Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Game Face.

Posted: September 14, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland., Uncategorized


I love this picture of Carolina Panthers tight end, Greg Olsen.
It is the perfect example of a game face.
Off the field, Greg is a family man. He’s warm, He’s fuzzy, He goes to PTA meetings.
On the field, you really don’t want to mess with him. He is a 6’5” beast.
Like those of us who have never played in the NFL, Greg Olsen has also had times off the field when he’s had to put on a game face.
His son has had serious health challenges.
The kind of hard times that draw you together as a family.
The Olsens have had to put on their game faces and fight for their boy.
Let me see your game face.

It’s a swagger or snarl that you bring out when things are about to get tough.

We all have those days…
hard, gray days when we have to press through.
We encounter cold days that offer more pain than promise.
We have to tackle opponents that we didn’t see coming.
THAT is when it’s time to put on our game face.
Sometimes we have to be strong for someone else, we share their fight and we wear a game face for them.
I have seen my wife’s game face often during this fight.
She is a beast.
Let me see your game face.
This is NOT “fake it til you make it”.
This is finding strength that you didn’t know you had.
It’s not putting on a happy face.
It’s drawing on resources that you only discover in the midst of the fight.
It’s letting those resources being reflected in your countenance.
Game faces are almost never pretty,
They are gritty,
They are sweaty,
They are more beast than beauty
They are hardly selfies.
They get your face in the fight.
They tell your opponent…
“I showed up and I mean business.”
It’s your mountain moving face.
It’s the face that won’t take no for an answer.
It’s the face that refuses to sit down, shut up, or move to the back of the bus.
It’s the wild eyed look that says…
You can stand me up at the gates of hell,

But I won’t back down.”

I CAN not…WILL not give up.
it’s looking the bully in the eyes and saying…

I know your reputation.
I know your record.
I know the ONE who fights for me.
The ONE who is good, 
The ONE who is greater. 
Let me see your game face.


I like BIG books and I can not lie.
Some people don’t, I can’t deny.
I know people who only read the first and last chapters of a book.
They don’t have time for the in-between, so they skip all of the other chapters or they skim over the inside stuff.
I think that’s sad…
They miss the plot, they miss the character development.
They just want to know how the story starts and ends, and they end up missing the story itself.
True confession: I’ve actually tried to do that in real life.
Maybe you have too?
We want to skip the tough chapters.
We don’t want the pain or the conflict.
We look for shortcuts.
The problem is that shortcuts short circuit the story.
We try to avoid the hard chapters.
We don’t want to stick around when the story gets get old, or boring, or uneventful.
We run from impossible.
We really want to skip over the demanding sentences.
We don’t want to look the dragon in the eyes.
When we take the hard stuff out, we also take out chances to learn and grow.
We miss the plot, we miss our character development.
We miss getting to know the other characters.
In the chapter that I presently find myself in, I’ve come to realize that skipping the hard stuff is not an option.
The dragon is standing before me, his hot breath is on my face.
I can’t just skip to the happy ending.
There are no short cuts to the castle.
Wherever you find yourself in the story of you, I encourage you to let it develop!
Don’t skip a chapter.
Learn from it all.
You won’t want some pages to end.
Some chapters will hurt like hell and you will try to rush through.
Don’t try to run from the pain.
Take pen in hand and choose to write stories of resolution and hope.
Slay the dragons.
Storm the castle.
You won’t always get to choose your adventure.
But you WILL always script your reaction.
Pick up sword and shield and fight,
Or fall in love,
Or take a nap in a field of sunflowers and rest,
Or play in a waterfall with a unicorn named Jack,
Believe six impossible things before breakfast,
Be brave and kind.
Just don’t skip a chapter.


We just got back from the Doctor.

We got the results from the CAT scan a few weeks ago!
After the first two treatments…
This next part is best read in an Oprah voice:
The good doctor said that overall there is about a 40% shrinkage in the masses.
On a scale of 1-10 he is putting my progress at a 9.
WOO to the HOO!!
The belly bully is being beat down.
The fight goes on!
Round Three is almost over.
We are going the distance.
We have three more rounds.
There will be no quarter given.
This round has been interesting, a few new pains, coughs, flutters and quivers.
I’ve been a little wobbly kind of like a drunken pirate.
At times it has felt like I have a Spider-Man beach towel stuck in my head.
I’m learning to navigate the pump that is continually attached to my chest a bit better, I think that by the time this is over I will be able to do an impressive dance routine while swinging the pump around like a bulky baton.
I was sitting in the big vinyl infusion chair this morning thinking “WOW! This is a little like Mardi Gras” as I was hiking up my shirt and showing my man boobs to assorted medical professionals and passerby. Then it was a little hurtful when I realized that no one has thrown plastic beads at me.
But the bottom line is we have good news and the belly bully is being beat down.
As a short dude, I didn’t think I would ever be thankful for shrinkage…but I AM!!
Giddy Up!!!

When I lost my chullet…wait…can we just have a moment of silence for my dearly departed weird beard?

Thank you.

Anyway…when I said goodbye to my hairy little friend. I had several wonderful individuals step up and send me solutions for my suddenly naked chin. Here are some of the fake facial hair ideas…



It’s treatment week, that means that I’m attached to the magic juice box again. It pumps three flavors of non carbonated cancer killer into my body for twenty three hours and ten minutes a day ( it takes about ten minutes to get a refill).

We saw on a statement yesterday that just one of my drugs costs $19,000! I think I would rather have a 99 cent fountain drink from QT!
My face is super flushed from the steroids that I’m taking. My round bald face looks like a shiny red Christmas ornament. The last time I blushed like this was the first time I cussed in front of my Mama. (That might be a decent title for a country song!)
When I was in grade school, my Grandpa would draw a horse’s backside around my belly button making my navel the “poop chute”.
Grandpa clearly had a twisted sense of humor. But, I’m tempted to recreate the belly button stallion on
myself in an effort to entertain the unfortunate captive audience who run the risk of being flashed by me in the infusion room.
During infusion week, there is only one chair in our living room that really accommodates me and the juice box.
ALSO, during infusion week, I usually have to get up and go to the bathroom about every thirteen minutes.
Every time I get up our beagle Maggie Moo jumps up and grabs my chair.
Yup, sometimes our dog can be a jerk.
She won’t get out of the chair until she gets a treat.
I’ve heard that some dogs can be very compassionate. They act kind of like furry Florence Nightingales. Not our beagle! She is a scrappy little street dog and she has us trained!

cancer does not discriminate between the sinner and the saint. 

It doesn’t care about ages, wages, or stages.

It just takes, and takes, and takes.

As an act of rebellion…

we keep living and loving anyway.

I glanced around the infusion room today…

It loudly dawned on me…

there are no cookie cutters in the clinic.

Every ugly expression of the disease is different. 

Every beautiful face is different. 

There is struggle and survival…

despair and hope…

goodness and grace…

etched into the eyes.

Every story is different.

There are no cookie cutters in the clinic.

Each soul is inimitable.

Each life an original. 

That’s a great reason to keep living anyway.

EVERY story is needed. 

EVERY life is irreplaceable.

I pray silent prayers for each of my fellow fighters…

The world needs them.

The end of this fight is coming…

The belly bully is going down.

There is great hope here…

I’m willing to wait for it. 

I’m willing to fight for it. 


The introductions have been made…
“In this corner…straight from the pit of hell…the belly bully.”
“In this corner…in the boxing trunks that don’t fit quite right…Clubber Lang.”
The scruffy little fighter has two rounds under his belt. He sits on the wooden stool and tries to catch his breath.
Round three is about to begin.
There are so many lights and noises competing for space in the fighter’s head.
The fighter shakes his head and his attention goes to the crowd…
The fighter sees someone holding an awesome hand painted sign that reads “YOU GOT THIS!”
It’s such a sweet thoughtful thought, but the fighter knows it really should read “YOU GOT HELP!”
The nonstop barrage of poison punches to the bully have left the fighter a tired he has never known.
As he waits for the bell to ring, his mind begins to wander…
We are ALMOST halfway through this journey.
That causes me to pause and reflect.

I am reminded…

At the beginning of the fight there were so many questions.
There is always one big question that comes up.
The natural tendency is to ask…
“WHY ME?!”
“Why is this happening to me?”
That question is quicksand.
It leaves you sinking in a thousand other questions.
And you can’t fight from a sinking position.
You’ve got to stand.
The question that I needed to ask was…
“What do I do now?”
I asked, I got an answer…
I heard the sweet scruffy voice of my trainer…
“Fight outloud with joy, boy!”
(The Holy Spirit frequently calls me boy, I don’t mind).
We didn’t know what to expect, we still don’t.
Each round is different. Last round left me totally punch drunk. Little things like thinking and articulating became challenges.
When I tried to walk distances, I’ve become clunky and wobbly at the same time. Basically, I walked like a toddler Frankenstein’s monster.
I’m carried by the prayers and kindness of friends and strangers.
It’s hard to explain but I tangibly feel the prayers. It’s like I’m literally being lifted by love.
I think back to the beginning when we were scared…
Completely, utterly afraid…
We knew the financial sucker punch we were about to receive because of medical bills and decreasing income.
Worry had us in a suffocating chokehold.
Some unbelievably dear friends started and responded to a GoFundMe for us.
They have busted the fear and lifted a huge load off of our shoulders.
We will never be able to fully express the appreciation that floods our hearts.
I’ve received so many cool cards and gifts and smiles. It has left me with no doubt that “l’ve got this” because “l’ve got help”.
I clear my mind and I focus on round three and I know…
On the weak days and the week days, when I find myself on the ropes, I remember that my strength does not come from self or circumstance.
It comes from God.
HIS joy makes me strong! I hit my knees and draw a line and I refuse to allow anything that didn’t give me my joy to steal my joy.
Strength-suckers, you’ve been served!


Growing up I was gifted with one of the most magical things an adventure seeking kid can possess…
A red Swiss Army Knife.
It was an amazing tool that gave me the opportunity to do great things.
I could whittle or clean my teeth.
Simply having it in my pocket made me feel safe and more manly. I could defend myself in a street fight or carve my initials into an innocent tree or school desk.
It was a knife but there was so much more.
There were amazing tools to behold…
There was a tiny little hacksaw that you could use to saw tiny little trees like a lumberjack.
There was a set of tweezers that could remove splinters or pinch your sister.
There was even a super handy toothpick that you had to remember to occasionally clean.
There was a can opener that could be used to open a big can of beans or Vienna sausages.
There was a screwdriver that could be used to build small engines, I suppose.
There was a corkscrew and scissors that could be used to defend oneself when attacked by wine bottles or construction paper.
I loved that knife. It made me feel equipped and confident.
I marched into the big scary world armed with my red Swiss Army Knife ready to take care of business.
I still have a Swiss Army Knife, it sits in my dresser next to some old ticket stubs.
But now, I have another weapon.
I am armed with another tool that makes me feel equipped and confident…
Joy is my Swiss Army Knife.
There are amazing tools to behold…
Love is a pointy blade that pops the ugly balloons of fear and hate.
Mischief is a can opener that can open up a big can of fun in the midst of funk. We should never forget the power of play. Play defeats pomposity.
Gratitude is a set of tweezers than help you separate and appreciate what is really important from what is not. You live thankful for what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t have.
Peace is a toothpick that cleans the plaque from your mind. It removes the things that can make your soul sick. Peace comes from receiving and giving forgiveness, from refusing to hold onto offense.
Silliness is a corkscrew that wiggles and giggles and digs into our tendencies to take life too seriously. When the Creator designed us, He engineered our bodies to make some pretty interesting sounds and odors. Maybe, just maybe, that’s meant to be a built in reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.
Wonder is a pair of shiny scissors that cuts away the old and tired, and unleashes new ways of looking at life. It is discovering things anew that you have seen thousands of times.
I march into the big scary world armed with my red joy Swiss Army Knife ready to take care of business.


A week ago I had a CAT scan.

After two treatments, the Doctor wanted to check the status of the belly bully.
We wanted to know too!
We were praying and hoping for some serious shrinkage.

So we went in so I could get CAT scanned.

I know the drill now…I dutifully laid down on something that looks like an ironing board and I lowered my camouflage cargo shorts with no shame.
The first thing that the chemo seems to kill is self consciousness.
Suddenly you really don’t care who sees your Sponge Bob boxer briefs!
I have now dropped my cargo shorts and hiked up my Yoda T-shirt in front of roomfuls of strangers.
It’s liberating!
It makes me think…
I wish there had been a pleasant taking multivitamin that I could have taken as an eleven year old that would have eliminated self consciousness and selfishness from my life.
But, alas, we all have to work on our self ourselves.
I was injected with a clear liquid called “contrast”. It helps to show the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff. The contrast enters your bloodstream and makes you feel warm all over. It also makes you feel like you wet your pants, which is delightful, especially since you are already pretty vulnerable with your pants hiked down!
Then the big machine started and I was moved back and forth into a metal tube while I practiced some yoga breathing exercises.
I heard a mechanical female voice calmly say “take a deep breath and hold it”. Then what seems like four minutes later, the robot voice says “let it out”.
That repeated seventeen times.
Then it was done and we were sent home to wait for the results by the technician with the great poker face.
Waiting for results is never fun.
Whether it’s a medical test, or a EOG (End Of Grade) test, or the results from a job interview, or a genealogy test.
Waiting for results is hard.
We want to know NOW!!
Then, inevitably, as you wait, you hear the voices…
“This is bad, otherwise you would already know.”
“It’s gotten worse.”
“You have failed.”
They gnaw at your better judgement.
You can’t listen to those voices during the waiting.
You have to kick them to the curb and listen to THE voice.
We have called the doctor’s office and even hung out in the waiting room trying to find out SOMETHING.
But, it hasn’t worked.
I’ve had to remind myself that I’m not the only patient, there are lots of people in front of me in line.
We are waiting.
Maybe the waiting is some sort of weird test too…
Get vulnerable
Don’t be selfish.
Take a breath.
Take another breath.
Don’t forget to breath.
Listen for the voice.
Follow directions.
Ignore the negative voices.
Try not to wet your pants.




Pardon me, but my pirate is showing.

The last few weeks, I’ve been stumbling around like a drunken old sea-dog.

I shout loud grunty phrases like ARGHHH, especially when I bend over to hike up my pirate pants.

I’ve often had to straighten up my eyepatch so that I have the right perspective (that’s very important).

I ate some Captain Crunch.

I’m a pirate.

And so in the true spirit of soul piracy, today  I defiantly hoist a new flag…it’s a red flag.

In the golden age of piracy, during a battle, if a ship refused to surrender when they were clearly beat, the other ship would hoist a “No Quarter” flag. It was usually a red flag and it served notice that no quarter would be given. Basically they were saying “you had your chance to go peacefully, but you didn’t. So, now you are going down. We are taking no prisoners and giving no quarter!”

Today I serve notice…

We give no quarter to the belly bully.