Thursday, November 27, 2008


Every other day of the year, pretty much, bloggers spend their time criticizing the world and the people running things. Today, however, is a day where we should stop and give thanks for the good things and the good people. And I have many things to be thankful for.

First, my wife Mikki. I do not write much about my family for reasons of privacy for them, but if there are any good qualities to me and accomplishments to note, she is a major part of how they came to be. My wife has worked – for years – on my rough edges and my ideals, making me a better, more diligent, and more courteous man than I would ever otherwise have been. Obviously, I am very much a work in progress, but what good I have done is largely due to my wife.

Next, my daughters. No names here because we live in a world of creeps and criminals, but there is no office or title a man can hope to receive, that ranks with being a father and doing the job properly. There is no satisfaction to match with hearing ‘I love you’ from your child. And there is no standard higher than being a good father; failing at that task brings greater consequences than anything with money or paperwork could ever do, and so all good fathers focus first and most on their duty to their families.

I am also thankful for my cancer, or rather, what it has taught me. A little less than two years ago, an oncologist told my wife that not only was PMP incurable, but also there was no effective treatment possible and I should give up and simply choose an ‘end of life’ regimen. Thank God he was wrong!

The actual turn of events has been most merciful to me. My cancer is in fact incurable; there will always be a possibility that the cells in my abdomen which now are so quiescent could abruptly turn malignant and attack my internal organs – no one knows precisely what causes such cells to metastasize, and so I live with a biological sort of grenade in my guts – but the main suspects have all been addressed, first by surgery then by a simple process of drugs and checkups every so often at MD Anderson. For over a year now the reports have been clean and promising.

But every time I go to MDA for a workup, I see many who have not been so fortunate, and for whom the cost of their battle has been much more severe than my own. Ironically, I often see that cancer is not as hard on the patient as on his/her family. I still recall the big tough guy I saw in a CT Scan waiting room, who reminded me of a construction foreman, who was going through hell waiting to find out if his wife would be okay. I have seen unmistakable stress and pain in the faces of parents who feel everything their child is going through, but who can do nothing to fight the thing that is trying to kill their child. I have seen patients go through more pain and suffering in a week at MDA than most people endure in their lives. And those are the survivors. As I wrote above, I have no hope at this time that my type of cancer can be cured, and many types of cancer are like that – you learn to deal with a different kind of reality, what you used to call ‘normal’ is gone forever. But you learn right quick not to bitch too much, because you don’t have to look far to see someone who has things a whole lot worse. There are people with only a few years left to live, who are thankful because they remember those whose time is already up.

I am even thankful for our recent election. No, I don’t like the winners, but I am grateful for a process where we get a lot of information and can freely support our chosen candidate and criticize anyone on whatever grounds we choose. Dissent is not only tolerated, it’s our tradition, and the conversation and debate continues before, through, and after the election.

I am thankful for America. The people who treat America as the same as any other country just don’t get it, and that’s not surprising, but in every meaningful sense America is what the rest of the world wants to be. That does not mean we don’t have a whole lot of work to achieve more of our own ideals, and to work at Justice and the true American Dream, but we believe those dreams are real and attainable, and we consider that everyone has the right to pursue them so long as they do not trample others in that pursuit.

I am thankful for football. That may seem a trite thing, but football as it is played in America is unique, very American, and reflects both the ideals and reality of our country. You either love it or you don’t get it.

I am also thankful for blogging. The triumphs, the blunders, the work, the discussion and the community, the new media is not just about information, but noting and encouraging the dimension that is coming of age. We are all part of it, and I am thankful for everyone here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for revealing a part of yourself in this post. Fortunately, I cannot yet identify with the cancer battle, though I have had some false symptoms myself. However, I can identify with most of the remainder...especially having a good wife and partner and having two wonderful children (boy and girl).

I went to Mass yesterday (I am a convert to Roman Catholicism)and went thru a similar, private litany myself of things to be thankful for.

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner last night with family and friends. One of them is Canadian and he talked about Canadian Thanksgiving (celebrated in mid Oct). He said the difference between Americans and Canadians on Thanksgiving is that for Canadians, it is just another excuse for a day off. Americans take it seriously.

I am also thankful for that.

Best to you DJ

Rick E.