Cancer and Skiing

As the audience for this blog has grown beyond my circles of friends there are, no doubt, people reading this who do not know the details of my recent illness and are curious about what happened.  So today's blog will not be about UFO Culture or Alien Philosophy but more about me, personally.

Colon cancer runs in the family.  My grandfather died from it at my age.  Back then colon cancer was pretty much a death sentence because there are typically no symptoms until the cancer has spread so much that it is irreversible.  More than half of all people who were diagnosed with colon cancer in the 1960's did not make it past five years.  Even in the 1990's when my dad had it, the survival rates had only improved to three out of four patients.  Today, the colon cancer survival rate is up to 95% for people who catch it early.

Treatments have improved dramatically in the past fifty years but the biggest difference between then and now is detection.  If you catch it early you can cut it out before it spreads.  Since I had the family history, I went in for a colonoscopy.  Insurance companies do not like to pay for a colonoscopy under age 50 so I had to fight with the company to get them to authorize it.  The procedure would have cost me over $14,000 (this is not including the actual cancer treatment costs).  I would not have paid that.  If payment had not been authorized by the insurance company I would be dying now and probably not even know it.  On the plus side, I would have gotten in a lot more ski days this season, had I not known about the tumor.  So there's that.

When the doctor told me, my wife cried.  I went home and wrote out plans on what to do, in case I did not make it.  Less than a month after my diagnosis I was under the knife.  Actually, no knives were involved.  It was laparoscopic surgery.  I did not even get any stitches.  They Crazy Glued me back up.  For real.  I was walking, a bit, later that night, albeit with quite a bit of pain.

I was in the hospital for four days, during which time I had a dozen, or so, visitors and and outpouring of support from hundreds of people via social media, phone/text, and on the GoFundMe and Meal Train my friends set up for me.  I made sure to get up and walk around as much as I could.  I did several laps around the hospital unit each day to begin rebuilding the muscles that were cut.  The hospital stay was not terrible but I was happy when I was finally sent home.

Back at home, the hardest part of my recovery was not having the energy or motivation to continue writing.  All I could do for the first week, or so, was sit in my recliner and relax.  I can not relax.  I have a motor with no Off switch.  I basically run at 100mph from 5:00am until I run out of gas around 10:00pm.  But that week I was sleeping sometimes for more than ten hours a night.

Since I could not do any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise I decided to clean up the house, a bit.  I started doing the dishes and laundry every day.  I got really into folding things nicely.  It has become a bit of an obsession.  I need to get out of the house.

Before the surgery I asked my doctor when I could ski again.  He said I should be good within a month.  So my goal was to get back on skis one month from the surgery.  And I did.

Whiteface Mountain
Me and Captain Awesome

Nothing crazy, at first.  One of my ski buddies, Captain Awesome, has the same season pass to Whiteface, Gore, and Belleayre as I do.  I knew he was going to be at Whiteface the day after I had to travel to Plattsburgh, NY, so I met him there on the way back.  I promised myself (and my wife) I would only do green (easy) trails.  We took a wrong turn and ended up on a blue (intermediate) trail.  I took it easy and only did a few runs.  

Later that night, I had to take one of my kids on a tour of our local police station, with his scout troop.  Suddenly, it hit me.  I felt like I was kicked in the stomach by a mule.  You know how that feels.  I had to lean against the walls in the cop shop to stand up.  I could not wait to get home and lie down.

Belleayre Mountain
Back out with my crew
I was fine the next day so I exercised my season pass again that Saturday.  This time, I promised myself I would not over do it.  I was going to stick with the blues and greens and ski slowly.  My friends had other ideas.  It was a powder day so we skied black diamonds (difficult) most of the day.  It was not their fault, I was a willing participant.  But what a day!  I got home feeling exhausted but good.  That night and the following day I was fine.  No pain at all.  That was when I knew I was back.

Later that week I went snowboarding.  I kept it under 50.

Ski Tracks

So now I am back to nearly 100% health.  I still feel some tension when I stretch in certain ways and I am trying not to lift more than 50 pounds but otherwise I am doing OK.  I am eager to resume writing about Alien Philosophy and UFO Culture every morning.  I hope my audience is just as eager to read about it.

I will leave off today by encouraging everyone who is reading this to find out if you have a family history of cancer and if so, do not wait to get checked out.  Do it now.

Also, as a reminder, there is a poll on Twitter right now, asking what readers want to see more of.  Please vote.

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Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.