"experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." -randy pausch

Monday, August 20, 2012

cancer sucks {the great shave}

sean's big brother landon has cancer.
he is 33 years old,
with a wife and two children,
a job he loves,
and in great physical health.
except he has cancer.
i interviewed him sunday night after shaving sean's head bald.
this is what he said...
diagnosed june 20, 2012

official diagnosis:
Stage 4b Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer
{a blood cancer that can affect any part of your body,
specifically affecting landon's bone marrow, liver, and lymph nodes}

Q: what were your specific symptoms that made you go to the doctor?
night sweats
"i would have these symptoms for two days, and it would go away for a week, have it for a day, and it would go away for another few days, but it was summer in arizona, and i was sleeping at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and it was 110* outside, so sweating while i slept wasn't out of the ordinary."

"the saturday before i went to the doctor the first time i slept for almost 15 hours in a row.
i would run after work normally, but i hadn't run in 3-4 weeks. i was really tired after running that day. i couldn't catch my breath, and my legs felt really heavy, but i hadn't run for about a month, and that was normal for me when i hadn't run for a few weeks. now, i think that was an obvious symptom. my cancer had nothing to do with my diet or the way that i live. i was in good health, but if me having cancer motivates people to live healthier and better then that's a great thing."

Q: what was the first thing you thought when your doctor told you that you might have cancer?
"my first thought was ok, how do we fix it. how do we cure it. what do we do to get better. my doctors told me that this is a cancer that people beat. they couldn't tell me what triggered it, they couldn't tell me when it started. they even told me that if i had come in a month earlier they may not have been able to diagnosis me, and possibly would have sent me home with an antibiotic because my blood work may not have shown anything at that earlier stage. the second thing i thought was 'CRAP, now i've got to go tell sarah.' and i didn't know how to do that."

Q: what are you most afraid of right now, or are you afraid at all?
"i am not afraid of anything right now. i have full trust in my doctors and the treatment i am going through. more importantly, i have full faith in my Heavenly Father and His healing power, and in the Atonement of our Savior."

Q: what is the biggest lesson getting cancer has taught you?
"it's taught me two things. first, you never know who cares about you, and how much they care until something like this happens. obviously you know your family is going to be concerned, but then there are unexpected people that show you their support, and it's really nice to know there are people outside of your immediate circle to take the time to show you they care."

"second, it's taught me to have a greater appreciation for the little things, like sleeping for 8 hours straight. i usually have to get up to go to the bathroom, or my muscles cramp, or i have to wake up to take medicine every 4 hours, or my stomach hurts, and so forth. these are just the little things. you don't know how amazing it is to do the things you do until it's taken away from you."

Q: what is the worst part of chemo? 
"you don't know what symptoms or what side affects you're going to have from week to week. i've had some that are the same, and come about the same amount of time after chemo treatments, but this week my new one is that my feet go numb, and i didn't have that until this week. i've had new symptoms come up, and it doesn't seem like the old symptoms go away, just new ones add on. i have not thrown up one time. i just get really tired and sleep for two days after my treatments. my arms hurt and ache all of the time, and there's not really a lot i can do to get rid of that. i can take pain medication, but i don't like to. i haven't lost my appetite. i still eat like crazy. i feel like i've been extremely fortunate."

Q: what surprises you most about your chemo treatments?
"i hear other people's stories about what they are going through in their treatments of chemo and radiation or cancer in general, and i realize how truly blessed i have been as far as my reaction to treatments and that i've been able to stay relatively well. i can't exercise like i used to or run around with my kids like i used to, which goes back to how i appreciate more what i used to be able to do, but i'm surprised at what i CAN do despite all of that. i'm not down or negative about having cancer. being positive is a very very important aspect of my recovery and beating it, and i will beat this."
all i know is that landon and his wife sarah are two of the bravest people i know.
i am amazed at the strength emotionally and physically they have had to draw upon to begin and continue in this journey of beating cancer.
i feel honored to have such courageous people in my life.
cancer sucks.
chemo cures.
family and great friends are what matter most.
and my husband is a really attractive bald man.
who knew?!


Jen said...


Thanks so much for sharing this! Landon and his family are in my prayers. Love to all of you.

Kindra said...

Thanks for the post. I've wanted to know but didn't want to ask. I also shared with my Dad, he's been worried. Cancer DOES suck but I am glad that Landon and Sarah are being strong and putting their trust in the Lord. They are amazing!

December said...

Thanks SO MUCH for this post about Landon! I have been sooo worried about him and the rest of you! I have no contact info for him or Sara. If they don't mind, I'd like to have at least an email address. I love Landon so much! Thank you again for the post AND YES, Sean is hansome bald :) LOL Love you all! December

keri said...

What a great post Em! I'm so very sorry that your family has to go through this. Hopefully your bro-in-law can kick cancers trash! You are all in my prayers.

A Little Thing Called Life. said...

This made me tear up! I'm amazed by his strength and positive attitude. Thanks for sharing!

Sue said...

I will keep your brother-in-law in my prayers, Em. I have known many people who have beaten this cancer, and it sounds like they caught it early.

Wonderful, touching, heartfelt post.


Emmy said...

What a wonderful positive attitude he still has- that truly is amazing. And very cool how they are showing their support.

So the question will remain- will your husband stay bald?

Amy said...

What a difficult journey for your family. What a wonderful opportunity for faith and miracles. And the strength and support he has are wonderful and I am sure will do him much good. Good luck with this!