Mental Health - June 20, 2009


One aspect the early stages of the bladder cancer treatment regimen is that you live life a few weeks or months at a time for the first two years. Unless your diagnosis is low grade and superficial (mine was high grade and near-invasive T1), you cannot even think about resting easy or using a term like "remission" until after 2 years. And every 3 months after the initial surgeries, you get a "judgment day" of sorts via cystoscopy. The first year each all-clear is generally followed by 3 weeks of BCG maintenance therapy, so you really lose a month or 5 weeks, leaving you just 2 short months before the next judgment day. I have broken into new ground by making 1 year and being able to skip BCG last time, giving me a full 3 months off. With scheduling and whatnot it becomes about 3.5 - the entire summer. For the first couple of weeks I had a feeling of unreality, and dealing with turning 50 years old as well - no big thing as it turns out. Then I had to get some plans into motion to go and do some "normal" summer activities. Sadly our summer weather has been far from normal, raining nearly every weekend and most weekdays here in the Utah desert and mountains. Still there was no point sitting at the PC and blogging every day - which would have driven away even the most faithful of you readers I fear!

So I decided to take a couple of days off and make a 4 day weekend for an extended motorcycle ride. Of course nothing is easy. We had a long overdue TV repair come last Friday, the day of my purported departure. And rain, monsoon style, added to the disincentive. So I delayed my departure for a day, working a little from home. And the TV got fixed and the horrible green blob (see photo) is now gone. HDTV looks great again! Saturday I rode off early into the drizzle, headed Southwest to punch out of the weather. Streets were dry within half an hour, but I did have to punch through a vicious cloudburst 200 miles south for about 20 minutes. After that the weather was picture perfect for the rest of the weekend. I met my buddy Don, who lives near Carson City, Nevada, in the border town of Mesquite. We had a great meal of lamb and prime rib and red wine and enjoyed some conservative casino gaming afterward. The next morning we departed with blissfully cool and clear weather and headed for the north rim of the Grand Canyon, some 200 road miles away. Road conditions perfect, traffic light, and sun shining, we rode not too much over the limit across the NW corner of Arizona and back into Utah. Stopped for a pretty awful breakfast in Hurricane (pronounced HUR-kin by locals) and proceeded back into Arizona. At the state line we found odd community comprised of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. This is the famous home of the FLDS polygamist cult. There were a couple hundred of the enormous polygamist housing compounds around, about a quarter of them unfinished and a fair number of them abandoned.

Great weather and views greeted us all the way to the Grand Canyon. While somewhat crowded, we had no issue parking and hiking a bit and taking spectacular photos. Then a journey north to Marysvale, Utah, where my wife had met her brother (who had come with his friends from Texas) for some ATV riding. Spent Monday morning ripping around the trails on the Utah mountains and having a great time with family. The rest stayed for more ATV days, but I had to hop on the bike and head home to resume work on Tuesday. Even today the mental and physical exertion required by the past weekend's 1000 mile motorcycle ride and 50 mile ATV ride continues to refresh my mind, heart, and soul. Living "normal" life and doing some of my favorite things with all of my favorite people is the best medicine in the universe. I can't recommend it highly enough.

My advice to bladder cancer patients is to set some time aside from research and treatments to experience the healing power of occasional normal life and times. It's a great pick-me-up!



Don F said...

Yo STeve, It was fantastic to get together and ride last weekend. And the food was great too! Great to see you're doing so well and getting back into the game. Cindy and I are looking forward to you two coming out in Aug. Take care, my friend. Don...

TK said...

Great pics, Steve. the words and 'feel' of your blog conveys the mental impact of your weekend - bet those around you are benefitting, too!

You have a good suggestion for everyone - take some time away from what is consuming your attention to do something you enjoy. The benefits are multiplicative!

Rapid Iq said...

I'm 31 years old and I was diagonised last month with T1-G1. I went through your blog yesterday and I'll be following it. I must say you are inspirational and please keep the good work going !
God Bless you and all of us!

Steve Kelley said...

Thanks much Don and TK.

And welcome to the "club" Rapid! We wish you all the best and please do keep me posted on your progress. G1 is much easier to kill, but still no picnic and not to be trifled with!

Lee said...

great job on the site over last've done some good work here for your own spirituality and also for others seeking answers.


Kathiesbirds said...

All right Steve, when are you going to ride that thing down here and visit us! Great photos by the way! I'm glad you are doing so well!