Joining the Hell’s Angels…?

Yeah…thought that might get your attention!  More on that later….But here’s the short version of this blog post for those who want just the “facts.”  England – Excellent. Mental health musings – the good, the bad and the ugly. Physical health update – more blood work coming soon. For a more detailed narration, read on:

It’s been nearly 2 months since our first visit with my oncologist.  Time flies when you’re having fun (read deep sarcasm here).  The shock has worn off, but the mental work continues.  At my second visit the doctor gave me the okay to head off to England for my nearly annual “June Term course” with 12 students from Hope.  She told me this would be a good time to give myself a break from all that is cancer related. I left a few days later. My time in the UK was “brilliant” – as my British friends say.  I think of it as my second home and fully enjoyed spending time with the many wonderful friends I have there – and even making some new ones.  A combination of serious talks and from the core laughter over food, tea and a hard cider or two were greatly appreciated.  They do indeed “keep calm and carry on” – and they give great hugs too.

I also had the opportunity to work with 12 wonderful students in England.  If you ever worry that we might be leaving the world in the hands of uninvolved millennials – have no fear.  To a person, they were kind-hearted, thoughtful, reflective and driven by a desire to touch the lives of their future students.  I loved hanging out with them.  (In the interest of fairness, we did have a few “political debates” that could be mildly troubling – but were mostly amusing!) My colleague/friend Bill and I were labelled by the group. He was the “dad.”  (Well deserved.) I was the “crazy uncle” – I’m taking that as a  compliment.

So….England was great…but you know that old saying: “you can run, but you can’t hide”?  When cancer is living inside of you…there is no place to hide – not even a currently United Kingdom.  So yes…I took my doctor’s advice and tried to give myself a cancer vacation of sorts – but there are always those quiet moments (even in a crowd) where my mind wanders back to the new reality that is my life.  The mental health work continues….

On the topic of mental health (yah…here comes the bit about joining the Hell’s Angels)…one “side effect” (can’t figure out the right word or phrase for this) is a deepening sense of curiousity or wonder.  I’m less concerned about doing it all and more interested in trying to stay in the moment and mine it for all it’s worth. People and new adventures seem to be taking on even greater importance than they did before. Example?  My one goal on a long flight is to not have to talk much to whomever I end up sitting next to. However, I spent a good portion of my flight to England talking to a young guy about his recently completed biking trip through New England – and I was honestly interested in hearing about his motivation (triathalon training) and adventures (a broken bike that couldn’t be repaired).  And it got me to thinking….what would it be like to join the Hell’s Angels? (Only connection here is a “bike.”)  What would that life be like? How do they view the world? For those of you who really know me though….the Hell’s Angels would have to switch their attire to khaki pants and a Ralph Lauren dress shirt before I’d give it serious consideration.  But it’s a thought….stranger things have happened (think Trump).  I don’t see these “side effects” as “lessons” I’ve somehow gained from having cancer. Cancer sucks.  I’ll never give it that much power.  I guess I’ll just stick with “side effects” for now.

What’s next?  In mid-month, I’ll have another five gallons or so of blood extracted for more tests. (This part is starting to feel like “Groundhogs Day”- only less humorous.) Then another meeting with the oncologist at the end of the month.  My symptoms continue to be fairly mild, so I don’t anticipate having to start any treatments yet.

That’s it for now.  I wanted to write about the kindness of others – especially a “project” my amazing wife, daughter, her boyfriend and my sister-in-laws completed while I was gone…but that deserves a whole blog.  Coming soon!

Thanks for your on-going thoughts, prayers and kindness.  They continue to be felt and appreciated.