Counting My Blessings

Yesterday (February 4th.) I got a lovely greeting card from a friend in United States. She and Janet taught together for years. She met and married a wonderful man who at the time made his home in Pittsburgh. Now they spend all their time in the warm and sunny Florida. Her husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few years ago and has been fighting a courageous and aggressive battle since. Recently his chemo triggered a stroke while he was driving on the highway. He totalled his car but miraculously walked away without any injuries. His time behind the wheel has come to an end. I will pray for his recovery from this setback. It is a stark reminder of how cancer changes how we live but at the same time how the human spirit lifts us to prove that Life is Bigger than cancer.

Breaking News

The New Name for Our Sailboat

Kudos to Mark de Jonge who took a bunch of ideas and crafted the logo to the right. This is the art work that will be going on the boat for the upcoming season. In addition to the large logo for the boat, I plan to have small versions made to stick on the back of the car and other locations. My good friend, Bret Himmelman, is planning to attach it to his C1 which he races as a carded member of the national team. If you’d like a decal too, just drop me a note at w.philip.ohara@gmail.com … and I’ll get one to you when they’re ready.

A Name for My New Bike

Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0

Thank you for all the suggestions on a name for my new bike. As well, a shoutout to Barry Misener at Giant Halifax for fitting me to the right bike. It is a Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0.

I plan to take this new bike to the Netherlands in May provided the race is on. I suspect it will still run but later in August like in 2020. That works in my favour as it allows more time for me to train and the weather will be warmer. Tomorrow (Saturday, February 6th.) I have a video call with my friend in the Netherlands, Wietse Slob, so I suspect he’ll be able to offer a sense of whether the country will be open to international travel. My chemo team plans to wrap my treatment around my travel dates so I can participate. Here’s hoping I can get my body ready to roll. I just heard today from my friend in Washington, DC, Steven Teal, who is pairing with me for the race. We are both Senior Citizens and although not competitive, we’ll provide good support for each other during the event.

After reviewing all the suggestions, I have picked the name COURAGE for this bike. Kermit is on the trainer now but will provide an alternative for a friend to ride when the weather improves.

From the Bucket List

Harley Davidson Iron 883

It was a big bike week last week. The stable has a new member built around an 883 cc motor. It will remain in storage until the weather improves. This Harley Davidson Iron 883 will ship with a seat for two so Janet can ride with me, a windshield with a quick release for around town, and an engine guard so when I drop the bike, it will take the abuse instead of the bike.

I don’t have a name for this new addition to the bike stable but that will come in the near future.

I didn’t know until last week the HOG stands for Harley Owners Group. I thought it was a term for all motor bikes. My membership in the local HOG group is automatic for the first year.

It will be good to ride again and my son Drew will enjoy having an opportunity to borrow my new baby from time to time.

Understanding Blood Work

Below is a table with my blood work values listed in reverse-chronological order. These four metrics are the values of importance in the chemo clinic and when low mean my immune system is too compromised to have treatment. As you can see in the entries for 02-01-2021, my Neut at 0.77 is below the 1.50 concern value so I did not get treatment last week.

I’m now scheduled to start Round 2, an 18 week bi-weekly treatment schedule this Tuesday, provided my counts improve. An alternative is that my chemo team will adjust my drugs. This lower dose will help my systems cope but this will reduce the effectiveness. Chemotherapy is clearly like walking a balance board..

Neut is short for Neutrophils, WBC stands for white blood cells, Hgb is an abbreviation for Hemoglobin, and PLT is platelets.

Neut, which is short for Neutrophils, is one of the multiple types of white blood cells and account for 55 to 70 percent of all white blood cells in the blood stream. White blood cells, also called leukocytes, are a key part of the immune system. While all white blood cells help fight infections, neutrophils are important for fighting certain infections, especially those caused by bacteria. My current low count means I am immune compromised with little ability to fight infection.

Hgb, which is short for Hemoglobin, is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues and transports carbon dioxide from your organs and tissues back to your lungs. If a hemoglobin test reveals that your hemoglobin level is lower than normal, it means you have a low red blood cell count (anemia)* Anemia can have many different causes, including vitamin deficiencies, bleeding and chronic diseases.

PLT, which is short for Platelets,

Platelets are tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding. If one of your blood vessels gets damaged, it sends out signals to the platelets. The platelets then rush to the site of damage and form a plug (clot) to fix the damage. The process of spreading across the surface of a damaged blood vessel to stop bleeding is called adhesion. This is because when platelets get to the site of the injury, they grow sticky tentacles that help them stick (adhere) to one another. They also send out chemical signals to attract more platelets. The additional platelets pile onto the clot in a process called aggregation.

With a low platelet count, I’m showing more bruises than normal and in most cases I have no recollection of how they occured.

As always, I thank you for continuing to be a support pillar. It means so much to have family and friends rooting for me and God holding my hand as I face each day living large with cancer.

Peace, Love, and Laughter
Phil

7 Replies to “Counting My Blessings”

  1. Phil,
    These changes are amazing! I can’t wait to see photos of you two on that bike.
    I also love the new name of boat, and Rob says he has a little gift for you.

  2. Thank you Phil for the update. My wish for you, Janet and Family is, enjoy every moment of Life to the fullest. I can’t wait to see a picture of Janet and yourself on the HOG. I hope if I’m in your position with cancer that I will be as brave as yourself. I remember you in my daily prayers and for sure that, God is holding your hand. Good Night and Bless Ya πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ€—β™₯οΈπŸ™πŸ»

  3. Hi Phil and Janet- thanks so much for the shout out in your news letter!Bruce actually was diagnosed with pancreatic 11 months ago so a relatively new fight but in control at this point.Prostate cancer is still active but definitely on the back burner.A rare lymphoma 6 years ago was a battle and all those blood levels we are so familiar with- he was producing no red blood so was transfused 13 times to keep him alive during chemo and then 2 more years of maintenance chemo.Three weeks ago he got Covid but somehow has come out of that also- amazing!I say all this because you are in the same situation and gives you even more hope!!Love all the new toys and by the way our sail boat we raced in the old Nova Scotian days was named Second Wind- can you believe it?May be a good omen as won a lot of races!
    Take care and keep up the fight
    Love Jan and Bruce 😷❣️😷

  4. Hi Phil

    Great to hear your news. Very impressed with your new bikes, both Giant and Harley. I am still waiting for Specialized e-bike to be delivered, I ordered it in the summer before my heart operation expecting I might some help with hills afterwards. In the mean time I have fitted an electric motor to our tandem, it really does help with the hills. Looking forward to a video call sometime and of course when you come over to Europe there is always a place for you here in Leamington Spa, ranked the happiest place to live in Britain. https://www.shortletspace.co.uk/blogs/whats-new/leamington-spa-ranked-happiest-place-live-britain

    1. I look forward to a catch-up video conversation soon so suggest we look at the weekend or early next week. I’ll get back to you by email.

      Peace, Love, and Laughter
      Phil

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