We are in Denver, Colorado. Our big RV slide out, that adds about 40 much needed square feet, died again. You need that extra 40 square feet when you live in a rectangular box. We found an awesome place called Competition RV outside of Denver to fix the slide out for us. While waiting to get the RV fixed, I was also waiting for yet another PSA blood test result. PSA has been steadily rising since I went off combo hormone therapy almost 18 months ago, indicative of continued cancer growth in my
body. We were about to take off when there was a knock on the door of the RV. I looked out to see a tall guy with a ponytail and baseball cap. He asked what we do (apparently the fruit and veggie RV perked his curiosity), so we invited him inside and he proceeded to tell us his amazing story. His name is Mark and he had stage 4 lymphoma, with severe lymph node growth in his neck 10 years ago. His doctor gave him just a few months to live. A friend intervened, and suggested Mark try a vegan diet as a last resort. One more round of radiation and Mark dove into whole food plant-based nutrition. I don’t know all the details, but Mark is now 71 and cancer free. He is totally committed to plant-based nutrition. Mark told us he had been unemployed, but somehow he wound up being the owner of Competition RV. He also had a career of extreme skiing until his body gave out.
Now he’s a motor head and RV repair master. Here is Extreme Mark and his dog.
I was high on Mark’s cancer conquering story. That night I got my PSA results at my lifelong friend’s house in Denver. The results showed 1.37, which is a jump from 1.1 just six weeks ago. I kinda lost it emotionally and mentally that night. I was with my closest friends and Mindy. I was able to let go with them and, well, do some crying. Just when I think I have a handle on learning how to manage this long-term project of prostate cancer, this gut punch breaks me emotionally. It’s been almost 8 years since my diagnosis, and it still stalks me every day. I am fortunate. Most cancers don’t allow this much time for introspection and developing skills to deal with the fear. I will be meeting with doctor in LA next week. 18 months of no hormone treatment and I am back to full physical (and sexual) health. And now it looks like I am going to have to go back on hormone treatment again. I’ll get through it. I’ve done it twice already. I am still alive and THRIVING AND LIVING.
I have learned:
The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships with the people you care about. I have learned to unconditionally let go and be honest to the people I love the most. It is a wonderful, lifesaving skill set. Guys (including myself for most of my life) generally have a difficult time expressing emotion. I have been guilty over the years since diagnosis of drawing in and closing people off during times of depression and fear. I think mine was a protective instinct for family and friends: I just feel guilty for having to always draw my family and friends into my world of anxiety, anger, fear, and confusion dealing long term with cancer. I hate impacting them. I still do. But now I just let it go. My friends and my family care dearly for me and are always there for me. I know when I feel really down it will pass. It passes faster when you can share your pain. YOU HAVE TO HAVE PEOPLE CLOSE TO YOU THAT YOU CAN LET YOUR GUARD DOWN WITH AND SHARE YOUR PAIN.
I have learned to open my mind and my arms to anyone who is in a situation similar to mine. Just like Extreme Mark. When I heard his story, I let him into my life. Within minutes we were sharing very intimate details of our lives and our struggles. This is major healing therapy. Let people into your emotional life. Open up to the world. Everyone has pain and suffering. It’s how your deal with it that matters. Let people give you the gift of love. It makes life SO MUCH BETTER. My cancer has forced me to open up emotionally and to be completely transparent and vulnerable with the people I love. They love me right back! This has been an unexpected gift. LOVE is the key to survival in my situation. I have learned to really LOVE. I’ll thank cancer for that.