Friday, July 9, 2010

7/08/10 Its Summer !

Well I have certainly been very bad at keeping up with the blog this late spring and have seen several of you at concerts who have certainly let me know ! I do apologize and will do my best to keep the blog rolling thru the summer ! It has been a busy few months. In early June I had a Pet scan and all is clear right now on the western front, and that is wonderful news! The radiation oncologist feels like we are in really good shape but will still continue to monitor me every six months, and at that point decisions will be made as to weather Pet scans are needed. The guidelines keep changing and a lot of that is the work of the insurance companies. I have been running every few days and although there is still some nerve issues with my legs it is a wonderful thing. My throat continues to be an ongoing adventure! During times of high humidity, things swell up and eating becomes a bit more difficult. I am still on a rather odd diet but the good news is that I can eat a lot of different things, fruit and greens are still out but I have become quite fond of soft pies!! I don’t know how much more will come back but I am so thankful as I think back to last summer and how tough things were.

We had a wonderful concert and Dulcimer weekend here at the farm in the middle of June, a great visit and concert for Joe and Carol Brusheck at the Ndakinna Education Center and Peggy and I recently finished up a great week of concerts in Western NY and are headed to great camp Sagamore for a week of intergenerational camp. Also Peggy and I just received our new CD “Grandsongs”, which is a disc of a lot of the songs we do with grandparents and kids. We have lots of traveling, concerts and workshops coming our way this summer. Every summer someone says “July 4th summers over”, but it feels like its just kicking into high gear. I thought some of you might get a kick out of the theater marquee that we found waiting for us when we played at the Indian Lake theater in June !

After all this time to digest the feeling of going thru cancer and treatments, I have finally started to be able to write a song or two about what I am and have been feeling. I have included the latest below “You are what you Dream”, Peg and I hope to be performing this later this summer. Also Peggy has a wonderful new song about the music pulling us thru all of this. And of coarse we continue to be ever thankful for this wonderful community of friends that have showed so much love and support during this amazing journey. We hope to see many of you at performances this summer and I promise to much better at keeping this blog up to date. Keep those positive thoughts coming for so many people we all know that continue to struggle with Cancer, our thoughts and prayers can go a long way !!

You Are What You Dream

Dan Duggan c Esperance Music BMI

Hold on to your Faith
Hold on to your Dreams
Hold on to your strength and your will to Succeed
The days may seem long
And the nights may seem endlessly cold
When hopes promise fade, as tough as it seems
Hold on to your dreams

We travel this road
We walk hand and hand with the ones that we love
The pavement seems smooth
And sometime the push it turns onto shove


One day at a time
You’re biting off more than what you can chew
With the care of our friends
Each day you can sense how hope is renewed


One Step at a time
Thru good days and bad, oh you’ll make it thru
Your seeing things clear
Your positive thoughts, they all can come true


Hopes promise won’t fade
As tough as it seems you are what you dream

Saturday, April 24, 2010

4/24/10 A Big Anniversary

Today is a quite a special day. It is the one year anniversary of finishing treatments at Clifton Spring Cancer center. And although the effects of the radiation and chemo has lingered, the actual day of finishing treatments was a significant milestone. Thru many of the conversations I have had in the last few months with other head and neck cancer patients, my mind has wandered a lot to thoughts of last years struggles to finish up treatments. I find myself so thankful this Spring to be enjoying walking in the back field, mowing the lawn and all the other activities that Spring brings. But most of all I am so thankful to all of you who have been so supportive of Peggy and I during this ongoing journey. Without your love and support I can’t imagine how I could have gotten thru all of the radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Today I still have some eating issues, throat pain and some nerve issues but I hold my head high and yes we have gotten thru this year together! Later in the day I will plant this beautiful saucer magnolia to mark this one year anniversary. Each year about this time it will flower and remind me of the hope that this anniversary brings. The Oak tree we planted this day last year is strong and will be leafing out soon. My recovery is continuing well and the ENT feels hopeful that things will continue to improve. I have a PT scan scheduled for May 10th and that will help to tell us a little more. This afternoon I leave for a concert tonight at Tannery Pond community center in North Creek with Dan Berggren and Peggy and then a week with the Susquehanna string band. Every day I count my blessings and find myself to be as lucky as a man can be. Thank you again for all the thoughts and support that have come our way, it means more than I can ever tell you. I will continue to report in as my recovery continues. And yes today we celebrate yet another milestone, and find we have so much to be thankful for !

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

4/13/10 Good Dog Zeus

March was a wonderful month, with music trips to the Adirondacks, Maryland, North Carolina and the Hudson Valley. It has also been a month of looking back and putting perspective on how well my recovery from cancer treatments has come along. I had the six month checkup with my radiation oncologist and that went well. He feels that things are improving as well as we can expect.For some reason there are new guide lines on receiving PT scans and after much dialogue it was decided that I will have a PT scan in May. It really is the only gauge that can tell if cancer has returned to my throat and neck. I am thankful that the folks at Clifton Springs are willing to help facilitate all of that. It was wonderful to return to the radiation center and get to see everyone who was so helpful last spring when I was doing treatments everyday. I really can’t say enough about all the wonderful people at Clifton Springs and the fantastic personable, professional care I received there. After all it is the people in the long run that make the difference !!

I have been continuing to see progress every day with eating and the residual nerve damage left from chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The eating changes are slow and subtle but are there none the less. I have been seeing a wonderful acupuncture therapist in Oswego and she has been incredibly generous to me. I can see real changes in the nerve issues in my hands and legs and although the changes are small and time consuming, they are happening and that is wonderful. As the weather is warming up I am slowly getting back to running and it feels great. That too is a slow process but I can see and feel steady improvements each time I am out !!

On a sad note, we had to put our border collie/lab mix dog “Zeus” down last week. He was a loyal friend and a sweet, loving and joyful presence for Peggy and I for almost nine years. We got Zeus when he was just about six years old and he lived to be over fourteen, which for his breed is really good. He had struggled with spine and hip issues for the last six month and had a seizure while at the kennel when we were in North Carolina. He did survive that ordeal but two weeks later had another seizure and this time was pretty well paralyzed. He let us know when it was time and we will miss him terribly. Peggy and I are having a conversation with a wonderful border collie rescue farm in Morris NY. and if the right dog comes along we might be tempted. I can’t say enough about what a wonderful presence Zeus was in our life, especially a grounding sense of normalcy when I was going thru cancer treatments and this recovery. He will always hold a special place in our heart.

Later this month I look forward to travels to Bennington VT. and the southern tier of NY state with the Susquehanna String Band. April is here and the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing every morning and the days are truly getting longer. To all of you who have been so supportive during this last year I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This recovery continues and I can fell my strength slowly coming back, but I could not do it with out your help and support. Please keep several folks who have found this blog and are just starting their journey with head and neck cancer in your thoughts and prayers. I will continue to keep you up to date on how things are going and I look forward to seeing you later this spring and summer. Keep the wonderful promise of spring in your heart !

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 1/2010 Forging ahead

Well March is upon us, and with that comes longer days, the spring song of the cardinals and the promise of snow melting and warmer days ahead. February was a month of anniversaries that for sure. The one year anniversary of my neck dissection surgery and we crossed the 10 month threshold since finishing treatments. Things are progressing well and I do have the daily reminders that healing needs to take its time. My last visit to the ENT found that I had a fungal infection in my throat that I had developed in Florida. It was bothering my tongue and throat considerably but has since improved a great deal with the help of some medication. Eating can still be a chore but it seems to get a little better every day. The energy level seems to be getting better and I am trying to exercise when I can and greatly look forward to the spring and getting back to hopefully jogging again. Peg and I took advantage of the nor’easter we had last week and got to do some skiing on the backside of our property. It was really wonderful to be back out on skis again ! This month will see the one year anniversary of starting chemotherapy and radiation, and I am so thankful to be at this place as the sun gets higher in the sky this year. At the end of this month I will see our radiation oncologist and most likely have a PT scan soon there after.

Peg and I are managing to stay pretty busy this winter. Peggy has taken a half time mentoring position with Empire state college and I have been forging ahead with producing some recording projects and working on recordings for Peg and myself. We will be doing some traveling later this month for performances and workshops, here is the schedule for the month :

March 13, 7:30 pm - Dance, Tannery Pond Comm. Center , North Creek NY PL

March 19, 8:00 pm Concert, The General Store Cafe, Pittsboro, NC. PL

March 20, 10:00 am - 4.00 pm Hammered Dulcimer Workshop
Millbrook Baptist Church, 1519 E. Millbrook Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609

March 20, 8.00 pm Concert, Millbrook Baptist Church, 1519 E. Millbrook Rd,
Raleigh, NC PL

March 21, 11.15 am Community Church of Chapel Hill, UU., Chapel Hill NC. PL

March 26, 7.30 pm Concert, Kennett Home, Kinderhook NY 518- 758-1968 PL

March 27, 10.00 am. Dulcimer workshop, Kennett Home, Kinderhook NY.

If you can make it to any of the concerts or workshops we would love to see you.

One of the most rewarding parts of doing this blog is being able to inform and help out and give support to those who are looking at a diagnosis of head and neck Cancer. I have heard from many of you and I am so thankful that I can be of service. Every day it seems like more and more people are being diagnosed with head and neck cancer and it would be wonderful for everyone who has been so gracious and helpful to me in my journey to keep all of those who are struggling in your thoughts and prayers. As always we continue to be so grateful to this wonderful community of friends who have been so supportive and helpful during this long journey. Your thoughts and prayers have made the difference for Peggy and I. Enjoy the magic of spring and I will continue to keep you posted as things progress. And as those of us who live in the north east have learned each and every year, good things come to those who wait !

One more thing, we can’t let the first day of March pass without mentioning "March Madness”. We have always been big Syracuse University basketball fans and today they are rated #1 in the country in both polls for the first time in 20 years !!! Let the madness begin.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1/25/10 One Year Anniversary

It’s a new year, a new decade and for me it’s been a whole new outlook on life. Peggy and I had a wonderful holiday season and we had some great seasonal concerts, and have so much new material we’ll be putting out a new holiday CD this year. It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since this blog had the first entry and comments and what a year it has been. We just returned from a two week trip to Punta Gorda Florida, where we had a lovely concert and got to see some wonderful friends again and soak up the warm Florida sunshine. It was a year ago while we were in Florida that I started the blog and being there this year really triggered a gamut of emotions. I was reminded over and over again of the uncertainty and confusion that we were dealing with last year at this same time. Just being able to be there this year was a real victory of sorts for Peggy and I, a goal that we set last year and we were both so thrilled to be able to spend time in the sunny South again this winter. Many thanks to Jack and Joan Osborne for all your generosity in making our Florida trek possible.

Yesterday, Jan. 24th was the nine month anniversary of finishing treatments. A landmark to say the least. And although I still have eating and swallowing discomfort I am so happy and thankful to have come out of the radiation and chemotherapy as well as I have. Each cancer free month that goes by is a milestone and just makes me grateful for all the support and help we have received along he way. I will see my ENT this week for my every other month visit and I look forward to getting his prognosis of my recovery. While in Florida I was able to walk greater distances and even was able to jog a bit too !! This gives me great hope for the spring to try to meet another of my goals of getting back to running . I am slowly getting used to my body post cancer treatments and with every passing day feeling my strength improve. I do realize that where I am today is the new norm and for every improvement that develops I am extremely grateful.

This winter and spring we will be doing some wonderful concerts and workshops close to home and doing some traveling too. We’ll be doing a concert in Cazenovia NY at the First Presbyterian Church on Feb. 6th at 3:00 pm and will be traveling to Raleigh NC. the weekend of March 19-21 for a few concerts with friends in the area and a hammered dulcimer workshop and concert on the 20th . If you would like more info on the workshop you can email Carol Radcliffe at In addition to our performances Peggy is working hard at teaching woman’s studies at Oswego state and several on line courses for empire state this semester and I will be busy in the studio recording and producing several projects. I am so pleased that I have had the opportunity to speak with people who have found the blog and are dealing with or have a loved one going thru head and neck cancer. I hope that my story will continue to help others who are starting to walk this difficult path. Once again thanks so much for all of the support that has come our way in the last year, it has made an enormous difference. Lets all raise a toast to our one year anniversary, and to good health and much happiness in the upcoming year. As always I look forward to seeing many of you at concerts and workshops this winter and spring. I will keep updating the blog as my recovery continues. “Carpe Diem” Sieze the day !!!