Could use some additional prayers of rest & healing here at the Czech household. The flu or teething bug we thought was passing reared its ugly head again last night in every horrible form possible for our little man. We really need Ed to kick this virus (in combo with two molars halfway through) & soon. I pray Adam & my immune systems are strong enough to stay healthy.
We really want to celebrate Christmas yet before surgery with Adam’s family but every day Ed is still sick makes that look bleak. Obviously, we also REALLY need Adam to be 100% come next week Tue when he starts his prep for surgery.
It is now almost 6:30 am and my 3rd attempt at sleep. This by far the worst illness we’ve had to date with Ed, going on a week. The Big Guy upstairs must think Adam & I can handle a lot of big stuff at the same time…on zero sleep.
We have decided to go ahead with the surgery on Jan. 6. More info on the surgery can be read here.
Why did we decide on surgery before chemotherapy?
The surgeon and the team at the U of M are really impressive. The surgeon feels that even though my cancer has spread past the colon wall, it’s still relatively confined in one area, making it easier for him to get at and remove as much of it as he can. In his opinion, performing surgery with HIPEC before beginning I.V. chemotherapy is the way to go.
We agree with him. (We never did discuss the treatment option that included playing Slayer at loud volumes.)
Of course, if the surgeon sees the cancer has spread beyond what appears on my scans, the surgery is off and it’s straight to chemotherapy. I really want this surgery to happen, so prayers and positive thoughts that my cancer has stayed put for the last month, please. The doctor did his best to reassure us (again) that colon cancer of my type typically does not spread too quickly in 1-2 months time. He shared a study with us to back up his point. (He also had an impressive tan from his vacation last week, during which he called my wife to personally talk and answer her questions. He is well rested and ready to perform the best surgery of his career).
That’s about all for now. I’ll be in the hospital for the Packers first playoff game. The way the Packers have been playing lately, it’s probably a good thing to have doctors nearby while I watch them.
I know I sound like a broken record, but thanks again for all the cards, online well-wishes, positive thoughts, prayers and good vibes sent my way. All of it means a lot. Keep ‘em coming. And while you’re praying for me, include an extra prayer for everyone else going through shit like this. Unfortunately, the hospital is always busy, which means I’m not the only one battling something. Everyone could use an extra prayer or two sent their way.
I thought the longest time in anyone’s lifetime was the last month of pregnancy. Anxious, uncomfortable, anticipation, and restless nights are some of the initial thoughts that come to my mind. Turns out I was wrong, very wrong. The last three and a half weeks have been the longest, and we still have another full week to go before any treatment and CURE will start for Adam. I can throw all those same emotions into this situation, while adding sadness, anger, confusion, worry, stress……and love. While nothing else feels positive in life right now, at least we have love and have felt so much love from family, friends, and the community around us. So many people have been generous to our family and every thought, prayer, or gift has been greatly appreciated and warmed our hearts.
Have you ever told someone they are strong? I have. Looking back, I wonder when I said those words if I ever really knew what I was saying. “You are so strong” I would tell someone going through a difficult situation in life. I was right, after all, without truly knowing what it meant. People need strength just to wake up in the morning when you are hit with a Mack truck diagnoses like cancer, losing a baby, child illness, losing a parent, the list goes on.
I can’t speak here for Adam, but I can see and feel his dark emotional hole he is in. For myself, I have told friends my day is broken into 4 parts-morning, afternoon, evening, and sleep. Not one of these parts of the day are the same. I don’t glide through one day and go to bed saying, “huh, today was a good day”. Nope, hasn’t happened yet. I hope it does again some day. On the flip side, if the morning starts off horrible, I do have hope that by the time Ed naps or Adam comes home, it won’t be as bad as it was at 9 am. Friends, this is strength. Adam going to work in the morning. Every day outings I used to consider normal with Ed, now take a LOT of courage and energy for me to leave the house. It feels good when I do, good for our little man too.
We celebrated and survived Christmas in traditional and non-traditional ways. We went to a beautiful Christmas Eve service at church and enjoyed time with Ed and Adam’s parents. We already celebrated with my family in WI last weekend and we will celebrate as usual next week with Adam’s family. Christmas Day was spent just the three of us (or 4, however you like to think of it). It was one of the few days this entire month we had some quiet time just at home. We also had an adventure with Mr. Edward at an indoor park after nap on Christmas Day….I’ll spare you the details but even Adam said it took his mind off things for a few minutes.
Monday we have a series of appointments at the U of M regarding our official plan of action to remove the cancer. I will leave those details bland at this point and update everyone after we have fully made our decision on how Adam will start attacking the cancer medically (meaning either surgery or chemo the first week of January). We feel pretty strongly about starting his journey in one direction, but either way, he will start a course of treatment the first week of the new year. We will also update here meal train info for those who have inquired. A friend will be setting that up for us next week, as help with meals will be appreciated.
It feels like time has stopped moving and we need January to get here, fast. Adam went in to the hospital on Dec 1 and to say we are anxious for him to start treatment to stop this damn cancer from growing in him is an understatement. I am also hoping starting treatment and our new “normal” will calm some of our anxieties of the unknown towards treatment & healing. No, cross that, I need to start say CURING his body.
We received several gifts or cards with bible verses or uplifting messages on them. I am going to end by sharing two that we have up in our house, reminding us to put our faith in God.
“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain. But He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.”
“I will not worry. ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer & supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.’ Philippians 4:6”
Adam here checking in with a quick Sunday evening update.
We went to the Mayo Clinic on Friday for another opinion. We were hoping Mayo’s opinion would match up with the U of M’s so we could forge ahead at full speed.
Well, that didn’t really happen.
The U of M would like me to proceed with the debulking procedure, followed by chemotherapy once I am recovered. Mayo recommended chemotherapy first, then the debulking procedure. The U of M says the most aggressive approach is debulking first, followed by chemo. Mayo says the most aggressive approach is chemo first, debulking second.
Several people on my social media feeds have suggested listening to Slayer at loud volumes to attack the cancer. I might just go with their advice over the doctor’s.
But seriously, if you’re praying or sending good thoughts our way this week, pray that the combination of the doctor’s input, our own research and pure gut feeling helps us make the decision that’s best for getting us on the path toward recovery.
Of course, there’s still the possibility that I may not even be able to have the debulking procedure. If you want more info on the debulking procedure, check out this previous CaringBridge post.
This week will be filled with more research and inquiries with other medical experts. I’m set for a pre-op appointment at the U of M on Dec. 28. We’ll also meet with the surgeon again on that day before making a decision on how to proceed.
People ask me every day how I am doing. My standard response is, “hanging in.” That might not sound like much, but it’s a much stronger answer than I would have given two weeks ago.
For example, we had Christmas with Julie’s family this weekend. I made it through everything – gift opening, Ed and his cousins doing adorable thing after adorable thing, a surprise Christmas caroling session led by our niece Olivia – without breaking down into a blubbering mess.
That’s progress! We’ll see how I hold up during Czech family Christmas.
I don’t want to speak for my wife, but “hanging in” probably best describes her status at the moment, too. Without her love and support (and her tireless work researching and quizzing out doctors), I doubt I ever could have upgraded my status to “hanging in.” The support and kind words from family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers has also been a big boost.
Hello to Adam’s Pack on this rainy Sunday afternoon.
Julianna here to give a quick update. Adam returned to work last week Monday and had two iron infusions. (These will be part of his routine leading up to potential surgery as his hemoglobin numbers need to rise). I returned to chasing Edward around, attempting to potty train him (which by the way, the excitement for him has already wore off.) A few of Adam’s high school friends came to visit us and even were successful at giving us a few belly laughs. These guys, especially our former roommate, is always good at bringing up old stories that NEVER get old to laugh at. Laughter is a great coping strategy for us and feels damn good.
On Thursday, we had our 20 week ultrasound for baby. We received the best news all week – a perfectly healthy baby BOY! This news deserves my one exclamation point. Edward continues to show us how resilient he is and is rolling with our new schedule of visitors. He & I also returned to our ECFE and his preschool class. We are blessed to have such wonderful teachers (and my mama friends) in our lives.
We had some fun decorating cookies with a few of my friends and their 2 year olds on Saturday. Followed by my sister’s family coming for the night to baby-sit Ed. Adam & I had a Christmas date planned for over a month and we have decided not to cancel plans for as long as we can. We went to our favorite restaurant, Bar La Grassa & to the “Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie Theater. Both were amazing venues as always, and we pushed through a few rough moments together to have an overall nice time. We want to keep busy and life as normal as possible. I disagreed with Adam at first on not cancelling any plans, just wanting to hole up in our house and never leave again. However, I’ll give Adam a “you were right, honey’ and have come around to seeing the importance of this.
Today is more of the same with awesome friends trickling in with meals and hugs. It is Packers Sunday so of course, football is on already per our usual. Adam’s parents will arrive tonight to help with an appt tomorrow morning. We are meeting with an oncologist at the U of M to hear what he has to say and it is really more of a “meet and greet” with him. Adam will have two more iron infusions this week. On Friday, we will head to Mayo with Adam’s parents for a second opinion.
My motto on this journey is this is a marathon, not a sprint. We want to extend a heartfelt thank you again and again to everyone who has helped us and been generous in supporting us through prayers, messages, visits, meals, cards, and other donations. We appreciate them all and it makes the burden a little lighter. In the weeks to come, a friend will be creating a Meal Train. I would like to wait for more information from the oncologist and dietitian on what the best diet will be for Adam. We have been blessed by an overabundance of meals and food for the time being. We have some amazing cooks in our lives, YUM.
Keep the prayers rolling, we feel them and need them. We are sleeping well (the pregnant wife not as much as the others, but that is to be expected). We need Adam’s hemoglobin levels to rise, we need to continue to rise out of our dark emotional hole, and pray for guidance from the doctors on a course of treatment. I ask you pray for Adam to be filled with HOPE, peace, and strength. Please also hold us up in your prayers to enjoy Christmas and our celebrations with our families.
One of the recommendations from an oncologist at United Hospital was to see if I was a candidate for Debulking surgery. Debulking is, basically, having a surgeon go in and remove as much of the cancer as possible, then dump chemotherapy directly inside of me to try and get as much of the rest as they can. Very few hospitals perform this procedure. It’s aggressive, it’s major, and the recovery period is long.
On our way home after getting discharged from the hospital on Thursday afternoon, I received a call from a surgeon at United. He was able to get me an appointment the next day with a surgeon at the University of Minnesota who performs Debulking surgeries. We met with this surgeon on Friday and he agreed that I was a candidate for the procedure.
However, I still have several hurdles to clear before Debulking is possible. For one, I need to get my hemoglobin up. I’ll be getting iron infusions twice per week. Also, on the day of the surgery, the surgeon begins by going in with a camera to get a better look at the tumor and the other cancerous cells that surround it. If it looks like the cancer is too widespread, he will not proceed. Based on the CT scan, the surgeon believes Debulking is a realistic possibility for me, but there can be things that do not appear on a scan. That’s why he goes in with a camera before beginning the operation.
I’m penciled in for the Debulking surgery on Jan. 6. Meantime, we’re waiting to hear back from Mayo so we can get another opinion. Perhaps Mayo will agree that Debulking is the way to go. Perhaps they won’t. We shall see…..Mayo does perform Debulking procedures, but only at their facility in Scottsdale, Ariz.
So that’s the medical update. Hopefully I didn’t screw anything up too badly.
In other news, being back home has been great so far. My son keeps me laughing, my family and friends keep me hopeful, Matilda the Bulldog keeps me entertained and my wife keeps me all of the above (as well as organized). I also returned to work today. I’m incredibly lucky to work for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. It is a first-class organization made up of amazing and caring people.
Signing off for now. Oh, but before I go, some of you know that I write for a Green Bay Packers website called CheeseheadTV.com. I wrote a little something about my cancer diagnosis for the site today. It’s raw, it’s emotional and the language gets salty in spots, but I wanted to post a link here in case any of you wanted to read it. If you’d like, you can check it out by clicking here.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU a million times over for all the thoughts, prayers, well-wishes and messages. I read them all and appreciate them more than I can say.
Julie will have a more detailed update in the coming days, but I just wanted to post a quick note thanking each and every one of you for your thoughts, prayers and good vibes since this whole mess started. What might seem like a simple note to you truly means a lot to me. I read them all and they help. Please keep them coming, whether it’s on Caring Bridge, Facebook, Twitter, text, phone call, smoke signal, Morse code, or all of the above.
Please include Julie in all thoughts and prayers. She needs as much, if not more, strength than I do. She is amazing. And while you’re at it, include family and friends as well. They have been unbelievably helpful and we’ll be leaning on them even more in the future. We need all of them to remain strong.
Ok, so I’ve pretty much asked you to pray for everybody, but I think you know what I’m saying.
Again, THANK YOU to everyone for your support so far. Ya’ll are the best.
A person’s clothes tell a story about them. It isn’t something we think about while getting dressed, but it is one way we are remembered. A wardrobe paints the scene in our memories with the person we miss.
Allow me to paint a picture in your mind of the one and only, Mr. Adam Czech. No images today, just words. Just as Adam would do.
Depending on your relationship to Adam, you would see him in one of his signature outfits. If you saw him more than anyone else, you were a co-worker. Monday through Thursday he was in a short sleeved polo or long sleeved, button down dress shirt with flat front dress pants. On Friday, he’d cut back and relax a little, sporting that polo or button down with a dark denim pair of Levi jeans. A few times a month, you would have seen him looking very dapper. A sport coat on and one of his dozen ties, laying neatly over a wrinkle free dress shirt for an important meeting with the board, a politician, or an event sponsored by his employer.
If you sat in the press area with Adam, covering a local professional or collegiate sports team, you remember him the exact same way. Many of his fellow Associated Press writers will recall Adam pretending to be warm when the press box windows were open during a cold Twins baseball game. He usually forgot a coat (even in subzero January temperatures) and would never admit to being cold. Adam would share in a quick text, something along the lines of “shoot, forgot coat, windows open, chilly.” On a hot day, of course, the quick text was about the free cookie ice cream sandwiches he got. (His love for food is for another place and time, but reporting what he ate at the stadiums was a favorite past time.)
Many peers who blogged about football with Adam, never met him in person. They were friends from all over the country through Twitter and email. If they were lucky enough to meet him, it was at Lambeau Field. They will picture him wearing an All Green Bay Packers or Cheesehead TV shirt with his name on the back. They saw and knew his face from the few photos he posted to social media of himself with his sons.
Adam did not reserve his green and gold attire solely for Wisconsin or sitting around at home. He proudly shared who his favorite football team was wherever he went, especially back home, deep in Minnesota Vikings country. His mom will tell you how the Packers winter coat he wore as an adult, was from his godfather in the sixth grade. He proudly wore that Starter jacket to every freezing football game we went to. His few Packers sweatshirts were from middle school and high school. Throughout the years together, I helped expand his Packers merchandise collection. They are in mint condition and saved for our sons. Some with very special memories attached to them and were put into handmade quilts for us. Adam held on to things and took care of them.
If you were in Adam’s hunting party, you will also remember his simple gear. In his beginning years, he and his mom shared an orange hunting coat and wool pants from his grandfather. Adam was 12, it was the only coat he ever wore. The coat was so heavy it gave her a backache, and eventually when the hunting season was extended to nine days she bought her own coat. Adam rarely wore gloves hunting (or ever), he would say “that is what my pockets are for.” If it happened to be a colder than usual fall, his parents had an extra pair of gloves to borrow. He kept his hunting boots from middle school with his hunting gear back home, they still fit and he rarely wore boots anyway. One Christmas, his parents gave him a new pair of winter boots. The only hunting gift I ever recall Adam receiving. He didn’t need or want much.
I was really excited when he brought those winter boots home. Until that year, he would shovel snow in his work shoes, rarely with gloves on, but usually, well sometimes, a hat or earmuffs on his head. I would scold him. Not only was it too cold to dress like that, but it also ruined one of the three pairs of shoes he had every winter! Oh, did I forget to mention? He only had three pairs of shoes and one pair of sandals. Grey tennis shoes, black dress shoes, brown dress shoes, and a tan pair of sandals for the summer.
Family and friends saw Adam the same way, with one exception. He had a collection of heavy metal concert t-shirts, several with disturbing graphics on them. Our oldest son, Edward, is a little more sensitive and I made the mistake of putting one of Adam’s favorite concert shirts from a band Ghost in the middle of his blanket. There were several pictures of Adam and Edward with this shirt, and I wanted these blankets to hold memories. Reggie on the other hand got his green Still Kickin shirt in the middle of his blanket, very appropriate for him and not frightening at all! Often, Edward (age six) will ask about the ghosts and skulls. I don’t mind. It gives us an opportunity to talk about his daddy. They both love to know the story behind a shirt in their Daddy-blankets warming their bed.
My favorite scene painted with Adam is him in one of two outfits. These signature items meant we were on a date. Everything green and gold for our yearly Lambeau Field date. Depending on the level of class for the special date he planned, he’d wear his sport coat, perhaps a tie, a nice belt, black suspenders if it was a wedding, and a dark pair of pants.
I can see him. I can hear him exclaim every time how beautiful I looked, how lucky he was. I can smell his cologne from our first kiss and last date together.
Picture after picture you will recognize this big guy in the back with the goatee and one of his signature outfits. These are the stories his clothes tell. The scenes painted in your memory and mine. The ones I hope are never forgotten and will continue to share.
I was so lucky to know him and the stories his clothes tell.
The boys and I received pennies in church last week. I wrote down a prayer request and Edward put it in a basket by the alter. He brought a penny back, like everyone was instructed to by Pastor. This penny is a reminder.
Truth be told, the prayer was for me.
A prayer for comfort, peace, and direction. Comfort as I head into the third year without my husband by my side. Peace to fill my heart for the holiday season. And guidance for direction in my life.
I put the penny on our microwave where I’d see it often. Ironically, the boys came home with six pennies each on Monday after an exercise about honesty at daycare. Seeing all these coins is a good reminder to pray for help and lay my problems down for the Lord.
Two years ago, I went through the worst week of my life. It started on Sunday and ended on a Friday evening when my loving husband passed away. There was very little time to process how fast the end of Adam’s life came and how it all happened.
Adam and I knew the end was near. We had met with palliative care days before his last week of life to begin some end of life planning. Time ran out for any of these wishes to happen or be carried out. Instead, we had fifteen minutes in between his oncologist delivering me news we should move to hospice before our parents all came in to visit. What a short conversation for us; for him to share his wishes for me to love again, hear him tell me “I’d be okay”. In between nurses and family that week we’d sneak in funeral questions, bank and billing questions, things at 33 you should not be talking about
This last week of his life, the last week of our marriage was full of searing pain, yet exploded with love. There was also a sense of comfort and peace. I felt this peace especially when we entered into hospice. The only way I can explain this feeling, and my ability to pray and help guide Adam to his eternal peace was from your prayers.
This week, since the penny came home from church, I have felt peace again. Every time I saw the penny in the kitchen, I’d say “please give me comfort, peace and direction God.” God is good; I have really felt comfort this week that I haven’t felt since he died.
I still think about the painful days during Adam’s illness. The memories are scars left in me and honestly, I don’t ever want to forget them because it reminds me to be thankful for life, health, and our sons.
But what I can now see in this second year of living with my grief, is prayers are not always answered how we want. We practiced healing prayer every week with our Pastor. Nightly, I led and prayed with Adam.
I have to carry the burden and balance feelings of being thankful, angry, and bitter. Thankful God peacefully took him home to heaven, free of cancer and pain. Angry my sons will never truly know their own father and madness our love story was cut short. Bitter I was robbed of a loving marriage and the life with my best friend.
And again, thankful God is still with me and answering prayers. Sending me new relationships and strengthening others to help me find my way in this new life. Giving me peace and comfort during this week where I remember Adam drifting away from me, going where I can’t yet.
At 33 years old, I didn’t expect I’d have to rebuild my life. No “job”, a full time mommy to a baby and a preschooler at my side. But this is the life I was given and I am going to live it. I am going to love life and honor Adam’s legacy. I am going to honor my promise to him, “I’ll be okay.”
Reading, volunteering, traveling, and most of all time with his sons were the things he wished he had more of when when we talked. Coming from the man who always had a couple of books on the nightstand; would offer or say yes to help family or friends; who was always ready and willing to book a flight and go. A man who loved his sons and wife more than life itself.
Those very things he wished more of, I will carry on for him. Ironic now, how reading and writing have become two ways I cope best with my grief. When I travel, I am able to shed a little layer of guilt and pain. Volunteering with cancer caregivers and widows helps me find a way to kick the aftermath of cancer. I will live my days to honor Adam and his legacy by being the best mom I can be to our sons.
Miss you sweetie. I love you more. You’re still the best!