Day 36 – 4 Radiations and 1 Chemo To Go!

Happy Monday and the beginning of a short week for most of us!  Visions of Turkey,

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Day 36 177lbs

schedules, shopping, football, parades, family and friends.  Pumpkin pie, broccoli and green bean casseroles, sweet potatoes, pecan pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, turkey, ham and all of those traditions that we hold so near and dear in out hearts.  People inviting others into their homes to share the season of gratitude.  The techs were talking today about the importance of their “work family.”  So many of them are in their mid 20s and relocated here for work, I’ve met people from Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, and Ohio and these guys come together as friends and family creating new traditions by sharing their own.  It is one of those times of the year where people are struck with the need to reach out to others to make sure that everyone is cared for in a way that they would like to be cared for.  I hope that I can carry this kindness in my heart, not just at Thanksgiving, but in every day in my life.

It was a bittersweet day today.  I had a difficult night because I have been plagued with the dreaded “foam mouth!”  It is a condition that arises in me from the witches brew called CHEMOTHERAPY – I guess, who really knows.  Every time that I lay down it is like this sticky foamy mess makes it way up from my esophagus until I end up with a mouthful of it that is like a disgusting mouthful of “pop rocks” foam.  The worst part of it is the only thing you can do is spit it out and it just wants to stay in.  After you get it all cleaned out by swishing with water and drinking a bit it just starts all again.  Enough bitching, the good news is that tomorrow is the last chemo treatment and I can look forward to the next incident being the last – dear God I hope so!  After my radiation treatment I had my last meeting with Dr.Dagan and Carlene.  They are so pleased with my progress and response to treatment.  They commended Kat, Jan and I on our willingness, pro-activity and dedication to care, healing and positive outlook.  They thanked me for being a model patient and making their job so easy.  I officially lost 9 pounds, less than one percent of body weight!   WoooooooHooooo! Carlene spent time preparing me for what to expect in the way of needed care and healing.  She warned me that recovery would be long and slow and to expect things not to get much better for about the next month to 6 weeks.  She said that taste would slowly return anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months and that I could be a super taster, a subtle taster or somewhere in between and sometime over the next 3 to six months my saliva glands would start to work again and until then we won’t know which ones have been affected.  She warned me to continue to care for my neck and to expect a period of peeling and healing as you would with any severe sunburn.  She said that I could expect to see days of energy bursts followed by days of fatigue, but that eventually the good days would start to string themselves together – just don’t get impatient and forget to lay down and heal when the fatigue comes.  My first follow-up is December 22nd and I can expect a PET/CT scan in 3 months to determine the treatment results.  Again, like so many things that I have experienced, back to the program, one day at a time, one moment at a time.  Before it was done I caught myself starting to choke up and beginning to tear up, I am going to miss these people.  They have become part of my routine, my family, my pack.  They have carried me every day for 7 weeks and I am going to have to let go and let them move on to care for others.  God smiled on me when He put these people in our lives and for that simple task I will be eternally grateful.

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My world

It was a beautiful day to come home to.  My wife was waiting with her smile and welcome and we got to spend a couple of hours outside together.  Granted it was goofing with the guy pumping the septic tank, but we had a great time swapping stories and enjoying a beautiful day together sitting on the fence.  It has been wonderful having her home.  This afternoon while I caught up on some sleep, she started baking Christmas cookies and I awoke to the decadent smell of Pecan Puffballs, similar to a wedding cookie or a pecan sandie covered in powdered sugar.  Saving grace – I can’t taste them and have NO desire to try!  This may be the only holiday season that I don’t put on weight – see, a silver lining to everything!

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Pecan Puffballs

Have a great evening, no stress this week, easy does it because nobody will notice the things that you don’t get done.  It is about family and friends and coming together to give thanks.  Tomorrow is the last chemo and I can’t wait to cross that bridge.


LESSON OF THE DAY – “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt


Author: Don

Hi my name is Don Penny I am a professional woodturner in Jacksonville, FL. I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic squamous cell carcinoma in 3 lymph nodes and the base of the tongue and this is my story of day to day life while fighting cancer.

4 thoughts on “Day 36 – 4 Radiations and 1 Chemo To Go!”

  1. Don, although I know I can’t really imagine how difficult this has been for you, Kat and Jan, I am in awe of the way you “stuck to it,” found ways to make each day work and were able to keep to a routine that served you well. You are a hero! I know the process isn’t “done” yet, and I will continue to send love and prayers for your support and for God’s care in keeping you close each and everyday.

    Love you,



    1. Happy Thanksgiving and love to you, Chuck, and the kids. It came across my mind that I needed to call and check in – I will give it valiant efforts over the weekend. Love You!


  2. I am rooting for you every step of the way. I admire your dedication to this journal. I didn’t have the stamina. I know it takes quite a while to recover and the hardest part may be letting others help and taking care of yourself. Rest when you feel the need which may be often. Good healing to you friend.


    1. Thanks Judy I have come to appreciate having you and Pat in my life, you too are gems. As to the blog, it is a labor of love and hope for others and a way to keep me honest. That being said, tonight is going to be a short one – my ass is kicked today!


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