Follow Nick’s CaringBridge.com page by clicking here. He received more good news last Thursday.
Back in late December, I wrote a blog about my husband’s Prostate Cancer diagnosis. Click here to read it. The blog post was one of the hardest things I have ever written. I felt so raw afterwards. After I proofed it many times, I put it on my blog and it went straight to my social media.
I only left the post on Facebook for about a minute before I deleted it. It just felt too personal. A little while later, a high school friend texted me. She said the blog made her cry and she wanted to know why I had taken it down. I texted her “it was just too much”. She texted me right back and said it was too special and that I should repost it. I thought it over, asked Nick, and reposted it the next morning. It turns out she was right. Love, support, and positive thinking have helped both of us more than anyone can imagine.
Every year, CBS runs a highlight video after the NCAA championship game that showcases the highs and lows of the NCAA Tournament. Fans love it. Watching it tonight, I sat thinking about “One Shining Moment”. It brought tears to my eyes. This past Friday, I filmed my husband’s own ‘one shining moment’. On Friday, My Man ‘graduated’ from chemotherapy.
A quick clip of his graduation:
Graduation day was really special!
As the last drops of chemo went down the tube, Nick chomped on a piece of pizza one of the nurses brought him.
Afterwards, the nurses gave him a big Panda bear, a graduation certificate they had all signed, and plenty of hugs. One of the hardest parts of chemo was seeing the other patients fighting this terrible disease. Cancer doesn’t pick a certain type – it picks on anyone, young and old. The staff at El Camino Hospital were nothing short of amazing – especially the nurses in the infusion center! They smiled, told great stories, and really cared about us. They felt like family to us! We will miss seeing KB, Hannah, Major, Tamara, Angela, and the others every third Friday.
When Nick was diagnosed, we talked about whether we would tell people he had cancer or not. It didn’t take long for us to decide we would. First, he needed the prayers and the positive thinking. Second, I needed help to support him. Letting people know would assist us a lot more than hurt us. We wanted to tell men to get a PSA test after 40. We hoped people would ask for second opinions more often. We also wanted to point out that there were wonderful support groups out there (thank you Silicon Valley Advanced Prostate Cancer Support Group!).
While we have gotten amazing results, Nick has a long road in front of him. A very long road. With that said, we needed a moment to celebrate the six chemo sessions being completed. Because of it, we wanted to tell a few stories about the past four months.
Back in early December I had NO IDEA how we were going to be able to make it – how we would survive this diagnosis. I shouldn’t have questioned God’s works because support flowed our way and the positive spirit has helped us. We pray everyday and it’s comforting to know others join us. Nick received so many cards, letters, and texts. I have also received a lot of amazing support. Friends have sent hats, a praying cross, flowers, balloons, books. The handwritten notes from Dave Odom, Dustin Kerns, and Madison Dutra brought tears to our eyes. They still hang in his office with the all the cards sitting on his office table.
Soon after Nick’s diagnosis, we went to brunch with Carol Iwaoka. Nick and I talked/cried for almost an hour. She then asked what she could do to help us. I started crying again and said “I just need a hug. I need someone to hold on to and squeeze.” It’s like she read my mind! She opened a bag and handed us two stuffed animals! The big bear was Nick and the little animal, the Energizer Bunny, was me. I have hugged both a lot in the last few months.
Throughout the chemo treatment, Nick’s co-workers embraced him and frequently asked how he was doing. When he travelled to Chicago twice in the last few months, many made sure to reach out to him one on one. In January, I started working on contract at Santa Clara University doing social media. The support I have received from Deepa Arora has been remarkable. The mother of two adult sons, Deepa hasn’t historically been a hugger, but the last few months she has given me some fantastic hugs, smiles, and high fives.
The weekend after each chemo session, I wanted Nick to be surrounded by fresh faces. New life. Three of our friends have had babies in the last year, including a baby boy on Feb. 2 (Greyson Mansfield!). Look at photos below. It was pretty obvious Nick lit up when he held Ellery Ribas, Paige Pruitt, and Greyson Mansfield. He also had a lot of fun playing with GiGi Pruitt. It might seem silly, but I’m so thankful our friends embraced this idea and always made their babies available!
About five days after chemo, after the steroids had worn off, Nick felt even more run down, tired and cranky. Because of that, the next weekend we spent a lot of time watching Netflix. Thanks for all the great programming Netflix! We gave new meaning to the term “binge-watching”.
The meds were crushing Nick’s testosterone to help fight the cancer. It was really hard on him. Nick really needed a pick-me-up text and/or phone call from other men. So in mid-January, I sounded the bell to a number of men I knew locally as well as nationally. A large number of guys responded and it really lifted his spirits. Nick received a call and a text from Charlie Strong, which he thought was cool. Kerry Keating brought him in the Bronco basketball locker-room after the win over Pepperdine. Nick was smiling from ear to ear when he emerged. Jared Brownridge frequently texted he was praying for Nick; and both his parents sent supportive messages as well.
One of the texts he received that week was from Santa Clara head baseball coach, Dan O’Brien. Dan wondered if Nick would come and speak to the Bronco baseball team a few days later. Dan wanted Nick to talk about perseverance. Nick agreed. He came dressed in his best suit and spoke from the heart for about 45 minutes. My Man crushed it. The team didn’t move while he spoke. Sons Nick, Jr. and Braden, who both played college baseball, would have been so proud of their father had they been sitting there that day.
Fast forward to this past Friday. I texted friends and family to remind them that it was Nick’s last chemo treatment. I asked them to text a picture of congrats (knowing he wouldn’t know some of the numbers).
One text last weekend brought us both to tears. Nick couldn’t believe it when he read it! The text came from Dan O’Brien and the Bronco baseball team. I’ll end the blog with the photo and their message. My mom loved it !
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.