Monday, June 6, 2016

10 YEARS.

   Wow, today is my 10 year anniversary since my stage IV diagnosis. It seems like a long time but in reality it has been just a moment in time.
   There is a smidgen of Irony surrounding my diagnosis day. My doctor called me at 10:00 a.m. On 6/6/6 to give me the news. It was a crappy day to say the least. Those early days were hard for everyone. My kids were crying, Mandy was crying, and my parents were crying. It is a distant memory. It no longer seems real to me.
   I am still here. Cancer is an on going part of my life. It will be for the rest of my days and years. 
   In ten years I have learned a great deal about this disease and this post is the summation of my experiences intended to bring wisdom to those who must follow in my footsteps. It is a list of special rules to help you survive the journey. 

Rule #1 Forget about dignity.
  Unfortunately the easiest access to the prostate is through the back door. I once considered getting a tattoo on my derrière that read exit only. It was a joke back then. It amazes me that those things we joke about in life are the things that come back to haunt us. To go along with this rule I recommend establishing a personal relationship with your urologist. It makes those quad-annual violations much easier when it is somebody you know. I once pretended to read a love note to my Urologist during an exam. After the exam he chuckled and said, "I have been doing this so long that I have actually received letters like that"

Rule #2 Avoid chick flicks at theaters.
   The truth is that testosterone makes us men and although the lack of it does not make us women, it does put us in much closer touch to our feminine side than any of us have ever wanted to be.  I have shared this before but my daughter once revoked my man card for crying at the Hannah Montana movie. 
   After 10 years on hormones. I can now enjoy action movies and chick flicks with equal enthusiasm but being in a theater watching a chick flick presents its own unique challenges. It really sucks when the movie is over and all the "dudes" ( the ones who got drug to the movie by their wives and girlfriends ) are staring at your red puffy eyes wondering who let the sissy boy in. It's harder yet to explain to the guys at work why The Notebook is #3 on your all time list of favorite movies. It's okay to like chick flicks, just don't watch them at the theater or tell the guys.
You have to admit, that's good stuff


Rule #3 Use cancer to your advantage
  Over the last 10 years I have used cancer to get out of attending weddings and non-vital family functions. It has gotten me out of seatbelt and speeding tickets, working night shift, and working overtime. I have used it as an excuse for cancelling reservations and airline flights after the minimum cancellation and have always gotten a full refund. 
  Once, our dogs were picked up by the dog catcher and I used cancer as the reason I didn't bail them out for 3 days. We live in a rural area and it is not uncommon for our dogs to go unseen for a few days. I still had to pay an impound fee but they waived all the boarding costs. 
   It works well with our wives too. We call it GFMPH. Good for my prostate health. It goes something like this. Honey, I really think that having a boat would be good for my prostate health.
  Honey, I really think that having snowmobiles and spending winters in the mountains would be good for my prostate health


  We got a bummer of a deal guys. If you have to have this disease then make it work for you. A note of caution however. This technique does not work with game wardens when you are fishing without a license!!

Rule #4 Find the humor.
   The old saying goes like this. Laughter is the best medicine. As it turns out, it's true. Twenty seconds of gut busting laughter does as much good for your cardio vascular system as a 15 minute workout. It builds core muscles and helps with pulmonary function. It also just makes you feel good. We have a lot to laugh about if we choose to see it that way. 

Rule #5 Live your life out loud.
 
    You have cancer. It very well may shorten your life. The days of putting off until tomorrow are over. Tomorrow may never come. We still have to live within our means. Living loud does not mean that we have to spend a lot of money. My first taste of living loud happened the day I jumped from the bridge 50 feet above the Toutle River. It's something a lot of people did in high school but I was always afraid. I stood on that bridge deck looking down at the water below and it occurred to me that I no longer had anything to be afraid of. So I jumped! Living out loud simply means putting an end to doing things other people expect you to do and start doing what you want to do. It means going out and making new friends and spending time with old ones. It means taking that vacation you always want to take. If  means not being held back by fear. It means loving deeper. My grandfather used to order dessert first. His logic was simple. I'm 93 years old. I could die before I finish my meal. I want to make sure I get dessert. I choose to follow my grandfathers example. It's time for the good stuff. The first 40 years of my life I count as wasted. I always thought there would be more time. .I will no longer waste a day. When I die I want to come sliding through the gates of heaven beat to crap gasping for breath and proclaiming damn that was a hell of a ride. I plan on being here at least another 20 years but between now and then I will do my best to make every day count