In the past few weeks I have learned a good bit about myself.
With some after thought I guess I have learned more about myself, people in general and our relationships when I have been injured.
In early September 2011 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Tonsillar Cancer which is HPV P16 driven. If you are going to get Tonsillar cancer, pray it is HPV P16 driven. (more on second chances in a minute)
Up first was a "radical neck dissection" to remove the tumors. I was pulling 5.10 a week after surgery so how "radical" can it be? Now Radiation and Chemo follow. I'll be fine in the end. A little worse for the wear and tear may be but pounds lighter and seconds faster. It won't hurt my climbing in the long run is my guess at this point. I will come out of this even healthier and more fit than I have been in a long time. But not a fitness and weight loss program I would recommend either.
So I get a second chance. A cancer they can cure. And a new lease on life with a rebuilt body after loosing 25% of my body mass from chemo and rad.
We all make promises. Some you intend to keep and others you know you will unlikely be able to keep. Most of us do what we can and with some effort more than we might have thought possible until pushed.
I had first intended to keep my health issues quiet. But as I realised there wasn't an easily accessed body of knowledge on how to get through this I started asking for beta from any of my friends (and their friends) that might have some insight into a this particular cancer and treatment that would eventually strip me of 25% of my body mass. It all seemed pretty damn scary at the beginning. A little less so now even after dropping 20# in the first six days of treatment. And my friends pulled through for me. Thank you, THANK YOU!
To pay back that debt I will eventually start a new blog documenting this entire experience in detail so it will hopefully be a little less scary for the next guy.
Ten days ago I was unsure if I would ever be able to walk again let alone climb. The initial chemo shattered me physically and mentally in a short 6 days. Not something I easily admit to, but there it is.
Water boarding? Shit, try Cysplatinum.
I, like many who ride a bike, often wonder if Lance did drugs to win those Tours. I don't need to wonder any more. Lance did weeks of Csyplantium. I'm only required to do a few days. Lance has been required to suffer more than most can ask to endure. I suspect that is how he won Tours. Chemo drugs may have taught him the secrets of suffering but no one in their right mind wants the education.
My friends, family and and our extended climbing family have been the BEST. People have reached out to help and support me, some I hardly know. But I "know" them now. It means a lot to me and I am more than grateful. When you can't move and someone offers a helping hand they are a more than human...more than a kind soul. How anyone does this by themselves hopefully I'll never have to know, thankfully.
Like climbing we seldom do anything alone. And there is a time when we are all alone and a required to dig deep and run it out. That comes as well. But we never get their by ourselves. Some one helped us get to that.
I rushed to get the shell review done before all this started. I was happy with the end result. It was one more off the tick list of "to dos". I have a huge assortment of gear review projects currently in the works. But they are going to have to wait till I can write (without chemo brain) and get outside again. Those sorts of things will be on hold for a bit as I get through this. Future plans? Cham and maybe the Kahiltna again this spring. I am antzy to this over and get to THAT future. But for now I am living cancer. It will be my way of life for a short time. The experience will enhance me, not define me.
I learned (again) to never take a day for granted. Never forget you have friends. Take care of them, even when you don't have the time. And be thankful every day above ground. Use those days wisely! 2nd chances are a wonderful thing :)
Temple Crag North Couloir
4 weeks ago