Saturday, October 11, 2014

The start of a different journey!

I suspect that it is impossible to hear a cancer diagnosis and not experience some degree of anxiety. A mixture of anxiety and depression inevitably accompany at least these early days of cancer, and may intensify at critical junctures along the way. The most difficult moment so far is the diagnosis, the start of active treatment, losing one's hair, the completion of active treatment, and, if relevant, the period around a recurrence and any later progression are all things I will experience but the diagnosis was the hard part.
On October 8, 2014 I found out definitively that I had Renal Cell Carcinoma with complications. The tumour is the size of a walnut in the mid-section of my left kidney combined with a 7cm kidney stone in the same kidney; just to top it off. Now, add in cysts on my right kidney, or so they think and Ya me I have cancer with complications. Mom always said; “go big, or stay home” just not sure she meant this.

So what does it all mean…well it means perspective! It means changes. Oh did I forget to tell you Morgan was let go from her job on the same day. The same job she was passionate about and worked alongside me for 2.5 years. Why? Well, if I knew I would tell you and honestly I will have to get back to you on.

One of the most unforeseen benefits of living with cancer is the intimacy it creates with individuals we barely know. Affections spring up with surprising force.

About a succession of complaints, Virginia Woolf believed that “the best of these illnesses is that they loosen the earth about the roots. They make changes. People express their affections.” I considered Woolf’s words when we were coming out of the Polar Vortex, much of which I spent hibernating,

More people have come out to wish me luck, to let me know I can do. Ya for Facebook! Don’t take me wrong at all it is wonderful to see and the support is more than welcomed. What it did for me is one thing….I started to think about my funeral.

No the cancer is not that bad (knock on wood) but hey it is natural to think about this when you start out on this journey of living with cancer. My wife and I spoke about what I want and what she wanted. It was a GREAT conversation not weird at all. Then I started reading and learned of something new…A living funeral. You heard me; a living funeral; look it up if you don’t believe me. I read and the more I read the more I wanted it. I mean honestly; what is a funeral for, THE LIVING! I would be dead and what I am going to care what happens. Not like I am going to get up and say; hey I object. It is for the living!

So then I thought about Facebook and how all these people support me and would it not be nice to see these people one last time before you died. To say thank you (or something) before it was to late and they or you couldn’t do it. Think about it….you died and everyone come out of the wood work. Why not come out before you die?

So amid Thanksgiving festivities, stop and think what you want to say to the living. Take the opportunity to do it know. Don’t sit in shock to receive a message.
Don’t wait for the call “He’s no longer with us,” as one holds back tears.

Will the word “irreplaceable” hang in the bruised air, while grief lingers for what we should have done.
I recall a famous epitaph:

Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now so once was I.
As I am now, so you must be.
Prepare yourself to follow me.

When I imagine hearing these words, they sound less like an ominous injunction, and more like a cordial invitation to contemplate the (inconceivable yet inevitable) moment when I will cease to be. So I say the words once stated in a song I love…”Parting Glass”. (which will be play at my funeral) and let the word truly relate to who I am!

 Of all the money that e'er I had
I spent it in good company
And all the harm I've ever done
Alas it was to none but me
And all I've done for want of wit
To mem'ry now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be to you all

So fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befalls
And gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

Of all the comrades that e'er I had
They're sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e'er I had
They'd wish me one more day to stay
But since it fell unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

Fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befalls
And gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

But since it fell unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Just a thought.....

At 44, I’ve had my challenges in life, but with a mix of hard work, the support of others and luck, I’ve been privileged to have accomplished a bit, from fatherhood to a pretty cool career. Nevertheless, someone asked me what my ultimate dream is from here? My answer could have been related to a next career challenge or maybe a materialistic goal like a lake house. However, none of that’s the case – its all too easy, too meaningless in ways. My answer from the depths of my heart was, “I just want to be me.”

Assuming that we’re healthy, productive, loving individuals, isn’t that our ultimate dream: to not only be free within to be ourselves, but to be truly embraced for who we are by others? How many of us have felt at times that for any number of reasons – a work environment, a relationship, family expectations – we couldn’t just be ourselves? Maybe it’s a seemingly huge issue like if your family knew you were gay, they’d disown you. Or maybe it’s a seemingly small issue like someone correcting your grammar. Or, somewhere in the middle, where your love interest wants to change something about you. All of these and countless other examples prevent you from being you, and it’s painful and it’s isolating – and I’ve been there.

I had a cute conversation with a buddy of mine. He shared with me that if he could find a woman who loved comic books as much as he does, she would be his soul mate. See, he’s had girlfriends in the past who’ve ridiculed him for collecting comics, so finding a woman who loves comics would be a dream come true. Yet, that’s not truly what he needs, is it? He doesn’t need a woman who loves comics; rather, he simply needs a woman who loves him for him, comics and all. It’s what we all want and deserve: to be loved as-is.

And, that is an epic battle of the heart for many of us, where we just want to be rightfully loved as-is, where we’re perfectly imperfect and nothing about us needs to change to fit in or be loved. We just need to be us and be loved on that merit alone.

Unfortunately, others may not get that concept and so it’s up to us to set the standard and set the boundaries. I genuinely love people, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a great conversation. I don’t care who you are, what you look like, or how you live. Assuming you’re doing right by others, I don’t want to change anything about you. I just want to know the real you.

It’s this way of embracing others that I more and more expect in my own life. Regardless of the situation, I’m just going to be me as authentically as possible. I don’t need to prove anything or be anything – I just need to be me. And, when I’m not good enough for someone or criticized for just being me, I’ve developed the strength to put the onus back where it belongs – on the person doing the pointing.

I am me, you are you, and for anyone who wants to see flaws in us or seek to change us, well, we need to hand him or her a mirror and go about being just who we are: perfectly imperfect, as-is.

Life is always going to throw us a curve, something we never expect. Each day for me right now is some I hold to heart. I am starting to let go of the bullshit and live for what I have been given. I guess cancer will do that for you. Regardless of how much time we all have, or who we get to spend it with remember one thing.

Fuck it if they can’t take it, hold on to what you are and the rest will figure itself out.

 Watch the link below; it just may change the way you think!