Removal

My stomach turns, turning and turning as the wheels of my car roll down 75 on my way to what is hopefully the last surgery I will ever have to attend. This surgery is supposed to mark the end of an era in my life that I all too soon wish to forget. A foreign object lodged in my breast tied to the better half of my ribs. Its begging for removal, as am I for its removal. Something I can’t wait to seperate from. In a sickening mindset I have grown attached to my port; it is an object that brings memories. I remember the painful pricking of every needle that has assisted in pushing chemicals and blood into my veins. I remember the warming sensation in my chest when I received iodine for scans. I remember the cooling sensation when saline washed through its long inner tube through my aorta. It brought a chilling relief of finality everytime they flushed it and everytime that last drop of cleanser pushed through.
I arrive at the hospital and I see my past. The old man in the wheel chair leaving after he confirms his fate. A thinly haired woman sits with her two very small children and the bandana on her head hiding the battle wounds of chemotherapy. One child asks if they could go home, the awkwardness of the waiting room is making the child antsy. The woman extends her hand to the boy and asks for his patience. My heart beats heavily; my blood pressure is through the roof. A victorious moment left shallow like treading a puddle nerves. This should be easier; I should be breathing.
“Anthony Bruno?” The nurse calls my name. A half hour before the scheduled appointment and I feel a rush of relief because there are too many memories floating around this waiting room. “How do you feel? Are you ready to get it out?” She piles on the simple but heart pounding questions. I answer the same that I answer here in this blog. I tell her it is strange losing it but a weight lifting all at once. She gets it. Maybe not because she has dealt with it, but she has seen this moment in so many others’ faces. To her maybe I’m a number or maybe I’m another face for her to forget. Maybe I’m someone who’s pain or who’s relief she feels if only for a second. To me she is the second to last face to see me with the object that has brought back the history of my ewings’ sarcoma. She leads me to my room where she will assist a surgeon in the procedure. I get prepared and lie on a disturbingly comfortable bed. As confirmed by my suspiscion prior my blood pressure is through the roof. She shows no concern and blames it on the nerves I’m holding on to. The surgeon promises that the needle he is about to poke me with will be the most pain I feel in the coming moments. Shortly thereafter I ask him what about the carterer that he is using the burn at my skin and my device. He asks if I feel that as I twitch in a minor shock. It wasn’t the smoke from the burning skin that made me twitch but yes I could feel his device burn my flesh. He apologizes and loads me up with more “novacaine”. My nurse begins to explain the post op requirements and within seconds the tugging of the port is nil and I have stitches being threaded through my chest. Briefly I stopped hearing the nurses voice and watched as all of the past 18 months got tucked away into a storage file of mental history. Finality. The removal of a simple yet complicated object held so much inner feelings, mentally and physically. I will no longer touch my chest and feel a lump of mechanical history. A scar will be the only reminder of what has passed. A scar will be the last bearance of the months of needle pushing memories being sent through my veins. A scar. Not a port. Not any object petruding from my chest or neck or into my heart. Just a scar and a memory. I can “live” with that.

Beat That,
Anthony

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We’re Back and Cancer Free!

Welcome back! I should be saying that to myself. I’ve been missing for so long. The truth of the matter is, I’ve had it rough trying to finish off chemo then once I finished I high tailed it out of Florida and traveled a bit. Something to bring myself back to life. Fatigue has definitely been an issue but things are finally starting to pick up again. So, first things first…

As of July 2nd, after doing a CT scan and seeing my doctor, I have currently beat cancer and do not have to go back to the hospital for three months. That is excellent news and I can finally look forward to breathing again.

Since this is more of a lighthearted and easy going post since we have had good news, why damper it with heart breaking and upsetting stories of things that I went through. We’ll get back to that again soon enough. For this post let’s revisit my trip I took the day after my final chemotherapy. I had a great time, unfortunately I don’t have nearly as many pictures as I would like but I have a handful to make it worth while.

Day 1: I woke up early. And if anyone has ever had chemo before, and I hope no one has, but if you have, you surely know how bloated and foggy you would feel after 6 straight days of non stop chemo. Well that’s how I felt, but I was determined to get on the road and start my journey. (Come to find out later, my doctor clearly states he would not have approved my decision to do what I did the day after a 6 day session of chemo; whoops!) So I left at 7:30, had breakfast. Fueled up the car and the stomach. Up I-75 I went. First stop was the giant peanut. Mainly for fun and games. Supposedly the biggest peanut there is.

Yeah, so moving on. Ha. I went to Atlanta. The ATL was alright but I was on a time constriction so I didn’t stay for long. I had one goal in mind and that was basically it. I wanted ribs. Now you may knock me for this but I forgive you. I’m an old school wrestling fan. So I went to Abdullah the Butcher’s Rib and Chinese food spot. If you don’t know who Abdullah is, I suggest looking it up. His most PG image is far to R rated for today’s post. But anyhow. To Abdullah’s I went.

I had the best rib tips you could imagine; the cornbread above par. But the rib tips and rice were outstanding. Lots of cool memorabilia and an all around southern feel made for a great lunch stop after the 5 hours on the road at that point. I’m off to North Carolina. This is where my trip had it’s most enchanting moment. There’s a story behind this stop but I will do a separate post just for the story. (There is a little bit of a religious undertone in the story and it may take a bit more space to write so better off doing it separate.) I was stopping at Whitewater falls. In this area there are large groups of water falls clustered all within a 30 mile radius or so. Whitewater Falls is the biggest water fall in the east.
After a mile walk and over 20 flights of stairs (The part I got scolded for.) I saw the most amazing site and heard the most powerful impact of water against rock you could ever imagine. Talk about loud? Multiply Niagara Falls by 6. If you ever want an amazing few that will take your breath away, that was it. And guys will definitely want to bring their girlfriend there. After the water fall I had a bit more driving and I was trying to beat the clock in order to get to my hotel before I lost my reservation. So I drove through Brevard, NC. Which in my opinion is one of the nicest and most peaceful towns one could ever imagine. Will definitely visit there again. Some of the houses around that area are top notch as well. 4 hours later I landed in Durham, NC. Stayed at a nice hotel full of Duke Alum all attending some big conference. Thank God for priceline and orbitz. They made it easier to sleep comfortably. The visit to this hotel also holds one of my most embarrassing stories ever. I’ll tell you that story later too.

Day 2: Left Durham and went to Boydton, VA. I went here because of an episode of the TV show “Who do yoiu think you are?” The episode was about Emmit Smith, former NFL Running Back, and his history and the history of his ancestors. I was so fascinated with some of the information and knowledge he gained about his family that is inspired me on several levels. I began a new script based off of an idea I got while watching his story, and I had to stop where he was at, just to see what he saw. The next picture is of a large white building in Boydton once the location for where they sold slaves on the front lawn. Particularly Emmit’s family, the Puryear family. It was a fascinating story, get a hold of it if you can.

After a long traffic jam and an exhausting ride I finally made it to Virginia Beach. My stop at Virginia Beach was merely to see a large statue of one of the more interesting Greek Gods. Poseidon (Neptune). He is the God of the Sea. Great statue as well.
After Virginia Beach, I went over and under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. My last major adventure of the day. He’s an overview of it:
It was a cool ride over the water but far more trouble than it was worth. With that being said Day 1 and Day 2 slowly came to an end. The rest of the trip was merely driving and by the end of it I was exhausted. And with so much more to tell you about I need a break. So I’ll be back in a few hours with another post and more pictures of the trip. Hope you enjoyed this post. See ya soon.

Updates:

WE HAVE A CAMERA FOR BEAT THAT! A post on that to come.

Still looking for more help for the film; funding, non financial donations, and people to work on the shoot itself.

Script is complete, I have something I am working on to go with the film but can’t give it away yet.

Life is good again!

Follow us:

www.facebook.com/Beat-That-Film
www.twitter.com/TeeJayRyan

Donate at:

www.indiegogo.com/Beat-That

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Catching up!

So I am in the hospital receiving my 2nd to last inpatient chemotherapy. So basically as long as everything goes well on July 1st when they do my scans, I will have completed chemotherapy and then the ultimate goal will be the film and enough of this cancer business. Well at least the physical, real cancer business. May 27th we complete my last outpatient chemotherapy. June 10th we start my last inpatient chemotherapy. That lasts 5 full days. I don’t have much to say about my adventure through the world of cancer. Let’s move on to some exciting talk.

The script has really begun to mold itself. I am starting to find some real confidence in it and believe it is going to make an extraordinary short film. Last week I learned a few things about my writing skills and now I believe with the changes made the script is creating the effect it was meant to. It will be time to move on to the next phases of making the film soon enough. Remember you can buy your copy of the script at http://www.indiegogo.com/Beat-That
. It helps raise funds for the film so it would be a great deal to get this film made. Not to mention, other than your great contribution you get something in return. So it’s a win/win for everyone.

With that being said, I have added 2 new crew members to the film. Some of the major effects in the film are the change in appearance as cancer and chemotherapy takes over my world. Or in this instance, the main characters world. As well as some of the side effects that our main character has to deal with. Well the best way to accomplish these goals and make them seem more realistic was to add a Make Up Artist and Special FX member to the film crew. So with that being said, I am excited to welcome Desiree and Paul Collins to the team. Desiree is our new Make Up Artist. She has a strong feel for Horror Make Up and the Blood and Guts side of film is something she has had some hands on work with. Her brother Paul has a strong grasp on the FX world and he is going to be an exciting addition to the film. Between the 2 of them, I believe we will be able to really accomplish some of the effects that need to take place in order to make this film as great as I know it is going to be.

For now that’s all we have. I have filmed some of the goings on here in the hospital and will be posting that very shortly. Just need to do some editing. So be looking for some video footage within the next 24-36 hours and see what I am dealing with while here in the institute going through chemotherapy. It’s a fun world at Moffitt.

Don’t forget; Follow us at:

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http://www.indiegogo.com/Beat-That

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A Chance Learning.

Every now and then we come across something we don’t expect. We learn something we didn’t mean to learn. And in the end we hope we come out of it better people.

So the beginning of the weekend started out well; a little nerve racking but I felt good about what was going on. I felt like I was accomplishing something big, or at least someone was accomplishing it for me. I found a co-writer for the screenplay. She had more experience than me and had a different flavor to add to the meatloaf. My script had my concept, the dialogue was weak and full of monologues, and some of the scenes just needed to be routed and reworked. I’ll be the first to admit the story was there but the pages were a little torn. I sought help and found it, and I felt good about it; at first.

So ask the weekend carried on, I was getting bits and pieces of my script back being done as a rewrite and I was feeling more and more confident with the way things were coming along. I could see my story finally take some proper shape as it was being remolded. I was feeling fresh and secure. Secure meaning stable and strong. But what’s the worst thing you can do to a mold? Add too much water. And as I got more and more of the script I started to see it fold a little. Then drip a little. Then a few different things happened. My story was no longer my statue and it was more like my pot. The things I wanted in there were not there anymore. Now I had a screenplay that was better than mine when it comes to “showbiz” writing, but it was no longer the story of my battle through cancer. And it no longer had my signature on it.

I brought this to the co-writers attention. I made it clear that there were things I wanted to be put back in and I would take care of that and then continue on with our partnership. The truth is, I enjoyed her writing, but in the end it’s still my movie, and I have to make it more showbiz then I at least have to do it with my affect. It was never about her writing or her style. And I understood clearly that my original draft was not up to par. I’m just the guy with cancer who is aspiring to make a film. Not the film maker who ended up with cancer. At least not yet. Give me a couple years and that is what I will consider myself. Ha. So after I responded to her with my requests to do some edits and continue on our journey, she wrote me an email stating EVERYTHING that was wrong with my script and continuously taking little jabs. That’s how I read the email, thats how my fiance read the email. So I, being the angry steroid freak that I am, with all these meds running through me, ran my mouth. I made it clear that the script was mine and I wanted her to be a co-writer and work with me and not against me and I ended the relationship. Probably a little prematurely, but our visions were just on opposite paths.

I won’t sit here and say that she was wrong, and I certainly won’t admit that I was wrong. I feel as though it was a miscommunication. Then it was taken a step further and became an excommunication. Now I’m sitting around fixing my script. I can’t be happier with the advice that I received from this woman, who again, is very talented. But It’s difficult fixing someone else’s story. Sometimes you think you are helping but when you hit a snag and can’t agree on which foot to put forward you learn that the partnership will only become a disaster.

Thank you co-writer for your help. I do wish it could have worked out better. I believe if we both got on the same page we would have had the best of both worlds. It was a chance learning. I learned that what I need to do to make the script better. Now I just have to apply the lesson to script.

With that being said here’s some updates:

-Script is in yet again another rewrite. Don’t you love showbiz?

-My team is starting to develop. Waiting on a confirmation email regarding 2 new crew members. Make up Artist and Special FX artist. I expect to hear from them tomorrow and then I will be able to write all about them.

-I have a few friends working on some fundraiser ideas. One of the ideas looks to be a car wash. We need to start making money. I have 4 funders. While I am greatful for them, every penny counts. And any help is greatly appreciated.

-I have come up with a little contest that I am working on the details with. I’m think about doing a promo card cell off. Whoever can sell the most promo cards will win a Producer credit on the film. Can you imagine how good that would look for someone. Hey Johny, what did you do this summer? I produced a movie. That means recognition on sites like IMDB and across film festivals…and all you have to do is sell promo cards to possibly get that credit. WOW!

-This film is going to happen. Right now it’s a marathon, but we are going to get there…trust me on that!

Follow the film at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Beat-That-Film/116976108323808
http://twitter.com/BeatThatFilm

PLEASE Donate at:

http://www.indiegogo.com/Beat-That

Follow me at:

http://www.facebook.com/ABruno.TJRyan
http://twitter.com/TeeJayRyan

Thank You!

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3 Children, a Secret, and a one bedroom apartment.

When this started seven months ago; the family had to come together and decide what was the best way for us to all go about this. The truth was, yes, I had cancer, and we didn’t know what to expect next. Clearly the concern was life or death. Was I going to be ok? We still don’t know in the end whether or not the end result will be in our favor. Of course things are going well now. We haven’t seen any more scans since the surgery and they appeared to have positive results. So we feel that things are going well and will continue to do so. One decision we made was to not tell the children I have cancer. I have three chemotherapy sessions left and no, they still don’t know.

During the Christmas break the family was down here on what the children considered a vacation. A Christmas vacation. Physically, I was going through major side effects. Emotionally, I was a wreck. So much to hide and I live in a one bedroom apartment. We fit nine people in a one bedroom apartment, with a bed, an air mattress, two couches and a big secret known as Cancer. Two specific moments come to mind, how did we get through them?

Bone Pain is something cancer patients go through because our white counts become low. We take a medication, either Neupogen or Neulasta. I take both depending on which chemo I am going through. This specific time around I had to take my Neupogen and lucky for me the day of my bone pain came on Christmas day. Answer this: How do you hurt from your head to your toes and hide it from 3 children while they are trying to run around, open their toys, and have a big Christmas dinner? Answer: Very calmly. I spent half the day hiding in the bedroom and the other half of the day hiding on the couch. No matter where I was hiding I was shaking. When I couldn’t get away, I struggled. But I kept myself from shaking. Avoided them seeing what was really there. I masked the pain, I sucked it up and I made sure that Christmas was the only Big C that mattered. Even at one point I ran away to my mothers just to be able to shake and sweat without anyone seeing me. Ran to Walgreens to “buy batteries.” Anything I could do to avoid them noticing what was really going on. We succeeded. We passed the test. Five months later, the secret is still safe. We survived Christmas day.

There was another moment that occurred during the boys Christmas vacation. This moment is more of a private moment for me. But I wish to share it with you guys because that is what all of this is about right now. If I want my story out there, why shouldn’t everyone know the stories that I have held inside me. In Orlando there is a big IMAX theater and we took the kids to see Avatar as a Christmas present. That was all well and good and we clearly enjoyed ourselves. At one point however, I had a breakdown. You see, when the kids came out of the movie, it was Capitol One Bowl Weekend and they were having a big party in the area for everyone to celebrate in the festivities. The kids got to play on this cool Rock Band set up where everyone was gathered around and would wait to sing and play the instruments for the crowd. Christopher and my fiance Nikki were playing the guitars, Joseph was on the drums and Michael was singing his butt off to “Life is a Highway.” I watched my family have a blast, sing this song, and let it rip. And all I could think to myself was, what if I miss these moments. What if these are the last few I get. I don’t want to miss moments like this. I had to leave. I walked, and cried, and hid my face from all the others that were walking the area around me. It was so embarrassing, but at the same time, I had no choice. It just poured out of me. Life is a Highway. All we can do is ride it.

Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone

Sometimes you bend sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside every darkened Door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won’t hesitate break down the garden gate
There’s not much left today

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long

Through all the cities and all these towns
It’s in my blood and it’s all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the hands
From mozambique to those memphis nights
The khyber pass to vancouver’s lights
Knock me down get back up again
You’re in my blood I’m not a lonely man

There’s no load I can’t hold
Road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re Survivors

There was a distance between you and I
A misunderstanding once but now
We look it in the eye

There’s no load I can’t hold
Road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re survivors

Updates on the Film:
-I am working on the 3rd draft of the film. Right now it is more of a dialogue edit. Trying to keep things crisp.

-We are having plenty of traffic on both the wordpress.com blog site which is what you are on now. And we have over 500 views for our donation site which is Indiegogo.com/Beat-That Please help show your support, if you can. Traffic is great so I feel confident the word is getting out there. Hopefully we can reach our goal.

-I have been looking actively for which camera to buy. I’m thinking between a Canon XL-2 and the Panasonic AG DVX100B. If anyone has any better recommendations please let me know.

-We also look to have a makeup artist and special FX team starting to build for the film. I don’t want to jinx it but I believe in the next few days I will be naming some names as people that have officially joined the crew. Stay tuned, things are really starting to look good.

Follow us at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Beat-That-Film/116976108323808
http://twitter.com/BeatThatFilm

Follow me at:

http://www.facebook.com/ABruno.TJRyan

Donate at:

http://www.indiegogo.com/Beat-That

Thanks everyone!

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Herzlich’s latest story!

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=5123023

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The story within a story

The Saying goes: “Behind every great man…is a strong woman.”

How many of you thought I would open up with such a line? Let’s discuss the fact’s behind everything I have gone through in the last 7 months. Diagnosed with cancer: Fact. Dealt with countless nights of side effects and frustration: Fact. Let myself sink to a depression that a crane couldn’t have pulled me out of: Fact.

Kicked around the one that loved me most every time I was down and out: Fact.

One moment I can recall greatly was when I had just started chemo. We had no clue what to expect. No drugs to counter act the side effects. No preparation for what was to come. I woke up two days after chemo and it was on like world war three up in that bathroom. We were staying at my moms house; (btw, very important to note, my mother has been a blessing through out this experience too, and her blog is coming.) I’m in the bathroom hunched over the toilet. When you’re drunk, and you’re throwing up you earned it. You earned every feeling you get. This wasn’t like that. This was like your toes were throwing up through your ankles and your knee caps and your hips, up your spine and out your throat, kind of throwing up. Sorry to be graphic, but this vomit wanted you to know it was coming a year before it got there and it wanted more than your stomach to feel it. My body was screaming the song lyrics “Sending out an S.O.S.” but only it was like Slipknot convulsing, shouting, “Send out the Mother F***ing S.O.S.” In reality there was nothing humorous about what was going on that morning. So I got through my first, for lack of better terms, “vomit session.” I leave the bathroom and as if I were hammered, I pass out. I might as well have been drunk, cause anything other than throwing up on that day, I don’t remember. This was an all day affair. I think by about 6PM I was able to have my first cup of soup. That was after at least 5 or 6 long extensive battles with the bathroom, to sum it up lightly.

What I do remember is the person I was while I was throwing up. I’d like to sit here and cowardly blame it on chemo, high stress, cancer. That’s easy to do. My fiance would sit outside the door because being my first day dealing with this, I wanted to not be seen. I wanted no one around me. I thought then that I was already ready to die. Little did I know, this would not be my worse day. Nikki sat outside the door, innocently and helplessly asking me, what could she do for me. She has asked this several times throughout dealing with cancer and chemo. It drives me nuts. The reason it drives me nuts is because I don’t even know what I can do for myself. But one thing I can shamefully admit is, my responses are always those coming from an asshole. I become the biggest asshole in the world when it comes to these side effects. I’m so embarrassed with how I react sometimes that I don’t even want to get further into detail about it. Over the border, disrespectful.

About a month ago, something happened to me. I was, at that time, in my own funk. Greater than Cancer and Chemo. I was in a depressive funk that I can honestly say, I was on the edge of ending treatments early. I don’t want to dive too deep into it, because, well, that is also a story for another blog. But anyhow, while I was in my funk, I was laying in bed sleeping and suddenly I woke up with this pain. The only way I could describe this pain is by inserting a jack hammer in your intestines and letting it go off on you. That is the mildest imagery I can give you. And I went through this pain for 12 hours easy. 16 sounds more true to story. But for arguments sake we’ll go with 12. My family was there for me. My mother laid next to me, my brother sat there and watched, waiting for direction. My fiance for 6 hours before anyone woke up was there…asking me…”What can I do for you?” I won’t lie, I cursed at her, I screamed and kicked for her to get away from me. I pleaded for God to take my life and if He wouldn’t, than damn it allow her to do so. But let me tell you something. Something happened that day. Something happened as she laid over me, trying to stop me from shaking and pounding like a dieing dog going through it’s last seizure. Tears rolling from her eyes. She felt every ounce of pain and turmoil I was going through. She never left my side. She absorbed like a sponge everything I had to dish out. She kept us together. On that day she made me realize that I had the greatest soul mate ever. She was my rock and she was shield. They say you have two great women in your life. Your mom should be one. She proved she was the other one.

Yes! I am making a movie, my story about Ewings Sarcoma. My story about surviving cancer. But there’s always an underlying story, a message in each film. Something that sometimes you don’t realize is there until it’s already done taking place. I want you all to know. The story within a story is there. I’m not just making this film because I beat cancer. I’m making this film because I had a strong supporting cast. And they deserve this story more than I do. She deserves this story more than I do. Thanks guys. Now how can you Beat That?

I love you.

Follow us:

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Donate at:

http://www.indiegogo.com/Beat-That

“Let’s make a movie. Let’s tell the story.”

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