Cancer is messed up. I don't even know where to begin this blog post. As I sit here typing, and thinking, I certainly don't know how to end it. It is something that I personally know a little something about. I'd like to write about it, or somehow share something of this experience, but what? Well, I'm going to try, here goes... Let's start with one of the most heart-rending things about a cancer diagnosis. The uncertainty.
Upon being diagnosed, I sought advice from friends, Doctors, and survivors I knew. Responses ranged from the pragmatic to the absurd. But at the end of the day, I know all of it was well intended. I think I learned some things going thru this. Everyone has things they are contending with, in their own lives. Everyone. The cancer diagnosis had the effect on me, of tunnel vision focus on myself. From a spiritual point of view I don't believe that's necessarily a good thing. So a conscious effort had to be made to turn the focus to those around me. I learned more about feelings. My own, and other peoples. Some friends sort of panic in the presence of someone newly diagnosed. And for good reason. Some cancers do kill people. Lessons for me, in having compassion for them, became paramount.
The life experiences of a rowdy, ex-hard drinking, blue collar, construction working, motorcycle riding, guitar pickin' military/combat Vet, didn't exactly produce the most sensitive or altruistic specimen of a man. So I suddenly and quite unexpectedly had a lot to learn going down this new road. Being the kind of man I was, I started out wanting to know just how to beat this thing. And being the kind of man I thought I was, naturally one of the first places I looked for answer's was in the book "It's Not About The Bike" by Lance Armstrong. He famously beat it, right?
Right at the beginning, on page 3, his clear and concise answers hit me like a ton of bricks. "Good, strong people get cancer, and they do all the right things to beat it...". My heart dropped at the reading of his conclusion: "I can't help feeling that my survival was more a matter of blind luck". Reading on, I couldn't have fathomed at the time, how much of his narrative would end up applying to me. Mr. Armstrong described how he was forced to survey his life with an unforgiving eye, and ask himself, "If I live, who is it that I intend to be?". Like Lance, I've found I had (and have) a lot of growing to do as a man.
I started my cancer journey narrowly focused on figuring out how to beat it. I'm willing to take and give credit where it's due, but the thought is always lurking that it is indeed due to blind luck. I can tell you with gratitude (hopefully!), I've survived seven years. Despite that, and despite some deeply ingrained flaws (and a couple episodes of horrendous behavior on my part, yes, I still fall down), I'd like to think, or hope, that the lessons I have learned along the way are as important as survival itself. Compassion, consideration of others feelings, and gratitude.
A week before I was to undergo liver surgery, my friend Ed from our band Whiskey Glass Eye very altruistically arranged to video us performing a few songs. One of the songs from those sessions is the predecessor to the Two Kinds Of Light song 'Please Don't Go'.
Today though, I want to feature Ed singing his song "Messed Up".
Salty Rose, 2019
PS- If you fall down... get back up. And if you would, please share this content!