Thursday, November 25, 2010


In my generation, we have 13 cousins. At 43, I am the second oldest. The first five of us are very close in age and grew up together.

My 41-year-old cousin Paul, the youngest of us five, has been battling colon and liver cancer for the last six months or so.

In person, via email and via Caring Bridge, he keeps us updated on his condition. Since today is Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you his most recent communication. You’ll see that he is quite a good writer – and tries to keep his humor about the situation.

All right…all right, I’m back in the game. Today was the big pow wow with Dr. Griffin, and the unknowns are now known and on the books.

To back-up a bit and get you on the right page, I had a CT scan last Tuesday, because they hadn’t taken a look at my toenail on my left pinky toe. Well we got it, and now they can digitally recreate every pore in my body. The CT came back favorably, and we are now describing the size of the liver lesions in mm rather than cm.

As usual, the colon doctor didn’t trust the tested and proven CT to determine his prognosis, and I’m sore again. The really good news is that I’m scheduled for surgery on December 10 at Tulane Hospital. I am first in line for the day, which, like flying, is where you want to be. Funny, the similarities these days between flying and colorectal cancer.

Anyway, the colon surgeon should go first and re-connect my plumbing and then the liver surgeon. Sad to say, but we really don’t know what his plan is for the liver. I guess I’ll wake up with a surprise. Regardless, I’m very excited about making progress toward the end of the surgeries and getting to the next stage, whatever that is.

I will be in the hospital for 2 days, which would mean I will be out by Sunday if all goes well. Both procedures are laparoscopic this time, so recovery should be nothing like the first surgery. I assume that I will have more scans after the surgery and take those results to the Medical Oncologist to see what’s behind the next curtain. As I have stated before--through gnashed teeth--I want the second chemo regimen. I want to go through this just one time, and I will do what I need to do to achieve that goal.

All is well on the home front. We are heading to Shreveport tomorrow evening to spend Thanksgiving with Sarah’s family. I am looking forward to getting out of town for a few days and relaxing. I genuinely feel good and have had no other major incidents with my special friend [his colostomy bag]; however, I will be burning the bulk of my clothes once this is over. Oh, and after the surgery I’ll have some fancy balloons available for any birthday party or bar mitzvah. I have been itching to start jogging again but have learned from a reliable source that sweat and the adhesive on my apparatus do not work well together. Jogging can wait.

I hope you are all doing exactly what you want to do this Thanksgiving. In my family, all Thanksgiving attendees must write on a little piece of paper what they are thankful for and place it in a basket. After we dine the contents of the basket are read aloud and everyone tries to guess who submitted the entry. It’s funny, touching, sometimes sad, but always meaningful. I will not be there this year, so here’s what I’m thankful for: I am thankful to be alive. I am thankful that my body has reacted so well to treatment. I am thankful that I have such wonderful people around me who support and love me. I am thankful for doctors who have torn me up and are putting me back together. I am thankful for the quiet strength that I receive from my wife and children. I am thankful for being treated normally and not like I’m a piece of thin blown glass. I am thankful for the opportunity to kick this thing in the ass, turn around, and attack the rest of my life.

I printed out Paul’s Thankful For submission and slipped it into this year’s basket. We all had a good cry.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.


Some Thanksgiving quotes:

If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get.
- Frank A. Clark

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.
- W.J. Cameron

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.
- Irv Kupcinet

There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.
- O. Henry

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.
- William Jennings Bryan

Thanksgiving is America's national chow-down feast, the one occasion each year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty.
- Michael Dresser

Forever on Thanksgiving Day
The heart will find the pathway home.
- Wilbur D. Nesbit

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.
- Cicero

And though I ebb in worth, I'll flow in thanks.
- John Taylor

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
- Aesop

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"
- William A. Ward