Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Remember I Love You

Over the weekend I completed the LiveStrong ride and event here in South Florida.   Although having a few bumps being the inaugural event, it came off splendidly. I ended up riding the short course with my wife and her good friend.  I was originally afraid to ride because these things are usually crash fests, but with most riders doing the 100k or 30 mile ride there was only a small group to do the symbolic 10.2 mile ride.  It actually made a funny picture with half a dozen police cruisers surrounding just the three of a us, blocking traffic on A1A in north Miami beach, after the group spread out and everyone else but us left the police escort behind.  I've never felt more safe on two wheels.  I can't imagine what $215,000 will buy for LiveStrong.  How many guidebooks or staff hours spent directing those diagnosed with cancer into clinical trials or helping navigate insurance options.  It's an amazing thing.

Some good news, the medical team has OK'd me to return to work on Monday.  I had my six weeks scans in Houston yesterday, and the results were neither here nor there - as expected at this juncture.  They could have been worse, they certainly could have been better.  In fact, they were good enough to keep me in the TIL clinical trial but also bad enough to consider leaving the trial and starting option B (or D, or E - I've lost track). Ah, the ambiguity of cancer treatment. I have further scans in another six weeks that will be important in determining whether the TIL treatment was successful or not, should I decide to wait.  In the meantime life seems to slowly be returning to some level of normalcy, although I'm not sure what I expect normal to be these days. I think about this a lot. I am not equal, physically, to what I was before the fight began.  There are aches and pains, some body parts don't function as well as they did and stamina is fleeting.  But does this mean I am worse off than when I began? Or is it something to be treated or accepted in kind?  Should I complain or rejoice?  I have resorted to asking myself "what would John Wayne do?"  I use this as a litmus test as to the degree of 'nutting up' that is required for any given situation.  Would John Wayne complain about aches and pains?  I think not.  Perhaps this is the new normal, or perhaps it will get better. Either way, it is what it is.

I have to admit that I am a little afraid to return to something like a normal life.  Any survivor - and anyone living with cancer is a survivor - has to question why it is that they survived. What did they survive for? I am sure that there'll come a point, perhaps at a dismal business meeting in some god forsaken town, where I will ask myself "I survived for this?"  I have given a lot of thought to this and I believe the answer will definitely be 'yes'.  We survive for everything that is life, the small things, the big things, the good and the bad.  Because the dead only know one thing, that it is better to be alive.  It is better to know anything then it is know nothing.  And to be honest, I quite fancied my life before my battle with cancer began - the good, bad, big and small.  I will gladly take the little things, the bad things, again if I could only just maintain my role as my children's father.  That alone is worth everything, and my family is the reason I fought so hard this summer.  Fittingly, our family anthem is the 70s song "Just Remember I Love You".  For some reason, my kids absolutely love that song and the lyrics have been keenly appropriate this year.  There is nothing sweeter in the world than my six-year-old singing to me "just remember I love you, and it'll be all right".  I remember, believe me I remembered during the endless hours in the hospital bed staring at the picture of her precious face knowing that I had to pull through for her.

So - since I do not have much going on for at least the next month on the cancer front - this will be my last post for a while, perhaps longer.  I'm getting back to a normal life and hopefully for good. If you haven't already, sign up for e-mail notification of any future blog updates.  I cannot even begin to thank all my readers for your support. Many I know, most I do not. However, each and every one has meant very much to me and all have had a hand in this great fight.  Unfortunately, the fight continues.  Not just for me but also for the 28 million other people affected by cancer in the world today.  October is breast cancer awareness month and, sadly, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer just a short time ago. She begins chemotherapy treatment next week in her hometown.  As if I do not have enough reasons to hate cancer - now one half of my birth family is going through cancer treatment.  Her prognosis is good though, and she is a tough old bird - but it still pisses me off. There are way to many affected by cancer in the world today, it's just unacceptable.

Let's agree that in the meantime you will continue to do your part, fighting for yourself or a loved one or just out of kindness for others.  I'll continue my fight, kicking cancer's ass in my own backyard.  Until next time.

"When it all goes crazy and the thrill is gone,
The days get rainy and the nights get long,
And you get that feeling you were born to lose
Staring at your ceiling thinking of your blues.
When there's so much trouble that you want to cry
The world has crumbled and you don't know why
When your hopes are fading and they can't be found
Dreams have left you waiting, friends have let you down.
Just remember I love you, and it will be all right.
Just remember I love you more than I can say.
Maybe then your blues will fade away."
"When the blues come calling at the break of dawn
The rain keeps falling but the rainbow's gone
When you feel like crying but the tears won't come
When your dreams are dying, when you're on the run.
Just remember I love you and it will be all right."

I do, and it certainly is.