My world stopped for 6 minutes this morning…

IMG_1729world_stoppedI rode to the shop earlier than usual this morning, so I could walk over to Supercuts to get a haircut. Just as I was heading out the door a phone call comes in. I go back to check who it was from… Kaiser. The shop is the first number they call when they’re trying to reach my wife (Karen), and in this case, it would be to discuss the results of her scan yesterday afternoon… the scan that’s looking for any evidence her cancer has spread beyond what was removed two weeks ago.

Knowing that Kaiser’s next call would be to my wife’s cell, I try to call my daughter (Becky) who would still be at home. No answer. All the stuff going through your mind… what is the news, what changes might be in store for me, how much more “stuff” can the family take. You’ve prayed for good news but y’know, it’s cancer. 3rd time. Her sister, her mom, my dad… someone around you had died from cancer. You steel yourself for the worst, ugly scenarios that you don’t want to talk about racing through your head. For how long? When do I find out?

After 6 minutes that seemed like an eternity, I finally get a call from my wife. The scan is clear. No sign of cancer anywhere else. Looks like we’re at Stage 2 cancer, which is, pretty much literally, a life & death difference between the Stage 4 it could have been! Chemo beings May 16th. Life has some semblance of order again, and that’s really what makes cancer so bad. By definition, cancer is disorder. Cells doing things they’re not supposed to do. That disorder cascades out of your physical body and infects your mental well being, and that of those around you. But today, we have a plan, and that plan, finally, supplants the fear.

Thanks to all for the kind thoughts and prayers along the way. Life is a journey where only the beginning and end are certain. We were born, and we will die. We get frustrated over all the things we can’t control, because our lifestyles are all about planning and dreams and often acquiring things along the way. Cancer strips that away, due to its callous entropic randomness. What it leaves us with, and whom, makes the journey bearable or intolerable. We need to concentrate more on those things that can’t be stripped away. Our faith, our less-selfish desires and… there should be a 3rd thing here, but it’s not coming to me. Maybe it’s our friends and family. Just the few weeks since Karen had her surgery and unpleasant pathology report have been enough to witness some degree of cancer’s ability to divide and conquer rather than pull the family together. We will be better next time. It might be Karen 20 years from now, or it could be me in 5. You just don’t know, but I’m learning that it’s a bad move to put too much emphasis on the cancer itself and not enough on things-less-physical. I’ve written and re-written the last two sentences a number of times and still don’t quite have it! Hate that. Hate cancer even more. –Mike–

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Just another nice day on the bike, plus update on Kevin, Becky & Karen

wolh_05_03_16Not quite warm enough yet to dispense with the base layer and leg warmers, but at least we’re into regular (short-finger) glove mode! Eric, JR, Marcus, Karl & Karen this morning; older Kevin is off cycling in Mallorca, while younger Kevin is still having his brain scanned.

It was one of those rides where you really felt pretty awful at the start, but the longer you rode, the better you felt. Truthfully, I felt OK once we hit Kings. I didn’t know I felt OK until I found I was still on Marcus’ wheel when everyone else had dropped off the pace a bit. A quick regroup at the park entrance, after which things split up again… I dropped back to keep an eye on the rear, but chased back up to the front again, finally circling back at the wide open section. It’s likely I could have had another decent time on the climb, but more important to make sure everyone’s OK.

kevin_fat_frogAfter work, it was time to check up on Kevin and see if he’s still OK. He’d had an interesting day; his doctor had come by and was, literally, playing with Kevin’s brain. Those 80 electrodes connected to his brain, the electrodes that tell the doctor what Kevin’s brain is up to? Turns out they can be used in reverse. Pretty cool. The doctor can stimulate any one of those areas and basically do a sort of puppet-master thing on Kevin, causing him arm to fly out and open, various muscles to twitch, or, in one of the funnier things anyone has seen, force an involuntary smile. Seriously. I got to see a recording of it his girlfriend had made. Pretty hilarious!

Kevin will be leaving the hospital on Sunday, and then head back a couple weeks later to have a very high-tech brain stimulator implanted in his skull. Something that will actually learn from his seizures and (hopefully) figure out a way to trigger an anti-seizure before a real seizure gets a chance to start. Clearly, interesting times are ahead!

Tomorrow is lining up to be another significant day. On the good side of things, Becky finally gets the cast off her broken foot. It’s been a month since she’s been able to ride to work. On the praying-for-good-news side, my wife (Becky & Kevin’s mom) gets the results of a high-tech scan she had today, results that will hopefully show that her newly-discovered cancer hasn’t spread beyond what was found (and removed) a couple weeks ago. If the scan does find more, hopefully it will give her doctors the information they need to aggressively go after it. This is her 3rd time with breast cancer, something she’s lost her mom, and one of her sisters to. The road ahead will not be easy, but cancer treatment is significantly better today than even the 5 or so years ago when she lost her sister. Still, it’s going to be a challenge holding everything together, but you just have to take things one at a time, as they come to you. That and a healthy amount of prayer. –Mike

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