I’m not really sure where to go with this post. I wasn’t even sure on the title or what category to put it in. I had many thoughts on what I wanted to write and how I wanted to write this but I’m going to let this flow out of me. No editing, no adjusting, just a raw cut.
I normally don’t write about something like this. This blog is normally about my goals, thoughts, business, etc. This is something new and I may keep doing it. I guess I’m opening up to the world about something really tough. I was taught things like this you don’t tell the world but I’m doing it to get it out and maybe it helps someone.
In December 2016 my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was December 6th to be exact. I remember that day as a haze. I remember asking my parents, if this is something they could be wrong about. I remember the emotion from both of my parents. A sort of held back, yet clearly worried what the future was anymore. I felt lost and empty at first. Then I think we all went into a denial/we are gonna beat this mode.
I will admit heavily that I subconsciously was in denial about it for quite some time. I would say probably until about October 2017. I mean, I knew it was there. I knew it was a reality. I just didn’t want to accept it. I was convinced, unwavering, that she would beat this. I would tell the story of the facts to the family or friends that would ask about her, but I never really told how I felt about it or my thoughts. I acted like it was gonna be alright and I was alright. Well in full reality, it wasn’t and I wasn’t. That brewed for quite a while. You get in this mindset that you need to stay positive, that you can’t not be positive, and then you’re not only in denial of the situation, you’re in denial of your own feelings.
I didn’t even open up to the woman I was dating at the time. We were together for 3 years up until November 2017. In truth, I’m sorry for what she had to bare. I locked a lot more in, I wasn’t really myself. I didn’t say what needed to be said or wanted to say. I just started to bottle more and more. I seemed normal and okay on the surface level. I myself thought I was fine. There is no doubt cancer wore on our relationship. I didn’t want to let out how I felt in front of her (girlfriend), family, friends, anyone, not even myself. Loosing her was a huge blow because I saw her as the only constant in my life at the time, while everything else is going bad, at least her and I were together. Loosing her took me down a lot of levels. The blows kept coming.
Life hits hard
You know the old line, “When it rains, it pours.” Well, I can attest. Not only this time in my life, plenty of others. This one just being that much stronger it seems. Being dealt the cards with my Mom with cancer, seemed like other things started to just pile up. My dog’s back started getting worse. For a bit there, I was thinking, “I don’t want him in pain, maybe I should put him down.” Then it was the next thing and the next. Business took a hit because I was so busy dealing with everything else. My mindset started to fall apart. Looking back, felt like everything was falling apart. Cash flow was out the picture. Started not sleeping the best or eating the best. Took on some of the worse projects work wise, because why not add to the stress? It was as if I was at a train station, the train comes in, hands me my mountain of a bag (my Mom’s cancer), then they keeps throwing bag after bag of just tough things to deal with all at once. I can tell you, if you ever end up in my shoe… keep a journal, track your moves, and don’t loose sight of things. Its really easy with all this going on to loose sight of everything else. Gotta take time for yourself.
Life on pause
I know its probably already the name of a book or something, but my Dad and I said a bit back, cancer is like life on pause. Everything everyone planed is pretty much put on hold. I know she feels the same way, I have no doubt there is so many things she wish she did this last year. I can list a ton of things I would’ve done, if my Mom wasn’t in this position. It’s not her fault, I don’t hold it against her, and if anything this is the place I want to be. But if things were different, I would’ve moved in with my ex, I would’ve traveled more, dialed in my business more. Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? There is a feeling of putting everything else on hold because of this though. I know I’m not the only one. I’ve talked to others and it’s a common thing. Simple example, we have put doing any house renovation on hold because my Mom’s anxiety has become so strong and she can’t handle the dust and smells that well. It’s no big deal but that is now part of the equation.
The really hard stuff
There have been a lot of struggles that my Mom has had to go through, battling this cancer. Pancreatic cancer is tough and has a very low survival rate. The doctors going in said, “don’t think about that, those stats are old.” And they are right but its hard not to take that into account. 6 months prior to my Mom’s diagnosis, a truly great family friend of ours passed from pancreatic cancer. I knew him my entire life. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to his funeral. So when my Mom got diagnosed, it was a feeling that I couldn’t comprehend. I don’t even think I can put it into words now. It was like I lost all feelings yet felt like, I had the deepest of pain in me. I’m not even sure that makes sense.
First it was all the chemo treatments. Then it was the radiation. Then it was the aftermath of all that. Mean while a ton of doctors visits, hospital stays, and complications.
The chemo started off okay, she was fine for the first couple days, then sick toward the end of the week after chemo. It was normal they said and I have no doubt very hard for her. Of course with chemo, we had to be especially cautious, we had to thoroughly clean things. We couldn’t come into contact with any fluids from her. Contact with chemo, increased our chances of getting cancer in the future and possibly getting us sick. Us being my Dad and I.
The doctor visits were really tough. They seemed to never end. We would have so many every week. And the waits were never ending it seemed. What affected me was how different opinions were between doctors. For awhile there we were dealing with so many doctors, 5 would say this and 6 would say that. Then the main oncologist would say “no, they are all wrong, it is this.” Certainly didn’t make things easier. You get your hopes up because the first 5 say something good. But I get it. Being a doctor isn’t easy.
The radiation started and well you could tell it was hard on my Mom. I kind of feel like she was sicker and felt worse while going through radiation than chemo. Personally I would never recommend anyone get radiation. The aftermath is not worth it.
As for the aftermath, well my Mom’s stomach started to bleed. The doctors said it was due to the radiation. I talked to neighbors and did research online, the amount of people that have received radiation and have had severe damage are staggering. Countless stories of people dying from the aftermath of radiation. In my Mom’s case, she bled from her stomach. We had to go to the ER at least 6 times or more because of it and well over a month was constantly going back and forth between the hospital. She would come home for a day or two and then have to go back. It was challenging. Seeing your Mom in that state. Seeing her be so close to death. Having the ambulance come pick her up more than once. None of that was easy. She had over 20 units of blood that she needed during all that time. There was one time she was very close to death and still don’t know if it has hit me how close it was. I know the doctors said she was within an hour or less. The doctors finally got it solved and things seemed a bit better.
The news came that because of all the complications they were no longer going to seek treatment in any form. They talked about hospice. Which was really hard because we didn’t think she was in that place. We still don’t. And I know she doesn’t either. Being delivered that news was a heavy hit. You don’t want to believe the doctors. You want to go somewhere else. I started to feel like this is a bunch of bullshit.
Then she started to retain fluid, edema, due to all the complications. She gained a lot of fluid. It got to the point her legs broke open because there was so much fluid and her legs would leak out the fluid. We had to constantly wrap the legs and clean the wraps. The sores on the legs started to heal but left scars. After the sores healed, the fluid built up more and faster. They had to remove it surgically, which more or less is putting a tube in you and using a medical grade vacuum to get it out. A paracentesis is what the procedure is called. We have gone to plenty of those. Not sure on the count anymore. The doctors offered putting in what is more or less, a tap, that would allow her to remove the fluid on a case by case basis without having to come in. She declined it. So far things have worked out without it.
Light at the end of the tunnel
I wrote everything above from here about 2 weeks ago. This part was written the day of posting. Things are looking up for my Mom. The cancer isn’t growing. Doctor says neutral, not growing, not getting smaller. The edema seems to have left, though it could come back. She will be doing chemo again but things are looking good. In the last few weeks she’s seems to have gained her energy back to a degree. I’ve been taking her walking as much as possible and maybe that has helped. I can’t say its gone or shes cured but I can say we have more time and that’s what matters right now. Not totally sure how to end this so I’ll end in the words on the band Incubus. – “Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there, with open arms and open eyes.”
I’ll be honest, most would call this challenge a failure. Honestly, I felt that way about it at first.
At this point, there is no way I will be able to read the final amount of books unless I change the list to all Dr. Seuss books (haha not gonna do that.)
But that’s okay.
What I learned from this whole thing is that failure is good. Not making the mark for the challenge, that’s alright. Why? Because it helps you grow so much more when you look at things from this perspective. I don’t feel like I failed. I just feel like I didn’t have the time. I tried to make time for it but life happens. My Mom has cancer and I have to help with her as much as I can. I thought with everything I could juggle it all, but at the end of the day I couldn’t. It doesn’t bother me because I’m not giving up. So I won’t read all these books in 90 days, maybe in 180 days? Maybe less.
Fact is I’m gonna read all these books and then I’m gonna read a lot more books before this wonderful year ends.
A good friend of mine, Liz said, “Alan, how many people do you know, read as much as you do? ” My response was none. I would bet a lot of people don’t even read that many books at all. I looked up the stats, the average American reads 5 books a year. I feel like the little amount I read, made a huge difference already in my life and how I feel towards everything. I learned so very much!
Like I said, I’m not done, I’m going to finish all these books. I can spend more time on them now and enjoy them more, really deep dive into them. I’m still going to try and read as many as I possibly can before the end of March 2018.
There is a very strong chance I will take on this challenge again. Maybe this fall, or next winter. But I will probably take it down to 60 books in 60 days. 90 is a bit much. And I think next time I’ll stick with just nonfiction books.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat Pray Love, so if her name is familiar, that is why. This book Big Magic has the idea that ideas in general are really a gift given to you by the universe. Its up to you to acknowledge them and respond. To make those ideas become real. If you don’t they can leave you and go to someone else or just disappear forever. She dives into so many other aspects to being a creative person, ideas, and fear. It’s hard to put all of that into a short overview.
Read it. Any creative person, on any level, developers, writers, painters, creators, etc should read this. I know anyone that considers themselves as a creator, will get something from this book. Honestly, I think everyone can get something of value from this book. Its really good!