Friday, May 22, 2009


This past week has been of tremendous emotional strain.

This past Monday, my grandmother past away. To begin to explain the roll that she played in my life you have to go back to my birth. "Grandma Clark" was always there. At every birthday, every holiday, school functions ranging from "Arts and Tarts" to band and music concert. My grandma was at little league games and boy scout courts of honor. She would come over in the afternoons to help my parents out by watching us kids after school. My grandma valued music and life experiences. She bought my tenor saxophone so I could follow my dream of music and sent me to the Boy Scouts National Jamboree back on the east coast when I was 13 years old to broaden my horizons. I would spend hours at her house in the summers building little houses and forts out of the scrap lumber that my father stored in her old carport. She would pick me up after school in Junior High so often that I only road the school bus twice in my junior high school years. Once on the way to school on my first day in seventh grade and one on the way home on the last day of ninth grade. Most days my dad would take me to school because I had Jazz band at 0 period but my grandma was there almost every day for the ride home.

Grandma Clark was so giving. It wasn't until I was in high school that I began to realize the amazing truth that was my grandma. My grandma worked so hard to give me and my brothers and sisters a life that most people only dream of. We did not only have our parents who loved and supported us in all we did but we had our grandparents. My grandmother was constantly giving to us kids. We were showered not only but her love and support for the activities we chose to do but she made sure that we had the support to participate in every opportunity that came our way.

My grandmother had been ill for quite sometime and it was really hard to see such a strong and proud woman who had given so much struggle so hard near the end. Her passing has left a very large hole in my life. These last few months have been exceptionally hard because I was not able to visit her as often as I wanted to. I had to be careful of being exposed to illness and she had been admitted to a nursing home because she was no longer able to care for herself. But I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to tell her that I loved her very much. She taught me so much about life and how to work hard in the face of adversary. People have commented about how I have continued to work through my cancers diagnosis and treatment and been impressed with my determination to continue to live my life even when I do not feel well. To this I attribute to my grandmother. I learned that life is not easy but it is better to work hard and persevere instead of letting life conquer my character along the way.

Grandma I will always love you and thank you so much for being so wonderful!

This week was also marked with the uncertainty of having a job for next year. As with most school districts across the nation, the Hermiston School District is grappling with a budget crisis. Being one of the newer hires I have been quite nervous about losing my job. This week was filled with sobering meetings from my union, building principal, and superintendent. Where at every moment I had a lump in my throat that I would be dire financial strain at any moment. More than anything else I have worried about losing health insurance. As I continue to wage my battle against my cancer I have been thankful for my medical insurance. It has allowed me to get the best of care and has brought me a long way in beating this disease. I really feel for those without insurance. Especially when I look into my children's eyes and realize how much they need me around.

On a good note, my hair has started to grow back. It itches like heck but it is so nice to start getting my hair back. Also my good friend Volus is visiting from Pittsburgh. It has been such a long time since I got to see him. He will be dropping by tomorrow morning and I can not wait to see him and to catch up with him a little. Another thing for the good news column is that I have a job for next year as far as I know. I was not notified by administration that I was losing my job and then this week my union voted to cut some paid days to hire back the positions that were going to be eliminated. I am proud to be a part of a union that is so concerned with all of its members.

Well I begin radiation treatment next week. I am pretty nervous about how that will go but only time will tell and today is not the time to worry about it.

I think this has been enough for tonight. I am tired and ready to get some rest.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New informaiton

Well, I guess I need to make a comment about the last post. I am really embarrassed that I made that post. It was made at a real low time where I was overwhelmingly feeling weak and helpless. It is a mission of mine to have strength and courage as I battle this cancer but there are times where the realities of this disease get to me.

At work and around others I always try to show strength, courage, and a positive attitude. I want people to think of me as a really hard worker and a nice guy. One who can carry his own weight and then some extra. Not one who needs help but the one who gives.

I guess in a way, I always want to be like the kid back on the play ground in elementary school who gets picked early to be on someones team or is call out on Red Rover. You know what I am talking about; somebody who makes a group better because they are a part of it. A person who lifts others up instead of weighing them down. That is the root of my current problems. I feel like I can not carry my weight. I mentally understand that I have cancer and I can do only so much, but in my heart I feel like a failure. Emotionally I am really down.

This cancer has placed a financial strain on my family, has kept me from visiting my grandmother much who is gravely ill in the ICU at the hospital, affected the quality of teacher I know I am, robbed some of the innocence of my children at an early age, and has strained all of the limits of my wife and I where sometimes tears are all that remains.

Emma Lee has been such a rock for me. I am at awe with Em's strength during these times but behind her continuous love and support I know she has to be so tired.

This is the hardest part of the cancer on me. It has not really been the nights on the bathroom floor, the terrific pain I have endured, or the exhaustion that limits my physical and mental capabilities. It is seemly endless nature of our struggles and challenges over the last several months.

As much as I try to always hide my real feelings and worries in the presence of others the other night when I made that last post I guess it was a window into my real worries:



and really worn out.

I have recently had some good news on the progress of my treatments. One of the two remaining tumors that I have in my chest showed no activity on my last PET Scan. The other tumors activity was much reduced. Because of this, and my low white blood cell count, I am stopping chemotherapy because the doctors believe that the chemo has done all that it can do. I am going to proceed with radiation treatment in a couple weeks after my white blood cell count has an opportunity to recover a little bit. Then in mid July, I will have another PET San to see how I am doing. My oncologist was pleased with my response to the last rounds of chemotherapy and believe this is the best course of action.

I am so glad that I had my treatments in Portland. My oncologist works in an office that was rated as the best cancer center in Portland by Portland Monthly Magazine. This list is developed from the doctors in Portland and their patients. There are also two other oncologists in the office that specialize in my type of cancer and they all consult with one and another as they decide the best course of treatment.

Now the most important part of this blog is to say thank you to all of you that have helped so much. The last few weeks have been really tough and I have not really been able to stay up with the blog like I would have liked to. For those of you that have had me and my family in their prayers I want to tell you that I have felt your prayers and do believe that god is an amazing healer and has helped me recover so much. For those who have been able to give financial gifts to my family I am so appreciative. I am not sure how I would made it to some of my treatments if it was not for the gifts that helped pay for gas and occasional lodging when necessary.

So in closing,

Friends, thank you so much!

Monday, May 11, 2009



That seems to be the only word I have in my head right now. I get so scared about the continuing arrival of medical bills, I worry about losing my job next year due to budget cuts, I worry about being able to get the rest I need to get healthy. I have been so fatigued. If you have ever experienced true fatigue you will be able to appreciate crashing anywhere and anywhere. I am so tired... ... to you later

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Can't Sleep ... ... how are you all doing

This last treatment has really knocked me to my knees. For the most part, prior to this last treatment I have been able not to get sick. I have been very nauseous but not sick. Not so this last time. I spent the better part of two days on the floor of the bathroom. I was so ill that I called in sick on Monday and took a day off of work. I probably should have taken Tuesday as well but missing too many days is just not an option.

I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately and when I do sleep I seem to be having lots of random nightmares. It is hard to keep a positive outlook all of the time when my subconscious continually reminds me of my situation. I am going back on Ambian CR in the hopes that I can get some better sleep again. I worry about taking that drug too much because it can be habit forming but at this very moment i just want some decent sleep.

Work is lightening up a bit now. Today 66 of my 92 AP Government and Politics students took the Ap Exam. I have four more that will be taking the make-up exam on the 15th so over all I had a good number take it. This year, even though I was ill and the quality of my instruction suffered i do believe that many of my students did well on the exam. Quite a few have told me just today that the exam was a lot easier than the one's i gave them and that they felt fairly prepared with answering all of the questions. I am just glad that i am not going to be grading 92 chapter exams every six days anymore. That was really starting to wear me down.

If some of you haven't heard I got a small sort of promotion at work. I am the secondary site coordinator for summer school this year at Hermiston High. This position is like Principal so it is nice o be doing a little admin work. I like summer school a lot and being able to be the coordinator has allowed for me to do some things that I have always wanted to do on my own. I got to hire a staff, build a schedule, and create my on school handbook and curriculum.

Well I am going to try and get some sleep. I have to e at HHS at 6:30 am tomorrow morning and i do need some sleep.