Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Settling in to the cancer routine

Infusion Eight down! We changed up the infusion schedule a little, so they will be on Wednesday afternoons going forward, which should bode well for getting blog posts up on Thursday (theoretically) and for giving us a little easier of a time balancing things. With Josie starting school and Tommy in a “Mommy and Me” class on Thursdays, it was much easier on everyone else to move it slightly earlier in the week. Plus, if there are plans that weekend (which, knowing us, there’s a good chance there is SOMETHING to do), it gives me one extra day to rest and recover.

Settling in to the cancer routine

TJ during infusion #8.
TJ during infusion #8.

Infusion Eight down!  We changed up the infusion schedule a little, so they will be on Wednesday afternoons going forward, which should bode well for getting blog posts up on Thursday (theoretically) and for giving us a little easier of a time balancing things.  With Josie starting school and Tommy in a “Mommy and Me” class on Thursdays, it was much easier on everyone else to move it slightly earlier in the week.  Plus, if there are plans that weekend (which, knowing us, there’s a good chance there is SOMETHING to do), it gives me one extra day to rest and recover.

So far, so good – not a ton of fatigue, and no other side effects.  We are settling into a bit of a routine now, one that incorporates a few of our “get healthy” ideas.  The weekend before the infusion (or the Monday of), it is food-shopping time, followed by cooking a couple meals for the week.  This week, it was a healthy veggie soup that loads up on some immune system boosters – garlic, onion, ginger, cucumber, carrots, jalapeno, and cabbage.   Add some potatoes and tomatoes, kamut, and a healthy dose of Old Bay for a little bit of flavor, and you have something to kick start the immune system in preparation for PD-1.  A veggie curry made with similar ingredients gave us a couple of “base” meals for the week.

Jen and I also did yoga the hour before the infusion.  There’s no direct link I have found between yoga and curing cancer, but there is plenty of evidence that it detoxifies, strengthens the body, gets the blood moving, and generally makes you a healthier person.  As a bonus, the final few minutes are some of the most relaxing moments I get all week, and for whatever reason, I feel refreshed after nearly every session.  Bringing that positive energy into the infusion center – which isn’t really an uplifting place, despite Holy Cross’ best efforts to incorporate sunlight, flowers, etc. — gives me a boost that can only help this treatment.

I am sticking with my pre-dose golf outing as well, when I can.  The last two were canceled due to lobster diving and shingles, but I got out there on Tuesday for a couple of hours.  I had a playing lesson with Don Wright, a local golf pro – this was a Father’s Day present from 2012 that I was all set to cash in that August, before I landed in the hospital and this odyssey began.  Plus, it was a “2013 goal” I got to check off. When I had to cancel the initial lesson, Corrine at Winning Ways Golf offered a refund for it.  I told her hell no, I was going to take that damn lesson once I got healthier.  It took a year (and a couple re-bookings) but I put the check mark next to “Take Golf Lesson” on my list.  Now, time to actually practice what I learned (hey, did you know you’re not supposed to swing with just your arms??) and get somewhere close to a respectable game. I suppose playing at all could be considered an accomplishment, but that feels like I am setting the bar a little low.

The most important thing we are doing is keeping the madness of life in check.  This is a lot easier for many of you than it is for us; Jen and I both tend to pack our lives full of things to do and places to be — so keeping a healthy balance has become a priority.  We did the Sunday stuff together: a party at a friend’s house, followed by a little boat cruise for dinner on the Intracoastal.  But Saturday I left the fantasy football draft post-party after an hour or so – I’m going undefeated, so I didn’t want to stay and rub it in.  Monday I passed on another boat excursion to a beach on the Lighthouse Point Inlet.  Did I want to stick around and drink/BS with the guys Saturday, or play with the kids in the sand Monday?  Of course I did.  However, knowing when to say when – not exactly my strong point, as many can attest – is now something that has become a vital part of “getting better.” 

There will still be plenty of times I hear from Mom, “I thought you guys were taking it easy,” but limiting the number of outings I attend has already had a positive recovery effect.  I still plan on participating in all the big stuff as much as I can, and getting my rest during the downtime in between. God bless Jen, who shoulders the responsibility of filling in those downtimes with something to do with both kids.

We both know this is not how we wanted life to go, but you cannot “live life” if you’re stuck in a hospital (or a cemetery). So we adjust and make the best of the good times we have, and use the rest of it to give me the best shot at being here for all of the “big stuff” going forward.  Some sacrifices are worth it in the big picture — a mantra I try and keep in mind every day.

Speaking of the big picture — it’s time to figure out this week’s fantasy lineup for the Duval St. RumRunners. Football starts tonight...


T.J. Sharpe shares his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma in the Patient #1 blog. Read more »

T.J. Sharpe
About this blog
T.J. Sharpe is sharing his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma. A South Jersey native and Bishop Eustace graduate, he currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with his wife Jennifer and children Josie and Tommy. He was Patient #1 in a clinical trial at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa as the first person worldwide to use this sequence of treatments to fight melanoma, and is currently in a second clinical trial at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale receiving Merck’s anti-PD-1 drug Lambrolizumab

The Patient #1 blog will update the progress of T.J.'s fight against cancer, and also touch on many cancer-related topics.

Follow T.J. on Twitter and Facebook. Reach T.J. at Patient1@tjsharpe.com.

T.J. Sharpe
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