Sunday, May 15, 2016. Three weeks ago tonight, Jen and I spent the night at White Plains Hospital. It was earlier that day that I had gone to the Scarsdale Medical Center to get checked out yet again. Something like my 7th or 8th trip to the emergency medical center and ENT for an ongoing sinus/ear infection that I think started at some point in early January. I chalked it up to traveling, working really hard and not getting nearly enough rest. But the fact that I was short of breath and couldn’t run more than 2 minutes on my treadmill (at this point for 3-4 weeks) was strange. The chest pain started in early April when we landed in St. Lucia on our annual Scarsdale couples trip. And the pain in my neck and behind my ear was different from what I would typically feel when I did something stupid in the gym with too much weight.
That next morning, Monday April 25th, I had a biopsy on the mass they had found that Sunday morning on my x-ray. I really don’t remember what I was specifically thinking about that Sunday night. But I do remember being with Jen, my brother and my sisters/brothers-in-law (all 5 of whom are true brothers and sisters) and knowing — without knowing what was even wrong — that everything was going to be OK. I feel the same way 21 days later.
Don’t get me wrong, things are different. Very different. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in nearly a week, which is strange because I am a 3 cup a day guy. I don’t sleep that well because of the medicine (also strange because I can usually fall asleep anywhere). I wake up in the morning nauseous and have trouble getting out of bed, which bothers me because I haven’t had trouble getting out of bed since middle school. My calves are sore, which is very strange because I still have not worked out my legs — ever. I am still having a little trouble getting food down because of the chemo treatments. And I haven’t worked in 3 weeks. Which still is unsettling to me because I am strange and actually love my job.
But the common theme among these things is that they are all side effects. And the side effects are all going to go away. What won’t go away, however, is my new-found perspective. In just 21 days, my entire life and outlook has changed. I am happier than I have ever been. I am more alive than I was before I started getting pumped with chemo. My conversations with people are more meaningful. I appreciate the small things that I used to ignore. I drove without texting today because it is just not worth it. I watched my son’s soccer game without being glued to my phone and it felt amazing (he scored the winning goal on a sick penalty shot and I screamed like a wild man, which is not new). I walked around my neighborhood and appreciated that I was fortunate enough to be raising a family in such a great place. I visited with and spoke to friends and family that are so supportive it fills you with energy. I had a brief internal call with a few colleagues today on one of my cases and it felt awesome (and normal) to talk strategy and tactics. I have said I love you and cried more in the last three weeks than I can remember in multiple years combined. And while I know this will be a marathon, I truly feel like I have the wind at my back and I cannot wait for what is ahead. Because I know I am going to come back stronger than ever, I am going to work harder than I did before at everything, but I am going to have a different meaning and purpose to my every day life that will help define me in a way that I did not know was possible. We all live by the “catch phrase,” and everyone knows life is too short. I am just happy to be living in this moment. Even if I can’t drink coffee and know I am going to feel like crap in the morning.