Tuesday, April 10, 2018

April still feels like march

I don't really understand the inner workings of my mind. For the last 2 years, my brain has felt full, slow, overwhelmed and warm. Like someone squeezed a pack of handwarmers and set it in there under my brain...it's just too much.

First, the cancer. When I first found out I had cancer, it was so fast...from diagnosis to the right radical orchiotomy (removal of a testicle) that it was essentially a non-issue.

When it came back a few months later, I was excited because it meant time off work...and that should have been way more of a trigger than it was at the time. It was a relief that I didn't have to continue in the hell that work had become. Working 14 hours + per day as many days/week as I could fit in. So stressed out that I couldn't sleep more than a few hours per night which only made it that much worse.

Neither brains or bodies function well without enough sleep. The cancer coming back meant I had to undergo chemotherapy...I think it was a BEP cocktail bleomycin, etopside and cisplatin and boy was that gnarly stuff. It took all my energy away and made me feel sick. Truthfully, I was spared most of the terrible symptoms associated with chemo but it still wasn't much fun. I did have fun cracking jokes at people who instantly become overly sensitive about everything because chemo is awkward. I'm the same person...but my body has been poisoned...by doctors...on purpose...over and over and over for 9 weeks.

But yeah, I was happy for it. I gleefully drove out of the P&G Oxnard plant the day before chemo, absolutely stoked and feeling free as a bird. It was only supposed to be 9 weeks...then extended to 12 with a few weeks for recovery, but it felt amazing. To be honest, if I had to pick between staying at P&G in that role with that leadership team or chemo, I'd take chemo any day. It saved my life...and not just from cancer.

Before I was forced to take time off, the stress, the insanity of how much they put on me without any support felt normal. It sucked, yes...but it felt normal. Leaving for 2 months...3 months and what ultimately was 6 months was the best thing that ever happened because it was a long enough break that it showed me what life without stress was like. I wasn't as stressed about the cancer as I was about work. With cancer...through chemo and later, surgery, I was able to sleep fine. I was able to breathe fine without feeling like I had a bag of cement on my chest.

In the middle of chemo, I became sick and had a chest xray to check on that...and they found that the tumors in my lungs had not changed in size at all. Because I had a 'mixed' cancer, it was likely that it was going to require chemo and surgery to remove as half of the cancer responds to the chemo and half wouldn't. The lumps in my chest were the non-responsive type and required surgery.

Thankfully, all 3 tumors were in the lower lobe of my right lung which was removed (right lower lobectomy) at the skillfull hand of a da vinci robot, controlled by the leading surgeon in the field in Santa Monica, California. We were excited that the robotic surgery was an option as the alternative was to cut open an incision between two ribs and spread me open, making a larger scar, and required a longer time to heal.

The surgery wasn't stressful except for the hour or so leading up to it. Moving into the operating room was freaky and I definitely could have used some anti-anxiety medication but I went to sleep and woke up with stitches and a tube coming out of my lung. The details aren't important but suffice it to say that it went as planned and I was back up and at 'em in no time.

I returned to work a few months later and that's when it really hit home. Immediately, P&G resumed dumping work on me and the stress came back within a matter of days. It was as if I was watching the whole thing on TV. The amount of stress they put on each other and accepted there was comical. I had a hard time taking it seriously because it was just so absurd. Not so much because of what the work was but because of how they treated it.

Work is work and I have never had a hard time doing work...hard, dirty, long...whatever. Get it done and get on with it. But the way the leadership treated the rest of the staff there was embarrassing. That wasn't the company I grew up in or the kind of company I wanted to work for. I pushed back a bit as change only happens when people with vision drive the change and see it through to completion but I simply did not have the energy...physically or otherwise...to do that and I knew it.

The residual effects of the chemo would last nearly 2 years before I felt normal again and I was still in the very early stages of that process. Within 2 weeks of returning to work, it was clear that it wasn't going to be long term for me...even after spending more than 17 years with P&G. It blew my mind but I've never been one to linger or reminisce once a decision has been made.

I started lining up options and paving the road out of P&G. I was back at P&G just over 2 months before I put in my notice and left the company on April 27th, 2017.

With all that has transpired, my brain has changed. It feels like aging but I'm not willing to accept it. I attribute it to part chemical thrashing from the chemo. I'm not clear on how much of that is long term damage and how much is short term damage...or if this is even a factor. I don't think the much hyped detoxes actually do anything though it may be worth a shot.

Another part of this is just the sheer volume of stress crap that I've piled on over the last few years with the first round of cancer in 2015, the second round of cancer in 2016-17 including chemo and surgery, quitting P&G, the fire burning our house, moving, rebuilding...or something else? Relationship stress? Dunno. Life is crazy. I wish it came with a manual...but it would probably be wrong anyways...or I wouldn't read it :)

Sorting all of this out...maybe a blog or introspective journal is the right format, maybe not. I suppose it helps to talk through it with myself which is what I liken this to. Perhaps even better would be a therapist that knew the questions to ask, the pain points to look for and the roads leading outward and upward from it. It's not pain so much as it is just clutter in my head. It would be nice if I had a pressure release valve or lever I could pull to purge the buildup from my head.

I'm leaning into Tim Ferriss' books and podcasts for sharp lessons and poignant observations into life, functionality and effectiveness for clarity. Some of his stuff is great. Most is mediocre. That's life. Most of it is mediocre. Some of it is great...and that's ok. It's more likely that the mediocre stuff of his just isn't relevant or as relevant to me at this point in my life. Maybe that will change. Maybe it won't and that's ok, too.

I think daily journaling and some form of meditation would be helpful. Maybe I need to start taking my phone into the sauna after working out to listen to podcasts while I steam. That's another Tim thing...something about raising the core temp of the body after a workout to help it heal and minimize soreness after tough workouts. I'm leaning into daily protein shakes to minimize the muscle loss that seems to be eating away at my physique. Not sure why physique matters...I just want to be highly functional both at the mental and physical levels. Not so much to climb a mountain or run a marathon...but to hike what I want to hike, when I want to hike it. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

When inspiration hits...

When inspiration hits, grab on and don’t let go. Open up the tap and let it flow. Find an outlet and let it out. These ideas, inspiration, energy is a response. It can be conscious, subconscious, internal or external but it comes for a reason. They only visit for a season. A few minutes, a week, several months and when it is gone, it is gone. Nurture it as you would a delicate flower. Tenderly, fleshing out the stem and petals then touching on the nuances. Texture of the petals. The glint of light off of the stem at this angle but not that. The nuances of color. The temperature of the stem. The delicate look of the petals. The graduation of color from the center of the flower to the outside. The bright pop of yellow from the stamen. The delicate dusting of pollen. The lure that makes one question what lies at the center, down the delicate yellow brick road into the center of the flower where the nectar is pooled.

These variables and this inspiration is fleeting. It is one of the more fragile things in life that we are blessed with experiencing and it must be honored or it will be lost. We are taught to hide this. Not overtly but in the subtle nuances of culture that affect us. It is taboo to react to music with our bodies. We should not react because it is weird. We should not express ideas that are contrary to the popular opinions or the thoughts of the experts. The truth is…that it is only the rebels, those bold enough to hold onto the faint flame of inspiration, that are willing to throw their bodies in front of the winds of the popular to protect the glimmer and use everything they are to nurture the idea, to feed it, to create a culture that values inspiration and provides fertile ground for them to sprout, to burst into flames.

Ideas are one of the only powers we are gifted with at birth that have the potential to drive massive change in the world. It is not intelligence or effort, but inspiration. Inspiration followed by intense, intentional perspiration to see them through to fruition. At that point, they must be validated. Not every inspiration will go somewhere productive and that is ok. We must first recognize inspiration and learn to nurture them…

Step Next is the vetting process. The idea is now more robust. It is a small campfire that can sustain itself. We have champions around us that see the idea for what it is and eagerly seek to vet out its merit. As idea factories ourselves, we must recognize and persevere through less than stellar receptions. We must boldly hold our own and push through to develop a vetting process that embraces and values the things we hold most dear. The reason for “our” existence. As an individual, as a company, as a church body, as a non-profit, activist organization, team or couple. The values we intentionally embrace are the only things we have to stand against everything we do not intentionally embrace or turn away.

Life is fragile. Ideas, more so.

Turn that music up. Dance to your own beat. Tell the world to fuck off. Be inspired. Dream bigger. Partner up with other dreamers. Dreamers unencumbered by should and should nots, emboldened by rebel peers and world changers. FUCK THAT.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Journey into the unknown

With so much of the world being mapped, explored and paved, the truly unknown regions of our lives are largely non-existent...externally speaking. The true mystery in life now lies within. Our minds represent vast unexplored regions of life, unavailable and inaccessible to anyone but us. It is as though we are lost inside of our very own amazon jungle, left alone to explore - or not - the vast expanses of wilderness.

When life stresses us out, worries us, causes us to fear or to get excited, we only see the surface of one piece of that jungle. We experience the rises and falls but are blind to the underlying cause of happiness. Why do we react that way? Why does the thing that makes me cry cause no reaction from the person next to me? Why do I get excited about cars driving through the desert when my kids only get excited about Pokemon?

Life on the inside - no, not prison - is a mystery. Do we explore it? Do we simply live life in reactive mode with no true understanding of the why that triggers our surface emotions, reactions and actions? For the most part, the answer to these questions is the same - humans have historically not explored the inside because life on the outside - "in the real world" - demanded too much of our physical and mental energy to truly penetrate our motivations.

Yes, there have been some exceptions to that but by and large, we have only had capacity to react. To experience. To be boggled by our own actions and reactions that are rooted far deeper and broader than we could possibly imagine.

So when I say I was stressed, lay that thin layer of reaction out on top of the vast unknown of my mind if you please and understand that I am all too aware that the reaction is not completely logical or rational but that it stems from something deeper. Those reactions are important. Listen to your gut, they say. I just knew, he said. It felt right, I was afraid...the list goes on. For me, it was stress.

Stress manifested itself in many forms. When I went back to work, I rather immediately felt the weight of stress on me. It was as if a constrictor went to work on my chest, making it difficult to breathe. At first it would be when I logged into my email then it backed its way out to the entrance to my office area then to the gate. Eventually, it would find me on the freeway heading to work then to home then into my sleep which it would ultimately consume. The constrictor became an ever present component of life.

It knew no weekdays or weekends, it simply was. Then it started pulling tighter and tighter. It made my head throb. The lack of sleep it caused encouraged a closer friendship with the coffee machine at work. The coffee machine introduced me to the restroom on a more regular basis where each glance into the mirror reminded me just how tired I was, sending me back to the coffee machine.

Stress is a vampire. It leeches the life out of even the most persistent forces. It pilfers our passions, tosses them to the curb and into the gutter, to be trampled on by passers by. It consumes our energy, our wit, our passion, our drive, our logic. It is also extremely persistent.

Stacking stress on top of a physical constitution that was not fully restored made for a very challenging day and week at work. Studies show that when stressed, we make worse decisions. Worse decisions with regards to food, financial, work and social aspects of life only compound on each other, creating a vicious cycle that feeds on itself. I eat more to help me feel better about the stress then I gain weight. The extra weight takes away more energy throughout the day and on and on the cycle goes. Stress, to steal a phrase from one of my favorite movies, is the mind killer (except it was fear in that scenario).

Compounding all of those factors is the high bar I had set for myself. Perhaps more accurately, a high bar that my supervisor had set for me. I was aligned to it. It was stretching and I wanted to stretch. Not stretching encourages complacency, a lifestyle I abhorred...but at the time, I simply did not have the capacity to do the work, let alone do it well. Obviously, not doing well does not improve the situation, nor does it reduce stress. It stacks. As do many (most?) other areas of life. The bastions of love, peace, support in life begin to dwindle as the castle walls crumble.

The natural response is to curl up. To tuck up and to protect oneself. I suppose I went through that phase though I honestly don't recall it. I soothed myself with humor and made light of the situation. I was in disbelief that people could actually live in conditions so clearly unhealthy and toxic. Perhaps not so much that they could live in those conditions but that they would continue to live in them. I am not a rebel but I found that when pressed with certain forces, I do not lie down. I rebel. I bite. I snap my head back and frolick about. Frolick sounds playful but in this case, it was a violent, intentional action. Wreckless on the outside, its intent was to break the hold of that which constrained. Bruises were incurred. Some mine, some for others. Life is messy.


Thinking back on this time is not pleasant. Wine, please. Jack into the headphones. Music is a solace in times of distress, times of blank emotion, times of rage. It comforts, it soothes. Music is one of the most therapeutic, shaping, tuning, intense forces on the planet. Find what soothes you. Find what evokes an emotional response and feel it out. No, I'm not talking about her. It's the things. It's the whats and the whys not the whos.

Within music, there are different flavors, different textures, different emotions and concoctions. Each plays differently at different times in our lives. Some music is morning music, gently ushering in the day or lighting the fuse that will carry us out into the world with a bang. Some brings us down and smooths over our rough edges. Oh, we do have rough edges. Make no mistake about that.

Two long pulls of wine, 5 minutes and 4 and a half minutes of resonant piano and I'm back off the edge. No, not the edge of life but the edge of emotion. We react to that which rises to the surface. Again, life is an intense balance of evoking and rolling in the sheets with the violent emotions we are tuned to react to...the resonant frequency of our lives, if you will...and the peace of the day to day. Being happy with who we are but also able to dance in the rain when the weather is just right.

I love dancing. I love music. I love that I am every so often able to throw off the oppressive bullshit that we are overcome with if we let ourselves. Do not be constrained (DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT!)

aside for a passionate monologue

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

we are built to dance in the rain. we are built to react to the music and to find the chords that resonate to our core. we were tuned from the outset for specific reactions to trigger specific actions. not predestination but to be present on the way towards your ultimate destination. do not let your life pass by as if it were something to get through but instead, grab that bitch by the sensitive parts and jump on for the ride of your life. chase that which seems worth chasing whether it at first appears unattainable or not. truth be told, if it feels attainable, you are likely shooting at something you already know you can hit. aim higher, aim at that which scares you. aim at the target you would love to hit but don't believe you can. stretch yourself. allow others to stretch you and similarly stretch and encourage others to do the same. find likeminded people that encourage you, and pour your everything into encouraging them as if they were your life's mission and hope for the same in return. live with passion. eat fresh fruit, smell the fresh bread then deep into it with vigor, though it may be hot at first, a life that is always fresh out of the oven is the one best lived.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Too much stuck in my head

Lately, way too many things have been swirling around in my head. It's like my conscious brain has been reduced to limited functionality while my subconscious throws a rip roaring party, eating and drinking everything in sight. On top of that, it seems that my subconscious has decided that it's not too interested in sleep while my physical body and conscious mind are both exhausted.
Well, quite honestly, it's really straight forward. Working through major work changes again and truly considering putting this book away in favor of another. Often times, we get so comfortable with one aspect of life - work, in this case - that we put everything else in submission to that thing.
when that thing is work, things can easily go awry as work doesn't care about me. It doesn't understand what my hopes and dreams are, what I'm passionate about or, and maybe most importantly, my work life balance. Work can consume thoughtlessly. incompetent leaders can overload under the guise of "ensuring we're contributing at our potential", unwilling or unable to see that capacity is finite.
I'm personally very proud of my career at that place I spend so much time. I've learned a ton, done some great work, matured, realized a lot about myself and become much more organizationally competent. In my sleepy brain, that all makes sense. But truly, I'm freaking exhausted. I've been burning every candle I can find with a flamethrower, just walking around wrecklessly spewing out my energy as fast as I possibly can in order to speed the process, to move the change along but I'm coming to realize that change often happens slow.
If I were watching survivor or any other reality TV show for that matter, it would be at this point that I would expect - even start looking for - the twist. Oh, he thinks he has it figured out. But he has no clue what's going to happen tomorrow at 8am. That's fact, actually. I'm a bit worried about 8am. I was worried about 1230pm today and that's done and gone...on to a new fucked up milestone. pardon the language. Civility requires effort and this is my dumping ground, my vulnerability, my...ugh, I'm freaking tired.

Umm...now that I've purged this very basic, very mindless set of words, I have to agree that I'm just exhausted. Feels like I can't stop (won't stop) working. I'm not a workaholic but I've convinced myself that if I can scale up to two jobs, I can drop the one I like the least. What if I just said that I was going to drop the one I don't like and make things work on the other front, regardless. I'm worth more than this bullshit stress.
If there's one thing I learned from cancer, it's that life can be short. It can change in an instant. One visit to the doctors office...and maybe more importantly, we shouldn't let that scare us, but rather, motivate us to live more fully, more engaged, more relaxed each and every day. Why stress over cash? that shit doesn't last. Live for the moment. Live for your family. Live for those precious moments that you know you're skipping because you're working too much or too stressed or *insert the current excuse here*. That's lame, man. Life is too short.
I don't know that I've resolved much but consciously attempting to extract that which lies just below the surface is often the best exercise. The best way to get it out...to move forward, to realize what we already know instinctively. Maybe I should just quit and let things solve for themselves. Life has a way of doing that.
Set some milestones? Do taxes this weekend. Sell the car. Buy a cheaper one that's paid off. What else...there's like one or two more. Pay kids medical bills. Hmm...That all should ease the mind and the monthlies. Should be pretty dialed in, actually.
Tired, yo.

I don't understand people who live to work. Basically worshiping work as if it's the meaning of life. Like succeeding in work is succeeding in life. I don't buy that crap. Life is way too badass to give that shit to work. Some stuff at work is awesome, is fun, is something I can get excited about. I love working with awesome people on innovative stuff. Maybe I'll just do more of that.
Quit. Write. Contract down to what matters both financially and life-wise...then start playing again. God, I love playing. Work should be play...otherwise you're doing it wrong. So glad I pulled myself out of my role today. Best.decision.ever.
I don't know how many times I have to say that I'm not here for the money. I'm not here to make a million bucks per year. I'm not here to move up or any of that. I'm at work because I enjoy it and when I don't, it's time to move on.

This last paragraph or two was great. Processing this helps me calibrate and relax. It's not a big deal. It's just a paycheck at times. I'll still be able to pick up my kids after school. I'll still make plenty of cash (it's never enough anyways) and we'll adjust our lifestyles to our new incomes....and enjoy life a bit more. Nice premise. I figure I'll give it 3 months...and maybe just walk out sometime in the middle there when things look like they're ready to take a turn for the worse. Dunno. It will be interesting.

Bring the popcorn, please. I might forget.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

On a Mission

We have recently decided to leave our home church where we had been for almost 10 years. In the season of life that we are in, we want a church that prioritizes kids...and leading them (and others) to Christ. Ultimately, Sokny and I have already made our decision to be Christians...they have not so that's the priority. 

That whole journey really started me thinking about church. Many churches have been framed up to feed into Christians. Doesn't sound too terrible, does it? What triggered was when we attended a "seeker sensitive" church. Almost every week, the message calls out to people who aren't Christians and basically asks if they want to become a Christian. Coming from a very theological, deep teaching church, the teaching felt very basic at first. 

Then I started thinking about it. Boiling Christianity down to the nuts and bolts, if we have already decided to follow Jesus (we have), the great commission compels us to get out and share: 

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

On top of that, it's love. We are called to love on others. Actually...spreading God's love is more important. That's the foundation for what we do, why we do it and who we strive to become as we follow Jesus. 

If those are our key tasks...and let's be frank - we suck at actually living those out for the most part...why not focus the church on advocating for, supporting and actively pursuing these two core actions? Reach out to those who are 'seeking' God...and get busy loving on folks through actions, finances and the like. 

It doesn't say in the Bible that we should continually seek to improve...continue fine tuning the engine that is the human life but never actually take it out onto the streets. It's the opposite. It says we should get out on the streets...do the good work that we are called to do...and while you're at it, follow Jesus with everything you are which compels us to be better. 

I'm not saying that one church is better than another but the stark contrast between the handful we have been looking into forced the discussion. To each their own, onward and upward :)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Life Suck

I'm at a really strange period in life right now. I started a new role in P&G in the environmental space where we consolidated two roles being filled with lots of overtime and two experience people...into me. I knew moving into a completely new field of work would be challenging and that I would have to do some serious automation, cleanup and triaging of the work to make it fit but I wasn't prepared for what has come my way over the last year.

Further complicating things, I also started writing for an awesome cleantech website...and really a whole media network focused on advocating sustainable living across a ton of different topics. That ramped up very quickly and turned into a solid paying part time gig on top of my already loaded boat of day to day work. More recently, I've added on travel for this work which consumes valuable vacation and family time from my day job.

That all hit a wall in May for me when I had a trip to Switzerland for the writing gig which was amazing but preworking everything for my day job to allow me to take the time off, preparing for the trip on a personal level and preparing for the onslaught of content that came at from the tour itself was just a lot to take in.

That has all taken a huge toll on my family with my ability to contribute meaningfully at home on a relational and functional levels dropped into the negative. I was really pushing to make the writing work and while I still hope to do that eventually after paying down a few debts and monthly payments (by installing solar), I'm hoping to be able to move into a new chapter of life. I thought I could do this all in a sprint...a one time effort to ramp one up and ramp the other down...and just suck it up in the meantime but instead, I've hit a wall for the first time in my life...at least this kind of a wall.

Coming out of the Switzerland trip, I've only written a few articles...I just don't have mental energy left to do much of anything productive outside of my day job and frankly, that's just killing me. Not just the writing but I don't have energy or willpower to engage meaningfully in my marriage...I struggle to connect with my kids and feed into them. I'm numb to life and just try to vent my stress or borrow energy and emotion from video games, movies and "tv" (lol that the meaning of that has changed so much in my lifetime).

Working at P&G historically has been great for the most part. Everything in life has highs and lows so I'm used to riding that rollercoaster but sucking it up for a year and more than that...not seeing an end in sight but really only seeing the potential for a downward slide is not encouraging. The best analogy I've found for it is that it feels like I'm stuck in an abusive relationship. I feel like I need the income but the workload is just not practical with the energy and capacity for work that I have which are substantial.

The capstone for the struggle is that my work is in compliance so I'm constantly providing official, legal data to government agencies, filing for new permits, responding to requests for information, giving tours and walking the line of compliance with innumerable inspectors for various agencies we are required to entertain in order to do business. The weight of reporting to official agencies at the federal, state and local levels is on my shoulders all the time. I regularly wake up in the middle of the night thinking of some report, audit or agency and that drives me nuts. On top of having too much work, I often end up not getting enough rest and working while exhausted because my mind never stops working.

I'm not complaining about the compliance piece...the awkward bit about all of it is that I have immense passion to push past this compliance piece of the role into driving meaningful reductions in our footprint through cost reduction opportunities and strategic partnerships with our regulatory agencies...and that's really the only thing that keeps me going at work.

This is really just venting and processing out loud but I'm at a loss. Words are my therapy and a critical outlet for me to stream my thoughts out, put them on paper and see what my brain is up to.

Oh, we're working through a tense transition in leadership of the youth group at church...again. I really don't have energy to push that anymore. I've been through just about every stage imaginable to try to initiate meaningful change there with a few successes but mostly just stress and frustration.

I'm thinking that's not an effective place for me to continue working, pushing and investing myself but that's counterbalanced with the sheer vacuum of meaningful investment of resources in the youth of the church. Stay in the group...leave the group. Stay at the church...leave the church before my kids enter the vacuum...no energy to process these things right now but they're definitely floating around as many young families lock in their votes.

So...life today has work eating up the majority of me. I'd say 90% of my capacity goes there and I'm really not ok with that. Top priority becomes getting that down to a sustainable level or getting out by working the numbers and just sucking it up. I'm going to target an absurdly low 3 days/week @ 9 hours/day for that with minimal external work, super long days, etc. I'm just not willing to give much more than that for too much longer, sorry. Let's target getting to this in the next year at the latest...and sustain that for 2 years.

Ideally, I could spend 2 full days per week writing with energy left over during the week to write. That's an overexaggeration of what I want because I'm tired of not investing myself in what I think I should be investing myself in. I want energy left at the end of the day to play, to dream, to imagine, to love and to live...

In the meantime, probably scale back investments in retirement to pay down our car loan and get this solar installed...fuck my brain has nothing left.

I may just have to cap the day at 8 hours of working time per day to reign things in. Maybe it will take a few violations to get the site to realize that we need more people to do this work. That sucks.

I don't know...I hope this processing on paper helps me figure out what to do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

"You have cancer" Those words hit me like a sledgehammer to my chest...

"You have cancer." Those words hit me like a sledgehammer to my chest. December was a difficult month for our family...and specifically for me. In the first few days of the month, I found a lump in my testicle that was later identified as being cancerous. After a surgery to remove it and an array of tests, I'm officially cancer free but it was a crazy couple of weeks and it really shook me. 

I didn't share this broadly back then because the word 'cancer' sounds like a death sentence. While I wasn't freaking out, everyone else would have and frankly, that would have just been more for me to deal with and I knew it wouldn't help. Cancer is especially scary when the words "You have..." come before it...but through the process, I learned that it doesn't have to be that way.

You see, I had testicular cancer which is very survivable with roughly a 98% survival rate but I didn't know that at the time. I just knew that I had cancer and that frankly, scared the crap out of me. A bit of research calmed me down a little but I still felt like I had this black cloud hanging over me. As I worked through the various doctors visits, I only gained certainty that I had cancer at first...then realized that all cancers are different and even within cancers of a certain region (like the testes or breasts), there are tons of factors and the reality is that most people - around 2/3s - survive cancer.

I'm not sharing this for sympathy - I'm doing great now and was back to 100% relatively quickly after we worked through the surgery in mid-December to remove the cancer, but rather, I'm sharing my story to let you know that finding out that you have cancer is not a death sentence. We should talk about it as a society to kill the stigma surrounding it and encourage more people to do proactive checks. Pretending cancer doesn't exist or that you won't get it only makes it worse.

When people don't know about the risk or how easy the checks for cancers like testicular cancer are...they don't check for it and that only gives the cancer more time to do damage to your body. I didn't know about self-checks and only found it by chance. Testicular cancer specifically occurs in men (obviously) between the ages 15-40 (not so obvious) which I had no idea about but wish I had. I had naively assumed that cancer was something that happened more commonly as we age...but that's not the case for all cancers.

That's what I wanted to say...and I know that more than anything, you're probably just feeling relieved right now. Somebody else had cancer but they made it, right? I'm glad it wasn't me. That works...almost. 40% of people will get cancer in their lifetime...that's a fact.

And 40% is no small number. Think about it - that's one in every 2.5 humans that will get cancer. Because of that, I encourage you to do a self check and to build that in to your regular routine. For men, it's easy to check for lumps - here's a quick (and humorous) video that shows you how...and for women, here is an intro video that explains self examination practices for breast cancer. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that provide additional details and perspective so please - take this quick step to get informed...then take action :)

These basic checks avoid what otherwise might be a more serious matter and give you what you need most to fight against cancer should it come to that - time. Let's drop the awkward or uncomfortable stigma around cancer and join together to take action today. Get informed and if you want to talk...I'm here.