LIMITED EDITION HAT SERIES
ORANGE IS THE RIBBON COLOR FOR KIDNEY CANCER
LIGHT BLUE IS FOR OUR BABY BOY OWEN WE LOST IN 2010
Available at the event or online soon.
DONATIONS AND RAFFLES
September 13, 2019, I married my high school sweetheart at our favorite place in the area, Sprague Brook Park. It was a great day with most of our close friends and family in attendance. Many showed up on mountain bikes and the ceremony was held just off a trail that I helped build almost a decade prior. We camped and rode bikes most of the weekend until Sunday morning when I got rushed to the hospital.
Two days after the wedding I was told I had kidney cancer and they would have to remove my right kidney asap. They removed the kidney and the 2 tumors with it. They estimated the large tumor to be over 10 years old. The docs removed all of the cancer and I would have little adjustments to make, now having only one kidney.
Fast forward to February 2020. I started noticing a distinct ringing in my ears. I was having a hard time focusing and my balance seemed a bit off. Headaches followed almost daily. One day I was taking a break from the office and went up on the hill to do some snowboarding. I bent over to strap in and almost immediately fell over forward. Now I knew something wasn’t right.
I saw my primary doctor a couple days later. He though it may be sinuses combined with migraines. I got a prescription and was scheduled for some tests. The tests later reveled, through an MRI, a small tumor in my brain stem. That little sucker set up camp in the Pons area of my brain stem and was causing some chaos. Next thing you know, I’m scheduled for a gamma knife procedure to nuke the tumor. On it’s journey to my brain, the cancer dropped off a couple of friends. One in my lymph nodes near my lung and one near the original kidney location.
Now mind you, this was right when Covid-19 was starting to grip the world like something we have never seen. The gamma knife procedure was preformed in March and followed up by immunotherapy sessions. March 17th the ski areas went on lock down and the home quarantine period began.
Trying to fight cancer and the side effects from treatments is a big battle. Doing it during a pandemic seemed surreal. Working from home was exactly what I needed to distract my focus on the cancer. I could pour myself into projects and I was way ahead of the game for the upcoming season, if there was to be one. Unfortunately I was let go in July. So now I’m battling a cancer, that will most likely kill me, we’re in the thick of a pandemic and I’m unemployed.
The steroids I was on kept me up all night so I started drawing on my iPad. After a while I had quite the collection of cartoons, illustrations and sketches. Now it’s fall. The Buffalo Bills looked like real playoff contenders and the hype was huge. It gave us all something positive to focus on. I started creating Bills themed designs for my friend Mark. He was producing a variety of Buffalo football themed products and it was cool to see my designs put to use. I was also creating cartoons of popular people in the news. Anthony Faucci was one of my firsts, followed by a couple of Trump characters and of course, the Tiger King.
I was doodling one night and got the idea for Hot Wing Designs. The focus would be on chicken wing characters doing stuff people do in our area. Since I’m huge music fan, I was listening to my favorites and ended up doing a cartoon of Eddie Van Halen. Next thing you know I had almost a dozen guitar players.
My gears were now spinning and I thought about a freelance career. With my health limitations and appointment schedule, it made it difficult to hold down something steady. Currently, I’ve sent out over 80 applications for local and remote positions. I’ve got one call back and interview that went nowhere. SO, now I’m freaking out wondering how I’m going to make ends meet. I’m not the type to accept handouts so a home based business seemed like the best solution. Two local news channels got word of my struggle. I did Zoom interview’s with both stations and you can see the stories below.
Please take some time to check out my website and all of the work I’ve done over the years. Maybe you or one of the people in your network, could benefit from some of my work.
Thank you all for the support.
UPDATE: June 2021
Unfortunately my latest MRI revealed another tumor. This time it’s in my left Parietal Lobe. Immunotherapy is has just about erased the cancer in my torso but because of the blood brain battier, it does not treat the cancer in my head. The doc’s at Roswell will be using gamma knife again to treat this tumor. Luckily it’s not as risky as the brain stem tumor from last year. The scary part is that it grew to size (3mm) in less than 6 months and they can’t figure out the source.
UPDATE: November 2021
Well, here we are again. Renal Cancer has now metastasized to my brain for a third time. They nuked it with gamma rays on Nov. 17, 2021. Now we play the waiting game again.
UPDATE: January 12, 2022
So I basically started off the year by getting Covid. My loss of smell and taste were the first signs. I’m fully vaccinated so the effects have been pretty manageable except the exhaustion. I’m already tired from the cancer and treatments, so what’s a little more tired? Roswell postponed my treatments and scans until I’m cleared of the Covid. Ugh. New scans will show whether the 2nd and 3rd brain tumors have responded to the radiation treatment. Fingers crossed.
UPDATE: March 31, 2022
Treatments are continuing every month as well as MRI and CT scans. The latest CT showed that my Paratracheal lymph node grew from 7mm to 12mm. If it hits 15mm they are going to have to regroup and evaluate my treatments. I’m hoping I don’t have to get the combo treatment again.
UPDATE: August 4, 2022
They have found a 4th, new tumor in the left side of my frontal lobe. I’ve gone through 28 cycles of Immunotherapy and the toxic effects are slowing getting worse. I’m scheduled to have another gamma knife surgery on August 25, 2022. While the treatments have the spots in my torso stabilized , they do not pass through the blood brain barrier that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. The plan moving forward is to stay on treatments until the side effects become too much to bare, or until I croak. They’ll shoot each new brain tumor with gamma rays as they form. I should be green and angry by the end of the year.
UPDATE: November 10, 2022
Just had my 5th brain tumor blasted with gamma knife radiation on Nov. 3rd. It’s been a rough ride. I finally broke down and agreed to an appointment with a psychologist. Glad I wasn’t in too bad of shape. The appointment was made in August with the earliest slot in November. I won’t mention the practice, but it was a huge waste of time and once again made me feal like a billable rather than a patient. It was hard to come to the decision to go in the first place. Once I arrived for the appointment, I was bombarded with a slew of redundant paperwork. I feel like clerical duties once performed by staff are now my responsibility. I first met with a male nurse who went through my info quickly and spent more time talking about current events and his life story. I was then pushed over to a MD. The visit was less than 15 minutes. The MD wrote a script for anxiety medicine that I said I didn’t want and then referred to another practice?? Of course, he wanted to follow up in a few weeks, another billable appointment.
This is most definitely a racket and I’m sick of it.
UPDATE: September 5, 2023
Wow, sorry for taking so long to get back to this. Time flies when you’re flirting with disaster. Since I last logged in, alot has changed. Let’s see where to start, ok, Hot Wing Designs. My sticker offerings have increased exponentially. The purchase of the printer was clutch. Now mind you, there are some days I want to chuck it out the window but the freedom and control it gives me over designs is fantastic. There are now over 150 stickers in my catalog. Pop-up events is where you really get to have some fun selling stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stream of Etsy orders I get, but festivals and shopping events is where you get to talk to people and that is half the fun. The Buffalo League hat collection has expanded and I’ve recently added leather patches and flat brim hats.
Ok, now the elephant in the room. I’ve still got stage 4 cancer. There have been a total of 7 metastasis to my brain to date. During the last gamma knife procedure, they shot #6 and #7 in the same session. One of them was in the pons area of my brain stem again. My reaction to this 6th procedure was not good. My head hurt, my balance was screwed up, I had no energy and my breathing and heartrate were whacky. Messages and calls to Roswell went unanswered so I called Dr. Metchlar at Dent. They rushed me in and right away he was thnking edema from the radiation. He put my on a card of steroids and by the next day I was feeling much better. I stopped receiving Immunotherapy treatments in May. All of the reccomendations and online publications say do the treatment for 24 cycles then stop. The drug should have already trained your cells by then. ANy more could creat havic with your organs. My doc at Roswell pushed my to 38 cycles. Jenn and I agreed a summer vacation from treatments would be nice. Within a week a could feel the differenence. My skin felt better and wasn’t so inflamed and itchy. My over all energy level went up a little. It’s been real nice. Obviously the new brain mets weren’t in the plan but unfortunately that can’t figure out why they keep forming. Another thing that has them stumped is my spinal fluid pressure. It’s twice what it’s supposed to be. To be continued.