The Cancer Journey

A letter to Dave

Hey Dave,

I appreciate the chances to come and hang out with you and your family this weekend. It’s been a crazy kinda of COVID year and doing something as normal as a picnic just felt good. So, thank you.

Meeting your friends and family got me thinking and appreciative of my cancer. It’s kind of tough to say that there is anything about cancer to be appreicative or thankful for, but this year I am starting to see the silver lining in things a lot more than I use to.

On the surface it would be easy for people to say that there is no reason you and I should be friends.

You like Keystone Light, which if he were alive I know my dad would appreciate. I like overpriced locally brewed IPA’s.

You love to fish and I can’t even cast a line without catching the closest tree branch. Instead I spend my time relaxing perched on top of a skinny bicycle seat pedaling away for hours.

You’re a smoker and I am an asthmatic. But let me say I admire the big fuck you that you give to cancer by continuing to smoke even though I am sure your doctors have told you to stop.

You’ve got a large wonderful family of kids and grandkids. I’ve got three cats. In common we both have wonderful wives who love us and for that I know we are both grateful beyond words

The picnic today proved you have an infinity for all things meat cooked on the grill. I’m a vegetarian who still loves the smell of brats and hamburgers sizzling over an open flame. It was all I could do to not fall off the veggie wagon today.

So why are we friends?

Well as we both discovered at the picnic that we like those little shooter of Honey Jim Beam, but I think it’s more than that.

It would also be easy to say that we are friends because we both have been fighting cancer this year and our radiation appointments where next to each other Monday through Friday at 845am and 9am, but it’s more than just hospital administrative scheduling.

I think for people to be friends each person has to offer or bring something to the friendship that the other person might be lacking or in need of to improve themselves.

For me, the first time I heard your booming, “Alright, alright. It’s a good day.” bouncing down the hallway of the radiation office hallway my spirits where lifted a little bit higher at a time when I couldn’t always be so optimistic.

I know I am not the only one who felt that way. I would catch the nurses and technicians smiling at each other when they heard you. You brought a little bit of joy, optimism and sunshine into a place that just doesn’t see enough of that every day.

For that we are all grateful.

I remember the first time we exchanged cancer diagnosis info standing outside Swedish Medical. I realized quickly you were one tough son of a bitch. Here I am thinking I have it bad with six weeks of radiation treatment and you are rattling off the brain surgeries you’ve had, the fact that you are doing a chemo treatment and radiation therapy. Not once was there a bit of self pity or feeling sorry for your self. Like I said, one tough son of a bitch.

During my treatment I was reading a book about the legendary Boston Celtics player, Larry Bird. He was known for his toughness and ability to play through all sorts of injuries and pain never letting on that he was suffering. You, my man, are the Larry Bird of cancer treatment.

I’m telling you all this because I feel it’s important for you to know that even though our friendship is new and has been brief you’ve had a real impact on my life.

So, thank you for taking the time to show me what strength and humility look like during the toughest and shittiest times of our lives.

Your cancer comrade,