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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

by arlo tejada 18. January 2013 16:22
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

After 6 moths of chemo with ups and downs throughout here is the "good the bad and the ugly" of my cancer treatment. When I was much younger I received a guest complaint/ improvement letter that started out like this: "There were only 2 good items and lots of ugly" I was one of the good, so I think it stuck with me and it seems appropriate now.

  • The good/great if that is possible

    FRIENDS and FAMILY: by far the best part of this experience has been the reconnecting with close friends and others that I have not talked to in a while. I really could go on for a longtime about this. I want everyone to know that your thoughts, prayers and kind words are amazingly reassuring even if I did not get a chance to respond. I had several people tell me during this process that they were happy I was alive and how much I meant to them/their families/friends. Nothing is quite as humbling.
  • Research: The more information I received the better I felt and more uncomfortable I was.
  • Places to Stay in SLC with Friends: This was a wonderful chance to meet up with different friends in SLC.
  • Dinners: A pair of friends organized dinners the 4 nights after Chemo. This turned out to be a great idea. This was a real treat. I was really lucky to have so many people come over and fix dinner for me. The best part of this experience was to sit down with everyone and chat which I don't get to do very often. It was also wonderful not to have to worry about cooking or cleaning in my crappy state.
  • Being alive. Not something I think about but I would have to say it's something I am appreciative of.
  • The doctor's office, Dr. Prystas, Nurse Kathy, Receptionist Janet and everyone in Wasatch Hematology. Also Rebecca Love who first set up everything for me and Dr. Sharma who did the biopsy. Everyone I have met in this health care over load has been amazing. I really can't say enough about the doctor's Office. I mean they had lazy boy chairs, DVD's and more magazines than the library. It was the perfect place to get poisoned. The staff was a pure joy. All the ladies were friendly, fun and professional. They really made me feel comfortable.
  • Losing 40 lbs in 4 months
  • Others with/surviving cancer: Two very important people in my life, Sheri Griffith and Dave Focardi, had cancer during this last decade and have had full recoveries. Talking to them at the start of this journey was amazingly calming and helpful. Sheri had stacks and stacks of research on Hodgkin's for me and just plain good advice. Dave is a former SGE river guide and for years was my personal river rafting trainer. We compared a variety of stories and very interesting anecdotes from each of our experiences. My Mom and I also have had a bonding experience in having to go through this together.
  • Massive Email lists: In the beginning it was a bit overwhelming: all the phone calls, emails, text and such. I really wanted to talk to everyone and reassure them but it was just too much at the time and too much pressure. I was able to lessen some of the pressure by sending one mass email for my updates, and my friends and family were all fine with my solution.
  • Facebook: This is going to sound odd to some of you but when I was sitting in the chemo treatments, feeling like crap and I keep getting Facebook updates on my phone that said things like "You've got this!" and "Good Luck Brother" from friends and family some of which I have not seen in years. It really made the entire process so much easier.
  • Football Season: Watched more football with the sun shining than I every have in my life and not a hint of regret.
  • 3D IMAX Movies: Going to SLC every other week had to have some benefits.
  • My across the street neighbor who I don't know really well, started bringing me lunches and breakfast when she learned I had cancer.
  • Every other Weekend: I did get a chance to have fun on the "off" weekend with trips to Lake Powell, one day trip in Westwater and New York for my Cousin wedding.
  • The Bad

  • Drugs, Drugs and more drugs: I have a hard time taking an aspirin much less being hooked up for two hours have "drugs" or poison flow through my body.
  • Pills and More Pills: Though I know the Vitamins really helped my treatment, 23 different pills at a time is A LOT. I'm not 90. From vitamin E to nausea medication to some crazy pills the acupuncturist gave me, it might have been over kill…or it really worked.
  • The drive to Salt Lake: 3 and-a-half hours of waiting for hell. Plus the traffic in Provo is a joke!
  • Gaining 30 pounds back in 6 months.
  • Gas stations in Wellington, Utah. I think I will always feel sick when I walk in there. Plus that bathroom is gross.
  • Overdue housework: I thought I was just being lazy when I didn't get much work done last spring on the year but it turns out it was actually just the cancer. Maybe I'm still making up excuses.
  • Sitting on the couch: this might contradict the football part but it will be nice to get active again and enjoy this Utah sunshine and of course the rivers.
  • The Ugly

  • Insurance dealings: I have no idea how this all works. Some things are covered, some things are not. It's like they throw darts at a board. I'm very glad my dad talked me into insurance 5 years ago. I'm still trying to figure out the bills and will be for a while. I can't imagine being more sick and dealing with insurance companies and bills.
  • Needles: Never really a problem with these before but after being stabbed two or three times a week for 6 months I'm over it.
  • WAY too long off the river: I did get one trip in the October but I REALLY can't wait for some sand, whitewater, and canyons to float.
  • Crazy Emotions: I had crazy emotional roller coaster ride the day of and after the treatment. It's hard to explain but little thanks and such made me happier than normal and minor set backs sent me into huge spirals. All things I'm really not used to.
  • Being WAY behind at work: Though this just does not seem as important it is still a major part of who I am.
  • Tests: This sucks both out of the wallet and the process. The most expensive part of the whole experience were the tests, which just does not seem right.
  • That Utah football game I went to….47-7…..WOW. (the U lost)

So after all that did I learn something? I think I did, I just hope it makes me a better person. I know I'm appreciative of everything! After I wrote this I had a very nice response from a friend. I wish I could take credit for it but I think it is right on point. "You have learned to think about which path to take in life. The river is my favorite metaphor because it symbolizes life so well. We have no control as to what will happen. We can only aim and pray. Sometimes we can row like hell and some times we just hit it wrong. Keep rowing like hell."

If anyone wants to talk about your experiences or mine I'm more than happy to talk. I always love a "good" conversation. Don't be afraid to call me 800-322-2439 or email me at


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