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#donewithcancer Part II

September 21, 2017

My last blog I talk about pushing a new hashtag #donewithcancer.  I tweeted out several things I have done since cancer and thought I would share them here for those that are not on Twitter.  These were tweeted out the past couple of weeks.

Each of these starts with “Things I have done since Cancer:”

These are in no particular order:

1. Climbing trip to the Alps:  Monte Rosa 

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2. Climbed Sharkfin Tower in the North Cascades

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3. Climbed Sloan Peak also North Cascades

Cool Sloan Peak

4. Ran the Orcas Island 50K with @rollTide_AK

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5. Started a Blog which became @DefeatGoliath

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6. Lost the hair on half of my head! (Dr.’s say It might grow back???) Not yet.

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7.  Rock Climbing at Smith

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8.  Lots of amazing trips with my boys!

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9.  Have been through 12 months of chemo, 6 weeks of radiation and 1 craniotomy.

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10.  Been Completely blessed by my family, friends and my community during this ordeal

Team DG 2016

This is the bonus item!  This picture was my first climb I did post surgery, while I was going through chemo, Jessica and I climbed Colchuck Peak, in the Enchantments.  We had an amazing day and it represented one of the first times that I was going to stay true to my mantra that I was not going to let Cancer keep me from doing the things I love and still accomplishing my goals.

Summit

Jessica and myself on the summit.

#donewithcancer

DG

DEH

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#donewithcancer

August 20, 2017

When I was first diagnosed with cancer one of my biggest goals was “not to change anything”. Granted anytime something big like that hits, some things are going to have to change. However my focus was more along the lines of I am not going to let cancer dictate my life. I am still going to go do the things I am passionate about. I am going to still move forward living my life. I will not let fear win the day. As most everyone knows, I love to be outdoors, I love to hike, climb, run, bike, kayak, and anything else that gets me outside in the fresh air and the beauty of our environment. I was not going to let cancer keep me from my passion. I think this was evident when not too long after my craniotomy, I went to Zion national Park with some good buddies. We hiked up to Angel’s Landing (while it was covered in snow and ice) and then hiked into the Subway (which is a beautiful canyon not in the main valley at Zion) A few months prior, I was not really able to walk alone, due to deficiencies from my surgery. Now I was hiking on a couple of fairly challenging hikes. This is actually how the DG logo was born. It was from hiking up Angel’s Landing. Part of that trip was to get away with some of my good buddies, but it was also in some ways a test to myself that I was still going to do some cool things in my life. Cancer would not define me. I was still going to choose how I was going to live my life. During this trip I was a couple of months into my 12 months of chemo.  It was in some ways the first big thing I had done with cancer.

Here is the photo that became the DG Logo.  High up on Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

DG

A few weeks ago I was looking at some digital files of photos of trips I have done the last several years, all post cancer and thought “I have done quite a bit of cool things since the discovery of Goliath.” I thought back to my vow about not changing things and realized that I have done a pretty good job of living that out. I saw lots of great adventures of climb, trips to the Alps, incredible camping and climbing trips with my boys, a 50K ultra-marathon, a trip up to Mt. Waddington, an adventure race, some great climbs in the Cascades and Rainier with my wife and friends. I realized that I have really fulfilled that vow. Cancer has not kept me from moving forward in my life. In some respects it has probably enhanced some of this adventures because, I now realize how precious they really are. Time is not something that we can ever get back, so we need to use it wisely.  In the end our connections with people, our memories and our faith is really all that we have left. So you might as well make the connections and memories top notch.

I sent out a couple of tweets about the things I have done since cancer. My thought was to put out a top ten list of cool adventures I have done since my cancer diagnosis. I put out my first three and actually got a pretty good response.  These included my climb of Monta Rosa in the Alps, a climb of Sharkfin Tower in the North Cascades and a climb of Sloan Peak, as in the North Cascades. The responses from my small group of followers was neat to see. I do not have a huge amount of twitter followers. So any response lets me know that I tweeted something that resonates with people.

I then went on climb of Argonaut Peak with Brian Dickinson (@BrainCDickinson), he has a large twitter following. He mentioned that he liked the idea of the list of things I have done since I was diagnosed with cancer. I was using a hashtag #notdeadyet with each tweet. However I didn’t really like that. As kids, my sister and I were not supposed to use the word dead, as our mother did not like that word. To add some context, if that sounds weird, this rule occurred after my younger brother died of SIDS. After our climb of Argonaut, I thought about a hashtag that weekend. My Family was on a cruise in Alaska, where I was soon to join them, so I had some solo time to consider this. Then it came to me: #donewithcancer!!

Really there are two meanings:

  1. I am just done with cancer, it sucks and has claimed to many lives, too many too young. I have a list of incredible people impacted by this disease. And it seems each week, I am contacted by someone looking for more information about brain cancer due to a recent diagnosis.  I am glad I can be a resource, but I hate the reason.
  2. It is to represent things that people have done despite cancer. Basically saying what have you or a loved one done to show cancer that you will not give in, you will not surrender. Really just things you have done since being diagnosed with cancer.

Granted my list is full of outdoor adventure and doing some things in some cases that not everyone can do. However that is not the idea of #donewithcancer. The idea is what things, big or small have you done to not let cancer dictate your life. How have you or a loved one continued to live your life to it’s fullest regardless of cancer. The idea is that not everyone can “go big” after a cancer diagnoses. For some a #donewithcancer moment might just be a warm embrace from a loved one. It is not about climbing mountains, but about how in a small or big way have you chosen to be #donewithcancer. How have you decided to not let cancer dictate terms to you.

I look back at my Dad who died of cancer at the age of 50. Once he was diagnosed, he would not have been healthy enough to do some of the adventures that I have been doing, nor were those things his passion. If I was to make a #donewithcancer top five list for my Dad, I think it would look like this:

  1. Was able to tell each of my loved ones goodbye in my own special way.
  2. Attended my daughter’s college graduation from WSU
  3. Took my son on a trip to Reno for his 21’st Birthday
  4. Daily walk of the .8 mile loop from home
  5. Received a head massage of my bald hairless head caused by chemo

My Hope is that people will share this idea and use the hashtag #donewithcancer to show that ways that people are standing up to this disease and choosing to keep control of their lives. I know for me, I am going to continue my vow to continue to do the things I love and that bring me joy, despite doing them with cancer. #donewithcancer.  These things big and small were huge to my Dad and showed his family his determination and grit in the face of a difficult and painful diagnosis. Unlike me, my Dad’s cancer lead to intense pain, as his bones were being disintegrated by his cancer.

I challenge everyone to use #donewithcancer and list how you or a loved one has pressed forward and not let cancer hold you back.

DG

DEH

#donewithcancer

Snowking

August 4, 2017

So I used to spend lots of time after adventures writing up a trip report and sending them out to friends who enjoy outdoor adventures like myself.  I haven’t done this is quite some time, but felt like this past trip with my boys and good friend Brian Dickinson and his son Jordan was well worth it.  Plus Brian made a pretty awesome YouTube video to share.

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Picture near the summit

So here it is:  Kids Rocking Snowking

I have been looking at Snowking Mountain for quite some time. It seemed like a great mix of seclusion and beautiful views in the North Cascades. Thus it become the goal for a weekend trip with myself, my to boys, Colby 12, and Cade 10, plus my good friend Brian and his son Jordan 10. Honestly there was not much current beta on this mountain. I was using the 75 scrambles book for the bulk of my beta. Shortly before our leave date, I realized that the approach road (1570) was permanently closed.   I briefly thought I switch to Mt. Daniel, but the allure or the North Cascades was just too much. Besides, I had recently taken my boys to the movie “Dirtbag – the story of Fred Beckey”. Thus the idea of the remote North Cascades seemed even more enticing.

We headed out from Snoqualmie just after 6am and hit the local Starbucks for some coffee and breakfast, then it was on the road. We arrived at the trailhead at like 9:30, then got geared up and ready to go. The road (FS 1570) to where it is permanently closed, was fine except for a creek crossing that is almost next to the block-off point. Anyhow we had a Jeep so it was not an issue at all. We then parked the rig and started to load up our gear. There were two other cars at the “trailhead”. We were then packed up and ready to head out. A long road walk awaited us. The road is now pretty overgrown and has two spots that are totally washed out. Granted they are both easy to navigate past. The extra walk took us about 1:45. The boys grumbled a little bit about the road, but they were troopers! Finally we hit what is the actual trailhead and took a small break. The trail was for sure a climbers trail as it went straight up. We cruised up on the trail stopping from time to time to rest, grab some food and water and for bathroom breaks. Eventually we ran into a solo person coming down the trail. He said that he had gotten up the trail, where it opens up into sort of a small basin. However the basin was covered with snow and he was not able to follow the trail, thus he turned around and was heading back. We kept on moving, the boys were awesome and we made it to the open area at around 4800’. Here, is where we hit snow and the trail disappeared until it. We found some markers that seemed to take us to the right of what looked like Point 5116. However everything that I had read stated that the key was to stay left. We ended up just heading up to the top of Point 5116 to see if we could get a better look at the terrain and pick-up the trail. Honestly we saw nothing but thick forest all around. There was not a good idea of where a trail might be. We saw the next objective that we needed to scale, which was point 5450’ – however there was quite a bit of evelation gain that was needed to get there from where we were. Not to mention that Cyclone Lake (our hopeful camping spot) was still a ways past that on the map. We looked at the boys and they were looking a little bit tired. Thus we talked and decided that this was going to be our campsite for the night. It was about 4:30pm anyhow. The boys had been going for over 6 hours by now with full packs.

We set up camp. The black flies were out of control. Brian got the stove going (we camped on some snow patches, so we had a water source) and freeze dried yum it was! After that we all jump into tents as the bugs sucked and really our campsite was not equipped with great sitting areas. We then went to bed. We woke up just before 5am and started getting everything ready to head out in the am. We had put together a plan to try and find the trail. After some bushwhacking we actually were able to pick it up again. From there it was sort of on and of the trail, we were able to mostly follow it up to the top of Point 5450’ However I will say there was a bunch of bushwhacking that went along with getting up to the top of the point. At the top we found another tent and a great camping spot, with views! Our spot was not quite out of the trees, so the views were good, but not great. The trail down from the point is actually pretty steep right from the top. Once you drop down, there are two smaller humps that you have to go up and over to reach a point where you can access Cyclone Lake. The lake was still covered with snow. The area near the lake is beautiful. It was about here were we caught up with the two guys who were camped up at Point 5450’. We talked with them briefly and then, kept on going. We leapfrogged a couple of times however on one of the “bumps” they were trying to side-hill traverser across it, but it looked pretty nasty, so we just decided to go straight up an over and follow a moderate snow slope to the top. This proved to be the winning route for sure. We had to navigate a bit now, but the two guys were not in sight anymore. From here the next task was to gain the ridge. From here to the top, we were in mostly snow. The snow was soft, but not slushy, thus it made for some great travel. There were a couple of spots were we dropped onto the rocks, then back to the snow. We finally saw the two guys again they had gain the top of the little bump. This was the last we saw of them, as I think they bailed. The next bit was a steady climb to the summit on snow.

Once we got near the summit ridge, the slope got much steeper. Here we had the boys pull out their ice axes as we traversed across the face of the peak looking for the best way to get onto the rocky peak from the snow, while avoiding some large moats. We found a way onto the rock, then finished the with a short, but easy scramble section to reach the summit. We reached the top at noon and spend about 30 minutes at the summit. For the USGS markers. We didn’t look hard for a register, not sure if there is one or not? But no worries. I snapped a few pictures of the markers for proof. The summit is at 7433’. Now we looked back at the path and realized that we still have a long way to go to get out of here.

We thought about trying to see if would could cut across some of the areas we went to get to the top, in order to make the trip a little bit shorter. We quickly realized that was useless and decided that we should just follow our tracks back out as it was actually easier. We finished our trip back to our camp site with a full-on bushwhack up to point 5116. Basically we figured that we had to climb up anyhow so might as well just attack it head on. When we got back to the tents, it was closing in on 5pm. We figured that we had at least a 3.5 hour hike to get back to the car. The boys had done awesome so far and we were worried about having them put full packs back on and then have to go down the steep trail. Plus we thought there might be a high likelihood of needing headlamps for the hike on the road to get back to the car. Thus we talked and decided as much as it would worry the heck out of our wives, the best option was to stay one more night and then hike out in the morning. So we did. It was time for another round of freeze dried goodness and then off to sleep.

We got up about 4:30 and then were on the trail by around 5:30. The hike out was steep for sure and after watching the boys navigate the roots and obstacles with full packs, it was clear to us that we made the correct call. We were back to the car around 9:30.

There was a Skagit County Sheriff who just pulled up to our car and asked us if we were Brian and David.  Yes we said.  “Great that makes my job much easier!”  Yep we worried our wives!  But we were all safe and made the correct call.  I now own a Spot device however!     All in all an incredible trip. All three boys were superstars. I really thought early on in the trip that I had picked something that might be too hard. However they rose to the challenge. In typically North Cascade fashion the truly hard part was the approach, the climb was the fun relaxing part of the trip. I would not recommend this hike for kids however. Despite the fact that we took our boys on this, they have climbs such as Adams, Baker, Mt. Daniel, St. Helens and Camp Muir on their lists of accomplishments. Not your ordinary 10 and 12 year-olds!

We were also quite pleased that we got two 10 year-olds and a twelve year-old to the top of Snowking, when we saw men around us who went 0-3. Proud papa moment for sure.

The area is beautiful, remote and rugged for sure. It was a great introduction into teaching our kids some dirtbag skills.

Kids Rocking Snowking

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DG

DEH

Finding Hope

June 20, 2017

 

 

Hope – It’s what can help to keep us going. Even when the darkness surrounds us. Hope is the light in the dark. “However dark the night, however dim our hopes, the light will always follow darkness.” – Louis Zamperini (He is the guy from Unbroken if you don’t know the name). A while back I had submitted my name to a non-profit organization that pairs up cancer survivors with other cancer survivors to create a mentor/mentee relationship. I put my name in as a potential mentor. Well just a few weeks ago, I was contacted that I would be a good fit for someone looking for a mentor.

We have traded some emails and had a good phone conversation. What I found out was that this person actually has been at this longer than me. They are at 12 years – started with the same type of brain cancer as me, but since then has had several growth periods in which the brain has morphed into a more aggressive grade. Tumor progression is a very common thing that occurs with slow growing tumors like mine. Anyhow they seemed totally down, depressed, and tired of the whole process. Tired of the repeated rounds of chemo and radiation, tired of the medications, tired of the waiting for MRI results, just plain tired of the whole crappy process. I can totally relate. Waiting is the name of the game with brain cancer. Waiting on the results of an MRI to see what the next year of your life might bring. It is a world that consists of counter attacks. You wait for the tumor to do something and then you pounce on it and go after it. Counter attacks require a great deal of patience and waiting. But “the waiting is the hardest part” (Tom Petty quote). It’s during this constant waiting that can lead to despair, frustration, fear, and anger. It really sucks. I think after 12 year of the frustration, they have started to wear down and become bitter. Causing them to let the darkness creep in. You wait to hear the words “Your MRI is stable” and then you are supposed to be overjoyed with happiness. Then you wait again for the next MRI… Stable is not the description that typically brings joy to one’s heart.

For example have you ever heard these types of conversations?:

“Hey Jim how is your new job going?”

“It’s stable.”

or

“Hey Bill, long time no-see, how is the family?”

“They’re stable.”

As you can see “stable” is a pretty awful description that actually provokes more negative thoughts than positive ones. But that is the reality of brain cancer.

This is what brings me to this concept of hope. As we all know “Rebellions are built on hope” (Rogue One). I really think the person that I am mentoring has lost some hope. Hope can be easy to lose and hard to hold onto, but it’s the key to being a survivor. After years of treatment, that sort of works and a tumor that has slowly become more aggressive over time, their hope has started to wane.  It has slowly been eroded.  It’s like the frog put in water that is slowly brought to a boil.  The frog will adapt to the slow changes in temperature until its too late and the frog get’s cooked.  I think brain cancer is a lot like that, you adapt and deal with each type of treatment and each setback.  However, through it all, your hope takes a slow and almost unnoticeable beating until you reach a point that it’s gone.   You have to have hope to survive cancer. Hope is what will guide you in the dark, it will keep the horrible thoughts at bay, and keep you moving one foot at a time forward through the cancer slog. Hope is a critical piece. It’s essential.

One source of hope is seeing other cancer survivors who have made the journey, been victorious. and shown that there is a chance, and hope for a better tomorrow.  These amazing warriors bring such hope and strength to those of us in the midst of the battle.  I know that I have many, many heroes that I watch and follow from afar and from up close.

Hope also comes in the form of new advancements in cancer treatment and options. Attending seminars and learning about the new treatment methods that some very talented and intelligent people are working on is one way to provide hope to the masses. Locally we have the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, working hard to cure people and to give people hope for a better tomorrow. The Alliance is UW, Children’s Hospital, and Fred Hutch all pooling their resources to create better outcomes for patients with cancer.  They have quite the power team.

This is the group that has provided all of my treatment.

Here is your opportunity to help provide Hope to cancer patients. By helping to support the SCCA!  You can be a great agent of change and a person who supports hope.  Hope to all cancer patients that are battling to stay healthy and alive.

Run picture

Defeat Goliath is planning to be at the Head for the Cure 5K race! And we would like you to join us!  This is a run/walk event, so no worries if you are not a runner.  They offer some great awards and prizes for kid speedsters as well.

Here is the skinny:

Sunday July 9th at 8am

The Location is Marymoor Park

6046 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE Redmond, WA  98052

 

Here is the link:

http://www.headforthecure.org/seattle

When you sign up make sure to click join a team and then select Defeat Goliath.  Since I missed the walk this past year, this is DG’s big event for the year.

Also some exciting news on the DG website, my sister has been working on some really cool DG gear and posters. She has been taking some of my mountain pictures, adding some of my quotes from my blog and making, T-shirts, mugs, hats and posters.

Check it out here:

http://www.defeatgoliath.org/dg-shop.html

We would love to see you out at Marymoor helping to due your part to bring hope to those that need it the most!

DEH

A Great Man Goes Home

April 2, 2017

It was about three years ago, Jess asked me one night “Do you know who Rian Fiske is?”  I said “Doesn’t ring a bell, but I bet you that if I saw him I would recognize him.”

“They go to our church and he helps with production work.”

“Why do you ask?”

“I just heard that he was diagnosed with colon cancer.”   That nasty C word.  Followed by a sinking heart.

Fast forward about a year.  I am coaching Cade’s baseball team and receive my roster, I see that I have Joshua Fiske on my team.  The parents listed are Rian and Rebekah.  Cool I thought, it will be fun to really get to know them better.  There was a night of practice that is still vivid in my memory.  It was spring break – Cade was actually gone somewhere with Jess and Colby.  I was home because of work.  I still held some hitting practices with kids that were around. I invited parents to come help if they wanted to.  Rian brought Joshua and came to help.  He pulled me aside and said let me know what to do, I am happy to do anything, however I really don’t know anything about baseball.  It was a great night.  Joshua is this high energy, super kind hearted boy, who has a big heart and a big smile.  Rian shagged balls, ran around, and had a blast.  This night sticks with me because that was a great example of what being a father is all about.  He came and did something he wasn’t great at. He did this because he loves his son, because his son wanted him there.  I know when my Dad died, and I spoke at his memorial service, I talked about his presence and how important that was to me.  He made me the priority and no matter what would just be there for me.  I think our world focuses a lot on what we can provide our kids, what things we can get for them, but all they really want is our time and attention. It was a great example to me that I need to be there for my kids, even if it means I am pushed out of my comfort zone. It’s not about me, it’s about them and meeting them at their level.    Rian provided me with an example of how it looks to jump into something for your child, regardless of your abilities.

After that, I felt like we established a bond that was unfortunately due to both sharing a connection to cancer.  The bond is formed by living and understanding the challenges, frustration, and fear that comes with living through cancer.  By fear, I am not talking about the fear of dying, but rather the fear of how the end might go and the challenges that come with a body that is being ravaged by cancer.  Also by the biggest fear, which is that of leaving our families behind. Not being there to watch our kids grow up, not being there for our wives.  That is truly the fear of cancer.   It is hard to articulate that connection, as it’s not completely tangible.  No it did not catapult us to being inseparable friends, but somehow whenever I saw him I knew that he was someone who completely understood how I feel.  When I found out in December of 2015, that my tumor was growing again, he came to my house with a group of great men from my church and prayed for me.  I felt like I was composed, until Rian prayed for me, then the emotions came out.  The emotions came out as he knew the position I was in, he understood the roller coaster of the diagnoses that the cancer is bad, that the cancer is on the move.  He has been through the crushing reality of being told that you are not Superman, the cancer is on the move.

I had the honor of visiting Rian in the hospital prior to his passing.  Going there, I was taken aback by his unbreakable faith.  He knew that regardless of the outcome, he was going to be going home to heaven.  His complete faith in Jesus was unshakeable and honestly something that I wish I had.  He told me that he was going to pray for my healing.  I told him, first things first, that I was going to pray for him as my healing can come later, but right now was his time.  He looked at me and said no it would happen together.  That God was certainly big enough to heal us both at the same time.  I will be completely honest it was a challenge as the cancer had spread throughout his body, including his brain. He was displaying symptoms that are common with someone fighting brain cancer.  In some ways, I felt like I was watching my own future play out in front of me.

I then watched as he was adamant that he would pray for each person who came to the hospital.  Here was this man, whose body was being overrun with cancer, yet he was the one who chose to pray for everyone else.  At the last Passover, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.  He already knew what was coming, the path that he had to walk, but prior to that, he chose to humble himself and wash the feet of the 12.  He didn’t ask them to lavish him with gifts and provide a big send-off.  No he washed their feet.  Knowing that soon he would be strapped to a cross, attached by nails driven through his arms, and legs.  He chose to serve.  Serving to show his unconditional love.

John 13:1 and 12:17 (NIV)

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

I felt like I was watching this play out in real life.  This man was beaten and battered by cancer yet, still showed the ultimate level of love by humbling himself and sacrificing for those he cared about.  It was such an amazing display of Jesus.  One of the greatest examples I have seen in my life.  People came to give, yet they received.  Received his prayers, his love, and his great display of unwavering faith.  Rian was just like Job, he was beaten down by this beast called cancer, but he was never broken, his faith never wavered, he took its best shot and asked what’s next.  I left there wishing that I had that kind of faith.  When I reach that point, will I be like Jesus, humble myself and just give to those around me?  Will I be able to completely rejoice in the homecoming that will follow.  Will I be able to be a man as amazing as him?

He is now smiling down on us in heaven, free from the pain, free from the suffering, hanging with Jesus.

All I can say is that this remarkable man is my benchmark of what it means to display love, to show grace, to live in faith, and to push as hard as humanly possible.  To me Rian is a hero.

If you want to support Rian’s family that would be really appreciated.  He has a wonderful wife and 3 truly amazing kids.  Both Jessica and I have had connections with their kiddos, myself through coaching and Jess through teaching.  We would both love for those who read this blog and have followed my story to support this truly incredible family and this awesome hero of mine.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/fiske-family-support-fund

 

Happy 40th David! We’ve Got Your Back

March 2, 2017

defeat-goliath

A Note from David’s Sister

David turns 40 on Friday, March 3rd, 2017. 40 is quite the milestone.

On July 9th, we are going to run the “Head for the Cure” 5K at Marymoor Park.

Will you help me celebrate his 40th by running, walking or donating?

Funds raised by Head for the Cure support the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative, a network of medical centers with the expertise and the desire to participate in state-of-the-art clinical trials investigating new treatments for malignant brain tumors. Funds support the Brain Tumor Center at UW Medical Center, where David is a patient. I could go on about how deadly brain cancer is, and that it is now the number one cause of cancer deaths in children, and that it is one of the most underfunded cancers we face. But I hope I don’t have to do all of that.

Your support give us all hope, and…

REBELLIONS ARE BUILT ON HOPE.

JOIN OR DONATE:
http://events.headforthecure.org/goto/DG

We have done this race two years now.  This is a 5K but you can walk or run. There is also a run for kids. We hope you will join us.

When I turned 40, my goal was to climb a mountain with my bro (something he does all the time, but I had never done). Whenever I wanted to give up I thought “this is not harder than chemo.”  I really didn’t think I could make it, and David looked at me and basically said you’re fine – keep going!

Keri, Colby and David on the Summit of Mount Adamsmount-adams

Mount Adams Hug.jpg

So glad this moment was captured. This is right when I summited- I could barely move and I went straight to David and hugged him. I know my eyes welled up and I said
thank you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEH!

DG

Sincerely, Keri

defeatgoliath@yahoo.com

www.defeatgoliath.org

Photo Apr 11, 6 51 18 PM

“Losing” the Battle with Cancer

January 3, 2017

After I was first diagnosed with brain cancer, I felt like there had to be a reason why me. I wrote a post about why bad things happen to good people and really tried to get some meaning of this.  Granted the answer may just be that this is “karma” coming back at me. However I tend to think this is not the case, thus there must be a reason.  I stand five years out and here are my list of “reasons”:  1.  This blog  2.  Defeat Goliath 3.  Helping others who have been diagnosed with brain cancer.  Or 4, I don’t know as it just hasn’t happened yet.  I am not sure what to think about 1 and 2, so let’s talk about number 3.  Helping others is something that I truly do enjoy.  Information about brain cancer is not clearly defined and can be difficult to understand, there is not a set road map that should be followed by each person.  Many of the same treatment options have remained unchanged for 30 plus years – some scary stuff!  Doctors have different takes on what should be done and some centers recommend different types of treatment, not  because it is the best but because that is the type that their faculty can offer.  Toss in insurance issues and needless to say, it can be a bit daunting.  Providing any type of guidance, support, a listening ear, etc. is very rewarding to me personally.  If I can make a small difference, provide some reassurance or even just be able to understand somewhat the emotions of the brain cancer warrior and loved ones, then that is a victory.   The only downside is that along the way I have met people where the cancer was not controllable.  This is where things get hard, frustrating, and downright depressing.  At times I have been left speechless with nothing to say but tears rolling down my face.  My list of warriors extends outward not only through personal connections, but through blogs, tweets, and other forms of social media.  When other brain cancer warriors have setbacks or in some cases die, it is like a part of my own hope is chipped away.  My hope gets attacked a little bit and it’s challenging for me.  I look at is as if they can do it, so can I, so when someone is struggling, it’s hard and my hope fades just a little bit.  As Louis Zamperini says “Hope provides the power of the soul to endure.” Thus anything that can attack that hope is very dangerous.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change things for a second in terms of being a resource for people, despite the fact that sometimes things don’t work out how I would like them to.  Miracles do happen!  And even if they don’t, we all can be better people because of the journey of another person.  I am more often left inspired and more hopefully from others than the other way around.

I would like to think that Hope looks a little bit like this picture.  My boys snowshoeing with me this past weekend in lots of powder and super cold temperatures.  They make up my hope.

boys-snowshoeing

 

Which brings me to the whole point of my blog.  Often it is said that so and so, “lost” their courageous battle with cancer.  I think the point is to try and honor that person by pointing out that they battled hard or fought the good fight despite the overwhelming odds against them.  I completely and totally realize that by using that language, people are only trying to praise the person who died from cancer.  Heck I am sure that I have said that many times about my own Dad.  But now I see things a little bit differently, I have an issue with the concept of “lost”.  Yes a person may have died from cancer, but hey all of us will die at some point.  We all will “lose” at some time in the future.  So I feel like when we use the term “lost” to cancer, it sort of implies that the cancer somehow “won”.  I now recognize that if a person, who may have died as a result of cancer, brought people together, inspired others, showed what it means to be courageous, and never quit, then in my view they have not lost anything, but gained so much more.  Those around them also have gained a ton, they have been forever changed by the person’s spirt and will to live.  Let’s not think of things in winning and losing, but how did we grow, how were we inspired, how did we change for the better as a result of this.  We grow through adversity, how we respond shapes us all at our core and shows us who we really are deep inside.  Cancer is adversity, when it’s you or a loved one.  Cancer challenges us in all kinds of ways, from physical, to mental, to attitude, financially and more. We and those around us will forever be different because of cancer.  Really all that cancer did was speed up the normal process of life, it didn’t win anything.  Technically we all have “lost” once we are born. (As a side note, I do acknowledge that this brings up a entirely different conversation about the afterlife and heaven, but I will save that as that is not the focus of this blog post.)  Back to my point, I think to use the term “lost their battle with cancer” does not do that person the proper justice, as it implies that cancer is the “winner”.

I think about the results of my Dad’s cancer, in the end, yes he did die, but in the process, he inspired his two kids forever, he strengthened bonds of family, friendship and love, he encouraged an entire community to rally around him and his family, he restored some family connections that remain tighter today then ever, he showed what it means to be courageous, and was able to tell everyone close to him that he loved them.  That doesn’t sound like losing to me.  To me he won, not cancer.  And in many ways I won, having the privilege to see him respond to the challenge of cancer.

So if you know someone with cancer, whose body gives out, just be careful saying they “lost” to cancer.  As from my vantage point, I haven’t seen anyone who “lost” to cancer.  What I have seen is amazing people, being courageous, inspiring me, motivating me,  and in the end being victorious.

I do wish I had some other better phrase to use to honor our friends and loved ones, who died as a result of cancer, so I am open to ideas and suggestions.  How can we create a better term or phrase to truly honor a special cancer warrior, without acknowledging cancer as a winner?

DEH

DG