This blog is made up of thoughts for my children as I battle cancer. It is not meant to be all knowing or holier than thou. It is simply a place for those that have asked, to read about the lessons that I would like to share with my children, whether I am able to stay with them, or not.



As I contemplate what I have left in this life, my thoughts often turn to “What have I done with this gift so far?” The answer to that question is exactly as deep and complex as the question. I can choose to look at it from a very high level and say that I have made mistakes, but overall, feel pretty good about my efforts. That is fine for maintenance purposes, but as I begin this Introduction from a hospital bed afflicted with Stage IV Prostate Cancer at 40 years old, it is not sufficient. The prognosis for my disease lies somewhere between 6 months and 2 years.

The odd thing about life is its ever changing definitions and standards. When I was younger, I would characterize life as freedom to make my own decisions and choices, beholden to no one. When I married, my life felt like it was intangible, yet to be defined, like a ghost. It was something that I was working towards, a goal. My wife and I were building a life together. It was like watching our first home being built. I saw the foundation, then the structure come into focus. Eventually, we began to see the frame taking shape to resemble our dreams and expectations. After we had children, my life completely became our life. Our life developed into defined roles. Some, my wife assumed, while others became mine. Instead of a mist that was formed by the particles of a concept, life became tangible and required research, planning, and action. I didn’t think of me anymore. Me became us. Not all the time. I’m not so full of myself to disregard times of selfishness, but my family of four, was ONE. I felt that one of my main roles and responsibilities was to provide for my family. To provide is a concept that isn’t only financial, but also to make sure that essential necessities of life were available to my family. Sometimes it was paid for, sometimes it was a shoulder, and sometimes, it was just time.

Not too long ago, our life changed. At 39, what was thought to be Prostatitis was diagnosed as Advanced and Metastatic Prostate Cancer. The cancer had left the prostate and spread to the lymph nodes, bladder, hips, pelvis, ribs, sternum, shoulder blades, and spine. My vision of life turned into a fight to live. My children, ages 9 and 11 became the focus of that fight.

As I pondered that high level question of whether I have done enough with my life, it inevitably became a much deeper question with much deeper answers. The more I thought about the question, the more I realized that the answer was much more involved than, “basically, I did fine.” The fact that I have 2 young children that I may not see progress into adulthood told me all that I needed to know. No matter what I had ever done, unless I left a road map for them, it could never be enough.

So what did I want for them? Easy enough. Everything. The best. All they could dream and all that they desired. As I prepared to make sure that they had all of these things, I realized that wanting these things at a high level, but not defining or measuring what that meant or telling them how to achieve it was the equivalent of calling them to my death bed, shaking their hands, and telling them, “Good Luck!” If that is all I give them, I have not done nearly enough.

These writings then, are exactly that. I don’t know how long I will have before I am called from this place, but I want my wife and children to know what I mean when I say, “I want the best for you.” I want them to feel my spirit with them, even if my body cannot. Mostly, I want my immeasurable love for them to be felt eternally as they progress through this life. I love them with every particle of my being and it overwhelms me. I want them to always know that without question. I want to define what “The Best” means to me and the values that make the type of person who lives that kind of life. This is for them, in the hopes that it will give them a map to use, whether I am there to guide them in this life, or the next.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Secrets of Our Marriage

These can’t be called the Secrets of Marriage because it would be volumes, not paragraphs. The other big reason is that I do not know all the secrets of other marriages. They are each like different people. Each has its own needs and fulfillments. Each has its own roles and dynamics. I do know that finding it in your own marriage, with your spouse, is possibly one of the greatest gifts that can ever be received.

Secret #1 in your marriage is that we never speak badly about each other, in public or private. Not ever in front of them or behind their back. Even joking comments that are meant to be harmless usually are not. Derogatory comments will develop into derogatory thoughts. These thoughts will become destructive words or actions. Mean spirited comments about anyone, especially your spouse can’t be pulled back. It does not matter how sincerely you apologize, once your words are out, you can’t bring them back in. You own them and the consequences of them. It is far easier to cultivate the respect that you have for your spouse and let that guide your comments than to continually test your marriage with disrespect.

Secret # 2 is similar in regards to #1. You will have differences in opinion with your spouse. Some things are minor enough to back off of those and fight the battles that you feel strongly about. Those will happen from time to time also. The important part is determining if you are arguing for the betterment of your family and to enrich the direction that they will need to take, or are you arguing for the sake of pride, just to win. If one spouse feels very strongly about the direction the family needs to take, and it is not a subject that you feel strongly about, it is time to let the partnership in marriage determine that you should back down and listen to the counsel of your partner. If you both feel strongly about different sides of an argument and it does end up in heated discussion, here is the important part, always discuss the issue, the whole issue, and nothing but the issue with respect for the other. The arguments that lead to items listed in Secret #1 are due to pride interfering in a discussion that you feel you are losing. Never, ever, let personal issues invade heated discussions. Always deal with the issue at hand, look for common ground to build on slowly and deliberately, and never draw personal and hurtful comments into an argument or discussion.
Secret #3 is that I have no close female friends and your mother has no close male friends. We have acquaintances of the opposite sex, but not close friends. It may seem old-fashioned and overly cautious, but through 14 years of marriage, it has worked well for us. Not only does it take away any temptations of impropriety, but it takes away the jealous thoughts I may have incorrectly formed about a close male friend of your Mom’s. If I have real worries, even if they are not true, about a close male friend that your Mom has, it can lead to hurt feelings and destructive action on my part, all because of something that has not even happened! It is not just a matter of trust. As close male/female friends go through tough times in their own marriages or single life, you may be asked to console them or they may share intimate details of their situation that can cause conflicting thoughts about your own marriage. You may find things in common with them that make you question if your own marriage is satisfactory to you. That is why it is important to choose the correct mate for you. (A subject for a separate writing). Even the doubt of whether you have married correctly is highly dangerous and damaging. The actions that follow these thoughts can create problems and hurt feelings difficult to overcome. Can a true alcoholic take just one drink? Maybe. Is the wreckage of finding out that he can’t worth it? Likely not. When you look for the companionship of the opposite sex solely in your own spouse and the mysteries and joy of building that friendship and relationship that spans the eternities you will know one of the truly greatest gifts from God.
I know I have listed only 3 Secrets to Our Marriage here and I know that there are many more. If you diligently find the right spouse for you and follow these 3 steps, the other ones will be a great joy to find with your own spouse. A family is like a small business sometimes. You need to discuss and trust with your spouse and find patterns of things that make you both happy and give your marriage fulfillment. Then incorporate them into your lives and keep looking. As you implement them, your relationship will grow beyond the temptations and you will find what your Mom and Dad have found in each other. The only thing greater is to bring children into this world born out of that love. Don’t misunderstand that it is not right to conflict in opinion with your spouse. It will happen many times, and it should. Your opinions and feelings are a valid and equal part of the relationship you will form. But always question the motivation of the discussion. Is it to help your family grow or is it to justify something you have already done or that your pride wants you to do. We all grow frustrated and angry and need to express it. Do it constructively, and it will strengthen your marriage, not weaken it.
I always love you and pray that you will find in your spouse what I have found in your Mother.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I just finished reading “Tathea” by Anne Perry. It is a book that I read several years ago, but I felt like I wanted to read it again. It is set as a fantasy, science fiction type book, but it is really a metaphor for the war between God and Satan, good versus evil. It is not necessarily religious, but directs you along those lines. It is set against Satan’s plan that man would have no trials, no sin, and no pain. All souls would return to him with none lost. Jesus then gave his Plan of Salvation which was that only through trials would we grow beyond the spiritual infancy that we were born into. Only through sin could we learn repentance and forgiveness. Only through pain would we recognize joy and truly grow in God’s image. The Plan presented by Jesus won and Satan left heaven intent on destroying all those that fought for choice. The reason for this book report is that, according to the author’s intent, it makes you think about choices. Especially about motive and whether we do good for good or reward. It may sound trivial and irrelevant why we choose good. It may seem like you are looking too deeply into something if the result is the same anyway. I believe there is importance in why we do things as much as what we do. When the reward is clear or the choice is easy and defined, we will almost always choose good. Do we always choose good when it is easier to choose, not even bad, but less? Do we sell our own growth short when we choose the path of least resistance? It is to accept the trials, not as punishment or damnation, but as opportunity. They are opportunities to choose light and grow in wisdom and experience. To allow tough times to stagnate you and push you down does not move you forward. You will still have to move forward, in time. It is your decision how long that takes. I hope you will take your lumps in life with the knowledge that these will not define you, but how you respond to them will. There is no question of whether you will get knocked down in life. You will. Will you get back up? Will you recognize the joy of stepping out of the darkness and into the light? Will you allow wisdom gained to be a hope and a source to others who seek your counsel because of your strength, example, and resilience? This doesn’t only apply to our choices, but those around us, as well. In order to become the person that we are destined to become, we must allow others to choose, even if their choice is not what we would do. We can’t be so tied to ideals that we direct others to our choices. We have to allow each person the freedom to choose in all things, even if we believe with all of our heart that our path is the correct one. To choose for someone, or deny information to make our way more appealing stunts their growth. It denies them the ability to take a step up or down their own ladder. In time, it denies them the will and desire to shape their own life. To truly love someone is to share with them the knowledge, but let them choose whether to pick up the tools and use them or not. Your choices will define you. Don’t ever fear making the right choices, no matter how hard. They will always leave you on solid ground. I know you and I trust in you. I will always love you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Treatment or Disease?

Treatment or Disease?

I had sort of a bad night last night. I felt okay and didn’t have any pain. I just couldn’t sleep. It has become apparent that the Hydrocodone that I needed for pain management has become physically and/or psychologically important for a decent night’s sleep. That, in and of itself, is not a big problem. The tough part is that part of my enzyme therapy is a fairly intense detoxification. So if the meds are not for pain, I need to get off of them. I decided that last night should be the night to start. I lay awake until about 3 am, unable to sleep. If it was just insomnia, that would stink enough. Instead, I get a very intensely uncomfortable and restless feeling in my arms and legs that make it impossible to lay still. I start to fidget and end up fairly miserable. That is where the fun really starts. As I get increasingly more irritated that I can’t sleep, all the other injustices start to flare up. This program that I am on is very structured. Pills, juices, saunas, and other less delicate parts of the protocol take place between every half hour to hour throughout the course of the day. While just drinking a vegetable juice or swallowing a handful of pills doesn’t sound obnoxious and exhausting, take my word for it, it becomes that way. When your day becomes a steady stream of “have to’s” and very few “want to’s”, it becomes easy to dread the arrival of a new cycle of treatment. It makes you look forward to a night of uninterrupted sleep. When you can’t have that, ironically because of another pill, it can make you a bit agitated. I am being descriptive about this not because I want to upset those close to me or to garner sympathy. My wife dedicates her day and her life to the preservation of mine. She works tirelessly day after day to make sure that I have the pills, the juice, or anything else I need. The only time she complains is if I am trying to do more than I should instead of saving my energy for healing. So, I wondered what I was trying to say. I almost wadded this up and threw it away as I got to this point. Then I remembered why I decided to start this blog. To share my experience in the hopes that others would be able to relate and find hope. I know that I am not unique. Others have cancer. Others have afflictions, sickness, and trials. Others lose hope and are not sure where to find it again. Others have treatments that are far more invasive and harsh than what I go through daily. Sometimes, in down moments, the treatment seems like a bigger pain than the disease. That is where the support is really needed. Not only to support you through the disease, but to distract you through the treatment. Sometimes you wonder’ “Will all this effort pay off?” and “Am I using the last time I have left on a ridiculous wild goose chase?” I won’t know the answer to that until it works or it doesn’t. If your child was on a bike and about to be hit by a bus, would you only leap to save him or her if you knew the outcome? Of course not. Life or death decisions call for a leap of faith and to believe that it will work out. One way or another. What I have found is that each person can’t be all things to you. My wife, Florence Ratchet (part Nightingale and part Nurse Ratchet from “One Flew over the Cuckoos’ Nest), not her real name, is dedicated to taking care of me. Sometimes she has to nudge me in the direction I need to go. My Dad, my kids, and my brothers are there to distract me and make me laugh. My Mom, Mom-In-Law, and my sister support me and my wife in whatever way needed. They are not all things individually, but together they are everything. It boils down to why you want to overcome the situation. With mine, it is because I will always do all I can to show my children that life is worth living. It isn’t easy sometimes, but the good times far outnumber the bad. The hard times fade after you move through them. If this wasn’t true, mothers would never have more than one baby. When I get stuck in a dark place and wonder if the treatment is worth the cure, I look at the effort of my wife and kids, the love and support of family and friends and realize that sometimes they know better than I do. I just need to put one foot in front of the other each day and know that I will look back at this someday and have one hell of a story to tell.
PS – I feel a lot better this morning. :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Faith and Hope

It is easy to get caught up in the unpredictable events of our daily lives. Some things are very important and require our immediate and undivided attention. Other things just seem that way at the time. I get caught up in things that I think are urgent, only to sit back, look at the big picture, and realize that they really have little to no relevance in things that really matter. As I think about what is important to me, a few come to mind that always matter. The love of friends and family. The hope that by doing what is required of me, I can be healed. My faith in God, the reasons that we are here, and that a better existence waits for us when our chores are complete. I used to think that this life was what it was all about. I have always believed in Heaven, but just assumed that it was so far off that my biggest and most real concern was my physical self and mortal well-being. My view on that changes continually now. We are responsible for this mortal body that we are given. How we treat it. What we put in it. What we put on it. The respect and love for it that we portray to others. If we treat our own body poorly, others will surmise that it is acceptable for them to, as well. That responsibility is a part of our time here, but not the only reason. I have felt as I travel this path with cancer, that our journey isn’t about the financial mark we make or the items we possess. It isn’t about the toys we collect. I enjoy these things as much as anyone, but our life is a trial of faith in preparation of our eternity. Even if you don’t put an eternal after-life as the solution to the equation, this life still has more to give than just plodding along with blinders on, clicking off the mile markers. There is unsurpassed beauty that was created for our enjoyment. People in our life that are there to give and receive love. What we need is truly different from what we think we want. Life is as simple or complicated as we choose to make it. When we slow down and enjoy the pure and simple things, the irrelevant are relegated to where they belong. In the background. Not to be obsessed over, but to be dealt with and checked off. Let the people who love you and you love be the reason that you get up each day. Greet the day with the knowledge that you will learn something that day that you have never seen, noticed, or experienced before in your life. Whatever your age. Have hope that God’s hand will be visible in your day. Recognize it when it happens. Have faith that there is more out there. God wants us to develop and progress. Exactly the same way that your father on earth wants you to grow. This is a wonderful place to be, but it is not about our time here. It is about the steps we take in our physical bodies to enhance our spiritual souls. As you put your soul first, in love, your body will get every ounce of fun out of this life. Actions always speak louder than words, so speaking a spiritual message, but doing otherwise doesn’t make you a messenger, it makes you a hypocrite. If you truly believe in your greater purpose here, it is far better to quote scripture in deed, than in word. The message is clear in any faith, any denomination, or even if you choose to make your own way through life lessons and self-study. Good is good. Right is right. Faith is belief in things not seen. Faith is hope. I believe that there is more after this life because it makes sense to me that all of this could not just appear from nothing without a Creator kicking it off. Even if you believe in evolution, it had to start somewhere from Someone. I have hope and I have faith that we are meant to be good and to do good because we are loved. If we follow our hearts, it leads us that way, every time. I have faith that someday I will know this to be true. Until then, my job is to be sure that my actions reflect my faith.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Acceptance and Humility

My belief and perception has always been that of an optimist. If I am faced with a problem or obstacle, I have always believed that a solution is there. It may not be the perfect solution, but a way to minimize the damage and move on. I have always believed this and still do. But with my current predicament, I was starting to wonder if that was true. Many treatments have failed and the cancer continues to progress, to this point. I know that I need to work hard, eat right, and do all of the things that healthy people would likely never consider. There was an element within my control to pave the way for a miracle, but in the end, if my body chose not to respond, there was nothing I could do. The pain in my right hip and leg was a constant reminder that this concept was true. Little by little, I gain acceptance of this fact, and that is a good thing. It is not a hopeless thought. Or one that gives up trying. It is knowledge that, on these occasions, our troubles are bigger than ourselves. We must look outside of ourselves for answers and whatever solution can be offered. I am reminded of the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I don’t say many memorized prayers anymore, but that is one that I use more than daily. It tells me that I need to know what is beyond my ability to control or change and ask for help outside of myself, by someone with power beyond mine. Humility comes from this acceptance. Humility is a cultivated trait. It is something that you develop. You can be humble about things, but humility is something that you find in yourself. It becomes something that you are, not what you do on occasion. It means to do something for someone and tell no one. It means to put your family before you in all things. It means to live a Christ-like life. To be in service of your fellow man in your heart, thought, and action. Seems like a lot. That is where the first part comes in. Do the leg work and put forth the effort. Change what you can to be the best person that you can be minute by minute, day by day. Be humble and know that God is by your side giving you strength. Accept your limitations and that He will make up the differences. It is no different from your father teaching you to ride a bike. You have to get up there and pedal. He is right behind you, steadying the bike. It doesn’t mean you won’t get scrapes and bruises now and then, but with his help you will gain independence. What this all means for me is that I am learning to accept my disease. I know that now is the time to turn my life and my will over to the care of God. I continue to work hard and accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and pray to know the difference. Physically I can do these things. But just as important, spiritually and emotionally, I turn over to the strength of God. It requires more than I can give. I trust in the Lord and believe he can heal me. I will try to be humble enough to remember this, but this too I know, Thy Will Be Done.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathers Day

Fathers Day is here and, as it seems lately, I reflect on things differently than I used to. My appreciation for the little things makes me grateful and overwhelmed by aspects that I never fully understood or concerned myself with. I always looked at Fathers Day as an opportunity to appreciate and thank my Dad for his tremendous influence in my life, who I turned out to be, and who I aspired to be. When I had children, I had fun being the Dad who was honored with the gift of the Norelco Electric Shaver. What I never looked at deeply enough was the honor of being their Dad. The honor of being my Father’s Son. The honor of being picked by my wife, not only to be her husband, but to be the father of her children. It may be a “Hallmark Holiday”, but it occurs to me how lucky I am to have been chosen by my Father in Heaven for this assignment. To be loved by a Dad who never turned his back. To love, and be loved unconditionally, by two children in a way that they may not know until they are blessed with children of their own. To share a life with a mate, so special, that I know she was hand picked by God, for me. Fathers Day is for me to recognize and ponder that we are made in God’s image. We are his family. He loves us in ways we can’t imagine. My life is full because of all of my family and my heart is full at my love and admiration for them. I pray that I can give them the best Fathers Day that they have ever had. Whatever gift I may receive from them will be most appreciated, but will unfortunately never be able to match the gift they have already given.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life Isn't Fair! Or Unfair...

I usually like to write at night. It is peaceful and serene. My mind is able to wander and pick the places it needs to go. It is meditation to me. Things that active thought gets in the way of. Tonight is like that. I have many things on my mind, but when I try to pick one out, I can’t complete a thought. I think that is exactly where I need to go. I am trying to understand why I have cancer. What lesson am I to learn? What am I to teach? Is it only necessary to be the best example I can be? And since I’m on this soul-searching expedition, is this fair? Why is life decidedly unfair sometimes? I know that better people than I have dealt with far more, but my kids are innocent bystanders in this thing. I know that I believe that life is just life. The good and bad that happen here are not reward or punishment. They are only tests and trials. The judgment is based on how we handle life’s unfairness, not a question of whether we are victim to it or not. All of us will live through tough times. As we battle them, will we choose to look at our feet as we trudge through them? Or will we stride purposely, looking ahead to better times and resolution? I wish I could say I always choose the latter, but unfortunately, we are all more similar than we like to think, and I sometimes trudge through the former. One of the simplest thoughts pertaining to this is, “This, too, shall pass”. This applies to good times and bad. Life rolls on whether we are enjoying it at that moment or not. We are given a finite time here, and we don’t know how long we will get. So, while this too shall pass, remember that it does pass, quickly. If you choose to dwell on unfairness and tough times, you minimize the time spent enjoying what God has given you. When troubles hit, sit down and analyze what you need to learn from the situation. As the lesson becomes clearer, so will the solution. As you see what you need to learn, you can begin to understand why you needed to be in that situation. It becomes part of what makes you who you are, not fair or unfair. It does not mean that it will not hurt. Sometimes you will stride purposely towards a resolution, but not toward better times, with tears streaming down your face. Sometimes what is truly unfair in this life won’t be better times until the next. Cancer is like that. For some, the joy is felt here and we get to celebrate miracles. For others, they have to wait for that joy until the miracle and understanding is found in the next life. What we see here is so limited. It was explained to me once that the big picture is like a giant warehouse, filled with everything. In this life, the lights are off and we have a small flashlight. We can only see what that little spot of light will show us. When you go to heaven, it is like someone turns on the lights and you can see everything. Life is not fair or unfair. It is meant to be a journey filled with ups and downs. Be the person who understands that tough times build you. Feel joy, feel sorrow. Feel anger. But know that what you were meant to feel, is love. Always return to that and you will keep your head up as you stride through life with purpose. Fair or unfair.