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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Refresh, Renew and Redo

As many of you, my devoted blog readers and friends on facebook know I have spent the last year and a half struggling to survive Stage 3 colon cancer. Back in December of 2007 when I realized that I didn't feel normal. I will leave certain details private. I knew that I needed to see my doctor. I was shocked by his announcement that I had CANCER. About three years before I had stage one colon cancer and we thought we had it beat. It had come back. It was extremely aggressive and I needed to make some good medical decisions for my life.

I just couldn't believe it. I was an apple eating bicycle rider. Healthy as could be in extremely good physical condition.It was true.
By March I started radiation everyday along with chemo therapy every day for the next six weeks of my life. Toward the end of those six weeks I had stayed in bed most of the time.
In May and June, I started to feel more myself. But that was just the calm before the storm. The funny thing about this is that i continued to work and took on three new design clients in the months of March and April. I am very grateful that they were patient and that their projects were completed without a problem. Due to the gracious help of my assistant, Wendy. thank you Wendy.

July, I had surgery. What was suppose to be only 3 hours turned out to be 7 grueling hours. I am so glad I was asleep during the whole thing. The things they were going to do to me. Let's say I am glad I am whole now.

The next couple of weeks, I had to learn how to walk again, I could barely get out of bed on my own. In fact, I couldn't My dearest and closest friend, Chase had to literally scoop me out of bed. I was on a strict diet. NO APPLES, not even a sour crunchy Granny Smith. My sister from Arizona came for a couple of weeks to care for me too. thank you Chase. I Wouldn't have lived without your devoted help and friendship. Thank you De for spending your summer vacation helping your brother.
I lost over 25 lbs. Starting at 170 lbs.(OK that's a lie 180 lbs) I really didn't need to loose any.
In September I had another surgery to remove the temporary ilostomy. In October, I started chemotherapy 12 sessions. One every two weeks. That is of course if my blood count remained high. Through it all I gained my strength back . I am sticking at 170. Really! I am glad that I never lost my hair. It got darker. Oh! that is because I could not have it highlighted, Ha! ha! In fact most people were shocked to learn about my battle. Even my Oncologist was amazed how well I have done. No matter how sick or crummy I felt. I always dressed well to my oncology appointments. You never know where you'll meet your next client. It helped to feel better somehow. As I sat there while they dumped their witches brew in my veins. I drew renderings of furniture and rooms and read magazines like New York Spaces and Elle Decor. looking at what was being done by other designers.
This week April 6, 2009 through the April 10th marks my last week in chemotherapy. I am so excited. I thank all of the wonderful Oncology staff that took such good care of me over the last few months.
OK what does this all have to do with a blog about Interior Design. Everything! Through adversity you gain strength. Life is more than a CFA ( a cutting for approval, which for those that don't know that is a swatch of fabric from the bolt of textiles that a designer purchases from a fabric company). 2 yards of fabric that is back ordered for eight weeks is nothing. So the paint in your client's room didn't turn out right. It is just paint. It can be redone. The upholsterer will get your client's chair completed. You may even loose a loyal client after a long term working relationship because they want their home done NOW! It is OK! You'll get a new client. All of this is important in the world of interior design, But It isn't Colon cancer. It's just fabric.

I look forward to a new refreshed time in my life. I look forward to devoting more of my time to my career as an Interior Designer. It is my passion. It gives me joy to see the look on my client's faces when they see their homes look like the dreams they imagined it to be. It also gives me joy to use my commission cheque on a nice pair of shoes.

Please celebrate with me as I near the end of this part of my journey in Life. Please don't let Colon Cancer, the silent killer take you by surprise. It can happen to anyone. It happened to me.

please take care,



Angela Todd said...


What an inspiring story. Thank you for reminding me today to stop, breathe and enjoy all that I have today. I am also a designer in Portland, and I laughed at your metaphor about life being more than a CFA!

I wish you health and a great life journey.

Angela Todd

Anonymous said...


With so much to celebrate I wish I had read your blog before I came in to the showroom!

I should have told you how good you look and what wonderful vitality you have!

"John you look tired" seems a little hollow now that I replay it in my mind!

I guess friends just know what to say at just the right time?

I did notice your humor was back. That's something.

As always,


Edward said...

It's great to hear you are recovering well and onto your final session. You sound like an incredibly strong chap, both physically and mentally. Hats off to you.