Sunday, October 31, 2010
I don't remember how I got cancer, it doesn't come like that, suddenly like a broken arm. One day I was shaving and found "the lump"! a small, pea sized bump in my neck. I did take note of it but chose to ignore it, not out of any fear, but just because I had other things to do and I have never run to my doctor over every little cut and bump. A couple months later it was still there, a little bigger and now there were three of them! I thought of "Aliens" and knew I had something in me! It was a couple months after that when I went to my doctor! I had cancer in 132 places and in my spleen and spine! Well crap!
I always try to put things in perspective. The dinosaurs lived on this Earth for millions of years and the Human Species for about 10,000, at least as we know us to be. My best friend died at 27 years old in a construction accident. We killed Christ when He was about 30 years old.
Some infants only live for one breath! I was sixty-three and already beaten the odds many times over! It is not the way I would have chosen but my thought at the time was "this will be interesting!" And it is interesting if you want to see the edge of Hell. I was like Superman embedded in Kryptonite, every day withering away, getting sicker, dieing really.
Cancer survivors often go through a "why me" experience. Sometimes, and certainly in my case, we don't wonder why we got it, we wonder why we survived it! This chemo process is done in a sort of elegant warehouse where you are never alone but sitting side by side with other cancer patients and a lot of them don't show up the next week, always new ones taking their place. It is a difficult process to say the least and I began it while very strong.
It is gone now! I would like to say, "just like that"! I am now healing not from the cancer but from this voodoo chemical cure. That too is a long process, but truely every day is better and it is a great road compared to the one I have been on. In a way I feel "born again", given another chance, raced to the top and beat those six million spermies again! I have found no revolation, nothing spectacular that I need to do and am quite happy to continue on as I was, playing in my studio, a little art, a little writing, and working in my garden always after that "perfect tomato".
Friday, October 29, 2010
okay you followed me, I'll join, I'll follow you! In reality I don't follow that many bloggers and some that are listed on my site no longer blog. I am not clever enough to delete these. I am always curious when someone becomes a follower and always go "check them out", sometimes reading every single blog they have posted. It doesn't stop there. I check out who is following them and sometimes who is following the followers of the followers! I am hunting for kindred spirits, a tribe of like-minded individuals; I am hunting for a prodigious use of language; I am hunting for art I have never seen; I am hunting for nooks and crannies, the secret places we hide the human soul.
I am officially a "cancer surviver", but have taken to reading the obituaries in my morning paper. Yes, I am still that old-fashioned! Cancer kills a lot of us. I read once that the ancient Egyptions, as evidenced from the mummies, never died of cancer. In reading the entire article you discover that their average age at death was forty years old! There is always the "rest of the story", a huge part of our life that is never investigated, never told. I knew a lot of these people in the obituaries. We sat together for four hours every two weeks while getting these chemo-cocktails. I saw their visitors, family and friends as they grew older and lost weight each visit. I participated in their struggle. The obituaries always say, "died of cancer", three little words that bring terror to our hearts and don't even begin to tell a story.
So, in reading these blogs I am learning your stories, and reading your stories make it easier to understand my own.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
and those that do get it are mostly beyond living anyway, too sick to create a "bucket list".
Actually I think this "bucket list" should be for the young, those eager and strong enough to accomplish their dreams. The dreams of youth should be huge! I am always saddened when they are limited to getting a job at McDonalds and buying a car! I am amazed that the Peace Corps
doesn't have lines eight blocks long to enroll in their programs offering a chance to see and live
another's life in a different culture on the other side of the Earth! Too many people live and die within 100 miles of where they were born. Horizons should be expanded, our experiences broadened, our curiosity awakened at an early age.
Youth is not determined by age, of course, and excitement and curiosity can be found in some
of us "older elders"! My mother flew in a hot air balloon over the Kilamari desert when she was
a mere 84! She gave up driving on her 90th birthday! When death took her I think she was ready and her bucket list was empty. She was simply waiting.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
life really is. We do not cause everything, stuff happens. Traditionally you are supposed to go through a "Why me?" phase, although I skipped this step. I have been extremely healthy most of my life and hadn't seen a doctor but four times in my entire life! But I smoked for 47 years, drank a lot until twenty years ago (I have the coin to prove it!), been around all kinds of obnoxious fumes and even drank water out of plastic water bottles! The voodoo doctors don't think any of this caused my cancer, it's just a gift, they don't know what causes Hodgekin's Lymphoma.
Cancer opens a million doors. It is as if I will show you my weakness if you show me yours. except there are no conditions, we are hungry to tell our stories. This blogging world makes it so easy and I have heard stories from all over the world: "I also have cancer, have fears and tears
and struggles and dreams" We are all connected by this "Human Condition" and, stealing a quote from another blogger, "We can live dieing or we can die living" those are the options.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
We are told not to put too much on Facebook, be careful of what photos we post, and are reminded that the whole world is watching! We email people we hardly know and tell them things we wouldn't want others to know. The computer remembers everything! Every keystroke is permanently recorded! We can hit the "delete" button and empty the recycle bin and wish we hadn't said that, but it is still there! Hidden in some obscure cranny. The forbidden fruit once picked can't be put back on the tree. It is not necessary to get a computer expert to fish this out of our operating system, we know it is there. We have lost the art of communication
with people, afraid of being politically incorrect or hurtful, we become milktoast, would rather be bland than misunderstood. Except for this computer that doesn't talk back, has no reaction, can't be critical, can't cry and doesn't care to. We bare our soul to this machine, sometimes forgetting that someone might read it and always forgetting that it is not real. I am reminded of an elementary school teacher who shortstops a note from a boy to a girl and proceeds to read it to the whole class!
I think we have a need to be understood in our entirety, at least a need to understand ourselves that way. I am an artist, a welder, a gardener, a father, a friend, and so much more. It is a complex road system and some aspects of self-discovery lead to dead ends. No, that wasn't me:
There are no secrets. I was about 12 years old when Superman shot himself and my world changed forever. When David Carradine died (we all know how THAT happened!) I lost the KungFu guru I grew up with. Both of these bring a reality to my life and that is a wonderful thing about computers and the internet. I love Wikileaks and hate its destruction on how I view the world! Both. I think the internet will eventually bring a truth to the whole world. It still remains for us to separate truth from fantacy: in the World, in our relationships, with ourselves.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Probably what I found most helpful was a daily dose of laughter. Several people sent me jokes
and just weird silly stuff that I looked forward to every day. Laughter is the best medicine.
Ralph gave me my daily Taoism, always kind-hearted with a gentle persuasion, an encouragement to do the right thing and others posted their beautiful and talented art. I learned we are all in a struggle of some kind and want to survive, express ouselves and be generous as our hearts allow. All things in moderation is probably best, but always leave room for dancing late at night and a great deal of laughter!
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I once stumbled and fell into an electrical panel putting my arm out to protect my fall. This was an open 220 volts on a 200 amp line and that really should have done it, at least it should have taken my arm off to my shoulder. It did throw me 20 feet across the room but otherwise left me unscathed! About ten years ago I was helping a friend put a roof on a Church steeple and my footing slipped and down I went, about a 20 foot fall onto the concrete sidewalk! I looked like a side of beef beaten with a baseball bat, but thirty minutes later went to lunch! I never should have walked away from that one! There were others and probably some I am not aware of,
two seconds earlier or later can make all the difference. These were all "instant" close encounters and cancer gives you plenty of time to think about it, knowing every day you are approaching that edge! It really makes you think that you have been extremely lucky and maybe I shouldn't be pressing my luck?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
into some other alien creature. On the plus side I would know but I am not sure this means much. I am feeling better every day and have no lumps or bumps, no bad symptoms. The tests themselves cause cancer. They are the equivilent of getting 420 X-rays and then there is the question of what would I do if the cancer was still lurking? Could I and would I go through all this again, twelve more chemos? My hands couldn't take it. I know of people who have gone through chemo twice in a row, and then had surgery and top it off with radiation treatments, all
to extend their life...by a little bit, sick, in their bed, dieing. That is the difference I think. If you could extend your life three months living, (say in Paris, for instance!) that could certainly be a good choice. But to extend the process of dieing, to drag that out to see grief and fear and tears!
I am happy now and chose to think this battle is over and I won. Now I am painting and welding and creating again; I am living.
Monday, October 18, 2010
My friend lives in Sisters, Oregon, an old-west town with ordinances stating that any new construction must have this "old-west" facade. Ten years ago I helpd him build his house on the edge of the town. It is an old-west style and looked 100 years old the day we finished it. I was retired at the time but came out of retirement to help a friend. Two older guys building a house!
This is the last house I built and working with Jerry (his name too!) was a lot of fun. He is a few years older than I am but in excellent physical shape. He ran Marathon races in several States
and climbed all the mountains of Oregon and Washington. He had a Harley Davidson Motorcycle
and fancied himself a cowboy!
I hadn't visited him in years. We get busy and so into our own world, don't we? As I pulled into his driveway I immediately saw the sign in his window: "No Smoking, Oxygen in Use" My heart sank. Jerry has never had a cigarette in his life. Not one! He was not a coal miner and didn't have a dangerous job. He was an accountant! It was a wonderful visit. He has this one last mountain to climb. It is not curable. He is on a one hundred foot oxygen hose, tethered to the house we built.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I am a Man
I am a man today
Today I am 17.
I am to slay a lion, as
did my father at 17
and his father
My father's father had his
hands and, perhaps a stone.
My father had a large hunt-
I have a gun.
( j.a.carlin, age 17)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
They always feel as though they were stirring a bucket of cut glass all night long. If I chose to dwell on this it becomes oppressive and rules my day. So I throw that idea out and surround myself with gratitude: I am alive! that is pretty amazing! I can eat and that is incredible! (try going for three months on jell-o and tapiocca and you will appreciate eating too!). Gratitude is an amazingly powerful force and it gives me untold strength, helps me shed the sadness and pain of life and allows me to be...to be anything I want!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The process wasn't pleasant and the cure is a little like pouring boiling oil into wounds, but I am still here and sometimes that amazes me! I don't feel as if I were "near death", I never had that
spiritual or existential feeling. There was no "light at the end of the tunnel" and I felt very much alive during this whole process, not to say that it was enjoyable. For seven months I knew with the chemo-therapy that every morning would be a little worse than the previous. How hard would I be dragged through the mud today? Now I am healing and every day is better! That is a wonderful experience that most people don't get in life. I KNOW that today will be a great day! and I know that today will be better than yesterday. That is pretty cool.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I think we miss the dream and fantacy of the old days.
Today we demand and expect so much more. I miss the days when a house cost $14,000
(I paid $8,375. for mine!) and was in reach of anyone willing to work for it. No one would buy that house today. We expect huge houses with several bathrooms, a great room and a kitchen with granite countertops! and these expectations come with a price and a loss of whatever might have been good about "the good old days"! Who knew that this road we are on would get us to here? and like every road taken throughout history, we have our pluses and minuses, our potholes, barricades and open freeway. No one really knows where they are going, only where they have been and we have a tendency to only remember the good things along that path.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
I added a tomato from my garden for color and a burst of flavor!