Friday, November 18, 2011

Flip the switch

I had an appointment with the doctor the other day.  My general practioner.  Regular checkup.  My doc always asks about my meds, my moods.  Told her sometimes I feel down. Yeah I get depressed.

Sometimes I can snap out of it pretty easily, sometimes I can't.

This was one of those times I couldn't.

I wish I could figure out what brings my mood down.

Some days it seems like it comes out of nowhere, and suddenly I am deeply entrenched in emotions that make no sense to me, but sometimes they do.

It can come in waves, like one moment I am fine the next I am not.

Its worse when your alone, or at night, when there is nothing but your own thoughts surrounding you.

I guess its no wonder that it is hard for me to fall asleep because when I feel this way all I do is think about the things that bother me, or what is upsetting me.

The thing that really gets to me is how I can be fine, then just feel totally steeped in it.

Its inexplicable really, unless you have been there, and if you are reading this I hope you never have been.

I recall one of the times that I felt the worst was right before the carcinista had passed.  That was end of April early May of this year.  I was at a friends house apologizing for the way I had acted, another wonderful thing about this mental condition of mine, I have a tendency to lash out at people that I care about, do and say shit that is totally out of character for me.  I don't recall exactly what the conversation was about but I know I was in a dark place and I felt utterly lost.

Its not something you can just snap out of.

So I try to make sense of it all. Figure out what gets me down.

Ultimately I have no idea.

Right now I am feeling pretty fucking good, and man I love this feeling,

The feeling I had before cancer, before Sept 18, 2007.

Then I wonder when my brain chemistry is going to go askew and flip that switch.

Lyrics from Pink's song Perfect:

You're so mean, 
When you talk, about yourself,
 you were wrong, 
Change the voices in your head
make them like you instead  

If only it was as easy as the song makes it out to be.

I will continue on the fight against my own mind, when the depression hits, when the switch is flipped, I gotta find the right trigger to put it back.

Until then I will continue to advocate, blog about it,try to destigmatize it.

That's the only thing I can do.

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 Famous Athletes who Managed to Beat Cancer

 Another Guest Blogger.  Enjoy


 10 Famous Athletes Who Managed to Beat Cancer

The recent revelation that Eagles running back Jerome Harrison has a brain tumor — hopefully it’s not cancerous — underscores the reality that athletes are just like you and I. They suffer through the same traumas and dramas, and are vulnerable to the general unpredictability of life. Despite their physical and mental toughness, each of which they’ve forged through years of athletic competition, nothing can prepare them for undertaking the fights of their lives. The following athletes accepted the challenge presented by cancer, triumphantly defeating it as we cheered them on. Not all athletes are role models, but these guys — just a handful of the many cancer survivors in sports — exhibited traits everyone should emulate.
  1. Mario Lemieux, Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    Unquestionably one of the best hockey players to ever lace up the skates, Lemieux’s health was his most fierce rival. During his career, he battled chronic back pain, chronic tendinitis, a spinal disc herniation, and most daunting, Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Diagnosed during the 1992-93 season, in which he was on pace to eclipse the single-season goal and points records, he was sidelined for two months as he underwent aggressive radiation treatments. Incredibly, he played on the last day of the treatments, scoring a goal and tallying an assist against the Flyers.
  2. Saku Koivu, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    Most 26-year-old athletes are entering the primes of their careers — Koivu, instead, simply wanted to stay alive. As with Lemieux and many other players in the intensely physical sport of hockey, he constantly battled injuries, which, in a way, may have prepared him for his bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While on a flight to the U.S. from Finland, he experienced tremendous stomach pain and vomiting — clear signs that something wasn’t right. As a result, he received aggressive treatment with radiation and drugs, causing him to lose significant amounts of weight and energy. With the motivation provided by the support of fellow athletes who endured the disease, he managed to return before the end of the 2001-02 season. He helped the Canadiens reach the playoffs, and played the best hockey of his career — to that point — the following season.
  3. John Cullen, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    The length at which a cancer patient is required to fight the disease varies. Cullen’s harrowing 18-month battle included numerous peaks and valleys, none of which disrupted his focus. Initially, a baseball-sized tumor was found in his chest, but chemotherapy treatments eliminated it in just a few months. Because cancer cells were still present in his body, he sat out the 1997-98 season to continue his fight. During that time, he suffered cardiac arrest — needing a defibrillator to revive him — and he later received a bone marrow transplant, which severely weakened him. His hockey career wasn’t over, however. When he was declared cancer free, he trained for a comeback, eventually signing with the Lightning.
  4. Jessica Breland, Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    It’s difficult not to concede that women are the stronger humans. Breland is proof, as she too successfully defeated Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma while she was just 21-years-old. A student at the North Carolina at the time, she spent six months receiving chemotherapy treatments, missing the entire 2009-10 season. The Tar Heels leading scorer and rebounder in 2008-09 returned for her redshirt senior season, performing well enough garner a selection in the WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx, which traded her to the New York Liberty.
  5. Edna Campbell, breast cancer

    Breast cancer in the most common form of cancer diagnosed in women. Most of us personally know a woman who has dealt with the disease, whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker, or acquaintance. Campbell certainly touched the lives of her teammates and fans as she battled the disease during her fourth season in the league. Incredibly, she continued to play through her treatments, serving as inspiration to the many women in her situation. Through the years, the WNBA has had a close relationship with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, utilizing its players to promote awareness of the disease. Campbell became the league’s national spokesperson for the effort, a job she embraced.
  6. Brett Butler, throat cancer

    A former chewer of tobacco, Butler was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsils during the latter of stages of his accomplished Major League career. After having a tonsil removed due to what the doctors thought was an infection, it was found to be cancerous, and he was forced to sit out while undergoing intensive treatment. Sidelined in May, he returned in September, finishing the season in which he encountered the biggest obstacle of his life. The 39-year-old went on to play one more season in the Majors.
  7. Andres Galarraga, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    Coming off of three consecutive seasons in which he hit 40 or more homeruns, Galaragga was enjoying the greatest success of his baseball career. However, just prior to the 1999 season, he experienced nagging back pain that wouldn’t go away. It turned out to be non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and he missed the entire season as he underwent chemotherapy treatment. On Opening Day in 2000, he returned to hit a game-winning homerun, setting the tone for an unexpectedly successful season in which he made his fifth career All-Star appearance and won the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award.
  8. Jon Lester, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    In 2006, the Red Sox prospect earned a promotion to the big leagues, but his rookie season was disrupted as he was faced with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During a late-season game, he was scratched from a start due to a sore back, which he thought was caused by a car accident that occurred a month earlier. Enlarged lymph nodes and subsequent tests indicated it was more serious, and he received chemotherapy treatments during the offseason. Fortunately for Lester, it was gone before the 2007 season, enabling him to work his way back up to the bigs. The payoff was huge, as he won the clinching game of the World Series.
  9. Mark Herzlich, bone cancer

    Herzlich’s senior season at Boston College was supposed to be an audition for the NFL — a chance to catapult himself into the first round. In the previous season, the linebacker made major strides, receiving First-team All-American honors. Seemingly indestructible, he shocked Eagles fans when he revealed prior to the season that he had Ewing’s sarcoma. Just a few weeks into the season, and four months after the diagnosis, he declared that he was cancer free. He then focused on preparing for the 2010 season — he eventually started all 13 games and recorded 65 tackles. He was signed by the Giants before the 2011 NFL season, and he remains on the team’s 53-man roster.
  10. Lance Armstrong, testicular cancer

    At the age of 25, well-before he fulfilled is cycling potential, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three Embryonal carcinoma. Because the cancer had spread to his brain, lungs, and abdomen, he was forced to immediately undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Even after the exhaustive response, he was given just a 40% chance of survival. He chose to undergo an alternative form of treatment that would preserve his lungs and thus his cycling career. Defying the odds, his cancer went into remission, and returned to training. Now, as a healthy 40-year-old, he boasts seven Tour de France victories, the most ever.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Another guest blogger enjoy

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
My Dad died a year ago. Esophageal cancer. It was a choice he made. No, no, no… not to GET cancer – but to not treat it. The doctors all said it was contained and curable. He just didn’t want to fight it. At the time I couldn’t understand. Not that I do now… but a year’s worth of time does change a person’s opinions. I honestly don’t think he had any idea what he was in store for. Essentially he ‘committed suicide by cancer’. I wrote a blog about it via my friend The Cancer Warrior last October.

Boy, was I pissed when I wrote that. The day after writing it, I bought a one-way ticket to NH from TX to help my Mom help my Dad leaving my two kids at home. We took care of my Dad at home. He died while I was holding his hand. I’m glad I went. I'm glad that some of his last words were to me.

I have no regrets. He, however, did.

The week before he died, my Uncle, Dad’s little brother, came to see him, ‘one last time’.

My Uncle had just been diagnosed with melanoma in his lungs, lymph nodes and various patches on his skin.

His PET scan lit up like a friggin' Christmas tree of the worst kind.

He tried to talk to my Dad, but his cancer had eaten him alive, his voice was essentially gone. But he made sure my Uncle sat close and heard every word he said… He said,


Dad regretted his decision to ‘let nature take its course’. I’m glad he did voice that regret. It made it easier on my family to know that he didn’t want to leave us.

We just discovered last week that my Uncle’s PET scan is now clean. He’s missing part of a lung, all of his lymph nodes and chunks of skin. But, what a small price to pay when you think of the alternative.


Fight, my friends. You are stronger than you know.

As Emerson said, if ‘even one life has breathed easier because you have lived..’ you have had a successful life.

Thanks for the great advice once again, Dad, and please know you indeed lived a successful life and were loved.

About the author:  Amy Lord Gonzalez
Transplanted New Hampshire girl, currently residing in the country of Texas. Stay-at-home mom, rock star wife who makes a mean enchilada and still cheers for the Red Sox and Patriots from afar.
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