My Day At Chemo ~ The Ballad Of Ol’ Doc Zeger

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Today was my chemo day up at Lankenau. This is every other Wednesday for now. It is actually my version of going to work for the day, seeing great “co-workers”, planning things out, working in tandem with a “crew” to achieve goals, and waiting for lunch time.

It was a good day, and as usual, it included an appointment with my personal god, my rock star, my hero, Dr. Zeger. We had to see what new ailments I had and other than a stuffy head and wanting to know what was for lunch, there was nothing to worry about.

We talked about the National Cancer Survivors Day party that was such a blast last Thursday at Lankenau Hospital. I mentioned that I requested AND WE DANCED by The Hooters from the DJ and yes, people danced and I kind of danced. We discussed how much ice cream we both overate at the party. I had put on four pounds and he joked that the raffle I won, a basket full of exercise equipment, was probably a sign about all that ice cream. We discussed his amateur soccer team and how he looks so young and yet was called “old man” by an opposing player. So I now call him “Ol’ Doc Zeger”.

While I was waiting to see him (he was delayed because he had to handle some details for a sick patient), I saw about six of the nurses go over to a woman in a chair, blow a few noisemakers, and then sing the most wonderful congratulatory song to her because she was getting her final chemo treatment and was now considered “cancer free”.

The song was wonderfully silly and fun and if I had to give it a name, it would be “Cancer is in the Rear View Mirror”. I heard her cry tears of joy and gratitude and it was wonderful to hear and witness. As of now, she has some peace of mind, a precious thing indeed.

019f804a43d1bf94c73edbc4c437929acce768cbe0 As I sat in the recliner getting my IV of Avastin, I put on my headphones and started shuffle play on my iPhone. The first song out of the gate was WAIT IN THE RAIN by Graham Alexander, one of the best new CD’s this year. Great way to start a KhemoKaraoke.

Halfway through the treatment, though, I got a little melancholy. I feel a bit bad that I did, but I think it is only natural. I thought back to the happiness of that song, that woman, all the nurses and the wonderful moment I got to witness. However, I started drifting into wish territory. I started wondering when I would get to hear that song with my name in the lyrics, get to hear those silly lyrics, and get to feel that emotion.

Don’t get me wrong. Despite the cancer, I am still trying to live my life as positive as possible, enjoying family and friends old and new, being as productive as possible, having great times, and hearing spectacular music. Energy and funds may not always allow it but this weekend includes a show with my favorite comedian Craig Shoemaker on Friday, a Retro Roadmap meetup at a classic 5 & 10 in Quakertown Saturday morning, and The Hooters concert Saturday night. Plus just hanging with my family the rest of the weekend. I am seriously enjoying life more than I thought I would after the diagnosis. All of you inspire, expect, deserve nothing less in me.

But still, I dreamt of the time that I hear that tune. I dreamt of the doctors and nurses singing it to me. I dreamt of my family being there and singing along both badly and proudly, I dreamt of my friends making up more silly words, and I dreamt of a supergroup of all my favorite Philly rockers playing it like the greatest rock masterpiece ever. And yes, I dreamt of achieving something that I thought I just can’t have right now, peace of mind.

Then, as I finished my chemo, I saw the other patients, the wonderful doctors and nurses, as well as staff, all making the best of the day, making sure the smiles kept coming, and I realized that my peace of mind is not so impossible, not so far away, not with so many great people around me.

018405ca4a5ac75079eb4de789b08bd3241341af2b I may not yet be hearing that tune, though it was appropriate that the final song that played on shuffle was Louis Armstrong’s version of WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR.

Damn straight, Satchmo, you and Graham and everyone else help to convince me my dreams will come true every day because of the people I am lucky to “work” with every day. That was some damn fine peace of mind magic.

Now I wish I had two more bowls of ice cream.

59th Birthday Bridge Song: Hello Lamppost

FORWARD

Always start with a joke…

“How about those 2014 Grammy nominations?”

OK, then do a little song…

Now you have your blog audience in the palm of your hands. You can start now (and drop the 3rd person style, it’s a cliché.)

45845_1568489220291_1769207_nnToday, December 6th, is my 59th birthday. That’s not a normal milestone birthday but for me, this year, it is. I’ll try not to get too heavy here but this year was a heavy year, as many of you know.

This 59th is a “lamppost” birthday, a day to take a break, lean back, reflect, but then get my ass moving forward. That forward will partially explain the reason for that fine graphic at the top of this post.

Lampposts illuminate the darkness as well as steady on the journey. Lampposts may hold signs pointing out the direction to go, waybills telling you to look and see what is happening around you, or old Grateful Dead bear stickers that will never come off.

(Before I continue, if you have the time and the inclination, this link will take you to a list of posts that I’ve written about my life and my journey over the last few years. I think these will amuse and amaze you, and even if they don’t you can laugh at the picture of me. )

ABOUT ME

When I was diagnosed with Stage IV Renal Cell Carcinoma back in March, 13 months after having my right kidney removed to hopefully stop the cancer in its tracks, I simply lost it. The cancer had spread to my liver, but was still kidney cancer since all the genetic markers were from my kidney. Add this to my interstitial lung disease and this is complicated. It figures that I don’t smoke, so I get a lung disease and I don’t drink, so my liver goes screwy.

After a year where I felt that maybe, happily, finally, something was going to go right for me medically, this just threw me up in the air and I landed with a month long thud.

I made the mistake of using the internet to research it without acknowledging that I NEVER WENT TO MEDICAL SCHOOL AND AM NOT A DAMN DOCTOR. I just played one on the internet. I panicked myself a lot, and maybe it was justified. I read the life expectancy averages, I read the side effects that chemo can have, I read the possible out of pocket costs that might come with this. Every little ache, pain, and blemish sent me into Fred Sanford mode (I’m coming, Elizabeth!).

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01c4736ba2d2a1e26159bb30bae69d804d51784113I worried about how to plan for the costs should I not survive. I worried about how my family would replace my support and income. I worried deeply about breaking my promise to my mom and dad to always be there for my brother Tommy. I worried about my beloved buddy, Swiper Doxy, and pictured him sitting sadly outside of my old bedroom door wondering where I’ve gotten to. I worried about promises to friends that I desperately wanted to keep as well as losing those friends, many of them new to me and many who have been there all along.

Then the best thing that can happen at the time happened. I started chemo. While chemo is scary and I hate being a pin cushion every Wednesday, it started to give me hope, it allowed me to plan, and it stopped me from self-diagnosis. I was no longer sitting around worrying, I was doing something about it.

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WHEN C-17 MET A-19: TALES IN MY POCKET

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If it hasn’t been obvious by my Twitter and Facebook feeds, I am passionate about what I am passionate about. Sports, film, TV, bad jokes, my family, my friends, my doxys, Philly and especially music. Nothing in this world can take you back to a time and place and change your mood in a flash like 3 minutes or so of great music. Because the best music doesn’t waste time or take hours or weeks to develop, it has the power of immediacy , the power to grab you at the outset, and the power to get stuck in your head, be it amazing or kind of corny (thanks, Ylvis and your damn fox sayings).

But every so often, out of that music comes something more. That is exactly what has happened recently. Elsewhere on this blog, you’ll find posts about why I am where I am professionally and health wise, along with a piecemeal history of what I was able to accomplish before my professional life ended with my lung disease.

boardaward One of the things from that past life I’ve missed has been the chance to create and promote, to spread the word and ignite the same passion I felt for a film or project. I look back with pride on the two dance marathons for Muscular Dystrophy I created at Villanova University in the 70’s, the events I organized for a national trade association that focused on home video retailers, and the various promotions I held over the years at my video stores in Ardmore, Conshohocken, and the Philly area. I am especially proud of what I accomplished in the promotional area when I was with TLA Video (one day I’ll go into more detail of why my time with TLA Video was a sometimes frustrating time of my life, yet it was my greatest accomplishment).

My favorite promotion is still when I was able to attract almost 700 people to my 4th and South Street store for an in-store appearance by the great director JOHN WATERS, closely followed by a Chestnut Hill in-store World Series party with the Phillie Phantic.

dmi 055I also took great pride in meeting challenges that allowed me to interact with others in a common effort, such as the SEPTA road construction project in Chestnut Hill that severely limited access to our video store and other businesses for months. I wound up helping to lead an ad-hoc group of businesses to develop emergency business plans and promotions to minimize the impact during construction and come back strong when Germantown Avenue finally reopened.

So, when I now meet and follow someone who does promotion, I always am thrilled to spot even a little of the same passion I used to have in my work. I don’t have that outlet anymore other than the old “word-of-mouth” method, and I think I’m damn good at that.

However, I can vicariously experience the old thrills watching others still actively involved in PR who truly love the project or event they are promoting, not just working the press for coverage and then moving on to the next supposed big idea. Recently, I’ve met someone who does just that, even though she is involved with businesses that I have not had professional experience with, but for which I retain passion about.

I’m talking about Dallyn Pavey, owner of DISH PUBLIC RELATIONS


There is more to read. Just click here.