Worst and Best Cancer Day

Now that I’m five years past my last treatment, I think back to the lowest days of the cancer ordeal while out on long training days. I do this to remind myself of the strength inside and remove any whining that may surface when I’m tired of running or not feeling 100%.
To find the worst day during my cancer fight, I could choose from the day I was diagnosed, the day long surgery holding my wife’s hand, the recurrence, the fear of the radiation strapped to a table, any of the endless days trying to eat/drink anything, my last day able to run or a multitude of other options. But no, none of those even tip the scale of the worst and subsequently the best day of my cancer ordeal.
No, the absolute worst day was the day I sat down, all 130 pounds of myself (started at 162), in a rocker on a raining evening in March 2006 holding my two year old son and reading him Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. If you have kids, you probably know this book as the rolling words and carefully rendered pages invite the child to gently fall asleep. I loved reading this book to my son before bedtime and holding him in my arms as he would fall asleep just before the last couple of pages. Well, my worst day was when partway through this children’s book, I was no longer able to talk. The treatment to my head and neck had damaged my throat and mouth so badly, that I was too far gone to shape my mouth. If it was only pain stopping me, I would have forced the body on to finish the book. No, I physically could no longer speak and hence I could no longer finish the bedtime story to this little freckled face, blue eyed boy who had no clue of what I was undergoing – nor should he.
At this moment, I could have just stopped and asked for help and let the cancer win another battle in this prolonged war. I could easily give up and hand my son to my wife and surrender to the invisible darkness eating me from inside. But that would not be me. This worst day of my treatment was also the best day, as I simply hummed the words softly. I found a way to continue the book and as a result I won this little battle for dignity given so much dignity that I had to give up. While there was a tear in my eye, I was happy to hum the bedtime story to my son and watch him fall asleep in his dad’s weak but stubbornly wrapped arms.
Moments like this are what I call upon when I am tired during a 12-hour night run after working all day. When work doesn’t seem like a place I want to be or any situation that allows for the opportunity to surrender and give up, this best day allows me the strong experience to smile at the obstacles that exist all around us every day and continue to lead a truly stress free life. Sure there are deadlines at work, endurance workouts that don’t go as planned and reasons to multi-task beyond the mere mortal limits of one person, but I still smile and put this entire wonderful life into perspective.
It’s not about how much money you make or don’t. It’s not about who you know or don’t. It’s not about winning a race or not. It is about getting to the starting line, taking your turn, accepting no excuses and finding a way to read to your son even if there are no words coming out.
After reading my little blog, I hope in your life you see the challenge and smile at it as an opportunity to continue living life – your life.

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