Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An open letter to Jason

Above is a photo of my old dorm at Emerson College (sold by the college it is apparently one of the most expensive condos in Boston.)

When I think of college I think of 100 Beacon, the dorm where I lived, and my friends, many of whom moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry just like I did in the early 1990s.

There are some friends that I honestly can't recall how we met, but it feels like we have been friends forever.  That is how I feel about many of my fellow Emersonians, including my friend Jason.

Jason is one of those friends who you will always be friends with, that no matter how many years have passed, you will pick up just where you left off the last time you have seen them, even if you can't recall how long ago that was.

Jason was the first person I went to Las Vegas with.  Riding in his white Mazda Miata, convinced that we would never survive the trip in such a small vehicle.  Obviously we did.

Coming from Emerson, a school renowned for its tv and film production it made myself and others laugh when Jason became a production accountant for feature films (Emersonians are not known for their math skills, its kind of an inside joke.)

I don't recall the year that I met his then girlfriend Sharon, but I do remember it was in a production office, perhaps on the Paramount lot.  Weird how some memories stick with you and others float away.

Today I was on facebook during the show.  I read something from one of my college classmates living in LA:

Last night, A friend passed away after a long battle with cancer. She was loved and will be missed. She leaves behind a loving and dedicated husband, my good friend. Sometimes I get so caught up in my daily life that I tend to lose touch with what's really important. Cherish what you have and let your family and friends know that you love them. Life's too short.

It took me a few minutes to realize he was talking about Jason's wife Sharon, who had been battling cancer for quite some time.

Now as a cancer survivor people always try to shield you from others cancer.

I had no idea how bad it was with Jason's wife.

Until today.

I moved away from Los Angeles in 2004, so Jason and I only really connect, like most people, via email and facebook, the way of the world now I suppose.

I know Sharon and he loved each other, I could tell when I met her oh so long ago. 

If I could make it to LA to see my friend (finances or lack thereof are a stumbling block)  I would tell him to remember the good times, that is what Sharon would have wanted.

Waking up tomorrow will be hard I know.

I have lost many friends to cancer but not someone that lived within my heart and soul.

The sun may shine brightly, but everything may seem dark, because she is not there.

For some reason Sharon's loss resonated deeply within me.  Probably because you are my friend, and I know you are hurting.

I read your facebook note to Sharon, and it was hard to fight back the tears:

Dear Sharon, To quote your favorite singer, "I will always love you." I will forever miss your smile and your company. You were the best dinner date I ever had. Somehow you managed to comfort *me* when you were suffering. It was a privilege to be your husband. I learned a lot from you. The house is not the same without you. Misty and the bunny miss you terribly. May you finally rest in peace without pain, pills or chemo. Say hi to Two Sox for me, I know he is by your side. I love you, I miss you.

There are moments in life that we will never forget, people that we will cherish and good times we will hold on to.
Please remember those in your time of sorrow.  

I think it was you who crashed through a screen door in an apartment in the valley, (either you or Del Conte, I can't recall) and you who I chat with over facebook, talking about movies, and your famous boss.

It may be dark tomorrow for you, and in the days ahead, but know that Sharon is smiling down upon you, free from pain from cancer and chemo, healthy and happy and guiding you for the rest of your days.

It is because of friends like you, your wife Sharon, I will continue to fight, I will continue to advocate, it is a long and winding road, and sometimes I feel like an ant sized David against a universe sized Goliath, but that doesn't stop me.

Some friends of mine here wonder why I go go go all the time.  Some of my friends call me "a machine."  That is because I know what it is like to have your world stop, be put on hold for cancer, treatment and the shit that goes with it.  Not knowing if you will ever do what you used to do ever again. 

I play every hockey shift like it may be my last. 

Because you never know it just might be.

Most people don't like to hear those bad 4 letter words that can get you in trouble with your boss, your teacher, words you shouldn't say in front of children.

There is one word I wish didn't exist.

Its a six letter word



Monday, February 13, 2012

Survivorship and Depression

I was recently on the PBS series "A Wider World" to talk about my cancer survivorship. Here is a segment they filmed about my battle with depression.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My dinner with Susan

Remember when you were in school and the teacher asked you to pick one person dead or alive from any time in history to have dinner with, to talk to, to gain words of wisdom from?  I do.  I can't recall who I picked, but family members aside (yes Dad, you would be first, as long as dinner would include your delicious goulash)  I would pick Susan Komen to sit down and have dinner with.

"What???"  You are thinking...

"All the amazing people throughout history and you pick her?"

I am a bit of a history buff, I love the stories of how our country was founded, hey I grew up in one of the 13 original colonies, can't help that, and the whole story of Pearl Harbor intrigues me, but yes even with the chance of having dinner with John Adams or George Washington, I pick Susan G. Komen.

As any cancer survivor knows her battle and unfortunate death because of cancer started the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Nancy Brinker.

Susan Komen's sister.

Her name instills anger in many cancer survivors, because of the recent uproar over "pinkwashing", something I had written about in 2008 on the stupid cancer blog.

and then again dear dear Nancy and her Komen foundation created Promise Me perfume, ironically which could cause cancer, and most of us have issues with strong fragrances while going through chemo and well beyond that.

And now pulling funding from planned parenthood, which it seems to be a political move, and many assume that the poor and un and underinsured will not be able to get mammograms.

Then panic sets in.

Now lets be honest, Planned Parenthood isn't the only place women can get mammograms or cancer information. There is no need to press the panic button.

Komen however did press that panic button and decided to rescind their decision on  funding planned parenthood

Dinner time.

I can imagine Susan and I sitting down to dinner.

I think the first thing I would show her is the Komen website, show her where it says about Susan, which is little more than a glossed over story about Nancy.

Tell her that even though her sister has taken the pink ribbon and tried to sue other organizations for using it, as well as suing other organizations who use for the cure as if breast cancer is the only cancer we want cured.

Let her know that it was in fact Evelyn Lauder who created the pink ribbon campaign, and the Estee Lauder foundation has not tried to sue other organizations for use of the pink ribbon.

By this time I can imagine Susan is silent.  Wondering how this all has happened.  How an organization that was founded through, what I am sure was love, has become so large, so hated by many, including the very cancer survivors the organization was founded for.

I wish I could actually have this dinner, have this conversation. 

Wonder what she would say that her sister can't see the cancer awareness forest for the pink trees? 

Ask her how putting a pink ribbon on friskies or alcohol furthers research and awareness.

But I can't

I can only wonder how her sister Nancy became so far removed from what she started

for Susan.

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