Saturday, March 8, 2014

A little humor can go a long way

   Laughter is the best medicine. It is a true statement. I read somewhere that laughter can help fight disease. I love to laugh. It is one of many things that Mandy and I share. It is not always easy but the potential is always there. In the last 8 years we have had much opportunity to be depressed as we fight prostate cancer but some how we always manage to find the humor in things. Maybe we are just looney.
  My first weeks were tough as I began this fight. Mandy and I were new in our relationship and the prognosis was not good. Mandy cried a lot and I had more sleepless nights than I care to remember. I felt so ripped off. I had only begun to get my life back together after losing everything. I was in love. The future was so full of promise. Then my doctor dropped the bomb. I still remember the day that everything changed. I stood at the edge of a bridge looking down at the river below. I was afraid. It was a long way down. A voice in my head said "what are you afraid of, you have terminal cancer". As Mandy watched from below I threw caution and possibly common sense to wind and jumped. The acceleration was exhilarating as the water rushed up to meet me. The impact also hurt like crazy but it didn't matter. I had overcome my fear and let go. I would like to add a word of caution to those who might find the urge to leap off a perfectly good bridge. If you have Prostate cancer, don't do it. The force of the impact was in the same proximity of my grossly enlarged prostate. It was about the same sensation as I imagine a D.R.E. with a baseball bat would feel like
   Jumping from that bridge was a turning point in our fight. It was an outward expression of something that was happening in my mind. I realized in that instance that I had nothing to be afraid of.  I might not live very long but the life I had left would no longer be dominated by fear. I was free. As I swam to the bank of the river in a great deal of pain, all I could do was laugh. Laughter became our weapon. We wield it freely.
   In the early days I had oncologist appointments every thirty days. I had a P.S.A. test a week after my first Lupron shot and the number had already dropped from over 3200 to just above 2900. It was working. Each visit thereafter provided more and more hope as the numbers slowly fell to an undetectable level. Unfortunately the side effects of the medication were also in full effect.  I will never forget the night Mandy and I laughed ourselves to tears. It was late and as she held me close she told me I was a super hero. I immediately started cracking up and said "it's true, I am Lupron man.... My super hero weapon is the hot flash ray of death" It sounds corny I know but we were laughing hysterically until the tears were flowing from our eyes and our stomach muscles ached. It has always been that way. It helps that we are each others best friends. I honestly don't know what I would do without her. I know she feels the same about me.
   Cancer has stolen so many things from us. Guys and their wives who have experienced hormone therapy know what I am talking about. Even in those things we have been fortunate in the fact that it hasn't stolen it all. In some ways we have come to appreciate those moments all the more. Cancer has only the power that we give it and Mandy and I refuse to relinquish any control. It will not steal our spirit. It will not steal our joy and it will not steal our sense of humor. God willing it will not steal our future. 
   Today we are shopping. Mandy turned 35 last week and a shopping trip for Caribbean wear was part of my gift to her. I am sitting outside the dressing room in the husband chair provided listening to bad pop music turned up twenty decibels too loud as Mandy keeps the fashionistas busy bringing her different clothes to try on. Hopefully shoe shopping is also on the list. She is just so cute when she gets new clothes. As my pending disability retirement looms in the coming year I wonder if it is the right thing to do. Our daughter will be going to college in a couple of years. I am only 50 and although I am stage 4 I have been for almost 8 years and I have continued to work every day. I wonder if retiring is the first step in giving up. I would like to believe that it's not the case but it is a question that for now has no answers. The truth is that financially we would be in much better shape if I retire but my income will be frozen at that point. The new union contract will be coming this June. If the incentive to stay is good enough then my plans may change. In the meantime I will laugh daily. I will love often. I will live each day for all that it has to offer. Todd