The first thing I want to tell you is that I am well, very well. I had a CT Scan about a month ago and a visit to my surgeon about three weeks ago who pronounced me, to the best degree of assurance that medical science could offer,free of cancer. My experience with cancer was so easy compared to the experiences of others who have had cancer I do not consider myself a cancer survivor. Now I have to explain to you why I have left you without word since May 10th, my last blog post.
When I began this blog on February 18th I had just had a preliminary diagnosis of lung cancer. I went home from the hospital, clicked on lung cancer on the internet, and discovered that the survival rate for the average lung cancer diagnosis was six months. At that point I had no idea of where my life was headed or even if I had a life to live. So I decided to share whatever was to come as widely as I could, thence the blog. I told you that I was taking this as another lesson in my life long learning assignment and asked you to come along with me to see what this lesson contained and to share it with me. I also asked, if you were so inclined, to pray for me or to think positive thoughts about me if that was something that you found preferable. I invited you to bring others if you thought that they might be interested. A lot of you came and an astounding number prayed or contributed positive energy. Over five hundred people viewed my profile. I have no idea how many viewed the blog text but I believe that it was many more. I got a lot of e-mails from family, people that were close friends, business associates and many form people that I didn’t know at all who were interested in following my lesson and helping to make the experience a positive one. I believe that I had several thousand people praying for me because many who wrote me told me that I was included in their church’s prayer list and there were a lot of churches mentioned. I have always considered myself to be a very lucky person but this outpouring of concern over my comfort and welfare made me realize just how magically lucky I really am.
It’s a long way from May 10th to December 10th and since this is the first blog entry in that long period of time it poses the question, why did I not post more frequently after promising to bring you along on my journey? The simple answer is that the process slowed to a point that it didn’t present much, of what I felt to be, very interesting content. The warning, diagnosis, operation, post op, etc were well defined, dramatic events which were easy to write about in clear descriptions. The longer process of getting totally back to normal was a much slower, less well defined process that had a lot less drama and to my mind, interest, to those not experiencing it. So a brief chronology of what happened between the last post and this one below.
During the remainder of May I spent my time in an experiment with drugs trying to achieve a balance between some degree of comfort allowing sleep and ability to move my bowels. Pain was not a major problem, I could handle it, except when it came to the ability to sleep for more than an hour or less at a time. The lack of sleep was a discomfort but the inability to have normal bowel function was even more discomforting, so a lot of things were tried before I found, what I thought was, a solution. After several weeks of trying a number of pain and sleep aids as well as laxatives of various kinds my daughter, Kristen, gave me a an Ambian CR pill. This drug is a hypnotic, not a narcotic, so works differently on the body. I took it and found that it numbed my left side to a point that allowed me to sleep and had sleeping medication properties as well. I had minimal hangover in the morning and felt a lot better during the day. Happily it didn’t interfere with my bowels. I called my surgeon and asked him to write a prescription for me which he did, telling me to be a little careful because he had heard some strange stories about it’s effects on other people using the drug. For the first week one 6mg dose let me sleep comfortably nearly all night every night and didn’t interfere with my bowel movements. Then it stopped working. So I took two of the capsules a dose of 12mg which was also available in the form of one dose so I reasoned that that it was alright to do. That worked for a little over a week and then, it too, started to fail. I went back to not sleeping so after a few days I took two of the 12mg pills and slept very well again. After a few days I began to get very weak and winded just going up a flight to stairs, I got dizzy spells when I rose from a sitting position and finally I began to have some very strange thoughts. One morning, after waking and checking my blog, I found an anonymous comment that said -
“Everything happens for a reason and as such I see that you have much still to do. Your job is not done here; though you may not even truly know what it is. The pain reminds you of what was; now until it subsides focus on the grand adventures you have yet to experience. What do you want to do with the gift you have been given?”
In my altered mental state I took this as a message directly from God and panicked. I called several close friends and they were caring and sensible enough to suggest that it was a conventional, supportive, post to my blog and not God speaking to me and to suggest that I might take a hard look at whatever drug I was taking. The fatigue and dizziness was worse as well so I called my surgeon again who had me readmitted to the hospital and got me off the drug. In a day I was back to normal. At that point I decided that pain and sleep in drugs were not for me and stopped taking them.
So one of the lessons I’d like to pass along is be careful with self medication; in fact be very careful with medication even if it is prescribed for you. I wonder how many people die needlessly trying to balance, with or without the help of the medical community, one resultant problem of their illness against the medications prescibed?
By Memorial Day I went to my first social event. The engagement announcement of a mid life couple of friends of ours. It was wonderful and inspiring to see these two friends, in their fifties, find love and happiness together.
In early June I was able to drive my car and began to visit the office for short periods. I had been working several hours a day from home on my computer.
By the forth of July I was back on my bike riding around the neighborhood and have ridden over three hundred miles since that time.
By August I began to make longer trips by car and visited my family in Rhode Island.
In early September I was able to make a long auto trip to Ithaca, NY to visit a potential customer, Cornell University.
In late September I made a week’s trip to Quebec City with Joan and our friends Elizabeth Winship and Mary Larson. I had a great time with these three charming ladies.
Since then I have been full time at work and very busy.
Now to lessons –
I was shown that every day is a good day to feel alive and to do whatever needs to be done to give meaning and joy to being on this earth. I believe that this consists of minding the lessons I was shown below.
I was shown how much my wife and children loved me.
I was shown that I have more, a lot more, friends and people who love me than I ever could have imagined.
I was shown that there are people who are willing to love you and pray for your benefit even if they have never met you.
I was shown that there is something that intervenes on your behalf to help you along the way in your learning and life’s mission.
I was shown that there seems to be a plan and you are presented with lessons to be learned. I have been aware of this for some time but the experience with cancer made me far more certain.
I was shown that life is truly worthwhile, fulfilling and that in this life my mission is to be useful and to learn everything that I can from my experiences during my time here.
was made to realize that I am an extremely blessed person because I have been privileged to have been shown that all of the above is true.
Additionally it was confirmed to me that something that I learned as a nineteen years old Marine is true; death is one of the two universal experiences in life. Everyone gets born and everyone dies. Death is not to be feared. Death should be regarded as a wonderful entry into the next phase of your existence in the universe. Passing from this life is not a sad event unless you have ignored the ways that you should live in order to fulfill your perceived mission and not acquired or acknowledged the knowledge contained in the lessons presented to you.
I don’t know what will come next but I do know that I believe I am ready for it whatever comes my way. When and if the next major instructive event takes place I’ll ask you to come along again and I hope that you will find it in yourself to be as supportive and loving as you were in this phase. I hope you will find in your lives a path to follow that will be as instructive and joyful as I have.
All my love to all of you.