Dr. Flip Flop

My recent brain and body scans came back clear of cancer.  My body scans will now be every four months and my brain scan will continue to be every six months.  We had a great summer and, as usual, it goes by way too fast. Janie, her mother and I went to Germany (more about the trip in a future blog).  We also went to a family wedding in Colorado. Now Janie and the girls are back to school.

Recently at a hospital visit I was mistaken for a medical doctor.  I later learned the doctor thought I was a medical doctor because I wore flip flops with a shirt and tie and who else would wear something like that except for a medical doctor.  I wear flip flops because my chemo causes the soles and sides of my feet to be severely sensitive. This incident reminded me of a time I was told by a psychiatrist’s wife, “We all have doctorates in something, not all of us have initials after our names.”  I agree with her statement. Everyone’s an expert in something. My “doctorates” are in Philadelphia Eagles Fandom and being a Stage IV colon cancer patient. It doesn’t mean I know more than anyone else on those topics, I just have more knowledge in those areas than other areas.  One of the doctorates I chose, the other I had no choice. Both would seem to set one up for a lifetime of emotional and physical pain. Five and a half years ago, I wouldn’t believe the Eagles would’ve won a Super Bowl or that I would be where I am in my cancer treatment. Both are miracles.

I wouldn’t change my expertise of being a cancer patient for anything.  I often joke I wished it was a stubbed toe and not Stage IV colon cancer which changed my perspective, but now I know it was for a reason.  I needed to experience suffering to move forward. It made me a better human (Anabel is on this kick of calling everyone a human. She tells me I’m “one of her favorite humans”).  My cancer patient doctorate has given me more purpose in life. I’m still praying for guidance into how to best use this gift. I know I need to help others. I’m still working on how to help others and in what capacity.  One way I’ve noticed how cancer has helped me help others is through my own suffering.

In my job, when I meet with a female or someone of a different race, I share with them that I have no idea what it is like to be a female or their particular race.  But what I do know and what we all have in common are feelings – happy, sad, anger, worry/fear etc. Before cancer, I had experienced those emotions, however, I had never experienced suffering.  Many of the people I meet with are suffering and I can truly empathize because I now know suffering and all it entails. I’ve also been able to see more cancer patients and others with chronic medical illnesses.  I believe all of this will help me find my path towards a purpose and lead to a better understanding of why I’m still alive. I could still use your prayers for wisdom and helping me understand my purpose.

My Philadelphia Eagles fandom “doctorate” is much different.  Years ago, I remember talking to a friend about how I didn’t have a hobby and how I thought I needed one.  He looked at me and said, “your hobby is the Eagles.” I now view my hobby as a “doctorate”, it helps me feel better about myself.  I understand sports mean nothing, but yet, they mean everything. Football won’t cure cancer, but at times, when watching a game, I don’t think about having cancer for 3 hours. When the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, I experienced something I’ve never experienced before and I can’t describe the feeling (as pathetic as that sounds).  I remember calling my brother and not being able to talk, just screaming strange guttural sounds. I’ve had so many great memories of going to games and watching games with family and friends. The best thing about this “doctorate” is that there are millions of others with the same one.

When I thought I was going to die, I bought a paver with our names on it that was used for the walkway entering the Eagles stadium.  I wanted to pass along something I was passionate about permanently to my kids. The fatality of cancer still has a grasp on me. When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, I thought that I would die this year because they won in my lifetime.  It was something I used to barter with God when I was first diagnosed. I know how absurd that sounds, but I thought I was adding decades to my life. It is the Eagles after all. It’s ironic but since they won the Super Bowl, I’ve been less focused on them.  I still want them to win every game but it isn’t as consuming. After a lifetime of disappointment, there is now relief. I may have time to find another hobby.

 

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Me and Janie at the wedding

 

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At the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Fifteen years ago I hiked here with my friend Matt, who also has an Eagles doctorate, for four days.  This time I couldn’t hike up two hundred yards without feeling pressure in my chest.  I think my lung surgeries have impacted my hiking, but I’m also out of shape and not 26 years old.

 

 

Parade Day

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I had to include these two guys.  SuperBowl MVP Nick Foles kneeling in the front of the bus and Carson Wentz on the other side of him.

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The  Eagles paver

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