Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0479 - March Madness This Year

Last year, I enjoyed round one, round two, the sweet sixteen, and the elite eight, but then settled in for surgery, missing the final four and the men's NCAA basketball championship. Mind you, good friends reminded me of March Madness as I was recuperating (I spent most of April in hospital with a variety of post-surgical complications, some of which were life threatening) by giving me John Feinstein's Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four

(thanks Derek and Jackie!).

This year, I'm having more fun with the madness. I've got an Excel spreadsheet from the Microsoft Office Online templates website that I keep handy as I watch the games and document the wins and losses. I've just watched an exciting finish to the Ohio State and Xavier game in round two and moved on to Maryland and Butler. Today and tomorrow will be all about round two and figuring out how much basketball one man can watch without completely losing track of the colleges, teams, coaches, and future NBA stars.

I can't express just how fortunate I feel. Every minute of madness feels like a gift. Not only are my recent medical test results almost entirely positive these days (although I have another CT scan next Friday), I have been very pleased to read about Leroy Sievers' positive treatment results with radio ablation frequency therapy. Other acquaintances fighting cancer aren't as fortunate. My thoughts and hopes for a brighter future are with them even as I celebrate the good news for me.

But, like Leroy Sievers has written so often, once you've had cancer and entered the world of cancer therapy, you are in a different world, a world most people do not understand or even want to understand. Again, I'm fortunate to have close friends who do understand, usually because their own lives have been profoundly affected by cancer.

March madness this year is truly mad. It's about the luxury of thinking of a longer future, about enjoying the utter insignificance of life's little pleasures like college basketball, of eating and drinking, of the gradual dissipation of neuropathy, of days in which my ass doesn't feel it's totally dysfunctional, of seeing my wife and sons and anticipating many more days spent together. But it's madness also because you're never certain. It's madness because others aren't so lucky. It's madness because sometimes you can't explain things - they just happen - things like rectal cancer, or breast cancer, or colon cancer, or lung cancer, or pancreatic cancer.

But right now, at this particular time and place, the madness is spectacular.

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