Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gone Fishin'

When Sue was diagnosed with cancer last May she started blogging to inform her friends and family and cancer family about her treatments, her prognoses, and her needs. She suggested that I blog about my perspectives regarding her cancer experience. So I did. I blogged for six months under this blog title --The My Wife Has Cancer Blog.

While she still has some healing to do, Sue's better now, and there's not much to write about on this blog. She's very much alive, and this blog is dead. I got hooked on blogging, though, so I'm starting a new blog called The Fisher's Line. And if you care to read it, it can be found here:

I thank you all for following this blog, and especially for your prayers and concern for Sue and our family.  I've enjoyed getting to know some of you better through your comments and by following your blogs.

If you have been reading this blog because you have cancer, or because someone you know has cancer -- particularly multiple myeloma, and you want to know how all this ends -- or if you are concerned that Sue's cancer may kick up again -- in which case I'll probably start blogging about it here, you can either click the "Follow" button at the top of this page (if you are a member and if you are logged in), or the "Subscribe To" button at the bottom of this page, to be advised of any future posts.  Remember, though, no news is good news on a cancer blog.

If you wish to dialogue with me about your cancer, or about our experience with Sue's cancer or her treatments, or any other subject of interest to you, please feel free to email me at:

For now, like Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby in their famous song (click the link for the song), I'm Gone Fishin'.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Follow Your Dreams

One time I had dinner at the house of a man who loves to listen to Rush Limbaugh. “Do you listen to Rush?” he asked. “I’ve heard his show on a few occasions, but I don’t listen to it.” I replied. “Why not?” he pressed. “Because I find him to be mean-spirited,” I said. I really don't have time for negativity, or for dream-bashers.

There are lots of choices in this world in terms of who or what you can follow. You can “follow” talking heads, like Limbaugh, “follow” sports teams, “follow” certain shows on t.v., and “follow” your favorite blogs. This blog even has a few faithful followers.

The 1947 broadway play, Finian’s Rainbow, is playing again on Broadway. The show features a song called Look To The Rainbow which features this chorus: “Look, look, look to the rainbow. Follow it over the hill and the stream. Look, look, look to the rainbow. Follow the fellow who follows a dream.” (I believe it's author, Edgar Harburg, also penned Somewhere Over The Rainbow.)

For the past 20 years or so there's been a coffee cup on my desk at work with a broken handle and a picture of a rainbow and the words "Follow Your Dreams." The cup holds my pens, pencils and letter opener, so I look at it multiple times a day. Over the years I've tried to be true to that motto. About four years ago Susan and I had an opportunity to follow another dream, that of co-owning a small resort at Huntington Lake with some of our friends.

Lakeview Cottages is a seasonal resort. Every fall we have to board up the cabins and winterize them to withstand the snow and freezing temperatures that inevitably blanket the high Sierra Nevada mountains. This year Tom Curwen, an annual summer guest of the Cottages and a writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a story for the Times about closing the Lakeview Cottages for winter. His story, "An Elegy For Summertime," is personal and poetic, touching on Sue's cancer and how fragile and uncertain life can be. There is a companion audio slide show by Times photographer, Mark Boster, titled "Buttoning Up."

Life really is fragile and uncertain. We don't have forever to do what we have to do, or what we want to do, or what we're called to do. Follow your dreams. And if you follow someone, follow someone who follows a dream.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is There Another Way?

Often when Sue and I are hiking in the back country of the Sierras -- particularly over unfamiliar terrain -- we'll be trying to look and feel our way through, trying to find the best path to where we're ultimately headed, and we'll come to a place where the path ahead looks difficult, dangerous or even impossible. When that happens we are faced with a choice: forge on, or retreat. Always the underlying question is: Is there another way? Or maybe more correctly: Is there a better way?

Usually, though not always, there is another way. But what constitutes a better way? One that's less risky? Shorter? Easier? More scenic? More memorable? Usually the easier way is less risky, but also less scenic and less memorable. Sometimes you really don't know which way will be better, and once you pick one route over the other(and unless you later traverse the other route) you may never know whether the choice you made was the best choice.

People, like Sue, who are faced with life-threatening medical conditions are often faced with this question. Sue and I had to decide whether a stem cell transplant was the best way. There were alternative routes. But once we chose that STC trail, or at least once we were committed to it, there was no turning back.

It's been a hard trail -- especially for Sue. For a while there she was hecka sick, and majorly distraught and discouraged. But it's been a memorable trail (though there are parts of it that Sue doesn't remember). The big ups and downs, great victories, the high mountain passes, as well as the big valleys, the hardships and trials, tend to etch their circumstances into our memories. The hard trails are like that. The unusual trails are like that. And this has been the most unusual trail of our lives so far.

Did we choose the best route? Would Sue have been just as well off, or even better off, if we had not chosen the STC trail? We'll never know. All we know now is, this is the trail we chose; this is the trail we're on. So we're making the best of it.

Oh sure, like every hike we've been on, there's been pain and irritation. The pain of sore muscles, tired feet, blisters. The pesky mosquitoes and gnats that dog you on the trail. The tiredness at the end of the day, hoping the climb will end, hoping the day's campsite will appear so we can throw down our packs and rest. But we're waking up every day and giving thanks for another day on the trail. For another sunrise. For another scrambled egg and bacon burrito eaten over an open fire. For another breath of pure mountain air. For another beautiful vista. For the awe that fills us every time we are on the trail.

And we are thankful for our hiking companions. For each other, yes. And for each of you who have walked all or part of this trail with us.

Is there another way? Well, maybe there was. But not now.

Is there a better way? I don't think so.