Sunday, February 10, 2013

Resistance and Mastery, not Absence

Mark Twain wrote that courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. I’ve never been afraid of dying… I’ve been afraid of the side effects on those I love that we’ll miss moments of each other’s life. When this diagnosis came on, I never missed a running workout. I still rarely miss them but lately they’ve been conflicting with Kiana’s activities sometimes and those always win out. But on Thursday at my groups workout, it was bragged about how one of the guys won the 5k workout. He’s a good guy and one heck of a heckler so I emailed him that the first time I came in first with the Ship of Fools the next day the brain cancer stuff started and he said he’s not a guy who lives in fear so he will always gun it in. He was speaking tongue in cheek  about me being a scardy pants but the simple truth is that the second time I woke up in an ambulance I skipped the group workouts when they were on the same route I collapsed in for the next couple of times they did it. It’s a route we take often so it would not have been feasible to skip it forever but it took a while. After that time, I stopped running with Kiana altogether for a while. It took 5 months before I would do it again. I’ve done it at least once a week since I restarted putting in some safety devices like the GPS tracking device.

Yesterday, the new hospital that I’ve been going with my neuro oncologist was having a mock surgery day and I took Kiana. She got to play with some of the tools that went inside my head (as well as see things like a fake birth and getting on a helicopter). She had fun doing staples and loved the game of operation. I’ve often joked that if she becomes a neurosurgeon that this is all totally worth it so it was refreshing to have her see all this stuff with enthusiasm, joy, curiosity, helping me build resistance and mastery of my fears. I get the question of why I took this insurance instead of just finding another job on occasion but it’s not because I’m afraid of dying, it’s because I’m loving living. I mean besides that it’s what insurance is for and that I qualify for it, if I won the lottery, it’s exactly the same thing I’d be doing, hanging out with my kid more! And I am lucky enough that I have a child, who likes myself, is not that materialistic. This week and weekend some of the best joys was simply riding up and down the street on a bike, making Valentine’s things (she had to make them for her classmates and I had to make one for her), she gathered snails (and showing that she matches my extroverted she put together almost 30 of them and said they’re happier when they are together). We made shaped pancakes.

We did all kinds of things for Valentines (she’s a fan of holidays) and unlike Halloween this doesn’t bother me at all because for hopeless romantics like her and I it’s a lot of fun (with that said, I’ve long joked that I’m becoming catholic just so she becomes a nun and watching her hand write I like you and you’re fun to boys in her kindergarten class made me want to start a bonfire).  Two  years ago, I took my exwife who would crush much hope for me Valentines day. Some of that was my fault as I was thinking about the marathon a few days later and a surgery a few days later instead of focusing on the date. Last year, I went to an anti Valentine’s day party (had the best break up story just for the record). This year, I asked the girl who was kind enough to kiss me at new years and come with me to this neuro oncological appointment out for an activity that she says she always gets annoyed at, bowling. I figured if she has to watch me talk to a doctor about my deficits, I am going to try to push her. We haven’t had any formalizing relationship sense and the guy whose last break up is on youtube and hasn’t had a girlfriend since high school has some serious fears of all those. One of her clearly more intelligent than her friends has said,”I’m not sure why she keeps hanging out with you. You have more baggage than they allow people to check in on flights.” I can certainly echo that sentiment but she took the date for V-day.

And yesterday I ran my last 10 miles at marathon pace which I am hoping means I only have to run  16.2 next week. But the marathon course appropriately enough passes next through the hospital where this all started, next to the place I collapsed, near where my neurologist, oncologist, neuro oncologists, neuropsychologists, next to the job I lost, around the court complex where custody will be decided. And humans have a built in fight or flight syndrome and I am never quite sure why I run so hard whether I am fighting or flying from my cancer but let’s assume that day I’m doing both and I trust and hope that fighting wins on that day.  

But there are also great point along that course by the grace of the Universe. By the grace of Universe, mile 8 for Bib #8 kid is the yellow mile one that is sponsored both by Livestrong and Luke’s locker.  There will be friends all along the course including one from the medical team, it’s an awesome playlist I’ve created , Kiana’s handprint will literally be on my bib, I have meals planned with friends from long before this journey, friends from this journey and will trust that I’ll make a few friends from the future part of the journey. I don’t know how to dye my hair but if anyone will give me a clue, I’ll dye it yellow for this race.  And when it’s done, I have faith right now that this, my 6th marathon will be the best and I also dare to dream that it will be the fastest.  I am scared of many, many things in life but I took Kiana to the hospital to see some of my fears, and they aren’t absent but for as long as we can, we’re going to resist and master them. 

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