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To: Jen and Chels BUT Also for Everyone *** UPDATED ***

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4305
Joined: Jun 2009

How's the world treating you two darlin's this morning?

I've thought about both of you and after talking with Jen about the Coping Mag project, I was inspired to send them another story.  (Jen, I wrote this one in only 1327 words, lol)

In a way, the both of you intertwine for this post and I thought the 2nd story I sent Coping Mag would be of benefit to you both.  This morning on the way into work, I wanted to share it with Jen...and then Chels, I thought of how you and Steve might really get something out of this story.

It's also for everyone who would like to read it...

It's yesterday's news for the old-timers here, but for the new folks it will be very fresh.  And I think that if nobody but just you two get anything out of it, it was well worth running it again. 

Chels: I'd like for you to find time to read this to Steve, if he is amiable:)  Our boy needs a little Big Billy right about now:)

And Jen:  Just wanted you to be able to read the other story I submitted to Coping...me & you can publish here, LOL!

I will tell you that this is a tough story...but you've already read so many of my tough stories that I know you'll make it through...only 3 pages, LOL!

It was written when I was near the end of my last fight campaign...I was in a bad place then...beaten and nearly defeated with my 3rd go round...I was feeling so bad that I was literally looking for permission from the group for me to stop fighting...I was at the end.

The story will tell you the rest....

The point I'm trying to make is simply...I know where you are right now...I know where your husbands are at right now...and you ask our friend Cyn, that to some degree, I know right where the caregiver is too:)

I know how hard it is...I know when it seems impossible...I know when you can't take another second....I know when you want to run...and I know when you want to hide...and I know when you want to fight.

After reading this...you & hubbies will get your next wind...and that's why I wanted to talk to you today...I've told you over and over, it's for folks like you that I do try and stay here.

You've never met Big Billy...let me give you his tagline:)

He $hits Lightning - And He Craps Thunder

And if you look at him real closely - you'll see me:)

Love U Gals!

-Craig

Below is the story I sent to Coping Magazine...

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4305
Joined: Jun 2009

It was late winter of 2010 and the nights were long and dark.  I had tied one on at the Infusion Center Lounge that day with yet another Folfiri Bender – which was one of the most popular chemo cocktails that they serve at the local waterin’ hole I imbibed at. 

 

I was sicker than the proverbial dog and all hopped on The Dex, and the 5fu pump was hanging off the headboard whirring and clicking and systematically filling me full of poison with each audible turn of that annoying sound the motor makes each time it cycles and delivers you the juice. 

 

I laid there in bed motionless hour after hour, listening to the wall clock mock me from the other side of the house with its relentless chiming that marked each passage of time – a haunting melody that became the subtle and audible reminder of yet another sleepless sixty-minute span of time that I would never get back. 

 

It must have been somewhere between 3am and 4am in the early morning – that thin layer of time that separates the night from the dawn – a time whether it is neither night nor day – a time where things can come unhinged either physically, mentally, or emotionally for those cancer combat infantry personnel who find themselves marching on in the cancer battlefields of our minds. 

 

It is affectionately known as The Witching Hour for so many a cancer patient, who find themselves in the throes of treatment – it’s a very special time when we find ourselves totally alone with nothing but our thoughts to keep us company. 

 

It can be a time of deep despair and haunted visions – or it can be a time of enlightenment where certain truths finally align themselves in the perfect order, thus providing you the clarity and understanding of that, which you’ve been searching for those many long, soul searching nights.

 

It can be a time when we’re ready to put a stamp on it and mail it in with talk about quitting – or it can be a time where we pick ourselves back up and vow to keep moving forward. 

 

The beauty of this hour of time is that it’s all ours.  The Witching Hour is where the seeds of Personal Growth are planted that will one day come to fruition and be harvested. 

 

And, it’s from this process that we grow from within from what we allow ourselves to feel and experience during this window of opportunity each evening when the house grows dark and silent and we are left with only our thoughts for company. 

 

Each night, we never know what is going to run through our heads and what we will feel and learn when we lay our heads down on the pillow each night.  That’s the beautiful aspect of this part of the journey.  There are no rules and we’re free to live out whatever random thoughts and feelings that comes into our heads. 

 

It is many things to many people – but, in its simplest form, it is a time of Reflection.   It is a special time that allows us the permission to feel, think and explore the intricacies of the disease all that comes with it. 

 

This is our unique opportunity to confront the demons that are calling out to us.  It’s a time to ask questions – and it’s also a time where we may find some answers to some of the mystery that is perplexing us. 

 

One particular night for me before the early dawn, there was a stillness and a calmness in the air that was so eerily quiet, that I could hear my thoughts rattling around in my skull, like a ping-pong game gone mad on steroids. 

 

I was tired – I felt defeated – and at that moment in time, I had finally lost my way.  And in the process of doing so, I also discovered that I had lost my inspiration as well.  By the time I realized what had happened, it was already too late. 

 

By then, Hope had already packed a suitcase and was headed out the door to join the others.  It was a complete jail break and left me laying there feeling emotionally bankrupt and destitute.   

 

I was nearly a beaten man; swaying back and forth and grasping at those imaginary ropes in the fight ring that I thought were holding me upright – sort of like the image of a latter-day Rocky Balboa, just trying to go the distance in a title-fight against such a formidable adversary such as cancer. 

 

I lay there contemplating why I was fighting so hard and for what anymore.  I was trying to justify if feeling this sick every day was worth the price to be paid anymore.  What was the point anymore if this was all there was ever going to be?

 

Then, all of a sudden, I felt this silent lucidity come into play, where I began to question whether or not that I had the toughness or the right stuff anymore to do what it takes to get back to the final round of a title-defense that I had fought and won twice prior in my fight against cancer.  

 

I thought about the line that Apollo Creed used in the movie Rocky…”Ain’t gonna’ be no re-match…”

 

My thoughts drifted to thinking that all great fighters have to lay down the gloves someday and ‘retire.’  Maybe it was time for Cancer to retire me.  Over and over I could hear the words of boxer, Roberto Duran…”No mas.”

 

For a moment or two, I seriously contemplated taking my hands off the wheel…

 

And then ‘he’ came to me.  The idea of Big Billy and the ideology of what he stood for and represented to me – and what he might represent for other cancer fighters, who found themselves at a juncture in their own fights, where they felt their strength waning and their own mental resolve beginning to weaken. 

 

So, I created this persona of a character that would carry the markings of one tough cancer fighting dude – a guy that from the looks of him would be the antithesis of what I looked like, but on the inside he still carried the same ideals and values that I shared.

 

It developed into this symbiotic relationship, where each one of us could stand on his own merit, independent of one another.  In combination, we could become this unstoppable force in the cancer universe and transform ourselves into the Dynamic Duo. 

 

Just like that, the idea for Team Sundance was formed. 

 

Who is Big Billy?

 

Simply stated, he’s the muscle behind my hustle…

 

Big Billy became my alter-ego in the cancer world.  He was born a figment of my fertile imagination on a cold, winter night in 2010 and crystallized himself into the embodiment of an image that I wanted to represent.  More importantly, he became what I wanted to feel like once more.

 

And that was one of the baddest cancer fighters there ever was – one of the best to ever play the game. 

 

I think that what I was able to do was harness this image of our inner fighting nature that we all carry with us into our battles and then was able to manifest that persona into something that was tangible and readily identifiable that could represent us all. 

 

In essence, Big Billy represents “The Fighting Side of Us…”

 

Big Billy has always been that intangible element that we can feel – but never see.

 

Until now…

 

Big Billy does live – he lives in me – and he lives in you too! 

 

Keep fighting, you can do it!

 

                      

jen2012
Posts: 1208
Joined: Aug 2012

Hmmm...its like you knew i was experiencing a case of anxiety this morning. Perfect timing for this and I love Big Billy. Its a great story that I needed to read today. I could see this would really inspire many...especially someone dealing with reoccurrence. I hope it gets published but know that if it doesnt it has helped me and I'm sure others. Craig...thanks for sharing yourself and Big Billy.

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4305
Joined: Jun 2009

Hey again, Gal

I sent them the Big Billy story right before I left work last night.

I just got an email from Jessica @ Coping....just had to share it with you!

Hi Craig,

Thanks for sending this over! We're working on looking through our submissions, so I'll add this to the pile to send around to the rest of the editorial staff. You should hear from us in about four to eight weeks.

Thanks again for sharing with us!
 
Best,
Jessica Webb Errickson
Editor
 
So, we're looking for end of April or a week or two before Memorial Day...and hopefully will hear something back from them.
 
It's the best lead we've got going, Jen....no guarantees, but at least they will LOOK at it. 
 
I can't read in between the lines with her email...but part of me tells me that she "read it."  And probably wants staff input...or it's in a great big ol' pile:)
 
Anyway...we've got a chance...and a chance is all that we can ever ask for, right? :)
 
I can't help myself, but I'm a little bit excited...know I should temper my enthusiasm to avoid another letdown...but dammit I just can't help it.  She blew a little bit of Hope up my tailpipe and I just had to tell someone:)
 
Did I turn your frown - upside down? 
 
Frown  TO  Smile
 
If this doesn't work, we're just gonna' have to open up our own publishing agency slash print shop - it will all be under one roof -  I can publish without restriction then, LOL!
 
Big Hugs!
 
-Craig
 
jen2012
Posts: 1208
Joined: Aug 2012

Awesome!  Fingers crossed.  i can see a "Dear Craig" column in your future :)

janderson1964's picture
janderson1964
Posts: 1678
Joined: Oct 2011

I loved it. Actually at first I hated it. You were describing my several treatments and how I was feeling so well that I was starting to relive.Long live Big Billy and Craig.

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2267
Joined: Oct 2011

The concept of creating a persona to help in the cancer fight is a really good suggestion, and connecting it to your personal story adds a lot of depth.  Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4305
Joined: Jun 2009

Thanks!!

Actually, I had Big Billy come on here and "talk" about me a couple of times. 

I wanted to try something new...so I wrote about myself in the 3rd person with BB as my narrator....maybe I'll write one of those again for you and all my new friends....I got a kick out of it and it made the community grin.

Glad you liked the story!

Chelsea71
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

Hey Craig. Well done. I had Steve read it. It seemed to affect him. He groaned and made several unpleasant noises. I wondered if I had made a mistake in giving it to him. But, he got something out of it. He said he related to the Witching Hour part. That's how he feels at night when he's roaming around in the basement, working on his models (airplanes) and playing his guitar. That's the closest he's gotten to "talking" to someone who has gone through a similar experience, where his cancer is concerned. Mostly he just tries to put it aside and focus elsewhere. I think this is coming more and more difficult for him. He said it was a really good description of what goes through his mind at times. I think it was neat for him to know that there are others out there going through the same thing. He also connected with the description of the Folfiri. (This is when he made the painful noises). He said that the article "hit home". Thinks it would help many others and therefore should be published.

Chels

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4305
Joined: Jun 2009

I feel a special empathy towards Steve - through you, Chels:) 

Somehow, all of this clicked and I was able to repurpose this story for my new friends while submitting the article to the mag.

 I'm so glad that Steve got something out of it. Tell him "special thanks" for investing his energy into reading it.  He isn't alone in how he feels - I just wanted him to know that someone has been there too...and gets it.  Big hugs for you both.

You sound tired today, Chels. 

I know your man is hurting...wish I could stop by...but I guess in a way, I did:)

Just trying to make all of you guys feel a little bit better.  I know when I was so sick, I still liked to see a post or a PM for someone...made me feel connected.  Just to know that someone had you firmly on their radar - and that you were on their minds.

It's that sense of connection to someone else that makes the cancer world a bit more humane to tolerate.

Wishing you nothing but the best - and waiting for more improvement from the big fella:)

Hugs!

-Craig

 

 

Chelsea71
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

Well, aren't you freakishly perceptive, Craig. Yes, I'm exhausted today. It's been a long and tiring week. I've decided to give up my job for a different one within the same organization. It means leaving a group of co-workers who I really enjoy. They've become not only friends but a great support system for me. The new position will enable me to go to all Steve's appointments and chemo etc without using all my vacation time. It's a more sensible schedule for my needs. One more thing to add to the list of things lost to f...ing cancer. I'm pretending (to Steve) that I really want this job as I don't want him to feel guilty.

Speaking of Steve....he has asked me to clarify. He found your article to be not only helpful but also inspiring. So there you have it. Geez, I really hope it gets published. It warrants it.

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4305
Joined: Jun 2009

Blast From the Past......Heeeerrrrrreeeee's Big Billy!

Big Billy

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2267
Joined: Oct 2011

that's an excellent pic!  A dude not to be messed with...

janderson1964's picture
janderson1964
Posts: 1678
Joined: Oct 2011

I think that picture would scare the crap I mean cancer out of anybody. LOL!!!!!!!!!

smokeyjoe
Posts: 1428
Joined: Feb 2011

Don't be dressing like that around your  Little Miss Sunshine or she'll be wanting Uncle Craig to take her out on his HarleyWink

Deena11
Posts: 193
Joined: Nov 2012

I love this story about Big Billy.  There were so many times I laid awake alone with my thoughts and demons.  I felt desperately alone, frightened, and sometimes defeated.  Wasn't sure others could relate.  I wish I would had created a "Big Billy" buddy to help me tackle the many issues I had.  I still have my witching hour moments but now I know I'm not the only one.  Big Billy kicks a$$!!

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