Some friends from Portland, Maine flew in to do the Livestrong Challenge Austin bike ride last weekend. Team “Not Dead Yet” has flown down from Maine for the past few years, bikes in tow, spreading their brand of “Lobster Love” to central Texas. The team’s fundraising for the ride contributed towards the overall $2.4 million raised by the 4300 Livestrong Challenge Austin participants this year (2500 cyclists, plus 5K runners/walkers). It was cool to see that 100 percent of donations to the Livestrong Challenge Series go directly to support cancer programs and initiatives.
It’s bizarre that half of the eight guys on this year’s “Not Dead Yet” team are cancer survivors. Too much cancer going around for all of us “young” folks.
from Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address…
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
It’s been a little over six months since my last chemo treatment at the end of March 2011. My oh my, how time has flown by.
Here are where things are for me:
- I’m stronger. I started swimming about 5 weeks ago and my muscles are regrowing after being in hiding for the past year and a half! I’m swimming three times a week, aided by my fantastic coach, Sandy Neilson Bell, and the Team Texas Masters program.
- More oxygen is flowing around my body. After 2 weeks of swimming, my hemoglobin count shot up from below normal to healthy normal range. Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs. So I am getting more oxygen to my brain and body which helps reduce fatigue.
- I’m getting better at listening to my body. If I’m tired, I take a nap.
- My neuropathy is much better. There’s only a tiny bit of numbness on the tips of my fingers. My feet are improving. In fact, my toes have started tingling again (instead of just feeling dead) which makes me think that my nerves are coming back to life!
- My hair has changed again. After coming back wavy after chemo, it’s stick-straight now. Straighter than before chemo, if that’s possible.
- I feel mentally strong. Well, except for yesterday… Continue reading