February 23, 2014 (Sun) – Guilty as Charged

Jail comboAny guesses as to what I am guilty of? Depends how far you go back. Gotta be careful here as my kids read this blog and if you travel back as far as my college years, well, you can just imagine. Or even back to my kid days. OK, I’ll fess up to:

  1. Putting my feet in wet cement
  2. Along with my buddy, setting his backyard tree on fire
  3. With my nefarious grammar school chums, denuding a neighbor’s house of all its Christmas lights, but feeling guilty a day later and leaving them in a box on their doorstep. Yes, I still feel bad about that one.
  4. Buying firecrackers and cherry bombs on the black market
  5. Purchasing alcohol before I was 21
  6. Drinking that alcohol
  7. “Partaking” in college (defined however you wish)
  8. Sneaking into a movie theater without paying
  9. Cheating on my wife. Yeah right. I’d already be dead.
  10. Jaywalking, speeding…OK, now we’re just getting silly.

Why come clean now? Eh, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking, “is that all?” OK, I was mostly a goodie two-shoes in high school, never even having cut one class. Might even have made the goodie three-shoes level. Too afraid of getting kicked off the football team I suppose. Made up for it a bit in college. And this was all BR, as in Before I joined Rotary, with its 4-way test. Reading this Chuck? BTW, this is not an all-inclusive list. Gotta leave some mystery.

But the question remains: what am I feeling guilty about?

The easy answer: feeling too damn good.

Feeling goodOK, that that is a pretty lame statement. No, let’s be honest. A pretty stupid statement. But on a certain level, it is how I feel. Let’s face it, relatively speaking, a year after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, I am feeling very fortunate to be in the position I am. Quite a few don’t even make it this far and manyGuilt others have, or are having, a very tough time. So I don’t mean to be glib or come across as not having sympathy for my fellow survivors who may not be doing so well when I expound on my good health. Just the opposite in fact. So there is an element of guilt that creeps into my perspective. Yeah, I know. Nobody said I was being rational. And I know this whole scenario could turn on a dime and I would not be blogging this same conversation. But I’ll take what I have. Plus, as I said, it’s all relative.

Now that I’ve talked so much about how good I feel, here comes the “relative” part. And yes, I talk about my relatives. Always in a good Craig Froway of course. Remember Hawaii? Nuf said. But my buddy, Tarceva, likes to play games with me and right now he (she? I’m an equal opportunity druggie) is treating me to a frustrating case of Don King-itis. OK, I’m not a Photoshop genius like my daughter but you get the drift. Have to slump way down in my seat in my car so I don’t poke holes in the overhead lining. Plus my eyes feel like I’m constantly being barraged by a dust storm. I can now be legitimately described in that lineup above as “squinty-eyed.” Eh, small stuff.

Loren nancarrowThis past Friday, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, where I work, was privileged to host a fundraising concert in honor of Loren Nancarrow, who recently lost his battle with brain cancer. It was a very cool event and raised quiet a bit of dough for Scripps Radiation Therapy Center where he was treated. They are trying to raise enough ($500K) to have the Healing Gardens there named after him. Click here for more info.

Well, tomorrow is D-Day. Back to the gym for the first time in over a year. Gotta get back in shape for those weekly Lifting weighttriathlons I mentioned. Right now I get winded retrieving a beer from the fridge. Notice I didn’t use the term “ice box?” I’m not that old. But yeah, gotta get back on track. If I’m successful, I will have to do some convincing of my onc-doc that I lost weight on purpose. He ain’t gonna like it.

Oh, and I totally forgot what I promised in a prior blog. For those of you (I’m assuming none) that have been wracking your brain trying to remember what TV show filmed it’s final scenes at Pacific Ocean Park (P.O.P) back in the 60’s, it was The Fugitive.  Now you can relax and add that bit of trivia to your next party conversation.

Business as usual. Day at a time.

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February 13, 2014 (Thurs) – Happy Anniversary to Me…

Happy AnniversarySo today, believe it or not, is the 1-year anniversary of my initial lung cancer diagnosis, back on lucky February 13, 2013. Kind of a bitter sweet celebration. On the one hand, who would want to raise a glass to celebrate such a downer event in their life? On the other hand, I’m still here. Duh. And that certainly is something to shout home about. So I will.

HOME!

OK, I know that is not what that expression means but you get the drift.

So cue it up:

Tonight my wife and I celebrated with a beer. You might expect that it would have been a Mai Tai based on my prior post. But we are trying to wean ourselves off the Hawaii fix we got after 10 amazing days on Maui.

Let’s not be so quick on that Craig…

Business as usual. What really does that mean 365 days after Dx? For those in the know, Dx stands for diagnosis. After 10 days of eating and drinking in Maui like there was no tomorrow, Dx could easily stand for “Double X,” the size of clothes I will now need to start buying.

Digressing as always.

However, business as usual means exactly that. Trying to live my life exactly as it was before Double X, er, Dx. Obviously that is not Reclinerentirely possible. For example, I can no longer compete in weekly Ironman triathlons or dead-lift 500 lbs. So I’ve had to sacrifice some things. I’ve been told I should “take it easy” and not push myself too hard. Yet, while I still can, I am not comfortable with that advice, despite the recent purchase of a new leather recliner. Hmm, maybe cutting back ain’t so bad…

But once I start going down that path, I’m concerned that it will give me an excuse to continue to cut back, even when I don’t need to. I’ve already been put on temporary hold as it relates to playing softball. I suspect that some of my teammates are bribing my onc-doc to keep me on the injured reserve list. I’ve been playing in our league virtually non-stop for 31 years. It drives me crazy not being able to play. So I am doing what anyone facing that kind of disappointment might do – eat a lot! My doc is going to be ecstatic when we meet at the end of the month.

Hot tubBusiness as usual means living, and enjoying, life to the fullest. Does it look like I might be following that advice?

This is the family group enjoying the spa at our rental house, er mansion, in Kaanapali. But if you think Hawaii was just about relaxing, eating, drinking, and enjoying family for 10 days… you’d be exactly right!

We were also able to get in 4 awesome days of golf with nary a rain drop. But just so you don’t think it was all peaches and cream, here is a quickie video from when we got greedy on the 5th attempt and pushed our luck. These are my two bros. I’m the videographer.

Now, doesn’t that make you feel sorry for us?

Thought not.

How about this view from our place in Wailea? Any sympathy now?Wailea panorama

That would be a big negatory, am I correct? Perceptive, aren’t I?

Not really trying to rub it in; just expressing that I am doing my best at articulating how important it is for me, now one year later, to continue along the same path of celebrating life as before that fuzzy x-ray popped up. And no, my head is not in the sand. Not this week anyway. 🙂 But while I continue to do battle with a variety of side effects, it’s all small stuff. So I plan on keeping up the pace as long as I can. And in fact, I feel better today than I did a year ago, before I began any treatment. So nanny nanny.

Last week while in Maui I also celebrated the big six-one.  61 B-day cakeWhen you step over that mental barrier, and you are in my shoes, it becomes very confusing when you feel certain aches and pains. Prior to this year, I would have attributed them to just getting older. But now I am constantly looking over my shoulder at every little wince and tweak, wondering if Mr. Fuzzy is back at it. I have wanted to get back to the gym, which would obviously involve sore muscles and joints. Boy would that mess with my head. However, I can’t let that stop me as I know I need to get back into better shape than just being able to bend my elbow with a beer after our softball games.

Still awaiting my onc-doc meeting at the end of February to see when I might expect further scans. My radio-doc, however, has already scheduled a brain MRI in mid-March. He also will be doing a regular x-ray of my hip and, careful now, sacrum, to see how well the bones have healed up. That may result in green-lighting my softball comeback, despite my teammates’ bribery efforts.

Business as usual. Day at a time.

February 1, 2014 (Sat) – Life is Good

Life is Good benchOK, I fully expect the copyright police that are trolling the web to nail me for this blog title but I am using the picture with the registered trademark symbol, right? Besides, there is no better heading for this blog that I can think of. And I have a hard time imagining someone who makes a gazillion dollars off drawings of stick figures would give lowly me any grief. Heck, I didn’t give them any grief when they stole Craigslist from me.

But there you have it. A lung cancer survivor, almost a year after initial diagnosis, claiming that life is good. But at the moment, I can certainly claim that opinion. No hip pain, no known hotHawaii 2014 spots to deal with, no more scans for at least another 6 weeks to stress me out, and for those of you that are friends on Facebook, and to whom I keep rubbing it in, another wonderful vacation in Hawaii. Some of you are aware that my wife and I have been the beneficiaries of annual trips to Hawaii, courtesy of my brother and his wife. This is our 5th year basking in that generosity and I can think of no better vacation than to spend it with family. To the right is the view from our deck overlooking Kaanapali in Maui. A bunch of golf, eating copious amounts to keep my onc-doc happy, and plenty of libations to stay hydrated. And I’ve been very hydrated, thank you very much. Hey, those 6 bottles of Rombauer are staring me in the face every time I open the fridge. What else am I supposed to do?

In fact it was 12 months ago on last year’s trip that I was feeling pretty crummy thinking I had a bad case of bronchitis or something. Just a few things have transpired since then, eh? Yet, as I approach the anniversary of my diagnosis in a few days, I feel better now than I did back then. Take that bogus statistics. I’ll save the cute celebration clip art for the anniversary blog to follow in about 12 days.

TornadoAnd yet, I’m no dummy, despite what my “dumbbell English” test scores back in 1970 might have revealed. I know I am in for the fight of my life, this year as well as all of the years to follow. And follow they will. I realize that I may well be in the eye of the tornado at the moment but I will certainly take that location versus being out on the F5 edge of the whirly thingamabob. How do you like that high-brow term from someone who works in a science museum?

Earlier in the week, just two days before leaving on vacation, I was experiencing an increasing level of discomfort in my upper right chest, radiating through to my back. It was difficult to take a deep breath. The fact that it was getting worse had me very concerned. I was trying to ignore it but decided to call my uncle-doc for advice and he sent me in to urgent care to get a quickie (no, not one of those kind) x-ray to just be sure nothing nefarious was going on. Take that dumbbell English. The x-ray confirmed no new fuzzies invading my breathing premises. Final best guess is that it was from hitting a (very) large bucket of balls the week before in preparation for our trip and my body was just then castigating me for my stupid maneuver.  OK, maybe I am a dummy after all.Pinnochio

I had already made up my mind that if something wasn’t kosher but that delaying any additional treatment for another two weeks wasn’t an issue, that I was not going to fess up to anyone 2 days before leaving for Hawaii. But the findings made that little lie not necessary. I do have to admit that because my last day in the office was crazy busy, I forgot to call my wife and tell her the good negatory news. So when my radio-doc’s office called home to schedule my next regular scan, since she could not get a hold of me, she assumed I was hiding the bad news and that the radio-doc was calling because they found something. It took some convincing that I was not playing hide and seek. Especially after I confessed that I would have if the results were not good.

Pachinco machineSo I have one more analogy to leave you with before I head down to the jacuzzi with my pina colada. How many of you have had a pachinko machine, or even know what one is? The kind I’m thinking of is where you drop a metal ball, like a large ball bearing, though a series of pins and where it ends up at the bottom is anyone’s guess. That’s how this journey has been at times. Just when you think you are heading down a certain path, PING, the ball takes a whole different track. PING PING PING PING. So, rolling with the punches is definitely a character trait that is highly recommended for a cancer patient. I know, easier said than done. But considering the options of dragging myself and others around me through the muck of doubt and worry, versus riding the roller coaster and occasionally throwing your arms up in thankful glee, was not much of a debate.

As Cookie Monster might say: “Positive energy good. Negative energy bad.”

Business as usual. Day at a time.