Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Time Marches on

It's been a long time since I've posted here. I can't say that I have a good excuse, other than the good news that Anna has defeated breast cancer! My sincerest apologies to those who may have been (or have tried to continue to be) loyal readers. My hope is to continue from here with a bit more consistency.

Where to begin again?

Anna has emerged, fully healthy and cancer free from her fight (remission is a stupid, stupid term). While this may well be the single greatest thing to report, we of course, will always be victims of the "what ifs" that come with annual MRI and mammogram checkups. As said before, the black cloud will always loom. However, knowing you can't live your life in constant worry, we devote ourselves to living life happily, in love with the fact that she's going to be around for a long, long time.
Speaking of MRI's and mammograms, she arose from her recent firsts since treatment perfectly.

Our son is now almost two. Acts like it, too. But a wonderful, beautiful reminder of why we're here on this earth.

We did the Three Day Walk For Breast Cancer, sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation a while ago. 60 miles of walking in three days. To anyone who reads that and thinks, "walking? I could totally do 60 miles," I submit that you're incomprehensibly wrong. I walked every single one of those (expletive) sixty miles. It (expletive) HURT! There were points along the way, that as I walked alone (others would either return to camp to convalesce or catch a van ride to the next checkpoint), I would sit down in a stranger's front yard along the route and literally cry, rationalizing to myself that if i didn't continue, it would only hurt more. As bad as it hurt at the time, I knew I would never forgive myself if I hadn't completed the damned thing, bloody stumps for feet and all.

I fucking owned it.

For at least three weeks later, it owned me. I was awarded the nickname "Gimp Pimp" during the walk. I have a somewhat unnatural "hitch" in my walk due to a hip replacement, but this walk pronounced it to a point that I looked like an octogenarian Ice T on the Red Carpet at the World Porno Awards without a walker. Not a pretty sight.

Needless to say, things are getting back to normal in our lives, but I plan to continue this blog-- not only as the husband survivor of breast cancer, but as a husband and human being period. Some of you may not be interested in all of the posts that take place from here (from my opinions on sports, music, etc), but please know that this will still (and always) be dedicated to the struggle my amazing wife went through, while continuing to be a news bulletin of sorts in regards to her health and well-being.

I appreciate the incredible outpouring of support this blog has provided-- both from friends and family to those I've never met. This interwebby thing can be amazing at times.

Friday, March 23, 2007


The picture of Anna and I is older-- she hadn't yet lost all of her hair. The pictures of Silas are new, however. He will turn one year old this coming Tuesday March 27th.

More photos to come.

Anna begins radiation treatments in a week, and will return to work (part-time) on April 2nd. I think she's really excited to get back.

More updates soon, I promise!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Step two

Well, Anna is done with chemo. She's got a couple of weeks before she starts (daily) radiation treatments, so we spent last week in Yakima as a sort of vacation. It was nice to get out of town and try to forget that we live in the Worst Apartment In The History Of The World. Anna found a wig while we were there-- We discovered you truly get what you pay for. We had purchased a wig from a costume store here in Seattle for about $40, and it was ill-fitting and annoying for her to wear. The wig she found in Yakima fit perfect, looks great (and very real), and set her back almost $300. With that in mind, I've decided I'm going to stop going bald.
I'm very excited to report that I found three pairs of jeans (in the same store!) in Yakima. While this may not sound like breaking news, you should know that my medical condition (NoAssAtAll syndrome) makes it very hard to find pants that fit and look good. I usually try on pants, look in the mirror, and find some seventies disco version of Urkel looking back at me. It's a real problem.
We got to see a lot of family while in the Yak-- the highlight was my grandparents, who had not met Silas yet. I have an incredible picture of all four generations of Schumacher men. Silas loved seeing all of the family. He might be the most sociable child in the world-- I wonder where he got that trait...
There's not too much more to report-- We're in the home-stretch with Anna's treatments, Spring is here, and baseball is on the horizon, so all is good.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wow-- We didn't expect that...

With only one more chemo treatment left, Anna was sure that side-effects such as hair loss were a thing of the past. She called me at work yesterday, and said, "remember how I was complaining a couple of days ago about a weird tinge feeling on my scalp? Well, I'm losing hair again (the tiny little sprigs that have popped up since the initial loss of hair), and my eyebrows are gone."

And all along, she was very excited not to have lost her eyebrows.

At any rate, as stated above, there is only one chemo treatment to go, and that takes us to an interesting crux. I asked Anna the other day if she was excited that it was almost over, and she didn't really have an answer. It's apparent to me that she finds a strange (yet understandable) security in the chemotherapy. As long as it's in her system, she knows that the cancer can't come back. Obviously she'll have the daily radiation treatments for at least six weeks, but I can understand why she's anxious. It's a valid, yet irrational fear. She went to her first Northwest Young Survivors meeting last night, and I think that the group will be good for her. From my experience in attending my group at Gilda's Club, it's a positive thing to be able to meet and share with others in your situation.

Anyway, eyebrows or not, she's plugging away as usual, and cruising toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Note: Stay away from tunnels.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Taxol is taxing

Anna was supposed to get chemo last Tuesday, but wasn't allowed. Her white blood cell count was apparently almost nonexistant, so the oncologist said she would have to wait a week. This didn't make Anna very happy. Yesterday, however, we were good to go. Not without stress, mind you. Anna did her best to stay locked at home, away from germs. She ate healthy stuff. Then Silas became sick with a cold. Silas was jettisoned out to the living room to sleep, thus Daddy was jettisoned as well. Then Daddy got... yeah, of course Daddy got sick. So now after carefully quarantining herself from the rest of the germ-filled world around her, the germs found Silas and I and got in anyway. We tried hard to not get too close, obviously not sleep in the comfy bed, and not cough, sneeze, or drool on or around her (I'm bad with the drool rule). Problem is, when Daddy is left to do all of the caring for the baby, the baby notices his inadequacies and capitalises on making everything twice as hard for him. Anna, unamused, often had to step in and show me "how it's done." It was at each of those points that, like a Rube Goldberg design, Silas would sneeze his mouthful of pureed baby food on her, she would shriek in horror, recoiling and almost falling out of her chair, and finally shoot me a look that said, "you're a moron. Why didn't I marry and have a child with a good-looking pediatrician?"

Worry not-- somehow, by some divine intervention, Anna (up to this point) has made it through unscathed, and was able to get her chemo treatment yesterday. And at least if she does get sick, she has about a week-and-a-half to get better. She now has only two more treatments before a short two week break, and six or seven weeks of radiation. I can't wait for her to be done with this.

The doctor is trying to figure out if it was a virus that initially caused her white blood cell count to plummet, or if she crashed from the Taxol (her new chemo drug). Yesterday's session will be the benchmark, as it were, wherein we discover if it happens again. If so, the doctor said she would likely need to be hospitalised and given fluids and other fun drugs, and she would have to go weekly to chemo instead, getting smaller amounts with each weekly visit. Anna would prefer to keep doing it in one large dose-- just get the damned thing over with and move on. I'm with her.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Halfway Mark

First of all, I'm sorry so much time has passed since my last update. Such is the nature of this beast.
Yesterday's chemo session marked the halfway point for Anna's treatments. This is particularly huge for us, as the drug they will be switching her to is not nausea-inducing like the drugs she's been on. Barring any out-of-the-ordinary circumstances this week or next, Anna will not have thrown up once during chemo. To us that means she's not only endured the treatments like a warrior thus far, but also looked cancer and chemo in the face and laughed. Sometimes it seems to me that nothing can get Anna down. She truly is my hero (sorry, Willie Nelson).
As for the drug they will administer for the final two months, the side-effects can be severe body pain and loss of feeling/possible nerve damage, typically in the fingertips and toes. We're pretty sure Anna will shrug this off too.
Her hair is already coming back. Tiny little blonde hairs poking up all over her perfectly shaped noggin. I'll tell you-- she looks incredible no matter what she does to her hair. Even as bald as Mr. Clean. She could never do radio. She doesn't have the face for it.
Although there's nothing quite like returning to chemo the day after Christmas, our holiday was very nice. Anna's father, stepmother, stepbrother, and grandfather arrived the week prior from South Carolina. It was pretty cool, given that her grandfather ("Pop") had only flown twice since WWII. It was neat to see four generations of her family in the same room. My father and stepmother visited too. It was nice to visit with them-- we always have a great time. They brought a hilarious toy Lone Ranger horse that inexplicably spooked the baby-- He likes it now, but only when it's not making noise. Strange boy. He's terrified of some rubber clown fish bathtub toys he received as well. TERRIFIED. He actually looks over his shoulder for them when in the bath. One can only assume he was a clown fish in a past life.
My mom, stepfather, and brother visited on Christmas Eve, braving the snowy passes. We had a great time, opened presents, and gorged ourselves over lunch at my favorite restaurant (no coincidence that it is filled with plasma screens televising sporting events). Christmas day was relaxing-- just Anna, her sister, the baby, and I. A good day.
I'll update as soon as I can to inform about the new treatment she will begin in two weeks. However, I doubt I'll be able to write much more than "it doesn't seem to affect Anna." I like that.

Friday, November 17, 2006

On A Different Note

When it rains, it pours. If it wasn’t world altering enough to find out that the love of my life was diagnosed with cancer, I’m dealing with the news that someone who has become an unexpectedly good friend from the web is dealing with an even more sobering disease. He has told me he’s been given an alarmingly short amount of time to battle Lou Gherig’s disease. It’s really been weighing on me. Talk about perspective. This is someone I didn’t know from Adam a year-and-a-half ago. This incredible individual participates on a sports forum that I visit daily. Each day, for every post I write, I have a new joke-of-the-day signature that follows my oft-comedic (well, at least I try), and usually inane ramblings. What started out as a relationship built on his emailed contributions of new humor has become a full-fledged friendship, wherein we have a beer (or nine) whenever he’s in town on business, and several phone calls throughout each month. This is a guy who is as old as my mother and father (sorry, man!)—not someone I would have expected to become a person I would lean on for support throughout my ordeal with Anna’s situation, and certainly not someone who may be benefiting from the support I’m giving him with his battle. Perspective. Man, I hate perspective. It’s okay for me to write about my hatred of the dealings of the management and front office of the Seattle Mariners, but to deal with the reality of life’s unfairness (I hate the term unfair, but it works here), it’s sobering. I want my friend to know that I’m by his side, thousands of miles away, and praying that a cure is found for his disease soon. Real soon. And I have faith that it will.
Where does this leave me? Well, Anna has a disease that although has no cure, I’m sure she will be rid of soon. There’s no chemo for Lou Gehrig's. My friend, whom I hold out hope will recover and rebound from all of this, doesn’t have that sort of prognosis. My heart, soul, and prayers go out to not only he, but his loving family, He’s become a sort of inspiration for me. This is a man who wishes to put aside his own ailment to call and ask how Anna is coping. How I am coping? How can I tell him that I’m feeling anxious about Anna’s chemo, when I know what he’s going through? Easy. He’s incredible enough to put his thoughts of she and I above his personal thoughts of well-being. For that I thank him, and want him to know how much that truly means. There you are, miles away, my friend, and as your thoughts are with us and our battle, Our thoughts, love, prayers, and spirit are with you during your struggle. Your jokes lift me up. Your friendship lights me up. Thank you for being you.
Cancer? Schmancer. We’ve got love to deal with here, people.