Wednesday, August 26, 2009

is this the prequel?


I've been outed.
The big goofy guy has been dumped upon blogs,
like the prom date that was a joke.
let's back up and I'll tell you how we got here.

I've always loved bikes. And pretty much anything with wheels,
(a recovered car/motorcycle-holic). Even while skateboarding through
highschool, I still loved bmx, freestyle, mountain and road bikes.
Read: ALL BIKES. Guys at the bike shop hated me...

At the end of college I worked at a shop for six years,
a kid in a candy store. We also sold snowboards, but at the end
it was the mountain bikes. During one summer, the bike kept my
sanity and helped me work through alot of, well, crap.
At one point, after selling my car, my only possessions
(and as far as I'm concerned, necessities) were a futon, my CDs,
three mountain bikes, and a tool chest of bike tools - that's
all a guy needs, along with coffee, good mexican food, and some beer.

Forward a couple years and I've moved out east,
the armpit of New York.
Gotten married, buying a house, doing the life thing, kids,
dogs and cats, and cars that are functional and not cool.
You realise that, sigh, you're not cool. I sold my bikes,
because out here everything is posted/private property.
Riding a bike is not about packing a car and driving for the
same amount of time that you're riding, unless you live near
some EPIC SPOT, like Moab.
Fine then let's drive. But that's not here. And I'm still not
that ENLIGHTENED, yet. And I'm still smoking. Had tried to quit
for years, but you can't quit what you enjoy. And if you enjoy a
coffee or beer, well hell, without a cigarette,
it's like salsa with no chips?!?!

The Tipping Point:
With the third kid on the way. There's a possible problem,
there's the Dr. visit for me, then a referal to a 'specialist'.
A possibility of polyps, and a colonoscopy is required, and I'm
only 34. As with anything, if you don't know, then Google.
Then you start realising the odds, the percentages, before the
procedure you know.
Like laying it all on the line at the Craps table of life.

This was enough to make me quit smoking.
Right there, cold, done.
And I needed to ride. The other thing is I'm a pack-rat
reforming. So I had an 80's bmx/freestyle collectors goldmine
in my attic and basement. It was time to simplify my life
(and get a new bike).
I'm too big and old to ride BMX, what to do? With kids I needed
to be able to open the door and ride, and be back in an hour.
So I got a road bike, got all the things I thought I needed to
'become a roadie'. Signed up for the ADA Diabetes (for my dad),
and obviously read Lance's book, followed the Tour, and eagerly
waited where the first Livestrong Challenge would be in the East.
By the time Philly came I was cleared, nothing cancerous, I was
good to go. I enjoyed the first event and my first time in Philly.
And I was back on a bike, and this time I think it's for life.
And I thought I was done thinking about cancer for a while.

Well, it didn't take a long enough break.
First, Susan, a close family friend died from the chemo
treatment for her breast cancer.
Then it struck WAY too close to home, our Aunt.
A strong woman, who runs a cancer research center, reviews
grants for the NIH. Breast cancer, but it was detected early,
and she went with extremely proactive surgery. I want to say
she won, her hair has grown back and there's very little talk
about 'it'. But there's the gene, BRAC. And the looming question
for my wife and my daughter. I look at her and cannot imagine
being at her bedside, I refuse to think about it. But it's the
elephant in the corner we're not talking about.

Then this last week. I was adopted at birth. So I never had any
family history. And with closed adoptions, well, I never get any.
Went through all the channels - nothing. But two years ago I met
my mom, and sister, and brother, and I'm an uncle (awesome).
That's all really good stuff.
And this last year with the help of my birth mom, we made
contact with my father. He had prostate cancer,
and STRONGLY recommended I get my PSA test done. SHIT.

So I had missed two years of the Livestrong Challenge due to the
usual craziness of family, kids, house, etc. But I'm riding this
one for my Aunt, and hopefully NOT for my wife and little girl.
And Thursday, before the ride, I went in and did my blood work for
the PSA test. Packed my bag, loaded the bike, and thought
'maybe someone will be riding this for me next year'.

Today the simple plain envelope arrived in the mail.
PSA: 0.30 ng/ml NORMAL

I'm in the clear, for now.
It's an emotional draining thing,
and it was an emotional weekend.

Like sitting in the pediatric unit at the hospital,
to have the light shown on that side of humanity,
my heart was more spent than my legs.
What do you say to people?
All I seem to muster is a look, a nod,
'I recognise your pain, but we don't have to talk about it.
because if you cry, I'll cry, and I won't be able to stop'.

Thanks Roadie Mike for a great idea,
thanks Elden for being a great person, and uniter of great people,
and Team Fatty - thank you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of stomach-dropping dread to endure. It's been an interesting week, one that has brought a lot of good news about family and friends dealing with cancer. My grandpa sailed through is surgery to remove the tumor in his colon. (A bit of a parallel with you: My grandpa was a smoker too, quit cold turkey in his 50s.) The lymph nodes and full body scan were clean. We hope that's the end of it. A good friend of mine's dad was diagnosed with a pretty aggressive form of melanoma that had metastasized to multiple organs. But his second round of chemo and radiation really worked and some of the tumors have disappeared.