Saturday, May 30, 2009

Renewed Hearts & Renewed Minds...

This past week has been amazing! It's been a time to adjust to our new surroundings but it has also been a time to renews our minds, hearts, and spirits as we press on and conquer a disease that so many fear. Yes there have been times where my mind starts the thinking game and plays mini movies of what I'm in for and what could happen...but immediately I start reminding myself of the great conqueror I am. The victory that awaits me. And the future that is in store for me. Believe it or not, times of excitement and thrill out number times of discouragement and fear by far. Often when I get interviewed my the media which still happens occasionally or get asked to speak at different events the question always comes about am I ever afraid my cancer will return or if I had to choose, would I do it all over again.
No I don't ever sit in fear that my cancer will return (even though it has) and I don't think the question is would I choose to do it all over again, the question is...would I do it all over again. And the answer is yes. I will still choose to press on and be victorious and choose to be a fighter...because losers aren't an option. But even more so, I will choose to embrace this experience once again and walk through with joy and peace knowing that this will build into my character, add to my story, and build a bond between Christa and I that will be so tightly intertwined.

Earlier this evening Christa and I went for a long walk at Fish Creek Provincial Park - an amazing scenic creation with hills lined with trees of all sorts of different colors and tones of greens, flowing rivers and ponds along side the pathways, birds whistling and singing along...the mood could not have been more perfect. But apart from the love story, as we were walking along Christa looked over at me and asked, "Are you afraid?" Which led to just one of many deep and passionate conversations we have had over the past few weeks. Of course I am not afraid but this isn't exactly how I thought we would be starting off. It's so easy to get focused on what's happening and how within days our world was rocked off it's course. It's so easy to get discouraged and pissed off at the world and blame anything and everything - but the truth is, it doesn't change a thing. It's so much easier to lock ourselves up and build ourselves our own personal jail - even though we are the guard and have the key we still choose to keep ourselves locked up. That's not the way Christa and I will live through this experience. How we handle this is a choice, and it's our choice. No one can choose for us. No one can give us just the right words or the sufficient amount of encouragement (though all those things keep us going), but in the end, we have to be the one's to make the choice. Are we going to sit here and allow this to get the best of us or are we going to rise up against it and choose to be fighters fighting with all we have. There is reality and there are facts...and we have both of those. So instead of looking at what could have been or what should have been we will look at what IS and we will embrace it. This is our story, this is our make-up, and we will not wrap it up and put it in a box hiding it.

Our minds have already begin processing and scoping out ideas of what could possible lead to another crazy and wild adventure when this is all done. Whatever it may be, form, shape, or size, we will pay it forward. Whatever we choose to do, big or small, I am excited to see us continue to inspire and challenge people beyond their comfort levels and beyond their wildest dreams...

On Wednesday (27) morning I had my consultation with the transplant team, met my crew of doctors and nurses, had a tour of the facility, and was given a quick crash course of what to expect. I never really did receive a full diagnosis. I knew it was lymphoma but wasn't sure of the type or stage. The doctor confirmed that it is stage 2 lymphoblastic lymphoma. We can almost be comfortable and call it stage 1 but because they found one extra little spot on my left chest area they had to bump it up to stage 2. I guess I can never be #1...I always come 2nd....ha-ha...kidding! Anyways, every time I go to the doctor the news is better and better. My initial visit was a bit of a shock as they shared all the risks and procedures and treatments. Of course they have to do that, it's part of the job. But I find it funny how even last time I had 97% cancer cells, wasn't expected to live through the night, and then things got a little better and I was maybe expected to have a few months, and then it just got better and better. And the same thing is true this time. At first the doctor told me that if I choose a certain treatment plan the percentage was only 'x' high and I would have 6-8 months left to live. I looked the doctor straight in the eye and told him, "I'm not ready to die man, I have a whole life ahead of me to live!" And again, on Wednesday the doctor met with me and told me how my lumps were going down and were now just the size of peas. He told me how my first course of chemo will probably not be too bad. I might be a little sick and tired but overall I will probably get some day passes and come home on weekends. We have a great team of doctors and nurses. I am so blessed to have this care...but I am stoked for the day when the doctors come into my room and say don't have cancer...your just crazy and we can't figure it, and Ill say yup! Thanks for coming out...I'm gunna go ride my bike now! Cheers!

But all jokes aside, we have a great team of doctors and nurses who are working very hard on my protocol and treatment plan and are bringing the best of the best.

As I wrap up this last journal entry before I am admitted to hospital, I have to admit...tears begin to fill my eyes. Not tears of pain or tears of fear...but in a way, tears of concern. It's much harder to go through knowing that there are people (friends and family) who feel so helpless and feel terrible for the situation. But I want you to know that I AM okay and I WILL be okay. I will be a fighter. I will have to get sick to get better. I will have good days and bad days. And in the end...we will all party once again and pack my place with over 200 people...just like last time :)

Christa, what we did on Monday night was amazing. I can't believe that's it official and you actually got suckered in to being with me forever :) This week has been amazing! One of the best in my entire life. As I sit here and listen to 'feels like home' by Chantal Kreviaszuk, the song that you were supposed to walk down the isle too...I share my vows once again...this time for the world to see my love and promises for you:

Christa Lynn,

I love you. You are the girl of my dreams - everything I ever wanted and desire in a friend, life partner, and wife. You make me strong when I am weak, you pick me up when I fall down, you lead me when I cannot see, and you hold my hand when I am afraid. You make my heart beat whenever your around, and when I see you everything else goes out of focus.

In the past few weeks you have amazed me by your love, support, loyalty, respect, and attitude to join hands with me and fight this battle together. When all hell breaks loose instead of giving up and leaving your spirit of determination was risen and we have grown closer and our bond is so much stronger. Words can never express how grateful and blessed a man I am. What God has brought together let no man (or Satan tear a part).

It blows my mind away at how much you just "get" me and support me in every single way. Your promises never fail, your passion is always high, and your love always increases.

From your painted toe nails to the shine in your smile, from your mind of wisdom to the beauty of your heart - I am so in love with you and cannot imagine life without you.

I promise to respect you and love you the way you desire and need - putting you needs above mine. I promise to submit to you as my wife and give myself to you and only to you for the days of my life. I promise to give you the gift of care, the gift of protection, the gift of honesty, and the gift of time.

Now - here's to victory my friends!


- Tim Harriman

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just a quick note to say hello...

Well it has officially been about three and a half weeks since we first heard that news. Tomorrow morning I am headed into Foothills again for an ECO which is test done on my heart to make sure everything is functioning properly. On Wednesday we meet with the Transplant team to discuss my choice of treatment and the whole process and for the remainder of the week it will be spent enjoy the weather, soaking up the sun, and living life!
I must admit, as sick as this sounds...I am excited. I am excited to see another chapter unfold in my life and see where it will take me - this time with someone very special beside me :)
The number of emails and messages that have come in have been overwhelming (in a good way). One message was about someones mom who had a stem cell transplant and was successful, another was from a guy who is in his thirties and had lymphoma when he was 15, is now married and a child on the way, and many many emails and messages with general support and encouraging words!
We are so grateful and blessed to have people like you in our lives!
Keep pressin on with us - we will be in touch near the end of the week or next week after I am admitted with an update!
Cheers my friends!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 23 - Some Pics

Tim driving back home from Foothills...again! (May 12th) Tim about to have a lymph node removed from his neck for a biopsy. (May 13th)
Christa and Tim hanging out at Tom Baker waiting for Tim's first Chemo treatment!
(May 22nd) Colin starting Tim's IV...I think Christa's EMT friends would approve.
She sure did! (May 22nd)
Vincristine going in! Kill those cancer cells!! (May 22nd)

May 23 -Stand By Me

Yes, the nights have been cold and a little bit dark since Tim was informed that cancer had returned to his body. I hated hearing those words, but for some reason, the strength and peace that started flowing out of both of us was enough to just sit back and go "Okay, here we go, we can and will do this!" Nobody ever wants to hear those words, no matter what, but the fact is that we did and now we have a battle ahead. How do you muster up enough courage to watch the one you love with all of your heart face intense chemo, weeks in hospital and times of pain? Well, I know on my own I can't muster up that courage, and the flesh inside of me aches for the upcoming weeks...but then there is this ray of light, this amazing hope in me to rise up to the challenge, and love Tim more than I ever have before. Last night I just laughed at Satan and let him know very clearly that he won't get me down, and all the things he tries to discourage me with are just mere fears. Fear is something to overcome, and I will. Tim isn't scared, sure he's had his angry and why moments, but he doesn't let it into his heart. He's already an overcomer!

Not only will I stand by you Tim, but I will fight right along side you, and when we turn around we will see thousands of people fighting with us. We will stand together, claim truth, act in faith and come out skipping on the other side of this!

Keep those prayers coming readers...and we promise to keep you in the loop through it all!

"For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds," says the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:17)


Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21 - When all hell breaks loose

What do I say and where do I begin. Not many words run through my mind right now that even make a perfect sentence. When the doctor spoke those terrifying words that every person so desperately does not want to hear, the only thing that I could think was...Damn. And then, within a second the song 'Here we go again' by Whitesnake popped into my head.
I kept reminding myself - "Ive got this, I can do this, I will beat this, my life is no playground for the enemy, he does not control me and he don't wanna mess with me."
So what is it you may be asking. Well since my last journal entry, today was the day that I met with the doctor to determine what was going on and what's the next step. When the doctor game into the room with a little grin on his face with that slight awkward expression I knew the news wasn't what I wanted to hear. He sat down and as soon as the word unfortunately came from his mouth I knew he had not sayth anymore. My cancer has returned in what they call a form of lymphoma. There is good news and bad news.
The good news:
1. The MRI came back clear showing that my spine and brain had not been effected.
2. My bone marrow came back clear showing healthy signs and strength.
3. I did not have to go to Edmonton for any tests like they thought I would.
4. It took 4 years for my cancer to return - which is much better then it coming back the first year I finished treatments or while in treatment my first round about.
5. It is only in the upper body and has not spread.
The bad news:
1. Lymphoma was found on a few spots on my neck and under my peck muscles.
2. It's an aggressive form of cancer.
3. Treatments will be intense.
4. I will need a stem cell transplant which breaks into two options: One is a donor stem cell transplant. The second option is an auto stem cell transplant where they take my own stem cells and try to feed it back to my body.
On June 1st I will be admitted to the hospital for a minimum of 3 weeks where they will begin high dose chemotherapy and then take stem cells from my own body and store in a freezer. They will give me a few weeks to recover and then I will be admitted again for another 3 weeks to receive more chemo and the stem cell transplant. All taking a total of about 6 months which includes treatments, transplant, monitoring, recovering, and follow-ups.
Tomorrow morning I will start the first round of chemo which will stabilize everything and prep my body for the transplant.
Why am I being so descriptive and in detail you might ask - only because I know your going to ask who, what, when, where and why...and sometimes how and because I'm okay with sharing the news.
I know that I have a bumpy road ahead of me but I am believing for as little side effects as possible and know that once again I will come out the other side flying with colors. This WILL NOT get me down and will not distract me from my purpose and where I am going in life. I WILL press on and I WILL live in freedom and victory.
Thank you all for support, prayers, encouragement, and love.

PS. Christa and I have made a decision to post pone the wedding on July 4th and will definitely be planning a party for the future. We will keep you informed of when the new big day will be.

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15 - A pain deep within

(a lamentation of words never spoken)...
It hardens my heart to know that whenever I walk the streets people look at me as the cause of all this mess. All the hard work that I have put in from excelling to the top in my hockey years, investing time, money, and energy into the community and youth group activities, the years that I spent fighting such a brutal disease, conquering it, and then cycling across Canada to raise thousands of dollars to fight childhood cancer diseases, speaking to hundreds and thousands across this country and impacting even more through the Internet, television and movies/documentaries that have featured me.
For some, you have no clue of the pain that I am describing. For others, you probably know all to well what I'm talking about...and yet again, for some, what you know is so twisted and skewed that it is sickening.
I look back on my life and I some times wonder what I did (or didn't do) to cause such grief and misery. Did I do something wrong, did I say something? Did I offend someone? I must be wrong, this must be my fault.
Every single day that I wake up I must search deep within myself to find the strength to press on through yet, another day. The strength to find patience, the strength to find the words (or no words at all), the strength to look at myself in the mirror and say "you are good, you are strong, you are wise, you are powerful, you are enough."
But at the end of every single day as I lay myself to sleep, I must remember that I am not alone and the only fight that I have to worry about is the good fight of trust. That I am created with a purpose, a vision and a heart and there is nothing that I could or couldn't do to ruin that. I am qualified and because of that...nothing can interrupt my course. My auto pilot is set and there's no turning back.
I do the things that I do for it is what I know I ought to do. I will not surround myself with
negativity and I will not allow myself to go down with others who are going down. For they believe that they are true and noble and good, but boy do they not know the destruction and chaos that they have created. Woe to you who join the gang of deceit and evil doings!
I am pressed on every side by troubles, but I am not crushed. I am perplexed, but not driven to despair. I am hunted down, but I am not abandoned. I get knocked down, but I am not destroyed.
I will press on. I will walk in victory. Because even if my team is compiled with the un seen, I am stronger than hundreds that walk against me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14 - Hurry up and wait

Well, the tests are finally done. Two weeks of going back and forth to the hospital to do every test known to man kind. During my initial visit with the doctor not much information was known. They knew as much as I knew. The first biopsy had come back showing cancerous cells - assuming to be a form of lymphoma. But we were on ground zero.
The first test that I had was a bone marrow test. The doctor gave me the option to wait a week or get it done right away. Knowing that this would be painful I wanted to get it done and out of the way ASAP. I must say, one thing is different from the Children's Hospital to the adult center. In children's you are typically put to sleep for adult world that's not the case. The care is still great and the people are amazing...but the experience is different. In a way, I've had to change my mentality to "Suck it up princess".
As I lay there on the procedure table waiting for the nurses and doctor to prep me all I can think about is the pain knowing that this is gunna hurt like hell. Seeing the doctor pull out a needle the size of a pencil I thought to myself, "your kidding". But no he wasn' he went through my hip bone and started sawing and twisting away. "That's part 1 Tim" he said. You mean there is more I replied. I thought that wasn't too bad the second part can't be any worse. Boy was I wrong. In he went again sawing and twisting around eventually to the point where I am pretty sure the patients in the waiting room could hear me yelping and moaning.
My doctor isn't a very big guy and he's quiet at when I looked over and saw him sweating rain drops I knew this was more then a cardio work out.
When he was done I rolled over onto my back and caught a breath of air only to say, "I can't imagine what women feel when giving birth." For 30mins I lay there taking deep breaths and trying to regain my focus. What a brutal test...I don't wish that upon anyone.
The MRI and PET SCAN was even funner (that's not a word I know but today it is). For both tests I was put onto a metal bed which felt like a serving tray and then shoved into a tube which made loud noises where I wasn't allowed to breathe or move around. I felt like it was torture as if I was put into a time capsule and would be released in 25 years. When I was finally able to come out I felt like I had just seen God or something. It was like a breath of fresh air.
Overall I'm confident about the results. The big one will be the PET SCAN which shows exactly where the cancer is. I feel confident that the MRI and other tests will come back with good results.
But in the mean time...when I went through cancer the first time at the children's hospital a very popular sang went around: Hurry up and wait. So that's what ill do.
Cheers my friends!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday April 28 - Shattering News

Today is the day it all started. Before that annoying little device even began it's taunting harassment, my body in its deepest form of rest could feel that this day would be the most challenging of them all. 6:30 AM the beeping starts and with the push of a button it was delayed till 7:00 AM - what seemed like a mere 3 minutes later.
Rubbing my eyes and fumbling for the light switch I went into the washroom and did the normal look in the mirror with that stare of death thinking..."wwwwhhhyyy do I have to get up?"
Once I was washed up and looking somewhat decent to present myself to the world I headed to the place where believe it or not, my peace awaits me. From power tools to banging hammers, sheets of plywood turning into creativity and art...this is the place I call work.
This morning I was helping Harold with a tub surround, learning yet again another wonderful task which I'm sure my hands will touch many more times to come as I pursue this career. But what seemed like a relatively not to shabby day (from what I expected when I first woke up...which is my typical attitude most mornings), turned into a day of seeking answers, wondering yet again the why me and what did I do wrong series of questions, and of course what will happen to my loved ones.
The tone in the doctor's voice said it all. I knew that he needed not go any further and that the results from my tests weren't what I wanted to hear. "Tim, it isn't good he said, you'll be booked into the Tom Baker Cancer Center first thing Thursday morning". He reminded me of my positive attitude and the things that I have accomplish in my life time and encouraged me that this is yet again, another bump in the road.
For those of you who have no clue what's going's how it all began:
About a month or so ago I hit my head on a digger and being the oh so man that I am I toughened the pain and continued my duties for a few days only realizing that I was being dump and should really get my head checked out.
Knowing that I should be more keen to look after anything that could possibly hinder my health I sometimes choose to neglect my health for the sake of avoiding taking a day off of work to sit in a doctor's office for an hour and a half to find out that I am fine. Go home and take a Tylenol and sleep for a bit.
But with the encouragement from Christa to go I went to the doctor to find out that my head is fine - a little bruise and a cut with a minor concussion but nothing too severe. But this is where the abnormal lumps were discovered on my neck which led to a bunch of testing and exams.
From here, this is where the story unfolds. Going back and forth to the doctor's every week to
blood tests, anti-biotics, and examinations to see if anything could be determined. Nothing. No change in size, no disappearing, no diagnosis, nothing.
From here I was sent to a private doctor here in Calgary to do a biopsy which led to my conversation with my specialist at the Children's Hospital that marked to beginning of another journey.
At this point I don't think that much has set in. I know what I'm in for and what to expect - therefore fear does not consume me. The way that I look at it - this is my story and this is what has been layed before me. I must press on and come out the other side showing that nothing will interfere with my purpose, nothing will knock me off track...nothing will get me down...and like always...I WILL WIN!!!