The Bucket List

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.”
The Bucket List

“I don’t have a bucket list because it is my dedication to live every day of my life there. I don’t have a bucket list because I’m doing it that day. I don’t want to go to bed and say, ‘Oh, I wish I had done this.'”
Melissa Etheridge

We all know what a bucket list is. We fill this mythological bucket with all of the things we would like to do before we die. Most people continue to fill the bucket even though it is full without ever actually doing anything about it. Some people poke holes in their bucket, giving up on some of their dreams because they don’t seem attainable. The goal for everyone is the same however. Empty the bucket before having to kick said bucket.

Those who closely follow me have noticed that Brenda and I have been traveling to a lot of places and seeing a lot of interesting things. Some of my friends have even uttered out loud that it looks like I’m working on my own bucket list. My observant friends would be correct. I’ve done a pretty good job of emptying that old bucket too, although to be honest, mine was never that big. The reason for that being that I have done a lot of things throughout my life, not waiting until I received bad news. I owe a lot of this to my wonderful wife Brenda. Before we met, I had a very small circumference in which I traveled. Brenda taught me that there is a whole world out there and you should try new experiences. You never know what you may discover and actually like. I may have never traveled on a plane, a train, or an ocean liner and discovered the different lands and beautiful seas that cover this world of ours. It’s shown me even more how awesome my Creator is.

I guess what I’m trying to say is to not wait until you have too much on your list and not enough time to do them. Live now. Enjoy things to the fullest now. Make every moment special so that when that day does come, you won’t have a bucket list, but a treasure chest of memories.

A health update:
My last visit to Philly was about as expected. Some of my numbers moved a little, some a lot, and a few nearly doubled. In other words, I’m not getting better. The past couple of weeks have been a mixed bag. I’ve had some good days (which I am eternally grateful for), and some bad. I seem to be having more bad than good lately. I am continuously taking nausea meds as well as my pain meds for the sometimes sharp pains from my liver. Poor Mr. Liver….he’s put up a good fight but I’m not sure how much more he can handle. Subsequently, I will not be posting with the frequency that I had been. I have already started taking longer to post any updates as most have noticed. This is partially because of my health and partially because I am traveling a lot and spending time with my family.

As an aside, please don’t write a eulogy for me yet. I know you mean well, but you have no idea how this affects my family members as well as myself.

And Now For Something Completely Different

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
Cool Hand Luke

“Houston, we have a problem.”
Apollo 13

As the title suggests, I’m going to go off topic for this latest edition. Since being diagnosed, I have had many people try to give me words of comfort. I know they mean well but let me hit on a couple of things that have occurred to me about some of the more popular phrases I’ve heard.

“God won’t give you more than you can handle”
When you’re in the midst of battling a life threatening illness, this is not what you want to hear. Even though as a Christian I know this to be true, I had several times during my illness felt as if I couldn’t take anymore and I was ready to give up. When you hear this, the first thought is “easy for you to say. You aren’t going through this”. It just may not be the best thing to say at that time.

“Everything happens for a reason”
Absolutely right, but it doesn’t help that one of those reasons involves death. God doesn’t always decide to let everyone live. Sometimes the plan involves us continuing on to the promised land. Although Christians should be happy about entering the gates of Heaven, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want to go right away.

“We’re not promised tomorrow”
I have said this one myself many times. Recently I have begun to think more about this however. While it is true that we may not be promised tomorrow here on Earth, God has promised us tomorrow, either in Heaven or in Hell. Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Saviour are promised an eternity in Heaven. I look forward to that, just hopefully it will be a few years down the road. If any of you reading this have not accepted Christ, I challenge you to take the time to investigate it yourself. Don’t take my word for it. It is ultimately each individual’s decision to make. This is my personal beliefs and I’m not trying to force anything on anyone.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone. That was not my intent. Maybe there are some who disagree with what I have said. I am only speaking from my personal experience. I promise that on my next blog I will step down from my soapbox and get back to my usual cheery self dealing with the big C.

The Bright Side of Life

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…”
Monty Python

As most of you may know by now, my latest trip to Philly did not turn out as I had hoped it would. It did start out well though.

My wife and I arrived a day early so that we could do some sight seeing. This was the first real chance we had of getting to see Philadelphia since we began coming here for treatments. This was also the best I’ve felt since I began coming here. We spent all day walking and checking out some of the historic sights of Philly. The first couple of days we were able to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Christ Church (where we sat in the same pews that once were occupied by George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Betsy Ross) and took a horse drawn carriage tour of Philly. We also ate at The City Tavern where Benjamin Franklin loved to eat. Very good food! We saw several different monuments as well as the famous “Rocky Balboa” statue. There is also a building that looks a lot like the building in the “Ghostbusters” movie. Every time I saw it I began humming music from the movie.

But alas, I eventually had to do what I came to Philly for. I went to the Center and had a PET scan done. We met with my oncologist to discuss the test. Some of my numbers were ok, but most were not. In my doctors words, “what we are doing is not working.” He decided to take me off the Avastin part of my chemo but continue the rest. He set me up to have an MRI and to meet with another doctor to discuss a possible third line of chemo type of treatment that involved radioactive beads injected directly into my liver. The doctor could only give me about a 50% chance of effectiveness. The side effects and the things that could possibly go wrong were not appealing at all. It was at this point that I decided that I would not have this new procedure nor would I continue to receive the chemo treatments I had been getting. Why continue something that isn’t working. That essentially ended any hope of curing this cancer with today’s modern medicine. We will continue to come to Philly once a month for blood work and to check on the progress of the disease.

I still hold out hope that my God will completely heal me and show the world that miracles still exist. In the meantime, Brenda and I have decided to do some things that we have always wanted to do. First stop is New York where we are visiting our surrogate daughter for a couple of days. After that I’ll have a meet up with some old high school friends before heading to Savannah to see our son and soon to be daughter in law. We may then head to Disney for a couple of days, just the two of us. I refuse to let this stop me from enjoying life and enjoying it with the people I love. I will laugh, I will love, and I will praise my God every day that I am alive, be it 5 days or 50 years. I hope you will do the same.
As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it”

Last Week, This Week, And The Week Ahead

Even if the doctor does not give you a year, even if he hesitates about a month, make one brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week.
Robert Louis Stevenson

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
Henry A. Kissinger

Just a quick update on my last trip to Philly. My numbers were all back up but my doc decided to continue the chemo. I actually had my best week yet while on chemo. Only got mildly nauseous two days but was still able to eat and drink fluids. A pretty uneventful trip. That’s a good thing. My incision has finally begun to heal. I no longer feel any pain there.

My week after the chemo has been extremely good. There have been none of the usual side effects and I have been eating like a horse. If I keep this up I may have to start eating those “Lean Cuisine” meals. I have gained about ten pounds in the last month.

My next visit to Philly, I will have a PET scan done. This will show if the cancer looks any better or worse. After that the doctor will determine whether or not I continue my chemo treatments. I believe I will. I’m feeling better than I have since this whole thing began in October. I’m thanking God every day for the life and time He has given me.

Like I said, this is just a little update to let everyone know how I’m doing. I will have a new blog up soon. Until then, peace out my homies.

Finding Chemo

Marlin: If this is some kind of practical joke, it’s not funny, and I know funny. I’m a clownfish. (Finding Nemo)

I don’t know where to find a fairy godmother at this late hour.
Giselle (Enchanted)

My last scheduled appointment for chemo in Philly wound up being a mixed bag of nuts. I was supposed to go into the center, meet with the nurse, and then begin my three days of chemo. After meeting with the nurse, we decided to set up an appointment with the quality of life people (ER), the doctor, and the wound specialist (doctor Sal. If all doctors had his personality the world would be a much better place). My incision from my April operation just won’t heal (thanks doctor Crocket). Once everyone took a gander at my wound, the consensus was to stop the chemo and send me home with some anti-biotics and clean and dress the wound daily. They all believed it would heal from the inside. This was the first time that all my numbers took a positive turn so I was very disappointed that I was going to miss a chemo session.

We wound up leaving the very next day which turned out to be good seeing as how we had a engagement party to throw for our son that weekend and we were going to have a house full of people.

We did as the medical staff instructed with the incision. As Dr. Smith from the old tv show “Lost in Space” used to say, “Oh the pain, oh the pain.” After the second day we began to get worried. The incision had re-opened and was deeper. It looked like an inch deep hole in my stomach. We knew we were going to come back to Philly that following Monday for an evaluation on how the wound looked. If it was better, I could resume chemo. If it was worse, they would have to do surgery which would keep me from getting my chemo treatments for who knows how long. And just when things seemed to be getting better on the cancer front for once. Needless to say this would be a big setback.

Thankfully however, the wound began to close the next day and by the day after that it looked a lot better. We had the party (I wasn’t feeling too well but I made it through ok) and it turned out well. Everyone seemed to have a good time. We caught a plane to Philly on Monday, which as I’m writing this happens to be today, and after my blood work was done I saw the first of my medical team. Dr. Sal thought the incision looked much better and he believed I could resume my chemo treatments. Dr. Jensen agreed with Dr. Sal and so all that was needed for me to resume my treatments is to get the ok from my oncologist. Unfortunately he was booked up and can’t see me until Tuesday afternoon. So that’s where I stand as of this writing. Odds are I will get back on track tomorrow and won’t have to be searching for my missing chemo treatments anymore. Who would have ever thought I would look forward to getting back to those nauseating treatments.

The Changing Face Of Chemo

“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.

My trips to Philly seem to always be fraught with drama, be it dealing with a surgical wound that won’t heal or passing out on a bus. This latest trip however seemed to be devoid of such shenanigans….almost.

Our trip began early on Tuesday morning, and by early I mean the roosters would peck your eyes out if you woke them that early. Getting up at 4:30 am to catch a flight is not my idea of fun. Me and the roosters are simpatico on this. We arrived in Philly where we were taken from the airport straight to the cancer center where we stayed until we finally were able to go to our hotel around 8:00 pm. A very long day. The remaining days were non-eventful.

Now my chemo sessions have pretty much gone without incidents. There are a lot of side effects that can occur but so far I have been pretty fortunate. My hair has thinned out considerably but then I had so much to begin with that I still have a good bit left, although that could change at any moment, I still get tired after the four to five hour sessions and a little nausea can sometimes kick in. This time however, the chemo kicked my butt. I stayed nauseous the whole time I was in Philly. Thankfully the center has good drugs so I was able to somewhat manage the nausea. This third round also gave me a new side effect, acid reflux. I found that I could not stop hiccuping and belching. The belching was the worst especially at night. I had a couple of incidents that first evening after chemo that I will not go into detail here but needless to say it woke me up several times. The nurses at the center said that this can be a side effect of the drugs I’m taking sometimes. So now I take Pepsid to counter the reflux.

It amazes me how chemo’s side effects can change every session. Just because you don’t experience a certain side effect one week, doesn’t mean it won’t zap you the next week. Chemo kills everything, the good and the bad. The longer you are on it the more effects you can wind up experiencing. Unfortunately this is a necessary evil because of the things chemo can do to many forms of cancer. Many more people are surviving cancer than ever before. Those of us battling just wish some doctor could come up with a treatment that can be as effective as chemo with a lot less serious side effects.

On a good note, all of my numbers from my blood work are either better or stable, including those associated with my poor little liver. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

A Hole In One

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap! The job’s a game. –Mary Poppins

Do a good job. You don’t have to worry about the money. It will take care of itself. Just do your best work. –Walt Disney

Carl Spackler: Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac… It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!
Bill Murray (Caddyshack)

I do not golf. Not because I don’t like it. It’s because I am horrible at it. The last time I played I believe I shot a 90 on the first 9. I laid my clubs down and began taking pictures. Golf is a beautiful sport. Standing out on a beautifully landscaped course with the sun shining and a nice breeze…..very serene. Then you hit that first slice into the trees and everything changes.

My brother is a good golfer. He loves the game. A week ago he, with the help of my family, organized a benefit golf tournament and silent auction for my cause. It was an awesome thing to do and very humbling. I met people I haven’t seen in quite a while and some I had never met. They all talked about what an inspiration I have been to them. Very humbling. If they saw my golf game their tune might change.

We had a great turnout. 21 teams of 4 showed up for lunch, golf, and the silent auction. Woodfin Ridge golf course in Inman was beautiful. The staff was very helpful. There were quite a few good players there as well as some duffers. Everyone had a great time.

Afterwards a silent auction was held with some great prizes such as a guitar donated by “The Advice”, artwork, golf clubs, books, gift baskets, a Clemson and USC hand made wreath, and my favorite a Clemson football signed by the football staff including Dabo Swinney. I joked around that if no one bidded on it, I would put my name on it. The money would just be coming back to me anyway. Fortunately my cousin Eddie ( yes “Vacation” fans, I have a cousin Eddie) bought the football and then gave it to me. I have the best family. Thanks again cuz!

My niece Katie made lollipops that said lets lick cancer and she also created the bracelets ” Does This Cancer Make My Colon Look Fat Scott Land Benefit 2013″. She sold nearly 300 so far. Fantastic job Katie! Everyone did such a great job volunteering, donating, and playing. My thanks and prayers go out to anyone who was involved in this wonderful event. We raised over 12,000 dollars for our cause. Incredible!!! The outpouring of love and support just blew me away. We are truly blessed. I believe my brother is trying to plan some more events. Thank you all so much for a very blessed time. As bad as the cancer is, it has allowed me to connect with so many wonderful people. I feel truly blessed by this.

Maybe next year I will be healthy enough to hit the course myself. Watch out for the birdies ( I’m talking about real birdies. No telling how many I may accidentally kill).