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Terminal

December 5, 2018

Recently I attended one night of a trail running festival that is sponsored by Rainshadow running and developed by James Varner.  Back in 2015, I ran my first ultra-post cancer diagnosis, the Orcas Island 50K was my race.  It so happens to be part of Rainshadow Runnings’ events.   It was my fourth overall.  What is super cool is that Jessica is about to embark on her first Ultra this coming weekend, running the Rainshadow Deception Pass 50K.  She has been working hard and training diligently and I know that she is going to rock this race.  I am proud of her and excited as I have been telling her to come over to the “dark side” and leave the pavement behind and stick to the trails, for quite some time.  50K’s are more fun than marathons, IMO.  I have run both and would rather go longer with lots of hills on dirt, than fast and flat on pavement.  Anyhow she has been on it, training like a beast to get ready for this weekend.  It’s some cool stuff for sure!  I know that she is going to do awesome.  I believe in her.

Back to the film festival.  One of the films we saw was called “Proof of Life” and featured a guy, Brad Thiessen, from Spokane who had been training for 50K, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  It was a brilliant film that really hit home with me.  The film featured his recovery from surgery and treatment and his goal to train and run the 50K that he had planned to regardless of brain cancer.  He decided that he was going to do what he did before regardless of a tumor – sounds familiar for sure.  He talked about how the goal of running that 50K gave him purpose and hope to battle through by physically and mentally.  For obvious reasons it was my favorite film of the night.

Proof of Life Documentary

The cool part was that he was actually at the showing, so I was able to introduce myself and talk with him.  I learned that he has an Oligo, like me.  He mentioned that he had not met another person in the flesh with an Oligo (Oligo’s are only about 3% of brain cancer world – pretty rare).

One of the first parts of the film really struck me as he talked about how his diagnosis was terminal.  Which is true, there is no known cure for an Oligodendroglioma.  In the brain cancer circle, these types of tumors are typically slower growing and not quite as aggressive, however despite treatment, they always come back.  When they do, they become more and more aggressive each time.  Generally speaking there are two paths, one where a surgeon is able to perform a complete resection and remove 100% of the tumor, so the patient, waits to see if the tumor will return.  Or the other path is that not all of the tumor can be removed, so the waiting game is to see if the tumor is growing or changing.  I am in the second category.  I am waiting and watching to see if Goliath grows and changes.  This did occur at the end of 2015, which is why I did proton radiation back in 2016, 3 ½ years after doing 12 months of chemotherapy.  Goliath was growing again, thus additional treatment was done to try and keep Goliath at bay.  The likelihood that Goliath will grow or change again is extremely high.  Science says that I am not done with Goliath yet…

Brad had mentioned in the film that several people had made comments to him about having terminal cancer, along the lines of “We are all going to die, so does it really matter that you have terminal cancer?”  I am paraphrasing here by the way.  I have heard comments like that before as well.  Typically when you hear the term “terminal cancer”, the idea is that the person has days, maybe months to live.  People with Oligo’s, it’s more like years, versus months.  But what people fail to realize is the mental shift that occurs.  The diagnosis is like a black cloud that is always there, hanging over you.  It’s like the Peanuts character Pigpen, who leaves a trail of dirt and dust behind him wherever he goes.  He can’t escape it as it’s always there.  It follow him around, just like a brain cancer diagnosis does.  It changes your planning, your outlook on life, your thought processes.  You have to think about and plan for your family after your death.  I can tell you that I didn’t give those types of thoughts, much time prior to Goliath.  At age 34, I was unstoppable, I had the world at my fingertips, and anything was possible.  After cancer, I had to think about things, such as how would my family get by without me?  What would I do if I started to become incapacitated and couldn’t work or function properly?  Do I have enough life insurance?  How will this impact my ability to work?  When you leave surgery and the left side of your body does not work as it should, it’s scary.  That fear is hard to ignore.  Yes I am not going to die tomorrow, but I can assure you that I never thought much about dying or what I need to do to prepare my family for my death, prior to Goliath.

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2018 Brain Cancer Walk – a fitting quote to think about after watching Proof of Life

So let’s not trivialize the feelings of fear and unknown that come along with a cancer diagnosis, especially when it’s something without a cure that can have a very nasty and brutal ending.  Yes it’s true that we are all going to die, however when death comes to live in your head, it for sure changes how you see the world.  It would be like attending a memorial service and walking up to the mic and saying, why are all of you crying and sad – we all are going to die so it really doesn’t matter.  Add the “We are all going to die anyway.” comments as things not to tell people with cancer.

I finish with a big high five and “go kick some butt” to Jess as she goes after her first 50K on Saturday!  I am excited for her.

DEH

DG

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Andy and the PCT

November 27, 2018

Andrew Martin, he is a fine young lad.  He is also absent from social media, thus will probably only see this as I am pretty sure it does follow my blog.  Anyhow this past summer, he did a pretty amazing trip and accomplished something that is truly remarkable.  He thru-hiked the PCT.  The PCT covers 2,653 miles from Mexico to Canada and features 420,880 of elevation change.  He went North, hiking through California, Oregon and Washington.  What is even more impressive is that he had a Go-Pro camera and documented the entire trip.  He has tons of great video clips of his journey, some beautiful scenery, some funny moments, some showing the struggles he faced.  It’s some really compelling and unique stuff.  I think that it should be shared with people.  It’s all been uploaded to You Tube, but since he won’t be broadcasting the links anytime soon, I am not sure how many people will actually find it.  I decided that I would do just that – share it, at least to my little footprint of people.  He might be annoyed at me for sharing some of this, but I really think that some of the footage he took is too cool not to be shared.  And he did post it to his You Tube channel, so it’s meant to be viewed, I am just bringing it out through other social media avenues.

Andy Finish

Andy “Knoxville” – Suns out Guns Out at the US/Canadian Border:  aka the finish.

We have known each other since before kindergarten, so basically our whole lives.  He was the High School ASB president our senior year as well as the president and founder of the Unexplained Phenomenon Club.  We watched the X-Files and talked about the power of the pyramid once a month.  We made a potato gun launcher for a school science project and had visions of a great class period, having the class watch us shoot potatoes all period.  We were advised that a potato gun launcher is really a weapon and should not be on campus, meaning they would call the Duvall Police if school knew it was on campus at all. Our teacher asked if it was on campus of course we said “no sir, we would never bring a weapon to school. (Truth be told it was sitting is his truck ready for action!)   We had figured out that we could shoot golf balls through plywood with the “Velocitator.  I could go on and on about things like the “Coyote”, the Bearcat sign, a nice porcelain toilet, a “real one”, a Courier, Moss Lake, missing keys, the senior wall,  a rock meant to pee off of, Getting the red ass, red devil eyes, the stories are endless.  Lots of great memories and fun adventures.

CA Picture

A very unique cloud formation taken by Andy on the trail in CA.

We have been through the highs and lows of life and I would say have both been resources for each other during both the good and the bad.  Our first outdoor adventures occurred just off I-90, near Snoqualmie Pass at a beautiful lake called Mirror Lake.  The PCT actually crosses directly by Mirror Lake.  We would pack in an outrageous amount of gear and live like kings.  We had music, huge 8 person tents, rafts, and lots of soda.  We would hike up towards Tinkham Peak to find leftover patches of snow, which we would “harvest” snow to make slushies with our soda. We would have backpacks and have both arms full of gear.  Looking back we would be shocked at the amount of gear we carried and the weight, considering how efficient and lightweight we travel now.   For quite some time we have always gotten out for at least one outdoor adventure per year.  From climbs of Mt. Rainier, Mt Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker, a cool camping trip to Spider Meadows, to lava tube caving in Bend.

Chill

Jared and Andy Chilling at camp.

We always do something fun.  Over a year ago now, Andy told me that he was going to thru-hike the PCT.  I was equally parts pumped for him and honestly jealous of that amazing journey that would await him.  As mentioned above, for those that do not know much about the PCT, it is a trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada, it’s 2652.6 miles long and takes most people about 5 months to complete.  Yes that is hiking for 5 months straight, living in a tent, finding your own water sources, carrying your own food.  Averaging 15-20 miles of hiking per day.

His permit had him starting his journey towards the end of March.  Jared Hanley and I had planned to meet him in the High Sierras.  Typically this is one of the most demanding stretches of the trail as the Sierra’s will still have a fair amount of snow, meaning lots of snow travel, it’s cold and everything gets wet.  The path can also be hard to follow as the snow covers the way.  Our original plan was to hike from Reds Meadow (mile 907) to Sonora pass (Mile 1018) with him.  We both had a window during May to join him.  Andy was equipped with a GPS tracker, so we were following him each day during his progress on the trail.  We soon started to realize that we had overestimated his speed and he was not going to be near the area we were hoping during our proposed window.  Thus our plan to help him in the cold and snows of the High Sierra was not going to happen.  So we pushed back the timing.  The next plan was the Trinity Alps near Mt. Shasta.  However as some of you many have seen in the news, the area around Redding went up in flames this summer.  Thus we pushed our meeting point further north to Central Oregon – just north of all the bad fires.

Rap

Setting up to rappel down from Mt. Washington

Andy had already met up with Jared, when I got there, they spent a “zero” day for Andy, (a zero day is just a rest day – no miles on the PCT, but it sounds cooler to say zero day, versus rest day) at Smith Rock doing some climbing.   Although I am not sure a rest day means going rock climbing at Smith for most thru-hikers.  We met up super late near the Hoodoo Ski Area, where the PCT passes by.  We dropped a car there and then headed to Bend for some sleep.  We set off the next day.  Our path took us to the summit of the South Sister, where we camped for night one.  The South Sister’s summit is at around 10,300 ft.  We found an awesome pre-built shelter area to pitch our tent.  Andy just decided to cowboy camp it.  From there we descended a different side of the mountain, down to Green Lakes, then headed towards Camp Lake.  Andy had to add some miles as he left his Nalgene Bottle at a rest spot and decided he need to hike back to retrieve it.  Can’t be losing that with more than half or Oregon and all of Washington still to go!  This brought up some interesting conversations about the quirks of thru-hiking.  First off everyone gets a trail name.  That is how you are known the rest of the trip.  Andy’s trail name is “Knoxville”.  Most through-hikers will hike solo, then meet up at camp with others to have some company.  One of the cardinal rules is that you are not supposed to take even once step off the PCT once you start.  The valid theory being that over the course of 5 months those steps here and there add up to miles and miles over the course of the trip.  If you walk an extra quarter of a mile each day, that can add up to 50 miles and really 2 extra days on the trail over the course of the PCT.

Mt. Wa Summit

Summit Selfie on Mt. Washington

Andy really never followed this rule.  Which I thought was fantastic.  He decided the adventure was more important than the trail.    Meaning he took side trips to enjoy, soak in the beautiful scenery and landscape.  He figured that he would never again go to some of the areas, so might as well enjoy the journey.  He climbed Mt. Whitney, The South Sister, Mt. Washington, McGregor Mountain, Mt. Daniel and the Golden Horn, none of which is on the PCT and all include lots of extra hard elevation gains.    When he would take a video, he would  start out saying with the day of his trip and “on the PCT”.  However when he was with Jared and I, it turned into “just off the PCT”, then it was “nowhere near the PCT”.  It was a running joke during our time together.  We took a lot of steps off the PCT.

So far on our trip, we had not set a foot on the PCT and we were now at night 2 camping at Camp Lake, which is a beautiful lake nestle in between the South and Middle Sisters.  From Camp Lake we set off on some climber’s trails and then descending back towards the PCT.  In the meantime, we had just about circumnavigated the South sister from our starting point to the junction in which we met up with the PCT.  From there we had a fairly long mileage day as we cruised by the Sisters, through the Obsidian trail area.  We made some stops to take a dip in a small Lake, enjoy the obsidian rock, watched Jared try to help Andy with some IT Band issues.  It was comical watching him “roll” out the kinks (there is video of that!”)   So far most of the time on the trail Jared and I were moving faster than Andy.  We looked at each other, both surprised, as we thought he would smoke us desk jockeys after all the time on the trail, we figured that he would be a machine.  So we asked him point blank about it.  His response:  “Honestly, I have been hiking for some many days now, I really love all the parts of this trip, except for the hiking part.”  We cracked up about it.  It made sense, the people, the sights, the smells, the sounds all were amazing, but after so many days on the trail moving North, it made sense, that the hiking was getting a bit stale.

tree

Lone tree in a sea of lava rocks – near Belknap Crater, OR

We camped at a small lake that had limited camping areas.  It was crowded, but we found some fellow through hikers that Andy knew and then let us pitch tents on their marked camping site.  A crazy lady was there and told them that it was one tent per campsite.  The through hikers (Pony Express and Leg Day) were chill and said they read the sign as one group per campsite and if the was a ranger present who disagreed, then they would pay the fine.  She got the “red-ass” and was hollering and making a ruckus.  The next day we cruised through some amazing landscape that was marked with lava rocks and trees. We learned these are called “Kipukas”.   We summited Little Bellknap Crater (not on the PCT) and had a great time, hiking catching up and just relaxing.   We watched Mt. Washington as the PCT wrapped around the mountain.  We all knew that it was for sure going to the our next objective.  It was eye candy all day as we saw it from various vantage points on the PCT.  We finished our trip at my car where the PCT hits Highway 20.  We then headed back to Bend for the night.  We cleaned up and decided to take a zero day.  So we went bouldering in Bend and then inter-tubed the Deschutes river through the man-made rapids near downtown Bend.  It was lots of fun.  The next morning we headed back to just about the same point we ended on the PCT and hiked the PCT south (Yes for Andy that is going the wrong direction and hiking a section twice – things thru-hikers just don’t do) to the Mt. Washington climbers trail.  We followed that up to the base of the rock climb.  Mt. Washington features a 4 pitches of low 5th, mostly fourth class climbing.  Almost all of which is on loose crappy rock.  The first pitch, which is the most fun and hardest has really no good places to place any protection in the rock.  Basically it’s just a “hook em’ horns” section, where you place webbing over a rock “horn” and then hope it doesn’t break-off if someone falls.    We had a great climb, a picturesque summit and an uneventful rappel back to the rock base, which is how you like a rappel.  Then we scree skied down the west side of the peak, back to the PCT.  The scree skiing was some of the best you will ever find.  Some great stuff.

After the climb, we spent a few more days doing some local hikes, we hit Tumalo Falls, we took the Paulina Plunge (a natural water slide) and hit the Big Obsidian Flow trail (which is really the place to go to see obsidian rock – way better than the Obsidian Trail -IMO).  After hanging out with the fellas.  Andy reminded me of one of the reasons I do the outdoor stuff.  “You go to the mountains to learn how to live in the valleys.”  I had written about it many years ago, but sometimes I lose track of that myself.  It was a great reminder, to me that I need to make sure to keep myself centered.

Jared had to head back to work, I dropped Andy back off at the PCT, were we had finished and he was back on the trail.  He hammered through the next sections of Oregon to the Bridge of the Gods and Washington.  Then about a month later he ended up in Canada.  It was quite the trip.  Granted he does have a section of trail in Far Northern California and Southern Oregon to hike to finish the trail as fires forced him off the trail in that section.  But a really epic journey.  He is a stud!

Here are some more great clips of some cool points on his journey:

Knife-edge Ridge, WA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXfGwd7YbWQ

The Golden Horn, WA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4j5PS925JU

Scree Skiing down from Mt. Washington, OR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wkzf3yOvssE

Summit of Mt. Washington

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMMBjX7FGDo

The Paulina Plunge, OR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOA8cQJlgO4

Snow at Kearsage Pass, CA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjVC6BuK7XI

Mt. Whitney, CA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BLa51zlxIg

 

Here is his You Tube Channel:  Andrew Travels

 

It was a trip for the ages and I am glad I got to be a part of his journey

DG

DEH

 

Cancer Guilt to Cancer Event

June 17, 2018

The past few weeks have been a bit challenging, I have witnessed the negative impacts of cancer on others.  From attending a memorial service of a wonderful woman, who received her angel wings much too young.  To seeing a true brain tumor warrior at the UW brain cancer center while getting my six month MRI. My results came back stable by the way – which is good and means another six months until my next check-up.  All the while thinking how fortunate I am to have only have an Oligodendroglioma tumor.  Yes I am totally and completely lucky to have an Oligo brain tumor.  It’s true that there is not a cure for an Oligo, but it’s not like some other types of brain cancers, that have much worse survival rates or since today is Father’s day – it’s not what my Dad had.  His cancer was far worse and his battle and pain was so incredibly worse than my own path, it’s hard to take in at times.  Yes it’s true, I feel guilty that my cancer is not worse than it is.  I can work, do the things I love and function completely as if nothing is wrong with me.  Why am I so fortunate??  I have always told myself that there must be some bigger and grand purpose for me. That there has to be some type of reason why I was given brain cancer.

Sometimes I am all in on that thought, and other moments, I am not sure if it’s true at all.  At times, I really just don’t get why I am blessed with just an Oligo and I don’t really understand why it’s not worse.  The crazy part about how I feel is that I would not want anyone to ever feel guilty about my diagnosis.  NEVER EVER!  I have been able to deal with Goliath on my terms and in my own way, thus I don’t want anyone to ever feel this way about my and my plight.  It really makes me worry that my thoughts are silly and just plain dumb.  So how to help deal with this guilt?  Try to do something cool.

Defeat Goliath is holding an event on June 27- which is a Wednesday Night at the Maison DeLille Wine Lounge in Kirkland  – 15 Lake Street  – 10% of all proceeds generated from 3pm until 9pm will go to support the Alvord Brain Tumor Center at UW.  Which is where all of my treatment has been.  More information can be found here:  Charity Event

You can also join Defeat Goliath at the Head for the Cure 5K run or walk on June 30, by going here:  5K Run Walk

Here is a mountain picture that  all of my posts need to have.  This is on Mt. Ruth in the North Cascades taken this past Memorial Day Weekend. It’s Jessica and Colby heading up towards the summit.

Photo May 27, 7 45 05 AM_preview

 

Hope you can join us!!

DEH

DG

The Walk

April 29, 2018

Last year Team DG ended up taking the year off from the walk as I went to Palm Springs for a post tax season mini-trip.  I feel like this year’s walk is sort of coming full circle.  The first Seattle Brain Cancer walk that I participated in was in 2012.  That year I was going through chemotherapy – I was closing in 10 months.  Back in 2012, the walk was held in September.  It was moved to May as May is brain cancer awareness month. In 2012, I was helping out coaching the Mt. Si Wildcat junior football program’s varsity team, which is made up of 7th and 8th graders.  The last of those 7th graders will be graduating from Mt. Si this year and in the fall I will be coaching Colby at the varsity level.  That is a time frame of about 7 years.  Colby had just turned 7 when I was diagnosed with brain cancer and this fall he will turn 14.  Its crazy how time flies by.

Team Defeat Goliath has always had a huge support both in terms of people and financial support over the past 7 years, which is amazing and humbling.

I walk, because I can, because I am able to, because some of the chemotherapy options that are still being used today are the same drugs from the 1970’s.  I walk because the survival rates off brain cancer survivors hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years.  I walk because each year since 2011, I have met some amazing people who are brain cancer survivors, who had their lives tragically cut short. 2018 is already no exception to this rule. I walk because each year I have been able to say these same things.  What I really want to see is for something to change, for a breakthrough to happen.

Being apart of events like the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk is one way for me to stay involved and feel like I can try to make a difference.  Though it may be small, every little bit helps.

If you would like to join Team Defeat Goliath this year, here are the details:

 

DG image

 

The Walk is Sunday May 6th at the Seattle Center – Walk starts at 9am.

To register or donate go here: Join Team Defeat Goliath

Owning your Mistakes: No Excuses

April 19, 2018

When I was a freshman in high school, there was a quote in the weight room that said “Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.”  That quote is something that has stuck with me.  It has always been a reminder that excuses are the easy way out.  It is always easy to explain away why we did not accomplish our goals.  The hard way is to just do it right from the start.  In life nobody is perfect, we are all going to make mistakes and fall short.  However to me, what separates people is how they handle adversity.  Typically there are two paths in dealing with failure.  One path is to own it right from the start, to acknowledge the mistake, to accept full responsibility and then to take steps to not allow whatever happened to occur again.  The other path is to throw blame and list excuses as to why things were not accomplished.

The quote was put up in the weight room as the football program was going through a coaching revival and it was a reminder that the old ways of the past would not be accepting in more.  The changing of the guard would not tolerate excuses as acceptable reasons why the program was not improving. The times were changing where now everyone would be judged on their performance, not their reasons for failure.  Their performance would be dictated by their hard work.  No more excuses, no more free passes.  Everyone would have to own their choices and make their path.  If you didn’t put in the work, then you would not play.  Pretty simple rules to live by.  But it was a drastic change for the ways of past regimes. The program embarked on its best run in school history, with multiple state play-off appearances and league championships.

Colby Football

I have thought of this quote the last few years, as I have been coaching junior football.  I work with the offensive line and help with the offense in general, but most of my work is really just with the linemen.  95% of the time, when a player misses a block, it because of two things, their head was down or their first move was to stand straight up.  I am sure players are tired of the questions “Where was your head on that play?” or “What was your first move?”   Often times I end up with responses like this “Coach my head was up, until the defender grabbed the side of the jersey and then my head went down, but prior to the defense hitting me it was up.”  “Either your head is up or it’s down, it pretty simple.  I don’t really care about the why or the reason, you just need to make sure that it’s up.  Of course the defender is going to try and push your head down as that’s to his advantage.”  There is always a reason, an excuse why the play did not work out as designed.  It brings me back to Master Yoda from the Empire Strikes Back, telling Luke, “Try not, Do.. or do not, there is no try.” I know it sounds pretty harsh, but in a sport that is judged and scored by outcomes, that is the reality.  You either block the defender or you don’t.  You do and your team gains yards, you don’t and your running back gets tackled.  It’s really pretty simple.  But all the reasons and excuses in the world, don’t help make the block happen.   Nobody wants the list of excuses, as the saying goes, excuses are like a______s everyone has one.  To me, excuses are just ways for us to comfort ourselves to try and avoid dealing with the reality of what we don’t want to hear.  We made a mistake, we screwed up, we failed.  Excuses numb and dull this pain as it helps us to avoid taking ownership of our mistakes. When we don’t own the mistake, it’s sort of as if it didn’t really happen because it was the factors (aka excuses) that caused the problem, not us.

Ownership of mistakes is a huge deal for me.  One of the quickest and best ways to learn and grow from mistakes is to own them 100%.  I think it’s only then, that a person can move forward.   Listing out excuses on why things did not turn out as planned, to me, is simply a way of not wanting to take ownership of that mistake.  It’s a way to throw blame around so that nothing sticks on you.  It’s a great way to muddy up the waters so it’s hard to see anything, hard to see the real truth.

During the summers when I was home from college, I worked for the Riverview School District, doing maintenance work.  The main job was to mow all the grass fields and areas at all of the districts sites, but the job also included a bunch of random tasks, painting parking stalls, pressure washing roofs, delivering the annual school supplies and assisting with the relocation of classrooms during construction projects.  During my first summer working there, it was a Friday the boss and most everyone else on the staff was out on vacation that day.  That summer I worked as a team with Sean Smith, who had graduated from high school a year before me.  Our task for the day was to head up to Cherry Valley Elementary and clean out a bunch of old computers and junk that was put into a portable, temporarily during construction.

We took a large box van that the district owned and headed up to the school.  Since we knew the job was going to basically just be manual labor, I wanted to get the box van as close as possible to the building as I didn’t want to have to carry the items further then was necessary.  We were going to load them up and carry them out to then be disposed of properly.  Being 19 or 20 and not used to driving a large box van, I didn’t think much about the height of the van.  As I was trying to drive the van in between two portables, I was only looking at the height of the cab, thinking that I had plenty of space, however that is when I heard this horrific scraping sound.  I then try to back up to try and get out of there, but it was no use.  The side of the van hit the gutter on the building, ripped off a section of the gutter and bent it all up, while leaving a huge scrape on the side of the van which ended with a puncture spot on the wall of the van.  I had put a hole in the van, along with a huge scrape and had destroyed a section of gutter on a portable.  Not good.  We did the only thing we could do, finished the task at hand.  At the end of the day we returned to the maintenance facility, parked the van in its spot and I went home.   I didn’t say anything to anyone on staff about what had happened, only Sean knew.  On Monday morning, I showed up for work, everyone was back from vacation and they were all outside in the yard looking at the box van, talking about the damage to the vehicle.  Unfortunately as I was hoping, the weekend did not wipe away the events that occurred on Friday – the van was damaged and the damage was my fault.  The head of maintenance was a good man named John Marks.  He asked something to the effect of “I know these marks were not here before I went on vacation, can someone please fill me in on what happened?”  I looked at him and said that it was my fault, I was driving it when the damage occurred.  I then explained to him what happened and also told him about the damage to the portable at Cherry Valley.  After my explanation, I went about my day, then at the end of the day, John called me into his office.  I was thinking man I am going to get a butt chewing, docked pay or maybe even fired.  Who knows what will happen, but it can’t be good as damaging a district vehicle can’t lead to anything positive.   To my surprise, instead of a lecture, I ended up with a thank you.  He said that we was taken aback by my honesty.  Since nobody saw what happened that day, thus if I had said that I didn’t know what happened, that would have been the storyline.  There was no proof that I was responsible.  He summed things up with something like this.  “After working for the school district for many, many years, the reality is that nobody is ever honest about damaging district property, since it’s a government job, it’s easy to deny things in cases like this as nothing typically ever comes of a case like this with no proof and nobody is ever going to look into things as it’s not worth anyone’s time.  The easy thing would have been to just say that you don’t know anything about what happened and that would have been that.  By being honest you basically open yourself up to scrutiny by your own choice.  “That doesn’t happen in government work.”   He was thankful for my honesty.  In the end, it made for a situation in which more trust was formed, because I had owned up to my mistake, I didn’t make any excuses and dealt with the consequences and fallout, even though I could have lied and made excuses to get out of things.  And yes I was invited back to work there the next summer.

My hope is that my boys learn to own their mistakes and shortcomings and choose not to make excuses, but to learn from their errors and grow as a person during these times of life’s trials. They need to know that in a world that judges based upon outcomes, excuses really don’t matter and will lead to a house of failure.

 

DH

DG

#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.

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Jessica and myself on the summit.

#donewithcancer

DG

DEH

#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