A small update, some observations, an anniversary and other tidbits.

newdayAs you may all know by now from a previous post about my cousins battle with cancer, its with a heavy heart I have to report that Jess lost her long and arduous battle this past Friday.

I have been thinking about her and her story for a few days now. I was debating how to frame and relate such a story of courage and grace. The hardest part for me is the simplest. Its so cliche to say, “so and so unfortunately lost their battle with cancer.” Its a normal statement. Factually its a true statement. As many of you know me, I tend to shy away from the cliche and normal. To say my cousin lost her battle with cancer is as far as I am concerned a load of BS. Jess won her battle. I’ll tell you why.

For over seven years, from the time she was diagnosed this girl had a smile and such a positive attitude in her treatment to try and keep this disease at bay. Never a complaint. Never a bad word. Numerous surgeries, radiation, chemo treatments. After each surgery or round of treatment, this girl went back to work. Sick, feeling like crap, tired, she held her head up high, smiled and moved forward. She enjoyed life to the fullest and when faced with setbacks in her treatment, it was always a “Whats next? We move forward with positive attitude.”

I can’t tell you the amount of strength, dignity, grace and positive attitude this young lady displayed throughout this whole rotten situation.

Obviously and as most people will agree when you have a family member go through something like this you tend to think about your own mortality. You wonder what you would do. How you would react. I did. If I am honest with myself and you the reader, theres a chance I’d try and do the right thing by being positive and setting an example in my head-on treatment and fight against this insidious disease. Then theres the very possible reality that after reaching a certain point, I’d simply throw in the towel, take out every line of credit I could get my hands on, and call it a party of the century with my closest friends. Booze, hookers, drugs, bank robbery, and dynamiting the IRS. I mean really whats to lose at that point? ¬†Ok, I wouldn’t hurt innocent people, but you get the picture.

Thats me, and how I would have handled things. My cousin Jess is a much bigger and better person that I’ll ever be. She proved and showed the rest of us, that even when we’re saddled with insurmountable odds and a losing proposition you can still live with great happiness, and dignity no matter what the obvious outcome. That is a lesson I’ll forever take with me.

Did the cancer finally get my cousin Jess? Technically, yes, but Jessica did NOT lose the battle. No way. She won. She won in such outstanding fashion that her lessons and memory will live forever with those that met and knew her. I’ll call that winning every single day.

Moving along….

This blog in its current incarnation is officially one year old. I think technically the anniversary occurred last month but as you see it now its one year old. Its about where I expected it to be and for that I am pleasantly surprised. I have been mulling some small changes and updates with layout and graphics to keep things fresh. Fundamentally things will continue as they are and we’ll see where the next year takes us. I have some ideas and experiments swirling around in my head so stay tuned.

July already. Complete years and weekends go by so fast. Yet one single Monday at work can take the life right out of us five times over. Further proof life just isn’t fair sometimes. I don’t care though. July 31st I am going to see Black Sabbath and that doesn’t suck.

Let ‘er rip tater chips.

Could use your good thoughts and energy please.

Another Monday another start to an arduous work week ahead. I’ll apologize now for the somber and serious tone of this particular update.

Some of you may know but I suspect most do not so I’ll attempt a Cliff notes version.

JessNCI have a first cousin and her name is Jessica. Early thirty-ish years old. At twenty-five she was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. As you can imagine Jessica has spent the last five plus years battling this disease with mostly positive results. There’s been chemotherapy, radiation treatment, colon, lung, and liver resection and more chemotherapy. After the initial chemotherapy and colon resection, the cancer metastasized and showed up in her lung, liver and lymph nodes. Jessica has been facing this disease head on and fighting the good fight every step of the way with grace, dignity and tenacity.

Unfortunately, this insidious disease has stopped responding to all the treatments Jessica has been going through and she has taken a turn for the worse. She has been admitted to the hospital with ascites. (collection of fluid in abdominal cavity) Jessica has been in tremendous pain and its now a matter of keeping her as comfortable as she can be with morphine.

If you pray, Jessica could use a prayer. If you don’t pray any positive energy you may want to spare would be greatly appreciated. Good vibes never can hurt so if you don’t mind send some her way. Jessica and the family would appreciate it.

Now for the PSA portion of the post. DONT IGNORE YOUR HEALTH. If something isn’t right, go see a doctor. If there is one thing I have sadly learned from all this, is the general media and perception of cancer means shit all. Cancer can strike at any age. It’s so arbitrary it doesn’t discriminate between sex, age, race, diet, state of health, or geographical location where you live. Men can just as easily get breast cancer, twenty five year old women get colon cancer. It is not just something you get if you decide to smoke, or drink or not use sun screen. If the rules of life decide and your bingo card gets punched, guess what? You get cancer, you get in the club, and you go to the head of the line.

The number one and still the best odds of beating this disease is in its earliest detection. Do not wait! Don’t fool yourself into thinking it can’t happen to you or that you are too young. Bullshit! This disease doesn’t care. If it has your number you WILL get it.

(note: Flash video below. You’ll want to check this out on your non-iPhone iPad devices)

This is my cousin about a year ago. I cant begin to tell you how proud I am of her and to have been privileged to watch and hear about her positive attitude and grace in her long fight against this disease.

As I have mentioned above, she isn’t doing too well right now, and we never say never or give up. So if you don’t mind send her some positive thoughts.

If you’re moved to and want to help? I am sure Jessica would be honored and proud if you sent a buck or two, to the Colon Cancer Alliance:

http://www.ccalliance.org/donate/memorial.html

I can’t emphasize this enough. Do not take your health for granted. Something so little and benign as a headache that wont go away or constipation and cramps can be a sign of trouble. Get it checked out. If cancer runs in your family, get screened. Don’t wait. Most importantly, do not ever let any doctor tell you NO, when your gut and head say otherwise. You’re paying for a service you make him/her give you what you demand. You want a test? You want a scan? You tell the doctor “I am not asking for one, I am telling you to schedule one, DO IT.” It is that simple. You are in charge of your health, not some doctor beholden to some insurance company or drug manufacturer.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your support, and thanks for your prayers and good thoughts.

Let ‘er rip tater chips!