Archive for the ‘Postcards from Cancerland.’ Category

Losing my Chins.

Posted: November 23, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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I have a confession to make.
When I lost my beard a while back, I didn’t handle it well.
It had been my constant companion for years.
We were quite attached.
It was the first thing I saw when I looked in the mirror.
Suddenly, it was gone.
I looked in the mirror and, instead of chullet, I saw chins.
SERIOUS chinnage.
I was suddenly very self conscious about my abundance of face.
After all, a good beard covers a multitude of chins.
I wanted more jawline than jowls, I wanted strong chiseled features that made me look like Dwayne  “the Rock” Johnson.
Instead I saw fleshy neck.
I felt my chin made my head look like a slightly misshapen Vienna sausage.
So when I messaged family and friends or took selfies, I conveniently cropped out my chins. I made it look like my face began somewhere around my bottom lip.
I considered only wearing turtlenecks.
I tried to stretch my face to distribute my chunky face.
My wife called me on it.
She asked why I was erasing part of my face.
She seems to be fond of my face…all of it.
I’m quite fond of her and her opinion matters more to me than anyone else’s.
So, I looked in the mirror again.
I realized that I’ve always had chins.
It wasn’t an issue until I fell into the trap of chin comparison.
In an Instagram world, we feel the pressure to filter and crop.
We want to offer the world a different version of ourselves, something less real, not as flawed.
We banish the blemishes.
We take pictures from flattering angles to try to hide the things that make us feel less.
We try to hide our chin, or wrinkles, or butt, or gut.
It carries over to other things too.
We don’t want people to see ALL of us, whether it’s our face or our finances.
We see the seemingly perfect social media life of others and we don’t want to come up short.
So we prop ourselves up to measure up to unreal expectations.
We are so afraid to be left behind that we never let ourselves be truly known.
Comparison is a cancer.
It steals joy.
It kills individuality.
It’s a crime against humanity.
We are quick to compare our condition and station.
In the last few months, the Instagram world has given me front rows seats to see people living amazing lives while I’ve been confined and restricted.
When I compare, I always come up short.
BUT, here’s the unchanging deal…
I’m NOT them!
I’m not meant to live their life and they aren’t meant to live mine.
If they are my friends, I should celebrate when their life is amazing, instead of compare and covet.
Stop comparing.
Comparing opens the door for complaining.
Complaining turns me into an art critic instead of an artist.
I criticize the art that the Creator made in me and others.
I think He takes that personal.
I would rather celebrate the uniqueness of you and me.
AND that includes my chin.
Real wins.
As I write this, my weird beard is making a comeback.
I’m growing the chullet back, not to cover anything, but to celebrate EVERYthing.

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Say kids…
Today’s secret word is…cumulative.
Cumulative is a big word that means: “increasing or increased in quantity, degree, or force by successive additions.”
Cumulative is a great word when it applies to ice cream, sandwiches, or interest earned.
It’s not such a great word when it applies to chemo side effects.
People warned me that this would happen.
They said, “It will build up and slam you upside the face.”
I doubted it would be a big deal.
I was wrong.
The last few days I have felt the accumulative effect of six cycles of industrial strength chemo therapy.
I have felt it hard.
It has built up.
It’s been like putting on six different scratchy orange tight sweaters and trying to dance.
It’s complicated.
It’s like the end of a Rocky movie, you know that Rocky is overjoyed about going the distance, but he is just beat up and it’s going to take a little time to recuperate.
That’s me right now.
Let me unfurl all of my feels…
I feel like a Stretch Armstrong.
Stretch Armstrong was a 1970s squishy action figure shaped as a short, stocky man with stylish blond hair wearing black trunks. He could be stretched to unbelievable lengths.
It was creepy.
I’m feeling that.
I feel like my face is fighting itself.
I feel like a Sumo Wrestler named Carl has been standing on my head.
I feel like the trash compactor in Star Wars.
My stomach is trashed and making strange guttural noises.
Most food tastes like metallic space garbage right now.
I feel a special kind of tired.
I haven’t slept longer than forty minutes at a time. Because of steroids and fluids I’m running to the bathroom at least twelve times a night.
I’m an unbelievably gassy little dude.
My lucky wife bears the brunt of that.
I’m feeling dazed and confused…
Because of the sleepless nights, I haven’t dreamt much, but I did have one drug fueled dream that Smurfette (with perfectly manicured eyebrows and a camouflage outfit) wanted to be my life coach and help me live “my best life now”.
Did I mention that I’m feeling dazed and confused…
This round, I’ve hallucinated a bit…the lightbulbs have swelled up and the bathroom floor has become paisley.
That’s pretty wild.
Six rounds of accumulation creates some crazy feelings.
I feel like I should be accumulating different things…
We all accumulate.
Life builds.
It’s amazing what we allow to accumulate in our lives.
One big thing that we accumulate are words.
People say negative, hurtful things about us. It builds up.
It can leave you feeling pretty insignificant.
Don’t accumulate lies!
Look for the truth.
Look for the good.
What if we accumulated joy?
What if we allowed the good memories and giggles to build up?
We can also allow good stuff to accumulate.
I’ve allowed hundreds of pictures of my granddaughter to accumulate on my phone.
That’s a very good thing.
Love has an amazing accumulative effect.
Build it up, then give it away!
You will realize you didn’t lose anything, the more you give the more you gain.
That should make you feel pretty awesome.

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The fighter catches his breath and takes a seat.
The sixth round is over.
He is wiped out, it’s been a tough round that was delayed because of a sucker punch.
But, now it’s over.
And now the little fighter awaits a decision.
No matter what happens the fighter will never be the same.
He has been inducted into a circle that he was blissfully unaware of six months ago.
He has experienced new levels of both joy and suffering.
He has seen and felt deep pain and deeper hope.
He has made some brave new friends.
He will never be the same.
He has experienced love stronger than he ever imagined…
The love of his good and faithful God,
The love of his amazing wife and family,
The love of incredible friends.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…
Today, I happily parted ways with the infusion bag.
I finished my sixth round of chemo!
I even have a certificate to prove it.
It has been a wild ride!
For the last five months we have had a crazy cycle of treatment, side effects, and rebuild.
Then do it all over again.
Today was the end of the last scheduled treatment week.
I’m a Chemo graduate.
College was easier!
So now we work through the side effects.
And after a tough fight, we await the decision.
I feel groggy and disoriented, like I have a bean bag chair duct taped to my head.
I suddenly have whiskers growing on my chin, I haven’t been this excited about peach fuzz since I was seventeen.
The steroids have made my cheeks so rosy that I currently resemble a care bear.
I have learned so much about faith, hope, and love.
I will never be the same.
We go in for some bloodwork in a few days and start some scans that will give us some answers.
In the meantime…
It’s a chilly November night, but I sit inside my warm house eating some beans and cornbread with the beautiful queen of my pirate heart.
And I’m so ridiculously thankful for warmth, and life, and friends, and family, and hope, and healing, and new seasons and stories, and for the Holy Spirit who continues to hold my hand and walk with me…
To the tune of “Candle in the Wind”…sort of.
Goodbye infusion bag
I’ve got one last long night with you
You had the needle to hold yourself
While I failed to sleep a full night through
You woke me up every 44 minutes
As you pumped drugs into my hairless chest
You’ve been my constant companion
Every three weeks I’ve worn you like a vest
And it seems to me you made my life hard to navigate
Never knowing how to shower or get dressed myself
I laid in bed sweating with a crazy high heart rate
Listening to the soft rhythm of your wheezing self
Goodbye infusion bag
From the old dude with one night left with you
Man, I’m not really gonna miss you at all
I just hope you did your job and did chemo Kung fu
And caused the belly bully to take a forever fall

Spock Sock!

Posted: November 15, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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I love comebacks!!

Posted: November 14, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Bop It!

Posted: November 13, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Once upon a time there was an electronic game called Bop It, actually, it’s still around, it’s just much more complicated. It’s kind of a hot potato game where you follow instructions (bop it, pull it, twist it, etc.) and pass the game on, originally there were only three instructions, now there are like sixteen different chirpy electronic instructions.

This is my Bop It story.
It’s not pretty.
It’s not really family friendly.

You’ve been warned…

Years ago, I was flying home after speaking at a youth event in southern Louisiana. I had taken my bop-it game to use as an icebreaker.

I put my ratty little carry-on bag through security in New Orleans. Suddenly, I saw the tall, sweaty TSA agent nervously looking at me and calling for a bag check. I’m used to getting patted down at airport security because I look a little freaky, I had a weird beard. But, this was a new level of suspicion. Then I realized what was happening. I remembered the bop-it. It really did resemble a weapon of mass destruction. So I reassured him it was a mostly harmless toy. After 6 agents opened the bag I showed them how it worked and we all ended up playing for about 10 minutes. Finally, once the line was really backed up they let me take my toy and leave.
At this point, I REALLY need to go to the bathroom, so I darted into the friendly airport facilities. It was a full house, the only thing open was a urinal, which I normally don’t use because I’m 5’1” tall and most urinals come up to my chest…which is not cool, man!
BUT…as I mentioned I REALLY needed to go, so I hunkered up to a urinal and put my bag on the ground between my feet (probably not a hygienically wise decision, but whatever.) I went about my business…
A well dressed businessman started using the stall next to me. We were following all the necessary man bathroom rules: no talking, no eye contact, etc.
BUT THEN…
at that very moment, for some God forsaken reason my bop-it went off and said in a chirpy voice…
“BOP IT, PULL IT, TWIST IT!”
The businessman didn’t even finish, zip up, or wash his hands, he just turned and ran from the bathroom.
Other men looked at me with disgust and caution.
I picked up my bag and sheepishly walked out not knowing what to expect right outside the bathroom door.
Would I be arrested?
I sheepishly boarded the plane and flew home.
I felt very fortunate to escape Louisiana without a restraining order.
Sometimes, when you least expect it, life goes off.
Things get noisy at the worst times.
The unexpected bops you upside the head.
The unknown pulls you in a hundred different directions at once.
The unwanted twists you like a cheap piece of saltwater taffy.
It leaves you scared to go outside.
What do you do when life is like an out of control electronic game?
Know when to hand it off!
There is just so much of life that we can’t handle on our own…pass it off…lay it down.
Put it in the hands that are bigger and stronger and wiser.
Cast your cares on the one who is crazy about you.