Third Time’s a Charm

Well, this blog post took me a little time to write because I ended up back in the emergency room this past Tuesday (I think it was Tuesday, my memory is a little hazy). After being sent home after my second surgery I was doing fine until I started getting the same stomach cramps I had with my bowel obstruction with equal intensity only this time there was a new symptom: I started violently throwing up bile. I felt like lava was flowing up my esophagus for 3-4 hours. Our doctor told us to go to the ER which was, hands down, the worst 45 minutes, ever… and I’ve been on a 6 hour bus ride in Cambodia stuck in traffic with massive food poisoning. With a mixing bowl in my lap to throw up in and enduring terrible stomach cramps we hauled buns to get to the ER. Graphic, I know, but it’s true. The amount of skill it takes not to tip that bowl in a moving vehicle takes some talent. When we got to Stanford the emergency department was like Disneyland with people lined up outside the door. Can I get a fast pass? No. There was no place for us after we checked in so Kate wheeled me into a corner and waited for a bed to open.

After the emergency doctor listened to my chief complaint, she said, “I think you have another bowel obstruction”. I broke down at this point. A grown, 30 year old man, I just wept. Again they sent me to get a CT scan which revealed two things: a non-mechanical bowel obstruction called an ileus, AND a kidney stone! I need to buy a lottery ticket with my luck! Let’s hope the radiation from the 6 CT scans in 6 months doesn’t cause me to grow a third eye or something.

Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

An ileus comes from a temporary paralysis of the bowels that can happen after surgery. The anesthesia given to me during my second surgery left my bowels partiality paralyzed after they released me from the hospital which meant that I could not get rid all the excess waste in my system, hence a non-mechanical obstruction. Like a plugged up drain, your system starts to freak out and the extra waste in your system starts to poison you. Symptoms include: cramps, nausea, and vomiting bile. Check, check, and check! You and I will never read, Everyone Poops the same way again!

The doctors treat the ileus by putting me on a “nothing by mouth” diet, Roto-Rooter me, hook me up with fluids, pain and nausea medication for a couple days and then slowly move me to a liquid diet until my bowels start to function well again. The first couple days in the hospital were pretty miserable. I was in a considerable amount of pain and the nausea just kept coming in waves.

The next issue was to get rid of the kidney stone. Lucky for me, the kidney stone was only 2mm and could pass through without too much discomfort. The journey of the little urinary asteroid from my kidneys to my bladder was pretty painful. Stabbing pain and my old friend nausea lasted for about a day. The doctors put me on a rapid drip of saline to flush out my system. After the kidney stone passed, I started feeling back to normal again aside from the incision pain which is still to be expected. The incision pain down from my belly button to my waist line is the most uncomfortable, you never really realize how much you use those muscles for everything!

IMG_2792On this third visit, I was determined to wait and not push to get discharged before I was 100% sure that my bowels were back in working order to avoid a 4th visit. When you start to know all your nurses and the other patients in your wing, I think it’s time to get a rapid rewards card for your hospital visits. To the best of my ability, I tried to “enjoy” this third visit and seized the opportunity to reflect, heal and rest. When I was cleared for a liquid diet which included (most importantly) coffee, I made it a routine after the daily visit by my surgical team at 6 am, to walk down to the hospitality area where they always had decent coffee, comfortable chairs and a big window that over looks an arboretum to read the newspaper, Scripture and a couple chapters of a book, which happens to be a fantastic book about solitude and reflection, Sacred Rhythms. The most difficult part about this visit was being patient and missing the two loves of my life: Kate and Evangeline. This time around Evangeline could really tell that her dad was not around and her behavior has really been out of sorts. I think for the next couple weeks we’re going to really try and get back into a rhythm again in all aspects of life. My favorite part of this hospital stay was simply having my girls come down for an impromptu movie night with the three of us cuddled on the hospital bed to watch Evangeline’s favorite movie and letting her eat my graham crackers.

So as for now, patience is the mantra. I have to fight that urge within me for life to go back to normal as soon as possible and risk taking short cuts, I blame my asian drive. My surgeons for the past couple of days sat me down for a straight talk urging me to slow down in all aspects of life which includes backing off on triathlon training for a while and work to focus on my nutrition. As he’s said, “your digestive system has endured 6 traumatic events in only six months, it’s going to take a lot of time to get it all back in order, and right now, going back in for another surgery would be something we want to avoid as much as possible… you’re young and healthy, but the body can only take so much.” They have also suggested that I back off on my diet and go back to a simple diet like I had one I first had my gastrectomy in March. Lots of soups it is. One of the big concerns he had was regarding my rapid weight loss since I’ve lost 12 pounds since coming in two weeks ago. Leaving the hospital yesterday I was under 150 lbs, which is the lowest I have been maybe since 5th grade. It’s still crazy for me to think that I would ever have to worry about being too skinny when I’ve always been a big guy. At my heaviest, I was 240!

So, we’re restarting, again, but patience is the name of the game.

Graces,

Steve

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On the left: June 2008 (240 lbs). On the right: July 2014 (160 lbs).

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As soon as I could drink coffee again, I made it a routine to walk down to the hospitality waiting area where they have comfortable chairs, big windows and decent coffee to read the paper, Scripture, and a good book.

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Restarting my diet. This is a cream based soup made with chicken broth, heavy cream, italian chicken sausage, potatoes, and spinach. Quite tasty and high in calories.

6 More Inches of Story

Well, that one was one crazy week. I get a bowel obstruction, find out I have a hernia, an extra organ that only 2% of people are born with, had a hand full of doctors at two different hospitals look at my CT scan and say, “I don’t know”, take an ambulance ride up back up to Stanford, go home only to slip back into excruciating pain, return to Stanford and head right back into another full open surgery.

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Getting ready for another wide open abdominal surgery. Don’t let the face fool you, I was pretty upset.

Let me be completely honest: the surprise, the rapid regression in my health, the pain, the nausea, paired with the progress I thought I was making the past six months made this round much more mentally difficult than anything else. Feeling prepared to run a triathlon and imagining myself crossing the finish line as a symbolic gesture of putting CDH1 behind me came to a screeching halt last Thursday is demoralizing. Instead of getting my transition pack ready, I was now mentally preparing to go back to surgery, again. I would be roaming the halls in the same wing of the same hospital, again. I would wake up after surgery with the feeling of being on fire, again. I would look down at a scar that was finally starting to heal only to find that they opened me all the way back up, again. All this makes me feel like I am starting all over, even though I am not.

The past couple days have been really difficult, even though physically, I feel like it has been easier. The other night I could not sleep with incredible amounts of gas pain which can only be relieved by passing gas. I did what every post-surgical patient does in recovery, walk. For some reason the gas pain always ends up in your shoulders and hurts like a BEAST. In some ways, it hurts more than the incision because at least the dilaudid takes care of the surgical pain. That night I roamed the halls at Stanford with anger and frustration.

Let me be completely honest one more time: I was feeling sorry for myself.

The last I checked, feeling sorry for yourself never gets you anywhere. It just eats at your soul and makes you more bitter, angry, and leaves you feeling like somebody owes you something. That’s healthy. Not. But, this was where I was, at the bottom again.

At the peak of my pity party, I passed by a couple rooms on my floor where two others were dying of cancer that night. Reality check.

“Someone always has it worse than you.” “Everyone dies.” “It’s not what we face, it’s who we become when we face it.” “The crap will hit the fan (awful analogy, I know), over and over and over again in life, so it’s a not about what challenge you face, but how you choose to walk directly through it.” “If you’re going to enjoy the beautiful things in this life: butterflies in your stomach with your first kiss, the feeling of your stomach in your mouth the first drop on a roller coaster, the nervousness you feel on a first date, the first bite of an incredible meal that literally makes you close your eyes so you can focus all of your senses on the food you are eating… it also means embracing the really crappy parts about this life like stubbing your toes, being rejected by a girl, throwing up after you’ve had too much roller coaster action, bad meals, and yes, even death and cancer.” These are my own words.

They all flooded back to me in that moment. Yes, I’m listening.

I can’t explain it, I can just say that it sounds condescending, but I had this thought that people everywhere would love to be in a position where I’m at. I don’t have a stomach… so what? So I can’t eat everything in the quantity I want… yes? So, I feel like I want to throw up until my insides are empty… big deal. There are so many others who have looked at their situation and said, “ok, let’s do this thing… It’s not ideal, but it’s useless wishing to be in someone else’s shoes, or being bitter that you didn’t get dealt a different hand in this life.” I came back to my room, sat on bed that probably costs $8,000 for me just to sit on per day, looked at my scar and said, “it’s six more inches of story to tell.”

The only option we have in this life is to walk straight through these things. My faith in God doesn’t make me immune. God doesn’t owe me anything. I just know that He’s going to help me put one foot in front of the other. Tragedy makes you take a good hard look at what you really believe about God, let alone life, love and (fill in your philosophical metanarrative here). My faith does not leave room for karma. I don’t deserve good things in this life because I’m a nice person. That leads to resentment and confusion when you face tragedy. My faith does not leave room for, “why is this happening to me, because I do things for other people.” That just leads to bitterness feeling like God owes it to me and my faith in God is not any deeper than my faith in Santa Claus. My faith does, however, promise that God will not abandon me in my hour of need even if it means I’m dying right then and there. My faith in God means that sometimes my trust in God won’t always line up with my understanding of God and the “why” of what’s happening. This allows me to shift the question from “why” to “how”. This question allows me to shift from defeat to trust. Easy? Hell no. Just a bit easier, heaven’s yes.

Look, I’m a pastor. It doesn’t give me special privileges. I don’t get “backstage passes” with the LORD. It helps give me perspective and an opportunity to walk with others going through the same crap I go through in life, encouraging them, and celebrating the awesome parts together.

I have another six inches of scar that will tell another story. I have another 4-6 weeks of recovery from being opened back up. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to regain some perspective, rally, and get ready to keep encouraging others in life’s journey so that one day when I’m in one of the rooms breathing my last, I can hope the past X amount of years of my life was spent doing exactly what God has always called me to do: walk with Him the best I know how, love others the best I can, as faithfully as I can.

Graces,

Steve

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On the left: my first surgery. On the right: my second surgery. On the second surgery they started 3 inches above my belly button and went down 3 more inches past my belly button. I was hoping it was going to be laparoscopic, but oh well. 4-6 weeks of recovery.

Uncharted Territory by Kate

Programming Alert: Kate Dang has stolen this blog post!!

“Hello Boys! I’m baa-aack”! I can’t but help but think about that scene from Independence Day as I sit here next to Steve in the hospital. It literally feels like a bad case of deja-vu sitting here going through this for the second time.  In the last 48hrs things changed pretty quickly.

On Monday at lunch Steve ate really well and I thought that we were out of the proverbial woods. About 30 minutes later Steve started to have some pain and decided to just chill on the couch and take a nap for the rest of the afternoon. I had still taken Evangeline to daycare so we could just keep her routine normal, so I actually was able to clean the whole house that afternoon.  From then on every time Steve tried to eat something he felt progressively worse and I decided to write an e-mail to his surgeon to set up an appointment for the next day. Fast forward another 2 hours and it has become obvious that we are not making it through the night and I gave his surgeon a call (He gave us his personal phone number). He immediately told us to come back in and he called Stanford to arrange for us to be directly admitted to the hospital.

When we got here they had everything waiting for us got Steve comfortable and prepped for the OR. This was at about midnight so they procured for me the world’s most comfortable recliner (sarcasm) and we tried to get a little bit of sleep. The next morning was just a waiting game, first to find a free spot on the operating schedule (9:30am, pretty quick!) and then waiting for the surgery to complete.

This time waiting for the surgery to finish was a very different experience for me. With the last surgery we were so confident in our decision that this is what God had provided and this is what needed to be done that we both didn’t think twice about it. This time there was so much uncertainty as to what was wrong that it made even waiting for Steve’s surgery to finish a little bit more nerve racking. About 2 and 1/2 hours later his surgeon came out and let me know what they had found.

Here is the technical part, Steve was born with something called Meckel’s Diverticulum. What this means to normal people is that he was basically born with an extra little pouch or an extra appendix. At some point in the last 6 months this piece got infected. Most likely from a piece of food that got trapped inside it. When it got infected though it did something a little funny and what happened is it attached itself to the top of Steve’s abdominal wall, then slowly but surely over time his bowel started to wrap around it. Every time he ate, his bowels would try to move the food inside of his intestine through the pipe which would wrap around the Diverticulum until finally it just became blocked (think like a barber pole). This explains both the odd spiral and the bowel obstruction that they saw on the ct scan.This was an easy fix, first they removed the piece that was infected and unwrapped his bowel and then reattached the good ends. This hopefully explains the weird pains that he has been having since surgery that no one could explain for so long.

This time through, surgery has been so different for a lot of different reasons. 1. We were not prepared! Last time we had months to plan for surgery, do the food tour, both of us take time off work, prepare for Evangeline and her needs over the next few months and lastly just mentally to go through this juggernaut that is being in the hospital. 2. We were planning this last weekend to run our triathlon and this next week to go to Pismo for a day to ride ATV’s with our good friends the Yoder’s. (If the Yoder family reads please know that we fully expect to be taken out on the ATV’s on a different weekend!) We had the college tour coming up with our high school students and Evangeline’s first trip to Disneyland. This fall was so full with life really return back to normal for us on so many levels and it is a little odd mentally to be thinking that we are starting all over again.

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This entire process has been all about trust for us.  We have been thinking about how to put trust in God despite the uncertainty of what is happening in this moment. I love what Jesus said about this in Mathew 6. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.” I have really meditated on this verse for about a week now. In my current situation it is really vivid when I hear these words. Worry will not extend Steve’s life, plain and simple. He is in God’s hands just like he has been since the day he was formed is his mother’s womb and I have to trust God that his plan for Steve and his life is a good plan, a plan that will bring God glory.

The other image that I keep seeing in my mind comes from the Old Testament. It is of God leading the Israelites out of Egypt. I keep seeing this image of the pillar of fire leading the Israelites out into the desert. If you read on a little further we see that when they get to the Red Sea they immediately become upset with Moses and say “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?”  I feel like this moment has been a little bit like running into the Red Sea for us. Just like the Isrealites, we thought, “Wow! We are finally on our way out of this situation that has been so hard” and you turn the corner and come smack up against starting all over again. I think the reason the pillar of fire image has stayed with me so vividly is because I want to decide in this moment, to confront the Red Sea and know that God is with us, He led us here, and will lead us out.

Going through waiting for surgery yesterday and speaking with surgeon makes me feel like we have crossed over and are headed to the Promised Land. Just as the Israelites found, this journey isn’t easy, but it does mean that I can put my faith and trust in the one true God who has brought us out of Egypt and I will continue to do so. Thank you all so much for you love and support. Steve will take the blog back over when he is feeling better.

Set Backs… and Practicing What you Preach

Set backs are not something I totally prepared for during this process… At least not to the extent in which I would have to come back to the hospital. On Thursday afternoon I experienced some of the worst abdominal pain I’ve felt since I got my stomach removed. It felt like I had gotten stabbed and could barely stand. I knew had a rough week in terms of food and pain, but had no idea it would lead to this getting admitted again… I just thought I was having problems with bread!

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Drinking CT contrast… not the best cocktail

Our CT scan showed that I had two problems. The first was a small bowel obstruction which keeps food and liquids from being able to pass through the bowel. As you can imagine, it quickly builds up a lot of pressure and causes a lot of nausea and vomiting (check) and pain (check).  This happens because a little bit of the scar tissue is pulling on a piece of my bowel, called an adhesion.

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I just can’t get enough…

The second problem is what landed me back at Stanford. One of the arteries and veins that supply the intestines appears twisted on the CT (you can actually see a spiral on the CT).  The blood flow is fine right now, but the debate is whether or not the blood flow is getting blocked intermittently. This could explain the weird pain I have been having since surgery off and on or whether my problem was just the bowel obstruction.  The doctors believe that an adhesion is causing this too, but it is unclear of how to proceed. It is possible that they we need to go back in to fix the problem.  The draw back to this approach is more surgery could mean more adhesion’s that could cause me even more problems.  So for right now we are going to watch me this weekend and decide based on how I am doing what the best course of action should be moving forward.

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my first ride in an ambulance.

Being back in the hospital after feeling generally so good for the past six months is a bit discouraging, and the thought of going back into surgery makes me feel like I’m starting from square 0 again, but if you can do it once, I guess I can do it twice. This time, thankfully, I’m not going to be re-learning how to eat all over again.

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my notes for Insite… hopefully still good for next time

Ironically, I was scheduled to speak at a local ministry called Insite around the topic of “weathering the storms of life”. One of my points, “little graces, one step at a time.” I usually get the opportunity to practice what I preach, but I did not know it was going to happen that day! I have experienced many little graces throughout the past 6 months, and I think it’s even more important to cling to those now. I have to remind myself that I’m really not starting over, just taking a step back, which is a huge difference.

Kate and I are probably the most disappointed about not being able to compete in the triathlon on Sunday, especially after raising $1100 to benefit No Stomach For Cancer. Either way, after the race ends on Sunday, we will be donating on your behalf! Thank you again for all your support and prayers, again!

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How we shower Med-surge style.

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Thanks for all the support!

-Steve and Kate

It’s on… like Dunkirk Spirit

6 months ago I parted ways with my stomach. In about 8 days I’m going to be competing in my first triathlon since parting ways with the vital organ. I have been absolutely blown away by the support that we have received from friends, family and even strangers as we race to benefit No Stomach For Cancer. Our goal was $500, and as of this morning, our total is now $800. We are now hoping to make it an nice even $1k! I got a message a couple days ago from a fellow CDH1 patient from England who decided to contribute the cause, now that’s a show of “Dunkirk spirit”, as they say in the UK! Yes, I had to look that up. According to the British idiom dictionary, “Dunkirk spirit is when people pull together to get through a very difficult time.” Just in case I am using that idiom out of context, we’re just going to say it is for #outofcontextsaturdays.

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Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove

As for the training: last Saturday I broke a personal record running a little over 5.3 miles without a stomach and it felt awesome! I’m a little worried considering the fact that I haven’t climbed into a pool to do laps in quite some time, but I’m hoping the wetsuit and taking it easy will help me cruise past that 500 meter swim. The Pacific Grove Triathlon swim is unique in the fact that you start at beautiful Lovers Point with perfect sand to enter into 63 degree water and swim through a kelp forest. It can be a little disconcerting at first because the kelp starts to wrap around your legs and you can’t see the bottom, but once you get in to a rhythm you can use the kelp to your advantage by “crawling” through it. The good news for me is that your wetsuit makes you extremely buoyant and the kelp means I do not need to be in as good of swimming shape.

My favorite part about the process has been training as a whole family. Kate has been kicking butt and has lost almost 15 pounds in the process! Evangeline is constantly training with us helping us with push-ups, giving us resistance training as she rides in her Burley trailer on our rides, and cheering us on as we push her on our jogs. Yesterday we went for a 4 mile “hike” that turned into a job because she wanted to go faster. We had never been to Lake Chabot before and all the hills made for some solid training especially when Evangeline wants you to go faster. Good golly child, I’m not a machine. Thankfully, I think all the extra weight and resistance has helped tighten up all the loose skin I have around my torso. I still jiggle like J-E-L-L-O when I run, but being able to stretch out that loose piece of skin like pizza dough during show and tell about my scar is comedic gold. I’ll take it.

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My health and my nutrition is going well. I’ve actually managed to put on a couple pounds, but I think it’s time to improve the quality of my calories. The steady diet of candy, chips, gelato and popcorn is not going to cut it. I’ve also decided that I’m giving up on bread (read bread, not gluten). I swear that bread is getting worse to get down and is causing me more issues than it is worth. While I will mourn the loss of scones, croissants, and sandwiches (the ultimate man food), I think my bowels will thank me.

I'll miss you buttery, flaky, rolls of delight...Thanks for following my journey and if you want to contribute to our family in support of No Stomach For Cancer, you can still do so by clicking here: I LOVE THE DANG’S AND I LOVE NO STOMACH FOR CANCER.

Cheers,

Steve

 

 

 

6 months, New Friends and a Triathlon in 2 Weeks

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Meeting Michele, my new CDH1 friend!

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from Rachel who had been in contact with another CDH1 patient going in for her total gastrectomy at Stanford. While it sucks to have such a rare condition, it makes the HDGC community very unique and tight knit. This past Monday I got a chance to meet Michele and her husband Jeff as they were preparing to make their way home after recovering in the hospital for the past week. Jeff and Michele were so sweet and had really good spirits considering the fact she parted ways with a vital organ seven days ago. So we did what I think most post-gastrectomy patients normally do, talk about food. The weird cravings you get when you no longer have a stomach is hilarious to me, however, I did assure her that she will be able to eat a small cupcake and donut holes soon enough. It was crazy for me to think that almost 6 months ago I was recovering in the room right next to hers.

As for the recovery almost 6 months out, I wish it were all lollipops and rainbows! While I have made huge strides in what I am able to eat and how much I can eat, I still have bad weeks. This week the stomach cramps returned and dry chicken is still not my friend. I am thankful however, that most of the things my doctor said I would not be able to eat again, I’ve been able to eat in small quantities. The doctors told me I could not eat steak again, but if it’s rare I can have a few bites no problem! I was told I could not eat cupcakes again, but if I have only a couple bites, it is all good! There are a few things that I do really miss about my old diet that still cause me problems: sheer quantity, salad, broccoli, spinach, rice, anything cold in the morning, and dry bread… while everyone is different, I think that this will be par for the course moving forward and I am OK with that. Every day on my Facebook feed from the Stomach Cancer Warriors and Caregiver page is a story about someone who is going through chemo for stage 3/4 cancer or a family member posting for someone who has lost their fight with cancer and I cannot help but to feel a little bit guilty that we discovered my cancer early enough for me to not have to endure chemo/radiation. To me, those patients are the real brave ones. The money given to research, all the grants, the countless doctors and researchers gave me something my dad and sister never had; a fighting chance. So for me, if I can give back in some small way, by visiting or encouraging other CDH1 patients in the hospital or running a triathlon to benefit No Stomach For Cancer, it’s my way of honoring the brave ones who still fighting their way through the cancer journey.

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I can still eat the food of my peoples… only in small quantities!

As for our triathlon training: I have been behind for the past couple weeks because I have not been feeling well, but still managed to crank out a bike ride while on retreat with my staff in Lake Tahoe and 4 mile run yesterday. I’m not in as good of shape as I would like to be two weeks from race day, but I think I have enough to finish my race. One of the things that I’m learning about training is having to use a lot of “gels” on a consistent basis (every 30 minutes). After a 1000ft/4 mile climb in Lake Tahoe I was gassed, feeling light headed and had to pull over to squeeze a gel packet. It’s pretty impressive actually how fast it works on my body and I was able to finish the rest of the climb. Kate has been totally kicking butt on her training and even came in second in her work’s, “Biggest Loser” competition. We’re still trying to work out her winnings, but we think she should at least get her $50 buy in back. Kate has been an amazing support to me these past 6 months and I’m really looking forward to seeing her compete in her first triathlon!

As for my goal of raising $500 for No Stomach For Cancer, Kate and I are still $425 short of our goal. If you would like to contribute, click on our link here: http://www.gofundme.com/trinostomach

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Kate and I stopping for a quick photo on our ride around Lake Tahoe

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My constant training buddy

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An early morning ride along the shore

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Quick refuel break with my friend Brian on our ride

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The road of death.

 

Training Day and How You Can Help Me Support Gastric Cancer Research

It’s official, Kate and I have restarted triathlon training and yesterday I ran the furthest distance since parting ways with my stomach. In about 40 days we will be competing in my first “stomachless” triathlon at Pacific Grove (Kate’s first triathlon ever) which will make it exactly 6 months, 1 week and 1 day (6 months, 8 days) since my total gastrectomy.

IMG_2477So what is life like almost 22 weeks later? It’s good. I still wake up in the middle of the night at least once a week with that feeling that lava is working it’s way up through my esophagus. I still have abdominal cramps when I eat things like quinoa and every once in a while bread, but when half a sandwich does go down, it tastes like heaven. My portion sizes are doing amazing. I’m eating almost everything that that doctors told me I would not be able to eat again: steak, donuts, and a reasonable amount of ice cream, cupcakes and cookies. With all the training, I’m trying to eat as much as I can to stay above 155 lbs (I’m at 157 lbs). I am also trying to focus on my endurance and rebuilding the muscle I lost with light resistance starting with pushups.

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We call this family push up time every morning, I’m now up to 60 pushups in one set, woo!!!

Training for this triathlon is more than just me getting in shape. I set a minimal fundraising goal to benefit the community that has been so instrumental in helping me through these past few months, nostomachforcancer.org. The way I think about it:

20 years ago my sister passed away of what we now know is hereditary diffuse gastric cancer.

15 years ago they discover the CDH1 genetic mutation that causes HDGC.

10 years ago they started performing prophylactic gastrectomies to combat HDGC.

and today, that surgery saved my life. There is still a long way to go in terms of research, but if I can help advance the research so 12 years from now when my daughter gets tested for CDH1 that there might be more advanced screenings for HDGC, I’ll do what I can 1 painful mile and $1 dollar at a time.

I’m inviting you to join our adventure and help us raise awareness for No Stomach for Cancer and gastric cancer research by clicking on our link below:

http://www.gofundme.com/ckxwxo

If you want to contribute $5, $10, a little goes a long way.

ALSO, I’m working with a friend to help me produce “Team No Stomach for Cancer” jerseys. We’re working on a mock-up and as soon as they are ready, I’ll post them and take pre-orders.