page contents Google


cancer day

image via

Everyone is different. How different is the question. And the answer?


World Cancer Day is one of the differences. Some embrace it, some ignore it, while still others share.


Call this a share.


Last year this time I was starting treatment for hpv16 tongue cancer. Yeah, that one.


Did I get it from kissing? Maybe. I’d like to think not, though. Instead it showed up in the usual way. No judgement here, but more communication at the time and I would have dodged the whole thing.


On Cancer Day I’d like to reach out to men in love, in heat, in whatever circumstances might produce hpv16 cancer.


Cancer is the jack booted thug beating your door in. You don’t need to open the door, cancer has the key and it comes in invited or not. By the way, let me know about the next cancer invitation because it’ll be the first.


Cancer Day is a big deal for awareness, just not necessarily for us cancer people. We’re already aware. What I think is more important than Cancer Day is the day after. Like the day after diagnosis, the day after final cancer treatment, the day after survivorship meetings with the oncology radiologist, oncology chemo, and ENT doctor, the day after Cancer Day is a moment to ponder.


The great Seth Godin nailed it with a post on his blog. Why is Seth Godin great on boomerpdx? He’s in touch, engaged, on spot on even with off-topic posts. He moves the needle in more fields than business.


From Seth Godin:

Yes there was supposed to be a clown at your birthday party. No, he didn’t show up. That’s a bummer.

But! But your friends are all here, and the sun is shining and you’ve got cake and a game of pin the tail on the donkey ready to go.

The question is: how long should you mourn the loss of the clown? How much more of your party are you ready to sacrifice?

The same question confronts the pro golfer who three-putted on the third hole.

Or the accountant who forgot an obvious deduction, one that can’t be recovered.

Or the salesperson who missed a key meeting, or the speaker who got let down because the tech crew screwed up her first three slides.

If it doesn’t help, why bathe in it?

When we can see these glitches as clowns, as temporary glitches that are unrelated to the cosmic harmony of the universe or even the next thing that’s going to happen to us, they’re easier to compartmentalize.

That happened.

Okay, now what?


Those three words “Okay, now what?” extend the greatness of Seth Godin. He’s been an inspiration before I caught the nasty cancer, during, and now after. What more could I ask of anyone?


I’ll take his work to whole ‘nother level by answering the question “Now what?” for cancer.


Cancer diagnosis? Now what?


Find your calm place and repeat these words: “Get the F out of my neck. NOW! Right now, don’t wait. Scram you freeloading m-f’er.”


Cussing is against your beliefs? Fine, but cancer isn’t part of anyone’s belief system either. Drastic times require drastic measure. One more time: ” “Get the F out of my neck. NOW! Right now, don’t wait. Scram you freeloading m-f’er.”


Cancer treatment? Now what?


Brace up for the most demeaning, exposing, miserable time of your life. Embrace the suck because it sucks big time. For all of the wonder and joy and happiness I’ve ever felt, cancer treatment was the opposite. I didn’t expect a party, but the whole treatment ordeal brought me in touch with my life flame and it was going out.


It’s supposed to feel that way in cancer killing time since part of the drill is feeling death’s cold hand on my shoulder and it’s whisper in my ear saying, ‘It’s okay, come with me.’


Answer with the new spiritual mantra above.


The day after treatment, now what?


My tunnel vision saw the day after my last visit to radiation and chemo waiting rooms, after my last zap and juice bag, as the end of the bad time. I couldn’t have been more wrong.


A nurse kept telling me about the nadir of treatment, but I didn’t hear it. Instead I heard End Of Treatment as let the good times roll. Except the bad times ganged up and rolled me. Food and drink? How was I supposed to do that with a lurching gut worse than my first whisky drunk at the Neighborhood Facility Building dance where I hurled in my girlfriend’s family car, and a neck on fire like Eagle Creek.


I regathered my depleted body and found strength in my wife and kids calling me out as quitter, a lying quitter, a cancer pud who’d lost the will to live. Their words were my new medicine and I vowed to prove them wrong out of spite. If left alone I would have been comfortable checking out of our time together.


The hellish condition I found myself in, where lines on the mirror were lines in my face, no muscle tone, nearly unrecognizable to myself like the Streets of Philadelphia by Bruuuuuce Springsteen, couldn’t be the last thing I’d see. Could it?


Judge if you must but the rule of post cancer treatment is do whatever it takes to crawl out of the hole. I used medical marijuana brownies as stepping stones and never looked back.


The day after the final survivorship meeting. Now what?


The spiritual mantra worked. No cancer. Feeling better, but I looked like the same human wreckage. Weak as never before, unmotivated but for one focus point. Maybe I’m vain, or just afflicted with good sense, but I started body rebuilding.


That’s the biggest message I can offer, rebuild your body.


I didn’t feel gym worthy, didn’t want to start in again at the bottom like a rank beginner, but I had no excuses I could get a handle on.


So I packed away my infection concerns, my slack body, and headed out into the world with a new normal.


Now what? That’s what. How about your new normal? Let’s talk about it.
About David Gillaspie

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: