The Sundance Book is NOW Finished! – “Let’s Talk About This…”

Sundanceh
Sundanceh Member Posts: 4,392 Member
edited November 2011 in Colorectal Cancer #1
Well, the book is now finished - I’ve got a full manuscript in my hands now, ready for submission.

Can you believe it?

You can imagine my thoughts as I’ve crammed 7.5 years of my cancer journey and relived it ‘in detail’ for the writing of this book in less than 5-months, right? I have been living cancer 24/7 these past few months and it’s been a very emotional experience.

It took 4.3 months from the outlines in my head to a finished product. I know we say that cancer is not a sprint – it’s a marathon. But, I did a 180 on that phrase this time and decided to make it a sprint, because I don’t really know how long my health window will stay open and the time was now for this project.

So, I’ve had my head down – my thoughts buzzing – and my fingers doing the “clickedy-clack” on the keyboard these past months since coming out of treatment.

I got clear for the 3rd time, but instead of celebrating, I redirected my energies back into cancer fully, so that I could get this book written, while my creative drive was in full gear.

And I think that’s what you’re going to see written into these pages. You’re going to see an authenticity and a level of realness that can only come when one ‘relives’ the entire cancer experience, so that all of the thoughts, feelings and emotions can be articulated to the reader in a way that speaks to them.

That’s what I tried to do with this book and I hope that this is what will come across to you as you turn the pages:)

The book clocked in at 17-chapters. I’ve covered a wide gamut of topics from the moment of the cancer diagnosis all the way through to the end of life scenario, with everything else in between. It really was a journey inside the world of cancer.

I don’t want to give it all away, but here are some of the topics discussed:

1. The diagnosis.
2. Caregivers
3. Assembling a medical team.
4. Support groups.
5. Recurrence
6. Financial concerns
7. The role of chemo in our fights

Etc. etc…….

I talk about all the players involved in this Shakespearean tragedy: Loneliness – Hopelessness – Depression – Awareness – Enlightenment – Empowerment – Personal Growth. Etc. etc.

For those of you that have come to know me, you know that when I talk about a subject, I “talk TO you”, rather than “talk AT you.”

I did the same thing in the book. I tried to start writing it a different way, but found that writing in a more conversational style just seemed to suit who I was and how I wanted to come across in this book.

So, in there, you will see ‘Me’ asking questions as I explore the subject matter. And you will also see “questions, posed from the reader” and my responses back from that. There is a nice give and take from that and it seems to flow rather nicely. It comes across as a fireside chat of sorts between friends.

What I tried to do, was write about a cancer topic in general and then mix in my own personal story, as an example and a personal illustration of what I was trying to say. I found that as I continued to write, I could no longer write my story – without writing your story.

During my time here, I have gotten to know so many of you and your stories (past & present) and I found that that many of the stories were relevant to the topic being discussed. Therefore, I was able to write these folks and their stories into the book, for additional validation as” Real Life People – in a Real World Application.”

All names were changed to protect the privacy of my friends.

I wanted you to know that the folks that are in the book came about from the topic being discussed and the stories on the board that I’ve learned, that I thought fit the subject matter. So, please don’t get your feelings hurt if you don’t see your name in there, because you are ALL in there.

Anytime that I mention ‘cancer board’, ‘cancer forum’ ‘CSN’, ‘The Semi; Colons’ or anything along those lines, then it’s YOU that I’m referring to. So, we all made it in the book as a collective unit.

Here are some of the names in the book that I can recall for this post…

1. The “Angel”
2. Phil as “Mr. P.”
3. Canada Rob as “C.R.”
4. Buzzard as “Mr. B.”
5. John Nimmons as “Sarge.”
6. Emily (2bHealed) as “Em.”
7 Lisa P. (Scouty) as “LP.”
8. Jennie as “Adel.” (she’s idol – adel, get it?)
9. Eric38 as “Mr. E.”
10 Donna as “Chicky.”
11.Hatsepshut as “Mrs. H.”

I could not imagine this book without your stories in here. I’m not even sure if I could have written this book the way that I wanted to, without your stories in there. Being able to include all of you is the highest compliment that I have to give to any of you, who have meant so much to me.

Sundance NEVER forgets his friends:)

I want you to think about this for a moment. If the book get published and makes it to print, then WE become part of the history of the CSN board, you know what I mean?

The board is 10-years old and we’ve got the opportunity to write our own CHAPTER of this illustrious heritage that we can pass on to future generations of cancer fighters. It could be a moment that we would be able to look back on fondly and reminisce about being a part of the greater whole, with this project.

Our contribution to this site and its history could be written right now.

That’s kind of exciting, isn’t it?

“What’s next, Craig?”

‘The Unknown’ is what’s next for me. I embark down a new trail towards an unknown land with a very unfamiliar landscape. I’ve got no landmarks to guide me now – no sign posts to help show me the way.

Writing the book was not an easy assignment, but I accomplished a life-long dream by just being able to write a book that has potential. I set the bar pretty high for myself with this project. I’ve set myself up for the biggest letdown of my life. And not only that, I will have deserved it, should I fail.

“Did I make a pretty good omlette – or did I merely break a few eggs?”

“Do I really think that I’ve got a chance at getting Mr. or Mrs. Somebody to take a ‘chance’ on me – Mr. Nobody?”

“Will this book be anything other than another item on a long list of failures that have come to define my life?”

I don’t know the answers to any of this yet. All I really know is that I tried very hard and poured everything that I had into these writings. I got my shot – and I took it.

Now, it’s out of my hands and up to someone in authority to either ‘accept or deny’ my manuscript. It would be the biggest crush and defeat of my life – but I begged for it, so I’ll accept whichever way that it goes. But, it would hurt and hurt bad if I miss with this one.

This was the one that I waited for my whole life. And at least, I’m satisfied that I made the sincere effort and delivered on my promise to you to get it written. I can hold my head proudly in knowing that I gave everything that I had to give – just like I do when I’m fighting cancer.

Should I fail, I’m not afraid, because I really tried – you’re only a loser if you don’t try.

It was Patteee here who told me 2 things that I’ll always remember her saying to me:

1. You’ve got a ‘cut through the crap’ gentleness that is warm and inviting.
2. You’re not afraid to put yourself ‘out there.’

And I’ve never backed down from a challenge or been afraid to use my life as a personal illustration at what it is to be a human with cancer.

I’ve been proud to use myself as an example – from cancer itself – to 1st time da Vinci surgeries – to web, magazine, newspaper and TV news stories, I’ve always stepped up and done my best to represent our cancer and bring awareness anywhere I’ve been provided the opportunity.

All of you know that when I involve myself in one of my projects, that I go ‘all in’ to deliver it. This project is no different, but it carries a little more – it’s got all of my hopes and dreams in there – as well, as any of yours too.

So, less than 24-hours after completing the book, instead of celebrating, I’ve redirected my energies in researching on how to get this book published now. In the process of this research, I found a way to contact Sharon Osbourne.

I wrote her a letter that explained what I was trying to do and I asked for her help. I offered to send her a sample chapter to see if she liked it.

It was a bold move and a long-shot, of course. But, the way that I figure it, Sharon is a real person, who believes firmly in our cause and I thought that I might be able to reach her. I thought it would not hurt to at least ask. Nothing ventured – nothing gained.

I hope that the message will at least reach her and that she will contact me back through her staff and let me know. Who knows? . I expect to be declined, but the point is that I stepped up and took a swing. I’m doing what I know to do – and that’s hustle.

I wasn’t done there though. I researched and found a publishing house that looked pretty good and was looking for unknown authors, like myself. They said you could submit an entire manuscript or a sample chapter.

So, I sent them Chapter I – “The Diagnosis” for review. They tell me they will respond back in a few weeks with an answer. It’s another long-shot, because they only accept 4% of all manuscripts sent in for publication. The odds are stacked heavily against me, as usual. What else is new?

Who’s scared of insurmountable odds? Certainly not me, I was only given a 7% chance at surviving stage IV cancer for 5-years too. And in 13-months, I will have beaten those odds too. I just love it when they say “it can’t be done.”

I also found a publishing attorney that looks pretty good, and I’m mulling that over right now. I thought maybe I could talk to him real quick by email (he’s in NY) and maybe I could afford a phone consultation or something along those lines. I’m still researching this and don’t have enough detail, other than to say, I did find someone.

So, as usual, Sundance never rests – he attacks all the time – I’m busy getting after it, in a big way, which is what I’ve become known for.

I expect to fall on my face many times. I think I’ll get my a$$ handed back to me in a paper sack – to Go.

But, you know this ol’ Texan is a stubborn SOB, especially when I believe in something as strongly as I do this. I’m having to cold-call until something better comes along – and maybe it will.

“We didn’t come this far to be turned away, did we guys?”

All we need is for someone to take a “Chance” on a guy like me – just one time in my life, you know? I won’t let them or any of you down. I think we’ve got something here, unless you’ve just been lying to me this whole time – you wouldn’t do that to me, would you?

“You all know what a sensitive $hit, I am, right?”

Sensitive on one side – hard as a rock on the other – but with the temperament of a lion. I think that Chicky did have it right, after all – right, Beth?

And so we’re already under way trying to make this happen, as you’ve seen above. I’ve got to continue to take the fight to cancer – just in a different way – and while I still have some time on my side.

I have put everything that I know into the book. My story is there and I was actually able to talk about my life story in there too, as it related to the chapters, so it is also a mini-biography on my life and my cancer life, as well as the story of cancer itself.

Your stories are there and a lot of celebrities stopped by in there as well. Sharon Osbourne – Dandy Don Meredith – Monty Hall – Merle Haggard – Simon and Garfunkel – Lynn Anderson – John Lennon and Paul McCartney – R.E.M. – Pink Floyd – The Moody Blues – just to name a few.....

I’ve also included many “pop-culture” references and of course, all of my one-liners are on display there – and of course, story after story after story.

It’s the proudest work I’ve ever done in my life. I feel so empowered by being able to actually finish it.

Thank you all for staying with me and being a part of my life. I’m so glad to be able to include you and share with you, this chapter of my on-going saga with cancer, through this book, as my journey winds around the next curve in the road.

Anybody that still wants to join up for this latest adventure, just hop on-board, we’ve got plenty of room for you:)

As I close out this post, I’m reminded of the folks I started out with on this site. I talk a lot about personal growth as it relates to cancer.

And it dawned on me that the folks like Tootsie1, Annabelle, Beth, Phil, Buzzard, Lizzy, Robinvan, Lisa42, and many others, who have known me the longest have witnessed personal growth in me, since I first came to the site. It must have been something to see, as I’ve always been entranced watching the growth of others here.

They believed in me so strongly and encouraged me to write this book. I know they can certainly appreciate a post like this one today. They probably still see things in me that I still cannot see in myself. I just want to thank you guys for your years of friendship and support.

And I want to thank all of the new folks as well, who have supported me and this project. Now, we're all waiting.....so in the meantime....

“Does anybody want to read the 1st chapter?”

Okay, I’ll include the first chapter as a ‘sneak peek’ to the book and will place it in the next post below – my gift to you for all that you have been to me:)

Enjoy!

Stay Tuned to the Sundance Channel
“Story Matters Here”

-Craig


P.S. Dearest Chicky, if you can hear me – Your Lion has ROARED!
«134

Comments

  • Lifeisajourney
    Lifeisajourney Member Posts: 216
    Sundanceh said:

    CHAPTER I - "The Diagnosis"
    Three words.

    “You Have Cancer.”

    With these words, your entire world has grinded to a complete halt as you try and sort out what you’ve just been told. You are trying to be calm and process this information that has been given to you by your doctor. You are trying to make some sense out of a situation that has just come out from under your control.

    This is the sentence that none of us want to ever hear uttered in our lifetimes. It’s the type of news that is delivered to someone else, but not to you.

    “This must be a mistake, right?”

    Unfortunately, this is not a mistake, and this news has just become your new reality.

    “What are we feeling and experiencing as all of this begins to wash over us”

    Well, PANIC to start with. Your mind is scrambling and searching fast and furiously to try and find an answer to “Fix This.” When our brains cannot retrieve the information that is needed to put this fire out, then panic and fear are what we are left with.

    The brain is a complex piece of machinery and wonderment. The way that we archive and retrieve data, information, and our own unique experiences are what we draw upon whenever a problem presents itself. We use what we have been through and the things we have learned and experienced in our lives to help us try and cope with the issue at hand.

    I remember reading or hearing about how the brain works with regards to memories or events and how we retrieve them when we call upon them for reference or for a pleasant memory of some kind.

    Obviously, when we learn something or experience a sensation or an event, the brain creates a “File” and archives it into the synapses of the brain that can later be used for recall when it is needed or desired.

    When we come upon that situation again, our brains already have a pathway in which to retrieve that file for that particular experience or information. Therefore, we can replay that data and have a comfort zone or a field of reference that we have already experienced and that we can make some sense out of and take our cues from.

    However, the brain, much like a computer, is only as good as the data that is contained within it. It operates under the principle of “Data In and Data Out.”

    So, when we hear the word CANCER, our brains begin desperately trying to locate the “Cancer File.”

    If this is your first time and you have had no experience with it, then there is no file available for our brains to reference, since the data does not yet exist. Then, that’s when the panic and fear sprout from.

    Very shortly after that, DOUBT settles in and you begin to think about your mortality and the things you never got to do in life.

    Questions begin to flash through your brain. What will happen to your family if you’re not there? Will I live to see my son graduate high school or college? Will I be there to walk my daughter down the aisle for her wedding? Will I still be here for the birth of my grandson or granddaughter?

    I remember when it was my day to hear the news. My gastroenterologist had called me a day after my first colonoscopy and wanted me in his office the very first thing in the morning. I had never been “Sick Sick” before in my life and was very naïve about what had happened to me and what I was about to go through.

    I later learned that doctors are trained to give you good news over the phone, but if the news is bad, then they prefer you to come into the office so they can counsel you in person and to lessen the shock of the news.

    Me, I thought I was going to get an OK, even though I suspected it was probably cancer. You know, it’s a funny thing how the mind works and what we tell ourselves. I heard the ‘Three Words’ and I never blinked an eyelash – I really already knew it deep down inside but just had not come to terms with it for the reasons I explained above.

    After the three words, everything just became sort of surreal. Part of my brain recognized and understood what the GI doc was telling me, but then a part of me was dialed out.

    I could see the doctor’s lips moving, and I understood at a certain level what he had to say, but at the other end, my mind was racing along with all of these random thoughts while he was explaining away what was going to come next.

    You always wonder how you would handle receiving such news as this. And since we’re all unique individuals from all walks of life, we all handle things differently on the outside, but on the inside we’re really all feeling the same thing and scared of what’s coming next – “The Unknown.”

    The Unknown – now, that’s a very dark and lonely road even on the best of days. Mix in a cancer diagnosis and all of a sudden you are facing your own mortality. You begin to look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see.

    That’s because what you are seeing are the “Faces of Yourself” that you’ve never had to look at before. All of a sudden, the things that looked so important and held so much value to you, have now shifted to a new and completely different set of values, along with a new level of understanding and acknowledgement.

    It’s amazing how your values system does a complete “180” as you continually come to grips with your diagnosis. Mind you, none of this happens right away, it is also a process that evolves each day of your journey.

    It cannot be hurried or rushed, but must take root and blossom on its own timeline. It becomes part of the ‘new you’ and is sort of akin to having a new software program downloaded onto your hard drive of your computer.

    What the Cancer Diagnosis does to you is that it changes you from the inside out. The “Transformation of Self” that you are about to embark upon is a by-product of cancer but its role is no less important, because ironically enough some good can come out of cancer if you remain open minded to the possibilities.

    The irony of cancer is this – “What is Trying to Kill You Actually Makes You Stronger.”

    Its biggest benefit, and we’re always looking for the silver lining, is how we view things now through our new ‘awareness.’ All of the material things that we clamored for previously in our lives now have little to no significance.

    “Now, why is that?”

    Simple. It’s because you have just taken your first steps towards enlightenment. That is our destination in our Cancer Journeys - that’s the ‘Nirvana’ that we wish to reach to become the people that we want to be – to become the people we might not have become if it were not for our diagnosis.

    I suppose the simple truth is that we’re reminded that this world is not about the materialistic excesses that pervade and flood our lives. Very quickly, we are reminded that it’s about ‘memories and relationships’ that are important and not things.

    I like to think of it in these terms – “There is No Luggage Rack on the Hearse.”

    We cannot take ‘things’ with us, but our memories and the relationships that we form, and the bonds that we build and share with one another are what are really important. In the end, these are what we really take with us when our time is done here on this Earth.

    I remember when I was first diagnosed and heading for my first major surgery. I truly thought I was going to die. I remember walking about my home making a ‘mental inventory’ of my things.

    As I walked through the house, room by room, it became clearly apparent ‘how much these things meant to me’, but on the other hand, ‘how very little that they really meant to me.’

    “Does that make any sense?”

    I realized the sacrifices we had made to purchase the items, and how much time it took to pay for them. The biggest epiphany dawned on me as I realized how many more experiences I could have bought with that money that would have enriched and colored my life, instead of being a prisoner to debt, paying for things that I would not be able to take with me.

    There are a lot of those types of thoughts that will be floating around your head as you begin to reassess your life and change your priorities. You will find that the quest for “Mo’ Money”, the “Bigger House”, the second “Vacation Home”, the “New Car”, or the latest “I Pad” are, to say the least, very overrated.

    In the end, these are” False Idols” that marketers have convinced us are “Must Have” items in our lives to survive and be somebody in this world. In reality, they are really not and it is our cancer diagnosis that has so profoundly educated us and brought this back to the forefront of our attention.

    Cancer teaches us to reach out beyond ourselves and to acknowledge and reaffirm that we are not the only “Victims.”

    There are cancer wards and hospitals full of sick folks in every city in the world. We are not the only ones suffering here and once you understand that, you are better able to deal with all of the things with cancer that have to be dealt with.

    I’m not sure what it is exactly about cancer, but for whatever reason, I never cried “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.”

    Oh, I’ve certainly had my days when I felt sorry for myself and sang “Woe is Me” and asked myself the age old eternal question – “Why Me?” Again, this is part of the process and this really is a perfectly normal human condition as long as we don’t stay there for too long.

    You’re going to feel this way some days. And when you feel like that, you just have those moments privately and then you get back to the business at hand. You don’t let it dwell in your soul or dictate your outcome – you acknowledge and experience it when you need to and then you dust yourself back off and get on with it. It just all goes along with ‘being human.’

    “The Diagnosis” is a very tough day indeed, but when you get on down the road a little bit further and look back at it, you will realize where it all started, so that when you get to the end of the journey, you will know how far you have really come – and how much you have really grown from the experience.

    So, now that we know what we’re up against – “What Are We Gonna’ Do About It?”

    Thanks for giving us sample
    may you do well with the book,so many people really need to hear your first hand experience. I already got something out of what I read. I related to all you said about hearing that word cancer for the first time. Then I realized I had not learned how much it affects us because my mom heard those words at 30 and only lived months. Really it was a generational thing that had always affected me and maybe that is why I approach it as having been inevitable. Just wanted to say thanks, it made me look at why I reacted as I did. Good luck, will be in line for that copy when it comes out. Sharon Osbourne was a great idea........Pat
  • Lovekitties
    Lovekitties Member Posts: 3,364 Member
    Dear Craig
    It sounds like you are moving on with the efforts to get published.

    I am including a link to Amazon Publishing where you can self publish and set your own price. If nothing more main stream pans out, you might want to check out the details.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-summary-page.html?topic=200260520

    Bestest hugs!

    Marie who loves kitties
  • janie1
    janie1 Member Posts: 753

    Dear Craig
    It sounds like you are moving on with the efforts to get published.

    I am including a link to Amazon Publishing where you can self publish and set your own price. If nothing more main stream pans out, you might want to check out the details.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-summary-page.html?topic=200260520

    Bestest hugs!

    Marie who loves kitties

    Exciting
    Craig, i can see where this could bring about so much awareness. I think the book could just be the tip of the iceberg. This is a disease that should and will be gone - poof! Book...documentary...movie...talk shows---yea, why not. This sh#! affects millions. Will it get worse, or will something BOLD be done about it??
    Thanks Sundance,
    joan
  • janie1
    janie1 Member Posts: 753

    Dear Craig
    It sounds like you are moving on with the efforts to get published.

    I am including a link to Amazon Publishing where you can self publish and set your own price. If nothing more main stream pans out, you might want to check out the details.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-summary-page.html?topic=200260520

    Bestest hugs!

    Marie who loves kitties

    Exciting
    Craig, i can see where this could bring about so much awareness. I think the book could just be the tip of the iceberg. This is a disease that should and will be gone - poof! Book...documentary...movie...talk shows---yea, why not. This sh#! affects millions. Will it get worse, or will something BOLD be done about it??
    Thanks Sundance,
    joan
  • johnnybegood
    johnnybegood Member Posts: 1,117
    janie1 said:

    Exciting
    Craig, i can see where this could bring about so much awareness. I think the book could just be the tip of the iceberg. This is a disease that should and will be gone - poof! Book...documentary...movie...talk shows---yea, why not. This sh#! affects millions. Will it get worse, or will something BOLD be done about it??
    Thanks Sundance,
    joan

    thanks craig
    for posting the first chapter.as always you seem to get all the emotions right.that chapter brought me back to my first diagnosis and when your book hits the shelves it will be very helpful and inspiring for anyone who gets cancer..very well done....Godbless...johnnybegood
  • keystone
    keystone Member Posts: 134
    Sundanceh said:

    CHAPTER I - "The Diagnosis"
    Three words.

    “You Have Cancer.”

    With these words, your entire world has grinded to a complete halt as you try and sort out what you’ve just been told. You are trying to be calm and process this information that has been given to you by your doctor. You are trying to make some sense out of a situation that has just come out from under your control.

    This is the sentence that none of us want to ever hear uttered in our lifetimes. It’s the type of news that is delivered to someone else, but not to you.

    “This must be a mistake, right?”

    Unfortunately, this is not a mistake, and this news has just become your new reality.

    “What are we feeling and experiencing as all of this begins to wash over us”

    Well, PANIC to start with. Your mind is scrambling and searching fast and furiously to try and find an answer to “Fix This.” When our brains cannot retrieve the information that is needed to put this fire out, then panic and fear are what we are left with.

    The brain is a complex piece of machinery and wonderment. The way that we archive and retrieve data, information, and our own unique experiences are what we draw upon whenever a problem presents itself. We use what we have been through and the things we have learned and experienced in our lives to help us try and cope with the issue at hand.

    I remember reading or hearing about how the brain works with regards to memories or events and how we retrieve them when we call upon them for reference or for a pleasant memory of some kind.

    Obviously, when we learn something or experience a sensation or an event, the brain creates a “File” and archives it into the synapses of the brain that can later be used for recall when it is needed or desired.

    When we come upon that situation again, our brains already have a pathway in which to retrieve that file for that particular experience or information. Therefore, we can replay that data and have a comfort zone or a field of reference that we have already experienced and that we can make some sense out of and take our cues from.

    However, the brain, much like a computer, is only as good as the data that is contained within it. It operates under the principle of “Data In and Data Out.”

    So, when we hear the word CANCER, our brains begin desperately trying to locate the “Cancer File.”

    If this is your first time and you have had no experience with it, then there is no file available for our brains to reference, since the data does not yet exist. Then, that’s when the panic and fear sprout from.

    Very shortly after that, DOUBT settles in and you begin to think about your mortality and the things you never got to do in life.

    Questions begin to flash through your brain. What will happen to your family if you’re not there? Will I live to see my son graduate high school or college? Will I be there to walk my daughter down the aisle for her wedding? Will I still be here for the birth of my grandson or granddaughter?

    I remember when it was my day to hear the news. My gastroenterologist had called me a day after my first colonoscopy and wanted me in his office the very first thing in the morning. I had never been “Sick Sick” before in my life and was very naïve about what had happened to me and what I was about to go through.

    I later learned that doctors are trained to give you good news over the phone, but if the news is bad, then they prefer you to come into the office so they can counsel you in person and to lessen the shock of the news.

    Me, I thought I was going to get an OK, even though I suspected it was probably cancer. You know, it’s a funny thing how the mind works and what we tell ourselves. I heard the ‘Three Words’ and I never blinked an eyelash – I really already knew it deep down inside but just had not come to terms with it for the reasons I explained above.

    After the three words, everything just became sort of surreal. Part of my brain recognized and understood what the GI doc was telling me, but then a part of me was dialed out.

    I could see the doctor’s lips moving, and I understood at a certain level what he had to say, but at the other end, my mind was racing along with all of these random thoughts while he was explaining away what was going to come next.

    You always wonder how you would handle receiving such news as this. And since we’re all unique individuals from all walks of life, we all handle things differently on the outside, but on the inside we’re really all feeling the same thing and scared of what’s coming next – “The Unknown.”

    The Unknown – now, that’s a very dark and lonely road even on the best of days. Mix in a cancer diagnosis and all of a sudden you are facing your own mortality. You begin to look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see.

    That’s because what you are seeing are the “Faces of Yourself” that you’ve never had to look at before. All of a sudden, the things that looked so important and held so much value to you, have now shifted to a new and completely different set of values, along with a new level of understanding and acknowledgement.

    It’s amazing how your values system does a complete “180” as you continually come to grips with your diagnosis. Mind you, none of this happens right away, it is also a process that evolves each day of your journey.

    It cannot be hurried or rushed, but must take root and blossom on its own timeline. It becomes part of the ‘new you’ and is sort of akin to having a new software program downloaded onto your hard drive of your computer.

    What the Cancer Diagnosis does to you is that it changes you from the inside out. The “Transformation of Self” that you are about to embark upon is a by-product of cancer but its role is no less important, because ironically enough some good can come out of cancer if you remain open minded to the possibilities.

    The irony of cancer is this – “What is Trying to Kill You Actually Makes You Stronger.”

    Its biggest benefit, and we’re always looking for the silver lining, is how we view things now through our new ‘awareness.’ All of the material things that we clamored for previously in our lives now have little to no significance.

    “Now, why is that?”

    Simple. It’s because you have just taken your first steps towards enlightenment. That is our destination in our Cancer Journeys - that’s the ‘Nirvana’ that we wish to reach to become the people that we want to be – to become the people we might not have become if it were not for our diagnosis.

    I suppose the simple truth is that we’re reminded that this world is not about the materialistic excesses that pervade and flood our lives. Very quickly, we are reminded that it’s about ‘memories and relationships’ that are important and not things.

    I like to think of it in these terms – “There is No Luggage Rack on the Hearse.”

    We cannot take ‘things’ with us, but our memories and the relationships that we form, and the bonds that we build and share with one another are what are really important. In the end, these are what we really take with us when our time is done here on this Earth.

    I remember when I was first diagnosed and heading for my first major surgery. I truly thought I was going to die. I remember walking about my home making a ‘mental inventory’ of my things.

    As I walked through the house, room by room, it became clearly apparent ‘how much these things meant to me’, but on the other hand, ‘how very little that they really meant to me.’

    “Does that make any sense?”

    I realized the sacrifices we had made to purchase the items, and how much time it took to pay for them. The biggest epiphany dawned on me as I realized how many more experiences I could have bought with that money that would have enriched and colored my life, instead of being a prisoner to debt, paying for things that I would not be able to take with me.

    There are a lot of those types of thoughts that will be floating around your head as you begin to reassess your life and change your priorities. You will find that the quest for “Mo’ Money”, the “Bigger House”, the second “Vacation Home”, the “New Car”, or the latest “I Pad” are, to say the least, very overrated.

    In the end, these are” False Idols” that marketers have convinced us are “Must Have” items in our lives to survive and be somebody in this world. In reality, they are really not and it is our cancer diagnosis that has so profoundly educated us and brought this back to the forefront of our attention.

    Cancer teaches us to reach out beyond ourselves and to acknowledge and reaffirm that we are not the only “Victims.”

    There are cancer wards and hospitals full of sick folks in every city in the world. We are not the only ones suffering here and once you understand that, you are better able to deal with all of the things with cancer that have to be dealt with.

    I’m not sure what it is exactly about cancer, but for whatever reason, I never cried “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.”

    Oh, I’ve certainly had my days when I felt sorry for myself and sang “Woe is Me” and asked myself the age old eternal question – “Why Me?” Again, this is part of the process and this really is a perfectly normal human condition as long as we don’t stay there for too long.

    You’re going to feel this way some days. And when you feel like that, you just have those moments privately and then you get back to the business at hand. You don’t let it dwell in your soul or dictate your outcome – you acknowledge and experience it when you need to and then you dust yourself back off and get on with it. It just all goes along with ‘being human.’

    “The Diagnosis” is a very tough day indeed, but when you get on down the road a little bit further and look back at it, you will realize where it all started, so that when you get to the end of the journey, you will know how far you have really come – and how much you have really grown from the experience.

    So, now that we know what we’re up against – “What Are We Gonna’ Do About It?”

    I know I don't post
    I know I don't post regularly but I have read each exerpt and have been cheering you on all the way! This is such a great way to inform others of the cancer journey. A big part of this is knowing your not alone whether you are a cancer patient or caregiver. Thanks Sundance YOU ARE THE MAN!!!! I will be ordering a copy WHEN it's released. Stephanie
  • angelsbaby
    angelsbaby Member Posts: 1,165

    thanks craig
    for posting the first chapter.as always you seem to get all the emotions right.that chapter brought me back to my first diagnosis and when your book hits the shelves it will be very helpful and inspiring for anyone who gets cancer..very well done....Godbless...johnnybegood

    Right On
    craig

    michelle
  • pepebcn
    pepebcn Member Posts: 6,331

    Right On
    craig

    michelle

    Awesome Craig ,
    thank you for sharing this wonderful chapter, I foretell a big success for the book!
    Hugs Mate!
  • eibod
    eibod Member Posts: 160
    So excited that you have
    So excited that you have accomplished your goal. Can't imagine the time and thought that you must have put into the book. I am thinking that the therapy of writing has been good as well? Enjoyed reading the first chapter, but selfishly, am looking forward to when the book is published so that I may read the "caregivers" chapter. You are a gifted writer and I hope and pray this will work out well for you. Take care, Brenda
  • christinecarl
    christinecarl Member Posts: 543
    I can't wait for your book
    I can't wait for your book to be published, I hope to get my copy signed by the author of course. Congrats Craig, every life tells a story.
  • wolfen
    wolfen Member Posts: 1,324

    I can't wait for your book
    I can't wait for your book to be published, I hope to get my copy signed by the author of course. Congrats Craig, every life tells a story.

    Great First Chapter
    Craig,

    The first chapter is awesome and grabs your attention. I certainly hope that Sharon will be able to assist you. I'm sure this book will be an asset to all who have the privilege of reading it. It will certainly be so to the many cancer patients, caregivers, friends and relatives. It will also be enlightening to those who no nothing about this horrid disease.

    Best Of Luck,

    Wolfen
  • pete43lost_at_sea
    pete43lost_at_sea Member Posts: 3,900
    Sundanceh said:

    CHAPTER I - "The Diagnosis"
    Three words.

    “You Have Cancer.”

    With these words, your entire world has grinded to a complete halt as you try and sort out what you’ve just been told. You are trying to be calm and process this information that has been given to you by your doctor. You are trying to make some sense out of a situation that has just come out from under your control.

    This is the sentence that none of us want to ever hear uttered in our lifetimes. It’s the type of news that is delivered to someone else, but not to you.

    “This must be a mistake, right?”

    Unfortunately, this is not a mistake, and this news has just become your new reality.

    “What are we feeling and experiencing as all of this begins to wash over us”

    Well, PANIC to start with. Your mind is scrambling and searching fast and furiously to try and find an answer to “Fix This.” When our brains cannot retrieve the information that is needed to put this fire out, then panic and fear are what we are left with.

    The brain is a complex piece of machinery and wonderment. The way that we archive and retrieve data, information, and our own unique experiences are what we draw upon whenever a problem presents itself. We use what we have been through and the things we have learned and experienced in our lives to help us try and cope with the issue at hand.

    I remember reading or hearing about how the brain works with regards to memories or events and how we retrieve them when we call upon them for reference or for a pleasant memory of some kind.

    Obviously, when we learn something or experience a sensation or an event, the brain creates a “File” and archives it into the synapses of the brain that can later be used for recall when it is needed or desired.

    When we come upon that situation again, our brains already have a pathway in which to retrieve that file for that particular experience or information. Therefore, we can replay that data and have a comfort zone or a field of reference that we have already experienced and that we can make some sense out of and take our cues from.

    However, the brain, much like a computer, is only as good as the data that is contained within it. It operates under the principle of “Data In and Data Out.”

    So, when we hear the word CANCER, our brains begin desperately trying to locate the “Cancer File.”

    If this is your first time and you have had no experience with it, then there is no file available for our brains to reference, since the data does not yet exist. Then, that’s when the panic and fear sprout from.

    Very shortly after that, DOUBT settles in and you begin to think about your mortality and the things you never got to do in life.

    Questions begin to flash through your brain. What will happen to your family if you’re not there? Will I live to see my son graduate high school or college? Will I be there to walk my daughter down the aisle for her wedding? Will I still be here for the birth of my grandson or granddaughter?

    I remember when it was my day to hear the news. My gastroenterologist had called me a day after my first colonoscopy and wanted me in his office the very first thing in the morning. I had never been “Sick Sick” before in my life and was very naïve about what had happened to me and what I was about to go through.

    I later learned that doctors are trained to give you good news over the phone, but if the news is bad, then they prefer you to come into the office so they can counsel you in person and to lessen the shock of the news.

    Me, I thought I was going to get an OK, even though I suspected it was probably cancer. You know, it’s a funny thing how the mind works and what we tell ourselves. I heard the ‘Three Words’ and I never blinked an eyelash – I really already knew it deep down inside but just had not come to terms with it for the reasons I explained above.

    After the three words, everything just became sort of surreal. Part of my brain recognized and understood what the GI doc was telling me, but then a part of me was dialed out.

    I could see the doctor’s lips moving, and I understood at a certain level what he had to say, but at the other end, my mind was racing along with all of these random thoughts while he was explaining away what was going to come next.

    You always wonder how you would handle receiving such news as this. And since we’re all unique individuals from all walks of life, we all handle things differently on the outside, but on the inside we’re really all feeling the same thing and scared of what’s coming next – “The Unknown.”

    The Unknown – now, that’s a very dark and lonely road even on the best of days. Mix in a cancer diagnosis and all of a sudden you are facing your own mortality. You begin to look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see.

    That’s because what you are seeing are the “Faces of Yourself” that you’ve never had to look at before. All of a sudden, the things that looked so important and held so much value to you, have now shifted to a new and completely different set of values, along with a new level of understanding and acknowledgement.

    It’s amazing how your values system does a complete “180” as you continually come to grips with your diagnosis. Mind you, none of this happens right away, it is also a process that evolves each day of your journey.

    It cannot be hurried or rushed, but must take root and blossom on its own timeline. It becomes part of the ‘new you’ and is sort of akin to having a new software program downloaded onto your hard drive of your computer.

    What the Cancer Diagnosis does to you is that it changes you from the inside out. The “Transformation of Self” that you are about to embark upon is a by-product of cancer but its role is no less important, because ironically enough some good can come out of cancer if you remain open minded to the possibilities.

    The irony of cancer is this – “What is Trying to Kill You Actually Makes You Stronger.”

    Its biggest benefit, and we’re always looking for the silver lining, is how we view things now through our new ‘awareness.’ All of the material things that we clamored for previously in our lives now have little to no significance.

    “Now, why is that?”

    Simple. It’s because you have just taken your first steps towards enlightenment. That is our destination in our Cancer Journeys - that’s the ‘Nirvana’ that we wish to reach to become the people that we want to be – to become the people we might not have become if it were not for our diagnosis.

    I suppose the simple truth is that we’re reminded that this world is not about the materialistic excesses that pervade and flood our lives. Very quickly, we are reminded that it’s about ‘memories and relationships’ that are important and not things.

    I like to think of it in these terms – “There is No Luggage Rack on the Hearse.”

    We cannot take ‘things’ with us, but our memories and the relationships that we form, and the bonds that we build and share with one another are what are really important. In the end, these are what we really take with us when our time is done here on this Earth.

    I remember when I was first diagnosed and heading for my first major surgery. I truly thought I was going to die. I remember walking about my home making a ‘mental inventory’ of my things.

    As I walked through the house, room by room, it became clearly apparent ‘how much these things meant to me’, but on the other hand, ‘how very little that they really meant to me.’

    “Does that make any sense?”

    I realized the sacrifices we had made to purchase the items, and how much time it took to pay for them. The biggest epiphany dawned on me as I realized how many more experiences I could have bought with that money that would have enriched and colored my life, instead of being a prisoner to debt, paying for things that I would not be able to take with me.

    There are a lot of those types of thoughts that will be floating around your head as you begin to reassess your life and change your priorities. You will find that the quest for “Mo’ Money”, the “Bigger House”, the second “Vacation Home”, the “New Car”, or the latest “I Pad” are, to say the least, very overrated.

    In the end, these are” False Idols” that marketers have convinced us are “Must Have” items in our lives to survive and be somebody in this world. In reality, they are really not and it is our cancer diagnosis that has so profoundly educated us and brought this back to the forefront of our attention.

    Cancer teaches us to reach out beyond ourselves and to acknowledge and reaffirm that we are not the only “Victims.”

    There are cancer wards and hospitals full of sick folks in every city in the world. We are not the only ones suffering here and once you understand that, you are better able to deal with all of the things with cancer that have to be dealt with.

    I’m not sure what it is exactly about cancer, but for whatever reason, I never cried “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.”

    Oh, I’ve certainly had my days when I felt sorry for myself and sang “Woe is Me” and asked myself the age old eternal question – “Why Me?” Again, this is part of the process and this really is a perfectly normal human condition as long as we don’t stay there for too long.

    You’re going to feel this way some days. And when you feel like that, you just have those moments privately and then you get back to the business at hand. You don’t let it dwell in your soul or dictate your outcome – you acknowledge and experience it when you need to and then you dust yourself back off and get on with it. It just all goes along with ‘being human.’

    “The Diagnosis” is a very tough day indeed, but when you get on down the road a little bit further and look back at it, you will realize where it all started, so that when you get to the end of the journey, you will know how far you have really come – and how much you have really grown from the experience.

    So, now that we know what we’re up against – “What Are We Gonna’ Do About It?”

    its just great craig
    graig,
    congratulations at a magnificent job.
    I loved the way you described false idols. and no luggage rack on the hearse.
    hugs,
    pete
  • buckeye2
    buckeye2 Member Posts: 428
    The first chapter is
    The first chapter is excellent. Your words always touch me. What a gift. I am so glad you shared it. Lisa
  • Jaylo969
    Jaylo969 Member Posts: 824
    I wanna'....
    Hello Craig my friend,

    Like all of the others I am so very proud of you. Thank you for everything and please, please, I would like a signed copy too! Hoping it gets published quickly.

    All my best to you,
    -Pat
  • SandyL
    SandyL Member Posts: 218
    Jaylo969 said:

    I wanna'....
    Hello Craig my friend,

    Like all of the others I am so very proud of you. Thank you for everything and please, please, I would like a signed copy too! Hoping it gets published quickly.

    All my best to you,
    -Pat

    WOW WOW WOW
    I am so very excited for you, Craig! It is awesome and I join the others in saying "way to go". You've also described the feelings of caregivers when they first hear the words uttered to their spouses (me). Thank you for doing this. BTW, I love your new avatar. It says it.
    Sandy Lewis
  • Kenny H.
    Kenny H. Member Posts: 502
    Jaylo969 said:

    I wanna'....
    Hello Craig my friend,

    Like all of the others I am so very proud of you. Thank you for everything and please, please, I would like a signed copy too! Hoping it gets published quickly.

    All my best to you,
    -Pat

    Im inspired by your great
    Im inspired by your great indeavor, cant wait to get a copy.
  • grannyc
    grannyc Member Posts: 63
    Kenny H. said:

    Im inspired by your great
    Im inspired by your great indeavor, cant wait to get a copy.

    CANT WAIT TO READ IT.
    I can't wait to spend this afternoon reading your first chapter...I guess it really is a first chapter for all of us here.

    I will be celebrating my 5 years since dianosis the end of Sept 2012 so sounds like we were diagnosed about the same time. I continue the journey now on my 3rd bout with the beast, so I know your book will be an inspiration not only to us semi-colons but to many people.

    Is there a way to help get the book published?

    thanks
    Granny C
  • Annabelle41415
    Annabelle41415 Member Posts: 6,715 Member
    WooHoo
    This is awesome, just knew you could do it and I've always told you how eloquently you put those words on paper. It would be so wonderful for someone to pick this up and publish it. Thank you so much for a sneak preview of what is to come. Very proud of you for writing this and what seems to be in such a record time. Take a little breather now and look into get this out in the stores soon :) You have grown so much since first coming on this board. Still remember your first post - you sounded so lost and alone and my heart just went out to you. Glad that you have made so many friends here - you are such an inspiration.

    Hugs! Kim
  • Fight for my love
    Fight for my love Member Posts: 1,522
    Sundanceh said:

    CHAPTER I - "The Diagnosis"
    Three words.

    “You Have Cancer.”

    With these words, your entire world has grinded to a complete halt as you try and sort out what you’ve just been told. You are trying to be calm and process this information that has been given to you by your doctor. You are trying to make some sense out of a situation that has just come out from under your control.

    This is the sentence that none of us want to ever hear uttered in our lifetimes. It’s the type of news that is delivered to someone else, but not to you.

    “This must be a mistake, right?”

    Unfortunately, this is not a mistake, and this news has just become your new reality.

    “What are we feeling and experiencing as all of this begins to wash over us”

    Well, PANIC to start with. Your mind is scrambling and searching fast and furiously to try and find an answer to “Fix This.” When our brains cannot retrieve the information that is needed to put this fire out, then panic and fear are what we are left with.

    The brain is a complex piece of machinery and wonderment. The way that we archive and retrieve data, information, and our own unique experiences are what we draw upon whenever a problem presents itself. We use what we have been through and the things we have learned and experienced in our lives to help us try and cope with the issue at hand.

    I remember reading or hearing about how the brain works with regards to memories or events and how we retrieve them when we call upon them for reference or for a pleasant memory of some kind.

    Obviously, when we learn something or experience a sensation or an event, the brain creates a “File” and archives it into the synapses of the brain that can later be used for recall when it is needed or desired.

    When we come upon that situation again, our brains already have a pathway in which to retrieve that file for that particular experience or information. Therefore, we can replay that data and have a comfort zone or a field of reference that we have already experienced and that we can make some sense out of and take our cues from.

    However, the brain, much like a computer, is only as good as the data that is contained within it. It operates under the principle of “Data In and Data Out.”

    So, when we hear the word CANCER, our brains begin desperately trying to locate the “Cancer File.”

    If this is your first time and you have had no experience with it, then there is no file available for our brains to reference, since the data does not yet exist. Then, that’s when the panic and fear sprout from.

    Very shortly after that, DOUBT settles in and you begin to think about your mortality and the things you never got to do in life.

    Questions begin to flash through your brain. What will happen to your family if you’re not there? Will I live to see my son graduate high school or college? Will I be there to walk my daughter down the aisle for her wedding? Will I still be here for the birth of my grandson or granddaughter?

    I remember when it was my day to hear the news. My gastroenterologist had called me a day after my first colonoscopy and wanted me in his office the very first thing in the morning. I had never been “Sick Sick” before in my life and was very naïve about what had happened to me and what I was about to go through.

    I later learned that doctors are trained to give you good news over the phone, but if the news is bad, then they prefer you to come into the office so they can counsel you in person and to lessen the shock of the news.

    Me, I thought I was going to get an OK, even though I suspected it was probably cancer. You know, it’s a funny thing how the mind works and what we tell ourselves. I heard the ‘Three Words’ and I never blinked an eyelash – I really already knew it deep down inside but just had not come to terms with it for the reasons I explained above.

    After the three words, everything just became sort of surreal. Part of my brain recognized and understood what the GI doc was telling me, but then a part of me was dialed out.

    I could see the doctor’s lips moving, and I understood at a certain level what he had to say, but at the other end, my mind was racing along with all of these random thoughts while he was explaining away what was going to come next.

    You always wonder how you would handle receiving such news as this. And since we’re all unique individuals from all walks of life, we all handle things differently on the outside, but on the inside we’re really all feeling the same thing and scared of what’s coming next – “The Unknown.”

    The Unknown – now, that’s a very dark and lonely road even on the best of days. Mix in a cancer diagnosis and all of a sudden you are facing your own mortality. You begin to look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see.

    That’s because what you are seeing are the “Faces of Yourself” that you’ve never had to look at before. All of a sudden, the things that looked so important and held so much value to you, have now shifted to a new and completely different set of values, along with a new level of understanding and acknowledgement.

    It’s amazing how your values system does a complete “180” as you continually come to grips with your diagnosis. Mind you, none of this happens right away, it is also a process that evolves each day of your journey.

    It cannot be hurried or rushed, but must take root and blossom on its own timeline. It becomes part of the ‘new you’ and is sort of akin to having a new software program downloaded onto your hard drive of your computer.

    What the Cancer Diagnosis does to you is that it changes you from the inside out. The “Transformation of Self” that you are about to embark upon is a by-product of cancer but its role is no less important, because ironically enough some good can come out of cancer if you remain open minded to the possibilities.

    The irony of cancer is this – “What is Trying to Kill You Actually Makes You Stronger.”

    Its biggest benefit, and we’re always looking for the silver lining, is how we view things now through our new ‘awareness.’ All of the material things that we clamored for previously in our lives now have little to no significance.

    “Now, why is that?”

    Simple. It’s because you have just taken your first steps towards enlightenment. That is our destination in our Cancer Journeys - that’s the ‘Nirvana’ that we wish to reach to become the people that we want to be – to become the people we might not have become if it were not for our diagnosis.

    I suppose the simple truth is that we’re reminded that this world is not about the materialistic excesses that pervade and flood our lives. Very quickly, we are reminded that it’s about ‘memories and relationships’ that are important and not things.

    I like to think of it in these terms – “There is No Luggage Rack on the Hearse.”

    We cannot take ‘things’ with us, but our memories and the relationships that we form, and the bonds that we build and share with one another are what are really important. In the end, these are what we really take with us when our time is done here on this Earth.

    I remember when I was first diagnosed and heading for my first major surgery. I truly thought I was going to die. I remember walking about my home making a ‘mental inventory’ of my things.

    As I walked through the house, room by room, it became clearly apparent ‘how much these things meant to me’, but on the other hand, ‘how very little that they really meant to me.’

    “Does that make any sense?”

    I realized the sacrifices we had made to purchase the items, and how much time it took to pay for them. The biggest epiphany dawned on me as I realized how many more experiences I could have bought with that money that would have enriched and colored my life, instead of being a prisoner to debt, paying for things that I would not be able to take with me.

    There are a lot of those types of thoughts that will be floating around your head as you begin to reassess your life and change your priorities. You will find that the quest for “Mo’ Money”, the “Bigger House”, the second “Vacation Home”, the “New Car”, or the latest “I Pad” are, to say the least, very overrated.

    In the end, these are” False Idols” that marketers have convinced us are “Must Have” items in our lives to survive and be somebody in this world. In reality, they are really not and it is our cancer diagnosis that has so profoundly educated us and brought this back to the forefront of our attention.

    Cancer teaches us to reach out beyond ourselves and to acknowledge and reaffirm that we are not the only “Victims.”

    There are cancer wards and hospitals full of sick folks in every city in the world. We are not the only ones suffering here and once you understand that, you are better able to deal with all of the things with cancer that have to be dealt with.

    I’m not sure what it is exactly about cancer, but for whatever reason, I never cried “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.”

    Oh, I’ve certainly had my days when I felt sorry for myself and sang “Woe is Me” and asked myself the age old eternal question – “Why Me?” Again, this is part of the process and this really is a perfectly normal human condition as long as we don’t stay there for too long.

    You’re going to feel this way some days. And when you feel like that, you just have those moments privately and then you get back to the business at hand. You don’t let it dwell in your soul or dictate your outcome – you acknowledge and experience it when you need to and then you dust yourself back off and get on with it. It just all goes along with ‘being human.’

    “The Diagnosis” is a very tough day indeed, but when you get on down the road a little bit further and look back at it, you will realize where it all started, so that when you get to the end of the journey, you will know how far you have really come – and how much you have really grown from the experience.

    So, now that we know what we’re up against – “What Are We Gonna’ Do About It?”

    Great job and well
    Great job and well done.Congrats!Thank you for your trust as a friend and sharing the great chapter with us.
  • lisa42
    lisa42 Member Posts: 3,625
    Sundanceh said:

    CHAPTER I - "The Diagnosis"
    Three words.

    “You Have Cancer.”

    With these words, your entire world has grinded to a complete halt as you try and sort out what you’ve just been told. You are trying to be calm and process this information that has been given to you by your doctor. You are trying to make some sense out of a situation that has just come out from under your control.

    This is the sentence that none of us want to ever hear uttered in our lifetimes. It’s the type of news that is delivered to someone else, but not to you.

    “This must be a mistake, right?”

    Unfortunately, this is not a mistake, and this news has just become your new reality.

    “What are we feeling and experiencing as all of this begins to wash over us”

    Well, PANIC to start with. Your mind is scrambling and searching fast and furiously to try and find an answer to “Fix This.” When our brains cannot retrieve the information that is needed to put this fire out, then panic and fear are what we are left with.

    The brain is a complex piece of machinery and wonderment. The way that we archive and retrieve data, information, and our own unique experiences are what we draw upon whenever a problem presents itself. We use what we have been through and the things we have learned and experienced in our lives to help us try and cope with the issue at hand.

    I remember reading or hearing about how the brain works with regards to memories or events and how we retrieve them when we call upon them for reference or for a pleasant memory of some kind.

    Obviously, when we learn something or experience a sensation or an event, the brain creates a “File” and archives it into the synapses of the brain that can later be used for recall when it is needed or desired.

    When we come upon that situation again, our brains already have a pathway in which to retrieve that file for that particular experience or information. Therefore, we can replay that data and have a comfort zone or a field of reference that we have already experienced and that we can make some sense out of and take our cues from.

    However, the brain, much like a computer, is only as good as the data that is contained within it. It operates under the principle of “Data In and Data Out.”

    So, when we hear the word CANCER, our brains begin desperately trying to locate the “Cancer File.”

    If this is your first time and you have had no experience with it, then there is no file available for our brains to reference, since the data does not yet exist. Then, that’s when the panic and fear sprout from.

    Very shortly after that, DOUBT settles in and you begin to think about your mortality and the things you never got to do in life.

    Questions begin to flash through your brain. What will happen to your family if you’re not there? Will I live to see my son graduate high school or college? Will I be there to walk my daughter down the aisle for her wedding? Will I still be here for the birth of my grandson or granddaughter?

    I remember when it was my day to hear the news. My gastroenterologist had called me a day after my first colonoscopy and wanted me in his office the very first thing in the morning. I had never been “Sick Sick” before in my life and was very naïve about what had happened to me and what I was about to go through.

    I later learned that doctors are trained to give you good news over the phone, but if the news is bad, then they prefer you to come into the office so they can counsel you in person and to lessen the shock of the news.

    Me, I thought I was going to get an OK, even though I suspected it was probably cancer. You know, it’s a funny thing how the mind works and what we tell ourselves. I heard the ‘Three Words’ and I never blinked an eyelash – I really already knew it deep down inside but just had not come to terms with it for the reasons I explained above.

    After the three words, everything just became sort of surreal. Part of my brain recognized and understood what the GI doc was telling me, but then a part of me was dialed out.

    I could see the doctor’s lips moving, and I understood at a certain level what he had to say, but at the other end, my mind was racing along with all of these random thoughts while he was explaining away what was going to come next.

    You always wonder how you would handle receiving such news as this. And since we’re all unique individuals from all walks of life, we all handle things differently on the outside, but on the inside we’re really all feeling the same thing and scared of what’s coming next – “The Unknown.”

    The Unknown – now, that’s a very dark and lonely road even on the best of days. Mix in a cancer diagnosis and all of a sudden you are facing your own mortality. You begin to look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see.

    That’s because what you are seeing are the “Faces of Yourself” that you’ve never had to look at before. All of a sudden, the things that looked so important and held so much value to you, have now shifted to a new and completely different set of values, along with a new level of understanding and acknowledgement.

    It’s amazing how your values system does a complete “180” as you continually come to grips with your diagnosis. Mind you, none of this happens right away, it is also a process that evolves each day of your journey.

    It cannot be hurried or rushed, but must take root and blossom on its own timeline. It becomes part of the ‘new you’ and is sort of akin to having a new software program downloaded onto your hard drive of your computer.

    What the Cancer Diagnosis does to you is that it changes you from the inside out. The “Transformation of Self” that you are about to embark upon is a by-product of cancer but its role is no less important, because ironically enough some good can come out of cancer if you remain open minded to the possibilities.

    The irony of cancer is this – “What is Trying to Kill You Actually Makes You Stronger.”

    Its biggest benefit, and we’re always looking for the silver lining, is how we view things now through our new ‘awareness.’ All of the material things that we clamored for previously in our lives now have little to no significance.

    “Now, why is that?”

    Simple. It’s because you have just taken your first steps towards enlightenment. That is our destination in our Cancer Journeys - that’s the ‘Nirvana’ that we wish to reach to become the people that we want to be – to become the people we might not have become if it were not for our diagnosis.

    I suppose the simple truth is that we’re reminded that this world is not about the materialistic excesses that pervade and flood our lives. Very quickly, we are reminded that it’s about ‘memories and relationships’ that are important and not things.

    I like to think of it in these terms – “There is No Luggage Rack on the Hearse.”

    We cannot take ‘things’ with us, but our memories and the relationships that we form, and the bonds that we build and share with one another are what are really important. In the end, these are what we really take with us when our time is done here on this Earth.

    I remember when I was first diagnosed and heading for my first major surgery. I truly thought I was going to die. I remember walking about my home making a ‘mental inventory’ of my things.

    As I walked through the house, room by room, it became clearly apparent ‘how much these things meant to me’, but on the other hand, ‘how very little that they really meant to me.’

    “Does that make any sense?”

    I realized the sacrifices we had made to purchase the items, and how much time it took to pay for them. The biggest epiphany dawned on me as I realized how many more experiences I could have bought with that money that would have enriched and colored my life, instead of being a prisoner to debt, paying for things that I would not be able to take with me.

    There are a lot of those types of thoughts that will be floating around your head as you begin to reassess your life and change your priorities. You will find that the quest for “Mo’ Money”, the “Bigger House”, the second “Vacation Home”, the “New Car”, or the latest “I Pad” are, to say the least, very overrated.

    In the end, these are” False Idols” that marketers have convinced us are “Must Have” items in our lives to survive and be somebody in this world. In reality, they are really not and it is our cancer diagnosis that has so profoundly educated us and brought this back to the forefront of our attention.

    Cancer teaches us to reach out beyond ourselves and to acknowledge and reaffirm that we are not the only “Victims.”

    There are cancer wards and hospitals full of sick folks in every city in the world. We are not the only ones suffering here and once you understand that, you are better able to deal with all of the things with cancer that have to be dealt with.

    I’m not sure what it is exactly about cancer, but for whatever reason, I never cried “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.”

    Oh, I’ve certainly had my days when I felt sorry for myself and sang “Woe is Me” and asked myself the age old eternal question – “Why Me?” Again, this is part of the process and this really is a perfectly normal human condition as long as we don’t stay there for too long.

    You’re going to feel this way some days. And when you feel like that, you just have those moments privately and then you get back to the business at hand. You don’t let it dwell in your soul or dictate your outcome – you acknowledge and experience it when you need to and then you dust yourself back off and get on with it. It just all goes along with ‘being human.’

    “The Diagnosis” is a very tough day indeed, but when you get on down the road a little bit further and look back at it, you will realize where it all started, so that when you get to the end of the journey, you will know how far you have really come – and how much you have really grown from the experience.

    So, now that we know what we’re up against – “What Are We Gonna’ Do About It?”

    I'm proud of you!
    Hi Craig,

    WOW- I'm really proud of you for following through and finishing the book! Thanks also for giving us a sample peek! I know you've put a huge amount of time, thought, and energy into this. I do hope and pray that it will truly be able to get published. That's be awesome if Sharon Osbourne actually read what you sent her and replied.

    Best wishes to you, Craig-

    Hugs,
    Lisa :)