Superman by any other name would be known as Christopher Reeves. His life looked idyllic at least until he fell, and fell hard. For the rest of his life he strove to find cures for neurological damage. Using his celebrity and fortune Reeves focused his considerable energy on research and public awareness. His efforts payed off in many small ways and in some fairly substantial ones.
Life has a way of being alternately kind as angels and gentle as tropical breezes, or mean as demons and gentle as dynamite. One day you’re comfort zone reaches to infinity and beyond, the next day your toy story is shattered. What you do with that stormy Month of Monday’s is what measures your Superman Quotient (SQ) and your character. The physical cure is the job of medical science, and the emotional cure is the job of the sick and injured.
There is help, you can turn to a compassionate counselor, a support group or spiritual advisors. The forlorn folks who go to the revival tent show healers are looking hard for that spiritual care. Some of them actually get it. Faith can heal. If it can cure, it is a rare event. But faith, or self confidence or just a good solid drive to do your best can make a huge difference.; It’s the zing in healing. There are studies that prove it. The natural instinct to self preservation is what makes faith work healing miracles. Wanting to be whole, and believing you can be is what makes it work. That combination, wanting to heal, and believing you can is magic.
There are stages in illness. First is getting sick or injured. That happens anytime in life, and it is more likely in old age. End of life is the only way to avoid all the risks. Howard Hughes tried, and failed, to stave off the "ravages of age." There is the time it takes to cure the illness, to recuperate from the overall damage done, and then, getting back into the swing of life. Being seriously ill, injured or even emotionally devastated requires time for recuperation. How that time is used makes all the difference.
Cancer is one of those devastating diseases that challenges the mind as well as the body. The fear in cancer, even a simple skin cancer is real, and it can devastate anyone. It can debilitate, and it lingers, even after the cancer is gone. Being afraid has some bitter consequences. It leads to anger, and often serious and deep depression. With cancer there is very little that can be done to alleviate the fear of more cancer. Accepting the risk, and taking steps to minimize it may be the non destructive way to deal with it.
Doctors tell us that cancer results from a mutation in a cell that continues to replicate itself. There are lots of mutations, but most of them are fatal to the cell they affect. The ones that do become a problem are called cancer, regardless of what variety of cancer they are. Medicine has made advances. Dealing with some cancers is almost routine. At least for the doctors. For the patient there is nothing about it that is routine. The aftermath has been a mental firestorm for me. Anyone who has gone through the process as a patient knows. And the doctors who did my miracle knew enough to tell me about it in advance. That makes it easier to deal with.
My personal firestorm started about a year and a half ago. I was free of cancer, knowing that my body could turn on me, and had, and might again. And, I also felt a powerful sense of obligation to the doctors and nurses and orderlies, and surgical assistants, and nutritionists and radiology technicians and billing clerks and even the hospital janitors. That big guy on "Scrubs" should know that I appreciate the work done by the people he represents. Even that nice lady in the gift shop was doing her part, she had the perfect gifts for the people who were making my day to day life possible. There are thousands of people involved in treating cancer, and the patient only meets a few of them.
I felt obligated to make something of the life those people gave back to me. Seriously, what can anyone do to show gratitude to the people who make life possible. Money is a good start, but it certainly is not all there is to it. This little truth applies to everyone, not only the people who have their lives saved. All of us lead lives made possible by the rest of us. And I really felt that sense of obligation because I was not all that sure I had done enough before I got sick to "qualify" as worth curing. Low Self Esteem is a blessing, and a curse. The total of self esteem is what I think of as Ego. What do I know? Psychology is not my field. And for me to comment about "Low Self Esteem" carries a large risk of error. Personal pride has to be balanced with humility.
This article is part of my payback. This particular story does not have to be told, but the story has to be lived. I guess what I want to say, clearly, and with no chance of misinterpretation is, "I have to do what this story is about FOR ME. I should tell you about what I am doing FOR YOU."
Now, with the introduction, long as it is, done, I would like to tell you about my rehabilitation plan, and share some of it with you in the form of photographs. This is where my journey takes me.
I was sick for quite a while before I was diagnosed with cancer. That period of illness had taken me from a vigorous and active man to a housebound near invalid. It also depressed me, and it damaged my finances. It was not good, and I was almost glad to have the cancer finally show it’s strange growth pattern and get started on a treatment. About 18 months ago I weighed 140 pounds, could walk about two blocks, and considered the face of death. There were days, during my treatment, that face had an ethereal beauty that was very tempting. I had a doctor who took that possibility seriously, and while I don’t think he will ever know how much his counsel meant, I think that was a part of the cure. I was frightened. I never got angry, just depressed. Anger should come with fear. My problem was what to be angry with.
There is a theory that humor is a socially acceptable way to express anger, and if that’s true, I was a raving maniac with rage. I bought funny tee shirts to wear to the radiation lab. Pure Jokes, some of them on me, some on the professionals giving me back my life. I had to have markings on my neck to aim the x rays that were killing the tumors. They were tiny black tattoos. To make them easier to see in low light, the technician would put an x on them with a washable blue marker. One day I had a friend put the cross marks on the tatts, and draw a shield around one of them. When I got to the lab, I told the technician that after this I would be covered by Blue Cross and Blue shield. I found a tee shirt that said I was the EMT leader at a marathon.
Still, Cancer treatment, I had Chemo and Radiation. Is like riding a bicycle backward. It is very hard to master, and you feel like you are going the wrong direction. Still, when it is over you have a new lease on life, and at that moment you get to decide what to do. As Dr. Gerald Jampolski says, it is your mind, you get to decide what it thinks and feels. I decided, and it was a conscious decision, that I would think and feel like getting back to as normal as possible. That meant accepting that I would not be wearing a full beard again, radiation leaves scars. Hair does not grow in scar tissue. Most of my beard is gone, along with the hair on the back of my neck. That hair is not missed at all, it was always chilling to have it stand up all by itself. There are some other lasting side effects. One good one is sensitive finger tips. A bad one is very dry mouth. I lost a lot of salivary glands. That loss has a dual edge, I have a dry mouth, but I will never be a drooling old man lolling about in a rest home, even if I loll in one. I have gained a lot of weight, over 40 pounds from my absolute low point, and I have started what I think is a unique physical rehabilitation regimen.
I ride the bus. I buy a day long bus ticket. It is good for unlimited use for one day. Because I am "old," I get the ticket for half price. So, for a dollar seventy five, I get to tour my home town. I can go from the Eastside to the Westside or from the North to the South, I can go watch the Jets at Luke Air Force Base, or I can look at the public art at the State Capitol or seven or eight different city halls. And the Maricopa County Complex too. And, I have to walk a lot to do all that sightseeing. I am not recommending tour buses. They have their place in the world, but this is about motivated walking.
ONE trip took me to all the places in these pictures. Well not the mountains, but the places I could see those mountains from. My body is not ready to climb the big ones around here, though I am working on that too.
Please, enjoy the pictures, but also think of how you might help yourself create a unique plan for physical fitness. If it works, share it.
Remember IF YOU CAN MOVE, YOU CAN EXERCISE.