Chemo Therapy

Twelfth Chemo Infusion: One Big Party

With my final PET scan coming up today I thought now would be a good time to give everyone some updates.

Things have been going great as I completed my last five chemo infusions (8 through 12) rather smoothly. There isn’t anything too different to share as I opted to sleep through just about all of them (except for my 12th infusion which actually turned into a party). The protocol has been the same with one week feeling crummy and the next week being able to feel more normal. Oh, and I gained almost 20lbs due to the chemo slowing down my metabolism with the manna like surplus of home cooked meals. I’m also in an NJB calendar that I helped design which is being used to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Let me know if you want to order one!

In addition to completing all of my treatments I also started working again part-time from NY to ease back into the flow of things a few weeks ago. This has been a great adjustment and I’m really excited to be getting back into my design work at FDD. Another lesson I learned through this experience is just how important it is to find people you really love to work with. Everyone at FDD has been so incredibly supportive and I can’t wait to get back to the office.

Between working, spending time with my family and friends, generally dealing with the compounding chemo side effects towards the end of this process (sometimes feeling a bit consumed I must admit with difficulty organizing my thoughts), I just found myself taking a step back from blogging. In the beginning of this process I was amped up about everything and kicking cancer’s ass, however, after about half way, I really started feeling exhausted from it all. Not going to sugarcoat it but the fatigue, weakness, and achiness are a real struggle (Thankfully the nausea has passed). The fatigue is underlying and often hits hard unpredictably like a heat-seeking missile. That being said, thoughts crept into my mind such as – you haven’t blogged in two months! You’re slacking! So as I write this, I recall talking to a friend a while back and discussing how sometimes it is nice to just write something, not feel like it has to be edited, and just get your rough thoughts out there…

On the flipside, I recently went for a teeth cleaning and one of the office staffers who I hadn’t seen since I was a kid told me that she just started reading my blog a week ago. She was very energetic and told me how much it impacted her. It was a really great feeling for me and validated the fact that I didn’t need to be writing all the time to make an impression. I remember my mom telling me – write when you want, and don’t write when you don’t want to!

As I mentioned earlier, the final infusion proved to be a real party. There were eleven people total in what the nursing staff called my entourage. It was my parents, sister, brother-in-law, three cousins, family friend, and three of my best friends from college. Normally about five people fit in these tiny rooms but somehow we made it work on a rotating basis. It was a lot of fun…Well, I guess as fun as you can make these sorts of things!

My friends Ron and Alexis flew in and totally surprised me. They decided to break the news to me via text two days before the treatment:

Ron is the definition of a true friend. He also flew in right after my diagnosis for the first treatment. What a closer. Unfortunately, I missed Ron and Alexis’s wedding in Florida where I was also supposed to be in the groomsman party. It still doesn’t really register when I tell myself that I missed my best friend’s wedding because of cancer. It will always sound strange to me. Thankfully I still got to see them out of their generosity to fly up and spend a few days.

My three cousins showed up dressed in superhero costumes. Purple represents Hodgkins Lymphoma and green represents all Lymphomas. Everybody in the hospital was really enamored by them. I joked with them earlier in the week about showing up in costume and they took it seriously. It was very cute!

 

 

Of course, a final infusion would not be complete without some gag gifts! There were scratch-offs (all were losers unfortunately but I still got that rush) and an awesome t-shirt from Katie and Ron.

All in all, we got to hang out while I was injected with the usual concoction. I tried my hardest not to puke but that didn’t work. My yarmulke fell off my head into the toilet so thankfully my friend Ron threw on a pair of rubber gloves and retrieved it. I could never do that in a million years. That’s what friends are for. We got a good laugh out of it.

Per usual, I ended up fading out fast after the treatment and took a long nap in the hospital. Everybody came over back at the house before heading home. It was really wonderful considering it had been years since we were all together in college.

I found out after the fact that the nurses told my Dad how many times they see people go through these treatments alone. They sit there by themselves. I can’t imagine that and feel so lucky to be surrounded by the most important people in my life.

Part of me has really loved living back at home with family and the other part of me can’t wait to get back to my life and turn the page on a new, healthy, chapter. However, when I stop and think about it, whether I am here or there, this is all “my life.” Being around for holidays, birthdays, and everyday activities has been a major gift when I look back in comparison on the past few years of sporadic visits sprinkled about.

Overall, I wouldn’t change anything about the past seven months one bit and feel lucky to have experienced this at an early age, learning invaluable life lessons along the way. Besides my body feeling like it has gone through the absolute ringer, there has been too much of a silver lining to get stuck in the negative. Looking back it is strange to realize that I spent nearly the past seven months planning to feel sick every other week. At the very same time I am amazed and grateful with just how many things are being taken care of for me, how little I have to worry, and how big of a support system I have. It’s almost as if the solutions was already in place before the problem arose!

More importantly I wanted to thank everyone for caring and keeping me in their prayers since I first shared the diagnosis. The outpouring of love, support, phone calls, texts, and visits has been overwhelming. Can’t wait for my scans tomorrow and hope to really celebrate next week with a clean bill of health!

Big thank you to my Dad for capturing a lot of the above moments on camera. Shout out to my mom for making sure I was stocked up on my favorite anti-nausea drinks.

The night before my last treatment the full FSU crew went out to dinner. They also got me a surprise cake and everyone sang “Happy Last Treatment To You.” 

It was also an awesome surprise seeing my friend Dominick a few weeks ago. He flew up from FL to DC and then spontaneously took an Amtrak into Brooklyn to spend the afternoon with me on 24 hours notice. It had been years and was definitely one of the highlights of the past few months. Check out what this killer entrepreneur is up to!

Also amazing spending some time with my Rabbi from Israel, Rav Binny Freedman, who was in town for a few days. I had last seen him right after the initial diagnosis and he helped encourage me to not to be afraid to share my experience with the world. 

2 thoughts on “Twelfth Chemo Infusion: One Big Party”

  1. Barry Horn says:

    Hey Daniel,

    You are a great talent and inspiration to me. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

  2. Michael Ackerman says:

    Daniel,
    I am overwhelmed with love for you, my son.
    The incredible person and gift that you are.
    As well as the quietly powerful man with a deep and flowing wellspring of wisdom.

    You are, as Rabbi David Aaron once said we must all strive to be. A ‘perfect becoming’.

    With love and gratitude to Hashem.
    Always,
    Dad

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