Hey it was just Xmas…

I’m glad that’s over with.

Here’s to hoping next friggin’ year is a better one. I wouldn’t mind some monotony once in a while. Steady and  predictable monotony. There is no way to control the speed on this rollercoaster and I hate that.

The only resolution I might admit to for 2010 is trying to live in the moment and actually be aware of it. The past is past and the future doesn’t exist…there is only this moment, this is all we ever have.

But we don’t live that way. I’m gonna try…

Happy New Year, be well.


Published in: on December 26, 2009 at 3:15 pm  Comments (2)  

December 19th

At the end of this week I will mark the passing of the date when I was officially diagnosed with two different cancers (that still boggles my mind)…three years ago on December 19th 2006.

It’s a strange date for me. This whole time of year is weird for me. My official diagnosis came via the telephone as both my Urologist and my Oncologist called a few minutes between each other to announce what I actually had. Sometimes I like to think they were in the same office and flipped a coin to see who called me first. I didn’t check the phone numbers to be sure it wasn’t the same number on each call.

I don’t recall reacting badly…for several weeks we knew they were trying to classify what I had and why they might be different. So we already knew it was cancer, we just didn’t know if it was all Lymphoma or all Kidney.

And then it was both.

In a few days (just after the New Year) I will mentally make note on January 2nd that I was in surgery for 4 hours to remove the kidney and about three weeks later I will remember when my first infusion of chemo started.

The memories are not fading. Even three years later I remember it all like it was yesterday. One major difference this year approaching Dec 19th is that I am not “jubilant” and feeling all celebratory that I am still here…certainly I am glad to still be alive and that the surgery and chemo took care of my cancers…but I’m feeling the drag of a tremendous amount of stress and this year has flown by and in just a couple of days Christmas will be over and the decorations will come down and it will just be cold.

Technically my Cancer year runs from my discovery of the swollen lymph node on Nov 4th 2006 until my last Chemo infusion on July 3rd 2007.  That is 9 freaking months.  NINE MONTHS!!! That’s a pregnancy. And obviously the better part of a year. How can I not find any day in the year and not remember this stupid experience? I covered the seasons…Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer in that order. (that is a whole f**king year!)

So in trying to spin something positive out this funk I’m in about my “Cancerversary” this year I went searching for quotes about Seizing the Day! Carpe Diem and all that jazz…(same thing I know)

Here are a few..if not all that I found that remind me why life is precious and I should stop belly-aching…

Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.  ~Chinese Proverb

Every man dies.  Not every man really lives.  ~Braveheart

Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out of it alive.  ~Elbert Hubbard

As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.  ~Zachary Scott

Spend the afternoon.  You can’t take it with you.  ~Annie Dillard

Why always “not yet”?  Do flowers in spring say “not yet”?  ~Norman Douglas

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.  ~Scottish Proverb

You will never find time for anything.  If you want time you must make it.  ~Charles Buxton

You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted.  ~Ruth E. Renkl

I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.  ~Tagore

Most of us spend our lives as if we had another one in the bank.  ~Ben Irwin

Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out.  That is what it is for.  Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself.  ~George Bernard Shaw
If you woke up breathing, congratulations!  You have another chance.  ~Andrea Boydston

There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.  ~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.  ~Jean de La Bruyère

Is there life before death?  ~Author Unknown

When it comes time to die, make sure all you got to do is die.  ~Attributed to Jim Elliot

May you live all the days of your life.  ~Jonathan Swift

Later never exists.  ~Author Unknown

Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop to look around once in a while you could miss it.  ~From the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.  ~Michael Leboeuf

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when.  You can only decide how you’re going to live.  Now.  ~Joan Baez

The follies which a man regrets most in his life are those which he didn’t commit when he had the opportunity.  ~Helen Rowland

You only live once; but if you live it right, once is enough.  ~Adam Marshall

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.  ~Author unknown, sometimes attributed to W.M. Lewis

We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.  ~Japanese Proverb

Life is indeed too short and as I am finding out at the ripe old/young age of 40 is that I don’t know how much “living” I have truly done and what that exactly all means. These first 40 years came and went in a flash and it seems I may only have another 40 (God willing)…life expectancies being what they are and what have you…so rather than question (as I have) “What have I done with my life so far?” I need to ask…”What am I going to do with my life from here on out?”

My post cancer bracelet ala the livestrong model reads: LIVE LIFE BETTER. I suppose that is all I can do. I chose the name for this blog based on a lyric in a Foo Fighter’s song “DOA” and we all know it’s true NO ONE gets out of this life ALIVE. So why dwell on time spent thus far and instead spend the rest
more wisely? …

Live Life Better. That’s my plan. That’s all I’ve got.

Be Well.

Published in: on December 16, 2009 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lucky Bastard

After closer examination and actually checking the definition my problem isn’t exactly survivor guilt, it’s more about not fully understanding the randomness of life and why two  people can fight a similar enemy and only one of us defeats it.

Survivor Guilt is not the proper term.

I am not full of guilt because I am still here, but the emotional response to someone dying of cancer hits me very hard because of where I have been.

I understand the alternative and wrestled with that once diagnosed. The “what if’s” kept me up at night. I understand how this could have played out. I do not regret still being here. (that is why survivor guilt is the wrong term)

After an emotional night of talking with my wife about how some things recently affected me because my bout with cancer and the year I was being treated and the financial issues that followed, we came to the conclusion that as I approach my 3rd cancerversary I may need to seek some support NOW instead of then.

Apparently the post cancer stresses are worse than the during cancer stress.

I also don’t want to walk around feeling privileged that I am still here, it is very likely just a matter of timing and good fortune and that makes me (what my Dr’s called me) A Lucky Bastard. It’s as simple as that.

I need to work on this and accept that the healing process is going to be a lot of work. The psychological damage is extensive and the entire ordeal has left some big scars. Flashbacks are something I need to prepare for and try to avoid, just never know what is going to set me off or when.

This is, like everything else… a work in progress.

My wife and I saw ” The Gaslight Anthem” last night at the WellMont theater in Montclair. They put on a very energetic show and played a full solid hour covering their three albums to date and added in a Tom Petty cover and a 5 song encore. This was apparently their last show before heading back into the studio to record their next album.

A very cool, loud and late night. (thanks babe)

Be Well. (I’m certainly working on it) -Scott

Published in: on December 12, 2009 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Survivor Guilt

It happens every time.

I learned this week that a co-worker lost someone he loves to cancer, and immediately the survivor guilt sets in. I wonder as I have thousands of times before…why am I still here and (she) isn’t.

What makes me so special that I was “Pitched Back” as Lance Armstrong put it? It seems normal for me to feel this way having been where she was, to some degree. (we didn’t have the same cancer)

Was I pitched back for a reason? Soon after kicking my two cancers I had my own bracelets made that read: SECOND CHANCE MISSION and on the other side LIVE LIFE BETTER. But what does any of this mean?

It hits me square in the chest every time I hear someone has lost their fight. In the same few weeks or months my wife lost a family member and so did I. Everyone mentioned in this post lost their fight with cancer, or complications from it. Each of them had pneumonia and seems didn’t have the immune system to fight it.

I wrestle with being a survivor a lot. I feel a certain responsibility having beaten not one…but two. (I was diagnosed on December 19th 2006 with Renal Cell Carcinoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma)

Surgery on January 2nd 2007 removed the kidney and 6 months of chemo followed. I have been in remission since May 18th 2007.

And as of this moment, still no word from my Oncologist if their appeal to the insurance company will let my next PET/CT scan fly…they denied this one because they (the insurance company) decided it is not medically necessary. They don’t want to pay for images to confirm that “my body is still cancer free”.

…I am by no means free of cancer. That much is evident because of the bouts of survivor guilt that crop up like it did this week.

I have to believe at some point, some day I will figure out what I am still here for. Why did God and Science save my life and keep me breathing oxygen? When I hear someone has lost their battle with this stupid fucking disease my skin crawls a little bit and I am reminded (as if I need to be) that I was there. I wore their shoes and sat in that infusion room and was miserable a few hours later and in a shitty mood for the days afterward.

I have my scars. Cancer is quickly becoming a chronic disease, survival rates appear to be improving, people are living longer…but not for everyone. I received an E-mail from Livestrong.org that mentioned the following:

“The fact is, we are facing an unprecedented crisis – cancer will soon be the #1 killer in the world and experts predict that by 2030, 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with the disease. A world where every other person has to fight cancer? In our lifetime?  We cannot let that happen.”

THAT IS EVERY OTHER PERSON! It sickens me to look at my friends and/or family and mentally count who in the room has already had it or has it and then imagine who is going to get it…every other person???


Hopefully some of the articles I have read recently are correct and maybe some forms of cancer will be classified like diabetes is…as a chronic disease. Hopefully science will find a way to make it easier to detect and maybe, a little easier to beat.

I don’t believe you can prevent it, but you can detect it earlier and deal with it sooner and hopefully, beat it into remission. There is certainly no known cure for cancer, they should stop looking for it and get on with finding a way to make living with it as easy as possible. The i2y folks (I’m too young for this) have focused on the goal being disease management and I have to belive that is the way to go.

Unless the answer lies in some undiscovered flower in the rain forest somewhere there will never be a cure and I will have to deal with survivor guilt from time to time. It’s just par for the course.

Be Well

Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 10:21 am  Comments (1)  
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A snap shot of my art table and a couple of sketchbooks I’m experimenting in. My tastes have always run to the abstract and I am still “finding my voice” when it comes to what I hope to say and/or do in watercolors and other water based media.

I am finding it (the act of painting) very calming. I have read that it lowers blood pressure. (all things considered in the last few days…that’s a good thing) and throwing/dripping paint is fun. (Jackson Pollack knew what he was doing)

I have to keep myself in check regarding my own style per se. I want to paint like Norman Rockwell would (if he worked in watercolors) but I know deep down I don’t paint that way. I might attempt to work my way up to that style someday but I also have to recognize that it’s not natural for me to paint that way…my mind wants to force myself to paint that way, but I know it will only make me miserable.

I instead need to focus on what does come naturally and for as long as I can remember I have always “doodled” when I was cartooning. The act of doodling also has a calming effect on me. It seems to clear my head the way Jazz does. It seems to neutralize the crap rolling around in my head and lets me focus…I have thought through problems while doodling, so that right there should tell you what is natural and what is ego.

My EGO wants to paint realistic landscapes and scenes that would be the envy of all who would view them…but I know deep down that’s not me. So I have to struggle just to paint the way I do and feel the most comfortable right now.

Right now that involves tapping the brush and splattering paint in all directions over a multicolored wash.

I’m not pushing myself to accomplish anything right now. I am not taking any of this seriously. I’m just dabbling in watercolors. Something I have missed since Art School (back in ’91 or ’92).

Be well.

check out: http://scottscartoonblog.blogspot.com

Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment