The Cancer Tsunamis
On November 14, 2016, my mother-in-law (Ina) was told that she not only had a spot on her pancreas, but she also had spots on her adrenal gland and liver. As I was sitting in the doctor’s office with her and my wife, I was 99.99% sure I knew what that meant. You know the 5 stages of grief? I skipped the first 4 realizing that I needed to be the one to keep my emotions in check while others around me might not be able to. That was Cancer Tsunami #1.
A little more than 2 weeks later, Ina would have a biopsy (actually for the second time). That same day, I was on a business trip to Syracuse University with my friend (and fellow SU alum) Betsy. I called my wife to check in, when she informed me that they had done a rush biopsy and that the cancer had been confirmed into 2 locations. 99.99% is now 100%. I have to go into a meeting and keep my shit together. On the ride home, I inform Betsy of what my wife are about to speak about. December 1, 2016 – Cancer Tsunami #2.
After spending most of Christmas week in the hospital dealing with post-chemo and pain issues, Ina moves in with Linda and me on New Year’s Day, 2017. The next 2-1/2 months are a whirlwind of doctors visits, chemo treatments, pain management (Fentanyl – a.k.a. legal heroin; morphine supplements; other stuff), most of which falls on Linda. FYI, I’ve been told by certain family members my Nobel Prize is waiting for me! Cancer Tsunami #3.
But the big CANCER TSUNAMI is the floodgates that were opened when all of this was swirling around Linda and me. It feels like cancer is an epidemic and once it hits you, the epidemic comes at you like a huge tidal wave…a tsunmai. Everyone you speak to, everyone you interact with in person or via social media, everyone is touched by cancer. Relatives, friends, business colleagues, casual acquaintances. I feel like I can’t go on Facebook without reading a post from someone who isn’t dealing with cancer on a personal level. They are raising money, they ask you to pray for a friend or relative, they post stories and photos of their own battle with cancer. Every time I hear or read about someone with cancer, I feel like that tsunami is pushing me down beneath the wave. I know that I can survive the tsunami and that I will eventually come up for air. I also know that there will be days when the weight of the water will make me feel like almost all the air is being squeezed out of my lungs.
Even when the tsunami has me down and almost out, I know that the battle against cancer is one we must wage so that we win the war. That the tsunami will end and leave only calm waters in it’s place.
After months on the sidelines, for a variety of reasons, I’m back. I’m also on the edge. On the edge of what, I have no idea. The edge of reason, the edge of insanity, the edge of drinking myself into a stupor. I’m not sure but I’m on the edge.
Have I ever told you about my crazy long-term memory? Well I got one. I often remember things about people that they don’t remember about themselves. As I’m fond of saying, “If I tell you something about yourself, chances are it’s true.” Don’t believe me? Just ask the roomies from SU…they will back me up.
Taken Too Young
I am sure we all have had this experience. A family member, friend, neighbor, colleague, business associate, etc., someone close to your age, passes away unexpectedly. Suddenly it puts life into perspective.
A couple of hours ago I got “that” call. One of business associates/vendors I had been working with passed away. Someone I’ve known and worked with for over 20 years, my age and he’s gone. Yes, he needed to lose weight. Yes, he smoked but to think I saw him last week and he was gone today. Reality just sucks on a day like today.
Even though we were not socially friendly, I will miss Brian every day I sit at my desk. I remember 20+ years, when Monarch was just a couple of years old, we worked on one of first full color jobs. FYI, today almost all our jobs are printed in full color, but 20 years ago full color printing was not as easy or cost efficient as it is today. We called Brian to help us through that process. It was the first on many times I would rely on his expertise and customer service to help us out.
Many years ago, one of my clients called me “the last of the old time salesman.” He appreciated the fact that I came running when he called. I did not (still do not) rely exclusively on email and the phone to take care of my clients. Brian was more than that. He was a mensch (especially for a big waspy guy). Always happy to stop by when called, always putting in that extra effort, always willing to share his knowledge when we had issues.
I never met Brian’s family but we constantly swapped stories about our kids. He knew that I loved college sports, so he was always keeping me up-to-date on his daughter’s track career at Villanova. I think it gave extra pleasure telling me these stories, while surrounded by Orange in my office.
Brian, you were taken from us too young. Once the initial shock of all this goes away, I will celebrate your life, all the time you helped me professionally and the stories we shared. Rest in peace my friend. Rest in peace.