One Year Ago Today – September 25, 2014
One Year Ago Today I woke up at 4:30 am to get prepared for the surgery that would save my life and eradicate the remaining cancer. One year ago today after 7 1/2 hours of surgery the doctors felt they got it all. One year ago today I was laying in the ICU at Keck Hospital hoping with all hope that my surgery was successful and my recovery would be quick. One year ago today my family was given the gift of a disease free wife, mom, daughter and friend. One year ago today will forever be one of my most favorite days.
Today, a friend, was given that exact same gift. I was going to write was hopefully given that exact same gift but I’m not hoping for her because I know she has received the gift. Hilary was diagnosed with cancer almost exactly 1 year after my diagnosis. We have never personally met and were connected through friends of friends but I feel like we will be forever connected. She too was told there was basically not a chance that she would become surgically eligible but she did not let that stop her from believing that she would eventually eradicate the cancer. Her positive attitude, belief and openness to both Western and Eastern medicine brought her to the point that she was told it is time for surgery. Ironically her surgery was scheduled on the exact same day as mine just one year later. The doctor took a majority of her liver, her gall bladder and some lymph nodes. She of course did fantastic and is now trying to get some much needed rest. I talked to Hilary on Tuesday to give her some tips on the surgery, pain meds, nurses etc… It felt like we were old friends. We both agreed that for all the shitty stuff that comes with cancer we are forever grateful for the lessons it has taught us and the journey it has not only taken us on but will continue to take us on. Cheers to you Hilary! Today is your day.
THE FRIENDSHIP PADDLE
Last year as you all know I was the beneficiary of the Friendship Paddle and Pedal. The event was indescribable but if I was asked to sum it up I would say it was Magical. My goal was to be able paddle but my surgeon said it was just too soon after surgery to be paddling in the middle of the ocean. I had the water proof sterile strips all ready to cover up my incision, a nurse on my boat to make sure they were placed correctly and the will to make it happen but it was just to risky so I had to sit the paddle out. Of course sitting the paddle out did not stop me from heading to the islands with my team. It was an event I will never forget. In case you did not see the amazing video put together by Paul Westmacott here is the video:
This year I am honored to have the opportunity to paddle on behalf of Tucker Heintz. Tucker was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and unfortunately lost his battle on August 25th. I was lucky to be welcomed into Tucker’s fight and share the ups and downs with his friends and family. My cancer journey will forever continue as hopefully I am able help others and their families navigate a cancer diagnosis. Tucker had a wonderful last week surrounded by his closest family and friends. Tucker may be gone but he will forever be in our hearts and minds. During the opening prayer of the paddle last year Jay Stryker said “we don’t know what tomorrow’s going to hold, and so I’d ask today for you to take time to really be grateful and thankful for the people around you, your spouse, your friends, your community.” I know that during Tucker’s last week he was so grateful. We will be paddling in his memory on October 11th. The funds raised will go to help with the medical bills that accrued during Tucker’s battle and the remainder will be donated to the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. If you would like to donate to support the paddle this year I would greatly appreciate it. Anything helps! My goal is $750 and I’m only at $75. It is super easy to donate: Tucker’s Paddle.
My next big scan and labs will be at the end of October. It can’t come soon enough. I understand why the doctors want to reduce my exposure to radiation but there are days where I just want to call and say screw it schedule my scan now. Even though you are told there is no evidence of disease you are also told that the likelihood it will come back is pretty much guaranteed. In my heart I believe it is gone forever but your mind starts to play tricks on you and then something doesn’t feel completely right and the mind takes over and all of the sudden you are convinced the cancer is back. You have to reel your mind back in and forge forward with the belief it is gone forever.
Since being diagnosed it feels like everywhere I turn a friend or a friend of friend is being diagnosed with this horrible disease. At least twice a month I am contacted by someone telling me that their friend was just diagnosed and wondering if I would reach out or be a resource. My answer every time is of course yes. Whether it is supporting family and friends as they venture through this very messy journey or it is being there for the person diagnosed, you can count on me. My hope is that my journey can inspire others to have hope, believe in miracles, and be open to fighting cancer on all fronts because I truly believe the key to success is embracing it all, opening yourself up beyond what you ever thought possible and believing that you will make it to the top of the mountain to yell down: FUCK YOU CANCER!
Just recently Jon found out that a young local paramedic was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was married in September and he and his wife do not have health insurance. They are in the process of putting together fundraisers to help Max as he begins his cancer journey. I do not know Max but many of my friends have posted about his battle and I hope to meet him so that we can support he and his wife as they deal with the diagnosis and what lies ahead. If you would like to know more about Max and how you can help please check out: Max Klett.
When you wake up in the morning take a moment to reflect on your life. Appreciate and be grateful for your family, friends and community. Life is so precious and can change in a second. Focus on what is most important. Disconnect from the drama in your life it just is not worth it. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are flaws and all. When you catch yourself rushing from point A to point B and telling your children to hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, take a deep breath and remember to cherish every moment because there are no guarantees for what the next moment might bring.
Hugs and Kisses to you All.