Monday, December 31, 2012

In Retrospect

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
Never really sure what that song meant... Should we forget about the past and not think about it? Or never forget it. Not really sure.
2012 has been an interesting year for me.  
One of great happiness, as well as great sadness.
I celebrated my 5 year anniversary of being cancer free.
And I also lost some good friends along the way.
People like me, who have faced their own mortality, realize how precious life is.

How important it is not to waste even a second of it.
If you are full of hate you miss out on joy
If you are angry you won't be happy.

If you worry  you won't have hope.
You never know when the last time you will see someone will be.
One of my friends passed away this year suddenly from a stroke.
She was one of the greatest people I have ever known.
I still remember the last time I saw her, it was like any other day.
I watched her walk away with her coffee as I was continuing my job,
I had no idea it would be the last time I saw her.
Tell those important to you that you love them.
Know that everyone who comes into your life is there for a reason.
Enjoy every day.  
Drink in the sheer awesomeness that is life, and this earth.
Life is precious.
Enjoy every second of it.
There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year.
 Don't waste any of them.

I'll leave you and 2012 with this quote from John Hughes, from the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  Available on demand, on Itunes and on the Podcasts app on your iphone

Thursday, December 20, 2012


There is a scene in the movie Miracle where Coach Herb Brooks makes the 1980 Olympic team do the now infamous blue line drill after a game that the team was paying more attention to the girls in the stands to the Norwegian team they were playing.

It is a drill that no hockey player wants to do:  Goal line, blue line, Red line, blue line, goal line and any variation therein.

In the movie it is referred to as the AGAIN drill.


Never a word a cancer survivor wants to hear.

Had a routine blood draw, although I guess after cancer nothing is really routine.

Got a call from the nurse practioner that she wanted to talk about my labs. 

I knew it wasn't too bad since the doc didn't call me, those are the calls I dread.

The blood draw I had was to test my thyroid and D3 levels.  Somewhere along the way during cancer treatment I got hashimoto's thyroiditis, yeah its really called that.

So the Nurse Practitioner and I do the phone tag thing.

Labs show your levels are up.

No wonder I have been tired, I know I stay up late and enjoy a good nap, but seriously, people who have these diseases that give you chronic fatigue should be pillow testers or something.

Hmm I may be on to something maybe I should write relax the back or tempurpedic for a sponsorship.

Back to the story.  Doc thinks I should up my dosage and do another blood draw in 6 weeks.

Hopefully this is the last time I have to think about my thryoid...


Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  Available on demand, on Itunes and on the Podcasts app on your iphone

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meeting the Challenge of Cancer and Care-giving

Another guest blogger!  Enjoy!

There have been numerous times when my wife made the comment to me that she cannot fathom the things I went through when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I’m writing this to shed some light on my experience as a caregiver for her during her illness.

Our daughter, Lily, was born just three months before the mesothelioma diagnosis. After the birth of our daughter, we were radiant and hap

py and were enjoying our new, beautiful family. Suddenly, we were tossed into a sea of worry and uncertainty when my wife received her unexpected diagnosis. I recall looking at my tearful wife and wondering how we were going to survive this period of our lives. It all seemed so frightening and daunting to us as new parents.

Shortly after the diagnosis, I went through an emotional state that was pure outrage at this turn of events. I cursed and shouted and felt completely helpless. My anger got the best of me for a bit; but I soon realized I needed to be strong and stable for my family because they needed me now more than ever. This realization hit home and while I still had my moments of weakness, I did my best to be a solid rock my wife and daughter could depend on.

Once the diagnosis was given, I had a huge to-do list. My regular responsibilities of work, taking care of household chores and helping with our daughter were added to significantly. On top of these tasks, I also began helping my wife with basic care, making regular travel arrangements and scheduling frequent appointments. It was a lot to deal with, but I kept my priorities focused and became determined to accomplish each task set in front of me. I also had a lot of help from the community and family members. I am truly not sure what I would have done without the remarkable outpouring of support that was offered to our family.

Following Heather’s surgery in Boston, the next two months were incredibly hard on me. It is difficult for my wife to imagine what I went through during this time frame. After her surgery, Heather flew to South Dakota to be with her parents while she recuperated and prepared for her next round of mesothelioma treatment. Her parents had watched Lily while we were in Boston during Heather’s surgery. While Heather was recuperating, I only got to see her and my daughter one time during their stay in South Dakota. This was harder on me than I can put into words.

The obligation of maintaining my job while being separated from my family was really hard on me. I made a long drive to visit them one weekend and then returned home to work again. Looking back now, I know we had to face difficult choices while my wife was going through treatment, but I am grateful we still had options. Through all of our struggles, Heather is still here and still healthy over six years later. I hope
that our story can be a source of hope and help to those currently battling cancer.

About the author:

"Cameron is husband to Heather Von St. James, survivor advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, and father to Lily Rose. He, along with Heather and young Lily, had their world's turned upside down when Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, just 3 1/2 months after the birth of his only child. When faced with the very real possibility of raising Lily on his own, he fought alongside Heather in her battle with mesothelioma.
Like Heather, Cameron is passionate about bringing awareness to mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure. It is his hope that sharing his story will help others those battling cancer and their caregivers who provide them care and guidance in their journey."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's always something...

Today I read an article online that said Gilda's Club is changing its name to The Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin because most young people do not know who Gilda Radner is. 

The club's executive director Lannia Syren Stenz said in the article "One of the realizations we had this year is that our college students were born after Gilda Radner passed, as we are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis."  (The Wisconsin Gilda's club is the fourth such club to change its name.)

So this television/comedic icon, who has been ranked as one of the comedic geniuses of the 20th century, one of the original Saturday Night Live Not Yet Ready for Prime Time Players will have her name removed from the club started in her honor by her husband actor Gene Wilder, Radner's cancer psychotherapist Joanna Bull and broadcaster Joel Siegel.

All because our younger generation of cancer survivors are unaware of who Gilda Radner is.

I guess because its before their time they probably don't know who Chevy Chase or Dan Akroyd, Jane Curtin or  John Belushi are.

I bet they do.

Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989.  Her husband and her friends wanted a place for people to go to not think about cancer.  

By changing the name to the Cancer Support Community, it does just the opposite.

If you watch any female comedienne today I am betting that Gilda Radner is up there as one of their influences.

I was 6 when Saturday Night Live debuted in 1975.  My parents would sometimes let my brother and I stay up to watch.

Gilda Radner died in 1989.

A 21 year old college student would have been born 3 years after she passed away.

I am guessing the younger generation also don't know who William Stewart Halsted, Larry Page & Sergey Brin or Jack Kilby or Robert Noyce are, even though they should.

Halsted performed the first mastectomy.

Larry Page & Sergey Brin invented Google

Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce invented the microchip.

I didn't know who any of those people were, I had to look them up.

I guess their names wouldn't belong on a door of a club either..

If only there was this amazing place where younger people  who had cancer could look up information, like who is Gilda Radner, and get it in an instant.

Oh yeah its called "the internet."

As Emily Litella would say:  "NEVERMIND"

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  Available on demand, on Itunes and on the Podcasts app on your iphone

One of the realizations we had this year is that our college students were born after Gilda Radner passed, as we are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis,” said Lannia Syren Stenz, the club’s executive director.

Read more:
One of the realizations we had this year is that our college students were born after Gilda Radner passed, as we are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis,” said Lannia Syren Stenz, the club’s executive director.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Under Armour ~ You know you want it

 Under Armour.  You know the name.

I have been wearing Under Armour when I started playing hockey in the late 90's.

Wore it before it was popular.

Before the endorsements.

Under Armour.

I wrote about my Under Armour hat in a recent post.

I was fortunate to catch the eye of the good people at Under Armour.  They sent me a hoody to check out.

Now living in Michigan the climate can change here in the blink of an eye.  So I am very particular about what I wear.

I decided to wear it to the rink.  I got it the same day I had a game.

Soft and comfortable is the best way I can describe the inside of the hoody.  It was  like putting on a article of clothing I had worn for years.  That is how comfortable the Storm full zip hoody is.

The Rink can get cold, duh, its supposed to, but the hoody kept me warm. It is great for fall weather here in Michigan, where it can go from sunny and warm to rainy and windy.  Perfect for a bike ride, zipped or unzipped.

I got the black hoody.  Love the shadowy depth of the black.

My team mates were jealous.  I could tell.

So now its your turn.

I told you how awesome the storm hoody is for women.  Now its time to get an Under Armour hoodie for you (or your man) just in time for the holidays.

Why wrestle someone in stores over the best Christmas or birthday present you can give, when you can get it for free?

Just post a comment here telling me who gets an awesome hoody and why.  I will pick a winner at random and the good folks at Under Armour will work hard to get it under your tree in time for Christmas.

The best part?  You don't even have to tell the person you got the hoody for it was for free.  Let them think you spent a long day looking for the perfect gift, when all you really had to click out a couple of words.

Under Armour.

You know you want it.

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on
Also available on Itunes and on the podcasts app on the iphone

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Casinos Pitch in to Fight Breast Cancer

I'd like to bet $25 on pink please.  You didn't know that you could bet on pink you say.  Well you can if you play at a casino that supports breast cancer research.

The Horseshoe Cleveland casino is one of the casino's going pink this month and doing their part to support breast cancer research, but they are doing it at the local level.  For starters, their buffet is donating $1 of every meal purchased there towards a local breast cancer charity.  Their pastry section even has some pink desserts.

For those who like to frequent the Vintage 51 or Legends at Horseshoe bars, proceeds from the purchase of either the Pink Warrior or the The Hooter Shooter will go to the same charity. 

In addition, if you like to play blackjack, you can indeed bet on pink as there will be tables setup with pink felt in support of breast cancer research.  Also, any team member wearing a Horseshoe Cleveland Breast Cancer T-Shirt will be among those that donated at least $5 to the local charity.

So often we think of casinos as being companies that have absolutely no regard for the human condition.  However, the reality is that every casino has been touched numerous times by cancer at all levels from patrons up to ownership.

What I also like about what the Horseshoe Cleveland is doing is the fact that they are donating to a local charity instead of a major conglomerate where you never know if any of your funds are going to the purpose you intended.  Yes Mr. Cena, I am calling you out.

If you want to support organizations that support the fight against cancer, you can't go wrong by taking a trip to the Horseshoe Cleveland.  There you can bet on pink and that is the best bet in the house.


About the author:  James Guill  - James is a freelance writer specializing in the poker industry.  He's written in the past for PokerNews Australia Magazine and for sites such as and

Monday, October 22, 2012

Help Chris Ryff


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chris Ryff is a father of a 2 year old boy, a devoted husband, a much loved son, a loyal brother and a good friend to so many.  He is also fighting a battle against stage IV breast cancer in which time is not on his side.  Chris has identified a potentially life saving treatment called Personalized Gene Targeted Therapy at the Burzynski Clinic in Texas, which he believes is his best option at this stage of the disease.  We estimate that the cost of treatments, travel to the clinic and lost wages during this time could be around $60,000. 

We have created this page in an effort to chip away at these costs so Chris can focus on beating this disease. Please give generously and forward to others and ask that they give too.  

You can see a video of Chris and his family here during a recent photo shoot

Here is the link to the wepay page we've set up to donate for Chris and his family.
To contribute by check, please make check out to exactly: William C. Ryff
And mail to:
Post Office Box #834
Ridgefield, CT 06877

Pay it forward.  Because it rocks....

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Today Lance Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong. I am deeply saddened by this.  He did so so Livestrong wouldn't be put in the middle of the USADA's allegations of Lance doping during 1999-2005. 

Nike, Radio Shack and Anheuser-Busch dropped their endorsement deals with Armstrong.

 Nike dropped  their endorsement deal because of "seemingly insurmountable evidence"

Controversy over doping.

Does it seem impossible that one man is telling the truth and many others are not?

It happens.

Does it seem impossible that one man can win 7 Tour De France without doping?

It happened

It used to be that a handshake and someone's word were all that you needed.

Isn't it innocent until proven guilty?

 Not guilty until proven innocent.

Let me tell you something about cancer survivors, at least my experience.

There are times during treatment when you think you will always feel sick

That you will never be well again

That you will never regain the ability to do what you used to do

That you will never, essentially be you again.

When you finally realize how far you have come you want to live life to the fullest, grab the brass ring, run that marathon that you never thought you would, skate harder and faster than you have, ride a bike faster because you know the value of today, and know there may not be a tomorrow.

I am not a professional athlete.  I play hockey in an adult amateur league and participate in runs like the Warrior dash. 

I have never won a professional sporting event, like the Tour, nor will I ever.

But I do know this:

If you are a cancer survivor once you get that exhilaration, that taste of life, that winning feeling, you want it to continue.

So what do you do if you are Lance Armstrong?

Win the Tour 6 more times.

Some people will say I am just supporting Lance because I am a cancer survivor.

That may be true, although I read his book It's Not About The Bike before I was diagnosed, I have never been a Livestrong Leader, participated in any Livestrong events, nor have been to the Livestrong headquarters in Austin.

I am a cynic yes, but I do believe the value of a man's word.  My Dad taught me that. 

So while your sponsors like Nike and Radio Shack may have left you,Lance, I, like many other survivors stand behind you.

Nike dropping sponsorship makes no sense to me, while they drop Lance, they re sign Michael Vick after his dogfighting charge and jailtime.

Doesn't make sense. 

Michael Vick was convicted.

There are just allegations against Lance Armstrong.

I guess some people and organizations get scared when a scandal hits close to home.

I don't back away from the people who have helped me, even if they don't realize they have. 

Backing people who have helped you even though they may not realize they have. 

Its the right thing to do.

Just Do It.

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on
Also available on Itunes and on the podcasts app on the iphone

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Looks can be deceiving

If you stopped by my house and saw this winter hat, you would think nothing of it.  I live in a cold climate, something anyone would wear during the winter. 

But this hat means a lot to me.


There are many names for it.

But this particular one is important.

I wore this when I lost my hair during chemo.

I knew when I got my head shaved I would probably be cold.  I usually have long hair and not having any well that was an abrupt change.  When I thought about what hat I should get to wear during the winter, to treatment, at home and when I slept I knew I wanted this one.

Under Armour.

I know its a good brand because I wear it when I play hockey.  I think I started wearing it before it was the normal thing to do, wear a dry wick material shirt under gear.  Bought my first shirt in El Segundo, California, where the Kings train, back when it was called HealthSouth, now its the Toyota Sport Center.

I wore the hat because it not only covered my head, but it reminded me I would get stronger.

Its funny what we cling onto when we go through something like cancer.  I imagine other people have trinkets and lucky stuffed animals that they cherish, that to other people look like a knick knack on a shelf, or just another stuffed bear.

But to survivors, these things can mean the world.

To me its a reminder of where I have been, and how far I have come.

Are you wondering do I still have my cap?

Damn right I do.

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on
Also available on Itunes and on the podcasts app on the iphone

Saturday, September 22, 2012

So You Have Cancer: 10 Things to Do Now, Even if You're Not Warren Buffett

 Another guest blogger, enjoy

Article originally printed in the Huffington Post.  Reprinted with permission.

Cancer is all over the news lately, thanks to early detection, celebrity patients, and those ubiquitous "Hey Cancer" ads. Though medical breakthroughs may be in the offing, the Big C still packs a psycho/spiritual wallop for the newly initiated, no matter what effective tax rate you pay. Here are 10 ways to beat back the cancer blues and be your own best friend:

1) Blame Canada -- Or Philip Morris. Or your stress-Nazi boss. Just don't blame yourself. Because even if it is your fault, right now it's not your fault. Nothing about cancer is your fault. Give yourself the Robin-Williams-in-Good-Will-Hunting Hug because it's not your fault. Once you're all better you can get down on yourself for smoking, or eating poorly, or internalizing your parent's guilt trips. For now, stay focused on getting better.

2) Divide and Conquer -- Learn survivor math. Say the median survival rate of your cancer is five years. Does that mean you will be dead in five years? No, math-slackers, it does not. The median is not the same as the average. A median rate (which is how survival rates are measured) means half the people with your condition will die before the median, most likely people WAY older and WAY more decrepit than you. Are you old and decrepit? Because if you're not then you can live another 10 or 20 or 50 years, depending on your age, even if the median is only five years. I used to hate math too, till I got cancer. Now it's kind of awesome.

3) Take Your Google and Stick it Up Your iPad -- Don't be a masochist and try to "learn" about your cancer on the Internet. Every other post you read will make you feel like you're gonna die any minute. Remember, just because people before you have died of cancer, or even your type of cancer, does NOT mean you will too. So take that, Google founder Larry Page, who once built an inkjet printer out of Lego (it's fine to search for that kind of useless dreck).

4) Trip Out, Dude -- Look yourself in the mirror and say: "I have cancer." It's weird the first time, like saying "I'm tripping on LSD" (not that I would know) -- but it helps to get used to the idea while you're all alone. You have cancer, you can survive, and sooner than you think you'll be looking in the mirror again going, "I don't have cancer anymore." That'll be weird too, but the good kind of weird. The magic mushroom kind of weird (not that I would know).

5) Get Into the Closet -- Keep the lights off. You are now a medical imaging device trying to see inside the total darkness of a human body. Sometimes you see things that aren't really there, like the CAT scan that "saw" potentially fatal tumors on my liver, till a sonogram "saw" they were only harmless cysts on my kidney. Whoops... glad I didn't jump off a bridge that week. So remember: trust but verify.

6) Think About Sex -- I'm a man, so I can't even get through a top 10 list without thinking about sex at least once. If sex is on your mind during these trying times, remember it's perfectly ethical to sidle up to a good-looking girl or guy and say: "You know, I wouldn't ordinarily be so bold, but I have cancer, so I was wondering if we could get naked together." At least you're not lying. Lying is unethical.

7) Channel Judge Judy -- Will your doctor keep probing and testing you because she thinks you have something else, or God forbid, something worse? Probably. Is he also making sure he doesn't get sued for misdiagnosis? Hmm... never thought of that. Doctors work in the real world, my friend. Their job is to be thorough, for many reasons, so keep a running list of each horror they look for but don't find. Not so you can sue anyone. Just to remind you not to be afraid of anything until you're absolutely sure you have it. And even then, just repeat step 3.

8) Tell it to the Hand -- No one knows what the hell to say to someone waylaid by cancer (my best friend asked if I owed him money -- at least it made me laugh). Informing loved ones is a HUGE burden, and you've got enough on your plate as is. Email is a solid way to keep your peeps up to date, and tell them what you need -- namely, their well-timed support. Trust me, you don't want all your loved ones calling for news every time you go to the doctor. With a group email, they can feel connected to you and also give you some much-needed space.

9) Turn On Your High Beams -- E.L. Doctorow once said this about writing, but it's true for surviving cancer as well: "It's like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." So each day, just focus on getting to tomorrow. That's the only "long-term" goal you need to be concerned with till you hit remission.

10) Count to 28 Million, Babe -- That's how many cancer survivors there are worldwide. And with a little luck, you'll be next. Number 28 million and one. Just like Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow over there at the bar. Wait, they broke up, didn't they? "You know, I wouldn't ordinarily be so bold but..."


Michael Solomon is an award-winning filmmaker and the author of "Now It's Funny... How I Survived Cancer, Divorce and Other Looming Disasters."