Posts Tagged With: breast cancer

Grenade… How quaint

You know, I just saw a quick cut of a movie called “The Faults in Our Stars” about a young girl with cancer and her life story. (I have avoided it like the plague as I don’t need any more emotional roller coaster rides from hell than I already have, thank-you-very-much)

She explains to someone that she is a “grenade”, and that, my friends is a pretty good descriptor. What she missed is, that she is a faulty grenade, as the pin is pulled the the timer?

Hand-Grenade-Pin-Out-848915
has a mind of its own

Anyone who has had the word “cancer” and their name used in the same sentence understands exactly what I mean. When someone does that to you, suddenly you become a grenade. A faulty one. You may go off, you may not. The pin may get reset, or you may stand there for years, staring at that fucking pin and that damn grenade and wonder, “Exactly when are you going to explode”?

Then the clock starts. You don’t know how much time you  have. Nor does anyone else. But a lot of them step away from you pretty quick or hide behind life avoiding the blast if they can. At least limit the damage they will experience. Tick tick tick.. fucking life’s clock just keeps on going. In the meantime? You stand there staring at the pin trying to figure out exactly why it got pulled and whether or not you can put it back in.

Then the circus begins.. A true three ringed circus, clowns and all. The doctors that are looking at another grenade, working to slow the timer. Nurses poking and jabbing, they too, doing what they know how to do to slow the tick tick tick of that fucking grenade. Then you begin to wonder, what can I do? what can my spouse do? what can anyone do? and in the background of life you hear that god damned timer still ticking.

You research, study, learn things about health and life that you really wish you hadn’t. and not sure exactly what to believe as half the shit on the internet is someone trying to make a dime, and statistics are made up 73% of the time on the spot. The deeper you dig the more confusing it gets. You hope for something, anything to help silence that ticking sound that is scratching at your brain like a splinter in your hand that you can’t get out. It is maddening. And still you hold that fucking grenade and pin…

Hand-Grenade-Pin-Out-848915

 

Slowly, if you are that lucky, you realize a couple of things. While you are driving yourself mad trying to stop  that fucking ticking sound, you can forget the single most important thing that you should be doing…

Living

Each tick is a moment wasted if you aren’t doing what you truly love. Each tick is something you cannot get back. Time is a commodity that you cannot trade or earn, you get what you get. So for those of you out there reading this? If you think cancer patients are the only folks holding a grenade in their hand waiting for that horrific moment that it decides to go off?

They aren’t the only ones.. You might want to look in your hands and see that each of us have pulled that pin, and time, for all of us is winding down. Cancer patients may have a shorter run of it, they may not. After you read this, you might want to re-examine where you are and what you are doing. If you aren’t doing what you love to do and who you love to do it with?

You might wanna change that before that fricking grenade in your hands goes off.

crater

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Sleepless in Anchorage

Last night Lynda and I decided to have a snuggle night and with my tv (she won’t claim to own one) we decided on “Sleepless in Seattle”. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.. Innocent enough, and Lynda mentioned she had never seen it.

For those of you that have not seen it, the story is about loss and renewal. The story is of a husband who loses his soul mate to some undefined disease. The opening scene is from a graveside service with the boy and the dad standing at the grave site and his dad is trying to explain to his son that there didn’t seem to be any specific reason for his wife dying, that it was simply life being random in its selection of those it takes. and even more so: “If we start asking why, we’ll go crazy”.. I quit asking why her very, very quickly. Anger is an emotion that can spin out of control.

While Lynda and I lie on the couch, the year 2001 came roaring back in vivid color. My emotions, while under some sense of control, was given the reminder of what it means to lose a soul-mate. Something, even as I write can cause my eyes to leak. The movie went on that since his loss, “Sam” the person that Tom Hanks plays, cannot sleep. I remember that well. At the very best,  I could catch 1/2 hour cat naps once or twice during the day. And for those that know my penchant for sleeping at the drop of a hat, that is a big statement.

At that point in time, as far as I was concerned, my married days were over.  Sure, I would date, but the idea of finding another soul mate in this life time was zero. I had my time in the sunshine, Connie was my girl and she was gone, much like Sam’s in the movie. Eventually I became functional, but the words that Tom Hanks uttered hit home harder than I expected.. he was quoting me… “Wake up, take a breath, remember to breathe out, take another step”.. repeat. and remember to breathe in.. and take another step.

It was if “Sam” and I had walked in the same shoes down the same dark trail. Scary indeed. Lynda checked in with me a couple of times, but I was determined to watch the movie through. I can remember doing much like the character, lying on a couch talking to Connie as if she were standing right there. that was my new normal.

At some point in the movie there was a part where Sam was about to get mixed up with the wrong person, and his son fixed it for him. I can remember coming dangerously close to the same thing. Someone I was dating was looking for much more than I was willing to give. But in the end that ended well.

As the movie progressed it told of “fate”. of “knowing” when you have met someone that you have no doubt you will love for the rest of your life. That you have “found home” even knowing you had never seen it before, that this was where you were meant to be.

To quote Sam: “I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home… only to no home I’d ever known… I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like… magic”

When Lynda and I reconnected, I was nervous.. scared. Worried that again, I was making a mistake in reaching out to someone, but the funny part? I knew it deep in my bones that Lynda was the only one on the planet that had a chance of pulling me out of the world I had grown into.

When we met at the airport, that world began to melt away, the darkness, the loss, the hurt suddenly began to dissipate, evaporate. The passion was there, but there was something else. Like with Connie, when I heard her laugh at that restaraunt, I knew something was about to happen, and when I laid eyes on her, I knew.. I knew in my heart, that she was going to be my wife.

Lynda and I left airport terminal and went out to my truck. We hopped in and I started the engine. I reached over and took Lynda’s hand and the world stopped. I mean it stopped cold. That touch, that hand hold, took both our breaths away. At that point, I realized two things.

One.

I had judged every hand I had ever held based on that very same hand that I held from my high school days. With no doubt, every girl I dated, every female I had ever held hands with, that hand, Lynda’s hand, was what I judged every woman on, for better or worse. It was one of the most wonderful epiphanies I have ever had

Two

I had just become the luckiest guy in the universe. I had found what I deemed impossible, a second soul mate. I mean that. When you meet someone, that one person, you know it. There is, and was, no doubt, that Lynda and I would spend the rest of our days together, however long those days would be.  I describe it as the world suddenly “clicking” into place and the hands of fate had come full circle.

The movie helped me to remember that sometimes, when you lose something special, that in that moment, the universe is by far the most cruel thing there is. And in the next moment, when you find yourself staring at a magical place in time, that you use that memory to reach out instead of hide.. take that leap of faith and see what may be.

There is magic in this world, just remember to keep your eyes open to it. Sometimes it is something as easy as an email to someone you haven’t seen in 22 years.

May your new year be just that, a new year, full of excitement, adventure, fun, and love. Keep those that you care about close to you, never let them doubt how you feel, and live with a sense of urgency… Live the life that you dream of, and keep your eyes open.. The universe is stranger than fiction.

 

 

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Warrior.. A person defined

I have seen that word used a million different ways. I spent six years of my life being one of those crazy bastards otherwise known as the US Marines. Always thought that would be the toughest training of my life. I find it amazing in how something can simply be a stepping stone to challenges that are above and beyond what you thought was hard.

My wife and I trained for a marathon. 26.2 miles of running… Up until the day of the marathon, we had only run 18 miles max. But we figured if we could get that far we could do 26.2. So on the marathon course, about mile 21 Lynda was getting ready to pull it over and call it good. Then her brother “stepped out” of the crowd to help her along.

Elvis in the bldg

David is in a wheelchair, he has no movement below his shoulders. He is a quadriplegic due to a three wheeler accident. That lifted Lynda up and inspired her to finish the entire marathon, having him wheel beside us for a mile or so. Inspired me as well. When we finished, Lynda was proud, but told me she would NEVER run that far again, she had never in her life ever put herself through that much pain. A stepping stone that we were unaware of.

Teaching at San Diego State

Teaching at San Diego State

I had watched my first wife, Connie, die from pancreatic cancer, in one hundred and sixty three days from diagnosis to death, I watched the woman I love go from a vibrant woman to a whisper. If you have ever had to live through that particular nightmare, it is the cruelest, meanest thing that life can hand you, but also the time in your life when you realize that you had better put all you have into your time left. Make it worth the show.

In 2008 a spot showed up on Lynda’s shoulder. and we freaked. We went to Arizona to try a naturopath there that had some pretty good results with cancer that had spread. Lynda’s brother just happened to have bought a small condo there in the same area. He fixed it up beautifully and she stayed there while I worked in California for 4 days then drove back and forth to Arizona. Somewhere in the process Lynda was infused with a bag of sterile water. The medicine didn’t make it into the bag, and so she got a bag of sterile water. Guess what that does?

It causes acute hemolytic anemia. She couldn’t take 3 steps without almost falling down. They infused here with 6 pints of blood to get her back. I damn near lost her that day. At the time, none of the physicians had any idea what had happened. They suspected that the cancer had somehow gone wild and got into her bones. They did a bone marrow check and nope, she was fine. It wasn’t until years later when we were discussing what had happened with my doctor that he went “Hey! yeah, sterile water, the doctor didn’t infuse the bag with meds”.

Remember that stepping stone? If Lynda had not been in such phenomenal shape, chances are she wouldn’t have made it. In the meantime, I get to be the watchful guardian, and I missed that. I realize that is nothing I normally would have seen, but now? Paranoia runs supreme in my household… I check everything, but fortunately I haven’t had to since then.

Dealing with cancer, regardless of how you treat it, naturopathically or standard western medicine, you need to understand from the moment that they use the word “cancer” and your name in the same sentence, your life as you know it is over. Every tweak, every twinge, every little “wtf”, is scary. It is a lot like going through combat. I have a friend, Michael Palfrey, who did some time in Iraq going from house to house… He commented that he hated TV with a passion, movies too. Cause right before someone gets killed you hear the music change or go up in volume then “BANG” someone dies. He said in reality? The guy’s head just explodes and he drops. No music, no nothing, he is just gone.

With cancer? you never know what is around the next corner, you are always on alert, always in some form of “combat mode”, blood tests, markers, urine tests, PET scans, MRI’s always probing for the enemy… and that changes who you are and how you present yourself to the world. It is a lifetime of tap dancing through landmines, just waiting for one to go off. I have watched Lynda over the years. She has gone from a confident woman to a confident warrior in the truest meaning of the word. She changed her lifestyle, her diet, and has researched everything from nutrition to supplements to medicine. She has fought hard for every day she has with me. And while I may be a squad leader, the real fighter is Lynda. I am just support.

For all you nurses, doctors, friends and family that have supported us? Especially Dr. James Sinclair of Pacific Oncology, you and your staff just ROCK.

Thank you, the fight has been a good one and continues on.. This gal here: “Warriors” was another inspiration, in fact, this gal inspired this post via a Facebook post that made me remember just what a warrior my own wife is.

Me and my wife

Me and my wife

Honey, I got yer back for the next 40 years.

 

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A truly different post

This may bother my wife, but I am sure that she will forgive me at some point.

Not many people were aware of Lynda’s diagnosis back in 2010. Lynda had been diagnosed with what the oncologist called a metastasis of her breast cancer to her shoulder. That meant that the cancer that had originally been in her breast, was now in her shoulder, in her bone. It had been there for over a year, but Lynda had refused a biopsy, but eventually the radiologists agreed that what we were looking at was stage IV breast cancer.

We freaked. I researched all the doctors and treatments in the US and overseas that had a possibility of a cure. and if you follow western medicine, that is not possible. According to western medicine, a stage IV diagnosis is terminal they can only buy you time at best. For those of you that don’t know, I lost my first wife, Connie, to pancreatic cancer that too, was stage IV. I was horrified, not for me, but for Lynda. Her light is just too damn bright to be extinguished this early in life, and I was determined to find an answer. At any cost.

This is when we determined that a doctor in Arizona was our best chance for a cure. He had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer, which was VERY aggressive, and had managed to get himself treated naturopathically, and had succeeded in surviving. He then went to school to become an NMD, and is now treating cancer patients in Arizona.

We left for Arizona, with our life savings in hand. Almost ninety thousand dollars. Insurance doesn’t cover this kind of treatment, so it is all out of pocket. And to this day, I will tell you the same thing I said then, “I will spend every penny I have to keep her with me”. Money, stuff, means nothing without my girl by my side, that lesson I have learned and learned well.

Lynda proceeded with treatments, and let me tell you, just because they say “naturopathically or holistically” does NOT mean less painfully. Lynda endured some treatments that were very painful. I am not sure I could have done them and I have a high pain tolerance. But she endured.

I worked in San Diego, and my boss let me work 4 day work weeks which meant I could travel back and forth to Arizona until the treatments were over. I was a basket case, as long as I was not around Lynda. Around her? I sucked it up and provided the best support I could muster. She could NOT see me in any other way except fully supportive and positive. Nothing else was acceptable.

I was getting ready to leave Arizona on my way back to San Diego. I was terrified. I was hoping for the best, and expecting the worst. I had so many flash backs of being with Connie in the hospital watching her fade a little more every day until she was gone. It was beyond words. My gut was churning, I couldn’t stay focused on a single damn thing except that I was now going to lose Lynda.. and Goddamn it, hadn’t he taken enough already? I was livid at my version of god and the universe..

He had already done this once, wasn’t that enough? I even tried making a deal, take me, load me up and clear her, and I would be good with that. Tried that with Connie, and god didn’t take the deal. She died and I was left behind. Then Lynda came into my life again, and suddenly life was worth living again, and we lived full-tilt-boogie. Now? Now it was getting down to the nitty gritty. and it looked like he wasn’t going to take me up on the offer again. sonofa…. you could see where my mind was going.. all over the place.

I was at a gas station, counting the money I was spending, trying to figure out how we could squeeze out a few more bucks out to pay for a couple more treatments, and buy more time or even a cure. I turned to my left and one of the largest black men I had ever seen in my life was standing in front of me. This guys arms were as big as my legs, and when I say big, I mean muscular no fat, just muscle. His hair was longish, with dreadlocks included. He was incredibly stocky, large enough to tackle a horse and win. My first thought was “shit, I am about to get mugged”. But in the pico second that I thought that, I actually looked at the man. I mean really looked at him. He was clean, long hair, well dressed, but what got me, was his aura.

I believe that angels walk among us, even though I am not a Christian, I do believe in a higher power, and the emissary’s of that higher power, in whatever form they choose to manifest themselves. That may make me crazy or at least a couple cans short a six pack, but I do believe that the world is stranger than we can possibly imagine. and this guy seemed to be living proof of that insanity. He positively glowed in a light I will never be able to explain.

The man began to talk, and to my surprise, he spoke eloquently, and he had a gleam in his eye that was from what I would say is his spirit, his karma. I tried to shake this image loose from my brain but to no avail, his light was that pervasive. He explained that he was down on his luck, but not in those words. Instead, he spoke of a life that had simply had some unforeseen turns that put him in  a place of need. He had been successful, but due to the economy’s twists and turns, he was on the path he was on. And could I, would I, be willing to lend him a hand?

At that moment, the world stood completely still. I mean still. No traffic noise, no airplane noise, no voices in the background. It was as if the universe was holding its breath, and how I was going to treat this man would have an impact that I would never begin to fathom. Normally? I would brush this kind of guy off, with the normal, “Nah, no extra change or bucks” and push on past him. I have done it more times that I can count. Once in awhile I will toss in a buck, but never much, and seldom give it thought. After all, most of these bums are using the money for booze or drugs, right?

This guy? I think that if I sat there long enough, I would have seen a visible light, or a halo around his head, indeed, I may have. It was not the normal “gimme” crap, this was the universe determining, no, demanding, that based on how I treated this one man, the universe would treat me. Karma was knocking and I was about to answer the door. There was an eternity in that split second of making my choice. One that for the rest of my life, I will never forget.

I looked at him and said, “Please, wait here”. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I needed every penny to try to save my wife’s life. But somehow, this guy was a test, a litmus test to determine what kind of person I really was and how I was willing to treat my fellow man.  My account had a hundred in it. I pulled sixty and went back, and handed it to him.

The response?

Beyond words. The aura that this black man put out expanded, it actually made me squint as I talked to him, and it felt as if the gears of the world suddenly spun into place, and put my life into exactly where it needed to be. It felt as though suddenly, everything that was going wrong, was now going right. My fears? my nightmares? Suddenly vanished. And as this man walked away, he looked back and smiled. It was as if the angel “Michael” himself was suddenly smiling at me and telling me that everything, and I do mean everything, is going to be all right.

Now, am I crazy? probably. More than likely. The guy was probably just a shyster, just a druggie with a habit, a drunk with a problem. But you know what?

Almost five years later, and my wife is the picture of health. And we truly are living the dreams of a lifetime. And that angel that I met?

I think he is still smiling at us, I know I certainly am smiling at him. and I am moved by a verse from a book I have read in passing many, many years ago, but I take what I find appropriate for the moment, regardless of where it comes from, and remember this verse, if nothing else, the next time you meet someone truly in need:

The Holy Bible:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Namaste

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

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