Urgency

(it’s not just about living. but being alive. – promoted by pfiore8)

There’s no good way to start this essay so I’m just gonna hit the ground running…

Last week I was diagnosed with cancer. It’s an intense feeling to be 23 and knowing you might not see 24 and that the outcome isn’t so much in your hands as it is you’re just gonna have to wing it. Everybody tells me to think positive and I’m trying, but there are going to be good days and bad days. I cried a few times the first day but it was a relief, too; at least I finally knew what I was dealing with. I’d been in the hospital for a couple weeks with tons of symptoms but no diagnosis, so having hard facts and a course of action was a welcome development, even if it was the C-word.

I got the news on Wednesday. I started chemo Friday and finished the first round on Sunday. I was tired on Monday and Tuesday. But today I walked around outside for awhile and it was great. The weather is all grey and dreary but fresh air of any kind is a beautiful thing when you’re stuck inside virtually 24/7. Later my little brothers visited and I saw my mom and dad in the same room for the first time in years. It’s been quite an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve learned a lot in a short time, about myself, other people and life in general.  

The good news is the doctors tell me I have a good chance at recovery; at first they didn’t, but now they say so. We’ll see. The first round of chemo apparently made some headway. Given a little luck and more positive thinking, I feel like I can win. I’ve fought battles before. I was diagnosed with a chronic intestinal disease called ulcerative colitis when I was 18, so I’m used to getting bad news, enduring pain and making serious adjustments. There are two things I know: life isn’t fair, and I’m not lucky. But I am blessed, because all those things most people take for granted, I DON’T.

On that note, here’s a list of things I want to do after spending 3 weeks in the hospital and learning my life clock is shorter than everybody else’s.

Hit whiffle balls in the backyard with my little brothers.

Wear a t-shirt and blue jeans, i.e., clothes that don’t tie in the back.

See the Sierras again.

See the Rockies for the first time.

Visit my relatives in Montana.

Visit my aunt at her new house in Hawaii.

Spend an afternoon with my grandparents, just listening and taking in as much as possible.

Hang out with my friends on a Friday night, even if it’s just to play Rock Band.

See friends I haven’t seen in years.

Meet cool people I’ve only interacted with online.

Publish a novel, preferably the one I was working on before this whole thing happened.

Find work as an honest journalist, ideally music/film related.

Record another album, possibly an actual studio one as opposed to the home-based amateur stuff I’m used to.

Open the door when I sing at home so my Mom can hear, because she’s always asked me to but I never have.

Give my little brothers more guitar lessons.

Jam with my friends.

Go to a Padre game at Petco Park and eat a hot dog with mustard, ketchup and a ton of relish.

Walk in warm rain.

Sleep a full 8 hours in one bloc, in my own bed.

Go camping in the local mountains.

Go several days without getting stuck with a needle or being hooked up to an IV.

Reconnect with activism.

Eat food that isn’t hospital food.

Pet my cats Bandit and Eskimo.

Read Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

Read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Hunter S. Thompson.

Finish reading the rest of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (I’ve read 3 of 5 so far).

Post daily at Lose the Label and make it what it could and should be.

Help Obama get elected, and once he’s there, keep him busy.

Volunteer at this hospital.

And lastly, eat a Filippi’s double meat torpedo sandwich. Which I’m actually doing tomorrow— my dad’s bringing one to me for dinner. It’s gonna be sooooooooo good!

In closing, I suggest you make your own list. You never know when you’re gonna get slammed with bad news and when it happens, you’ll look back at all the time you wasted and all the silly shit you worried about and wonder why. You’ll look at all the things you took for granted and think of how wonderful it’d be to get them back. But mainly you’ll think of all the things you wanted to do and could have done but didn’t… and that’s the real torture.

I hope I have enough time to make a dent in this list. The thing is, even if I don’t, I’m not scared, because living with a chronic disease for 4+ years, I’ve been doing the best I can. Not perfect, but good enough that I’m not too uncomfortable with the possibility of dying. I mean, I’m gonna try not to, of course,..but if it’s my time, I can at least go with grace.

In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to that sandwich.

53 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. crossposted from lose the label

    I would have said something here sooner but I’ve been w/o internet access and just got it back 2 days ago. I just wanted to say specifically that while I’ve been going through all this, I’ve thought often of the positive energy I’ve seen at Docudharma. the kind of warmth and positivity here is just beautiful and even though I haven’t been around lately, just knowing and remembering that you guys are out there, it’s just comforting. I draw strength from this place. thank you all, just for being who you are. I’m looking forward to being around more once I get out of the hospital.

  2. i ♥ that wiffle ball is the first thing on your list….it probably would be on mine, too 😉

    anything you need, we’re here.  in the meantime, youll be in my happiest, most positive thoughts….

  3. and grant you peace.

    My best wishes,

    Bill

  4. really glad.

    we have a thursday night front page essay called writing in the raw (witr).

    i’d be honored if you’d consider guest hosting it for an evening. if i had seen this yesterday, i would have promoted it for witr.

    i love your idea of the list… and doing it now.

    stay well. stay with us…  

  5. Photobucket

  6. … and good thoughts your way, meteoriot.

    You will LOVE Cat’s Cradle!

  7. perhaps lose the label would be one for our blog list?

    and i love the name too!!!!!!!!!

    • kj on May 23, 2008 at 17:40

    old fashioned ex-catholic here, i will light a candle for  grace and strength for you, your list, your health care providers and your family, every morning.  

  8. but how bout adding one for blessing all of us here at DD by sharing this with us. You’ve touched me deeply and I thank you!!

    I’m sending you all the warmth and support I can possibly squeeze through these intertubes.

  9. of the bones of life, dude.  Know that we’re all rooting for you.  

    Love is never wasted.  Even unrequited love is not wasted.  What we waste is the opportunity to love.  Sounds like you’ve got that one saddled up and on the hunt, so the rest is details.  Ride hard, meteoriot, and go far.

    • pico on May 23, 2008 at 18:09

    You got me thinking about what I would want on my own.  and heck, none of us know how much time we have left, so why don’t we all have lists like this and embrace life as fully as you do?

    Cheers, man.  You’re in our thoughts, but you’ll pull through just fine.

  10. and positive thoughts being sent to you meteoriot to help you along your journey.  Thank you so much for sharing with us here, your message was positively uplifting to me this morning as I face my own meager problems.  

  11. for you.

    You will be fine. The spirit you poured out in your brief essay will continue to enrich this universe even after your life on this planet has ended…50+ years from now. Believe it…feel it…think it. It will happen.

    Take care.

    As Always…Peace ;-)>

    • Edger on May 23, 2008 at 18:37

    I don’t know if this can help, but maybe it’s worth looking into?

    Misplaced Priorities: Cancer of the Attitude?

    Since the story of a cheap safe cancer cure first broke on Jan 23 in NewScientistdotCom, virtually NO US mainstream media has picked up on and reported the story.

    Google news searchs on “dichloroacetate” now produce only 9 hits this morning (compared to 59 hits in February). Contrast that to 15,433 news search hits this morning on “al-qaeda”, for a bit of perspective. Cancer is a killer disease affecting millions of people every year, so the ignoring of this story cannot be due to any “lack of interest”.

    It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their “immortality”. The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.

    It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

    Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells.

    There’s also this…

    A Report on Curcumin’s Anti-Cancer Effects

    January 2005

    Imagine a natural substance so smart it can tell the difference between a cancer cell and a normal cell; so powerful it can stop chemicals in their tracks; and so strong it can enable DNA to walk away from lethal doses of radiation virtually unscathed. Curcumin has powers against cancer so beneficial that drug companies are rushing to make drug versions. Curcumin is all this and more.

    Curcuma longa is a ginger-like plant that grows in tropical regions. The roots contain a bright yellow substance (turmeric) that contains curcumin and other curcuminoids. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. But it’s only within the past few years that the extraordinary actions of curcumin against cancer have been scientifically documented. Among its many benefits, curcumin has at least a dozen separate ways of interfering with cancer.

    Curcumin blocks estrogen mimicking chemicals

    One of the things that sets curcumin apart from most other anti-cancer supplements (I3C being an exception), is that this phenolic can actually block chemicals from getting inside cells. Importantly, curcumin can interfere with pesticides that mimic estrogen. These include DDT and dioxin, two extremely toxic chemicals that contaminate America’s water and food. (Dioxin is so toxic that a few ounces of it could wipe out the entire population of New York City). Curcumin has the unique ability to fit through a cellular doorway known as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. This is a feat it shares with estrogen and estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Because it can compete for the same doorway, curcumin has the power to block access to the cell and protect against estrogen mimickers.

    Like estrogen, estrogen-mimicking chemicals promote the growth of breast cancer. In a study on human breast cancer cells, curcumin reversed growth caused by 17b-estradiol by 98%. DDT’s growth-enhancing effects on breast cancer were blocked about 75% by curcumin.

  12. An idea: make sure that you’re adding exciting things to your list just a little faster than you’re completing them, so that your list grows a little bit as you go.  That way you keep expanding in love and wonder.

    Blessings on your journey.  

  13. Fight without anger and with love.  Believing it will work can help it work better. Take care of business and, as davidseth says, keep adding to that list. Love your friends and your family, and let them love you.

    Sending you love and light for your journey of complete healing.

    • Edger on May 23, 2008 at 19:02

    University of Alberta DCA research site.

  14. will do you good.  The mountains are magnificent.  

    I admire your attitude and gratitude.  Wish you well dude.  {{{meteoriot}}}  

  15. Wisdom, you already have!  None of us knows what tomorrow will bring.  So, today we should live, love and laugh.  Thank you for the reminder to fully experience our moments and to not keep postponing doing the things that make us happy.  Best wishes for a full recovery for you.

     

    • Alma on May 23, 2008 at 20:12

    It can be a long battle, but you know that.  My oldest Sis has been through a few cancers and is in remission with lymphoma.  She’s found the support groups online to be a mind saver.  Of course we here at Docudharma are pretty good at that too.  😉

    Sending healing, and fun vibes your way.

  16. Your essay is magnificent; I send you the very best wishes for a speedy recovery and a long life.

    I used to pray that I would at least get to see my kids grow up.

    My hypochondria ruined a lot of good times for me.

    I got to know a gentleman from the Ukraine who went through hell with his wife after ww2 and finally bought and operated an apple farm in upstate ny.

    He had studied as an herbal practicioner and he was a great person. I talked to him about herbal healing, and one day I asked him about hypochondria.

    He laughed heartily, and then said:

    “The cure for hypochondria? HARD VORK!”

    Since then, I’ve found that activity, and especially activity to help others, is a great cure for many negative states of mind.

    Yeah, I was scared of dying young… and if you go to

    blacklotusmusic.com

    You’ll see what happened to me… I’m the one playing the REALLY strange instrument…

    Have a wonderful life!

  17. I’m not in the least implying that you are a hypochondriac…

    Just that I am… or at least was.

    Live! and conquer the darkness!

    I send you great love and healing.

    • robodd on May 23, 2008 at 20:45

    that you would put ketchup on a hot dog.

    But seriously, all the best.  God, I hate cancer.

    • geomoo on May 23, 2008 at 21:12

    You nudged me where I need to be nudged.  Something in your open-hearted, straightforward essay got a message through to me that I need to hear–don’t put off doing what I love.

    Great list, but a quibble, what could possibly be more important than playing Rock Band?

    I hesitate to say this, because you clearly don’t need advice.  But I always want to say the same thing when I meet people who are wisely committed to positive thinking.  Paradoxically, transformation begins with acceptance.    Remember that the starting point, the grounding point, is accepting what is.  In the fertile ground of acceptance the positive thinking arises with great power.When suffering arises, positive thinking does not hold it at arms length.  Our suffering connects us all in solidarity with every other human, with all other suffering.  Positive thinking accepts that suffering is real while knowing there is an end to suffering.  Please forgive me if I’m off-base with this rambling.  Please let it go if it sets up any disturbing vibration for you.  I’m just another fool who wants to be by your side in any way you need.

    I’ll be thinking about you and this essay for some time now, I’m sure of that.  I’m going to sit down with my list as I fly across country.

  18. And your essay — what an inspiration (I wish there was a word about ten times bigger than that — inspiration hardly covers it!)

    Here’s hoping your list is only the beginning of a long, healthy, productive life that we all get to share with you. Hugs, love and healing!!! (and apologies for being so corny – I’ll try to keep a lid on it in the future!)

  19. Glad to hear the chemo is off to a positive start.  I hope the treatments aren’t too hard on you.  I have a little brother (6′ 4″, 220 lbs) who went through extensive chemo and radiation treatments many years ago.  We went out for a big breakfast on his treatment days because later he had no appetite.  The treatments were eventually successful, and we still go out for breakfast occasionally to this day.  

    • WSComn on May 23, 2008 at 22:18

    and I’m a 3.5 year CA survivor.

    One thing I learned is this:  Politics no longer holds the sense of urgency for me that it once did.  They can’t hurt me.  No one can hurt me unless I let them.  I want a Democrat elected in November, and will work for that.  But no matter who is elected, it won’t make much of a difference in my day to day life.  

    I work at it for my son.  His future is what matters to me, and that’s why I kept going on.

    I can tell that you don’t have children, and that’s ok.  You’re young.  I’m old.  I can also tell you’d make a great parent.  How?  Your little brothers made the list twice, with the list’s first item as one of those times (Whiffle ball…how cool is that!).

    Play Whiffle ball with them.  Teach them that -7b5 chord that rockers seem to hate to learn.  Maybe take them camping with you in the local mountains.  Pass on to them what you know.  Give them your wisdom and knowledge.  Don’t bother teaching them how to make money.  They’ll figure that out for themselves.  Instead, show them how to live well with adversity.  Teach them how to love one another and those around them.  Teach them how to help people.

    Do that, and then no matter what happens, you’ll live forever.

    Peace.

    WSC.

  20. and thank you for posting this, it’s really beautiful.

    I wish I had something clever or useful to say…

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and if you ever need help don’t hesitate to ask.

    {{{meteoriot}}}

  21. How about if you occasionally give us an update of your list?

    I’d love to see what you’ve crossed off the list and what

    you’ve added to it.

    Please stay strong and remember, we’re here for you.

    hugs

    • RiaD on May 24, 2008 at 02:51

    and your family also….

    wonderful strengthening thoughts wrapped round with hopes for patience and calm tucked inside of healing thoughts decorated with joy and laughter

    ♥~

  22. Number Six!  Not bad for an old aunty.  Could it be because I live in Hawaii?  It was great to read your essay Meteoriot, and to know you are back to blogging and back in contact with the community at DD.  It is GOOD to have a computer.

    Long time Buddist that I am, I’ve learned a lot more about the Dharma from reading your essay and the comments posted by the generous, awake people who have responded with their stories and encouragement. Thanks and blessings to all of you.  Just for the record, his family thinks he is wise too.

    Keep us informed Meteoriot.

    • srkp23 on May 25, 2008 at 15:21

    and gratitudes to you. You are strong and wise and deeply touch others, and you are, indeed blessed, as you say. May you have a full and complete recovery.  

Comments have been disabled.