Our Last Move

From the bottom of my heart I wish that I had better news, but the good Lord’s plans are far different from our own. A couple of weeks ago I was having a really hard time breathing, my color was off, and something definitely did not feel right. My wife was smart enough to contact my oncologist to ask her opinion and if emergency care was needed. Her advice was very clear, get to the ER as soon as possible. Britt and I jumped in the truck and headed up to Northside Hospital in Atlanta where my oncologist could administer care once I was admitted. We had gone in thinking that I had a serious respiratory infection or at worst, pneumonia. After the standard blood work and testing nonsense, they did a CT scan of my chest to get a good look at my lungs. Unfortunately, the ER doctors gave us some bad news that was further confirmed by my oncologist the next morning.

Although we may have been confident in the medications, the cancer in my lungs has continued to progress over the last eight weeks. One of the ER doctors even mentioned that I am down to only having 20% of my overall lung capacity. My oncologist is usually always optimistic and in a great mood but on the morning that she delivered this news, it was quite the opposite. It was with great heartache that she told us that there aren’t any other treatment options available and all that she could offer was to make me comfortable for the time that I have left. We, of course, asked what kind of timeline we are looking at and she said most people would be weeks but with the way my body fights back, it could be a couple of months. She then suggested that I start oxygen intake immediately.

After a long discussion and prayer, Britt and I decided that we are taking a final vacation to Michigan to be with my family. We will be here until my time comes to leave this earth. We packed up the pups in the Jeep, which Hunter drove while Brittany and I took the truck and made the drive in one night. We spent that night with the Moffett’s in Chicago who were such amazing and, as always, gracious hosts. Then we finished the journey with a three-hour drive over to Michigan. We are posted up at my Grandmother’s old condo that is very nice and comfortable.

Our plan is simple; I will continue to do blood transfusions weekly until they don’t seem to help anymore. That will be my sign that my body is shutting down. At that point we will start hospice care and they will handle home care from there. We have been in contact with my family and I plan on allowing them to visit whenever they can.

This journey has been trying, but it has also taught me so very much. It’s made me appreciate my life. It’s made me appreciate the relationships. It’s made me care about the people that stood next to me instead of the things that I have accomplished. Most of all, it has taught me that God’s plan is perfect. I am somehow at peace because I know I will leave every relationship saying everything that needs to be said and forgiving any wrong doings. I hold zero grudges, no resentment, and finally no regrets. This life has lead me down a crazy, fun, intense, and amazing rollercoaster but it has ultimately lead me to her. The one person I was waiting for. The one woman I was looking for….Brittany Jean Bird.

I lied about one thing up there, I am proud of one accomplishment, it has been my greatest accomplishment…it is the love that Britt and I have found.

I have reserved the rest of the time that I have left on this earth for my family. Please respect my precious time by only contacting us through Facebook messenger if absolutely needed. I am forever grateful for ya’lls support. Please don’t feel sorry for me, please think of me and smile, knowing I am surrounded by loved ones, and I am happy.

Truly all my best – Carson Grady Bird

Our Last Move

CFI, Getting Married, Alumni Weekend, and My Return Home

It has been far too long since I have updated this blog and I assure all of my supporters that I will get better at keeping you in the loop. My amputation was completed on June 22nd and went as well as it possibly could have. I had so much support at the hospital that day including my wife, brother, father, Chad Hall, his mother, The Veasey’s, Carol Shephard and many more. I spent less than 24 hours in the ICU following the surgery and I was up and walking within a day. Total, I only spent less than a week in recovery before they released me. I had my wife by my side every day along with a countless amount of visitors throughout my stay. I was moving pretty well by the time that I was released.

Towards the end of my hospital stay I had a very special and unexpected visitor. A classmate of mine from the Academy by the name of Christy Wise drove all the way from Valdosta (about 5 hours) just to pass on some very important information. She lost her right leg above the knee in a boating accident a little over a year prior to my surgery and told me about a place by the name of Center For the Intrepid (CFI). It is a department of defense owned and run facility in San Antonio, Texas for military members with amputations. It not only allowed her to get healthy and helped save her life, but allowed her to return to active duty where she was able to regain her pilot status. After talking to Christy, I was SOLD! She pushed my name through CFI and I immediately started making plans to get there.

Once released from the hospital, I returned home to a new bed and an updated house compliments of Shauna Veasey, Ms. Wendy Childs, and several others. I am truly in awe at the way that everyone has surrounded Brittany and I and have offered to help in any way possible. Again, thank you to each and every one of you. I was able to spend around a week recovering at home with my Aunt Sue, who drove down from Michigan and was a HUGE help. At the end of the week we drove up to Lake Lanier where we spent a few nights with the Air Force boys for a little bit of pre-Fourth of July festivities. It was so awesome to see everyone even though I was not very mobile.

Brittany and I spent our Fourth of July on a plane to San Antonio so that I could get enrolled in the program.  After a couple of weeks in and out of the hospital due to fluid build-up, an infection in my nub, and the start of a new drug to include a low dose chemo I was finally cleared to start rehab. I was extremely excited as my goal was to be able to surprise Brittany and stand/walk a little at our wedding. I had six weeks and I was determined to reach my goal. Between the Rabold’s taking me in and one of my oldest friends’ staying with me (Jamar Williams), I was confident that I could reach it so I sent Brittany home to finish up wedding loose ends. I worked my butt off for those six weeks and felt that I would be able to surprise her.

I flew home a couple of days prior to the wedding in the second week of August. The wedding day finally came and I was extremely anxious and nervous. I just wanted everything to go well but more than anything I wanted to see Brittany in her white dress and surprise her. We made it to the venue and everyone started getting ready. I was so pumped with the way that the groomsman looked in the outfits; they turned out great! The best touch was the way that the ring bearers looked, my two nephews, they crushed it! The first look finally came and between her seeing me standing with my prosthetic and me seeing her in that white dress, we were both sobbing.

After a few photos, it was finally time for the ceremony. I was so touched that every seat was full. The weather was amazing, probably a bit too warm but that’s ok. Following the amazing ceremony, my new wife and I started back down the aisle where everyone was pointing up at the sky. We both glanced up to see a completely full and beautiful rainbow right above us. There is no doubt that it was my mother and Brittany’s father showing off through the hand of God and proving that they were there with us.

The reception was so awesome! It was filled with great food, great company, plenty of dancing, and a song played by myself, Hunter, and Moff. We played an acoustic version of ‘Drunk on your Love’ for Britt and she seemed to approve. Following the reception, we spent the night at Serenbe in the honeymoon suite which had been decorated by the Moffett women; it was something out of a fairy tale! We left the next day to spend the week at the beach in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina where we enjoyed our much deserved, much needed honeymoon.

We returned to San Antonio after the honeymoon and it was tough to get back into the swing of rehab. I began to have issues with my lungs. Whether it was coughing, wheezing, or just the pain, something didn’t feel right. The great news was that we got a scan and the cancer in my lungs has been stabilized and has not grown as of today. This leads us to believe that the pain wasn’t related to the cancer as much as it was my environment.

A couple of weeks after we returned to Texas, we were flown out to Colorado Springs to return to the Air Force Academy for Alumni Weekend. I had the great honor of being the keynote speaker for the weekend and led the team out on to the field for the game. It was a weekend that I will never forget. The support we have received from the Academy, alumni, and football program has been unbelievable. To make things even better, I had about 20 of my friends fly in as well as my younger brother. It felt like returning home and it was a huge honor. I will never forget what the academy has done for me.

About a week after returning to Texas, I hit a wall. I was barely going to rehab and my chest pain was worse than it had ever been. I called my wife to fly out and drive us home.  We had found out that my pain could be related to the climate or allergies in San Antonio. Within six hours of flying in, my amazing wife had packed up our apartment in the truck and we took off for home. We were back in Newnan within 48 hours and I could finally rest. We spent the next two days in bed, her trying to recover from the drive and I was trying to feel better. It wasn’t quite immediate, but shortly after returning home, I felt better. Since then I have continued to feel a little better each day so we know that it was the right move. My oncologist is located here in Georgia so I can see her anytime and I was able to learn enough at CFI to continue to do my own physical therapy when I’m ready. I am hoping to return to the gym in the next week or two. I am also hoping that it will help my appetite as it has been very weak since starting the chemo.

So, that is where we stand! I am going to see my oncologist Friday the 30th and we are hoping for continued good news. I am HOME and I am HAPPY! I have my pups by my side and get to spend every day with my wife. I work from home and am enjoying my job. I pray that my health continues to improve here in Georgia and I will begin to gain weight soon. I am so very thankful for a wife that knows what is best for me and acts when she knows it’s needed. As always I am forever thankful for all of the support I continue to receive from all of you. I need to reiterate that I could not do any of this without your unwavering support. I love you all and God bless!!!

All my best
Carson

 

 

 

CFI, Getting Married, Alumni Weekend, and My Return Home

My timeline doesn’t always match his…

Things down south have been amazing. I have been spending a good bit of time with my little brother (I say ‘little’ but he’s grown and more of a man than I could ever be) and his family as well as my amazing friends.  Brittany and I are slowly getting settled into our home and it is finally feeling like it is truly ‘our home’.  The radiation treatment was such a huge blessing. I was able to complete 25 rounds of aggressive treatment in 30 days. The pain seemed to finally be under control and I was able to live life again.  I was even able to fish and hit the gym a couple of times per week to stay active and try to gain some weight. I was also able to take a road trip to Tampa with my boys for my bachelor party, and a quick vacation to Hilton Head Island to get Brittany on the beach!

Unfortunately, all of the good times came to an abrupt stop this week.  I felt a new pain in my hip that was sharp and more intense than normal.  After a couple of days, I finally had the doctor take an X-ray to see if what I had been feeling was something more serious. Our fears were confirmed this afternoon when I met with my oncologist.  I have a pathologic fracture in my femur just below where the spike from my hip replacement was placed. Basically, the tumor has become so enlarged and the diseased bone has become too weak to support my attempt at walking with a cane which lead to the break.  My oncologist has given us two options: 1) live on crutches or in a wheel chair and see how long I can handle the pain before moving forward with the amputation OR 2) move forward with the amputation as soon as possible which will allow me to heal as much as I can before the wedding in August.  Brittany and I have been praying very hard about the right decision and, after speaking with my Orthopedic Oncologist…. I have decided to move forward with the amputation.

As of right now, I am scheduled for a hemipelvectomy (full amputation of my left leg that includes a portion of my pelvis) on Monday June 20th.  We are meeting with the Orthopedic Oncologist, who will be performing the surgery, this Thursday to finalize the plan.  This surgery will obviously mean that I have an intense and long recovery ahead of me.  It starts with a couple of days in the ICU followed by about a week in the hospital.  It feels as overwhelming and daunting to me, as I’m sure it feels for all of you to read. However… THIS WILL NOT BREAK ME!  I can promise you that this will only make me stronger! If there is one thing that I have learned through all of this is that this fight belongs to the Lord.

I must continue to boast about the greatest support system in the world, ALL OF YOU! You all have been absolutely amazing and I cannot thank you enough. It is the biggest blessing the Lord has graced me with (outside of Momma Bird).

I love you all and thank you so much for your support and prayers!

#TryMeCGB

My timeline doesn’t always match his…

Aggressive Radiation

 

I hope this update finds everyone well! We have been in Georgia for about a month now so it’s time that we let everyone know what’s been going on. Once my oncologist got me on a treatment plan for the cancer as a whole, my radiation oncologist got with her team and put together an aggressive plan to attack this massive tumor in my hip. This type of treatment has had success in the past, especially with more aggressive sarcomas. The plan is to have high-powered radiation shot through the entire tumor five times per week. The tricky part of this plan is how to position my body. Unfortunately, they have to lye my on my stomach on a metal table to gain access to the proper angles. The objectives of this treatment are simple. 1 – control the pain. 2 – stop the growth. And 3 – kill the tumor. The first week was very painful but I managed to power through and make it to that first weekend of rest. Today I finished treatment number 13 of 25, which puts me past the halfway mark. The results thus far have been amazing. My pain level has dropped so far that I have stopped all spike pain medication. At one point I was taking these medications nearly twelve times per day. The size of the tumor itself has not changed which we hope that this means that it is not growing. While most of the results were good, we did run into some difficulties.

I found myself in the ER one night due to major swelling down my left leg. We had to make sure the swelling was not due to a blood clot, which was quickly ruled out. The Drs think it is either the cancer becoming angry, my lymphatic system not being able to handle the treatment, or that the tumor cells are dying. In any case, I have a good amount of fluid through out my left leg and abdomen. Honestly, the biggest issue is discomfort. The fluid did not bring any more pain, which I am thankful for! The most frustrating part is that just before the fluid began, I was walking on my own again.

We are closing on a house in Summergrove down in Newnan, Georgia on the 29th of this month and could not be more excited. We have been so blessed to be able to borrow a friend’s condo free of charge during the treatments but it just doesn’t quite feel like home. Again, the amount of help and support I have received from my family and friends has been overwhelming. Even my doctors and nurses have begun to ask how Brittany and I stay so positive and we quickly reply it is all because of you guys. Our support system is truly astonishing and I am forever indebted to each one of you.

The hope is that after my 25th radiation treatment, we can do scans and see how the tumor has reacted in my hip. We should be completing a CT scan in the next week or two to check on the lung nodules. I will keep everyone updated as we settle in to our new home and our new lives. Our faith and my body grow stronger each day and this awful disease will be gone soon enough.

I need to give a shout out to our Colorado family. Britt had to fly back by herself and get all of our stuff all packed up and moved here (including two jeeps, my motorcycle and two lonely pups). We could NOT have done it without ya’lls help. Also, the endless cards, meals, and love do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Ya’ll are the reason I am still fighting.

I love you all – Cars

#TryMeCGB

 

Aggressive Radiation

Crossing Dixie

I figured it was time to update everyone again. It has been a couple of weeks since my last update and a lot has changed in those couple of weeks! I guess the biggest change that I need to announce is my move to Georgia! Brittany and I took the news of the first trial in Denver not working as a sign that we needed to be a little more proactive about my treatment. After a long discussion with my oncologist in Denver, we were reffered to an oncologist in North Atlanta. Since I was planning on moving back to Georgia upon my retirement anyway (which should be in June and has me starting terminal leave this month) the shift in states just made sense.

My new doctor is much more aggressive, plus she has plenty of options beyond phase one trials. Within days of us flying to Atlanta, she had me on my newest treatment and had a backup treatment ordered in the event that this treatment proves ineffective.  Additionally, she made my pain management a huge priority which has changed my day to day life so much.  I could not be more happy with her attitude and the way that she has handled my situation.  I am meeting with a radiation doctor as well as another orthopedic oncologist to explore more options to treat the pain and growth in my hip as the tumor continues to grow.

Brittany and I were in quite a pickle with our arrival to Atlanta as we did not have a vehicle or a place to stay. We reached out to some friends of ours who have been more than accomidating.  The Shepherds have not only opened their home to us, but their hearts as well.  They have taught us the power of trusting in the Lord. We cannot thank them enough for everything that they have done.

So what’s next!? The doctor has suggested that I avoid flying due to possible blood clots which means that I am in Georgia for the forseeable future.  This also means that we are scrambling to find a house to live in.  We are putting our house in Colorado Springs on the market at the beginning of April and have already begun looking for a house here in Georgia.  Needless to say it’s been a hectic and crazy and stressful couple of weeks.  It’s also been extremely eye opening to the amount of love and support that you all have provided.  We are very optimistic about the future and feel confident about our new doctors.

Thank you all again for the love and support through this past year.  I am back where I can spend time with my brother and his family, my father, and some more amazing friends. I AM HOME! I love you all!

I may have cancer, but cancer does NOT have me! (Thanks to miss Carol Shepherd for that insight)

-Cars

Crossing Dixie

Trial #1 results

I wanted to get the following information out to everyone as quickly as possible. We received the results from my scans and the news was not the best.  Our fears about my hip tumor were confirmed. It has grown a good bit from 12×17 cm to 14×25 cm.  The scans also showed slight growth in my lung tumors which are obviously more important. The good news is the largest tumor in my lungs is still under 2 cm and I am still without any symptoms of lung issues. We are exploring options and continuing to pray for the knowledge to make the right decision. Between chemo, radiation, and another phase 1 trial, we are are hoping that God guides us towards the best decision possible. As for now, we are on standby for the next three weeks for the wash-out period.

On a lighter note, we are pushing for the military to expedite my medical retirement so that Brittany and I can move back to Georgia to be closer to friends and family. Once again, I thank you all for the unfaltering love and support. I could not do it without you.

 

Trial #1 results

Engagement and update

I hope this finds everyone well! I have been pretty busy the last couple weeks considering i don’t work much and can barely walk well enough to hit the gym.  I’ve had friends come and visit to cheer me up and am about to finish my second round of medication.  I had a surgical biopsy performed a week ago but the results are for the trial and so i may never see them. The good news is i am expected to finish some scans at the end of the week.

I was also very busy last weekend with my girlfriend’s birthday.  I planned a weekend in Breckenridge with a group of friends from here in Colorado and a couple folks from out of town. What she didn’t know is our friends from Georgia (Brandon and Shauna Veasey) weren’t just flying out to take some pictures and celebrate, they would be shooting our engagement. I don’t know how she couldn’t tell but after about an hour of pictures we found a great spot overlooking Dillon Reservoir and the rockies where i asked her to marry me. Fortunately she said yes and the pictures turned out amazing.  We can’t thank everyone enough for their kind words and support through everything.

Now comes the bad news….my leg continues to worsen. I wish i could say it’s barely noticeably but it’s visually obvious. The tumor inside my pelvis and left hip is growing at an alarming rate. The use of my left leg has dropped to about 20% and i am in significant pain 24/7. While i know the major concern are the spots in my lungs, i can’t help but wonder what the hip growth means. It’s extremely frustrating and honestly scares the shit out of me. I pray everyday that the lord will heal me or at least let me see what I’m supposed to learn from this challenge. I attempted to go an enjoy a concert with Britt for Valentines day but had to sit nearly the entire time and even with the cane, am constantly hurting. I don’t want to have to pop dozens of pain meds to get through the day so we are talking to the doctors again this week about pain medication.

Again, thank everyone for their love and prayers through these trying times. I don’t know what i did to deserve such support but i have to say i couldn’t do it without you.  Especially you Britt, you deal with it every minute of every day and i am not sure how you pull it off with such ease. I will forever been in aw of you.

All the best,

Cars

Engagement and update