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Monday
Dec312012

My New Year's Resolution

There’s no doubt about it: 2012 was a great year for me.

Yet again, I overcame the odds and thrived in the face of cancer, even when the chips were stacked against me. I endured another surgery and about two dozen rounds of chemo without missing a beat. I grew The WunderGlo Foundation and began planning for a project that will change the face of cancer research and treatment. I made new friends and strengthened relationships with old ones. I moved into my first home. I bought my parents a dog (Oliver) that has brought total joy into our lives and has been a phenomenal little brother to my dog (Winston). I traveled to New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Durham, Vegas, the Bahamas, England, and Ireland. I played basketball in front of Coach K (making some pretty tough shots and making sure I played the best defense of my life considering my audience). I worked full time at O’Melveny, hit the gym almost every day, and successfully grew tomatoes in my backyard (I’ve wanted to become a vegan farmer for a while now). I cage dived with Great White Sharks, was the co-chair of my 5 year law school reunion at Stanford, and got a tattoo of the word “Wunder” on my left rib. I helped a lot of cancer warriors and their families.

My 2012 was rich and full, packed to the gills with love and fun and excitement. I did everything I set out to do in 2012.

And now, it’s time to look forward to 2013.

There’s only one thing on my mind, and it’s The Wunder Project, the official name for the endeavor Dr. Lenz and I are embarking on next year. “Wunder” means “miracle” in German, and this project, when successful, will bring a lot of miracles to a lot of people. And that is an understatement.

My New Year’s resolution is to work hard, to stay focused, to never give up, and to fight the cancer not only in my body but on a much larger scale. My resolution in 2013 is to start a movement that will change the world. My resolution is to remember the beauty of life and living amidst all the work and activity. My resolution is to keep the memory of my dear departed friend close to my heart, to think of her every day, and to dedicate the fruits of my labor with The Wunder Project to her. My resolution is to keep doing what I’m doing, but to do it all even better.

Alright, that’s more than one resolution. But I can handle them.

Now that I've got my marching orders for 2013, I’m off to get ready for my evening, which will cap off with fireworks on the Thames River in London. A huge celebration, and a fitting way to start the biggest year of my life.

Happy 2013 to all of you. Thank you for your support this year. May the upcoming year bring nothing but love, joy, gratitude, and happiness your way.

Saturday
Dec292012

With a Heavy Heart 

With a very heavy heart, I’m coming to grips with the fact that my best friend in this cancer world has passed away. She was too young, too tough, and too spirited. She fought with every ounce in her body, for herself and for her family. She wanted to live. And she’s not alive anymore.

It sickens me. It’s devastating to me. And I’m sad beyond measure. I knew that her health was declining, but I refused to give up. The last time we talked, I told her to not give up for a second. I told her to keep fighting. I told her she would make a comeback and that I believed in her.

But there was no comeback. And I’ve now entered a world in which I’ll never talk to my buddy again. Just thinking that thought makes tears well up in my eyes. I know it must be a million times worse for her family, and that pains me too.  She was such a force, a bright and optimistic and truly good person. And I miss her already. I miss her so much.

I know what she’d tell me if she could. She’d tell me two things. 1) To live my life to the fullest and 2) to beat the hell out of cancer.

I’m in Dublin right now, and I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in London, my favorite city in the world. I’ve had an incredible couple of days here in Europe and I’ve got over a week of vacation ahead of me. I am living my life to the fullest and I’ll continue to do so with her memory in my heart at all times. Living my life to the fullest is well under control.

And now, more than ever, more than I could ever imagine, I am determined to beat this ugly, vicious disease with every drop of blood in my body. Obviously, I will continue to take good care of myself in my own battle with cancer, but my goals go far beyond my own survival. It’s important, but it’s only part of the ultimate goal.

In honor of my dear, sweet friend, I am more determined than ever to be a part of the force that really beats this disease. That beats it for all of us. That ENDS IT. My big project with Dr. Lenz kicks off next year, and not a moment too soon. With my friend’s memory in my heart and at the forefront of my mind, I will use every skill and talent that I have to make this project successful, which will spell the beginning of the end for cancer. I will not quit. I will not doubt myself. I will not stop working. I will not stop at all. Not until I’ve beaten the hell out of cancer in every sense of the word.

I will take the pain I feel and turn it into something good, something productive, something that will change the world and make it a better place for everyone and especially for cancer warriors. I miss my friend already, but I will think of her every single day. She’s not going anywhere in my heart and mind. And she will be a part of our project. She will be our guardian angel. With her help, we will succeed. Together, we will beat the hell out of cancer.

 

Rest in Peace to my rock star. I love you, warrior. I love you, friend.

Tuesday
Dec252012

Merry Christmas!!

Every morning, it's the same routine. I wake up -- usually before my alarm goes off -- and smile, thinking about all the things I plan to do and excited to get going. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I can't wait to get up and see what the day has in store for me. I can't wait to see and talk to my loved ones. I can't wait to sing in the shower and in the car. I can't wait to shoot hoops and slurp minestrone soup and dance around to hip hop music (either actually playing or in my head) and laugh my butt off. I can't wait to live life.

Christmas morning is even more special. It's like I can feel the love and happiness emanating from the hearts of my family and friends, and it fills my own heart with pure joy. It's special and unique. It's Christmas.

On this Christmas Day, I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to reflect on the many blessings in my life. My health: this crazy body of mine that has endured so much yet simply gets stronger with each chemo treatment. My home: my first house, a beauty in the Hollywood Hills made more beautiful by all of the memories (including huge parties) we've made in it. My post-Christmas trip to England and Ireland: another adventure with my "three nurses" that is bound to create fun and wonderful memories (how could New Year's Eve in London not be amazing?!). My family and friends: the people who make up the bedrock and the foundation of who I am, the beautiful souls who enrich every moment of every one of my days, the crew that has my back through thick and thin. My fellow cancer warriors: the people with whom I have an unbreakable bond and individuals who inspire me to fight cancer on every front. My doctors: the brilliant and compassionate men who have cared for me and collaborated with me in our shared goal of keeping me alive and well. My huge, huge plans for 2013: the project that will be my great contribution to the world and an incredible partnership with my greatest collaborator, Dr. Lenz.

This Christmas, it is overwhelmingly clear to me how blessed I am. It's crazy how blessed I am. And I am truly grateful. 

My Christmas wish for all of you is to recognize the blessings in your life and to be grateful for them. Life is not easy and simple for any of us -- hey, some of us even have cancer -- but we are all blessed. Find the joy in your life and guzzle it down like some (vegan) egg nog. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Laugh, love, and live. And enjoy this wonderful day.

I love you all. Merry Christmas!!

 

 

Monday
Dec242012

Chemo Round 41

Chemo Round 41 was one of the best rounds ever…and when you’ve had 41 rounds, that’s saying something. As I mentioned last time, Dr. Lenz and I are tinkering away at my chemo regimen in an attempt to make things as smooth and easy as possible.

This time around, we kept the steroids at their last-round levels (I’m taking 15 milligrams of Decadron), changed my anti-nausea medication (to Aloxi), and got fluids while I infused with my chemo drugs. On top of that, I hydrated much more than usual – chugging a couple of coconut waters on Monday along with my normal drinking diet of juices and herbal tea. I was convinced that if I fought the chemo side effects – all of which are dehydration-related for me -- before they came around, I could get through chemo easier than ever before.

My plan worked like a charm. The sick headache that usually comes on Monday and Tuesday nights didn’t come. No mucous-y saliva this time around, either. I spent many productive hours on the computer on Monday and Tuesday, ate like a champ, and slept soundly. And by Wednesday morning, when I’m usually dragging and interested in napping all day, I was up, showered, and putting on my makeup by the time my mom came over at noon. Pretty awesome, right? I was psyched.

My mom was over to take me back to Norris for more fluids. Like last time, I knew that if I got fluids on Wednesday, I could sail through Thursday. And again, my plan worked well. I cuddled in my bed at the Day Hospital, intravenously guzzled a big bag of fluids, and made it home in time to watch the Duke game. I was in the office on Thursday and haven’t looked back since.

The mad scientists (me and Lenz) have tweaked the formula just right. FOLFIRI + Avastin along with our clever changes are working like a charm (my CEA continues to be stable) while the side effects are becoming less noticeable. The ultimate goal -- which we are actively achieving -- is for chemo to be just a blip on my radar, because I can’t be sidelined for long in 2013…not with the big plans I have in store.  

Monday
Dec102012

Chemo Round 40 and Turning 31

Chemo Round 40 at Norris went as planned – no problems, in and out quickly, fun times with Lenz and my crew, and some good old-fashioned cancer killing. I had a little bit of a gross headache on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but that was nothing your buddy WunderGlo couldn’t handle. By Thursday, I was back in action and in the office.

This round, I started tinkering with chemo a little bit – upping my steroid dosage just a tiny bit and getting fluids on Wednesday – in hopes of making chemo as easy and smooth as possible. Don’t get me wrong: it’s always fairly easy for me, thankfully. I focus on hydrating and resting and usually get through those couple of down days unscathed. But next year is going to be a very big year for me with the “On a Mission” project I’ve mentioned, and I need chemo to slow me down as little as possible then. So, for now, I’m experimenting on my end. The extra 5 milligrams of steroids made Monday night a breeze and most of Tuesday super easy, so I think I’ll stick with it. The fluids on Wednesday alleviated any dehydration-related issues (parched tongue, dull headache, reduced energy levels), so I’m definitely going to stick with that, too. I’m a little bit of a mad scientist over here, doing what I can to help my body take chemo in stride.

I bounced back from chemo by Thursday, and not a moment too soon. My birthday was coming up, after all, and I was hosting not one but two parties. Friday night was an old school slumber party with a small group of friends, and Saturday night was a blow-out bash at my casa with 50 or so of my family and friends. As always, I’m in charge of parties – even my own – so I had to jump on figuring out our caterer, where I’d get my yummy vegan cake, buying alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (in honor of my liver, I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol – actually, I haven’t had a drink all year), getting a few decorations together, and creating a slideshow and playlist. I took care of everything just in time (actually, for the sake of being completely honest, I was about 15 minutes late to my own party on Saturday), and had an incredible couple of nights with people I love dearly.

My birthday always means a lot to me, and now that I’m going head to head with cancer every day, it means even more. Getting older, day by day, is the ultimate “eff you” to cancer, and one that I relish. Spending my birthday with my friends and family (including Dr. Lenz) made it even better. And knowing that the coming year will be the biggest of my life (with my big project and all) made it the best birthday yet.
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