Sunday, December 27, 2009
This time a year ago, I was in a good recovery mode, but still not very strong. This year, it seems that I am stronger and in better shape than I have been in a long time. Perhaps, it is just relative to how down and out I was after treatment, but perhaps not.
When I first started my chemo (3) and radiation (35), I was told that it would be a good year in recovery. Having been healthy and athletic my whole life, it was pretty inconceivable that I couldn't bounce back more quickly than that. Although, I got stronger over time and was back at work in 6 months, it did take an exceeding long time to say "I am fully recovered from the treatments." At my lowest point, about Sept-Oct 2008, I could barely walk and was sick most of the time, however, I now have more energy than most people half my age and I sincerely appreciate that gift.
Christmas went well this year, and savored the greatest gift of love and family bestowed upon me once again. I am glad I was here to enjoy it. My sons (mid 20's)and grandson came over Christmas Eve for a short visit. I got to enjoy the joy of Christmas morning with my wife and 11 year old daughter. This is the year I kicked in with my start of the Legacy Gift. I gave each son a photo album of his life with me from day of birth through moving out on their own. Whereas the first 60 photos were of each son individualy or with me, the final few pages were of me and all 3 boys or just the 3 brothers together. The last 16 photos were of their connection to family history. There were pictures of me, my dad, my grandfather, and my great grandmother (4 generations), etc. It was tough to wade through many,many hundreds of slide and photos and pick the best 80 for each boy. So, I put the top 350 photos on a cd and stuck in on the inside back cover of the photo album. I have one for my wife and daughter in progress.
A tough joke in my tonsil cancer group, is that we will beat this thing and strive to live long enough to die of something else. That is how we will win. My goal is to clean up a lot of loose ends and cross some things off my list. I don't have any burning bridges to fix, but did pass on several hundred photos from the past to my son's mom this holiday also. It has been 20 years since I had touched those photos and hope she will enjoy them. I don't exactly have a bucket list of places to visit, as I have had the great fortune to have done my travelling and living on the exciting edge when I was younger. I have, however, spent 40 years accumulating "stuff" and now am motivated to divest myself of most of this "personal stuff" while I still have a say in it. I remember going through my Mom's "stuff" with my sister ten years ago and we still have boxes of unresolved "Mom's stuff" it in our respective garages. I do not wish that on my sons. Most of my "personal stuff" holds only value to me and I am sure it would be split equally among eBay, Goodwill, and the dump. My first and bigget goal is accomplished with the photo history album for my sons. I have more to go and will build on it, but the basic task was accomplished. I also made a small dent in "Garage Hell," Christmas Eve, by unloading a tool box and some hand tools to my eldest ( as I have at least 3 of everything) and a boatload of extra spices from the kitchen to my youngest.
I joke that when I go out, I will have worked my way down to owning only a bamboo mat, a single orchid in a handmade vase and 3 small stones ( I have no idea what the significance of 3 small stacked stones is, but it sure looks cool). Chasing Zen. Since I will do this task in my own style, I have dubbed it the "Zen Bob Way"...which, always causes me to smile.
"Nothing can match the strength of those whose lives have been shaped and forged through challenging and overcoming hardships. Such people fear nothing. To cultivate such an invincible core is in itself a victory. It is also the greatest benefit. Those that can succeed in this endeavor will savor unsurpassed happiness"......Diasaku Ikeda
Friday, December 18, 2009
I have been an active participant in a Tonsil Cancer Support forum for quite a while with many others (mostly US and England). One of our own, Brooks, passed on this last week and we heard from his spouse in a very meaningful post about staying strong to the end. We are all planning a 'virtual' New Year's Eve celebration, where we all will have a photo taken "toasting another year on earth" from whereever we are around the world and have a technology savvy member morph it into a "group" paragraph. Should be memorable.
I have mentioned before how this past year's cancer diagnosis [526 days] was really a blessed opportunity in clever disguise to encourage me to refocus on the elements of my life that are truly important.
I have created a personal "Legacy" blog to share some of the interesting experiences I have had in this long wonderful life. For my children, my children's children and beyond, there will be a bit of me in their lives, long after I am gone.
I have been reading a business book called "12 Choices...That Lead to Your Success" by David Cottrell. The 12th choice is the "Legacy Choice - Your Gift". Here is a line in that chapter: "Many successful men and women hold in common the choice to leave behind a legacy that will live on long after their last breaths".
I have acquired a good amount of experience regarding small business and non-profit organizations over the years, some by doing it all wrong and learning the hard way. I have had grand opportunities and great mentors. Starting in January, I am launching my newest blog Small Biz Tips - Robert Welton to provide tips and suggestions for small business and local non-profits that I dispense everyday in my work with the chamber of commerce.
Prior to my Cancer diagnosis, I, like many others, had lived a good full life, but without much serious consideration about what I had to contribute, to give back, to pass on, etc. of the benefits of my experiences, relationships, some winning and some losing, etc. This past year's experience has provided me a curtain call opportunity to put things in perspective and in some sense of order before the last performance.
Last quote from the 12th chapter of the "12 Choices" I memtioned: "What is your legacy? What marks are you leaving along the path for the next generation?"
I am newly inspired and with appropriate homage to Grace Welton who inspired my love of poetry and to poet Robert Frost...
'The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. "
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wow! What a difference a year makes.
I posted on December 5, 2008 that I was slowly getting back my ability to eat. Lise and I went out to dinner during one of Sarah's Nutcracker rehearsals and I was only able to eat a few beets on a small salad. I didn't enjoy the chocolate dessert mousse, but thought I might start to get my taste for chocolate back.
I was still drinking Ensures and having small bites to get back to the joy of eating. I was tired a lot and still took naps. My hair was starting to grow back. My observation was that "All-in-all, things are getting better every day".
My hair did grow back, covering the new bald spots caused by treatment, but sadly enough did not fill in the bald spots I had prior to treatment...ha...and it grew back darker. Still don't like chocolate, so that is probably a done deal and won't return.
It has been just over a year and I am able to eat just about anything, unless it is really dry...like scones. I don't get tired so much, but still have issues with the corners of my mouth cracking and I wake up every morning with a dry mouth...probably because of breathing through my mouth at night.
Recently, I had seen my regular doctor regarding a sore throat and he observed that my voice box was raw and I needed to give my voice a rest. That is tough to do when you "talk for a living"...with a 30 calls per day rule. After this week, I will take two weeks off from my job and drink lots of hot green tea and give the talking a rest.
"Don't count the days, make the days count"....Muhammad Ali