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    Welcome to AnnMarieOlogy, where we discuss everything from wardrobe to whining, to wining & dining. I'm AnnMarie. I hope you enjoy your stay.

Say It Isn’t So…..Christmas Day Hanukkah Treasure Exciting News!

THIS IS THE LAST CYCLE

And just like that, we received what is truly the best news of our lives- Michaels joint team of Doctors have decided that THIS IS HIS LAST CYCLE!

Here’s the scoop – I remembered reading that the study which was brought to us and helped us make the decision to go for the big gun treatment, was a 12 Year Study based on a 3 Cycle course of Treatment, not 4. As you might recall, last Cycle I asked Dr. Gonzales why 4 Cycles, not 2 or 8 or anywhere in between and he simply said ” because I made up that number, no rhyme, no reason” so upon entering the hospital today, knowing how fragile Michael was and how hard this treatment truly is on a person all together, I emailed his team of doctors and asked about the study and if in fact my memory was serving me correct, 3 Cycles.

They ALL immediately responded that I was correct – 3 Cycles and that they believe 3 Cycles is plenty for Michael and the original number 4 was just that, a number they pulled out of thin air.

And with that Michael and I took that great news of the 12 year study and 3 Cycles and opted to do the 3 Cycles. Dr. Gonzales again told Michael their is “slim to no chance of reoccurrence” because we did BIOCHEMO!

It is with this, beyond exciting news, that I am brought to my knees once again knowing we are now heading into the eye of the storm of Cycle 3 but into the storm equipped with jubilation and the end of the marathon in sight!

We are planning on having a relaxing but joyful August now that we don’t have to come back to BIOCHEMO ever again after this Friday!

Michael can now attend a Bat Mitzvah in August, drive a Jet Ski at Asher’s 10th Birthday party in late August, shoot hoops with our beloved baby boy Gavin and take his beautiful girl Madilynne shopping and down the slides at Water World – all of which were things we thought he’d be still sitting out of but most of all, we will be thanking G-D for the doctors we have been given, the treatment we were able to benefit from, the support of our friends and family and for putting The Summer Of Survival behind us and coming out on top – AS A STRONGER THAN EVER FAMILY!

My Ology of The Day

Just when you think life throws you a curveball, throw it back and you might be surprised!

Too Little Time…..

In Between Cycles That Is

As we enjoyed last week in Vail surrounded by our active and smiling children, Michael and I were also very concious that our last week in between Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 was quickly slipping away. We made a point to do some wonderful things with our children from Fly Fishing Lesson and Fly Fishing Camp for the boys to Cooking Camp in Beaver Creek where all 3 kids thoroughly enjoyed making Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Home Made Pasta to swimming in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs – I truly made sure we were having a family week which really felt like a wonderful family vacation! However, watching Michael from the side lines most of these events, covered by his now notorious black hat that covers his entire face and neck to his long sleeve UV Protecting Shirt he now wears when he steps outside to his constant nausea and dizzy spells is not the Michael we know which constantly reminds me of the battle he is facing.

We push those feelings aside and take a lot of pictures and I continually remind him to take mental snap shots too and use those amazing moments during his two weeks “off” to push him through the next and last 2 Cycles.

Today we have concurred the PICC Line already and are in full throttle heading into the eye of the storm of Cycle 3.

My Ology Of The Day

Capture Life’s Moments By Being Mindful Of Today

K-I-D-S = Happiness

The K-I-D-S Hold The Key To Happiness

It’s getting harder to overcome the side effects after each cycle. Michael is 12 Days out of the 2nd cycle and still compromised by the side effects. Where after the 1st Cycle he was nearly side effect free after 7 days. This is how the doctors described to us how the cycles would become increasingly difficult for his body to become rid of where by the 4th cycle he won’t be relieved of any side effects after the 3rd cycle. The 3rd Cycle is 5 Days away.

However, even his fatigue, low blood pressure, nausea and many, many more effects unworthy of writing about – can’t be stopped by traditional medicine but can be forgotten, even temporarily by K-I-D-S or Madilynne, Asher and Gavin. And I even see glimpses of Michaels famous smile that is nearly all forgotten this summer.

Yesterday, I drove us to the Glenwood Hot Springs where Michael got into the warm waters and watched our kids get temporary tattoos and hurdle down the slides. The kids were sad that daddy didn’t go down the slides as he would usual have done but after a little reminding put big smiles on their faces and said – “next summer daddy” and off they went. A typical and mature response from our amazing children who have taken Michael’s Cancer head on and helped their dad find happiness this Summer of Survival.

The Boys Getting Tattoos – Michael chilling in the shade with a SMILE

Madi Braves the Slides

Asher flying down the slides

By late afternoon we were packing up and heading home. I turned to Michael and said “these are the happy times, the fun memories and cherished moments you hold onto during the times in your life which bring you down to your knees.” And with that he grabbed me and gave me a wonderful kiss to last a lifetime – at least through Cycle 3.

Cycle 3 -5 days and Counting

My Ology of the Day

Tomorrow is a gift, go shopping today!

Back 9

Less than 24 hours to go in CYCLE 2

By this time tomorrow, we will be taking Michael home and he will have completed 50% of his treatment.

We will then begin the process of healing from Cycle 2 and preparing for Cycle 3. Healing comes in many forms, I am learning. These forms include – The Obvious( Michael) The Care Taker(Me) The Children and our family as a whole. Healing includes helping the “Obvious” get his strength back physically and mentally to the point he can be active the 2nd week “off” and encouraging him he can accomplish the next cycle,  while managing the children’s feelings seeing their dad weak and limited while also making sure they are busy and not permanently “affected” …..all the while making sure The Care Taker (ME) finds time for myself in some way. THIS is NOT an easy task and although I am certainly not perfect, I do feel we are handling the given situation to the best of our abilities and this is nothing short of being accomplished because of the enormous support system we have! From our friends visiting Michael in the hospital daily, even coming at night this week so I can go home to put the kids to bed, to the Meal Train which brings delicious meals to our home three times a week from friends and strangers alike to our immediate family that has taken our children into their homes at all hours of the night, swimming many times, sleep overs galore and next week my sister Erin and Uncle Paul are taking them to Mt Rushmore for a few wonderful days of well deserved kids stuff!

Speaking of kids stuff, Gavin was a champion at Todd Schayes basketball camp this week earning Camper of the Day while Asher learned and tackled the Colorado River on a Kayak, all thanks to Avid4Adventure Camp! Madi refreshed her stylish skills by getting a hair cut and dyeing her hair with a few red streaks!

Asher Kayaking

With less than 24 hours to go in Cycle 2, Michael is handling his journey like a champion and tackling the side effects brought on during treatment including major migraines, rash, red skin, eye pain, nausea, low blood pressure, dizziness and extreme fatigue, just to name a few,  with a more businesslike approach- GET IN – GET IT DONE- GO HOME  and proving how strong he really is!

My Ology of the Day

Champions come in all shapes, all sizes and all ages


“Michael, there is slim to no chance of this coming back”

MUSIC TO MY EARS

And with that news, tears of joy are over flowing and although Michael is near a comatose state, I made him repeat Dr. Gonzales TWO TIMES in hopes he will remember what he was hearing!

Why this news now? Why not BioChemo offered to us in the beginning? Why were we steered away from BioChemo? Why is BioChemo given in 4 Cycles, not 3, not 8 and not 14, but 4. SO….when to our surprise Dr. Gonzales walked in to Michaels room an hour ago( he is the Lead Melanoma Oncologist in the West but didn’t “jive” with our personalities so we opted for the White Stallion Dr. Robinson as Michaels Oncologist in Denver, who is Dr. Gonzales mentor) I said a surprised “oh hello” and then followed up with a question to brake the ice “Why is BioChemo given in 4 Cycles” and he quickly followed with “17 years ago when I started BioChemo here and at MD Anderson, I started with 4 Cycles. It worked so I kept 4. No reason.” and then he said the words that I will cherish for the rest of my life…….

“Michael there is slim to no chance of this coming back with BioChemo.” 

Dr. Gonzales went on to explain that BioChemo is the harshest treatment known to Cancer patients( NO SHIT) not easily given or offered, saved typically for Stage 4 very advanced Melanoma not men like Michael that have NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE currently and often not finished but those that do – MOST melanoma patients DO NOT HAVE THE CANCER RETURN and since Michael has NO evidence of disease going into BioChemo, Dr. Gonzales can statistically say he doesn’t think it will ever come back!

The main reason we didn’t want to work directly with Dr. Gonzales upon diagnosis, was that although Dr. Gonzales is the pioneer in his field, an advocate for melanoma patients and obviously a genius, he also only dealt with statistics and we only want to deal with Michael, not National Statistics. However, we will make an exception this time with this great news and the statistics Dr. Gonzales came to, to believe so strongly Michael is already cured and will never relapse!

On another note – Michael is more alert this Cycle. Good or Bad he has more lucid moments(that also means I have to talk to him more in the hospital :)) He is also eating more and consciously he is drinking more water, which is helping his prostate issue, yeah!

Finally, within a few hours, Michael will be halfway through his 2nd Cycle – another VICTORY in my book!

My Ology for the day

Get In – Get It Done- Get Out