S’More News (The void, formerly known as S’More)

It’s been 6 months since the last update, and despite small town Sleepyville life, I’ve been busy! So, this update will be like Cliff Notes, no, like highlights from Cliff Notes for friends and family.

Medical Stuff: To summarize, the past surgery was a success, and in the last post I met my neuro-oncologist, Dr. Loghin to start chemo.  Since then I’ve had three MRI’s to chart the visual progress of reducing the last remnant of S’More (day 1, 3 month, and 6 month MRI).  The last post shows an MRI with a slight visible white line around the margins of the tumor void (link).  This is what we’re hoping to see disappear. This last weekend Loghin and I reviewed the 6-month MRI and there’s almost no change from day 1.  So, there’s no way to know if the chemo is helping.  As an action kind of guy, this new is rather deflating, but positive.  Well, 6 months more of chemo to go…keep the finger crossed for me, will ya?

Experience of chemo: It’s hard to really call this “chemo”.  The sound of “chemo” splashes images of thin, bald patients slumped over holding onto an IV pole, weakly passing down a hospital hallway and hoping this won’t be a day for bone pain or violent nausea.  In my case with the pill Temodar, it’s like deciding to go wild and take the “extra strength” Tylenol rather than just regular.  In fact, I ran 5 miles the first day taking chemo, and rode the 130 mile MS Bike event on the second or third round.  Aside of feeling a bit of tiredness and very slight nausea around month 4 or 5, and a long bout with that bug that had everyone congested around Christmas/New Years, it’s been easy.  The benefit of taking chemo far outweighs the possible risks.

Speech Therapy: Right after surgery, I started speech therapy to help with apraxia (the words are there in my head, the motor movement of my mouth short circuits). Cool speech therapist!  She’s overqualified and happens to love kayaking and mountain biking. Dig it. I had about two and a half months of therapy and reached the point where just talking helps the most.  That, and “ukelele therapy” – learning to sing/play “over the rainbow” on the ukelele. Ha. Shortly after beginning to learn the uke, someone sent me an article reporting that singing is a phenomenal way to solve apraxia.  Who knew.  I’m pumped and ready for “Brown Eyed Girl”.

Work: I now burn calories and practice speech at the MG Feed Mill Distribution Plant about 25 hrs/wk.. sounds like it is. I Hoist 50lb feed bags into 18-wheelers and build mega-massive pectorals (and get paid for it, well sort of). Hello, pectorals? Are you in there?

Ranch Work: There is absolutely squat for mountain biking trails here, so I’m currently building several trail-loops through my uncles forsested property.  I head out with a bow saw and bush loppers to beat back dense brush making tunnels on the weekends.  Seems both the herd of longhorn cattle (trail mates) and the neighbor’s 4-wheeler are now doing a great job of keeping the trail packed down! Very cool, except for the cow patty speed bumps. 1 mile done, about 2-3 to go.

Adventures with Jess: Through friends of family, I met my friend Jessica from Austin.  She happens to have the almost exact tumor type (mixed w/ deletion) in almost the same location and had her first surgery in 2004.  As a fun-fact on the side, the odds of this are somewhat staggering.  As I understand it, this “very rare” tumor happens in less then 1 person per 100,000 (even less for women).  So, imagine two people in a crowd of well over 200,000 meeting each other.  She happens to also like running marathons, cycling, camping trips, and even enjoys climbing. Statistics? So far, our adventures have included Pedernales State Park, rock climbing at Reimers Ranch, Lake Austin kayaking… good times. What an amazing friend!  There are usually paintings from these adventures.

Painting: I’m still in love with acrylics. In fact, it’s quickly becoming a life-style.  I’ve had several requests for painting, I’ve joined the Brenham Fine Arts League and will be hanging art in the Gallery there by May!  I never would have imagined I actually money from something I love so much!   I already established a Facebook page called StephenWilliamsonArt and started a painters blog FunWithAcrylics.  I’m working on a site that will be called TheArtBooth.com.  Eventually, it will be a place for a small community of artist to display their work free of charge.  It’ll be a place to direct people they meet to their artwork and blogs.  On the side, each artist will be encouraged to donate a small portion of their commission to a charity or foundation they are passionate about.  Painting continues to reveal life how I never expected it, almost exactly like backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. It’s a beautiful journey.

Web Design: On the side, I’m taking Ben Hunt’s Pro Web Design: awesome course!  Six months of intense training in everything it takes to get an online business or clientele established.  I definitely see a connection between art and web design in my future!

Well, that was alot, even through it was a “highlight”.  Your continued support for my and my family in all this medical fiasco has been amazing. Thank you!!