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.

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.