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"The Wait Is Over" - Sundance & Big Billy TO BE Published by Coping With Cancer Magazine:)

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4297
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Martha

 

I've got news so big that one forum is not big enough to hold it, LOL!

 

So, I thought I would come over here and crash the party and tell you my news....I think I've got a couple of friends over here, right? LOL!

 

And as a 2'fer, while I'm over here, I thought I would tell you that I'm two days away from making it 9-years...now, 24-months into remission, which is the longest continuous streak in the whole fight.  I talked to my onc today and I said, hey almost 9-years and 24-months cancer free.......he said the 9-years means much more....and told me I was one of the ones on a very short list of his patients who had survived this long. 

 

But, hey, I'm a Texan and I'm stubborn:) 

 

Anyway, Anal and Rectal makes us pretty close to Cuzn's, right?  Which makes us family.  And I like to share with family and here is the some of the best news I've ever had to deliver and I wanted all of you to have the opportunity to share it with me.  Lorikat will tell you what a long winded SOB I am, but really this will be easy reading:)

 

I love to come here and check in on you guys, but don't post too much - the world is not ready for me yet - and I don't want to melt the wires too badly over here, LOL!  Here you go and thanks for reading and all of you take care!  (Craig aka Big Billy)

 

 

"The Wait Is Over" - Sundance & Big Billy TO BE Published By Coping With Cancer Magazine

 

Does anyone out there still believe in the legend of Big Billy?

 

No?

 

Well, take a long look in your rear-view mirror at the reflection staring back at you – because, today he became very REAL!

 

The Sundance Channel, in close association with Team Sundance, is proud to announce that The Story of Big Billy has been chosen for publication by Coping Magazine in an upcoming issue. 

 

The proposed dates for release will be anywhere after June 2013 to January 2014.  They release six magazines every year that cover a two month period with each release.   

 

This is an extremely proud day for me – a day that I thought would never come…and how I’ve waited so long and yearned so hard for the day when I would be able to deliver some good news on the cancer front. 

 

For those who have known me from the beginning, or anywhere along the line, I’m sure that your chests are puffed out today as well:)  And that’s because we all knew how much hard work it took to get to this point. 

 

Who is Coping Magazine?

 

About Coping® Magazines and Websites

For 27 years, Coping has been a source of knowledge, hope, and inspiration to people worldwide. When you need positive and helpful information that relates to a specific medical condition, Coping can help:

Coping® with Cancer Website
The Coping with Cancer website is a complete online experience that educates and inspires. It is presented in a warm and friendly, easy-to-use format, and provides information by specific cancer type, general knowledge about living with cancer, and wellness and inspirational topics. The Coping media team is constantly adding relevant articles and trustworthy resources. The website is provided as a public service by Coping® with Cancer magazine and does not accept advertising.

Coping® with Cancer Magazine
Coping with Cancer magazine is written by and for the cancer community with help from our editors. A wide variety of professionals share their knowledge and experience in easy-to-read, relevant articles, and patients, caregivers, and survivors share their strategies for coping. Add in the latest news, FDA updates, resource lists, and exclusive interviews with celebrity cancer survivors, and the result is a publication that provides a unique editorial environment. Coping with Cancer is read by more than a half-million people in the waiting rooms of America’s private practice oncologists, urologists, and cancer treatment centers. It is published six times each year and individual subscriptions are available by mail. A Waiting Room Distribution Program is available for physicians and organizations.

You know, as I’m sitting here, having just pasted this info, I’m beginning to realize that this is really a big deal and just doesn’t just happen.  They get a ton of submissions and I’m all too painfully aware of how easy it is to wind up in the slush pile of an editor’s desk, despite your best intentions.

 

I mean, this is all kinda real now….our audience now has just swelled to 500,000!!!

 

Can any of us really fathom what those kinds of numbers really represent?

 

I’ve talked to hundreds in my time here, but hundreds of thousands – a half a mil?????

 

That’s some heavy enlightenment right there, let me tell you…

 

You guys told me I needed a broader audience – but, this is ridiculous:)

 

I will add that this is a serious trade magazine and they have a sterling reputation to uphold, and so making it here is truly an honor – to be able to represent every one of you – and the entire cancer community at large, no matter what our cancer is.

 

Big Billy crosses all boundaries with his ideology – and he transcends all the lines of cancer, as his message is universal to all of those suffering with the affliction we refer to as Cancer.

 

But, he will always be “your” Semi;Colon:)

 

When he was born, his full name was Big Billy BadA$$....he was known as the guy… Who $hit Lightning – and Crapped Thunder!

 

I’ve had to soften him somewhat to make him more readily acceptable to the general public…..and Coping softened him some more, LOL!  (More on that later on…)

 

I had a friend of mine (we no longer talk) and when I told him about Big Billy and what I planned to do with him, he scoffed and laughed in my face and told me it was stupid. If he were here, I’d quote Toby Keith and say…”How Do You Like Me Now?”

 

Cool

 

It was always a dream of mine to bring Big Billy to life – I wanted to give him an image – I wanted to give him a voice – I wanted to fill his head full of thoughts – and I wanted him to have dreams and ambitions, just like I did. 

 

At the core of it all, I wanted him to be my alter-ego in the cancer fight and become an extension of who I was, while still remaining fiercely independent, just like his Texas brother was.

 

For everyone else, I wanted his spirit to manifest itself into an embodiment of an image that cancer folks could readily identify and connect with – no matter what cancer scars they carried – or where they found themselves in their own personal walk with cancer.

 

Looks like I created my very own “Frankenstein.”

 

You know, when we write posts, it’s always in the I version…..I got tired of doing that and when I first introduced Big Billy to the board (I had waited patiently), I thought it would be clever to allow him to talk “for me.”

 

So, I became He…

 

And it was really cool to be able to write something like that, using the 3rd person persona….I’m always looking for new ways and new angles to present stuff to people…I patted myself on the back for that one, LOL!

 

Of course, the good thing was that I let the community in on the gag, so we could all play along with it and still have some fun, even in the cancer world:)

 

I never gave up on him though….and that’s why this is also such a proud day….

 

Big Billy is bonafide now – he’s too legit to quit…

 

Now, we can never take him back….he’s an official member of our community now and I hope he will be warmly received going forward.  He’s sticking up for you every single day – even if you don’t know that he is. 

 

Let’s switch gears and talk about how all of this came together…

 

First, none of this would have come together, if it were not my new dear friend….Jen2012…

 

It was Jen, who got motivated to research websites, determined to find an avenue that she could present to me.  She exhibited her human compassion right out of her dear heart, to help me in my endeavor to get some of my work published. 

 

She has burned an indelible groove into my heart…and there she will stay for a lifetime.  (Thank you so much, Jen, for all you did). 

 

Now, all the time I’m talking about cancer and how we can manage certain aspects of it from time to time…

 

The biggest lesson that cancer has taught me is what a universal problem it really is.  Cancer is almost not the story anymore….unfortunately, it’s becoming all too commonplace these days.

 

So, then the real message of cancer is ‘how’ we manage our feelings with our actions. 

 

To me, the ability to look beyond yourself and your own needs (no matter how dire) and give of yourself to try and help another person with their life is one of the areas where we can achieve a victory over cancer.  By choosing this pro-active path, we actually empower ourselves by taking some sense of control of our lives back from cancer. 

 

And by the giving of our thoughts – our time – and our hearts to somebody else, it temporarily diverts our attention of feeling completely sorry for ourselves – and redirects our focus over to the humanitarian side of cancer, where we derive the benefits of connectedness through social interaction, through our sharing of intimacies, and the feeling that we are doing something positive – when all around us feels negative. 

 

And it’s the best damn feeling there is in the world – to truly know that you have made a difference in somebody’s else life – and your own too.  There is a calming and a healing quality that comes from this that is unequaled in this realm, which we all occupy. 

 

Jen, you are a living example of the practices that I try and teach others…

 

I’m just so proud of you, Jen, and very grateful to know you and be in a position to accept your help with the grace, love and the spirit, with which it was given. 

 

It means the world to me and not because the story was chosen – but, because, I know how harried and busy your schedule is with all that you’ve got going on every minute of any given day. 

 

And so, you reaching out to me by taking  your time and energy when all around you is swirling is what I’ll always remember – and what I’ll always treasure – and what I’ll never ever forget.

 

You’ve made a real difference!  And we’ll all get to see the evidence in the coming months when they publish the article.  Instead of this being another ‘have-to’ time, it is now a time that is filled with special love and hope for the future – for me – and for all of us.

 

So, originally, I sent them the LMS story…and then I decided to also re-write the Big Billy story twice to see if I could trim it down to possibly making their cut.  I decided to take a bold step and go ahead and submit that one as well.  I told them that it was favorably received by the cancer community. 

 

Coping Magazine is a cancer magazine and they deal with survivor stories, stories of inspiration, and most importantly how people COPE with their cancer diagnosis. So, I figured that the BB story would give me a better chance at being considered for publication. 

 

(Cope is a request for a post that I will still be writing for Jen, Chels, and LindaK.)  :)

 

The Big Billy story was the kind of story that would play well in a publication like this one.  It was the perfect kind of story.  It is my favorite story that I’ve ever written (so far).

 

 

They said it would be two-months before I heard back, which was right about Memorial Day.  When I returned to work after the holiday, I was getting this ‘itching’ feeling – that feeling of anxiousness and discontentment. 

 

Something wasn’t right in the universe – and I could just feel it…

 

So, I sent an email to Jessica just ‘checking in’ to see if they had reviewed the story.  And she said they were still reviewing old and new submissions and would get back to me shortly.

 

That got me to thinking….

 

LMS was a great story, but it was still long for them to publish and I knew they were not going to invest their space with that story.  I knew another rejection (though kinder) was just about to come my way. 

 

But, I remained hopeful that the Big Billy story would make it….

 

And still, I got the feeling that we were somehow going to come up short with this reach…

 

I decided to roll the dice and leave it all on the table with the one roll….

 

I took a bold move, because I could sense that Jessica was wavering somewhat – I could tell that she and her staff liked the material from both stories, but were  probably trying to figure out what to do with me:)

 

No surprise there – the world just (ain’t) ready for me yet:)

 

And somehow, I just knew that while she was thinking about it and wanted to get me in there, that I just wasn’t going to make the cut (yet again). 

 

I flat-out told her…”If a cancer patient can’t get an article published in a cancer magazine – where do you think I’ll ever be published?”

 

Sometimes, you gotta’ be as succinct as that, LOL!

 

I thought, well, I’m going to have to sell myself hard here if I’m going to make it with this one.  Should I go for it – or should I just let it ride?

 

I pulled the trigger, of course…

 

I figured I’d better get them to see me as a person and see if I can use any of my Southern Schmooze to soften this honey up some:)

 

So, I wrote her another email and included links to the Dr. Phil audition I did on YouTube and told her to watch the first six-minutes or so – and she would have a clear indication of who I was – and where I was coming from – and what was driving me so hard.

 

And then, I wanted to show her that Big Billy was flesh & blood….so I gave her the link of Big Billy singing Johnny Cash on video – that I did especially for Cynthia & Rick.

 

Lastly, I decided to show her a few sample responses from our community here on what members thought and felt about my writings. 

 

I figured we’d either win – or I would blow any chance that I might have had. 

 

But, I told Jessica that I felt comfortable enough with her to share these kinds of intimacies and that I felt that writing her and sharing these links with her was worth the risk. 

 

Nothing ventured – nothing gained, right?

 

Was I right?

 

Well, I guess we know the answer to that one now:)

 

She emailed me right before I left work yesterday – and believe me, I was trying to hold it together in the lab, where the two other goons who are trying to make my life miserable and get me terminated from my position were.

 

I really had to put on my poker face…

 

When I read it, I just started shaking and got all of these funny feelings…I didn’t know what else to do, but write Jen, and shout the news from the rooftops, LOL!

 

I had monitored my YouTube videos and the counters had remain unchanged for months now….but I noticed that they had each taken a few hits….which told me, that her staff had been looking at them:)

 

Maybe, I finally got somebody to see me as a ‘real’ person and not just a Query Letter…I honestly think that has hampered my previous efforts to get an agent to accept my manuscript.  It’s cold and calculating with them – all money driven.

 

But, when somebody can see you as a real person, with real feelings, then that can sometimes be a game-changer.  In our case, perhaps that was the key. 

 

At any rate, we’re going to be published !!!

 

There’s some paperwork I have to fill out and sign and provide a picture etc.etc……

 

There’s more…..:)  Always more with me, as you know:)  Things are always bigger in Texas, LOL!

 

We are actually getting a “2-Fer!” with Coping Magazine…

 

While they were unable to print the LMS story in its entirety, they decided to use 3 of my quotes from that story that they will be putting in future magazines in a section called Reflections, which is an inspirational section of their magazine. 

 

They will be sporadically interspersed between editions, as they do not always do this section with each release of the magazine. 

 

But, for you…..

 

Here are the ones they are going to be using:)

 

  • “We change with cancer, but the world doesn't change with us. And then it tries its hardest to drag us back to being the people we used to be but can't be anymore. That's because the scar of cancer has redefined who we are, and we find that as we move forward with our thinking and our feelings after this life change, we simply can't go back. And in a strange twist, we really don't want to go back." - Craig Harrison, three-time colorectal cancer survivor, (insert city, state)
  •  
  • "I have to be the one that puts meaning back into my own life." - Craig Harrison, three-time colorectal cancer survivor, (insert city, state)
  •  
  • "Cancer is a great teacher and is always teaching us lessons if we're looking for them in the right places with the right frame of mind. We must repurpose (give a new purpose or use to) ourselves during our times in the cancer world. The ability to reinvent and reinvest in our potential and pay it forward to others is what we are called upon to do here. Repurposing is a gift that keeps on giving. And cancer can never take that away from us - ever." - Craig Harrison, three-time colorectal cancer survivor, (insert city, state)

 

So, both stories they enjoyed and all along, they were busy editing and figuring how to get me in the door.  Because, I had sent the last email out (schmooze) and a couple of days later, we had our answer.  They already had edited my story to make it fit their requirements and loved the LMS story and decided to repurpose that story with those quotations. 

 

Pretty cool stuff…Cool

 

Like Johnny Appleseed, I’ve spread my one-liners over nearly 3900 posts, in the hopes that one day I might be remembered like Phil’s Joseph Campbell and Robert Louis Stevensen. 

 

I guess if you spread enough manure around – something’s gotta grow out of it, right?

 

Wink

 

Anyway, it makes me feel good that something that I’ve said will go down in print and that we now have the opportunity reach a half million people with this publication - those numbers just stagger me. 

 

I will tell you that they did have to edit my story (quite abit) in order for it to fit into the format of their magazine.  They deleted some pretty good stuff (hurt a little) but left the structural integrity in place, so that the message was not lost.  We lost some embellishment, but not the core part of the story.

 

Having proof-read it, I’m satisfied with what they did.  If I’m going to be published, I knew I was going to have to make some concessions in order to get the article to press – or risk not being published at all. 

 

I understand fully that one has to pay their dues when they are getting started with anything and this made me think about Toby Keith, who sang at rodeos and gymnasiums along the way to what he would become.

 

I have no grandiose conceptions that I’ll ever amount to anything beyond this...

 

But, this was an important and very big step – and might be all there ever is, but there might be more, I just don’t know.  But, if I die tomorrow, then I guess I’d want to be remembered for the Big Billy story – as his legend will carry on far past my death.  

 

For if we keep one close to our hearts – then they truly never perish…

 

One last funny bit of trivia for the Big Billy project…..

 

Coping has a limit of  700 words or less…..the version I sent them was nearly double that….and even with them editing the story down further….it still clocked in at 716 words…..16 words over the speed limit:)

 

It seems the rules don’t apply – guess that makes me an Outlaw:)  Cool  Where's my Outlaw Emoticon, LOL!

 

Where’s PhillieG?

 

Hey Phil, I’ve been patiently waiting to tell you this one for a couple of years now – Time and Patience, remember? LOL!

 

I finally get the sense now of what Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show felt when they combined to sing those famous lyrics…

 

“But the thrill we never know / Is the thrill that’ll get you / When you get your ‘pitcher’ / On the cover of the Rolling Stone”……

  

This is also a bittersweet day in another aspect….

 

I’m so proud to be able to share this story with you as I’ve shared most of my life with you….but on the other hand, I’m saddened that so many of my friends are not here with us to share this event too.  There were so many, who waited for the opportunity that came too late for them, but I did the best that I could.   

 

My heart is saddened by their absence(s) and I will especially miss their words….

 

I hope that my other friends, who have moved on with their past cancer lives might still see this and stop and comment.  There are many living, who also have waited for a day like this one for me to finally deliver something.

 

What helps keep me grounded at a time like this, is when I remind myself of the words that Crosby, Stills & Nash told us…..“Love the one(s) you’re with…”

 

I’ve got so many people to thank…

 

I wanted to thank Jen once again for her diligent effort to guide and steer me to this site (don’t think this was by accident)….and I want to thank Jessica from Coping Magazine and her editorial staff for their interest and care towards making this story a reality. 

 

And I especially wanted to thank the entire community for all of your years of support for me and my writings.  While I knew I could occasionally construe a lucid thought or two in some type of coherent fashion, I really needed the validation and support from the community that what I was feeling and thinking could somehow resonate and connect with you.   

 

It was through all of that gentle nudging and persuasion that gave me the confidence to go ahead and write my cancer book.  The board provided a safe landing zone from which I could explore all of the human trials that go along with cancer.

 

There was a 25-year period of time where I never wrote a word.  From the time, I was in a creative writing class and I caught a professor on a bad day or he had an ax to grind or something – to one year past my diagnosis, when I was alone and beginning to feel the rumblings of needing to express myself once again. 

 

That was a lot of time wasted and it altered my life in many ways.  Often I think if I could have run into some encouragement at that time when I really needed it, there’s no telling what direction my life could have taken.

 

It reminds me of Marlon Brando, when he so famously said…..”I coulda’ been a contender…”

 

I know it’s been a lot of rough news this year on the board this year, so there has been a lot of sadness all around. 

 

From time to time, we still need to be reminded that there are many kinds of victories being won out there…and while this one will not beat cancer, we have struck back – and perhaps some of the multitudes that will be in the waiting rooms when this comes out, will draw something from that experience.

 

I’ll close with this last thought…

 

Last night, I was about to turn in and all of a sudden I was overcome with a huge rush of emotion…

 

While I was reveling in how good it felt to be accepted and published, all of a sudden, I began to realize where the inspiration came from.

 

It dawned on me that Big Billy rose from the Ashes of Folfiri – a drug that nearly killed me….certainly a drug that killed my will to live. I got choked up for a second and sobbed three or four times, before I regained my composure – it never lasts long, but somehow it just came out. 

 

And then I thought of how something GOOD finally did come from cancer and chemo after all. 

 

It’s amazing how out of the depths of despair, when I was ready to quit, that something as good as the idea of Big Billy could be born – the human spirit amazes me.  Big Billy means a lot to me and I hope that he means something to you as well. 

 

My best wishes to each and everyone of you for taking your time to share in this chapter of my life – and it means so much to me to finally deliver some good news regarding this subject. 

 

I know many folks probably figured I’d never do it….you’re not alone….I didn’t either….and I was extremely discouraged and had pretty much stopped trying, until Jen rescued me with her link. 

 

You just never know who you’re going to save from drowning out there:)

 

I’ll keep you posted on any updates with the project…

 

Stay tuned to the Sundance Channel – “Story Matters Here”

 

All my love & respect and best wishes to you & yours…keep going…

 

-Craig aka Big Billy Cool

 

Lorikat's picture
Lorikat
Posts: 558
Joined: Jul 2011

Oh man!  I am SO proud of that editor for having the good sense to publish your writings!!  And I am sooo proud of you for not giving up!   

 

I was just thinking of you the other day when I was closing on the sale of my Moms house.....  My husband and I had only one day to "unstage" and remove the furniture so the buyer could take possesion.  I remembered how hard you and your wife worked on your Dad's house......AND GOT ON CRAIGSLIST AND HIRED SOMEONE TO MOVE THE FURNITURE FOR US!    LOL!  You never know how your experiences are going to help someone else.  Thank you.

Again..  So happy for you!  Many, many writers go a lifetime without being acknowledged.  Good job...

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4297
Joined: Jun 2009

Thank you, Lori:)

Next time you're down at MDA, see if they carry the Coping magazine in their waiting rooms.....readership is 500,000 and is distributed in oncologists waiting rooms etc.

Tell 'em to order a subscription:)

I've tried so many times, Lori and had the door slammed unceremoniously in my face....after awhile, you sorta get tired of sticking your finger into an electrical socket - it hurts, you know?

I was getting pretty discouraged - everybody would tell me something was there - and that just made it worse. 

Just like with cancer when we say WHY ME and then WHY NOT ME?

Well, same thing.....why not me? 

W2GO on getting some help with the estate - it can all get too be too much for a couple to handle on their own.  I'm glad that my story helped you there.  Just like you say, you never know who you're going to save from drowning out there:)

Thank you so much for all your support!!

-Craig

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

Wow, I am speechless--well, almost (according to my husband, I've never been speechless in my life!).  I am so damn proud of you right now, I could bust!  You just don't quit, do you?  And I mean that only in the very best way!  How great it is to see that your efforts and persistence have finally paid off!  I am so very happy for you!  You are a wise man with much to say and I'm glad you are getting a chance to tell the world.  How fortunate all of us here are to have had the benefit of your knowledge and wisdom for so long.  Makes me feel kind of selfish!  :)  Now, spread your wings and fly!  The world may not be ready for you yet, but just like a survivor after going through treatment, the world will adjust!  Congratulations, my friend, job well done!

Hugs and Much Admiration--

Martha   

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4297
Joined: Jun 2009

You know, no one has ever asked me for a refund!

LOL! LOL! LOL!

I feel your enthusiasm and your sincerity overflowing in this post and thank you so much for all of your kind words. I truly appreciate what you and everyone has said on this post:)

I'll let you know when I hear of a date, for anyone here that might like to check it out.  It will be the abbreviated version of the story, but through that, we will be able to the potential to reach about half a million folks who read the magazine.  Our victory comes by them reading it and finding something in there that helps them hang on - when their resolve begins to wane.

It's not easy getting your work recognized by any publishing outfit - it is a tough industry to break into up and down the line.  So, I'm just happy that someone out there took a chance on me and I hope that one day there will be more to come from it.

I just wanted to add that I've followed you and everyone's stories over here...

You do a tremendous job in the role that you play over here.  It is much the same as I've tried to do on my side of the world, so I recognize your sincerity and your effort to help others who are afflicted. 

Personal Growth is the other real story of Cancer...

Turning your internal angst outwards, so that it can be of benefit to others...

So, great job on all that you do here for everyone!

Big Hugs!

-Craig

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

Your kind words have made my day!  Thank you very much!  I can't wait to see you in print, so let us know when we'll get a look.  You are right--everybody thinks they can write and the weeding out process used by publishers can be as brutal as getting your butt radiated!  They really give no one any mercy!  I'm very happy that the day they checked out your story, they were alert to your talents! 

I went through treatment pretty much alone, so I have tried to make sure that happens to no one else by participating on 3 support sites.  I suppose one of these days it will be time to become less active.  Some days I think I've said all there is to say.  But then I think of Joanne and I know how hard she worked to get a group started for anal cancer, so I do not want to see this group become silent.  We all really do need to pay it forward in some kind of way.

I'll look forward to hearing your print date--just like a kid counting down the days until December 25th!  Take care my friend and hugs right back atcha! 

eihtak
Posts: 849
Joined: Oct 2011

Fabulous!!!! Once again persistence pays off, thank you and congratulations!

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4297
Joined: Jun 2009

I never know when to say when....

Cool

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4297
Joined: Jun 2009

The magazine really cut down the story I sent them and had to edit quite abit out in order for the story to fit their space format.  As I said, some concessions had to be made in order for them to agree to publish my article.

Because, I know so many of you here, I thought I would share the ORIGINAL story with you guys.  I thought you might enjoy getting the full impact. 

Now, this was written when I was at the lowest point of my entire 9-year cancer battle....I was ready to quit fighting and let it go, because all of the years of accumulated fighting had finally caught up with me and I was about out of gas.

And this is where this part of my story picks up...

It is copyrighted, so please don't distribute or copy the material....

                             “The Story of the Man They Call Big Billy” ©

                                                                       By Craig Harrison

 

 

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!

               

-end

lizdeli's picture
lizdeli
Posts: 521
Joined: Jul 2009

Craig,

I'm so proud of you and so happy for you!  I followed your posts for quite a while now and your preservance through everything has been incredibly inspiring.  Congratulations on getting published and on your 9 years but most all for being the man that you are!

Hugs,

Liz

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4297
Joined: Jun 2009

I very much wanted you to know about this - you've always been so kind and supportive!

You're making me blush Embarassed

You and me go back to the Class of '09 - which is always a special class for anyway - for a lot of reasons....

It's hard to believe that's it been 4-years!  I blew in June and you joined in July of that year.....wow!

I've lost the majority of my friends from that era - and so it makes me feel good to still see you here and doing well.  I'm finally trying to get well.....two years currently in remission out of the whole time....longest clear streak and counting....hope it can continue:)

I'm just so glad that I have folks that I can share this with in the cancer community - it's what makes it truly meaningful!

Love/Craig

sephie's picture
sephie
Posts: 526
Joined: Apr 2009

craig ,,,, getting published is such a great accomplishment.... i will look around MDA and see if they carry Coping Mag.... they also have a huge library and i bet they have it>> let us know which month it makes it ......    sephie

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