Surviving In This Very Moment…

My Personal Battle with Prostate Cancer … And Life!

Reflecting on the Run-Up to Surgery and More

A light blue ribbon is the symbol for prostate...

A light blue ribbon is the symbol for prostate cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This whole run-up to surgery is becoming very tiring.  Not only is there a waiting period to allow my biopsied prostate to calm down, but now I have pre-op testing, a bowel cleansing, filling out forms that ask the very same questions that are already in my records and the very idea that my prostate will be removed by remote control. What’s a poor boy to do?

What I have concluded is that I need to return to my core, I need to sit quietly, do those things that I must do to take care of myself and the others around me, but mostly sit quietly and let this very moment be at the center.  I decided to not look at my calendar or wear a watch so I don’t have to focus on the future.  That’s a start, for sure.  But what I do best is think about issues, learn how others think about the same issues and synthesize ideas.  This means I’ll be reading a lot.  Currently, I am reading Modernity and the Holocaust by Zygmunt Bauman, a powerful postmodern sociological take on how the holocaust follows from the vision of the Enlightenment and modernity and, while not a necessary effect of modernity, it is made possible only by the emphasis of rationality and science combined with unchecked political power and a bureaucracy that is efficiently geared to cost effective problem solving.

My core understanding of how life actually works centers on the very notion that all that is real is this very moment, already past.  The idea of the future being nothing more than the projection of goals or desires and the past being nothing more than a trace existing only as a memory that fades as the moment moves further away from the very moment of the present.  Given that central idea, I believe that it is easier to close the door on projecting into the future.

I am also bolstered by the very idea that I will die someday.  That is an unavoidable fact!  There are no vampires, zombies or other beings that are immortal in spite of the fantastic story telling of novelists and Hollywood.  The fact of dying has given me an opportunity to measure my life.  In a nutshell, I discovered this simple, yet extraordinary, truth; if I were to die at this very moment I would leave this life with no regrets of any consequence.  Sure, I would regret not seeing the Chicago Cubs win a World Series but this is of little consequence.  Up to this point I have lived a life of which dreams are made.  I worked at a job that I would have done for free, that’s right, for FREE.  The bonus was that I actually got paid to work at something so interesting and rewarding.

As a middle school teacher, I had the opportunity to influence the lives of hundreds of young, maturing human beings.  As an education professor I had the opportunity to work with future teachers and even watch them as their career unfolded.  Professionally, I published scholarly papers in professional journals, many of which were extensively cited by others, I presented research at scholarly meetings and seminars internationally and, with a colleague, co-authored a book.  During my working years I never felt like I was going to “work!”  I can go to the grave knowing that I made a difference in my time on this earth.

None of this means, however, that I intend to go easily.  But my best weapon for fighting my cancer is to focus on this very moment, live my life as it presents itself to me, and do that which needs being done at this very moment.

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35 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Run-Up to Surgery and More

  1. You sound like you are in a good place! I found that all the talk and thoughts and worries about Cancer were soon replaced by the realization that its not really Cancer, but cancer! It’s treatable, and you soon move on to dealing with the run up to surgery, the pace of hospital life, waiting for a bowel movement, and a return of continence…Cancer is just over rated. Small c is something you can manage…big C not so easy. And the robot’s scars are kind of funny looking! Best wishes from one of the brotherhood.

  2. There is something almost holy about a person’s experience, and you are in the moment of one. I don’t know what to say to your post, because I have no idea what you’re going through… But I read it, and want to wish you all the best and great peace.

  3. It is now just over 2 years since I had surgery for my cancer (bowel). I undergo 6-monthly checks – one is due next month but I have made a marvellous recovery. I am very fortunate in having tremendous support, care and prayer from family, friends and the medics. My cancer journey was one of hope – not of fear.

  4. Good luck with your surgery — and congratulations on having lived a life that meant so much to you and to others. This is not the time to suddenly feel tremendous regrets for all that you never got around to doing.

  5. A. S. Ellis on said:

    Wow. I commend your attitude.

    Though it may mean little (you do suggest that your belief system doesn’t include an afterlife), please accept an offer from a complete stranger to pray for you, and for your family, most especially for you in that inevitable “Whoa” moment which I sincerely hope is much farther off than you may be anticipating.

    Cancer is mean. My condolences, and at the same time, my commendations, again, on your inspiring attitude, gratitude, and the impact you’ve had and continue to have on the fleeting world around you. Very awesome. Leave your mark! Cheers, Roger!

  6. Very good Post… I like it.

  7. Thanks for your comment. Facing mortality is, it seems to me, never an easy proposition whether one believes in a god or gods or whether one rationally cannot find evidence for such a deity. I have no objections at all if you find comfort in prayer; while I am unconvinced that it will do any good at all, I accept your offer to extend prayers for me and my family. In a truly ethical sense, I cannot, nor would I even attempt to stop your acts of kindness.

  8. I appreciate your thoughts. I anticipate those 6-month checks as well. Taking one moment at a time, I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That way, I can never be disappointed.

  9. Just got through my first chemo treatment. Cancer has a way of allowing you to see what is really important. Focus on this very moment…(I like that line)Gosh, I love looking at my yellow rose bush as November gets nippy. And I look forward to walking my dog to ward off the headaches. I pray for your recovery man! God bless!

  10. The distinction between Cancer and cancer is both interesting and profound. I believe I have prostate cancer; only time will tell if I have prostate Cancer. Speaking of the robot, I was told this morning that I require general anesthesia because I will be positioned nearly standing on my head for the procedure…Talk about funny!

  11. Regrets, what are those?

  12. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  13. The line “at this very moment” is lifted directly from the work of Emmanuel Levinas, a postmodern philosopher that has been a major influence on my thinking. Until now, his influence has been mostly theoretical. Now, however, I am finding ways to enter the world of the instrumental aspects of his ethics of responsibility.

  14. You are such a strong person, I don’t know how you do it. But I truly admire you for it! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and my thoughts and prayers are with you!

  15. Sometimes neither do I. I suspect that my attitude follows from a strong commitment to an ethics of responsibility that I find compatable with a postmodern world.

  16. Roger,

    Congratulations for making “Freshly Pressed – your post certainly deserves it.

    I had my cancerous prostate removed about eight months ago, and still have vivid memories of all the activities leading up to the surgery, so I have some understanding of what you have been going through. Unfortunately for me, it turns out the cancer had spread before the prostate was removed, and I will need to repeat all the fun and games again next year.

    Living in the moment is all that we can do, whatever the circumstances. My philosophy regarding life and living has always been to live as long as possible, and enjoy life as much as possible – and that will continue.

    Best regards, and good luck !

    Clint (My real name.)

  17. Thanks Clint:
    I won’t know for sure until the lymph nodes are biopsied. All I can do now is wait until the 28th.

  18. Hi There,

    I am on this journey with you. I began a blog after my life was changed from a rather large Brain Tumor. Thank you for sharing with us. I will be following closely your blog. My Father had PROTON therapy after his diagnoses a couple of years ago and is doing great. He is 90 years old! Blessings, Alesia

  19. My internist suggested I look into proton therapy but my urologist advised against it. At my age (69) he believes surgery is the correct course of action. I looked into it myself, it is my training after all that makes me want to investigate and I came down on the side of my urologist. If I am cancer free post operation then that will be it for a while. If not then hormone therapy and radiation appear to be the most efficacious for me. Glad your dad is doing well.

  20. Roger,
    Your approach seems very logical. When my dad was making the decision which way to take his course of treatment, he saw what radiation and chemo was doing to his friends. I guess they are all dead now. Afterall he is 90! He had to move from his home for about 3 months for the treatment. PROTON therapy seemed to be a kinder, gentler approach for what he needed done. If your doctor states they can probably get it all with surgery, I believe that makes sense to go that approach. As an RN myself, I wanted my dad to do what he believed was best for him. So far so good!

  21. Wow, your blog really makes me really think. Thanks for sharing.

  22. I hope you get well and survive cancer and spread your story to give hope to those who have cancers.

  23. thewondermya on said:

    Lots of love and light to you on this journey. Your post is beautiful and very inspiring.

  24. brianhickey75 on said:

    Great work Mr. Chips All the children throughout the years wish you the very best and I do as well regards

  25. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  26. I truly undestand how you fell… I was on the same boat as you…The waiting, the unknown, the fear…..why don’t you try to look at cancer as a blessing as I do? Try to heal your soul rather than focusing on the disease…..

  27. Very best of luck dealing with your cancer…one to another.

  28. Just wanted to send you love, light, and blessings for your experience, your life, and your post.. be strong and fight hard.. we need more people like you around! :)

  29. Teaching is truly an admirable career – I wish it were more respected. I work at a university, and I’ve always loved school. And I will always remember my favorite teachers. You have touched many, and it’s wonderful that you realize that. I hope I can be as positive if faced with something scary as Cancer. Good luck to you.

  30. Reblogged this on Renato Vasconcellos David and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  31. This is such a moving story. I was touched.

  32. Facing morality allows a person to live more fully in the present. I recently wrote a blog about entitled, “The Myth of Certainty” It speaks about this idea of living in he moment. The great thing about living in the moment is that anything is tolerable because the next moment can bring great relief or insight. Thanks for your blog.

  33. Dear One, there can be a moment when surgery is in the past, friends are less present, one is neither ill nor well, and the absence of anxiety is almost distracting. This is when the cloth of anticlimax is subtly woven.
    I am finding fresh madness in remission. I do not want to read Kubler Ross again. I have all sorts of mixed notions about medical intervention versus my body’s own cellular decisions. I carry an amorphous yet weighted reality inside me – I am never in doubt about wanting to be dead when I want to be dead, but I am always certain that this affliction/obsession with ringing down the curtain has absolutely nothing to do with dying, it is my profoundest affirmation that I simply don’t want to live those thoughts.
    It took me yonks to figure out that I will do anything to go on breathing in and out. Tremendous relief…
    Meet you at Fenway?

  34. Pingback: Taking a Break from Time Pressure « Surviving In This Very Moment…

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