A Round Trip Ticket to Hell

•June 14, 2015 • 2 Comments

52 weeks ago I opened my eyes and found myself on a bed in Overlake Hospital. A journey that had begun by couple of trips to ER and followed by surgeries, more chemo’s and radiations, suffering  and in every step the light of hope that I’ll be back on my feet with camera in one hand and power tools in the other. Thanks to my amazing medical team and support of awesome family and great friends, the impossible became possible. I survived!

This morning, as I was walking on Alki Beach, in a meet-up with photogs from #365infocus, it all came back to me. As much as I don’t like to live in the past, or future for that matter, it just hits hard occasionally. So, I thought to write a few lines to reflect on the past year.

For all cancer patients out there, I cannot tell you how to live your life and how to deal with that SOB, but I can share with you what worked for me:

  • I walked like crazy, whenever I could, even in the hospital.
  • I followed all the suggestions from my doctors and medical team, and shut my ears and eyes to suggestions from anyone else, even though well intended.
  • I carried my camera everywhere, I was more focused on what should my next subject be than thinking about the illness.
  • I went back to the shop a few days after my first release from the hospital, although slowly, and although I made a few mistakes while on chemo (blame it on chemo brain) but that kept me going and my mind off wasting precious time with endless worries.
  • I tried to get back to my social life, including politics, which was the hardest part and still is. Sometimes I just don’t feel going somewhere, and I have turned around half way from many events, but anytime I made it, I was glad I did.
  • I learned to take my pain medication as soon as the pain was getting to 3; if I waited longer it was too late. And the life sucks with the pain in the ass, literally!
  • I kept smiling most of the time and kept my cries for when nobody was noticing. I found it very hurtful to the people around when they were seeing me suffering and they couldn’t do anything. I tried not to add more weight to their shoulders.

Now, besides all the things I mentioned that worked for me, and they may not work for others, there’s one thing I beg all patients to do: “Be nice to your medical team!” Doctors, nurses, office staff who check you in and out, staff who clean up after your mess; they are working so hard to turn the card and give your health back. I am grateful to them and their kindness, forever!

I am also grateful that they got me the return ticket from hell since I only got it one way!

Cheers!

The Middle Finger!

•May 28, 2015 • 2 Comments

While I am impatiently waiting for the results of today’s blood test, to see if the cancer marker has gone up again, I cannot ignore a milestone in the fight against cancer.

Today, after almost two and a half months from my final session of chemotherapy, the first finger nail to grow out the “chemo line” -as I call it- showed up. Ironically it is the right hand’s middle finger, and I guess it’s because of too much exercise and exposing itself to cancer during the course of treatments. Now, nine more to go for a couple of pain free hands.

The chemo line almost a month ago

The chemo line almost a month ago

I am truly grateful to be on the road to full recovery and being able to do things that I’ve always loved to do and couldn’t completely do them over the past year, i.e. woodworking,

photography and politics. Too many things I had always taken as granted, not anymore.

The Memorial Day weekend had another great event in Seattle, The Northwest Folklife, which is my favorite event in Seattle! Although, I was not able to stay for the whole days like two or three years ago, but I got enough clicks going and the results are four albums on Flickr (and Facebook, of course):

Friends at King 5 TV were kind enough to use a few of the photos here: http://kng5.tv/NWFolklife and NWFolklife also contacted me to use and archive them.

Just a quick update to let relatives and friends know everything is moving back to normal, keeping fingers crossed.

And right before putting this on the web, I got a call that the CEA (cancer marker) is stabilized and almost like last month, sigh :-)

Mom

•May 8, 2015 • 1 Comment

My mom passed away 10 years 3 days ago. I was not with her then and just flew back to Iran for her funeral.
But, I’ve got to a point that I can see her footprint all over my life. During my worst nights while fighting with that SoB, cancer, I called her every night through excruciating pain, sometimes begging her to take me with her. I always felt her warm breath in my heart giving me hope that this shall pass too, and it did. Now that I’m running on the road to a healthier life, I’m remembering those moments with a smile and a few tears. I’m not a religious person or believing in ghosts. What I’m saying is that mothers plant love in children’s hearts and feed it with their love and hard work. Of course that love is going to stay with the child until the last day of his or her life. Although my mom has left the earth 10 years ago, she’s alive in my heart.
Mothers deserve much more than once a year recognition, and forgetting about their roles in the other 364 days.
I know how much my kids love their mom, this was just a reminder…

CANCER SURVIVOR

•April 11, 2015 • 1 Comment

I have to update my blog tonight. Although I have been doing chores around the house since morning and I am dead tired, although it was a beautiful sunset but I didn’t step out to capture it. Mostly because, I think this is very laziness of mine not to update this blog. All my friends around the world only get the information about my health and how I’m doing, just via these pieces in some area of cyber world.

So first the good news: YOU CAN CALL ME A CANCER SURVIVOR! Yes, I survived it and kicked its butt (for now, we’ll have another scan in a few month to see it’s back.)

It’s been almost a year of fighting with an invisible enemy but gladly my family and my team were great and did whatever they could to help me, from my oncologist to her nurse, to the nurses in the infusion office, I owe the rest of my life to them and my guardian angel, Dr. Ehsan (my surgeon.)

Now, not so good news, I think this is the one that had made me the prisoner of my own house and of course shop.

Looks like during November a bubble of air has been manufactured right where the colon and rectum were joined after the surgery. Anyway, my surgeon requested a different kind of scan than the one I had on Thursday (which they couldn’t see any spot of cancer anywhere.) So they reached to that bubble with a very long needle and drew some fluid off of it. The result showed that there’s infection in my body and I had to go under 30 days of antibiotics (twice a day.)

For almost a week I did not feel any difference, but last couple of days I can feel it’s getting better, and that’s great news, especially for my family who have been observing my pain. We had some very ugly days, and I hope we passed those.

Till next time, Cheers!

The Life Goes On, as It Should!

•February 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

To give you an update on my cancer fight, I finished my radiation and right now I’m in the chair getting my 10th cycle of chemo!
After this session is over, I will have two more to go, which means I should be done with this in four freaking weeks.
Last couple of weeks have not been so kind to me, my pain level sometimes going to the roof and pain killers have been falling short of killing the damn pain and left me screaming in the middle of the night. Gladly, we are not living in an apartment or condo and my wife had been on her business trips, so my screams have not bothered anyone.
On the other hand, I had very little to do in the shop and in general, that I was able to rest when it got so bad.
I kept my #365infocus alive and posted a photo everyday, although I used a few days old photos for couple of days.
A couple of weeks ago, it started with a very bad pain in my both legs, that has stopped my walking. After 5 days pain in the left leg was gone, but the right leg got worse to a point that its pain got worse than my bottom’s. So my doctor ordered scans and there it was, another blood clot in my right leg. So I’m back to Warfarin and have to see someone at ACC (Anti Coagulation Center) tomorrow.
There are a lot of questions in my mind with no answer to them. I don’t know where the pain comes from and what is the real source of it. I still think about people who have got cancer and they are in much worse situation than I am with a lot of pain.
I always think of myself as a lucky one, who got diagnosed with this illness early and for having one of the best insurances in the US, and for a great caring team at Overlake Hospital!

Just got some good news: my CEA marker (cancer marker) is back to NORMAL! YAY!

Untill next time!

Day and Night

•January 14, 2015 • 1 Comment

Every night,
When the universe finds its nasty dirty black cloth,
When the pain gets unbearable,
I wish I don’t wake up anymore,
But in the morning,
All the hope is back,
Hope to see my family one more time,
Hope to finish another project,
Hope to click one more time,
Hope to stay alive,
Even when I know the pain will be back.

PS. I wrote this couple of days ago,  since then my pain has been progressively coming down, thanks to the especial “Brownies” I had received, last two nights I have been sleeping like a baby, so “F” you, cancer! You can’t win this round!

For my #365infocus project!

•January 3, 2015 • 1 Comment

When the night falls down,
And you start screaming,
Moaning,
And cursing the God!
When you have too much pain that is beyond your imagination,
When you can’t even touch a sheet or blanket because your fingers are all cracked and cancer has taken advantage of your soft skin.
When you’re tired of all screaming, moaning and cursing God, tired of asking him to end this life,

You remember your family
You remember your jobs that need to be done,
You remember all the birds, flowers and scenes that have not shot yet

And you pull the blanket over your head and think about your next  #365infocus and fall asleep.

Yes, the life is still beautiful, no doubt!

 
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