Stuff that’s been on my mind….(This is NOT a cancer diary!! Lord knows we’ve got WAY too many of them already!)
It’s been six days since my third round of chemo ended and much of my time during this period is spent sitting around the house while the toxic chemicals that have been pumped into my body finish up their dirty work.
This time, either my body has gotten used to the abuse it receives during chemo or I’ve been blessed with a far easier path. I’m thinking it may be a bit of both. For sure, there’s still that bloated, “nauseous all the time” feeling that you go to bed with and wake up with. And my body aches. And there’s still that strange “being tired without being sleepy” feeling that is best described with one word – malaise. This malaise thing, it’s like wearing a lead suit all the time. You’re sitting in a chair, you want to get up, but it damn well takes a huge effort to do so. The result is, you sit staring out in space wherever you plant yourself, far more content to watch the world go by than to even think about getting up out of your seat. Such is life with cancer.
Of course, whilst I all this is going on there’s still the ever present image of “Dill Pickles” the little kid from “Rugrats” staring back at me in the mirror. I see myself bald, with protuberant ears (a result of having lost most of my hair) framing the strands of what remains of my hair.
Regardless, there’s still a smile on my face. That never goes away. Despite everything I’ve gone through, and put my family through, I know I’ve got this recurrence of cancer beaten back. Next week I visit with the stem cell transplant doctors at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to discuss receiving that specialized treatment that will (God willing) change my body make up permanently and remove any and all remnants of this non-Hodgkins lymphoma that has been making a pest of itself in and around my body for the past 7 years.
It’s a part of cancer. I’m still pissed off that my life has been disrupted in such a fashion by a recurrence of cancer. This is not what I had planned for my life in 2013. For the first few weeks after my diagnosis, I was impossible to be around. I was mad at everything and everybody. It’s not that I walked around being an a**hole to everyone, although there was some of that. I let my anger with my diagnosis affect my interaction with everyone and everything I did, including the relationships of those who were the closest to me and meant the most.
The doctors don’t tell you about mad. You have to figure it out for yourself and hope that you do before you permanently damage any of your relationships.
And while I’m still mad, I’ve finally brought myself to a place where I’m able to live with the simple fact that the cancer happened, I’ve dealt with it (with the help of excellent medical professionals and my family, God Bless them All!) and soon, it will be time to move on.
Honesty is also a part of cancer. There’s no bullshit with cancer. As a cancer patient you understand very quickly that this is a battle between wills. Its the disease vs you. Sure, there are doctors, nurses, toxic chemicals, family and friends involved. But, when it comes down to it, YOU are the one who could die here. That’s a sobering realization.
I missed being in Daytona for the Firecracker 400 or Coke Zero Whatever that they call it now. The night race was for me, far more intense than the Daytona 500. I figure that by the time July 4th weekend rolls around, teams have had nearly a half a season to work on their cars along with having two restrictor plate races under their respective belts. To be honest, I fell asleep during the Sprint Cup race on Saturday night. That’s what chemotherapy and pain meds will do for you. (Some will say the races are usually boring. I disagree!) I was awake for the ending. I absolutely enjoyed watching Jimmie Johnson win. His sweep of both races, of course, was another of his many milestones in an incredible (and still unfolding) racing career and yet another reason why he shall unquestionably be enshrined in the pantheon of stock car racing until the end of time.
My wife is from North Carolina and she’s a Dale Jr. fan. She hates Jimmie Johnson, so of course watching Cup races in our house is entertaining, to say the least. Especially the moment when, after running in the top 5 or top 10 for much of the race, the 88 car has some kind of an issue and falls out of contention. Meanwhile, as the 48 car dominates, much like it did last Saturday night, I’m forced to witness a torrent of verbal abuse from my wife heaped upon the driver of the Lowe’s Chevrolet and his crew chief.
I think it’s a rare gift for racing fans to be alive in 2013 and to be able to witness the success, talent and chemistry of Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the entire 48 team.
I felt the same while watching Michael Schumacher win his seven Formula One titles. Ironically, Johnson does not like Schumacher. It’s a dislike that stems from when the two were participants in the International Race of Champions in Europe several years ago. Johnson discovered after arriving at the stadium that was hosting the competition that Schumacher had been able to practice for days using the vehicles that were to be part of the event. In addition, Johnson gave me the impression that the seven-times world driving champion was more than a bit snobbish for his tastes.
As I watch Johnson and Knaus entertain the racing audience I can’t help but think that its a rare treat. It’s like being able to witness the F1 great Juan Fangio win each one of his numerous F1 races and five world driving titles, or sit in the stands for each of “The King” Richard Petty’s 200 wins and seven championships, or the late Ayrton Senna’s remarkable talents in an open wheel car. Or like Mantle and Maris in 1961, when both men vied for the MLB home run title. I did witness that battle. I was ten years old and even at that age, watching and listening to the adults around me, I quickly came to understand the implications of what was happening.
Johnson will win several more NASCAR titles before hanging up his driving gloves, so get over it.
Indy Cars returned to Pocono Raceway after a 24 year absence and put on a great race in front of the 30K+ fans who came out on a hot Pennsylvania summer day. Pocono is my home track and I was very disappointed not being able to witness the weekend in person.
I have already entered the race into my calendar for 2014 and added on the additional 100 miles that should have been part of this year’s race. Four hundred miles flew by in a flash – just over two hours.
And despite the entertainment of the Sprint Cup and Indy Car races, the best auto racing of the July 4th weekend was the German Grand Prix and especially the final ten laps that nearly saw Kimi Raikkonen embarrass reigning world driving champion Sebastien Vettel in front of his home country crowd. If there had been five more laps I believe there would have been a different driver standing at the top of the German GP podium.
On a side note: F1 officials took a lot of heat for messing with the rules of the sport over the past several years, but somehow the powers that be have been able to make the racing more competitive and exciting. I’m hoping that my friends among the hierarchy at NASCAR are paying attention. Change the rules, don’t listen to the whiners and the traditionalists and move the sport forward.
Anyone who thinks Formula One is boring, isn’t paying attention.
Thanks for reading everything. And for stopping by.