“To dance, put your hand on your heart and listen to the sound of your soul.”
~Eugene Louis Faccuito
Dancing has always been a big part of my girls’ lives. Both Erin and Amy were dancing around the age of four. By the time they reached softball age I could not rehabilitate them and turn them into ball players. Amy was busy picking dandelions in the outfield, and when she wore the catcher’s gear she could not walk, but my how cute she looked. Erin caught the ball with her mouth one too many times, and decided softball was not her thing. Their mom had won. Dancers are what they would be.
I have loved watching them grow into beautiful, graceful dancers. I was eventually fine that dancing was the athletic endeavor they chose, and I have always said that they get their dance ability from me. I have always loved to dance myself and have been known to break out a few moves now and then.
Dance became a part of my life as well as theirs. I enjoy dancing wherever and whenever I can. Weather that be in a class, such as my adult tap class, at a wedding, going out with friends, or just in my basement. I have found dancing to be very uplifting.
You lose yourself in the music. You listen to the keyboard, the drums, the guitar, and the music will enter your body and capture your soul. Then you move. Then you dance. This is when I forget that I am sick.
There is also another kind of dance that I am very familiar with as well. It is what I will call dancing around a subject. It is kind of like when I am interviewing someone and they ask me if they are going to jail. I may have known they were going to jail the minute they showed up to my office, but am not ready to tell them…ball change. Or I might not really know yet if they are going to jail and need more info from them to really answer that question. The dance continues…shuffle…hop…flap…ball change.
Then there is the dance of my medical team. It can be hard sometimes to get a straight answer. Sometimes I have to lead other times follow, which brings me to the call I received from my doctor’s office about my lab results several weeks ago.
A Tuesday afternoon I was in an interview when I saw my phone light up and that the call was from my doctor’s office. I knew that the call was about my lab results. On the voice mail Teresa asked me to call.
Surgery and radiation are the curative treatments for my cancer and I have had both, and I am on a lot of drugs. It had now been over two months since my radiation treatments ended. So at this stage of my treatments they should not find any evidence of disease. Any other news would be bad.
I called back around 4:00 and Teresa gave me the numbers. I was not disease free. The dance began.
She then talked about how much the numbers had improved and how things would hopefully get better. I wondered if she knew the significance of what she was telling me. Did she realize that the information she had just given me told me that my cancer was not curable? Was she deflecting my questions because the answers I was seeking should come from my doctor?
She was continuing to talk as positively as she could, but I was no longer listening. My mind was somewhere else. I thanked her for the information and I hung up the phone and I thought ‘Oh no Mr. Bill.’ (Kids you will have to Google Mr. Bill SNL)
I then cleaned off my desk, turned off my computer, locked my office door and told my partner next door that I was leaving early for the day. I then left the building.
As I drove away I had many thoughts. I thought about our trip in March to see a cancer specialist in Illinois. This was after surgery when they told me that the disease had spread, but they were not sure where it had gone. I needed a special scan and the machine was only in a few hospitals in the country. We tried Mayo in Minnesota, but they could not get me in for a few months. We did not have the time to wait. A cancer hospital in Texas wanted me to commit to having my treatments at their hospital. I said no. We were able to find a hospital in Illinois with the machine and we traveled there.
The scans revealed that the cancer had spread to several lymph nodes in my pelvic region. They also noted concerns for the cancer having reached lymph nodes outside my pelvic area and into my stomach. The radiation oncologist wrote in his report that several of the lymph nodes were highly suspicious for metastatic disease, which would mean incurable. I did not want to think about that.
The scan was able to tell us where my radiation treatments should be concentrated with the hope that it would kill the cancer and cure me.
I also thought about the day I met with my current surgeon for a second opinion before surgery. I remember the doctor examining me and he told me that I was not stage 1 as I had been told by the other doctor who I fired. Rather I was at least stage 3 or worse. He looked at me and said that he had great concern for my welfare.
I knew when he told me stage 3 that it was very hard to cure stage 3 prostate cancer.
So what I learned from Teresa that day really was not surprising. Actually in the back of my mind it was expected.
The lab results told me that any future treatments would not concentrate on curing me but rather on prolonging my life. To give me more time, to help me hopefully into remission. Hopefully the disease will be treatable and manageable. Time will tell.
I have not really shared the information you have just read with many people. I have become a very private person over the years. I am very protective of my family’s privacy. I think it is because of the job that I do. Hell I do not even have a goddamn Facebook page. (Until a few hours ago. Erin set me up. Have to see how that works out.)
I find it very odd and scary that I am sharing my experience with so many people now, and in this manner. But I have found that putting my feelings in writing has helped me deal with what is happening and allows me to think deeper about this process. I guess if I am going to write it then someone ought to read it.
When you read this please do not feel sorry or sad for me. I do not need or want sympathy. What I need is to feel your positive thoughts and love. When I see you I want to see a smile and I will take a hug. I need more smiles and hugs.
I do not know what the future holds, but I do know this:
I WILL NOT ALLOW FEAR AND DEPRESSION TO TAKE OVER MY LIFE. WE WILL GET UP EACH AND EVERY DAY AND MAKE IT THE BEST DAMN DAY POSSIBLE. THAT I PROMISE. I AM SORry for yelling. I have calmed down now.
And by the way if anyone ever asks you what Papa Brown did after he left his office that day he got those shitty lab results you can tell them that I went out and did what I do most Tuesday nights — I went dancing.
Trying to live in reality