» Radiation tri-blade » Last Sunday (June 5th) was National Cancer Survivors day .. one of my new favorite holidays. This whole week has been National Cancer Survivors week .. one of my new favorite weeks of the year.

Happy National Cancer Survivors Day

I saw my surgeon earlier this week for a 3-month check-up. He found no signs of returning cancer. (Cancer-free at 16 months out.)

My chemo doctor said that, if this type of cancer does return .. it usually returns between one and two years out .. which is right where I am now.

Almost smack-dab in the middle. I see my oncologist in another few months.

I wanted to write a little thing on Sunday, to help celebrate National Cancer Survivors day .. but my ass was dragging.

Then, I was going to write on Monday, and then again on Tuesday. But I never could summon the motivation. All week long my ass was dragging.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of this iron supplement I've been taking. The chemo left me badly anemic (.. which makes you feel like your ass is dragging) .. along with other blood deficiencies.

Hemoglobin is an iron-based molecule. My chemo doctor said that hemoglobin takes a long time for your body to make, and that a swig of iron-rich juice shouldnt make any major difference in energy levels.

But, whenever I run out of this stuff .. a few days later, my ass starts dragging. (Every time .. it's reproducible.)

Yesterday, my order arrived and last night I noticed that I was feeling good, for some reason. I felt so good physically that I actually fell asleep. (Sometimes I feel like I could sleep for a week. More than just sometimes, actually.)

I am trying to learn about and adapt to my brave new world .. where energy levels are far more limited. But after cancer and especially after treatment, these kinds of things seem like mere inconveniences. Because I'm just happy to be alive. Above ground is where it's at.

Managing fatigue has been a major thing post-treatment. Sometimes I wake exhausted in the morning and go from there. Beyond exhausted, sometimes .. like you have to sleep all night long just to realize how tired you really are. How fatigued. How badly your ass is dragging.

Back when I had been diagnosed, but before treatment actually began .. some friends tried to warn me about the fatigue that treatment brings. But I can see now that you cannot possibly know the level of fatigue they were talking about.

I dont even try to tell people what it feels like, because I know that they cannot possibly imagine what it is like. Because I know that I certainly couldnt. Because it's so far beyond anything I had ever experienced.

(So very far beyond that you could never possibly imagine .. even if you tried. It feels like you need a shitload of energy just to get back up to zero.)

I remember talking to the Dog and saying, "I didnt know that you could be this tired and still be alive." And this was not hyperbole. Not hardly.

I have noticed that I feel the best when I do nothing but rest the preceding day .. which, or course, is not always possible. The more I do (physically speaking) the more fatigued I feel the next day.

Most of my life, I had an abundance of energy .. maybe even an over-abundance. So this is a new world for me .. a little frustrating, perhaps. But not as frustrating as it is to have cancer. (Not nearly.)

Did I mention that my iron supplement arrived yesterday? This stuff is made in Germany. I ordered the bigger 23-oz bottle this time .. so it shoud last a little longer.

I have dropped a few pounds lately. This is a first for me since I started adding weight post-treatment. I almost never feel hungry anymore. And if I eat only when I feel like it, then I noticed that my weight will start dropping.

So I need to eat even when I dont feel like it. But sometimes I dont. I like the feeling of nothing in my gut. I feel the best after coffee in the morning on an empty stomch. Vrrrooom.

A few times, I have tried to go without coffee for the day. It was not good. I caved later in the day and fixed myself a nice, strong cup. Then, I felt better again.

Instead of hunger, I start to feel lightheaded. This tells me I need to eat. Then, I will eat something and the lightheadedness goes away.

So anyway, happy National Cancer Survivors day and week to me. I am not even going to tell you how I celebrated.

» Radiation tri-blade » Even before the diagnosis, I found myself resonating (quite naturally) with the existentialists, such as Nietzsche and Dostoevsky and Kafka. Time after time, I would read some cool stuff that spoke to me at a deep level. So I googled the name of the author and read a little bit about them and discovered that this cool stuff was coming from yet another person who was considered something called an existentialist. Whatever that was.

Last Day of Winter

"I am obviously feeling these existentialists," I would say to myself. Tho I wasnt sure what exactly this meant.

The term » existentialism, to me, just seemed so unbearably pretentious.

Perhaps this is why Camus (1913-1960), who everybody considers an existentialist .. himself insisted that he was not one.

Whatever the case with Camus [ Ca-'moo ] I never spent much time looking into what precisely constitutes an existentialist and existentialism.

Until now.

First thing I learned is that existentialism, while admittedly sounding mercilessly hoity-toity, is not a pretentious philosophy. Not at all. Quite the contrary.

It's actually characterized by a down-to-earth practicality that I simply adore.

I went off on this existential tangent after watching Woody Allen's Irrational Man .. with Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix playing her Philosophy professor. [ Manohla mentions Woody here. He has a new movie coming out. ]

Viceroy butterfly» First Day of Spring

But before I get carried away there .. let me first note that today is the first day of spring.

The exact moment when the sun quietly crosses the equator heading north (toward us) and enters the northern hemisphere is » 9:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

I am glad to see spring arrive. After treatment, I have noticed that the cold bothers me more.

The chemo, while designed to attack cancer cells, also puts a hurting on your blood .. on your red blood cells, and on your white blood cells, and especially on your platelets and hemoglobin. And it just takes time to recover. (I see my oncologist in another week.)

» Warmer Days Ahead

Anyway, I much prefer the therapeutic warmth of summer to the bone-chilling cold of winter. And today is the last day of winter. Tonight we sleep in springtime and dream of warmer days to come.

So wave goodbye to winter with me .. and the final diagnostic hurdle.

As a cancer survivor .. I feel genuinely grateful to witness the arrival of yet another season. Isnt life grand? Being alive is totally bitchin'.

UConn Huskies Girls Basketball Team » Total Domination

Speaking of totally bitchin' things .. I want to send a hearty shout-out to the UConn Huskies girls basketball team. You make me proud to be from Connecticut. That is certainly some eye-rubbing stuff you are doing there.

I mean, you see it .. but it's still hard to believe. Nodody is gonna say that Connecticut doesnt take sports seriously, or that they are not ferociously competitive.

Total domination. Chest-thumping stuff. It must feel totally bitchin'. "We came. We saw. We kicked ass. And a hell of a lot of it, too."

What does it feel like to never lose? (Ever. Even once.) You should make a movie. Everybody likes to be around a winner .. hoping some of the winningness will rub off.

Oh, my mistake .. it looks like they have actually lost 5 games in the last 4 years, with a record of 151-5.

They have this girl on their team, Breanna Stewart, who might go thru all 4 years of college .. winning a national championship every year. Which has never before happened. (Ever. As in history.)

» Few Things Feel as Good as Winning

One time, I played this best-ball golf tournament after work on one fine summer day .. as part of a foursome of guys from my work-group. And one of these guys had been in college on a pro-track .. until he hurt his back in a car accident.

But he could still hit a ball that made your eyeballs pop out. And he was just a little dude, too. Kinda wiry. He could hit far and he was wicked-accurate with the irons.

Anyway, we won that tournament (in Maryland). And even tho we hardly used any of my balls, despite some pretty good shots .. I remember how GOOD I felt driving home. (It was a long drive back to Pennsylvania.) I think there were 10 or 12 teams.

I felt like a million bucks. Very much alive and vibrant. So happy .. that it actually surprised me. "How can I possibly be feeling this happy about winning a stupid golf tournament where I hardly even contributed anything to the winning?" It didnt make sense. But I was feeling good, anyway.

It just feels so good to win, sometimes. I could see how something that felt that good .. could easily become addicting. Are you girls addicted? (It would certainly seem so.)

» No Going Back

Here is the thing that has become most plain and clear to me, post-treatment .. and that is » there is no going back. See, before treatment, you kinda have the thought »

"I will go thru this hardest-thing-of-your-life treatment .. including the lonely 99-minute window into eternity and I'll even do the bio-hazards for breakfast .. and it will kick my ass, but then I will get back to where I was before treatment."

But I can see now that this is not how it works. I am not saying that the cancer survivor cannot go on to bigger and better things .. no, sir. Rather I am saying that » you cannot go back.

There is no going back. Those days are gone forever. You live in a new world, now .. with new rules. This has become clear .. very clear. I get it. "Yo comprendo, mi amigo."

Rad note » this month's entry grew so large that I split it into two pages and off-loaded them to the monthly archives, where I can work with it a little easier. First of the two is here » March, 2016 - page 1