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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

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anna Sotelo permalink
    August 21, 2017 12:54 am

    #donewithcancer

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