This is a brand new day of a brand new year. News Years Eve at midnight as I watched the sliver ball descend in Time Square on TV, I was very happy that 2011 was finally over! At that moment I hated 2011 and welcomed 2012 as a chance of renewal, new hope and potential, and to be much happier and healthier than I was most of 2011.
To me 2011 was the year that I faced my own mortality and suffered more pain, more unhappiness, and more despair than I have faced in my entire life except for the three or four years when my late wife Linda was slowly dying from MS about six years ago. While that was a very dark time for me as I was losing my wife and love of 35 years, there was also the joy and connectedness we both shared as we expressed our deep love and appreciation of having shared our lives together. We talked and shared our feelings, dreams, hope, and fears about everything under the sun and moon and stars and even as we were both aware of the clock ticking away Linda’s life, it was also the happiest time of our wonderful marriage as all past game playing was gone and the reality of how much we both meant to each other was clear and true.
And in the last few hours of Linda’s life, she gave me focus and goals to achieve in the years ahead. She knew that I would face a profound grief and despair with her passing. But she gave me a purpose and a spiritual quest to follow. She made me promise to carry her love forward and give it freely and completely to our sons and grandsons in the years ahead. Linda wanted me to take care of myself so I could be there when our grandsons graduate from High School, College, and dance at their weddings as they make their own giant leap into the promises of the future. And at those important junctures of their lives, Linda wanted me to share with them that she loved them forever and to tell them to follow their bliss and pass their own love on and on into the endless future of caring for others. That love flowed to us, through us, and beyond us and gives us a real and true immortality.
2011 was the year that I was so very afraid would put a tragic end to my sacred promise to Linda and miss the blessed moments to give her precious gifts of love and hope to our sons and grandsons in the years ahead. In 2011 I was diagnosis with Fourth Stage Prostate Cancer. While the pain was at times unbearable this past year, my despair was the worst part of my suffering. To possibly not be able to be there in the future with my family as I had promised my Linda was a sense of failure I just could not bare or accept.
So I have fought the cancer with every method and means I have been able to discover. I have under gone eight and half weeks of radiation therapy and have taken hormone depletion therapy (Eligard 45 mg. injections every six months over a two year period) that vastly decreases my testosterone levels near to zero to reduce the size of my prostate and possible slow or stop the spread of my cancer. I have become physically weak, tired, and endured pain that I at times did not believe I could survive. I had two operations (TURPS) and had to wear a Foley Catheter for over four months with several blood clots that needed to be unblocked in the ER and the Catheter reinserted, that was extremely painful.
During this time I changed my diet to vegan based on all the best research I could find on fighting cancer naturally. I read Dr. Cambell's book The China Study
and Dr. Dean Ornish's The Spectrum
in which he described his scientific study of slowing down and even reducing prostate cancer with a plant based diet. While I readily accepted that a vegan diet would help save my life, I was also depressed that I may never be able to return my life long love of competing in powerlifting. I must admit that at that time I thought meat and dairy foods were the only way to supply the necessary protein to build and maintain the muscle and strength to be successful in any of the Iron Sports. I was soon reassured from both of the above books, and reading many vegan websites on the internet. Also reading Robert Cheeke's book Vegan Bobybuilding & Fitness
was very reassuring and inspiring that quality vegan nutrition could very successfully build the muscle I needed to return to my sport while still protecting my health and fighting my prostate cancer. So armed with a better knowledge of a plant based approach I was determed to defeat mu cancer and gain back my life.
So survive 2011 I did. And I have made some very remarkable changes in my life to give myself a real chance to keep my sacred promise to Linda and hopefully enrich the quality and understanding of the real meaning of life for our children and our children’s children unending into the future! That is my promise. That is my purpose. That is my vision quest. Real strength is not the personal records we may set on the lifting platform at meets or in the gym. It is the care, support, and protection we lovingly give to our family and friends that is the most important. Momentary ego gratification is so shallow in comparison!
Part of my gift to my family and friends is this blog. I don’t have all the answers in how to live a fulfilling and meaningful life or how to beat cancer. But I think I have discover at least a few. I give them to you with a humble heart and hope they may give you some peace, hope, and joy in your own lives!
And I have a new life partner to share my hopes and to celebrate life! I met Rita about a year after Linda passed away. At that time I believed that I would never be able to love another woman like I did Linda. But life and love springs eternal. And I have been a very fortunate man to have been struck by lightening twice in one life time. My family loves her as I in turn have received the love and support of her family. Now hers and mine are ours. Again love finds a way to heal and bring joy and celebration to our lives! I would have not been able to make it through all that 2011 threw at me without the true love and support that Rita freely and unselfishly gave me with all her heart. I have both an Angel up above and another here on earth looking over me!
Today I had to start out with a very light workout. Beside my fight with cancer, during the first week of December I fell in my basement and I suffered a major concussion. I cracked my skull from the crown up to just over my right eye. I had three pools of blood internally in my head, in my crown, along the right side of my head, and over my right eye. I was life flighted by helicopter to the Ohio State University Hospital in critical condition. They keep me a few days until I stabilized. I had headaches and sensitivity to light, noise, and motion for several weeks afterwords. My Neurologist finally gave me the go ahead on January 19th to gradually return to my exercise program. So I just rode my stationary recumbent bike on a low level for twenty minutes. Easy goes it for awhile, but ever onward to regain my health and continue to lose weight. I weighed 300 pounds today. I have lost over 60 pounds since this past February when I began my fight with prostate cancer. My goal is to get down below 220 this year. Being over weight contributes to an increased chance of a relapse with my cancer. No way! So being a SHW is no longer an option. If I ever am able to return to competing in powerlifting, it will be in the 220 or 198 class. Lean, mean, and a lot healthier. I have promises to keep.