There are moments in life that stick with you… most are happy moments while others are not. I remember the word cancer from the conversation with my dermatologist. A moment that sticks. I also remember the day my wife asked me to marry her (yes you read that right). That was a moment that sticks. I remember the birth of my daughters and cutting both of their umbilical cords. Moments that stick. I remember talking to my father on the phone the night he passed. A moment that sticks.
Not every moment that sticks has to be life changing. I remember sitting at Pigeon Lake as a teen and trying to smoke ears of corn with my great friend Jim Webb. I remember front porch pizza in Marblehead with my dear friend Alex Leikikh. I remember doing nothing together with Kevin Murtagh when there was nothing to do. All moments that stick. I like to think my memories of skin cancer, surgeries and chemotherapy will fade while these other memories stick. I hope so.
It is my dear friend Alex Leikikh who is responsible for so many memories these past few “cancer free” years. At some point after chemo he suggested a triathlon and at some point I said okay. Silly, silly me. That was 7 triathlons ago: 2 sprint distance, 3 Olympic distance, 2 half-Ironman distance. Now what? Climb a mountain? The honey-do list? Nope, another silly decision. This weekend I race in the Ironman Lake Placid with Alex Leikikh. 140.6 miles. I have trained for 10 months and somewhere in my head I feel like I am ready. In other parts of my head I am anxious and scared. In my heart I am in awe of my family. They have been the greatest support through cancer, triathlons, training and bad Dad jokes. My wife Christy is the best part of me. She is my everything. My daughters Jordan and Kaiti are my constant reminders of what unconditional love means and all that is great in this world. They will finally get a cancer free/triathlon free Dad back next week.
This training, this hard work, this commitment for Ironman Lake Placid has been hard, very hard. But it has taught me to celebrate the journey. Celebrate your journey in every way so that you arrive at the destination with a smile! I hope to cross the finish line with a big smile.
Thanks for stopping by,
Today was a day for family and friends. A day to heal. A day away from the blog. A day that now finds me snuggling with my girls. Watching the Jungle Book. I have a fantastic life…skin cancer and all.
Day 34. Thanks for stopping by
My doctor once told me that our lips heal rather quickly…a result of the need for our rough and tumble ancestors to eat and survive. I healed rather quickly 3 years ago when squamous cell skin cancer stole a third of my lower lip. I did it again this time. Rapid lip recovery. The burning is gone. I am able to eat. I am able to sleep. But I am not able to yawn. For the record: Stifling a yawn is the worst. It incredibly frustrating. Fact: It actually makes you more tired to stifle a yawn (I just made that up but I think it could be true). Unfortunately For me; a big yawn would rip the healing in the corner of my mouth. Stifle, stifle, stifle.
Breaking news. A rapid lip recovery means that I am returning to FOX 9 Wednesday night. It is earlier than originally anticipated. I am happy. Back to work. Back to the job I love. Back to my other family. Finally out of the house. My wife loves me but I am sure she will be happy. The house will be hers again. By the way, don’t try to reorganize the house for your wife. A pro-tip from me to you. In other news. I am have a little trouble pronouncing the letter “F”. The result of my previous lip surgery scar tissue tightening after this round of chemo. Bear with me, I will try not to use many “F” words on the air. 😀
I have received so many positive notes, comments and emails from you all. There are so many cancer stories. We have too many stories about cancer. So many people need a kind voice. Some of those people suffer with cancer. Some people just need your love. Be that voice. Reach out to someone today. Be that voice of love. Ask yourself the golden question tomorrow morning; what will I do for someone else today?
God bless, thanks for stopping by.
This treatment is similar to a penalty in hockey. It lasts a predetermined amount of time. The penalty box is boring. Trust me. I know. I spent a lot of time in the penalty box…usually for something “elbows Leonard” did not do. This is also really boring, and I did not elbow anybody. There are times in this process where I have felt like I was elbowed in the mouth. Not now. Now I am healing. My mouth still looks a little like raw hamburger but the pain is slowly fading.
The healing can’t come quick enough. This is not like having the flu. With the flu go go to bed. You feel awful. You sleep. Moving your eyelids can hurt. This is different. My mouth is the only place that hurts. The only place I had treatment this time. I don’t want to be in bed. I want to eat. I want to go to work. I want to go for a long run outside. At this point my mother would interject “do you want to see the giraffe?”. It was a pivot she used when we were kids. When we “wanted” things. For some reason it worked. I honestly did not want to see the giraffe.
Skin cancer sucks. A rather simple statement. I want to put it on a shirt. I want to wear it. Everyday. I also want you to go to the dermatologist. I want you to use proper sun protection. I want you to be healthy…and I don’t want to see the giraffe. Make an appointment. It can’t hurt. I promise that I will take you see the giraffe if you go to the dermatologist. Heck, let’s all go see the giraffe! Make the appointment and then make a point to ask the golden question; What have you done for someone else today?
I can’t wait to get back to work.
God bless, thanks for stopping by,
The target of this round of topical chemo is the area around my mouth. My mug, my trap, my yap, my kisser, my pie hole, my bazoo. The result is not pretty and very uncomfortable. Truth be told I have never been considered pretty. I have, however, been called pretty weird. So I have that going for me. Thanks to this topical chemo I now have Lips resembling Steven Tyler. Inflated, but with the added bonus of blisters. I broke down last night. I took a pill for pain. I hate those things. They leave me loopy and tired but at 4 AM I was ready for relief. Now I am loopy and tired. A blur of white fluff to my right. Our dog Jasper has decided to check in. He is using his favorite method of checking in; a bark at the air, a sniff of my feet and a lick of my cheek. He is the best. Like so many of you, the best. So many people have sent notes to check in. So many friends. So many strangers. So much love. I am grateful. I am healing.
With healing comes discomfort. My lips burn to the touch. But I was hungry. I held out hope that someone, somewhere had invented something. A delivery system for food to by pass the lips. God bless the person who invented straws. I rarely use them in everyday life. We have a bunch. Big silicone reusable straws. Bright colors, all sizes, no waiting, excellent. Now I have to figure out how to get a steak, roasted potatoes and glazed carrots into a milk shake.
It wait, How about a book? A kick butt, pull yourself up, and don’t let your mind tell you you can’t do it book; David Goggins, “Can’t hurt Me”. A gift from my great friend and Ironman training/race partner Alex Leikikh. He is as good a friend as anyone could ever want. That “best friend in every movie you have ever seen” kinda guy. We talk almost everyday. He is that kind of friend.
Big lips, big love, big straws and big friends. Big question…what have you done for someone else today?
God Bless, thanks for stopping by.
I love chicken wings. My wife rolls her eyes when I order wings. Sometimes it is in a rather fancy establishment, but I love em…I love chicken wings. I don’t like them too hot. I can do without the really, really hot sauce. The kind no one wants to try. The kind that hurts as much going in as it does coming out. You win a free t-shirt when you eat a dozen wings. THAT hot sauce. That is the way my lips feel …inside and out. There are no wings, just fluorouracil. Topical chemo cream. A penalty for worshipping the sun. A penalty for thinking that having a tan meant I was were healthy.
It hurts. No lie. It hurts, it burns. But I am lucky. No lip removal this time. No big surgery. Instead…the chemo cream.
I am a lucky man. I have an incredible wife and 2 amazing daughters. They are the best at helping me through this. This is the second time. And they are so full of life and love. They inspire me everyday. I also have a wonderful group of friends. My oldest friend in the world called me the other day. Wondering how I was, pushing me to work through this. I love him for that. He is my oldest, and dearest friend. He is a friend that cares and a friend that motivates. His name is Jim Webb. He will hate that I mentioned him, but that is okay. He is a best friend. One of a few. You know who you are. Another bunch of dear friends wanted to come by tonight. I had to say no. I would not be good company. It is tough to open my mouth. Tough to laugh. Not mentally tough…but physically.
It’s all good, I have this. A week of discomfort. A few days to heal. Easy compared to what other people go through. There are friends in your life who need you. They are going through much worse. They need to hear from you. They need a call, a text. Do it. Let them know you care. And keep them in your prayers. Don’t go to bed without asking yourself “what did I do for someone else today?”.
God bless, thanks for stopping by,
It ain’t much but it is the only face I have. Years ago this was the face that never looked quite right in the mirror unless I had a tan. It is also the face that my wife still seems to like even though it is seemingly past the young nubile skin warranty phase. My face, this face where the latest blip of squamous cell cancer popped up last month. This is nothing like my Squamous cell cancer 3 years ago. That was a large tumor. I lost a third of my lower lip. This discovery is small. Beside my redesigned, slightly smaller lip. Almost in the same position you would find a cold sore. Are you ready? I am about to drop some info that may be useful should you ever find yourself on Jeopardy and the category is “mouth”. That part of your mouth is called the commissure. It is the corner of the mouth, where the vermillion border of the superior labium (upper lip) meets that of the inferior labium (lower lip). The commissure is important in facial appearance, particularly during function such as smiling. I like to smile. I like to talk. I don’t like skin cancer. This topical chemo cream is nasty stuff. 2 years ago I used it for a month. This time, less than 2 weeks. It works. It also burns. I apply it twice a day all around my mouth and lips. Location, location, location. Right in my smile zone. Smack dab in the talk zone. That is the reason I needed a break away from the camera.
This will be fine. I have got this. Kinda like taking a late model car into the shop to have some of the door dings repaired. It is not major body work. No lip removal. I will see you in a week or two and will keep you up to date right here.
I appreciate all of the notes on social media, you are all amazing. With that said can I be so bold as to ask a small favor? Reach out to someone who needs to hear from you. Say hello. Let them know you care. Let them know they are in your prayers. Say it out loud, my golden question; What can I do for someone else today?
Thanks for stopping by, God bless,
It arrived, a little early, but nonetheless it is here. You know that zing-bam-pow feeling that happens in your mouth when you bite on tin foil? That is a side effect of this topical chemo cream…and it arrived today. The result of having to use it on my lips and mouth area where the latest blip of squamous cell cancer showed up last month. Same area where squamous cell cancer stole a third of my lower lip a couple of years ago. The problem, other than cancer; I love coffee. I really love coffee. My wife laughs at me because I sometimes chug my coffee. Now it tastes like caffeinated tin foil. But this too shall pass. Let’s recap in case you are scoring at home; my skin is tacky to the touch, my lips are puffy and stick together, my usually monstrous appetite is gone and now coffee tastes like tin foil.
Gotta go, time to reapply this ¥#%?! cream to my face, ugh.
Keep those you know who need help in your prayers. The golden question as you go to bed at night; what did you do for someone else today? Ask it again when you wake up every morning; what will you do for someone else today? Together we can make our little corner of the world a better place. I have got this.
Thanks for stopping by, God Bless
My first day 3 was back on January 6, 2017…and this one feels eerily similar. My skin has started to feel tacky and at times my lips do in fact stick together, and it is not lost on me that some folks applaud that lip sticking together thing. The headaches have started early and light sensitivity can make it hard to be in the studio at times. These are the side effects of Fluorouracil, my topical chemo cream. Thankfully this is just a short version of what was a nasty 40 plus day chemo ride a couple of years ago.
Now I wait for the cream to do its job. Like a wild fire it will attack skin cancer cells and burn them away. I am sure it is much more scientific than that but the whole burning cancer cells thing sounds kinda cool. Cancer sucks.
As usual I ask for your prayers to those who truly need it. Those who are going through much more than I am. Someone, somewhere in your life needs you. Look around and ask yourself one question…what can I do for someone else today? Don’t worry about me. It is all good, I have got this.
God bless, thanks for stopping by
They always said it could come back. They were quite clear. Big or small it could come back. I found it about a month ago. Rather, the blade found it. I cut myself shaving. A rare occurrence for a steady handed fella like me. It was a bump next to my lip. A bump caught the blade. And it would not stop bleeding. That’s the day I became that guy. The guy who shows up at the office with a spot of tissue paper on his face. We all laughed that I was that guy, the little piece of toilet paper on my face guy; good times. The problem happened a week later when the bump grew back quickly. Two week’s and it was back to the original blade catching size. At that point, you just seem know. I don’t know how you know, but you just know. Up til now I had been visiting my dermatologist every 3 months for a check up. I picked up the phone to make an appointment. But it was not a check up. It was another needle, another blade, another biopsy and another spot of Squamous cell cancer. There were tears. A slice, a cut, a scoop and now…now the chemo. Topical chemo cream. Fluorouracil 5%. This will be round number two. If you know me then you also know that the word Hate has always been a word I avoid. But I hate Fluorouracil 5%. I really hate it. Insert all the really bad R rated words here…that is how much I hate it. Nonetheless I have started. It was a start filled with tears. I am not sure why but it was very emotional. You may notice a tinge of redness on the air over the next few days. It is not a sunburn or healthy glow. It is my skin reacting to that cream I hate. Onward to the ouch-ouch dance with my youngest daughter (see my previous blog posts for that reference). Now the part I really don’t like; Using the topics chemo cream means that at some point I will be dropping off the air for a short while. I love being with you every night. But I have to let the skin heal.
It’s all good. This is preventative, to stop any more bumps hitting blades. To be clear, this is nothing like my last time when I lost a third of my lower lip…this time I am not sacrificing any big chunks of flesh. When I talk to groups about my cancer, my personal storm, I always tell them to think of others first. No matter what you are going through…think of others first. There are so many people fighting so much more than this skin cancer of mine. Those are the people in my prayers at night. Those are also the people who should be in your prayers every night.
Thanks for stopping by, God bless