Sunday, April 19, 2009

4/19/09 One week of treatment to go !

This week has been all about holding on. Every day is one more day off the calendar and everyday things get a little more difficult. It has become more difficult to swallow any pills, so more are going into the peg tube. The phlegm has become so thick that it is really tough to deal with. We’re doing the usual things to try to thin it out but right now the salivary glands are not working well due to the radiation, so it just can’t keep up with it and thin it out. In fact it has been making it difficult to sleep at night. Right now morphine is the only help with the mouth sores and sleeping. Also the next few weeks we'll be going in for extra hydration several times. So this week is under our belt, and I imagine that our last week will be the most difficult to deal with. I am really looking forward to having the treatments be finished so we can start the healing phase of this process. The radiation will continue to do its thing for two weeks after we are done. Once things begin to heal up some in my mouth, I should be able to try to start eating again, but it is a tricky process and so much depends on how the healing goes. I need to be able to re-learn to eat, and once I can maintain my weight from eating the peg tube will be removed, most likely 1.5 to 2 months. But before we can even start the healing process there is this week to get through, one day at a time.

I had a really nice conversation with old friend and fellow head and neck cancer compatriot, James Durst. James' situation is very similar to mine, the main site is the base of tongue and he had 33 radiation treatments with infusion chemotherapy. James finished his treatments up this week and it was wonderful to swap notes. James is a great singer and guitar player and is currently working with our good friend Mark Murphy, on a wonderful program called “The Work of the Weavers.” Congratulations to James who is now starting the long healing journey after this tough treatment. It seems that he came out in one piece and I wish him all the best. I’m sure we will be swapping notes again before too long.

Yesterday our good friend Eric Ludwig and his wife Joan, along with Tom Hodgson came by for the day and we rented a wood splitter from our local Agway store. Along with Peggy they got all the wood split and stacked from the three maple trees that were taken down in our yard last fall!! Thanks so much guys, what a wonderful job!!

Well once again I am totally blown away by all of your generosity, kindness, insight, and just plain hopefulness during these days of holding on tight. Your support means more than any of you will ever know. Last week to go, keep those vibes coming strong!! I’ll look for all of you at 7:00 pm.


  1. One week - there is an end in sight. I will be counting down with you. Recovery is also day-to-day, but the curve of feeling better is generally upwards. So onward - Peg and friends and music and pie will be there.

  2. Hi Dan and Peg...
    Reading your entry I was overwhelmed by your courage and incredibly strong your spiritual muscles have become as your body has weakened. BUT your body WILL soar again. Yesterday I was thinking how the adversities we have had to face (diabetes, autism) have changed us forever...we just don't SEE people as we once did...our brokeness awoke us...I can tell from your entries that you have been awoken.
    I am reading this book and I want to share what it says about the process of renewal in terms of eagles...I thought of you as soon as I read it...
    "There comes a time in an eagle's life when he is not as quick as he once was...He is still an eagle but he has lost much of his strength and prowess. When this happens the eagle settles onto a high rock as close to the sun as he possibly can and begins to pluck out his feathers one by one---sometimes as many as 7,000 of them. He then seeks a cool and refreshing stream in which to clean himself. The water washes away all the caked mud and dirt, parasites and insects. When he is fresh, clean and practically naked, the eagle stands before the sun and begins to wait. The regrowth takes about 40 days. Other eagles who have already been through this process may drop food to him. He goes through a quiet season of weakness, BUT THEN HIS STRENGTH IS RENEWED."
    When I read this I saw so many parallels to what you are going through. So I just want you to know how humbled I am by your courage and determination...and I will never see you with the same eyes I once did. I have been awoken to the changes in you.
    Kitty and I (and a little team of others) are looking forward to the Spaghetti Supper we are holding in your honor this Friday at the Methodist Church in Red Creek. We don't expect you to be there...BUT when the doors open at 4:30 you can bet you and Peggy will be in everybody's hearts and minds! I will REALLY be thinking about you this week! Keep growing those spiritual muscles---your body will follow. Hold on to your hope---it is such a powerful tool ---you are almost through this "narrow place"---and I know it has been too much at times---BUT you have faced it with great determination---RENEWAL is just around the corner. I love you are in my thoughts all of the time. Lots of love-Mary, Rick, Dan and Ethan

  3. Hi Dan and Peggy,

    It's wonderful that you have people to communicate with who have actually gone through the same, or a similar, experience. They can offer practical advice as well as being living proof of the ability to heal after such a dreadful ordeal.

    I have also personally found what your friends have written very inspiring.

    I just want to let you know we're still sending our good wishes and loving thoughts your way.

    Bethyl and Bob Mayer

  4. Hi Dan-
    Hang on thru this last week...May your healing start soon!!
    It was so neat for me to find out that you and James Durst are old friends!! I know James through the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus,of which I am a member, and with whom James has sung in the past....I only recently found out that James was fighting the same battle as you, and, not knowing you knew eachother, gave him the URL of your blog, thinking that maybe he might find some helpful coping tips -or some encouragement at least -from it....So glad to hear that you and he had such a good conversation!!
    I'll be seeing you and Peg at 7...and willing strength and courage your way 24/7...

  5. Hi Dan and Peggy,
    My healing thoughts for you grow stronger with each waking minute. Please understand how important you are in everyone lives.

    Keep believing, and allow each of us to take on some of your pain.

    I am planting a Peggy tree and a Dan tree on my property for Earth day. This make this day even more special.
    love ya,
    Deb Fox

  6. Hi Dan and Peggy:

    It certainly was a pleasure seeing you both on Saturday. Your inner strength and warm smiles made the wood splitting "party" lots of fun. Peggy can sure wield a mean chain saw! Although we were a little tired at the end of the day, it was a good feeling and certainly can't compare with how tired you must feel all the time. Best wishes for your last week of treatments and we'll look forward to seeing you again soon. Your warmth and generosity continue to be an inspration for us all.

    As Always,
    Eric and Joan

  7. dan, we're thinking of you over here, and praying that this week goes by as quickly as possible for you. we're holding you from here with all the light and love we can muster. we are praying for your comfort, strength, and healing. and sending you good vibes all day long. pies await you at this end of this whole goddarn ordeal. love you, love, stef, val, mark, tim, etc.

  8. Dan,
    It's just a matter of days now and the healing can begin. We are all looking forward to Arbor Day more than ever before!

  9. Hi Dan,

    We think about you all the time. This weekend we took you hiking with us on Mohonk Mountain, down by Kingston, NY. I don't know if you have every been there, but it is a beautiful place. We listened to our Jamcrackers CD on the way home yesterday, and just really enjoyed hearing the sound of your voice and your music.

    Cancer treatment requires great patience and a healthy capacity for hope. Both of which you possess in abundance. Just keep your eyes on the light at the end of this tunnel, and you will eventually find yourselves on the other side of this thing.

    I am constantly amazed by how far I have come, and I know you will be similarly amazed by your own recovery soon. When I found myself hiking up a steep and rocky path on Saturday, I thought back on how difficult that would have been six months ago, or how impossible it was in the months following treatment. I still don't feel 100% recovered, but every step I take in that direction gives me renewed hope that I will get there.

    Until we see you again in person, we will continue to "see" you in our hearts at 7pm.

    Love, Maria

    ps - I'm wondering if you guys have some method for suctioning the phlegm out of your mouth and throat?

  10. Dan:

    I look at your picture and I say, "he's not very big, but he's damn tough!". Keep on, Keepin' on.

    Terry Manion

  11. The new little tree in our yard is standing as tall as it can--same as you!

  12. Dear Dan:
    I am sure you begrudge the courage which is not by choice, but simply a part of tackling each day. Soon you will be on the other side of this and each day you will begin to feel better. Hang in there my friend.

  13. I don't think I really understood what living in the moment meant until I was struggling through the last week of my chemo treatments - and then the three weeks beyond when my mind knew the treatments were over, but my body was still re-discovering where "normal" lay in its rebirth. I realized I had been living in the moment every moment since my diagnosis - maybe all my life - because where else can we live fully. I know that you and Peggy both know about living your lives in the fullest of their moments, and you will discover - probably already have - that you will touch the lives of others in ways beyond your wildest expectations in the rebirth of your healed body after having accompanied it on such a difficult journey. You are both blessed and a blessing; and our prayers are with you every moment. I can hardly wait to see you and hug you again!
    Our love,
    Wanda and Ron

  14. I walked on the beach at Virginia Beach this week I thought of the song Peggy wrote last year by the ocean....One of my favorites! I prayed for both of you as I walked with the ocean singing to me and the sun rising, bringing light to a new day. Feel the ocean washing the cancer away, far away, and the sun energizing you, rejuvinating you! Bringing you to your new day, your new you! Cancer free! Hugs and Love, Donna and John

  15. As I've said a dozen times, I am thinking about you every day, and my spirit stretches to Red Creek very easily...part of my heart is there already.
    We are close, Dan, very close, to the rest and rebirth everyone is telling you just keep breathing deep, screw the coughing and all....breathe, and take in all this love pouring into you. You are already beginning to heal. Your mind knows what your body doesn't.
    love from the mountains,

  16. Please add us to the long and ever-growing line of friends waiting patiently and excitedly to see you and give you the biggest hug in the world. Our love remains with you always.

    Looking so forward to making music with you again. May these next two days pass quickly.

  17. Dear Dan and Peggy,

    All your friends at North Country Public Radio are sending our love and healing thoughts your way. You WILL get through this!

  18. Friday Apr. 24..... Dan and Peggy - We're thinking of you so much today. The LAST treatment! May God bless you both in the healing process. Your incredible spirit will get you through this. Stay strong, your body WILL heal.

    You know that our love and prayers are always with you.

    Bob and Karen McCurdy