Down then Up..
So I actually wrote this about two weeks ago, but never posted it due to going on vacation and scrambling to get out of town, but wanted to share as it brings back some good times at a special place and a great end to a hard week for me…
Last week, I attended a memorial service for Dr. Greg Foltz (it was 7/15), who was the best neurosurgeon in the area and probably one of the best on the planet. He passed away in June of pancreatic cancer. I only had the chance to meet him a couple of times, but one of those times he personally gave me a tour of the Ivy Center at Swedish Hospital – the center that is 100% dedicated to work with brain tumor/brain cancer patients. It is few and far between. He was on a mission to beat brain cancer. He is the founder of the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk. If you talked with him for 5 minutes you truly believed that he was going to accomplished his mission – I believed that he was going to be the person to cause the breakthrough. He was going to beat brain cancer. But now he is gone. I have struggled to understand why I have felt so impacted by his passing. He wasn’t one of my care providers, and I think the care I have had has been outstanding. After thinking about it, he was hope. He was the person on a mission, a mission that I am one of those that will directly benefit. Having him on the team – with the same goal, brought lots of hope and excitement. Yes, he is the dude that is going to do this. As the Fred Hutch puts it he was going to be “breakthrough”.
Brain cancer is something that is vastly underfunded in the world of cancer. Its occurrence is growing at a much faster rate than it is being funded. The type of cancer I have makes up 3% of the brain cancer world – meaning I am in the minority. Which in some ways is good. My type of cancer has a longer life expectancy. It brings up the stat that only 20% of the people diagnosed with brain cancer lives 5 years from the date of diagnosis. The downside is that it makes up only 3% – thus in the world of underfunded brain cancer research, my type of cancer is on the bottom end of the funding scale. To be blunt it just really isn’t out there. There are not multiple clinical trials for Oligodendroglioma going on right now. In fact I would challenge someone to simply find one trial for my type of cancer. Somehow when thinking about the mission of Greg Foltz, that didn’t matter in my mind, he was going to make it happen across all types as he was going to make progress that will help all types of brain cancer survivors. I truly believed that he was going to make the impact that would cure all types of brain cancer. He was a great beacon of hope in the dark waters that is brain cancer. He passing was difficult as I feel like I lost a little bit of that hope.
Then last Friday (7/19), I had the week take a turn for the better, I went camping with the boys to Mirror Lake. We met up with Ken Norris and his son Thad. Thad and Colby have basically known each other their entire lives, so it makes for great fun to get them together. Mirror Lake is located south of I-90 and can be accessed via Exit 62. The hike in is short and perfect for kids. It was the first trip that I loaded both boys up with gear. Its time for them to help their dad carry in the gear! Even better for me! The lake sits right off of the PCT, so it is a very popular hiking spot. We were worried about getting the prime spot on the lake. Although there are lots of camping spots around the lake, the best spot is found on the far end of the lake from the PCT access point. It is actually on the top of some rock outcroppings. We were able to secure the prime location! We found two great spots for tents and set up camp. The kids rocked the hike in, despite the relentless attack by the mosquitoes. We played cards, capture the flag, kick the can, and different versions of tag. We had a blast. It was a great way to spend a night and a day.
Mirror Lake is a special spot for me. It was the site of my first non-adult camping trip when I was 15. A group of five of us made the trip in. Forest Hamilton, Jared Hanley, Jacob Predmore, Nathan Chriest and myself. We had to arrange rides to drop us off and pick us up. My mom dropped all of us off in Woody the Family wagon (yes a Chrysler station wagon with wood side paneling). We brought an eight person tent, an inflatable raft and a boombox. Looking back, I am amazed about the stuff we used to bring camping. One trip we even made two trips in to bring all of our stuff. Now I think a tent and a sleeping bag are luxury items. Hey we were roughing it back then! We ate like kings, steak, chicken fajitas, pancakes. The only meal that was not up to standards was Nate’s mac and cheese with hot dogs, it was missing butter! It looked great, but tasted horrible. We ran around the lake barefoot, swam, jumped off the rocks into the water, took the boat out. It was a great time. One other thing that was cool was that typically I had to wait and sort of let my sister lead the way in asking my folks to do things without adult supervision, but not the case this time. I got instant approval to go – just kids. (I think she was a little bit jealous). Mirror Lake was awesome and it was all about me.
After that trip, it became an annual event. The characters, changed over the years, but the place did not. The time that Jason Jarrett joined us. Our tent was strapped to the outside of a pack, as we were traversing the lake, we are up above the water on a steep incline. Yes the tent fell out and cascaded down the embankment and into the water. A classic move. It was on the way out, but it created problems as we strapped it to the top of our car due to it being soaked, it proceeded to fly off the top of the car on the way home. Luckily nobody was hurt, but we did have to stop and retrieve the tent from the middle of I-90. A classic Mirror Lake moment.
On a trip, with Andy Martin, Jared and Adam Thomas, we carried in a Coleman stove double burner, which was run with white gas. How Andy and Jared did not start a forest fire from playing with the white gas and fire, I will never know. Think really huge bonfire in the middle of the woods. I think they both lost their eye lashes though.
On another adventure, Derek Bozareth joined us and brought all of his gear up in plastic grocer bags. Jacob Harder was on that trip as well – he brought Coke and a Sports Illustrated. Packed for survival for sure. The Coke always came in handy as we would hike near Tinkham Peak and typically find patches of snow to make Coke slushies.
Some great trips and a variety of people….
As I got older, I still made trips up to Mirror Lake – however the objective changed, I came back to climb Tinkham Peak. We had a crew of Shawn Carnes, Kenny, myself and a dude named Doug. And Shawn’s daughter Hailey – he carried her in his backpack. I am not talking about a kid carrier – she was too big for that, I am talking about just a standard backpack. We made the summit and joined a swarm of black files, but it was a blast, we got to the peak above the lake. That trip was all about Doug and how he pushed his limits with us that day.
Last year, I made the trip with Brian Dickinson and his kids, Emily and Jordan, we did get the spot on the rocks, we took fishing poles and tested our luck. We got skunked (OK we caught some trees), but it didn’t matter, we still had a blast.
Mirror Lake a place of fun and memories. Now I get to pass that along to my boys…
It was a great way to end a hard week.