What’s next?

Eric's Journal
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Two Rivers native, 24, gets third cancer diagnosis, authors bucket list

Hey everyone,

It’s easily been the most insane past 4 days that I have ever experienced.
List of emotions or adjectives from the past few days:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Terrified
  • Hopeless
  • Hopeful
  • Dazed
  • Confused
  • Happiness
  • Lost
  • Love
  • Blurry
  • Displaced

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster and it’s not going to slow down anytime soon.  The appointment that my parents and brother came down to with me yesterday pretty much just told us what we already knew.  We asked about clinical and experimental trials and everything.  He told us that if there was anything, anything at all out there that was possible, he would tell us.  The truth of the matter is, I have had everything done to me that modern science is aware of.  The only options I have are:

  1. I’m feeling okay right now.  I should live life as happy and healthy as I can while I can.  Once the true complications from having AML for a third time start showing, then we start making arrangements and such.
  2. Get some chemotherapy.  It’s a mix of two different chemotherapies.  I have taken one of the two chemos a handful of times in the past, but the second chemotherapy is totally new to my body.  The chemo’s intent is not to cure me.  The cure for what I have is a bone marrow transplant.  My cancer has already deemed that a transplant is not going to be the best way to keep me alive for any period of time.  Rather, the chemo would be to knock down the leukemia blasts to a fairly manageable level.  That way, the side effects from the leukemia itself should be less intense.  On the flipside, the chemo is going to make me feel like shit.

Sidenote: another transplant is not an option.   A transplant, as far as modern day science is concerned, is my only chance at being cured.  However, twice now, my leukemia has beaten past transplants.  The team of doctors then explained to me that I have a much better chance at surviving longer by going the chemo route, than to even think about attempting another transplant.

I’ve done some thinking about these two options, and I have decided to do a little combination of both.  As long as my blood counts look okay, my doctor feels that I should get out and about and see and do as much as I can.  Therefore, I will use most of my time over the next 2-4 weeks to start checking off things on the bucket list.  I’ll probably wrap up the whole thing with the trip to Italy/Greece.  Right when I get back to Wisconsin, I will begin the chemo.   It will be very similar to the induction round of chemos that I had prior to my transplant.  I will probably be in-patient at Froedtert hospital for a month or so.  It might not even work.  There is a chance that the leukemia will not respond at all to the chemotherapy and I will live out my last days being in pain and discomfort from the chemo, while the leukemia is tearing me up.  There is also a chance that the chemo could keep things down to a lower level and allow me some more time to live.

The only thing is, is that they have to begin the chemotherapy before the blasts start replicating at a fast rate of speed.  If they wait too long, until my body is plagued by 50,000 leukemia blasts, then there is very little that they can do.  So the idea is, is to get out and try to experience some more things, and when I return to start chemotherapy.  However, if my blood lab results start looking worse (platelet count, white blood cell count), then I will need to postpone anything on the list that I haven’t gotten to yet and begin chemo with the hopes that I will later be able to check off some more things on the list.

I’m not ready to die.  No way am I ready.  In fact, I’m pretty damn sure that I will never be ready.  Therefore, I have chosen to receive some treatment.  If I do nothing at all, like some of the doctors suggested, then there is a 100% chance that I’m “checking out” within 2 months.  If this chemo gives me even a 1% chance that 2 months could change to 4 or 6 months…then I’m doing it.  Not only that, but I guess if I get the treatment, and my leukemia responds well to the drugs, and that my body isn’t too thrashed from it, then we will have more options.  With as shitty as I know that this is all going to be and feel, I’m going to let them administer the worst stuff they can.

The truth of it is, is that there are just way too many things out there that I want to experience.  The people I would meet, the places I would go, the things I would do.   And as long as there is still some juice left in me, I’m going to keep on swinging for the fences.

The slugger,