Friday Jul 31, 2009

8 years and counting...

Another year and another milestone with my battle with cancer.  8 years cancer free.  I view it as having two birthdays: September 14th, when I came into this world and August 1st when I was given the chance to fight for 8 more years.  My life odometer is approaching 49 and it seems like yesterday that I noticed my blinking "check engine light."  I recently got my (now yearly) dose of needles, xrays and the seldom loved CT scan.  While I have had my urologist reset the engine light for another year, general health maintenance is always wise.  Not that I desire anymore needles since my second birthday, I was just treated to a cortisone injection into my left shoulder to help fight arthritis and shoulder stiffness.  The pain relief was instant but my eyes got wide with what looked like a pipe instead of a syringe.

Another year has passed and there are people who have lost the battle.  It remains difficult for me to hear of people in my local community who did not get that 2nd birthday as given to me.  Children who have lost the battle to cancer remains the most troubling for me.  While I have had the opportunity to grow into an adult, no child deserves to have their short life ended prematurely due to an illness.  Surviving over children who have lost the battle with cancer still causes me some guilt.  Knowing that I am a fighter brings some relief.  The majority of the relief comes from talking about the illness and promoting early detection via education.  Get yourself a yearly checkup no matter what is your current situation.  I'm living proof.  You are no different than an automobile when it comes to maintenance and early detection.  Continuing to drive with your check engine light on is basically denial which can prove costly for your automobile as well as yourself.

I admire Lance Armstrong for his cancer battle.  He inspired me and keeps me going with mine.  Farah Fawcett remains a remarkable woman for the documentary of her own battle with cancer that she ultimately lost.  Patrick Swayze is as courageous as anyone could be with his own battle with cancer.  With these type of people as inspirations (Randy Pausch included), I cannot stop fighting for those who have lost the battle with cancer. 

I'll keep fighting for you, one second birthday at a time...

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Friday Aug 01, 2008

7 years and counting...

Well today I hit another milestone with my battle with cancer. 7 years cancer free...  In fact my doctor informed me that I am finally on a  yearly checkup schedule.  I looked back and added up that it only took 102 procedures (surgeries, CT scans, xrays and blood tests) to get me here.  That is a lot of needles, pain and mental anguish but it was all worth it.  I continue to fight for my health and for those who were not so fortunate to keep life.  This past year, my son's basketball team had a player's Dad who lost the battle to brain cancer.  His Dad was buried on a Saturday morning and that very player was at the game Saturday afternoon.  Life goes on despite how difficult it may be to move on.  That is courage.  I also lost my Mother-in-Law this past year.  Complications of a broken hip and Parkinson's disease...  My wife turned to me in the car after the funeral and said "Life goes on."  That was courage despite being devastated by the loss of her Mom.  I find myself very fortunate to have beaten the odds and feel obligated to keep fighting for those who cannot.  Randy Pausch demonstrated courage and the fight in exemplary fashion.   Positive attitude is a powerful force if you need to do battle.  Taking on the fight one day at a time is the only way to deal with what appeared 7 years ago to be an unsurmountable obstacle.  Experiencing Morphine and Oxycodone was a disappointment.  The 36 CT scans all sucked because I had to have them with active contrast.  One has to drink 2 tall cannisters (see picture) worth of this ill tasting barium sulphate suspension.  It is hard to drink and you get to drink and extra cup of this slime right before the procedure. It is an important test because the contrast lights you up like a lamp on the CT scan with the iodine based IV they inject into your arm during the procedure.  The solution makes you taste metal in your mouth and feel queasy in your abdomen.  I can tell you I was scared 7 years ago.  So much so that I had to keep moving.  Staying still felt like death to me so I moved despite the pain.  I also needed a physical challenge.  I was instructed to be out of work for 1 week after my 1st surgery.  I went to work the day of the surgery, left in the morning, checked into the hospital, had the surgery and then went back to work the next day.  I had to because it was a challenge and I was moving.  1 week later I was back running my usual roadwork regiment despite still having stainless steel staples in me.  I tried to take them out because they were so uncomfortable but that is a story for another day.  So the thing for me was to keep moving and mentally distract myself from the long road going 60 months cancer free with no hotspots.  I don't know how I did it but I managed to miss 0 days of work for all of the procedures these past years.  If you take one thing away from reading this: get yourself checked regularly because cancer \*is\* curable.  I wouldn't be writing right now if it wasn't true.  Remember 7 years ago I was a dead man walking with a sentence but decided I was going to fight with all my might.  Others have done so as well.

Monday Apr 07, 2008

Randy Pausch Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Here is a clip from his last lecture.  Gut wrenching but at the same time some worthy advice.  Make it count...  I certainly do and can relate to him.  ABC News will be showing a program this Wed April 9th, 2008 @ 10pm/9 CST.  Here's to Randy.

Wednesday Aug 01, 2007

August 1st 2001 - August 1st 2007 -- 6 years and counting...

Today I hit the 6 year mark of battling cancer.  I'm still here on this earth and feel very fortunate.  For those of you who find yourself in a similar battle keep up the fight!  If you know of someone who is battling this disease, support them the best way that you can.

Six years ago today I was handed a very significant challenge to beat.  Nothing is more sobering than having your health instantly taken away from you with a severe diagnosis.  I want to beat the odds and be part of a company that can demonstrate this as well. On this anniversary day I don't want to talk about my battle, but rather remember 2 people. A neighbor and friend, who fought bravely, but both did not reach a 5 year cancer free anniversary.  First there was Joseph.  A young boy who did not see double digits of age here on earth.  He had the courage and drive of a young lion.  During his short life he managed to pack a full agenda of activity into his precious day, even when he was sick from his therapy and surgeries.  His battle was fought over a period of a few years.  At the later stages of his battle he knew he was going to die and was at peace with what was about to happen.  Joseph died but deserved better.  I can still see the image of a boy who is my hero.  He was a brave heart.

Sharlene was the wife of a childhood friend.  I have known this friend since we were both in kindergarten.  Sharlene had three children ages 4, 3 and 1 when she died of cancer.  She was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma, which is one of the deadliest forms of cancer when discovered too late.  I cannot forget the time I had to provide my friend an honest opinion on a last chance effort she was desperate to pursue.  Talk about integrity and character of cheating people...  The so called cancer cure claimed to be able to cure up to 90% of the cancer in a patient.  The treatment was not medicinal but rather a vitamin and herb regiment.  It was extremely difficult but my childhood friend asked me to be honest with him.  I remember the words I said.  "Mike any treatment has to cure 100% of the cancer in order for it to be a cure."  He thanked me but knew that his family was grasping at any sense of hope.  Sharlene died and deserved better.  I asked Mike how does he cope?  He told me he straps on a suit of armor before getting out of bed every day. He then takes it off at night and falls apart only to be ready for the next day by suiting on the armor the next morning.  He is also a firefighter so maybe he was prepared for trauma through his occupation.

Talk about integrity and courage.  We can all do better.  I'll keep fighting for Sharlene and Joseph...


The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.


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