Monday, July 29, 2013

Moving In and Moving On...

Forgive us for the lack of recent updates.  Now that Bud is living a more normal life (if a weekly chemo session can be considered normal), we are burdened with more mundane things like house cleaning, doing the groceries, house cleaning, cooking, house cleaning, laundry, house cleaning, preparing for school, house cleaning, summer camps, house get my drift...

Last week we moved into a home whose previous owner was a single guy (looks to be in his late 30's - 40s) with a cat -- you can just imagine what cleaning the fridge and oven (where all he cooked was pizza as evidenced by the pizza pan that he left behind) were like for me -- who never had to clean any of those before in my life!

But I guess it was good, too, that he was single because he never bothered to put anything up on the walls so all we had to do was re-paint the shocking yellow bathroom walls and the psychedelic blue master bedroom to the Zen-like white walls we have in Manila and we were all set to move in -- but not before we had professional carpet cleaners and a cleaning lady tackle the bathroom grime do their thing though.

We are making the most of our life here in the US, but would give ANYTHING to be able to go back home to the life we knew.  When Nadya was given $50 as a birthday present last week, Bianca immediately asked..."Is that enough to buy a ticket to Manila?"

I personally feel that we have been given a second chance to renew our life here.  Not that there was anything wrong with our life before, except maybe that we rarely saw Buddy because he was traveling for work all the time.  Now we are all learning to spend more time together, sometimes I tease Buddy, half-jokingly, if we're going to survive this, since we haven't spent so much time together in all our married life...and now we're together 24/7.

In 2 weeks we'll be going back to Mayo Clinic to see Dr. Gertz.  Bud's progress has been so remarkable that the doctors here at Park Nicollet think he may be ready for a transplant, but that can only be determined at Mayo Clinic which has the facilities to do that.  When he was first diagnosed with cancer on April 18, Dr. Gertz said we were looking at treatment of at least 1 year before we could even consider a bone marrow transplant...that is how miraculous Bud's progress has been!  And there is no scientific explanation for it -- it can only be because of everyone's prayers...

But geez, God, if all you wanted was for us to relocate to the US, couldn't there have been an easier way???  But maybe the answer is NO, because through all this we have all grown and learned so much.  So many things, on hindsight, are making more sense now -- as if God was preparing everything to make our journey smoother...and hopefully, the road stays smooth from now on...


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Moving towards normal life, and loving every minute

Wow, what a couple of weeks!  So much happened, and so much was so "normal".  I look back (again) at where I was a short two months ago and at that time, never would have imagined enjoying normal things.  First some highlights:

  • For the first time in 32 years (!) I went to Valleyfair, THE theme park in Minnesota.  The last time I was there, I was the age of Luis.  This time, there was Soak City, right in the middle of Valleyfair.  The kids loved it.  What they may not have seen is that I may have had as much fun as they did simply watching them have fun.

Valleyfair on July 10, 2013
  • I took the kids fishing.  I used to love going fishing when I was their age.  Each of them caught a fish. Even Luis, who really didn't want to go fishing at the outset, caught the first fish and he ended up being the "casting expert".  
Fishing at Independence Lake on June 30
  • We had our 1st 4th of July celebration, watching fireworks at Lake Minnetonka.  Of course, the location we went to had a Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream stand next to it so Bianca wanted some - she thinks the Raspberry Chocolate Chip is totally worth the 30 min wait in line.  FYI, Sebastian Joe's is wildly addicting ice cream and has been rated the best in Minneapolis.  

  • Ria and I have been mapping out the Minneapolis food scene.  We've eaten at some great Thai, Italian and good old American barbecue restaurants and absolutely enjoying them (without gaining any weight, on my part, at least -- Ria is starting to complain though...)
Celebrating our house closing at Famous Dave's
  • We've taken up a membership at the local health club, Lifetime Fitness.  Kids like the pools and the water slide.  Ria likes the treadmills and the weights.  I'm using it to get my physical strength back.  
  • I get to ride my new bike around.  This is more for the exercise but I used to absolutely love bike riding.  I ride as much as my body will take (20-30 minutes every other day or so) and I enjoy it.
  • I'm working more and more now that I have time and really enjoy contributing to Global Sources.  First it was 5-10 hours a week.  This week it's around 20 hours a week.  Soon, it will be 30-35 hours a week.  I agreed with management to cap it as priority 1 is still to get back to 100% healthy.  
  • We closed on our new home here in Plymouth, MN.  We'll need to furnish it, but we'll now have a place to call our own during our journey here in the US.  To all our friends in Manila who we never got to say a proper good-bye to, you are all welcome to visit anytime...

Our House

Two months ago, these would not have even been an inkling, but now they are my reality in moving forward as a person.  What I feel is the best part is that all these enjoyable moments are happening and, by the way, I'm still going through Chemotherapy.  Despite this, I've taken the advice of those who have had cancer and changed their lifestyles.  I've learned that one of the most important lifestyle changes a person can have while managing their cancer is to enjoy things and have fun.  I've had a lot of fun in the past 4 weeks and all of it while still still managing my cancer.  

Speaking of which - the medical stuff!  Per my oncologist, my multiple myeloma seems to be under control from the aggressive chemotherapy medication that I've been taking.  My oncologist is very encouraged by the results noting that this is where I should be and now wants to consider the long-term treatment of a bone marrow transplant.  They need to determine the situation with my heart and see if it can take the procedure.  Everything in consideration, we couldn't be happier with my recovery process.  We'll find out in the next couple of weeks with a trip to my Mayo Clinic doctor as to what I need to do next.    

Many people have written that they are still praying for me. I feel wonderful right now doing the normal things in life and a huge reason has been the love and support I've felt from everyone.  I'm a firm believer that cancer recovery and cancer management is only 40% medication and 60% prayers, support and positive attitude.

Before we embarked on this journey, I told many friends and relatives, "Whatever this is, if it's cancer, it's taking on the wrong person".  I need to correct that.   I have so much support from family, friends, co-workers, prayer groups that are all with me in this fight against cancer.  It's not me, it's we.  I know that these are the reasons why we've been able to manage cancer during this journey.  To all of you there, my deepest thank you for your help and support.

Thank you!