Hello everyone,

3 years!

First of all, a happy 3rd anniversary to my lovely wife and I, on this auspicious TWOsday. 2-22-22! (It is 1-22 in the lunar calendar.)

Not a great day to celebrate with all the rain and cold, being so busy, treatment, and me not being able to eat much. But we will make it up on a sunnier day!


It’s not comfortable. Or attractive.

Last week I finally started radiation treatments. So far, everything has gone quite smoothly. The process is very efficient; I probably spend more time driving back and forth than I do at the treatment center.

I mentioned I had to wear this mask that immobilizes my head. Well here’s a picture of me on the table ready to be zapped!

This machine isn’t the same machine as I had pictured before. The only difference is that this one only goes up 60 degrees on one side, instead of being able to go basically all directions like the other one can.

The machine is in its “rest” position. The middle part extends out to almost touch me when it’s active.

First they blast me on one side, then turn me around and blast me on the other. Before each time, they take some kind of x-rays to see that I am in the same alignment every time. They compare the x-rays to the initial CT scan I had done at my first appointment. Even things like the placement of my arms has to be the same each time.

Each blast takes maybe 2 or 3 minutes. It takes more time to get set up and adjusted. Total I am there probably 45 minutes from getting called back to leaving.

“Waffle Head” from the mask.

Completely painless, besides being uncomfortable on that metal tray and having my head strapped down.

Side Effects


I started to feel some side-effects this past weekend. I took off Saturday from work preemptively, just in case I wouldn’t be able to sing. Sunday went ok, but I started to struggle towards the end. My throat (esophagus) is definitely becoming irritated and inflamed. I have the same tightness feeling that I did before I started chemo. It isn’t necessarily hard to sing, but it gets uncomfortable, and I start to produce a lot of phlegm. Now I am having more trouble eating, which was also to be expected. I will eventually be on a mostly liquid or very soft diet in the coming days. Even bread is not so fun to swallow. Though I couldn’t resist having two mini-bundt cakes that I made today with the mini-bundt-maker that Luyang got me as a present for our anniversary!

No frosting – yet!

I also start to feel fatigued, as expected. Not too bad, but I am feeling the need to nap a lot again, whereas I was really not feeling the need to as much in the past few weeks. Well, last week was really busy, besides treatment, so I suppose the combination of getting back to normal life on top of treatment is starting to add up.

I’m supposed to expect some minor burning on my skin in the treatment area, however I have yet to really experience this. Perhaps it is slightly noticeable visually, but I certainly don’t feel burned. Not yet anyway!

Being More Healthy

Speaking of skin problems – in a previous post I mentioned some topics I was hoping to write about. For the past many years, I have always been getting some patches of eczema in various places. This year is the first year in quite some time that I have not had any traces of eczema whatsoever. Maybe it is some fundamental change in my body from chemo, but I attribute this to changing soap. Instead of using the cheap, corporate brand, I decided to try some handmade soaps. They are still scented, but don’t have all the filler chemicals in them. I didn’t buy them with the intention or knowledge that they may help my eczema, but low and behold they did!

I also changed deodorant. After using the same old aluminum-laced stuff I’ve been using for literally all my adult life, I also made the switch to aluminum-free, handmade stuff. Really no difference in “performance”, but I certainly feel better about myself. Not just physically, but mentally knowing that I am supporting small businesses and individuals instead of Big Body Wash.

Bella loves her teddy bear! Doesn’t even tear it up!

That was an easy switch. But what else can I do to improve my health going forward? What I eat! Well cutting down on refined sugar would be one – that’s going to be difficult! Easier for me right now is cutting down on oils. Generally I feel terrible anymore after eating greasy foods. During chemo I was very sensitive to greasy foods. That sensitivity hasn’t really gone away. I still get pretty nauseous.  While that stinks, it really is a good thing. I have instinctively avoided having too much greasy food.

Until next time. Thank you for reading!

The Next Step – Radiation

Hello everyone,

“Xin Nian Kuai Le!”

Happy solar and lunar new year to you all! I hope you are all having a good new year thus far. Well, as good as it can be these days…

It’s been a while since I last wrote! Well, there hasn’t been too much happening in regards to cancer treatments. Please be patient with my stream of consciousness.

Bella got some new shoes for winter. What a dork!

My 3rd PET scan in early January came back clean! A “complete response to therapy”.

Unfortunately, I have been advised to proceed with radiation therapy. I was hoping not to have to do radiation, but the radiation oncologist believes it will be best for me.

I’m sort of “borderline” in needing the therapy. As my original diagnosis was “Stage 2-B”, or “Stage-2 Unfavorable”, the decision could have gone either way as to pursuing radiation. Because it was “unfavorable” due to the size of the mass in my chest, and the fact that I experienced several “B” symptoms, such as the night sweats, the doc wished for me to do radiation.

An example of the proton machine.
(I’m sorry Dave!)

The therapy I will be undergoing is a specialized type of radiation called “proton” therapy. I’m no scientist, but basically this therapy, instead of x-rays, uses charged particles – protons – to administer treatment. The benefits of this type of radiation are 1) it can precisely target areas for treatment and 2) there is little to no spillover into other areas not targeted for treatment. What this means for me is an increased mitigation of future complications. So, hopefully down the road my chances of the cancer coming back, or a different cancer appearing as a result of the treatments themselves, is lowered. Some videos are available here about the treatments.

My treatments should be starting in the next two weeks or so.

The mask is something like this.

I’ve already had my “calibration” appointment. They do their own CT scan, but not before making a custom helmet to immobilize my head, and giving me four very tiny tattoos to aid in lining me up to the lasers exactly each treatment. As this kind of therapy is very precise, I must be lined up the same each time.

I will have 15 treatments. Monday-Friday for 3 weeks. After that – it should be time to have my mediport removed. That will mark the end of this whole ordeal! I cannot wait! I don’t even notice the mediport much these days, except when lifting things or when someone or something runs into it. I’ll be happy to be back to “normal”.

My hair is also growing back well, but slowly. My beard is coming back nicely, although different! It seems to grow more “straight” and is also darker. There doesn’t seem to be much red in it anymore. How strange! My head hair doesn’t seem to be much different.

An organ pipe, refurbished and upgraded, for a current project – a big boy!

I realize as I’m writing this that I’m writing a little differently. Now that I’m feeling somewhat human again, I’ve been trying to catch up on the oh-so-many things I’m behind on. An insurmountable task in normal times. So, my brain is a bit scattered and tattered these days. Luyang reminds me often that life was put on hold for 4 months, and still will be for a little longer.

As cabin fever sets in, I’m itching to get out and do things. I happily shovel snow. It’s good exercise! I’ve been doing just a tiny bit of piano and organ work. I will resume my normal load of this after radiation is done. I’ve played for 15 or more Masses in the past 2 weeks. Quite a bit of singing, but these proton treatments aren’t going to pay for themselves!

What would a post be without a Bella picture?

Finally, something goofy. Some co-workers at church insisted that I shouldn’t be taking naps on the pews at church, and opted to buy me a couch for my office. How kind and thoughtful of them! I still don’t have my normal energy levels back, so after a long car ride and two Masses, I’m usually pooped. My naps are now more comfortable. And, Bella approves!

I’m looking forward to 2022. Next time I write, I will share some things I’ve been interested in and have been working on, as well as how I’m viewing life going forward.

Many thanks for the continued prayers and cards. The worst is over now. Thanks for reading!