Rest and recovery is as important as action.
Terry was late thirties to our twenties, owned his own business and drove a big white Cadillac convertible and cruised down the highway with the radio blaring as we headed for Detroit. A big second row he stood about six foot five inches and if his best years were behind him he was still a dangerous player. You might get hit late and hard, but he’d smile as he helped you up. Read the rest of this entry »
One more scan, less than five minutes on the table while the MRI whirrs around you. The tech is friendly, she is a cancer survivor and we compare scars. “Who’s your surgeon, Donzelli? Mine too, isn’t he just the best.” All done, then it’s off to wait.
Today a call, “We found a brain, and no masses”. If only I had this evidence of a brain when my daughters were teens. They would never have believed it.
It was 93 when we set off for a 30 plus mile ride at 10:26 Read the rest of this entry »
Each day I am stronger, I feel it in my heart.
But when we go out to ride with the group, it is all I can do to hold a wheel ( stay close enough to the person ahead of you to draft and gain efficiency from reduced wind resistance ). It is almost 3 months after the thyroid surgery, and one month after the radiation, it just seems I should be stronger. But either way, the dog still fights on.
Today we headed out toward Fermi Labs, that dichotomy of a park where on top you see fisherman, buffalo in the field and pass bogs where frogs croak a symphony that starts softly as we approach, rises to an ear shattering crescendo, and then fades gently out of range as we cruise on. Underneath this wood and field hides a giant cyclotron, where physicists try to know the hand of God. We merely fight the wind which shifts half way to reward us with a headwind out and back.
Thirty two miles at the end, and again I am so spent, that my story falls into a few fragmented memories.
The bogs where the invisible frogs croak like a thousand birds singing. Heather giving me a pull when I was floundering
Auburn hair shining in the wind
The joy of movement
And the glass of ice water at the end.
We make our gains in inches
like soldiers slogging up a hill
The enemy must yield to constant pressure
Or so we think.
Saw the surgeon this morning. Everything looks good, if another lymph gland remains cancerous, they can go in again and out it comes. The incision is healing well, Scar Fade seems to be working although the scar remains an ugly red testament at the base of my neck. The tumor was 3.5 centimeters. So many problems for such a tiny thing.
We fortify our souls in quiet places
where no one else can ever know
Then out among our wishful helpers
And step by step we forward go
Back on the internet, I work the formula age x .8 + 1 for stage 3 + 0 for metastasized and tumor size x .3 add in a pinch of turmeric and shake and 80 plus % for cure. Four out of 5. Good enough odds if you can afford the wager.
We take the meds with perfect timing
Arranging diet and sleep to be just so
Put our faith in this mustard seed of science
please make it die, it mustn’t grow
After work I head out for the Monday night ride. About eight of us ride out seventeen miles. I am lighter, down 25 pounds ( 1.8 stone if you are across the pond ) and although I am still weak, when I stand on the pedals my Specialized Roubaix jumps forward like a rocket ship. All this time I had thought I had a gaited horse for smoothness and it has just been waiting for me to ask for speed. The night is perfect as our line flies over the pavement, each of us taking pulls at the front. This is how a man should be, to live and love and laugh.
Cancer is waiting. Unlike the flu or pnmenonia which can strike you down in two days, cancer meanders through your life, touching what it will, moving at its own pace. I was expecting this urgent dash to the goal line with absolute victory. Instead, I hike the trail to the unseen finish stopping at aid stations as they appear.
I thought cancer would be an epiphany. It would make me understand life, force me to live every minute. It has changed me, and made me more thoughtful than before, but the change is subtle.
In Joe Hyams book “Zen in the Martial Arts” he talks about the masters at the temple proclaiming that one of the students had attained enlightment. When all the other students approached the newly enlightened one and asked how it felt, he replied “Just as miserable as ever”. I too am different but unchanged.
What do I appreciate more? I appreciate taste, glorious wonderful taste, rich chocolate, zesty orange slices, cooked carrots and anything that doesn’t taste of metal. I value touch, that wonderful sense of connection fostered by a hug, or the touch on an arm and friendship, given unselfshly to support family and me. And I am reminded by one of my favorite poets in words I wish I might someday approach:
No man is an island
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.John Donne
At work from 07:00 to 19:00, 12 hours. Walking out of the office a network problem arises. When I reach home, I sit in my chair with coat and hat still on and close my eyes. 22:47 almost fours later, I open my eyes remove coat and hat, grab a blanket and close my eyes once more. Tomorrow is another day.
Like sardines in a can, the locker room is packed with people. Wearing the white LA fitness provided towels like togas, friends Romans and countrymen ignore one another. The young hoopsters chat about the game, or stare quietly and intently at their hand held phones texting away as bodybuilders secretly flex in with one nonchalant eye on the nearest mirror and the oldest, oblivious to all, wander about naked with their bald heads, pot bellies and flip flop sandals.
I have just worked out. Well 15 minutes on an exercise bike followed by light lifting and stretching might not be much, but following 10 inactive weeks of surgery and radiation, I am tired and feel good.
Conversation surrounds me. A young hoopster is mortified he farted during the game. I smile secretly, we would have tried to cut one that cleared the court, and reveled in it. I hear sports, fathers teaching sons, this is a good place.
I strip down, grab a towel wrap it around my waist, not a codger yet, and head to the showers. Turning the corner I glance at my image in the mirror when I see the scar. Four angry red inches at the base of my neck. I stop dead and gasp, it declares cancer, defective. Subtly like the body builders with their secretly narcissistic flexing I glance about the room. No one cares at all. I exhale and continue to the steam room.
Three of us sit in the room, the steam smells of camphor, like Vicks Vapor Rub, so thick that even in this small room we are faceless men never to be more than strangers. I sit, as the impurities run out my heated pores, in a sort of tribal ritual cleansing, and ponder the scar. A drop of sweat runs off my nose and drips on my forearm, escaping further from my arm to my leg, and then away free.
I shake my head and open the door and step out. Cool air embraces me like a ghostly lover and accompanies me as I head to the showers.