept picturing all of our possessions being sold off and losing the house if I didn't work as hard as I possibly could to pay for treatment. There were moments when I completely lost control and broke down in private, but I never let my wife or child know. I had to be the rock for them.

Luckily, we didn’t have to fight this battle alone. Our family, friends and even people we didn't know reached out to us. They offered everything that my family needed from a kind word to flowers to financial assistance to help with medical bills and treatment. Heather's parents were extremely pivotal in that regard. They not only provided a place for Heather to recover after surgery, but they also watched Lily for a time to alleviate some of the stress while we traveled. It was rough, but we made it work together. I will never be able to fully thank those who contributed to my family's happiness in such dark times.

Being a caregiver wasn't an easy road. I know that I made some mistakes along the way. Every day I went through a stream of emotions while still being the rock to my family. It was the toughest thing that I ever had to go through. However, I never really gave up hope that there would come a brighter day and that Heather would make it through this ordeal. Despite all of my fears, she was stronger than I ever could have imagined, and she made me stronger as a person as well.

Years went by, and things finally went back to normal. Heather had to go through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to get here, but she's here. She fought mesothelioma and won. Even when they told her that she may have 15 months to live, she still managed to gain strength and keep fighting. I hope that I was part of the reason that she was able to do that. After seven years, she is cancer free and we have a happy, healthy family together. I'm so appreciative to all those who have helped us and continue to remind us that we are a strong family because of the challenges that we faced together.

Now, Heather and I hope that by sharing our story of success over this terrible cancer, we can help inspire hope in others who are currently battling disease of their own. Never give up hope, and never stop fighting for the ones you love.

Do Something

Look at me posting up a storm this month! 

So I listened to this Macklemore song called Otherside and it really has me thinking. I know it's about drugs, and has a really great lesson,  listen to it, it's beautiful, but the song has me thinking more about my life plans.
 At one point he says "I swore I was gonna be someone, and growing up everyone does." How true is that? Growing up I said I was going to travel the world, I was going to make a difference any way that I could. And then I got older and realized that life gets in the way and you can't always be what you imagined when you were a kid. Somehow I became totally content with the idea of being an accountant. I drifted so far from what I wanted to be because I was planning for the future. I liked the idea of security, and I still do. But now life isn't really letting me have that. I love having a plan and over the past year I have been struggling to make a new plan that suits the news I keep being told. But really that's impossible. Trying to make a plan only leaves me extremely stressed and in the middle of a self crisis trying to figure out where I'm going to go from here. I can't build a house if the sand beneath it keeps shifting. I keep trying to plan my life, saying I'll do this, this, then this, when in reality I can't. I don't know how I'm going to feel six months from now let alone tomorrow so there's no way I can plan the rest of my life.  Even after these last scans I keep trying to change my plans and things that I really want to do are being pushed aside. So my point is, I swore I was going to do certain things when I grew up. Well here I am. I'm an adult and in the best health that I'll ever be. So why not do something now, while I still can? I am writing this and making it public to hold myself accountable. The things I want to do WILL happen. Life gets in the way and that's alright, but I'm honestly not going to have another opportunity to do these things and I can't let this opportunity go to waste in an effort to have a secure life. The fact is I'm never going to have a secure life.
So do something. And do it now.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Scans- Round 3

So I had scans during spring break to see how my cancer is progressing. I didn't actually get to meet with my doctors until a few days after the scans so I started a bet with a few friends on how many new tumors I would have. My bet was 6, but I was wrong. At least it was better than my sister's bet of 14. Anyways, I have three new tumors, so I now owe my friend, Kyle, a piece of gum. That was the wager. My friends are cheap, right?
 Anywho, I have two new tumors in my chest. I don't want to get all technical and use medical terminology, mainly because I really don't know it, so their general location is around my trachea. Tumors produce liquid (eww, nasty), so now I have liquid building up in one of my lungs. That shouldn't do anything besides make me out of breath easily, which I'm kind of glad because I just thought I was really really out of shape. I also have a new tumor sitting on my liver. FUN STUFF.

This sounds really weird, but I need help naming these new little guys! I promised to name one Puff Daddy and I was thinking about naming another one The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, but I'm still kind of iffy on that name. The naming process is important and names can't be given all willy nilly, you can't just rename a child. Any suggestions on names?


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Brave the Shave

So I don't want my blog to become a huge fundraising website, but this cause probably means even more to me than the last one I told y'all about. It's called Brave the Shave and it's hosted by Saint Baldrick's. Brave the Shave is a fundraiser where people can donate money or even choose to shave their head, which is just as helpful as donating money (and maybe even a little more important, but I'm a little biased). Shaving your head for Saint Baldrick's acts as a walking advertisement for a great cause. Not much money at all (I believe less than a penny of every dollar raised) gets donated towards research goes towards pediatric cancer, so it's up to private organizations, such as this one, to raise money and do their own research so that children can have a chance at life. If you can't donate money, but want to help, sign up to have your head shaved!

I cannot tell you how important that is to someone with cancer. The only people that volunteered to shave their head for me when I was going through chemo were my mom and sister and I cannot tell you how alone that made me feel. Even though I had tons of people rooting me on and wearing t-shirts with my name on it, I didn't have one person that looked like me and only two who were truly willing to stand with me when I had to shave my head. It really really does mean the world to someone dealing with cancer to have people willing to shave their head for you so you don't feel like a freak by being the ONLY bald person in your life. And remember, hair does grow back!

So if you would like,  donate here and if you want to shave your head, talk to me about it! I would love to help you sign up if you're going to be in Austin that day, or even if you're not! You can still shave your head and tweet or facebook about it to raise awareness for Saint Baldrick's or pediatric cancer in general.

OR if you want to support my friend who is shaving her head you can click here! She's a really great person and needs all the help she can get to raise money. Plus, SHE'S ACTUALLY SHAVING HER HEAD FOR THE CAUSE. She's going all out and not many people do that so please please please help her out.  I can't upload her video, but here's a link to it!

P.S.- I'll be speaking at the event, so come and support if you can!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why me?

I wonder like ALL THE TIME why God gives us the lives he gives us. I know the struggles that we all deal with are to teach us lessons and mark our friend's lives, but I always wonder why he gives that  individual person the struggles they deal with. I wonder if I'm spiritually strong enough to give people advice on things or teach them things. I'll be the first to admit that my bible does not get opened near enough and definitely don't pray enough. Am I really strong enough to live a life that is an example to others? Am I worthy enough to be an inspiration? So this question is not a woe is me, why was I given such a huge trial that is going to put me through so much pain and sickness "why me" question. This question is an ok, I would love to be an inspiration to others, but am I really the right person to do it question. This is a why am I so special "why me" question. Why did God choose me out of everyone that he possibly could, why did he pass over people that are WAY more equipped to set an example and choose me?

Then I remember that I'm not in this alone. God is not just using me by giving me this and then throwing me out to fend for myself, he is speaking through my words and actions. Even though it takes me way longer to get to a certain place than it would take someone else, He brought me here. He is always with me. Always. He is leading me to where I need to be and won't leave me alone no matter what. Even when I'm struggling with Him and just want to be left alone, I am still his. He loves me and won't forsake me.

"When you walk through the water, I will be with you. When you pass through the river, the waves will not overtake you. When you walk on the fire, the flames they will not touch you. You are mine."

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I want to be the start of a ripple effect

I want to change the lives around me. I want to change the world. I want to leave a legacy.