Christmas Cheer & Reflection - December 27, 2010

Some of you may have noticed the post count has slowed down quite a bit. As I tell family and friends in my "Medical Update" emails - NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS!! The purpose of this blog is to fill a gap in coverage on bladder cancer. There are dozens of good sites chocked full of dispassionate, clinical information on the types of bladder cancer and the recommended and optional treatments for each. In addition there are a couple of sites with emotional descriptions about bladder cancer's effects on people as well as their families and friends. When I was new to the game, I found both types of sites to be both alarming and disconcerting. I literally could not read much before becoming physically nauseous or faint. What was missing was an objective presentation of what a person will experience during diagnosis and BCG treatments. While my experience will not exactly mirror another's, perhaps my thoroughness will help people get mentally braced for the good and the ugly of what's coming. I think knowing that it is bad, but not too awful, unpleasant but more ridiculous, and most of all it's temporary - these observations will serve to keep your mind from conjuring up doomsday scenarios and allow you to focus on having the right attitude to heal and battle recurrences.

If you have read much at all, the doctors basically say to follow their allopathic regimens up to and including radical cystectomy, and that anything you do extra probably won't help or hurt. Yet many cancer websites for bladder and other cancer forms have a consistent theme - though it is often buried in emotional and/or speculative bullshit. DIET and EXERCISE. Just like the doctors, TV hosts, family, and friends have said all along, diet an exercise are the keys to better health. What they won't say is that better health is the key to controlling cancer - avoiding both occurrence and recurrence. Prior to being diagnosed, I was the poster child standing in opposition to this remedy. Hard to conceive of a worse diet - high in fats and carbs, nothing natural or organic, fruits and vegetables were fine when baked into pies. And for exercise? Fuggedaboudit! I had tried everything and hated it all. As for processed foods? Better living through chemistry for me!

But research has convinced me that, politics aside, there IS something to eating fresh and natural foods, in reversing the traditional American proportions of protein and fruit/veg from 75/25 to 25/75. And avoiding chemicals that are not necessary whenever possible is also prudent, given the absence of knowledge as to just what triggers these cancers. So I have become a believer for health reasons, and I have learned to ignore the politics. In fact, I have been ignoring politics and news of all sorts for two years and find myself living a fuller and happier life - not worrying about things I cannot control.

But not posting today to preach - only to summarize. I was diagnosed on March 31, 2008, with two tumors. Two TURBT procedures later I learned the tumors were T1 Grade 3 and non-invasive by the thinnest of margins. Since then I have undergone six initial BCG treatments and five 3-week maintenance sessions. Add to that multiple scopings and a couple of CT scans. And radical changes in outlook, diet, and exercise (even this very morning). Still battling with excess weight and like many, making a New Year's resolution to do better. All in all I am still alive, kicking, and relatively healthy.
Recurrence is still a high probability, and if it comes, I believe it will be minor and easily dealt with. So you CAN live with bladder cancer and not be too inconvenienced.

Another key thing to keep in mind is mental health and outlook. If you think cancer will kill you, then it will. If you think you will defeat it, perhaps you might. Positive outlook seems to trigger the body into using its natural defenses to stave off cancer. And to that end I will share my Christmas Day with you all. My #1 hobby in life is motorcycling. And even though I live in an area famous for winter snow, I manage to get out a bit in the cold. As long as the streets are clean and dry, it can be safe to ride. We had a lot of snow early this year, unusually so, even before Thanksgiving over 2 feet at the house. But it has not been bitterly cold, so the snow melts down a bit before the next storm. Before Christmas we had another couple of feet, followed by temperatures just above freezing. Christmas Day brought cool weather and sunny skies, so I went for a ride. Late afternoon temperatures hovered about 34F (1C) and up in the mountains dipped as low as 16F (-9C). With proper gear I was warm and comfy, listening to Christmas tunes on the satellite radio I as floated through deserted back-country roads. I paused by a lake, not yet frozen (you can see the ice line just to the right of the sign), and went to the end of the road for winter. The flat winter light made the bike look black and ominous - quite the opposite of my mood. So enjoy a few photos (click to enlarge each) and ride along with me on a 100+ horse, open, 2-wheeled sleigh!

1 comment:

TK said...

Time to get a picture of you in a train because 'I think you can!'

More and more information is being printed about how our attitude affects so much of our lives and health (just read an article about attitude and diabetes this morning). Thank you, Steve, for your analysis and continued research -