Anybody asks me how I'm doing these days, my automatic response is, "I'm outstanding."
I'd like to tell you that it's because I'm so well adjusted after four-plus years of being cancer free. I'd like to say that I'm so enlightened because I'm mobile and active despite having six rods and a bunch of bolts and screws holding my back together from a Solitary plasmacytoma tumour attacking my T-2 vertebrae.
Sorry. I'm not nearly that noble.
I go with "I'm outstanding," as my default because there were two or three people in a row about a year ago who asked how I was doing and you could see the fear in their faces when I told them I was "crappy." I can't recall what the issues that were bothering me actually were. It could have been work or the house being messy, or, quite likely, the lame-ass performance of my Terry McKaig League fantasy baseball team.
Didn't matter. They went straight away to the cancer being back. You could see the panic. I felt horrible for them. I couldn't back track quickly enough.
A buddy of mine, Bob Mercer, says that cancer is one of the scariest things in the world to endure but the word itself -- CANCER -- may in fact by the scariest connection of letters ever.
That is why I'm going back for another crack at the Ride To Conquer Cancer. It's a 200-kilometre ride, from Cloverdale to Seattle, that goes the weekend of Aug. 29-30. If you're interested in donating, my personal page can be found here. I'm working on updating it.
We'll be having a fundraiser in the coming couple of months. Look for updates. I'll probably be begging lots of you for auction items.
I don't want to talk about cancer. I don't want to think about what happened. But I don't want to avoid it. I don't want people to panic about the very idea of cancer.
For some messed up reason, ever since I was a little kid I worried about dying on the operating table from some crazy complication during a rather routine procedure.
I had eight surgeries. Eight. Eight times I tried to say goodbye to my wife. I was scared out of my mind. I had a whole speech worked out. I didn't worry about her without me, I'd say. Carol-Ann is the toughest person I've ever met. I'd tell her that. I'd tell her, too, that I would just miss her, that I had so many things I wanted to go see with her and do with her.
She would smile and hold my hand and the proceed to tell me why I was going to be OK. Our surgeon, Dr. Robert Lee, was such a pro and so invested, she would say, and, by the end, he understood every inch of my system. So did his crew, Carol-Ann would explain.
By the end of her speech, I was psyched up. It happened every time. I was ready. I was going to my Super Bowl. My chin would be sticking out, all proud and defiant. In my head, I called it my "Jay Leno moment." (Apologies to Mr. Leno, who I am certain is a devoted reader of blogs about dudes with cancer.)
The nurses would be wheeling me out of the room and I would be telling Carol-Ann, "I will fight for you, I will fight you," again and again and again.
It's stupid. It's crazy. We did that dance eight freaking times. And you know what? We survived it, to the point that I am able to put my fat ass on a bike and pedal for a bunch of hours over two days. (Oh, mercy, it will not be pretty.)
I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm aiming to prove it again.