Friday, January 1, 2010

The importance of optimism!

Thank you, so much, to everyone who is sending us their best wishes, love and prayers for Ken. It means everything, and we are truly grateful.

If ever there was an opportunity to put the power of optimism to good use, I think that now would be the time. I have spent the entire evening researching Stage IV esophageal cancer survivor stories, and have found so many! The most common thing among these stories was how the survivors stressed the importance of staying optimistic and putting full focus on their battle. I am so much a believer in this, and how it can make the critical difference. This is what I desperately want for Ken, that he find his optimism, too.

I strongly believe that there are many reasons to be optimistic for Ken! Let me explain...

Here's what I know to be facts:
1.) Ken has not been properly nourishing his body or receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals that a body needs for decades. We all know the peculiarities of his diet, and the narrow range of his menu. Most relevant has been the severe absence of fruits and vegetables from his diet. This is a major risk factor for the development of esophageal cancer.
2.) Ken has been a smoker for decades, a major risk factor.
3.) Ken has suffered from chronic acid reflux for decades, which causes Barrett's Esophagus, which leads to adenocarcinoma, which is the type of esophageal cancer that Ken has developed.
4.) Ken has not been able to eat anything of any significance for months, (four months, at least), and he has lost a dangerous percentage of his body weight. He hasn't been able to eat anything, for the last month. He is running on absolute empty. His immune system is likely worn down to nothing.

But here's why I think this can be turned around:

1. Ken has been started on TPN feeding, (see previous posting), and next week, will have a tube inserted for even higher quality nutritional meals. For the first time in months, his body will be fed, and his immune system can begin to rebuild. He's had nothing to fight with for way too long, but now he'll have some nutritional ammo. Importantly, a range of vitamins that his body has been long deprived of will be instituted into his diet. Everybody knows how critical the vitamins are to the immune system and bone health.

2. Ken has stopped smoking. His body will no longer be attacked and further damaged by the tar, nicotine and other toxins that cigarettes provide. His immune system can focus entirely on healing the existing damage.

3. The radiation treatments have begun, and they will be starting the chemo next week. The existing tumor and the other metastatic bone cancer will be significantly shrunk, if not totally destroyed, by these treatments.

With these things in action, there is no limit as to how far Ken can bounce back. I firmly believe this!

A prognosis is only a best-guess predictor based on a relative pool of assimilated data that is wrought with sliding catalysts and infinite variations in the genetics and will of the members contained in that pool. However, if anyone stands apart from the general crowd, it's Kenny. I refuse to hear "the prognosis is poor". What I hear is "the challenge is great". Still, if anyone can rise to a challenge and beat the odds, and do what most cannot do, I know it's Kenny. If there were anyone in the world who didn't belong in a pool of average statistics, it's Ken! Right? Right.

Kenny has 28 days of radiation and chemo treatments ahead of him, and he'll need all the strength he can muster, from within himself and from all of us, through encouraging notes and cards, and our kind best wishes and precious prayers. Love is such a powerful force, and he is so loved. It can truly make the difference.

Of all the things that make us human, and that demonstrate our ability to shape our own world for the better, optimism is the greatest force of all. Optimism, however, cannot be administered through a feeding tube. It must come from the heart and spirit of a person. Amazingly, it is an attitude that can be transferred from one person to another. I want Kenny to receive all of the optimistic hope and energy that we can possibly provide to him, and that he can possibly hold, to help him find his own optimism and hope. He needs this. This is how we can truly help him.

Thank you, again, so, so much. We love you all.


Here are a few of the many Stage IV esophageal cancer survivor stories:

Cathy's EC Cafe:

Yale Cancer Center:

Mark Wolgram: (This is a very well done story that takes you through his diagnosis, surgery, chemo and radiation, and afterward...)

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