Oct 21

12 Year Anniversary With Cancer

10-20-2013 – Another month since the last Karmanos visit, and another year with cancer.

Every year in October, I’m reminded that it was nearing Halloween when I got so deathly ill and found out I have cancer.  It’s always struck me as an interesting coincidence that this time of the year, with the ghouls and goblins and the specter of the grim reaper in the air, is when it would happen, and become the time of the year that I confront it, and then go on to celebrate that I’ve lived to tell the tale.

I honestly didn’t expect to see Christmas that year, and few others who saw me at that time expected it either.  I was in stage 4, and there is no stage 5.  But here we are, 12 years later, and like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going, and going, and going…

I attribute the success to modern science and medicine, which finds new discoveries every day that improve my chances to live that much longer.  All you need to do is pay a little attention to the science and medicine sections of the news, and you can’t help but see the discoveries being made in the fight against all kinds of cancers.

Yes, I’ve had a good attitude throughout, and perhaps that helps, but really, without the chemo, the stem cell transplant, the ongoing care from doctors, nurses and family, my good attitude wouldn’t have gotten me very far, I don’t think.  And a fair amount of luck, too.  Far too many with the same cancer I have don’t make it near as long as I have, and my limited research reveals no pattern to determine why.  It seems to be the luck of the draw, more than anything else.

So, I’m celebrating my 12 year anniversary as a survivor.  I’m grateful I’ve had these 12 years to see my daughter grow from a 14 year old girl into a fantastic, responsible and loving adult.  I’m glad I’ve had these years to spend with her as that happened.  I’m so glad I lived long enough to meet the two grandchildren she’s given birth to, and to play with them and hold them and love them.

I’m glad for the adventures I continued to have in that time also.  Since being diagnosed in October of 2001, I’ve visited, lived, worked and played in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Kansas City, Washington DC, Atlanta, Louisiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and several more places across America.  I even got to go to the island nation of Curacao, off the coast of South America.

Along the way, I hit every tourist and non-tourist spot in or near every one of them, shooting 10’s of thousands of photos to remember them by.  The Space Needle, Hollywood, Yosemite, Sedona, Montezuma Castle, The Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, The Giant Redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants, the entire West Coastline along Highway 1 from Seattle to L.A., the Superstition Mountains, deep sea fishing in the Pacific, Apache Trail, Napa Valley, the St. Louis Arch, the Sears Tower, deserts, mountains, oceans, rivers, lakes, forests, caves, cliffs, waterfalls, dams, lighthouses, cities, towns and villages – far, far, FAR too many places to name.  That too has been one of my lifelong passions; To travel and see and discover and experience all that I can.  I’m so glad I got another 12 years of it, so far.

I’ve spent those 12 years learning so many new things too, especially learning how to craft my photography, one of my lifelong passions, and it continues today.  That’s been an exciting and personally rewarding journey for me, adding yet more joy to my life.  I’ve learned a LOT about the medical side of my cancer too; More than I ever thought I would.  My curiosity knows no bounds in any subject that grabs my interest, and this one certainly has.

So, here’s to the past 12 years, and the 12 to come:

12I had another monthly visit to Karmanos for my ongoing clinical trials with Ibrutinib last Monday.  It went pretty much like the others, but much faster, which was great.  There were no traffic snarls this time and the folks at Karmanos had us in and out in record time.  So fast, in fact, that we made it back home before dark even.  While I was there, I got my flu shot, and had no ill effects in the days since.

Dinner was at a Rally Burger along the way, which was just great.  I SO love their fries.  It’s one of the restaurants I really wish would come to Petoskey.

Casey and family moved out of my place and into their own apartment upstairs from me, and I’ve been going through a LOT of boxes of stuff I’ve been dragging around for untold numbers of years, vowing the whole time that, “one of these days I’ll take the time to sort through this junk.”  Well, that time has finally arrived, and I’ve been doing a couple to a few boxes every day or two (or three).  There’s a LOT of old paperwork; Work stuff, bills, receipts, manuals, and more that just have absolutely no use to me anymore.  So, every couple days I have a bonfire out in the fire pit and get rid of a bunch more of it.  Non-burnable junk goes into the recycle bins that end up in the recycle dumpsters up the road at the Fire Station, and the keeper stuff goes into boxes and into the spare bedroom for the moment.  Once I get through this initial sorting process, I’ll go through the keeper stuff and either sell it on Ebay or Craigslist, donate it, keep it for my own actual use, or scrap it to the recycle bins as well.

Maybe I’ll finish all that by Spring.  No giant hurry, other than to clear out everything from the main space that will become my photo studio area, so I can set that up, which is an important goal for me.  That part should happen over the next couple of weeks, at most.  I’m really looking forward to finally setting up and using the space the way I saw it when I first walked into the place back in March.

I guess that’s about it for now.  Till next time, you all take care, and I’ll do the same.  :)

[notice]Oops!  I forgot to mention…[/notice]

I also meant to mention something else, but forgot (I’m blaming the chemo!).

Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, contacted me with a request to include some important information about asbestos and the cancer it causes.  She wrote to let me and my readers know that mesothelioma is a completely preventable cancer (caused only by asbestos exposure), and knowing more about the disease and it’s risk factors truly does make a difference.  With more awareness, hopefully one day we can get asbestos banned once and for all.

I’m glad to pass on this sort of information, and here’s the fact sheet she included:
Asbestos Fact SheetI’ll make a bold assumption that it’s fine for you folks to pass this on to others as well, by email or sharing on your FB page, or whatever.  More information to everyone we know is a good thing to help prevent and eradicate cancer of any kind.

Thanks again for all your love and support, and I’ll be back again with another update soon.