We’re here in April 2013 and shortly we are going to pass several notable five year anniversaries. June will mark five years from the time that we first knew I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, July the start of my treatment at BCCA and November my first pronouncement of NED (No Evidence of Disease). These are indeed important anniversaries and thinking of them puts me in mind of how cancer has changed me.
When I was presented with my cancer diagnosis there was a realization that there would be changes… changes in my physical condition (up to and including possible death), changes in my point of view, and changes in priority. I have one vivid memory of sitting in a dinghy with Cassie just before I was to begin treatment and us discussing that, when my treatment was over, whatever that result might be, that we would consider what those changes in priority might be. However, after the ordeal of treatment and all the highs and lows, I found my values largely unchanged. I discovered that I loved the life that I had built (or happened upon by lucky chance… in the case of Cassie) and just wanted more of it. However, without my realizing it, some subtle changes had occurred.
I have been an avid and passionate sailor since the age of 10. I have owned a succession of sailing dinghies in Ontario, was a regular racing crew member here in Victoria at Royal Victoria Yacht Club (RVYC) and purchased, along with Cassie, my dream sailboat Darwin’s Folly in 2005. I started a blog to describe my sailing experiences here http://darwinsfolly.wordpress.com/ but abandoned the effort more than three years ago. More on this shortly.
The day that I received my cancer diagnosis we were preparing to go to Wednesday night racing at RVYC in June 2008. My doctor called and said she had looked at my X-rays and they indicated that I had lymphoma. We did not go racing that evening and I have not been racing since. Though I have tried to get back the passion and desire for the sport since then, it all has seemed like going through the motions. We love our friends from the sport and continue to hang out with them. However, my drive to leave the dock in our boat has evaporated.
This is a change that I would not have expected… nor is it welcome. However, there it is. If I could have speculated what changes in priorities and views that would have resulted, this is the last one that I would have come up with. So, if I’m looking for a moral for this particular post, it’s that you won’t know how you are going to feel in a situation until you are actually in the situation and feeling it. And that includes remission from cancer.
(Turn and face the strain)
Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time” David Bowie
New Years Day 2013. Another year has passed by. November 2012 marked a clear lymphoma check and that makes 4 years without lumps.
Today we have started slow, drinking coffee and snoozing with the dogs. All days should be like this. Later we’ll stir ourselves and engage with the world. But for now the universe is two people in bed with a couple of lazy dogs in a warm house.
“Sometimes I do smart things. Sometimes I do dumb things. Most of the time I don’t do anything.” Gorilla Rising Hintz
Tomorrow is Tom’s 50th Birthday.
Wow, where has the time gone? I wish I could say something really profound and meaningful, but as usual, I’m sitting here with a tear in my eye.
We’ve been through so much, we’ve done so much, it feels like I’ve known him forever. And yet, nothing is all that different.
Happy Birthday, my love. You are a treasure. May we have many more happy and healthy days ahead.
I had tried to put together a huge party, but Tom didn’t want the fuss and attention. We’ll have a quiet dinner with some close friends, drink some good stuff, eat some good food, and I’m sure a guitar or two will come out. And then he can go to work on Thursday with a raging hangover. haha
“I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything till noon. That’s when it’s time for my nap.”
“I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.”
I just wanted to put in a quick post to say that all is well and not lumpy at all. Many good things are happening in our lives. We have good friends, interesting jobs, happy dogs and happy horses. I justed wanted you all to know.
“A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.” Bertrand Russell
I want to give recognition to two families who are struggling to get to remission from cancer and one for whom the struggle is sadly over.
BigDCdn has just completed a stem cell transplant. He was diagnosed with stage IIa Hodgkins and relapsed after 3 cycles of ABVD. My thoughts are with you, big guy.
SQLman was diagnosed with advanced Squamous Cell Cancer in his throat. He’s gone through a powerful course of chemo and radiation. We’ll know in a few weeks if this was enough to send the tumour into remission.
Lastly I want to acknowledge charter member Wayne who became emeritus a few weeks ago. Wayne passed away after a long battle with kidney cancer. I met Wayne and his wife Colleen through friends in summer of 2009 and I know they did follow this blog. I hope that it was some small comfort to them. My thoughts go out to Colleen for peace of mind and heart. He will be missed.
This is a club you don’t want to be a member of… though it’s OK being an alumni. Unfortunately the initiation ceremony and dues paid can be brutal.
As for me, life goes on. Remission continues as per my last checkup with Dr. Valerie in early March. I’m dealing with some lifestyle issues (eating and drinking less) which had been put on hold to fight cancer and am feeling much better for it. Work continues. Cass, the dogs and horse are as well as can be expected. Spring is here. Life is wonderful.
“I suddenly understood with great clarity that nothing in life — except death itself — was ever going to kill me. No meeting could ever go that badly. No client would ever be that angry. No business error would ever bring me as close to the brink as I had already been.”
David Davis Jr. editor of Automobile Magazine. Nov. 7, 1930 to Mar. 27, 2011.
Once more we go to BCCA for my check with Dr. Sheila…. and once more all is well. It seems like such a long time since this process started.
If I remain well this is the last time I will see Dr. Sheila. And it’s bittersweet. I’m happy to be well and to remain well, but I have really appreciated her care of me. I tell her that I know she was just doing her job… but it’s how the job was done that made a difference to me. She didn’t feed me any bullshit. She treated me with respect. That’s all I can ask. Future follow-ups will be done by my family doctor, Dr. Val. However, if anything doesn’t seem right I’ll be able to get in to see Dr. Sheila right away.
Afterward we go to Zambri’s for lunch and then come home to rest. Tonight we’ll have friends over for a few drinks and a little celebration of my remission. Life is good. Let it continue.