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"The REPURPOSING of Our Lives In and Out of the Cancer World” - The Concept That Evolved Into an Ideology ©

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

What is Repurposing?


Well, Merriam Webster’s definition is:  “To give a new purpose or use to.”


What started out as an abstract concept has now evolved into an ideology that I firmly believe holds a great deal of promise in how we look at our own lives – our lives when we have cancer – and our lives when we don’t have cancer. 


It is my hopes that this philosophy will one day take root in cancer patients all over the world as I believe that we have the innate capacity to examine and draw similar parables between those two worlds and then apply them to our own individual situations. 


Its biggest benefit lies in the assertion that this newfound ideology is universal in its nature and therefore becomes as symbolic as the string on a musical instrument that we pluck from the Common Chords of Humanity - which are the human feelings that we all unequivocally have and share in common.


For me, the roots of this topic actually stem back to the moment in time where I successfully wrapped up my 3rd cancer fight, while reaching a remissive state, also for the third time in what has been a very long and tough fight for life.


I thought it was a great story…Craig gets cancer 3x…Craig defeats cancer 3x…Craig lives happily ever after…


But, I guess only Aesop wrote fables like that one…


All of us have seen, or have been personal witnesses to the fact that is a very hard feat to defeat cancer even one time…much less going three times with an undefeated record. 


It’s hard…very hard…the absolute hardest thing there ever is to do…


And then to be able to assume your life once more, three different times….holding onto your career, saving your house, trying to salvage your relationship…


Not easy…


I was expecting all of these magical transformations to be taking place…and that it would be treated as something almost unheard of or unprecedented…


I guess at the heart of it, I just wanted everyone to recognize what an achievement it was…but I found that numbers are just that…numbers….and they never really register with anyone until they find themselves at the exact precipice of an event like that. 


Anything else is just sheer speculation…because; we can only really know “when we get there.”


I could sit here and talk three recurrences…and then you get your second…and it’s bad…and you understand what the second felt like…but you would still be emotionally unavailable to understand what the subsequent recurrence(s) would do to you…until it finds you.


Then you know…


So, being among a small group of folks here, who had accomplished this monumental achievement, I began searching for the MEANING in “The Meaning of Life…”


And to date, if I’m being truthful, I’ve been somewhat disappointed and disillusioned about what I felt my expectations should be after such a long, grueling campaign that I’ve fought  – along with the expectations that I expected from others to have for me…to be able to truly understand and recognize that this kind of stuff just does not happen all the time.    


And I’ll tell you why…


Perhaps, the biggest enlightenment for me was why I wasn’t feeling as happy as I felt I should be feeling after walking away from the biggest challenge that any of us can ever face – overcoming cancer. 


And not just once mind you….three times now…


I wrote a big chapter in the book about where I was then and what I was feeling.  That feeling was important then, but I have since drawn some conclusions from my own story and have come up with this hypothesis. 


I expected my life to get easier I suppose...


Or, maybe the real truth is that I wanted my life to be made easier for me…


After all that I have endured and suffered through (and that of my wife) with cancer, I suppose the plain and ugly truth is that I expected this sense of ENTITLEMENT to be bestowed upon us.


Somehow, I felt strongly and convinced myself that I was owed this – after all of those years of serving in the Cancer Army and fighting on the Cancer Battlegrounds of my Mind, Soul and physical Body.


It would only be right…


Sadly, it doesn’t work that way at all…the reality is it never will…no matter how many battles we fight…and no matter how many years we’re in the fight…


What I’ve personally found as I approach my 9th year out of diagnosis this June is this…


Cancer changes us from the inside out – this is where its biggest impact can be measured – if we’re predisposed to that way of thinking – and open minded to the changes we now see in ourselves.  


See, WE change with cancer – but, the world doesn’t change with us – and then it tries its damnest to drag us back to being the people we used to be – but can no longer be anymore.   


And that’s because the Scar of Cancer has redefined the definition of who we are and we find that as we move forward with our thinking and our feelings after this life change, that we simply can’t go back….and in a strange twist, we really don’t want to go back. 


So, the mental aspect of our being changes and the door that corralled our feelings and thoughts have now been set free and we are more empathetic and more open to trying and help our fellow man.  We tend to look beyond that selfish aspect of our natures and instead, we reach out and try to be of something to another. 


These are all altruistic and virtuous thoughts…and if cancer has done its job properly, that the way that we all should be feeling and thinking.   


It’s one of the good side effects from cancer…. 


And then of course, there are those of us fortunate to return to our jobs or careers and take up residence within Society’s Borders once more.  This is the fork in the road where our paths can differ and vary, because this component involves the individual as an individual and not as part of the greater whole. 


What some see as an oasis – others see as an illusion… 


And that’s because everyone’s “Meaning” means different things to different folks…and it’s all predicated on your life experience and what you either have – or don’t have in your life. 


For example, most of you are living for your children…and your children’s children….and perhaps your children’s children’s children….that was the title of a Moody Blue’s album in the 70’s:)


So, that perspective, if it applies to you, gives you all kinds of ‘Meaning” in the definition of what life means to you.


But, what about those who don’t have that specific definition of ‘Meaning’ in which to draw from? Where do people like myself look for meaning in their life when they find that their life is so empty and lacks any real purpose?


And that’s exactly where I’ve been now the past couple of years…trying to sift through all of this rubble of my existence, while searching for my own personal definition of meaning – and trying to put meaning back into a life that only now am I beginning to discover, understand and finally come to terms with. 


And what I am discovering is this…


“I” have to be the one that puts the meaning back in my life…and here’s how I’m doing it…


I’m going to REPURPOSE my life and take all of the changes that have happened to me over the course of my lifetime (with and without cancer) and try and make my life have as much meaning as I can give it on any given day…


I know the answer can only come from me…and it has taken me the last couple of years to finally put that thought process into the proper perspective and I share that with you today.   


Now, here’s the stories of how Repurposing Our Lives in and around the cancer world has helped shape this new perspective for me and is also providing the framework with how I’ll try and live out the remainder of what my days might be. 


So, my thoughts of “Is This It?” is where we left off in the earlier paragraph…and the question on where is the ‘meaning’ in the meaning of Life was the next chapter we were about to explore…


Eight months ago, my dad passed away and we were tasked with handling all of the estate business and particularly clearing out and disposing of 82-years worth of a hoarder’s mentality. 


I was bitter…I was angry…I was resentful…I just didn’t want to face this aspect of the process…the clean out.  For one thing, it was just massive and disgusting…and the other underlying reason was that it also represented a message he was trying to send me…”You’ll have to work for it.”


And work we did…


As I began to sort through the debris and rubble of the legacy that he left me, all I could see was JUNK…plain and simple…I just saw RED over and over again…day after day.  He had never let us help him in the past and he kept everything he ever owned…and I mean everything…


As I finally confronted one of the demons that I had been running from my whole life, I began to dig into the piles….swiftly sorting through the melee to separate the items from sale, trash or something that could be salvaged and repurposed by The Pickers.    


And that’s where it started to dawn on me with what I was doing …I started to see what some of The Meaning of Life really comes down to after all of these lost years searching for it myself. 


It comes down to the “Repurposing” of your own life, as well as somebody else’s if you can reach out to them….and reach them in time to make a difference.  


Or, it could even be something that seems insignificant to us at the moment, such as a material item headed for the trash that can be salvaged from the ruins and given a new lease on life to the next person, who would have the benefit of its use. 


Paul Simon said it best…”One Man’s Ceiling – Is Another Man’s Floor.” 


We’ve become a disposable society…we throw away lives and materials the second they don’t meet our perceived needs or expectations.  There is not much effort put in anymore with regards to repairing or rebuilding anything, especially people.  Just too much work, but good luck, right?   


But, a human life is still a terrible thing to waste…with or without cancer…and we cannot afford to toss that out so casually to the trash bin…because every soul has a purpose…and if that purpose changes with our life events, then we must find the reason to Repurpose ourselves along with our family and friends too, should the need ever arise. 


For locked up deep inside each person, is a living spirit trying to call out for help.  And the saddest thing of all is when nobody hears that cry…or deems it necessary to take that extra step to renew one’s life and try and make it whole once more. 


This is where Cancer should have our attention…


Because, it becomes this uniting factor that brings some of us very close together…the spirit of community…and fighting for a common cause bonds people closely like no other life affirming event could ever do. 


It finally releases the inhibitions that hold us back in the normal day-to-day society of climbing over the other guy’s back to get to where it is that we think we need to get to. 


And Cancer gives us the inside track to this invaluable piece of information that has not been afforded to the rest of the general population.  And that’s one of the main things that makes each one of us so very special to one another here – and for the other folks who come into contact with us. 


This part of the story reminds me of American Pickers on the History Channel.  Frank and Mike travel the back roads of America looking for salvaged treasure…and then repurposing and extending its life to be useful instead of the scrap it is when they find it. 


We laid out pile after pile of stuff for people to come and take for free…we thought nobody would want it and that we’d be lucky if the trash pick-up would haul it away each week. 


But, this is America…and if you want it gone…just set it out by the street…believe me, it won’t last long if it’s any good at all.  We had guys running morning and evening shifts while we worked there.  They even passed out business cards so that we could let them know when to come by and look.   


For six-months, we sat stuff out by the curb, day and night…and it all walked away…some of it was recycled and sold for scrap…other folks took the items with the idea of Repurposing and bringing to life to an item that had just been discarded. 


We repurposed dad’s religious books by making a donation in his name to his church….we repurposed the chemicals by taking them to the Recycling facility to either be used or repurposed in an environmentally safe surrounding. 


And the possessions he had were sold and repurposed for others to benefit and use, so that they would receive new life from folks who needed it. 


And I repurposed those proceeds made from the sale…yep, I did….I gave it all to the plumbing company who clipped me out of all of it….six months of hard work gone in less than 3-days…it fixed a problem that shouldn’t have happened.


But, through it all, one day a family will have a brand new water heater, new valves and a system up to code, because I repurposed those materials to once again make them viable. 


Let’s talk about another story of Repurpose… 


Cancer itself Repurposed me...


 It knocked down the last bastion of resistance I inwardly held...it laid bare my physical body to a host of prodding strangers over the years…but, the deepest cut came from cancer etching its indelible outline into the very depths of my being…


And by doing so…it shattered all of the preconceived notions that I had so tightly held onto for so much of my adult life.  


It turned out to be a good thing for me…it hit me where previous 2 x 4’s failed to dent that thick skull of mine. 


Cancer is a great teacher…


What I think it teaches us is that cancer is a part of our life experience…  


Much like a hot iron in the fire, it shapes our perspectives and it molds us into wanting to become something else – for someone else.  Because, in all honesty, when you look outside and past yourself and see others with the same thing…well, then it can’t do anything else but change the way you look at things.


We just need to learn to repurpose ourselves through the helping and support of others…through this medium, is where some of the real healing occurs…even in the face of the worst case scenario.


There is something about extending yourself to others in your own time of despair and need that rejuvenates and repurposes you and gives that cloudy day a ray of light, which can then turn into Hope.


But, in the middle of any fight, one doesn’t have the time to reflect until you reach a resting point, where you can reflect back on all that has happened to you.  When all energies are directed towards the Fight or Flight Syndrome, not much growth occurs during that phase.


I think it’s always important to keep in mind that the issue has been and always will be…not that people will get cancer in their lifetime…because someone always will. 


The issue will always be how we MANAGE our cancer experience and how can we look beyond that selfish part of our natures to see that this is not a discriminatory act by any means. 


It’s any of us – on any given day…and that’s the damnation of it all for me.


So, once we have cancer or are adversely affected by it, we have to figure out how to look at it – by looking straight through it.  While our own cancer stories may seem like the most important ones – they are really not. (I’m guilty there as well). 


What I mean by that is that we see clearly that this is not an individual disease – and that we have become a sum of all the other moving parts. 


What I’m saying is we see that this is part of a greater whole than the individual themselves.  We become actors in the same Life play. 


Like most of you have already discovered, cancer turns our attention towards seeing any of the good beyond all of the bad…


That’s a part of Repurposing…


Which leads directly to the next paragraph…


YOU repurposed me…and the Board repurposed me too. 


“How did we do that?”


Well, I’m gonna’ tell you how…and it goes a little something like this…


The cancer board and the unique spirits that have roamed these hallowed halls that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during my time here are to blame for this…


Because, you repurposed me…by giving me Purpose. 


That’s no small feat I can assure you…all of you past and present give yourselves a big round of applause for your humanity and kindness and tolerance. 


Do we ever wonder why I was put on the shelf and never wrote a word for 25-years after my college professor dismissed my writing back in ’82?


I was so hurt badly by that at the time, that I just stopped writing cold turkey…just like a light switch.    


And then Cancer came into my life…and by so rudely interrupting me, he awakened that part of the slumbering lion and filled him with a terrible resolve. 


But, Cancer did not repurpose me overnight.  Many of you are unaware that for the first 5-years of my cancer journey that I walked alone…


I never knew about support boards and didn’t want to know…


During that interim, my head filled up with thoughts and feelings all of those years…and I harbored all of that and held onto it, while I searched for an outlet in which to release them. 


One day, when I was researching lung operations, I stumbled upon the CSN site…and when I did, I opened Pandora’s Box…what I saw was a loving community, where many were in the early walks of their cancer journeys…


And at the then 5-year mark with all of the experiences I had, I was exuberant and excited to join the group. I wanted to be here…and was never sorry to be here…and I’m still not. 


I saw all of the questions being asked on the board and said to myself, “I already know the answers, even before you’ve taken the quiz.”




I’ve been further repurposed through all of the friendships I’ve developed here…I’ve been repurposed by my newfound friends helping me to redefine what my idea of friendship truly means…and what it truly means to be a friend – both in giving and receiving.


That’s been an important distinction for me….


I started to think about this a lot.  I was going back down the “Roll-Call” of names of the people who have touched and influenced my life….a very long and distinguishable list indeed.


And it occurred to me that most of my relationships over the years here were with the cancer patients themselves…though I will call them my friends.   


When they died…the relationship died…


But, they only died in the physical sense to me…their memories, their laughter, their tears, their thoughts, and their feelings are all archived and warehoused in the synapses of my brain – while their spirit resides in my soul – and the essence of who they were still live on inside of my heart.


I’m not really sure if I did for them, what they did for me…but, they all played a role in helping to Repurpose me – with purpose. 


And I feel the same way about those that are talking with me today…


Now, let’s switch gears and talk about Repurposing from the Caregiver perspective…


This topic has been a newfound revelation for me…and one that I was afraid to talk about, but now feel comfortable enough to bring this subject out of the darkness and into the light – at least for me.


As I was saying a couple of paragraphs up, most of my relationships that ended were with my friends who had the physical cancer; although I talked to many caregivers along the way and your perspectives have helped forge my thought process.


First, you know I love you…


You’re the best of the best – and to Hell with the rest…


What finally happened to me this year was a convergence of many events at just the right time that created the optimal conditions for The Perfect Storm…


My PMs have now all dried up…all my ‘patients’ are gone now…where once there was a bustle of activity and sharing…the well runs mostly dry now, except for a few dear friends, whose relationships endure.  It’s a stark change from the way things used to be…but these are different times now…and one has to evolve and take this phase as another mile marker on cancer’s long road. 


I harbored doubt that perhaps my work up here was finally done…and that this might serve as my Swan Song...


All of last year, I was in my own personal Purgatory living my dad’s life, I saw my life evaporate away completely…all my time, most of my thoughts and energies were directed at handling his business.


And what Cancer could not break…my dad, even in death…nearly did…you almost lost me…but I just never really said too much…I mean it was close…I had a mini-breakdown in one of the latter stages. 


My parents were my Kryptonite…


Now, during that time, two of my friends were experiencing their own life crisis…and they reached out to me for friendship in their time of need.  My door had always been open…and my arms were always ready to hug you too…


But, I found myself on the ropes, much like Mohammed Ali, doing his infamous “Rope-A-Dope.”


I got scared…really scared…because one day I opened up an email and was reaching down inside myself to pull one of my many magic tricks out of my medicine bag…and there was nothing there…


My own words had finally failed me…


I fretted…I fussed…and I frantically searched for a coherent thought or feeling that would help the other party…but I was feeling so despondent, I felt like I was emotionally bankrupt…I dipped the bucket into the water and came up mostly dry.   


You know what I mean?


And what came over me was this overwhelming sensation of just wanting to run away from all of the responsibility and the pain – and to pretend that none of this was happening.  


And then I felt the pangs of Guilt at the way I was thinking…which was no more than acting out as my own house of cards began to crumble and I was trying to support myself…to support another.


It was just timing…if my own personal life had been stable…then I would have handled this with all of the aplomb that I normally would… but dad had weighted me down to the point where I could no longer carry my own weight, much less another’s. 


I found myself drowning and I could barely buoy myself, much less toss someone else the life preserver…but, still I tried to….


The situation was that one of my friends had her hands full with a very sick husband and a sick daughter…and my other friend had her husband dying from cancer…and I knew it was coming, but just didn’t know what to say. 


As the days drew closer, I was afraid of what to do – what to say – how to act – and how to be to them. 


What was happening to me?


Quite simply, I found myself walking on one of the roads of cancer that I was unfamiliar with…this was a first for me. 


See, the brain works in very funny ways…it really is only as good as the data or experience in…and vice versa…it is programmed through our experiences and learned knowledge.  So, my brain was frantically searching for the How to Be a Friend to A Caregiver file…and I couldn’t find it.


It didn’t exist….I was going to have to create this file from scratch. 


At that point, it dawned on me what was really occurring…


In these instances, I found myself in the relationship WITH the Caregiver…


With my friend, whose husband was dying, I realized that this would be a case where after the person passed away…the Caregiver would still be there. 


And I panicked…


How was I going to be their friend now?  What could I possibly say now that would make any difference at all?  What possible value could I be to them now, after the fact?


This was a very heavy feeling and I thought of what a big responsibility it is to be a person of good counsel to another.  It is a responsibility that I hold to the highest of sacred codes, but I realized the enormous impact that we each can have upon one another.


But, I maintain, that it is a feeling worth fighting for…and it’s a feeling worth being a friend for.


I turned to Dr. Stanley in my own hour of need…as I had done a couple of other times in my life where I needed more than what I had. 


As always; his message seemed to be written just for me.  And what he told me that evening was that being a person that people look to is one of the highest callings that we can give to one another.


And he told me that sometimes, we just need to LISTEN…and not necessarily solve all the problems that cannot be possibly be solved…especially on such short notice.  And that you just need to be there to listen to somebody and have them express their feelings to you within the safe confines of your relationship. 


I’ve always held the belief that when people turn to you for counsel, that there is nothing greater in this world.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as that. 


So, what I’m saying is that through you, that you once again repurposed me by showing me what it takes to be a friend in good times – and in bad.  It has been a very important lesson in my own life. 


And I also discovered that the relationship between the two of you, largely stays the same…after all, they were the same person before – why would they be vastly different from the core being they have always been?


I was just scared of the Aftermath, is what it really boiled down to there.  I was so scared I could no longer say the right thing to help them along.  I thought they would see me differently now.  I guess, I thought they may no longer have any use for me. 


I would like to credit this part of my life story to Cynthia in NH…and “Mama” Wolfen in AZ…through these ladies, they taught me how to be a friend, even in crisis…and their unwavering friendship helped me work through a difficult time in my life where I wondered what it took to be a friend in return. 


I guess to understand me…you have to get to know me…which is what I’ve tried to do here…as I try and tie the subjects of Life and Cancer together…for I feel they are so interchangeable in many ways. 


Maybe, you wonder why I do the things that I do…let me sum that up for you in the following paragraph…


Concerning the subject of Repurposing Friendship, I’m reminded of an exchange from one of my favorite movies – Tombstone circa 1993.  (I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration and good thoughts from that movie).


In the scene, the guys are resting after a big shootout.  Val Kilmer (Doc) begins to cough violently as he was dying of TB and should have been in bed resting.  


Turkey Creek Jack Johnson turns to him and says, “Doc, why are you doing this?”


To which Doc replied, “Wyatt Earp is my friend.” 


Turkey Jack quipped back, “Hell, I’ve got lots of friends.”


And Doc wistfully replied back, “I don’t...”


Therein, lies the answer to why I do the things I do for the people I care about…you are my friends.


Let’s take the time to talk about Repurposing from a softer side in this section…


Let me tell you about the new woman in my life now…:)


I met her 7-months ago at a family funeral…


I’m talking about Little Miss Sunshine…my nephew and niece’s daughter…whom I just met back in July of last year. 


Let me just categorically state upfront that my goal was not to love her…and not to get to know her either…and my reasoning was quite logical at the time.




Well, I was coming out of my third cancer fight and barely on my feet and back to work…and of course, very uncertain after 3 cancers, on what my prognosis was going to be.


I reasoned I’d be dead long before she would ever get to know me…she was so young (3) that she might not even remember me.  These are the thoughts I used to help convince myself to not become involved.


In essence, what I was really doing was hardening my heart to the point where I thought I would not feel any connection or emotion at all – with her – or for her.  And by not knowing her, I would have no feeling – and therefore, I couldn’t get hurt…and I would carry no guilt around with me either for not being involved.  


Now, that’s just the truth of the matter, plain and simple…


The things that Cancer does to us sometimes….Cry


I find that it is human nature to want to construct one of those protective barriers that we mentally erect to protect our own emotions from the irrational fears that each one of us harbors to a certain degree…only the subject matter seems to vary.   


I think in a lot of ways we do it, because we are just plain frightened about our futures…and we no longer wish to hope anymore – for the pain of disappointment is too great. 


I puff and bluff like that a lot…but behind the façade, I’m actually vulnerable and just as uncertain about the next day or the next scan as all of you are. 


I just dismiss it by putting on my “bad-***” attitude and pretending I’m not affected…but that is just misdirection…because I am affected…I am concerned…I am apprehensive…and sometimes when I look too far off, I get scared…scared of what I might miss…


Well, I met LMS and instantly I was smitten…just as soon as I gazed into those beautiful, inquisitive eyes of hers…why, she melted this Ol’ Grinch’s heart. 


She’s got a mild case of cerebral palsy…one of her arms is being re-trained…and she spends time having to wear leg braces to re-train her feet to walk properly.


But, I never saw any of that…she is such a delight…with such a great spirit and attitude…and her eyes just have this wanderlust for life.  I’m absolute enthralled and mesmerized by this child.  She lights up the room – and then lights you up.


She reminds me of Me…when I was her age…


And the ever-present thought that is on my mind is that we must preserve that child-like wonderment and not let the world slap that beautiful smile off her face…like the world did to me.


If I have anything to say about it, I’m not going to let that happen to her…for once, I want to see a bird fly and soar to new heights, without a broken wing…


LMS has helped to Repurpose me…


I’m going to give you two great stories to illustrate why she has broken through the door to this ‘hard’ Texas heart of mine…


A couple of days before we had to head home from the funeral trip, we were outside in my nephew’s yard riding his ATV’s…he had a small one for the girls…and a 3-wheeler for them.  We had already ridden around a little, but I was having such a good time, that I backed the bike out of the garage again and fired it back up….vrooom! 


Here comes LMS…”Uncle Craig, Uncle Craig…”


Oh my, I had waited four days to hear those words…such a beautiful sound it was to hear…one of the moments that we fight our cancer fight so hard for. 


She ran up to me and threw her arms up in the air and wanted to go for another ride. 


And this is where Repurpose got really strange…


It was right there at that very moment, when I experienced a feeling that I’ve never felt before…yeah I know, the Feelings Guy experiencing a feeling that he didn’t understand:)


Had I been Stone Cold Drunk, it was the type of feeling that would have made you Stand-Up Sober, you know what I mean?


What was this?  Why am I feeling all of this newfound emotion coursing through my veins?  WTF?


And what it was, was this sudden feeling of Responsibility of caring for a child….of being physically responsible for another life besides my own…this was some heavily Enlightenment…and yet, it felt wondrous and joyous at the same time.


It was this sort of feeling that you would take a bullet or get run over by Phil’s mythical bus in order to protect this child from harm’s way.  I was blown away.  It hit me suddenly, just like a lightning bolt without the thunder. 


WFT indeed!


I reached over and down to pick up her little body and plopped her down on the seat…scar tissue on my right side pulling and hurting like a rubber band about to snap…and hernias be damned…


Instinctively, I reached down and wrapped one hand around her tiny little frame to support her…and I started to take her right hand…and she said, “Let me do it…” LOL! 


And she wrapped her hand around the gas fill cap and I slowly pulled away…slow and cautiously at first…just talking to her…and she was nodding her head and babbling up a storm…she just amuses herself, which just amuses me no end.  She is so cute and adorable.   


And then we pulled out onto the road and I begin to move us through the gears…and we picked up enough speed to make it fun for her, but not too scary for me.  If anything had happened to that little girl, I would have killed myself…I would not have been able to live with it.


We stopped at the end of the road and talked a minute and then headed back home…


The point I’m about to make now is a pretty big one…and in my whole time on the board here, it was about something that you had – that I thought I could never have, much less understand.  It was the Intrinsic Values that you possessed and treasured that I found was just out of my reach…


So many of you have such wonderful close nuclear families as well as umbrella support from other family members….and that’s such a wonderful thing and a big advantage in your life, as well as your cancer fight…


I’m just going to be truthful with you now and tell you that there was a part of me that was always a little envious of you and what you had in your life with close relationships. 


There I said it…


I don’t mean that in any kind of a bad way…because you see, there was that part of me that was so happy for you all…you helped Repurpose the thought in me that loving situations do exist – and that they aren’t all like the ones I was forced to grow up with – or should I say…grow up - without. 


But, as I’ve had time to think about it now and put it into its proper context and actually getting the opportunity to drink from the same well as you do, I discovered this…


It really wasn’t Envy after all….you know what it was?




Yearning, by its very definition is nothing more than “Intense Longing…”


I suppose, in retrospect, what it really did to me was make me face and come to terms with how much of a disappointment my life had become and how hollow and empty it  really was, despite any of the fancy window coverings I tried to throw over it to cover up my deficiencies. 


So, from that ATV ride, I finally got an inkling of the understanding of what you guys have been saying all along…I felt that sense of parenthood for a brief moment…


I looked down at that little girl and felt a sudden sense of pride in my chest…I saw her as my own little girl…or what a little girl of my own could have been….and probably should have been…and it tore me up. 


I can never have it…but at least I got a taste of what it must feel like for you all…I get it now…I understand what a powerful exchange that can be now, thanks to you. 


The other part of the LMS Repurposing of Craig came in that infamous garage I spent so much time in during my visit…so many real and wonderful feelings went down there during that week…I turned it into a healing center for me, my nephew and his soon to be wife, my new niece.   


Anyway, LMS, my nephew and me, were hanging out in the garage and he was trying to get her little ATV to run and it wouldn’t start. 


I stood back to give them space and to give myself a better vantage point to watch this upcoming miracle unfold before my very eyes….


Here’s how it went down…


My nephew was on one side of the bike and LMS on the other side…he handed her a screwdriver (she’s 3 yo) and took her hand and placed the screwdriver into the nut that needed to be turned. 


And then he let her hand go…


And I stood there, watching in amazement, as her tiny little fingers wrapped around the screwdriver and her tiny little hands began to turn it and tighten it.


It was a magical moment…and I felt like some kind of voyeur staring through the looking glass into a life that I would never know – at least, not in the way that my nephew will come to understand what transpired that day. 


Of course, the ATV wouldn’t start…and LMS just shrugged and laughed and her attitude was we’ll get ‘em next time. 


I experienced this Repurposing of myself as the uncle to my nephew…and the great uncle to my great niece….and it was wonderful to step back out of the limelight and watch what seemed like a routine event…but it was much more than that…at least from the way I saw it. 


I pulled my nephew aside and told him…”You’re gonna’ look back one of these days and appreciate the exchange you had between the two of you – as Father and Daughter.”


I told him I could never have it that way with the life mistakes I made and that he needed to hold onto this moment for as long as possible, because she will grow up so fast and it will only be a memory.


I think he’s still young to get it just yet – the dynamics that happened that day may take awhile for him to full absorb and realize what he has…I told him he was a very lucky man to have a loving woman and loving family. 


He’s blessed…you all are…and thank you all for helping me to overcome…and finally come to an understanding on what has been one of the most difficult obstacles and disappointments with my own life.


That is an excellent example of Repurpose…and how it can work for us. 


Here’s another story of Repurpose – both in the physical and emotional sense. 


Back in 2000, I was finally able to build a storage building.  Less than six-months later, an F-3 tornado stopped by our neighborhood for a little visit – and in the process of its introduction, he took along 100 other houses with him when he left.


One of my neighbors told me they saw the tornado take my barn away…they said it looked just like The Wizard of Oz….the house lifted up about ten feet and then splintered into pieces…and poof it was gone, just like that.   


I subsequently had the barn rebuilt and we added a 5 x 14 covered porch this time to give us another nice sitting area out in the yard away from the house.  And for the next four years before my cancer diagnosis, my wife and I and Sundance enjoyed many wonderful days and nights out there being outdoors and connected to as much nature as your backyard will give you in the city. 


(There is a picture of my barn with Sundance laying out on the porch in my expressions)…


Still, it was just a storage barn, full of lawn equipment and a gas grill etc. etc….we enjoyed the outside, but could never really enjoy the inside of it. 


It’s tall inside with double half lofts…it stands about 12’ tall inside and is really a lovely space.  Two cabinets and two counters were salvageable and so I repurposed those to the barn as a little work surface. 


My favorite time was the annual clean-out of the barn.  We pulled everything out and cleaned and swept…and with the equipment gone, it was really a wonderful sized room…11 x 14.  I would just enjoy walking around that open space and having the doors swung open and the windows open, so we could let nature bathe our souls.   


It just felt so free and liberating…


It always harkened me back to a time in my life, circa 1969, where as young boys, we would go down to the creeks and build make-shift forts and tree houses. 


There was just this independent feeling that we were breaking free from our parent’s grips…in those days, you took off on your bike and nobody saw you until dusk.  There were no cell phones either and parents were not taxi drivers and entertainment directors for their kids in those days.


Still, we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  I feel sorry for the generations growing up in such an insecure world now…they really missed out on the freedom of being a kid in the 60’s. 


So, I think I always held onto those feelings and wanted something like that when I grew up to be an Adult Child:)  I think most men do…


I always wanted to do something with this building, but the “storage” just kept getting in the way, except for that one day a year. 


And then Cancer retired me from the lawn work.  I found I could no longer keep up the pace in the brutal Texas Summer months here any longer. 


As a result, the barn died and merely became a husk of a shell – just a remnant from another time gone by, in a land far away removed by cancer. 


It was a couple of years before I walked back into it.  It was a mess with stuff piled all up and around to where you couldn’t walk in without tripping and stumbling over stuff.


My opportunity came when we were doing my dad’s estate sale…I saw an opportunity to unload an old useless lifestyle…and try and find a new life by Repurposing my barn into a new Life Space. 


So, I took all of my lawn equipment and a nice gas grill (I use a simple charcoal again) and had the guy sell it all, so I could finally free up this new land of opportunity. 


Right now, I’m back to using it “Hillbilly Style.”


I’m dragging power off the back porch via two extension cords and hauling it 75’ down to where the building sits.  I’ve got it designed for ½ of it as a workout area for exercise…and the other ½ is going to be a free living space…I’ve got grand designs on that that has been keeping me excited and entertained.


It’s even more primitive than even Maggie May’s cabin up in Owens Sound…LOL, Maggie:)


I dragged a portable tv down there for the Super Bowl…threw open the barn doors…opened the windows to let the nature in…and had the time of my life, if only for a brief moment.  A respite in the face of the storms I’ve been weathering the last few years. 


And it was such freedom once again…it’s a place where you can just life come to you – at your own pace.  Harley loves it!  He thinks it’s his place now too.  Anytime I get the keys out, his eyes and ears perk up and he stumbles over himself to get to the door – he is so excited.


Just the other day, I was just sitting out on the porch…and looked around…and there was Harley sitting beside me, all calm and enjoying himself…we’re starting to bond now…the first 2 years I was so sick, he did not know who I was.


And now, we are forging a bond and starting to accumulate some memories together…in a strange way, Harley is helping to Repurpose the memory of Sundance, his dearly departed brother…who loved to spend time with his papa in the great outdoors.


The inside of the structure is unfinished, of course…it was originally designed for storage…but we could put some insulation and boarding up and make the thing a finished out room. 


Long range plan will be to see if we can put permanent power down there…and that will make the space useful even in the intense Texas heat…the guy who built it, said we could install a small window a/c unit flush mounted in the wall. 


It all finally dawned on me that I really have an extra 11 x 14 room now with a 5 x 14 covered front porch…I have a new Life Space…a new destination…and the best news is that it was paid for years ago…


Here’s what the concept of my barn does for me…


It evokes that childhood image that I alluded to above of having ‘an away place’ that is different than your main living quarters.  What it really does as act as that ‘lake house’ or that trailer that you have setup on another piece of property that you might own.


It acts as that “Weekend Getaway” place in your mind…   


Only, it’s only 75-feet away from me….but, what is of greater significance is that it is a million miles away from everything else in my mind…and freedom, peace and tranquility reside down there.    


And while all of that is nice…I’d like to drill down a little bit deeper than that and tell you what the real significance of repurposing that barn is. 


Right from the get-go when I first got cancer, I always said that Cancer is about “Concession, Concession, and Concession.”


Our duties then, are to take back as much from Cancer as we can possibly do.  That puts that sense of ‘normalcy’ back in our lives…or the Illusion of Control that I often refer to, which is equally as powerful.  


It is important…but it’s not always the easiest thing to do, just because someone tells us that we should be doing it. And the truth is that I find it much harder now, mentally and physically, as I approach my 9th year than it obviously was in Year One.


It just doesn’t really get any easier…


The fancy window dressing on the main page of our CSN home tells us…


“Living Life to the Fullest – Each and Every Day.” 


But, that’s a marketing campaign and the literature all sounds so reassuring and comforting, doesn’t it? It’s a feel good moment that we can wrap ourselves up in like a warm blanket on a chilly day. 


But, if it were that easy, we’d all be doing it…


But, we’re not all doing it, are we? 


At the nearly nine-year mark, I can tell you that I’m not…not currently.


However, I’m trying really hard to get back to something close…I’m trying to find some kind of semblance of part-time living, which would suit me fine right about now, especially after I shed Dad’s skin. 


My 3rd cancer really knocked me for a loop in many ways…I think in many ways that I haven’t even fully realized that…even as I sit here writing my thoughts out to you today. 


About two years ago, with treatment in its final stages, I found myself sitting alone in a Wal-Mart parking lot…a very lonely, weary and nearly beaten man and a 3x cancer fighter…and survivor.  I barely had enough money for the 2-mile round trip as I was living on 60% STD at that time.


But, I needed so badly to ‘get outside’ of the house and break free from the constraints of not only my physical prison cell…but, also the holding cell that was imprisoning my mind and spirit. 


I needed to find some kind of road back to society…I needed some connection to the life that I was fighting so hard to save. 


Cancer is such an isolating disease from all aspects of the human perspective…it can crush you mentally or emotionally, and we know it can break us physically. 


During those nearly 9-years, I have spent very little time outside with nature, as I did in my pre-cancer life.  I was at the hospital for treatments and appointments…most of the time I was in bed…and on very short stints; I would be on the couch. 


Going to the grocery store was a big outing or running an errand.  This last fight was so rough for me that I was too sick and weak to be out much.  That much is absolutely certain.   


But, that wasn’t really the problem as I discovered from my own self-examination of this issue that has perplexed me for so long now.  And it took me until this past Super Bowl weekend to have that point hammered home.  


For some reason, Cancer messed real bad with my head…and what it did to me This Time, was to paralyze my thoughts and my actions from the neck down.


My brain was all over the map, but I couldn’t decipher those messages and transfer that data to the rest of my body to help me re-engage in the way that I wanted to…the way that I needed to.   


I was hung up in between the Two Worlds…I was hung out to dry between the worlds of the Living - and the Living Dead…


What had happened to me was that Cancer had broken the physical me.  And to add insult to injury, it now had a hold of the Real Me…the one you are talking too right now.  Cancer was threatening to extinguish my candle. 


Since he couldn’t snuff out my physical life, he changed his strategy and began employing his henchmen to break me where I am at my strongest – and that’s in my mind. 


After all, the Body goes where the Mind wills it…


And what I was struggling with…and still am to a large degree comes down to this…I’ve had a very hard time “Living In the Moment…”


I’ve been in the fight mode of Cancer and Life for so long now, that my engine is still revving…at times, I feel like I’ve nearly red-lined.


Whereas before, in my past life, I used to let Life come to me at a more natural pace, I now found myself spinning my wheels like a hamster does on an exercise wheel. I pedaled ever faster searching in vain for directions to find the Road Back to where I had come from.   


But, where was it? 


The scenery had changed…I could identify some of the landmarks, but my internal compass was pointing in the wrong direction. 


I was going through the Motions of Life, but it lacked meaning…it lacked substance…and it was joyless and unfulfilling. And this, despite the success that I have achieved.   


I found myself existing in a vicious cycle of what I like to refer to as The Living Depression.


Which by my definition is that things may look normal on the outward surface, and there are no clear indications that anything is amiss in the universe….


However, bubbling just below the surface are fragments of Discontenment and Restlessness that I have just been unable to shake since I wrapped up my 3rd fight.


I’m finally ready to start trying to live again and put the meaning back into my life…and perhaps this post will serve to help those who find themselves “Running in Place” at a similar fork in the road in their own lives - where they find themselves struggling too and trying to comprehend what has changed and why they also don’t feel the way they tell us to feel in the brochures that they pass around in the hospital and clinic waiting rooms. 


Let me absolutely assure you that there is nothing wrong with you…you’ve been hurt…and it takes a lot of time to heal…and the inner wounds always take more time to heal than the outer wounds.  And sometimes they can just scab over and never truly heal.   It just depends on how the deep the emotional cut was.   


And so, the barn and my backyard cohabitate with one another in harmony and form a truly symbiotic relationship – as they both intertwine and complement one another.  Some of our happiest times have come down on the porch at that barn and the surrounding yard. 


Saturday nights, we’d clean our patios up…and light up the Tiki torches…some nights watch tv…and other nights we would just sit in silence…under the stars with the Moon as our beacon, lighting our way through the evening hours.


We’d lay in our course on those evenings, just like Peter Pan did…”2nd Star to the Right – and Straight On ‘Till Morning…”


I’d break out the charcoal grill and we’d cook out.  Sundance was all smiles those nights and so happy to be spending time with his family and life in its most simplistic form was good. 


And now Harley is stepping in to take his place…


Since the first three years of this beautiful Golden’s life has been squandered, I get this unique sense that he finally sees a new life coming for him now.  I can see the wheels turning inside his head of this new vision of family life, that he too is now eager to embrace. 


And as my new family, I now want to find that feeling once more.  I’ve already seen the movie trailer of what it is supposed to look like, while the Super Bowl played out that late Sunday afternoon into early evening. 


I see the chance again….


So, the Repurposing of a materialistic barn is just symbolism of a concept that for me, has evolved into an ideology and a lifestyle that it conveys, which in turn, will help to Repurpose me.  It has given me a new project…given me a little hope…and stirred my creative juices. 


In some small way, it’s made me possibly see another side of life again – if I can stay out of Cancer’s long reaching grasp.  It’s been hard for me to Dare to Hope anymore – because Life has dealt me so many challenges that I was unprepared to handle.   


Lots of times in my life it’s been hard to distinguish between Hope and False Hope…


Childhood abuse: Physical, Mental and Emotional

My sister’s murder.

Witnessing subsequent execution of murder in the Texas Death Chamber 13-years later

My uncle’s suicide.

An F-3 tornado

3x Cancer


My story is more than Cancer, but Cancer was the final turning point for me.  I now feel that I’ve paid my dues…and I came through all of it and I did not let any of those things break me. I’m 51-years old and I hate to sound selfish, but I think it’s time for a little something ‘for me’ now.  


I’ve tried to use my story and personal examples to illustrate how some of us can overcome Life challenges as well as the Cancer challenges that we face.  I want us to see that we can still endure through all that Life throws at us. 


And that we can persevere and not have our spirits stamped out….And that we can still have enough love left in our hearts to think about and care for their fellow man – and to Pay It Forward with any opportunity that we can.  


And I think that’s going to be the best example of Repurpose that I can come up with.  My whole life has been repurposed, or I never would have made it this far. 


It is very easy to turn hard and bitter in this life…and for a couple of decades there, I was…


Until Cancer reminded me that I don’t want to feel like that anymore.  I want to be remembered as something more than a statistic…I want to leave some kind of a Human Footprint to show that I was here…and I want my legacy (if any) to be that of  the Human Legacy – That WE Can Adapt and Overcome.        


The final jigsaw piece of this puzzle happened on a recent weekend morning…


I got up early that morning about 8am…and the house was quiet…and my wife and Harley were having some down time and were still lounging in.  So, I slipped off to find some down time for myself finally.


Over the holiday season, I had stumbled onto the movie “Groundhog Day” that I found in one of those bargain bins you see sometimes…just piles and piles of DVDs in there…and I came across this one.


It’s always been a movie I enjoyed…but as I sat down to watch it, I went into it for the entertainment value, but always me, looking for the cancer angle, I experienced a new perspective this time that I wasn’t even expecting to discover.  


The premise of the movie, for those who might have never seen it, was that Bill Murray, as a TV reporter was sent to Pennsylvania to cover Groundhog Day to see if Phil would see his shadow or tell them six more weeks of Winter.  


Unbeknownst to him, for whatever reason that Fate deemed necessary, he found that he ended up living the same day over and over again…


And that’s where the significance was for me…


It was a profound moment…I wouldn’t be lying if I told you that it was an Epiphany. 


Because, it occurred to me…that’s EXACTLY what I’ve been doing everyday for nearly 9-years…WITH or WITHOUT Cancer in my life. 


I’ve been more or less…reliving the same day…over and over…and over again for nearly 9-years now… 


When I have cancer…I get sick…I fight…I get well…and return to the same drab existence from whence I left…sort of like Cinderella’s story where things turned back into a pumpkin – only I never got to dance at the ball. 


And then after the fight…I simply to return to a life of work that I can longer stand…


Because, it robs me of the cancer-free days that I’ve worked so hard to attain…and the feeling is that I’m just pi$$-pattering those good days away, just trying to earn a living, when I wish I could use my life more to helping others with cancer – hopefully if the book ever gets published. 


But, you gotta’ earn…and gotta’ have the insurance…you know, for insurance’s sake.


The few good days I’ve had in between? 


Well, I’ve posted them up here…if you held up 5-fingers, you’d still have about 2 fingers still left in the air when we were done counting, but I feel my time may finally be approaching at long last.   


So, as the movie progresses, Bill Murray is at first stunned and then panicked with this sudden turn of events and he can’t figure out what is going on and why the calendar hasn’t rolled over for him yet.  


Later on in the movie, as he resigns himself to his New Normal, he begins to think past himself… probably for the first time in his life. 


And he spends the rest of the movie trying to Repurpose his life to become a better person than he was prior.  He tried to interject his goodness into a seemingly predictable everyday existence.  And that’s where the real magic was for me.  It was a real light bulb moment.    


If we look at it right, that’s how Cancer should work for us, as well…however, I know from the Caregiver side that this perspective is sometimes hard to grasp, because if you lost your loved one, it’s hard to see any of this. And I truly understand and get that.   


But, from the patient side, we must look beyond ourselves with the cancer…we see clearly that it is a global epidemic and not just us being picked on.  And when you begin to understand that, there is a sort of sense and calm that allows you to realize that you are part of a greater whole than just the individual themselves. 


And this understanding acts as a grounding rod to keep us focused and centered…and steadily moving forward towards our goals. 


Anyway, I found that the parallels between this movie and Cancer are eerily familiar and similar…even more so now.     


It was a beautiful movie and an even more compelling storyline that has much merit in how I’ve felt and what I’ve tried to do with my life with – and without Cancer. I personally feel that this was Bill Murray’s finest work…he blended comedy with realism and a great story line and delivered a fine performance.    


And at the end of the movie, “The Lesson” that he was to learn from all of what transpired for him finally happened as he transformed from what he had been – to what he had now become – and to really what he wanted to be.    


Think about that one for a minute or two…


I think Life and Cancer teaches us lessons like that all the time…the difficulty sometimes comes when we cannot interpret the signals being sent to us.   


I often times wonder if my life and cancer journey were part of the plan?  Or, was it merely circumstance?  Or, was I just in the right place at the right time to use the lone gift I seem to have been given to give back to you who are listening?


Am I being used now as a conduit that connects us to a greater understanding of ourselves? 


Do I operate from the assumption that One has to be broken – so that One can properly heal?


And that from my healing, I can then use those experiences and turn them towards the common good by offering them to another person, who finds themselves at their own crossroads in their life? 


Through Dr. Stanley, I’m beginning to understand more now…and perhaps, for reasons unbeknownst to myself and everyone else here, I somehow have been tasked with using the tools that were provided to me, so that I can connect and share with you what I’ve learned.


Has it all just been a coincidence?


I guess, this is the point where I’ll let you decide…”Which is Right – and Which is an Illusion?”


And I’m going to around one more time to try and Repurpose our marriage…


The last 13 of the 21 years we’ve been married have been very tough for me and my wife.  And as such, our relationship and our feelings towards one another at times have taken a real beating. 


She and I have been through many tests…many trials…but the other morning, she defended me and made some very insightful comments.  I was shocked, because I’ve never given her enough credit for having those types of feelings, because she expresses her pain and anxiety in different ways than I do.


So, it really got to me…because, all I’ve ever wanted is a taste of that type of nurturing where I could talk to her openly about what I’m feeling without any kind of condemnation or judgment.  I wanted that emotional intimacy that all couples are supposed to share with one another.


And I just thought she really didn’t care for me like that…but perhaps her own fears were so strong and suffocating, that she just could not go there with me.  


The significance is that after reading what she wrote, I can see she does care and she does see and understand what I’m feeling…so, there’s hope there.  At least, I know now - that she knows…and that’s huge…and healing at the same time. 


So, I’m going to try again to repurpose ourselves to one another once again and try and deliver some better times for her. I’ve already been in the process of doing that.  It’s been hard on her, ladies.  Some of you are Caregivers…Kim was a Caregiver too…and she has been for 8.8 years right along here with me.


Take just a moment and think that one through…8.8 years as a caregiver…


In the world of Caregivers, she is a saint for weathering all of those hard years…and she has paid her dues as well…her life was put on hold too…her dreams…her plans…her ideals of what marriage was supposed to be…all of these were put aside. 


And then she was sidelined another year helping me with Dad after we had finally made it back out of the cancer woods for the third time…


And as the curtain prepares to close on certain aspects of my life, I still remain somewhat hopeful that the curtain will rise again in the form of a new deal – and a new chance to start my life over.  Or, perhaps it’s just a new chance to start living my life finally. 


I’m talking about the estate house for sale…fortunately, we have an offer pending…due to my dad’s neglect of his property, we have lost over 50K in the sale price…and this doesn’t count the repairs that had to be made in order to give this property away.


We’re hopeful that the financing will go through for the buyer at the end of the month and I can finally remove this albatross from around my neck…I’ve been drowning so….


The buyer is apparently the handy-man type and that’s what this property needed…out of 22 people who viewed the home, this was our only nibble…and it’s not a guarantee…he could wiggle off the line.


But, I think things will finally go through, especially after reducing the house another 11K to prevent more repairs that I simply don’t have the money for anymore. 


But, here’s what I really want to take away from this very painful chapter of my life…


The buyer lives out of state and would be coming down and working on the house and when he completed the work, he would be moving his family out of state down here.


My dad’s ex, my old stepmom, whom I’ve known for 39-years, have had to work together and I’ve tried to put a lot of my personal feelings aside to handle the business and complete this deal.


But, what we do agree on one thing…and what we hope will happen…is that Dad’s house is Repurposed for this new family - and that they will be able to inject new Love and breathe new Life into those cold walls, in the hopes that something good will now transpire from the neglect and disrepair of its current state of existence.      


It was a Chamber of Horrors then…and it’s been one now.  When I walk through the rooms and back through the yards, I feel like any victim does who returns to the scene of a horrendous crime and relives highlights of transgressions past. 


I will be glad to finally close the door when that time comes…


Well, I guess our “3-Hour Tour” is about up now…and unlike the Skipper in Gilligan’s Island…I will now head you back towards the docks and deliver you safely to shore, although I think you will leave with a little bit more than you did when you first set out on this charter.


After getting to know me some from the things that I have shared with you, you might be wondering to yourself…


“How can Craig still see the beauty in life, despite the trials and tribulations he has endured not only in his cancer life – but his personal life as well?”


“How does he still have anything left to give – why hasn't his spirit been broken from all of that?”


Well, hopefully some of those answers were found in this post…but if you missed some of the clues…here’s a hint…I just can’t be beaten…


In conclusion, I always felt I had a lot of love to give as a child…just nobody to really give it to….or nobody who really knew what to do with it.  I was just in the wrong environment where Fear and Oppression ruled…and Individuality was penalized and quickly snuffed out like a candle. 


And after that, the world and life itself beat the love out of me…there was a time in my life after my sister’s murder, where my heart turned black as charcoal.  I was hard and even mean…bitter and resentful…


I was no more and no less – the sum of my environment…that’s all that any of us really are. 


But, as I said at the start of this piece, Cancer knocked down those walls…and that part of Craig did die from cancer…but what was reborn from the ashes is what you have before you today. 


Here is a poignant example that I would like to share with you now, that will further illustrate this point…


Does anyone remember the TV show, “All in the Family?”


In one of the episodes, Mike is getting ready to marry Gloria…and it came time for the meeting of the families.  Of course, we all know how Archie was…but in the scene, he walks over and starts to size up Mike’s uncle (Uncle Kas). 


The conversation comes up over what he did for a living….and Uncle Kas said that he was a florist…


And Archie quipped, “A florist…why?”


Uncle Kas went on to tell him that he had been in the war and after what seemed like a lifetime of that…he was tired of destroying things…and now wanted to spend the rest of his time creating and breathing life into things.


He was being Repurposed…  


And I think that’s what I’m trying to do now with this chapter of my life…


I use my keyboard and CRT much like a painter does when they dip their brush into their palette of colors…I use my words as the brushstrokes on my empty canvas …white and bare is the color of the monitor screen when I first get started…


And then, the concept develops into a framework…and I try and connect as many dots as I can along the way.  And hopefully, it is something that can stand on its own merit when I’m done. 


I’ve been blessed to be able to transform Thoughts, Ideas, and Feeling to becoming Something From Nothing out of thin air…and then utilize that ability to create Light from Darkness…or to Shine a Light Through the Darkness to help show others the way. 


Years ago, someone up here told me that I “Paint With Words.” 


And that always stuck with me…while Thomas Kincaid was known as the Painter of Light…I think I’d like to be known as The Painter With Words.   


I can use my words to Cut or Heal…to Help or Hinder…BUT, after a lifetime of being cut on, I finally stood up and told myself this…


I want to be Repurposed – To Heal.


And that’s the Ideology that I want to see the world through…all of us doing what we were born to do for one another…Repurposing one another…in whatever shape, form or fashion that is available for us to use.


I’m reminded of the old Coca-Cola commercial from the 60’s where everyone is sitting around a circle by the campfire all “Kumbaya Style.”  I’m going to substitute the word Live for Sing.


“I’d like to teach the world to Live …in perfect harmony…it’s the Real thing.”


I told you before that I was a dreamer…but make no mistake…my feet are firmly rooted in reality and I’ve still got my finger firmly on the pulse…


Now, to sum it all up…


Look What Cancer and Life Has Done TO  Me    Frown




Look What Cancer and Life Has Done FOR  Me     Smile


Well, I guess that’s enough Truth for one day…


Jack Nicholson proudly declared, “You can’t handle the truth…”


Well, I know damn well that my friends here can…and that’s why I wrote this – just for you.


REPURPOSE – let’s make it the next inspirational sensation – that will sweep the nation…


Thank you so much for your time and stopping by to see me today! 


I feel like such a rich man when I see all of my friends come by for a visit.  All of you truly Repurpose me every time that you talk to me.  And it’s a huge part of my healing that I can never thank you enough for.


One thing I’d also like you to keep in mind…out of the hundreds of folks I’ve tried to reach over the years here, you may think that I might have said something that saved you from something one day or a lonely evening, or perhaps on a cold, dark night during The Witching Hour.


But, while I’ve got the chance to say it, I just wanted you all to know that the life YOU have helped save…has been Mine.


And that’s The Truth…plain and simple. 


I’ll close with this last thought…


Recycling Is for Material Goods – What Repurposing Does for the Human Good.


Now, after reading all of this…is it any wonder why I still can’t get a book deal?


This World still (ain’t) ready for me yet…


Perhaps, in the next one?







Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3366
Joined: Jan 2010

Thank you for once again sharing your insightful thoughts, and for giving us something to think about in  our own lives.

I have been "repurposed" many times in my life due to the circumstances that came my way.  I like to think that in each case I brought some good forward with me.  I think one of the most important things I learned, is that I can be "repurposed", no matter what comes my way.  It makes me less afraid to meet the next challenge.

Sharing from the heart is a great gift to have, and you have it in the millions of words bubbling to get to your fingers on the keyboard.

Life has dealt you some mighty blows, but each time you have come from the ashes and risen to the challenge of living and to have compassion for others even on the toughest days.

One of the things I wish for you is that you must reach out to others when you are in need.  If you don't, you deny them the opportunity to feel worthy of your friendship.  Giving comfort and words of caring is a two-way street between friends.

Keep on writing...keep on giving us things to consider and think about.  It is all important.

Hugs and love,

Marie who loves kitties


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Marie

I'm still up at work, doing some editing of this post...

Well, it's hard for me to keep pounding on somebody's door...especially if it's the same story over and over...people get turned off. 

You know when I came here my role was to help - not be helped.  Along the way, I found that you all helped me by talking to me and validating my thoughts and feelings.

On a cancer board, it is very hard for me to reach over to someone who is sick...especially, if I am well.  Even when I'm sick and the other one is healthy, I just can't do it.  It's one of many characters flaws that you have come to know all too well. LOL!

But, you know that I have "reached out" on a few occasions to talk...before CSN lost our PMs, you and I had many long wonderful conversations...so you know that I can do it. 

But, you're right, I do have a hard time asking...if you and I met in the regular world, I'd have a hard time with it.  I am just flawed from the way I grew up...and perhaps, with your help and that of others, I will get better.

But, I feel my role is to be here to help...and I get my help through the responses on my post.  It's still 2-way street and people got so much going on with their lives in and out of the cancer world...that's really been of help me to understand that too....as I go through all of those things.

I don't know if I can write anymore....this one might be the Swan Song after all...that's why I wanted folks to come...I've read the post front to back three times now...and you can see what I put into this post.

I put so much in that I'm sure about 75% of it will be lost....but that was what has been inside me for six-months....and all week trying to get it back down.

It nearly killed me...over 32 hours of work into that...if I never write again, hopefully there will enough meat on this bone to feed everyone for a lifetime.   A little part of me dies each time I write like this...so that another person might live from it. 

I've said it all on this post...not sure I have any more to offer anyone...

You can see why I can't get published now, don't you?

I've just got nothing relevant to say, LOL!

Big hugs!  Guess, I'll head home...have a good w/end! 

Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 2012

I'll write more later...but I'd love to see you submit this to some magazines. You deserve a larger audience...will google some magazines later.

wolfen's picture
Posts: 1329
Joined: Apr 2009

You have left me speechless(a feat in itself) and in tears of friendship and gratitude. Never once, during your own trials, did you ever fail to respond to my cry for help or leave me standing outside in the cold rain, and for that I am eternally grateful.

In the earlier part of your post, you alluded to the fact that you felt after all you have been through, that by now you should have "earned" the right to some new found happiness, or a better life. Maybe not in those exact words, but I knew where you were coming from. I often wondered if feeling that you have "earned" something was something that I alone felt, whether it was earned by conquering a serious illness with all it's treatments, side effects, and discomfort or merely by working hard all your life and then somehow expecting a life less stressful and instantly rewarding. I have learned, as you have, through that "school of hard knocks" that the rewards you expect are usually not the ones you get. In real life, it doesn't matter how sick you were or how hard you worked, you have "earned" nothing. That is a hard reality and you have accepted it with grace. In your life, you have taken a sow's ear and turned it into a silk purse.

It is so special that you have LMS in your life now. Children are a blessing. I've no doubt that you are a great "Great Uncle".

Not being at a point in my life where I can successfully "repurpose" anything for the moment, I would hope to be able to do so in the future.

There's so much more I could say to you, but want to give some of your other freinds the opportunity to do so.

Please just know that your thoughts, wisdom, caring, feelings, love, advice, opinions, and anything else you care to share will always be appreciated by me. So many of us look back on our lives and feel we have served no valuable purpose. You, my friend, fulfill yours in so many, many ways.


"Mama" Wolfen

LivinginNH's picture
Posts: 1458
Joined: Apr 2010

Dear Craig,

My goodness, that powerful post of yours has left me emotionally drained, and as Wofen stated, rather speechless.  I don't even know where to begin, but I'll start by telling you that you have saved me too, more than once, during my most despondent moments.  You have always been there for me, helping and guiding me through the trecherous cancer journey with Rick, and I'm so thankful to have had your friendship during that time.

I believe the following poem states what I have a difficult time expressing (if I only had your gift of writing....).

Acquaintances are many but friends are very rare
For with a true and trusting friend your secrets you can share
Your friend will comfort you and advise you and you will not betray
Your friend will never disown you and as your friend will stay
When others do not wish to know you your friend as your friend remain
And feel lucky in your lifetime if one loyal friend you gain
Your friend will always stand by you no matter come what may
And when you ask your friend for help your friend will not turn you away
No your friend will stand by you when you are feeling down
When others shun you as if you were an outcast of the town
Acquaintances like Nature’s Seasons they come to your life and go
But your friend a friend for lifetime and the bond of friendship grow
And the one who betrays your trust could never be your friend
Your friend to you is ever true and one on whom you can depend.

by Jaspreet Kaur

Luv and hugs,  ((()))


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

“I” have to be the one that puts the meaning back in my life…and here’s how I’m doing it…


As Joseph Campbell* said "Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning."

A very thought provoking post Craig. We all find our purpose I believe or at least we're given a chance to reflect on things. Whether we do that is up to us.

*Joseph Campbell ~ the Other JC

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I agree with you:)

And here I was, thinking I was coming up with all of this new $hit...and "Joe" has beaten me to the punch...once again:)


Oh well,  perhaps then, it is "The Newness" in our own discoveries of the Discovery - that we can see and appreciate through another's eyes - if by happenstance, we've already stumbled on it as well. 

Thank you for the compliment, Phil...I'm glad you enjoyed the post.  Always good to see you.

 In carrying forward your thought of "Has Cancer been ALL Bad..." those thoughts have stayed with me ever since you introduced them.

As you can see, I'm trying to see through - and past it all...your idea that cancer was not ALL bad was still one of the most thought provoking thoughts I've ever read...still resonates with me to this very day..a part of you should have come through loud and clear...that was a part of PhillieG rining in those ears...still so important, it stays in my book...until that thumbdrive find the light of day...

Thanks for stopping by to see me, Phil.


Phil64's picture
Posts: 838
Joined: Apr 2012

I started reading aloud to my wife. And when my tears stopped me from reading she took the helm. And when she was moved to tears I was able to continue. So we made it through the first reading and your insights have touched both of our hearts. And I know I want to read it again! I personally testify that I have felt this repurposing churning away inside of me and your heartfelt gift to us had helped me see inside my own heart more clearly. And given me words to talk about it more clearly. To make sense of it for me in a way that I can make sense to others. And this passage has helped me see the blessing I have in my wife, and family, and friends. The love that surrounds me is a true blessing / gift that I must nurtur and grow! To be continued... Thank you again, from both Connie and me!!! And may you be inspired with countless words and inspiration! So you can continue to paint your masterpieces! God Bless you my Brother! Phil

Phil64's picture
Posts: 838
Joined: Apr 2012

Craig, after reading your post I opened an email from Guidepost.org. This was there of lent post.

Day 3:
Renew Your Spirit
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:1

Life gets off course when we get off course. Believe that the God who created you can recreate in you a clean heart and a right spirit. Let no day pass that you do not pray many times, “Renew a right spirit within me!"

And I wanted to share a draft blog I'm thinking about posting in smaller bites, over several weeks...

I'll send via a pm.

Good night. I'm guessing your setting out in your barn relight about now. :-)

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I'm so glad that you enjoyed this piece I wrote!  I can see the profound changes in you already.  I like that you and Connie "Tag-Teamed" it...

I told my honey pies here that with me...."It Takes a Village..."

Apparently, just to read and get though my posts, LOL!!!

Cynthia used to read mine to Rick...he'd turn the tv off and listen to her...what an honor!

Rock on, Phil!


Kathleen808's picture
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009


You're a gem, a brilliant wonderful gem.  Thank you for sharing your words, so filled with deep thought and insight.  I love how you describe your time with LMS!  Oh how very precious to see the world throught the wonderful eyes of a child.  I also love your description of your barn.  When Dick and I moved into our house we built a lava rock wall around our carport and made it part of the backyard.  We now call it our lanai and have two tables, a tiki bar, our washer and dryer a couch, coffee table and two chairs, lots of flowers..... you get the picture.. it's all what you do with it.

Thank you for sharing.  I too have learned so much from all of you.


Take care my friend.




Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I'm so glad to see you again!!!

I'm glad you got to read this post and enjoyed it.  Many of the sections have resonated differently with so many people, it's been interesting to see what touches one from another...

I'll never have the view that you have...but the view I'll have in the barn now, will get me where I need to go...I've got imagination...and I've spun webs with it for many years to keep me grounded and strong in this world.

"What you make it" as you say...yes indeed.

LMS is my little girl now...only I haven't told the parents, LOL!

It was such a rush, Kathleen...such an innocent and trusting soul...I thought how could I let her down.  She trusts me...and it took a few days to 'earn' that trust...but what a payoff!  I soooo understand now...and so glad that those unresolved feelings have been mitigated now.

I can now enjoy mine...yours...everybody's...thank goodness!

If my spirit ever gets to the Islands, I'll call you and Dick....that way, you'll know I'm there and not to answer the door! LOL!

I've been not too many places in my life...that's our dream trip...and if I get there, I will indeed look you and Dick up....

Big hugs!


Varmint5's picture
Posts: 384
Joined: Feb 2012

You have a way with words. I used to have a "way with words." I would write and write and write, from the depths of me, as you do. I just don't have the energy or time now. And I realize saying "You have a way with words" sounds kind of blah, but I feel kind of blah, and it's the best I can do right now.

What I think of most when reading this - re-reading parts of it - is that it took a lot of energy for you to write it and I am sure you were drained afterward. You really pour your heart out. And it just seems like you have so much depth and this is your outlet for it, your writing. And you spoke of the little niece and I could feel the emotion... and what kept coming to my mind was that there are so many kids out there who could use someone like you in their lives. You and your wife could make such a difference in the life of a child. Your energy - and it is there - needs an outlet besides this colon cancer support forum... "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Let_Me_Be_Misunderstood

Don't get me wrong - I love that you are here on this forum sharing your story and although I know it has been a hard one for you to live, it gives such hope to me for my daughter and so many others. You belong here and are vital here. I need you here. I know others agree. But you need some pure joy and purpose in your life - I am glad you and your wife are working on "repurposing" your relationship. It is worth the effort, as I think you are realizing.

But I keep going back to that happy little girl you wrote about... is there some way you could volunteer or become involved with a child who doesn't have a parent or grand parent or role model? They are out there and they need you. Wow, you just have so much to give.

Best wishes with repurposing! I need to do some of that myself. Thanks for the powerful post.




Varmint5's picture
Posts: 384
Joined: Feb 2012


I re-read my reply and I don't like how it sounds. I think it sounds different from what I was trying to say. I think you need a broader audience for your writing besides just here, like a blog. You are very good and have a lot to say. I hope it keeps coming for us, here, but it is blog or book-worthy. Maybe you already know that. For me, your story is so full of hope and promise. I know it's been a hard one to live. But you are still here after 8 years and that is simply amazing, considering all you've had to conquer during that time. You are fearless. You help me believe that anything is possible.

And I still think you have so much to offer a kid or a child as a mentor or big brother... SO much. Your story just lit up when you spoke of your niece.

Thanks again for sharing your heartfelt and moving story of repurposing.


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I thought about what you said this weekend...

Somtimes, I can be a lot to swallow on the first chew:)   LOL!

I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments...I can tell you that you thought about it...and you felt it....I may have caught you on the first day when you were 'blah.'  But, I still got what you were saying...your follow-up was very heartfelt.

And here's where I'm at...you will be able to wholdheartedly connect with this...

After a literal lifetime of 'searching' for my family - and what my definition of what I thought that family was...

The blood family I was born to, no longer exists...but on my wife's side, I have found my new family in the form of LMS, my newphew and his wife.  I found that back in July at the funeral...you might have missed those threads...listed under The Sundance Channel....some good non-cancer stories. 

So, as you can see, I love my new little girl...and my nephew grew up without a dad...and his dad (still living) is not supportive to him...I think his wife needs me now...she's my new Chicky...I can give her a look with my eyes...and she knows what I'm saying and what to do...and vice versa, she can look at me, same thing....too cool! 

And little miss honey pie...she called me over the weekend, Sandy..."Uncle Craig, when are you coming?  I love you." 

The kids, since our emotional visits in that detached garage, have called and told me repeatedly that they want me...they are trying to find a house, they want us to move up there...

Lifes were changed in that garage those nights...in those posts I told you about, are the stories...it was life changing - and life affirming for all of us...my wife missed all of it, because she stayed with her sister...and I stayed with the kids...they hung on me like glue.

And not only do I think they need me...I need them.

And Sandy...they WANT ME. 

My dad turned his back on his family...and after this post, you can see how I'm not going to make the same mistake twice.  I'm giving myself to my family first....after trying so hard to find one...and then whatever doors open for me, I'll be receptive enough to walk through them. 

I appreciate this very introspective post and your very thoughtful comments! 

I'm Repurposed now - to help Repurpose others...

Big hugs!



So Worried
Posts: 111
Joined: Aug 2012

I am fairly new so I am not lucky enough to be one of your longtime friends here. You sure are a wonderful, caring, intelligent, wise, strong..(I could go on and on) person. I do believe this is one of my favorite "articles/ posts/ blogs/ short stories" I have ever read in my life. I am going to re-read it over and over again. It was so good and I did not want it to ever end. 

I am not a patient but a caregiver. This gives me a lot to think about from the patient's veiewpoint on things. It was really great. I just can't say that enough. I think we are all here for a purpose. I'm your age and I still do not know my purpose. I walk around in a fog since June of last summer. My thoughts swirl around and around in my head like I'm going crazy. You have given me the inspiration and drive to find my purpose. Thank you. 

I was very shocked and saddened to hear of your sister. I send my deepest condolences. I am very sorry she is no longer with you and I know she would be very proud of you. 

I wish you many, many years of more wonderful times and precious memories with LMS. I also wish you true happiness in your marriage. 

Thank you for the wonderful post.

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

And then when you shared this post, we definitely were.  Thank you so much for your thoughts and feelings...very sincere and moving.  I knew it was very long...but it all needed to be said...and I knew it would be very readable and not a chore to wade through...it flowed nicely.

I'm glad you were so moved and motivated into action...this post is helping to reinforce this belief that I came to.  And I'm glad I was able to let you inside the mind of a cancer patient to tell you things that your person might not reveal to you...or is unable to reveal of themselves. 

That's what I'm here for...

Sis would have probably been proud and happy for me...if you like me...you would have loved her....it took me a lifetime to figure out...she had her act together so early in life...she would have been 45 about now....and I miss her more now than ever....I treasured the Brother/Sister relationship...and it makes me mad when I see other situations where both parties don't realize the blessing that they have in one another.

Your welcome for the post and I'm glad it  has helped you.

Now, aren't you glad you stopped by to see me?

Big hugs!


Posts: 79
Joined: Dec 2012




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You’ve always been a soothing guiding voice and a great help before having painted this one. As for this one, I am at a loss for the right words, being no painter with words. Tough read though it is, it nevertheless is a soul-searching piece, spirit lifting and clear roadmap for a better life (with/out) this kind of disease . I cannot find a better response across the Arabian sands but to send you the words of Wordsworth’s (words worth?) Solitary Reaper

No Nightingale did ever chaunt

More welcome notes to weary bands

Of travellers in some shady haunt

Among Arabian sands


Bless your soul



Sundanceh's picture
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Joined: Jun 2009

True to your word...you came back!

I love a person I can count on, someone whose word is their bond...good for you, Brother!

I appreciate you taking your time to read and respond to my thoughts...I got the paint all over me this time...LOL!

Knowing that you see what I was trying to describe...well, that just means everything to me...as connection is everything to me.

Bless you x 2!


Lorikat's picture
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Joined: Jul 2011

Craig..  I gave birth to two children and haveclaimed a and been claimed by many more.  Why?  I gave them a soft place to land and an ear to listen.  ALL of my "children" are important and take up space in my heart.  Just as Your niece will do for you..  Be her soft place to land....her person to listen as she grows up...and she can be your "reason" .....PS some of my "children" are heading toward 40 years old and STILL need that unconditional soft place on occasion...

Awesome writing ....  You have a true talent, not only for writing but for sharing your heart....  Thank you

Sundanceh's picture
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Nice to see you again!  Thank you so much.

If I opened a post like this on your side of the house - I'd melt the wires to the place...Martha wouldn't know what to do with me:)


That's why they bury me here:)

My little grand niece is "My Last Train to Clarksville..."  I'm going to draw a line in the sand with her and do what I can, while I can.


Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012


I've had a very stressful and upsetting 24 hrs. I logged on this aft. for the first time today and there was a gift waiting for me. A gift from you. You may as well have wrapped it and placed a big bow on top. It's almost like you thought, "Hmm...when will Chels need this the most".

I read it at the coffee shop at the Ottawa General Hospital. Steve's situation has evolved over the past few days and hours. It's all become quite complicated. I find myself experiencing a wide range of emotions. I'm extremely frightened, worried and sad, but I'm having other thoughts too that make me feel guilty. Defense mechanisms kicking in to help me cope with all that's happening. I'm down here because I need a break from him. He's understandably irritable, he's in pain and it's difficult for me to be with him
right now.

I don't really know what to say. I read your post. I was so engrossed that Ifound myself to be oblivious to the noise and hustle and bustle that
surrounds me. I even forgot to drink my coffee and now it's cold, dammit.
You're very talented. You have a gift. After I had finished reading it, I felt
like I had changed in some way.

Like those above me, I especially appreciated and related to the section
about LMS. Steve and I (no kids of our own) have a LMS, as well. Our niece, Emma and she is my bright spot. She is five and she lights up the room with
her presence. When I feel down in the dumps, I will think of her and realize that no matter what happens, everything will be okay.

Before reading your post, I wanted to leave the hospital, hop in my car and drive far away. I wanted to drive and drive as far away from this life as I could get. Because of your post I now have the motivation, strength and
desire to go back up to the fifth floor and be the best wife and caregiver that
I can be. That is what Steve deserves.

Your post has inspired me to repurpose my own life. I have experienced so much throughout this painful journey and I plan to look for opportunity to help others benefit from what I've learned.

Thank you,


Phil64's picture
Posts: 838
Joined: Apr 2012

Chels, you are a strong and beautiful person. And as a Stage 4 crc patient I can tell you that I've had many a grumpy day and have not been the best husband to my caring wife. She had always been patient with me, giving me hugs and kisses (even with the nasty Erbitux rash) and she has gone to every doctor visit and most long chemo treatments too.

And I recognize and am in awe of her support for me. And, even if the pain is distracting Steve, I believe he truly sees and feels your support and Loce for him and it is a HUGE part of his battle power source.

And please remember to take your breaks and relax. Even Jesus took escape from the crowds by escaping into the mountains to pray and recoup.

Love and Light to you and Steve.

My prayers are for you both!



Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

Thanks for the kind words, Phil. I read it to Steve. He feels guilty about his mood swings. He snaps at me one minute and then is apologetic and remorseful and then snippy again. I'm sure the steroids are playing a role. It did him good to know that he is not the only one who goes through grumpy times. Generally speaking, as caregivers we get it. We are pretty thick skinned. We see what you go through and we imagine how we ourselves would tolerate the same situation. In my case, it wouldn't be pretty. I do get frustrated with Steve, at times. But mostly I am in awe of his strength, tolerance and willingness to fight. I'm sure your wife feels the same way.


Phil64's picture
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Hope today is going well for you and Steve.

Sundanceh's picture
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"Seers of Seers...and... Prognisticators of Progosticators"   Cool


Dearest Chels,

I've read many posts in my day, but yours hit me square where I live - my heart! 

You talk about 'getting it.'  Well, you sure do! 

Now, here's another story that might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up...but in a good way:)

So, I didn't think I was going to finish the post last Friday...I had a couple of sections left...and then all the editing...I didn't want to rush it, because I thought it might be one of the last pieces I write here and I wanted it to be nice.  I was figuring on about Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week.

But, something was nagging at me to finish it...something told me that folks would have more time and be able to more fully absorb this post on the weekend, rather than during the busy week that we all face...with jobs or without...with cancer...or without. 

So, I worked through my lunch...and then decided to stay late after work to finish the doc up...I was talking to Marie as I was about to finally leave. 

And look what happened!

Here's another funny story...

I got tickled when you said you were "Engrossed" with reading...I know just what you mean...the exact feeling...my wife had a friend in out of town and they were out for the evening...I was still strung pretty high from writing that post...and just needed to read it a couple of more times and read the responses that had come in.

I had the movie Donnie Brasco playing in the background, sort of as "white noise."  But, I was so engrossed, that I muted the volume so I could concentrate...

Time must have just flown by...they returned home and I still had my head buried in the crt screen...my wife goes "What's That?"  And I turned around and there on tv was one of those "After Dark" specials with a couple of folks on there just "wearin' it out."  If you know what I mean?  LOL! LOL! LOL!

20 years ago would I have missed that?  LOL!  That's how engrossed I was - I totally get that. I'm sorry your coffee went cold...but I was on fire, right? LOL!

Let's look at what happened...

"Chelsea71" was checking out...and I mean in a big way...the whole essence of who and what you are was runnin'.  I've seen it in my wife, I know what it looks like...and I know what it sounds like too.  And so, we had some type of intervention that morning in the coffee shop...when I was joking around me about being the Skipper and heading you safely back towards shore...I hinted that you would be changed and different leaving - than you were when you arrived.

You solidified that feeling in me...if only one gets it, then mission accomplished...we can't save everyone...but I've got my hand out to the ones that want to try with me.   

And look at you!  Now, you want to 'pay it forward' too...it's clear to me that you got every single word I wrote...I'm just so proud of you!

The GIFT was in our exchange...that's where the magic took place, Chels:) 

And to an even larger extent....both of our healing...or at least the path towards healing...

And we did that together...wasn't it great?

Repurpose was a principle that we put into action - and it yielded the results of what I thought it could do if we adopted that belief.  It has universal applications to everything in our lives. 

"We bypassed FDA approval - we skipped the Clinical Trials - and moved straight to Human Trials - we injected the Repurpose vaccine - and we experienced 100% positive response to that treatment. "

Chels, does it really get any better than this?

I showed your reply to the Lord...and I was wiping the tears out of my eyes, I told him, "See, a real difference has been made here...look what my Chels wrote..."

I've been in discussions with Him on why if I can help...why can't I help with the book deal or something? 

Until, they call my number, I still want to stay here and try and help as many as I can.

You filled me up with so much Hope, Chels!  I write for you guys - I bleed for you guys!  I just love it when a real difference has been made.

Pay It Forward, Darlin's...I'm counting on you:)

And listen, strangely, I somehow feel like Steve is going to get better...at least much better than where he has been....some of that pain is going to go away...some normalcy will return...give him my love and tell him Hi for me. 

I'm glad to be with you at this point in your life - thank you for allowing me in to get to know you:)



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Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

Hi Craig,

Just wanted to thank you for the time you put into that piece. As we discussed, it could not have come at a better time for me. It did make a BIG difference for me. This latest bump in the road has been exceptionally challenging for me. (I realize it hasn't been a walk in the park for Steve either). Normally I cope well. I guess I'm getting tired. It's been a rough two months. I have actually found it be harder than the HIPEC experience, to put it into perspective. Enough whining. I also want to point out that your post has helped me repeatedly. So many ups and downs over the past few days. One step forward, two steps back. When I'm feeling discouraged, I read it. It motivates me. Back when Steve was diagnosed, I immediately turned to literature to help me come to terms with what was happening. You name it, I've read it. I'm always searching for that magical combination of words that will enlighten me and give me peace. Your posts have helped me more than any published material that I have come across. I know your day is coming soon. Don't give up. Thank you.


ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
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I am a self confessed accidental tourist of cancer. For fifteen years I have toured the land of cancer. Liking what I find sometimes,sometimes not. I have met so many people in my travels,be they actual or in cyberspace. My emotions have ranged from "Ï love this person"to "give me a break,go and annoy someone else". But I listened to them all. Some of the experiences have left me feeling sad and lost,others uplifted. Some I acknowledge as kindred soles. Some have described me as inspirational,I can't see it,in fact I see more inspiration in them. What is my purpose? I guess to accidentally go where no man has gone before. What does that mean ,dunno but I always liked the beginning of Star trek.
Have I forgotten cancer . No . It reminds me every day that it was part of my life but I really have learned to live with its effects.
Today on my tourist wanderings I have once more visited the mind of Craig. It is a beautiful mind,an enquiring mind that will always strive to answer all of the questions. My mind is not beautiful . It is a logical accepting mind. It does not ask the questions that Craigs does but it loves to read the journey of his and all of your minds . Thank you all for letting me visit....Ron.

Sundanceh's picture
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Hey Buddy,

We're all just wired for different wave lengths, Ron. 

You're beautiful to me, Ron...look at your last paragraph...there is alot of beauty in those thoughts...

"Today on my tourist wanderings I have once more visited the mind of Craig. It is a beautiful mind,an enquiring mind that will always strive to answer all of the questions. My mind is not beautiful . It is a logical accepting mind. It does not ask the questions that Craigs does but it loves to read the journey of his and all of your minds . Thank you all for letting me visit."

It's insightful what you said about me...'striving to answer all the questions...'

Here's a funny story, Ron...

When I was 2 years old, legend has it that I was in the doctors's office with the doctor responsible for bringing me into this world...(you can blame him for me being here, LOL!)

Inquisitive was a good word, Ron.  On this doctor visit, I was jabbering so much that morning, that I had befuddled the poor doctor...

Apparently, my theme for that day was "Why?"


Exasperated... Dr. G. turned to my dad and said..."Sir, your son has more questions - than answers."


49 more years past that date...and it looks like very little has changed:)


Thanks once again for your kind thoughts, Ron...I'll keep talking...if you keep listening - Deal?


annalexandria's picture
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not exactly the same as the book outlining your experiences with cancer that you've already worked on, but utilizing pieces of it.  i can see this book being called "Repurpose Your Life".  In it, you use what you have learned from the many challenging experiences in your life to teach people how to move through any challenge, and come out the other side in better shape.  You could do a little research and get some ideas for personal exercises (I mean psychological, not physical, although that could be part if it), techniques, and practices that folks can use to function better during and after hardship.  You could use anecdotes from your own life to give it a personal touch.  This would not be a book just about cancer, although that would be a part of it.  It would have a much bigger audience, because almost everyone has a time in life when the burdens become overwhleming, and almost everyone needs some help getting through those times.  I could see a website component as well, where people could interect directly with you....kind of an online Dear Abby with a Texas accent!  I really think you do deserve a larger audience, and I think that "repurposing" your book might be the way to do it.  Think about it anyway...you have a gift, and there must be a way to share it.  Hugs~AA

Sundanceh's picture
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That's a wonderful idea!  I like it, of course.

Funny thing about the book...it's not all about cancer...I actually wove my life story into the storyline....it's about topics of cancer....my own cancer experiences....along with other personal stories that tied into the subject matter of that chapter...along with alot of the other stuff I do...

So, it's interesting that you mention that...Chelsea complimented me today and said she had read lots of literature, but that she liked what I said better than any others she had read. 

What does that tell us?

It told me alot and I really needed to hear that...you and her and many others, really help be believe...make me want to hang on...when I'm ready to quit...like now...just keeps hurting to bang your head on the wall. 

I like the idea of yours to Repurpose the book...or maybe to use this Repurpose theme for what you are talking about...and leave the book on its own merit...perhaps, what I might do might lead back to that. 

I don't have any magic wands that I use for exercise and technique to help deal with problems....you've all seen how I do it.   I've always believed that we have the innate capacity inside everyone of us to do what I've done.  All I've done is have the problem...talk the problem out...look to see where I went wrong...openly examine the conflict...and then reach conflict resolution...and then tell you all about it:)   

But, I get what you are saying...and maybe I could elaborate your idea...I do like it.

And, I especially like the 'website component' where I could directly interact with folks...feedback feeds me...without it, I don't write...the inspiration stops...because, I don't write for me...I write for all of you.

Dear Abby with a Texas accent?  I'm blushing LOL!  Big hugs! 

I appreciate you and Chelsea's insight on a bigger audience...what I've tried to do here, I'd like to try and do on a larger scale, because so many of us are hurting and in pain...and I think I can help in the ways that I try and do that.

You've given me alot to think about...and you're very smart, but that's not news to me:)

Thank you for your unbridled support!


YoVita's picture
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Thank you.

Sundanceh's picture
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Annabelle41415's picture
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I'm taking some time off the boards, but saw your post and wanted to let you know you are being thought of.  You, my friend, have a way with words and I've always told you that.  Can see why this was something near and dear to your heart especially after all you went through and the path and courage that you have taken on this site and in your life.  You have been through much "Lion" and you totally roar with awesomeness (oh is that a word Laughing)  Glad you have the Lion picture up again.  It serves you "perfectly".


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

"Just when you thought you were Out - Sundance drags you back in..."


So, nice to see you again...you're a great friend from stopping by to see me when you're on 'vacation.'  :)  

I would say, Kim, that you are among the very first that ever talked to me...and now, after all of those years, the story has been told...and I'm glad that you were there from Start to Finish...I never would have imagined it turning out like it did.  I never could predict any of it...I came to help those with cancer...and stayed because of the deep friendships I formed, which was more important to me than my own cancer. 

I know it's been a train wreck of a ride...and honestly, it was very hard for me to reveal the things I did...even though it might have looked easy...it takes alot to lay one's soul bare and vulnerable to even a friend, much less a big room where you don't know who's listening - and who's watching...

I know most people can't  truly be that honest with themselves...and if they are, most are unable to confess it in the way that I did.

There is something about public confession thought that is so freeing...because it finally breaks the chain of the Enabler...and shatters the pretense that one has had to live behind and conceal for a lifetime.

And something about the truth and out in the open where's it's more or less on record...it's just liberating.  I'm freer now than I've been in over 40-years.  I broke free of the shaclkes that bound me...and together, those who reached out to me, have helped me in the healing process now.  And I feel like I will be ok. 

There have been some profound changes since I wrote the post...things I didn't expect...and I think when I can, I'll talk to you via PM about some of this. You might as well know the last piece of the puzzle. 

Just thank you and continued blessings!


Posts: 251
Joined: Jan 2009

I seldom post any more.  Frank passed on 11/15/10 and life has carried on.  I still check randomly to see how the few I remember from those times are doing.  I especially look for you and of course Buzzard.  I am so excited and happy to see you today when I came to the board to check.  You always say what I feel but do not have the ability to express.  You are a gift to anyone and everyone that visits this board.  You strength, courage, understandlng, love, concern, and the ability to give hope are much needed by caregivers and those who are dealing with cancer.  Cancer does teach us valuable lessons and gives us the chance to really live with no pretense.  I pray for you and that your journey be better and brighter each step of the way.  Thanks again  for posting, it made my day.


Sundanceh's picture
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Joined: Jun 2009

You always make my day when I see you!  I hope things are going well in your new life now...I know you told me you remarried...but I know you still yearn for Frank.

I think things are finally going to turn around for me now, Anna...I really do.

If I can find the guts, I may just tell you about something unexpected that happened after this post...from seeds planted a few weeks earlier. 

I don't want to get your hopes up...I may chicken out...but if I decide to throw it to the wind, I hope you see it. 

I try and  talk about Cancer so that we won't just go insane...I try and see as much good...or as much repurpose as I can from such a life-changing event. 

I think these words are so good...I think they help so much...but I've got to believe that, Anna...I can't cure...but I like to try and help heal.

When someone like you loses their loved ones...I always feel that my words just lose their meaning - right there at the end.  I cling to them like you used to...and that of so many others...and then when I see the person fall...I think what was that all about.

And yet had I not reached, I feel your journey would have been more hollow...just the thought that someone sees you and your sorrow...as opposed to never looking inside of the you that makes you Anna, you know what I mean, darlin'?

I treasure you...and you are highly valued in my life...and while we don't walk together everyday anymore...Anna and Frank still walk with me...they are still right there in my heart never to be forgotten...and I'm proud of the time that I walked with you.  Your story of Frank and the Santa Craig cd still bring tears to my eyes...because you told me that lone act made such a difference for you both.

And I guess those things are why I continue to try and get up everyday and embrace the challenges that await me for the day.

Love and big hugs, Anna!

An old friend,


Posts: 61
Joined: Jul 2012

just wanted to let you know that you are reaching people outside of this site!  i was on colonchat.net and someone on there had copied this onto that sight and called it "inspiring".  congratulations and keep up the great work!!

So Worried
Posts: 111
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That was me in colonchat.net calling it inspiring :) 

Sundanceh's picture
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They are probably over there going, WTF!


Anyway, thank you so much, Bailee...I appreciate your sentiments and I'll keep trying:)


Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

Reading your post about your repurposed barn space brought back such memories of childhood for me, specifically climbing up into a loft space with a tin roof and listening to the rain drops hit one by one. all alone in my secret space, the pleasant smell of rain and and a vision of the world blurred by raindrops, holding out my hand or sticking out my tongue to catch a few of them onto my body.  I do not know how I could find that special place/space again as an adult in my life, but your post sure has me thinking about finding one.  We have such little rain here where we both live, I do often remember to stick out my tongue and catch a few drops when it finally rains, and that is a tiny temporal space, but I do not have an actual physical one.  Thank you for the reminder.


Sundanceh's picture
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Wonderful reply!

Yes, I finally had to have a space that wasn't contained in the house...I've lived behind 4-walls for the whole 9 yrs really...

The 4-physical walls of my job, my house, my auto...and the 4-physical walls inside my hand that caged this free spirit of mine...

What's funny, is that the Simple Thing, the Simple Meaning, that I've been searching for...was with me all along...

I had just forgotten where to look...Repurposing that life space now gives me my own lifeline away from the world...I'm still tethered like a spaceman walking outside of his space capsule...but I've got freedom to move around...to think again...to just look around...to just experience all that I've worked for and fought for.

It's simple...but the barn is like a great big time capsule...it takes you back to a time when the world was better and the pace was slower...when you unplug, then life can come to you at its own pace. 

I guess for a girl...it would be like that big dollhouse you always wanted...and for the guys, it's a fort or a treehouse...all I know is that Peace, Tranquility, and Contentment all live down there with me...they don't pay any rent, LOL!   But, they are pretty cool houseguests...and they clean up after themselves:)

If I ever finish it out, it will serve me all year round...instead of the cool months...as you know, K...heat is brutal and temps out in the barn are over 120 degrees...off the scale of the therm actually....

But, the times I would always relish anyway, are those spring days or cool days...I throw open the swinging doors....the front door...and open up the windows...and the air rushes in and it feels like I'm playing house out there or something.

Just the other night, my wife went out with a friend...I cleaned up and me and Harley went down there for the next 7-hours!  We saw the afternoon turn to dusk...and the dusk turn to darkness.  I fired up a Tiki torch and it felt like I had a campfire going outside. 

It was 48 degrees in the barn, so I pulled out an electric heater and it warmed my legs like sitting next to a fire...and I was never happier in my life. 

I repurposed an old tape recorder of my dad's...stuck some batteries in it...found some old Star Trek and Space 1999 tapes...and hit play....many of the tapes broke right away, they are 37 years old....but the ones that still played...

I sat out there wandering around...playing with Harley...sitting in my chair in the barn...and the tapes were like Time Travel...they took me back to a time when I was about 13 or 14...

I turned on my battery operated Coleman lantern...and it felt like I was CAMPING or something...it was a freedom...so simple...with old technology...and it was the greatest!

"Sometimes Happiness is Where You Least Expect to Find It..."

I hope you find yours, K!

tommycat's picture
Posts: 790
Joined: Aug 2011

HI Craig,

You certainly are a pillar of support for many on this Board.

Thank you for taking the time to share**********


Sundanceh's picture
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Nice to see you!  Thank you for reading!

***** can be interpreted so many ways, LOL!

Where's my hug?

Here's yours...(((T)))

Thanks for coming by:)


Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 2012

I've read this in bits and pieces since you posted it.  Truthfully, it's hard to read on my kindle because of the length, but I have to keep coming back for more.  The part about LMS brings tears to my eyes.  Children are so special.  I hope you will write a little story for her with your thoughts of her today....and maybe yearly as she grows up.  Because trust me (I have a 15 yr old daugher) it can be REALLY hard to remember that cuteness, sweetness and innocence as they turn teenagers!!  

I'm wondering if  you have thought about submitting parts of your story to any magazines?   Here are a couple of links if you are interested. I think you should give it a go!   And I think you mentioned something about a teacher telling you that you were no good at writing??  Did I read that?   I can tell you that we have had the benefit of a great elementary school that gets top notch children's authors to come each year and when my kids were in the elementary I always made time to get there to meet and listen to the authors.  They all have the same stories - struggling in school and/or having teachers tell them they weren't good enough.    Why would a teacher ever do that??  My almost 13 yr old is the writer in the family and has had the benefit of much encouragement from his great teachers!



Sundanceh's picture
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Thank you so much for taking your time to plow through this:)

With your hectic schedule and kiddos hanging around your waist, I can only tell you how much I appreciate you setting the time aside to continue to read it. 

I have to be honest with you...you and Chels. Phil64, and Barbebarb were motivating drivers behind this post...I wanted so much for you guys to read it...when you're first starting out, you don't want to look at the guy that is 9-years up the road from you...because it scares you that things might go on so far.

And all I can say about that...is that while it has not been easy...I've still managed to stay 1/2 step ahead...and I wish so many of my friends could have come with me.  So, I'm only showing you that the battle can wear you down...but that if things can go your way some...that there can be a positive outcome.

And yes, LMS did a number on me...her handicap doesn't slow her down one bit...and the child is teaching the teacher:)

Here's another story about her...I found a gift card....it was 12-years old, LOL!  I took it down to the boot store and it was so old, they couldn't even look it up...they had to call the front office...anyway, the guy came back and transferred that money to a new gift card and handed it back to me...there was still leftover $$$.

So, I went back and found this little outfit my wife and I had been looking at for about a year...it was still there.  It was a nice white top with some embroidery...and a denim skirt with red material at the bottom that was sewn...and a pretty sash for her backside.

Of course, that wasn't enough for me...I decided my child needed to have some brand new boots...(she gets the hand-me-downs from her sisters).  So, I found her these adorable RED leather "Durango" boots...they had one pair in her size. 

My wife went home for the holidays, while I worked on my dad's place for the holidays...but she told me that LMS said, "New Shoes!"

Well, there you go...

And she wears them all the time...

I'm going to check out the links you gave me...thank you so much for looking those up...I'd have to write something that would fit...LOL!  We all know that I can't sign my name in one page! LOL!

Yes, Jen...when I was in my 2nd year in college...I was in a Creative Writing class...I wrote a good piece...and must have caught him on a bad day...anyway, I never wrote another word for 25-years, until about a year after I got cancer...and I needed to start expressing myself once again.

It was a life wasted...my whole life has been...no support or encouragement anywhere I've gone...except here, of course.

I often think if somebody would have just supported me at some point, where I could have gone?  What direction would I have taken?  Would I be a writer now?

I'm reminded of Marlon Brando, when he said..."I coulda' been a contender..."

Maybe, it's still not too late, Jen...I'm late out of the gate, but perhaps we can still make a go of it?

I'm glad your children have good supportive teachers...adults make such an impact on children's lives...and the 'side effects' don't just go away, because we age...they stay with you a lifetime. 

People just like you have helped me try and believe more in myself...and that's why I love trying to help you...we're all good for one another:)

Thanks again, Jen...your time invested here was my greatest gift!


Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 2012

First…I can tell you that you are wrong about 2 things! I came here looking for the guy that was 9 yrs out...that didnt scare me. It gave me hope! I am so thankful to the survivors that share their stories!

Second...you have not wasted your life! Our self worth is not based on how much or what we have..or where we have been... i really believe our goal is to help others whether that is with dropping some food off at the food pantry...donating things to those in need...or sharing hope with those who need it most. You have reached more people here than im sure you will know. That means so much more than having a big house fancy car or big bank acct...or even having your name in print. (Wish i could remember how to get the damn comma to work on this kindle!)

I can just see LMS stomping around in those red boots! With fanciest dress...jeans...shorts...or pjs on!

Phil64's picture
Posts: 838
Joined: Apr 2012

Craig, you have inspired me with your writing style AND CONTENT!!!  You being a survivor of this horible disease is important to us in ways that are difficult to express in words.  It gives us hope for ourselves and hope that someday we will see even higher survivor rates overall.  And your sharing your heart has taught me to openly share my heart... With my family and friends and the general public.

One of the scriptures I read today ties into your repurposing message for me as well...  Especially with the Lent and Easter season upon us:

We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9, 16 CEB)us. 

 I especially connect with the renewal being done on the "inside" in spite of the cancer battle (or maybe catalyzed by the cancer battle).

I want to share your passage with my family and friends via my blog.  And I whole-heartedly believe that your passage will find a magazine to be published in! It NEEDS to as it will reach a lot more people and help a lot more people.  I also think your book and publishing parts in a magazine are an AND/BOTH situation (as opposed to an EITHER/OR situation).

One more thing I wanted to share...  I'm a little reluctant to try and put this in words because I'm afraid it may not come out right.  But I'll do it anyway as I'm sure you will see through my limitations and know what I'm trying to express from the heart!  What I want to say is that - while I'm hoping for a cure for myself...  For a cure that will allow me to maybe live well into retirement...  That is still my hope...  However, knowing you have survived this cancer for nine years means a world to me...  If I can somehow manage to battle off this second reoccurance of cancer (if I can call it that, even though the stupid tumors were probably there from the get-go), and I can manage to survive for nine years...  Wow, to me that would be HUGE.  What that would mean to me...  I will walk my daughters down the isle at their weddings. I will have a daddy-daughter dance with them. I will have the opportunity (maybe with your help???) of writing and saying something full of Love and wisdom at their weddings!  I would maybe hold some grandchildren in my arms and rock them to sleep.  I would see my youngest son through college and into a career.  I would see my oldest son pursue his dreams and maybe see him perform on Broadway (in a play directed by my Tony-Award-Winning cousin). I would grow younger with my wife through the years, holding her hand and loving her just a little more everyday. I would have an opportunity to reach out to more people and both learn from and with them, about the meaning of life and our purpose on this earth. WOW!  Nine years could mean a lot to me!

And I too encourage you to reach out to your neice and nephew and great neice! And reach out to other youth! Like a song I once sang at my Eighth Grade graduation says - "I believe OUR children are OUR future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they posess inside.  And give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children's laughter, remind us how it used to be."  Wow, I rattled off these lyrics as if I sing this song everyday...  I don't.  But if you are interested (and even if you're not).  I decided to include a picture of me singing this song at my graduation. :-)

God Bless You my friend!

With Love and Sincereiy,


(Blog: http://Pscamihorn.me)



Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

And you know I'm going to lean on you when I have to - and support you if you falter.  We'll get you to all those activities...save me a seat:)

I don't think you'll need me to help you write anything - I know you'll handle it just fine...but I'll be in the background if you want to chat:)

Thanks, Phil...it feels great to really make a difference and have such an impact in another's life....I never thought it would ever be possible for me...it has been life changing for me...and you you know, then I gotta' talk about it.


Hey, great pic of the young Phil....man, you had hair, LOL! LOL!

Thanks for sharing yourself, Phil....you learn well, Grasshopper:)

Just glad to be a part of it.....take it easy and keep rockin' the kazbah!



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