September 11, 2014 (Thur) – Phil it to the Brim

groundhogNo, I have not suddenly become challenged in the spelling arena. And I am not referring to philling up any more lung-suck bottles. Nor am I referencing my buddy Punxsutawney Phil, the star of one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day. I definitely had to Google the spelling on that Pennsylvania town.

A good friend of ours challenged me to explain my switch in philosophy as it relates to the “glass-half-full” attitude change. But before I go all Dr. Phil on you, I owe you an update on the last couple of weeks.

So, where have I been? Like one of my blog posts of yesteryear (whatever that means), life just got in the Hang fanway. And that is a good thing. Business as usual, remember? Work, plumbing repairs, softball games (as a cheerleader), volunteering, hanging a new ceiling fan, stabbing myself twice a day, Rotary meetings, yadda yadda. Especially yadda yadda. Most of this was much to my wife’s chagrin. And she was not grinning, trust me on that. So sitting down for 20 hours to write this blog just didn’t make the cut. What? You think I whipped out these gems in an hour or two? OK, yeah. Maybe 3 hours. But 20 sounds a lot better. Bottom line though is that other than a fat leg and foot from the blood clots, I am doing very well. The A-Team appears to be kicking butt.

plumber_pipeHad one more tiny glitch however. Since I am the first one in this trial here, they are learning as bit as they go as to the idiosyncrasies that Astra Zeneca (the A-team maker) require. Since I originally had some brain mets in the early going, they apparently need a brain MRI every time I do a follow-up CT scan. So I had to interrupt my incredibly enjoyable pipe repair work outside in the mud on a Saturday to go in for that MRI. Probably a toss up as to what was more enjoyable. But now they have all of the tests they need and I know exactly what will be required every 6 weeks from here on out. Considering I had the other MRI (that they didn’t know I needed) only a month or so ago, and it came back clean, I am not even calling to get the results of this one. How’s that for glass-half-full, eh?

Although my business trip to Toronto this month was nixed, I am green-lit for our planned trip to our friend’s lake-view home in October, just outside of Boston. Because of my leg clots, I gotta score me a bulkhead seat though to give my legs some room and then be sure I walk the aisles a lot. I understand Southwest has a “blue sleeve” pre-boarding pass you can get for situations like this. The problem is that I look perfectly normal and people have taken advantage of this policy so I’m bound to piss some people Compression stockingsoff as I walk past them. Them’s the breaks. Still awaiting approval, believe it or not, for insurance to agree to cover the cost of some very stylish custom compression stockings. Somehow they are considered “durable medical supplies” so it has to go through the process. Just a glitch.

gooeyOK, on to the more ooey gooey stuff.

Before my diagnosis a year and a half ago, I really was a glass-half-empty guy. Always looking at what could go wrong in a given situation. Allowing the negative side of any circumstance outweigh the positive. I’m honestly not sure pollyanna2where that perspective originated but I do know it has been part of my makeup as far back as I can remember. I was the pessimist and my wife the Pollyanna optimist. Not sure how my wife saw around that and agreed to marry me unless she thought she could change my outlook.

So what’s different now? Well, for one thing, I have cancer. Duh. So things are lot more black and white than before. Previously I could have reacted to different situations in a lot of different ways. But suddenly, as I’ve said before, I now see only two options. I can crawl into a ball, withdraw, and let things take their course. While I wpathsould still have been on the same treatment regimen I am now, I would not have had the healing power of the positive thoughts and prayers that I have received from everyone because I would have tuned everyone out. Or I can take the other road (previously less traveled by me) and head down the path that I have chosen to take for the past 19 months. But who’s counting? As Lincoln said, and a friend reminded me, “folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” So while I may not be jumping up and down with enthusiasm about having to give myself a stomach injection twice a day, it’s just something I do now, like brushing my teeth and flossing. Yes, I floss. I plan on outliving my teeth so I want them to last at least another 25 years. It’s just a new normal.

But what’s funny, if you can call it that, is that I don’t think I’m a glass-half-full guy now. That may seem a weird conclusion considering the relatively positive tone of most of my blogs. I just know that this is the path I’ve opted to take and I do not plan on diverging from that course.

bad luckI never have pulled the “why me” attitude, although I suppose I could have. Heck, I’m a good guy overall. I have never smoked (not counting those funny things back in college mumble mumble years ago). So I consider this whole episode just (bad) luck of the draw. And while I continue to ignore statistics, I do know the facts. I have cancer and there is no way around that.

Am I scared? Hell yes. Does this feel like a nightmare that I hope to wake up from? At the beginning it did, but I quickly accepted my situation and I do not dwell on that. A fellow cancer blogger (Ruth Rainwater) recently addressed the opinionCourages and comments from people about how we can be considered heroic or courageous with the attitudes we portray in our blogs. As she said, we are people with cancer, going about our daily lives as normally as possible. Is that courageous? Nah. Is it heroic? Double nah. Save those descriptors for those that lost their lives 13 years ago today. I will grudgingly accept inspirational, although even that adjective can be hard to swallow, since I’m just a guy with cancer who chats about it. I am very pleased, however, that some people are entertained and informed by my blog. I know how hard it was for me initially and reading the blogs others in my (currently fat) shoes really helped understand the journey.

Speaking of people reading my blog, a fellow C-traveler from Portland who I met because of my blog, is trying to get into the same trial I’m in at UCSD. Dann Wonser found out about the trial here through me and so I am very glad about how this blog is helping in situations like that. He is coming in at the tail end of the trial opening and still needs to qualify but we are all hopeful he gets in. So, since I’m in a pretty stable situation right now, please send your positive thoughts and prayers his way. Click on his name and leave him a comment on his blog. He is on a real roller coaster ride right now and could use everyone’s positive vibes.

Monday is my regular follow-up with my lung-onc at Moores. I’ll be getting a new batch of A-Team poppers and, of course, an EKG and blood draw. And then another blood draw that day at my regular medical provider, of course. 🙂 Small stuff.

Business as usual. Day at a time.

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16 thoughts on “September 11, 2014 (Thur) – Phil it to the Brim

  1. Well, Craig, you’re a hero in my book. A regular person who is doing something extraordinary. A cancer diagnosis sends a person into uncharted territory, down a path where the final destination is unknowable. In sharing your experiences, you show others how to walk that path with grace and humor and hope. To accept their “new normal” and get on with living. Not a small thing at all.
    Glad to hear the “A” Team is kicking butt!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the mention, Craig! I’m glad you’re doing so well with the A-team. It’s encouraging to hear good news. And I will check out Dann’s blog and keep positive thoughts that he’ll get into the trial.

    😀

    Reply
  3. With this blog, you ARE helping a lot of people….tell Kim, please please please allow you to continue. Gigi, Chris Lane and myself were all pawing at you for another, right? Good on you that you are willing to change a life long pattern. I think the positivity will help your body and your soul. Continued prayers for you and yours…my friend. kp

    Reply
  4. Dear Craig – I will reach out to your friend. It is a tough road to travel and there is sometimes a feeling among those of us who have gone through this experience of “what could I have done to prevent this” even though logically and coming from a science community, we know it is out of our control. It is simply a damaged cell that has gotten through to the good cells by impersonating some dna patterns much like a virus. Luck of the draw. Cancer taught me a lot, and the chemo room enlightened me, and now, the “After recovery” is still an interesting journey – I still try to reach back for the enlightenment, and your blogs trigger those feelings and memory (thank you!) – the most important aspect that I found for myself and also was shared among others in the chemo room was this – the love. The love I feel for my family, son, husband, parents, sister and the unconditional love and strength I received from their love and support. And the fantastic support I found among people I did not know well, like clients in our community. I will try to never forget that experience and when I am down, or frustrated – I reach out for it. Surround yourself by the love and positive feelings as much as possible and it will help you through the tough times. And even though you state, you are a “glass half empty guy” – I don’t believe because your words and actions say different – you are a guy who loves his life and family and clearly they love you! Keep those feelings close and you will do well! And keep ignoring the stats! I ignored all the stats and in fact, created a new one as my cancer was aggressive and they did not think they would get all of it but……..they did. Create a new stat! We will miss you in Toronto and wish you the best!

    Reply
  5. What a positive, upbeat blog. Love to hear all is going in the right direction. I know you don’t believe you’re an inspiration, but you truly are. Attitude is everything and you are proof of that. I know golf is off for now with the bloodclots, but as soon as that is a thing of the past, let’s get out there! Love to you, Annette and Ralph

    Reply
  6. Thank you for the supportive plug, Craig! Many people have visited my blog and sent their positive thoughts and prayers to me because of your encouragement. Also because of your blog you and I became friends. Then, when I needed the “A-Team” myself, I knew where to find the clinical trial.

    My own oncologist didn’t even know the trial was underway, so I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get into this clinical trial in the final few days before it ended.

    You may dismiss words like “hero” and “courage”, but without your blog my lifespan may have shrunk by months, years, maybe decades – We’ll see.

    You have my gratitude, my friend.

    Dann Wonser

    Reply
  7. Craig,
    I’ve used the Southwest pass before, when I had my knee replacement. It was great. I got right on the plane and someone even helped put my bag in the overhead compartment. Don’t worry about the looks…just go have fun!

    Reply
  8. Happy to see this update, and I see your point on all this. Rather than choosing between being a glass-half-full or a glass-half-full type, it sounds to me like you’re more of the type to think, “the glass just IS — with some water in it.” I can see that way of thinking!

    Reply
  9. Craig, so excited you’ll be in fashion with compression socks– and yes, insurance should cover them– at least , my insurance covers stylish compression tights in two colors. Thanks for the “blue sleeve” info. as about air travel to where we thought would be prohibited (with my severe femoral neuropathy-surgical complication.) Goal = 100% by the AHS anniversary, whenever that is 🙂 or maybe the P & B. We’ll be lakeside also in October (Big Bear.) Have a wonderfully time in Boston. Hurrah for the A-team breakthrough updates!

    Reply
    • Thanks Sheri. They only sprung for one pair but with zero co-pay. Considered durable care products.

      Hope things are progressing (in a good way) for you.

      Take care.

      Craig

      Reply

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