Monthly Archives: May 2015

Why I Am Walking

My daughter’s friend in her 3rd grade class has cystic fibrosis, a chronic disease known for dramatically shortening the lives of many young people, though great strides have been made in recent years with regard to both longevity and improved quality of life for those with this condition. The last time I walked in support of raising funds and awareness of CF, it was just about a year ago and just prior to the issues with my own health that led to the discovery of my lung cancer. At the time, I was not suffering from the heavy shortness of breath or lack of energy that slowly began to define my summer only a few weeks later. Now, after almost six months of treatment and watching my condition generally improve, I am looking forward to revisiting that walk.

I know it won’t be entirely easy for me. Although it is neither hilly nor terribly long, it will far exceed any distance I have traversed on foot since I joined this effort last year. While I have tried to maintain some physical activity over the duration of my treatment, the sleepiness and fatigue that has plagued me much of this time kept me from feeling able to exert that much energy at once. I have managed a few small hikes with my family, but this one is going to be a milestone.

So, in a sense, my hike for this child is also going to be for me. Continue reading Why I Am Walking

Integrative Medicine, Positive Care and Negative Ramifications

If we, as a society, could allocate just an additional $120 million each year toward research and development of new cancer treatments, that would seem like a great idea. Because there is a lot of money out there already directed at existing therapies, running clinical trials of proven concepts and supporting the refinement of effective treatments already in existence, it also seems like a great idea to take this $120 million and direct it toward new concepts and approaches that are not yet mainstreamed into Western Medicine. This is the reason, I suspect, that over the past twenty years or so, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has morphed into Integrative Medicine and has been granted enormous research subsidies and acceptance within many mainstream health institutions. Allocating even a mere $120 million is a huge responsibility, so it also seems like it would be a great idea to carefully vet the areas on which the funding will be spent.

Here is some amazing news: the actual amount of government funding for research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2015 and 2016 has reached $369 and $378 million annually, according to the National Institute of Health. This should be a Golden Age of Medical Advancement! Sizable annual funding being made available outside of the mainstream of modern medicine must be the answer to why there has been no definitive Cancer Cure.

Only it isn’t. And the reason is Continue reading Integrative Medicine, Positive Care and Negative Ramifications

Embrace the Bad Stuff, It’s Good for You

Nobody likes slogging through the shit. That’s pretty safe to say. But sometimes it must be done, whether we like it or not. If there are going to be hardships, we are told to look for a “Silver Lining,” as though our upside-down umbrella will magically fill with pennies. In the shit, those pennies might be damn near impossible to see.

Many people retreat as a first resort. Hide from the problems rather than face them. I would go so far as to suggest that such behavior is basic human nature: fight or flight syndrome, where running from danger is our first instinct — until we are cornered. The problem with health issues such as Cancer is that, whether one wants to admit it or not, the patient is ostensibly cornered before there is even a proper diagnosis. So any flight that may be attempted is not only in vain, it is illusionary. Being the ostrich may offer a temporary sense of calm to some people, but it also does nothing to help move through the difficulty and onward toward a better existence.

Self-help gurus and the proponents of countless “programs,” and also probably my mother at some point, have said that we grow through our challenges. In truth, it is the struggles in life both big and small that build what we call “character.” That nebulous term applies Continue reading Embrace the Bad Stuff, It’s Good for You

Not Dead Yet, No Matter What You May Have Read

A person I know quite well — and with whom I recently have had several lengthy conversations about my current state of affairs — offered an interesting appraisal of her understanding of my health and well-being to my wife. She said, rather unceremoniously, that she had expected me to be dying. In fact, she seemed quite surprised (and possibly a bit put off) by how healthy I appeared. Turns out, I have news for her:

I’m not dead yet.



In fact, here I am, looking quite well (and dare I say “dashing”) in my new progressive lenses picked up today to aid my aging eyes. True, after over 15 years of having a stable prescription, the chemotherapy seems to have begun affecting my vision ever so slightly, at least in the first couple of feet. So this minor side effect has required me to jump straight into trifocal territory. Aside from the minor “swimmy” effect of turning my head side to side while looking through the “mid-range” section, these are actually quite amazing. But that isn’t really what this entry is about, so I’m going to move along.

The thing that most startled me, and which I actually took some offense at, was the notion that a person who is not stupid managed to ignore virtually everything that she had been told about my condition, the state of cancer research and, perhaps most importantly, why statistics do not tell a whole story, or often even a remotely correct one. And what did this person rely upon to make up her mind about what I was going through and my prognosis for continuing life?

Continue reading Not Dead Yet, No Matter What You May Have Read