Happy June 4th! (v. 4.0)

Today is my fourth cancerversary – my first diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) was June 4, 2012.  I have already talked about my upbeat feelings on cancerversaries in previous years’ blog posts and letters to friends & families, as I gratefully celebrated another year of living after a lot of unknowns (!) at the time of diagnosis… so I won’t repeat those again today. I invite you to read a complete summary of my feelings on cancerversaries in general & how I celebrated them in past years in a post I wrote exactly one year ago, appropriately entitled Happy June 4th (v. 3.0) 🙂

It has indeed been a very meaningful year since that v. 3.0 post – with many life changes & events, a majority of which were thankfully good.  But I also won’t repeat listing those again today – I invite you to go back & read my blog’s posts describing everything that has gone on this past year – it has been a year full of experiences & full of life!

Overall I am amazed at where my life stands 4 years out from my cancer diagnosis.  It is a life I never would (or could) have imagined 4 years ago.  I’m feeling good, I’m upbeat and excited for the future, I am truly thriving.  A current life of excitement that was partially summarized in a column I was invited to write for the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that published yesterday.

Me, invited to write for a major newspaper about my own life? Once again – another life event that I never imagined ever happening when I overheard my doctor tell my wife “Your husband has colon cancer” four years ago today.

But here I am, alive and feeling good…

This year’s cancerversary, although very positive, has been filled with a lot of reflection on the path I have followed, especially this past year.  I celebrated yet another year of LIFE and FEELING GOOD (well except for chemo days!) by running a 10k this morning at the crack of dawn.  I ran a slow pace but I finished the 10k without any breaks and without losing my breath – take that you ~10 inoperable lung tumors!

It was perfect running weather at about 6:30 AM this morning.  There was a deep fog and temperatures were in the mid-60’s.  As I ran my route along the Point Loma peninsula, the normal ocean views were completely obscured.  I settled into the pace of my run, my mind relaxed into a zen-like state.

Focused and relaxed I thought through the path I have followed since my last cancerversary – which I celebrated with the incredible  Colon Club last year in Tennessee.  I wondered – had I made the right decisions this past year?  Were my various choices really the best path for me to follow?

Foggy Run

I looked up and allowed my eyes to focus and I saw the running route ahead of me.  It was completely obscured on both sides by fog and I could only see a short distance ahead of me.  There was only one clear path – directly in front of me while I ran.  Maybe it was tricks of fog water droplets swirling in the air or it was a mental trick of the diffuse light but I saw a swirl of light spots in front of me dancing in the air – as if leading me forward between the walls of fog on either side.

I immediately thought back to the path I have been running along this past year in my cancer life.  Most of the time the sides of this path were very obscured and I could only see a short ways in front of me. I have followed what I considered the right path I should follow based upon hunches and instincts –  a deepness of feelings I can’t fully express in words.  As if led by an equivalent of those small dancing lights in front of me on my run.  I am simply amazed at the cleared path I have ended up following this past year, while other options and alternative paths I could have chosen seemed to remain obscured.

So here we are, now starting year 5 of my cancer journey.  Some survivors don’t like the “journey” phrase but I do, so I’ll use it.  Readers of this blog know exactly my current planned (and clear final destination) of this cancer journey!

Where exactly will my journey take me during year 5?  While I have some good & exciting ideas of the possible path as my personalized immunotherapy research ramps up (we had GREAT preliminary data last week by the way – very exciting!!) – in truth my view of the coming year 5 is as fog-surrounded as my run this morning. I currently can only see a small ways in front of me clearly – I have clear plans for my cancer journey pretty much a month at a time. 🙂

But I am OK with that.  I feel great, I’m having fun and I have faith that like those swirling lights on my run this morning, through hunch, instinct or something else – I will travel the path I was meant to travel.  And I think that will be a very exciting and always interesting path indeed.

Happy June 4th! To Life!

-Tom

PS How did I spend my cancerversary afternoon this year?  Playing in our new pool with the girls – followed by poolside blog writing & watching the #ASCO16 twitter feed for breaking CRC news.  Yep, I think that was a pretty appropriate way for me to spend my cancerversary!

18 Comments on “Happy June 4th! (v. 4.0)

  1. SO inspired by this post. I wish I could toast your anniversary with some champagne but I cannot stop crying to get the glass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Adam – glad to have met you recently, we need to find paths for both of us to have celebratory champagne, we’ll keep working on that-

      Like

  2. Do we offer “congratulations?” Maybe just peace, tranquility, and joy in your heart. God Bless you and Keep you, Tom (and that wonderful family of yours!). Love, JaNelle

    PS. Henry’s last visit with his oncologist – 4 years out from chemo – cancer in remission. Not bad for an 82-year-old Stage IV survivor! And, they only gave him. 10% chance…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great run! You are an inspiration! Tomorrow is my cancerversary- one year since I was diagnosed with Stage 3 CRC. I plan to celebrate with a run, bike and a swim. Here’s to another year and many many more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. From your cheer leader in Texas: HAPPY CANCERVERSARY!!!!!! Although you are not yet cured, you are living well and have so much more to live for. I can’t wait to read this blog on your 5th!

    Best Wishes!
    Bridget

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love hearing from my Texas cheerleader! We have a deal – the big v. 5.0 will be blogged about for sure! 🙂

      Like

  5. Tom,
    Gefeliciteerd!!!!!An other year of intense living! Happy cancerversary, hope there will be many many more. You are an inspiration and source of knowledge which saved me during my ” journey” (ugh!)
    Here’s to the house and new pool, personalised immunotherapy and living life to the max.

    pics of the pool please!

    Annemiek

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really love reading your blog. I have not long finished treatment for stage III colorectal cancer and although I view the future very optimistically you never fully shake the tiny little voice reminding you it may come back, no matter how far away in your mind you put it or how much duct tape over its mouth! your blog makes me feel like I can relax a little about that. Like even if it does come back, it will be okay. It won’t be the end of the world. It is how I feel/ view it anyway but it bolsters me to see others proving it. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the wonderful comment – it made my day 🙂

      Here’s to being filled with hope – that your cancer never comes back but even if it does, hope does not end there!

      Take care, Tom

      Liked by 1 person

  7. One step at a time. I can relate to so much of this, as you know! I’m so happy that year 5 is looking so promising for you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and I can relate a lot Akasleen 🙂

      Year 5 is at least promising as far out as end of June! As I said, I only have a clear view about a month at a time 🙂 June: Traveling to TN for the Colondar Colon Camp to be a writer this year w/ subsequent writing assignments, helping with the CRC IO blueprint, writing some ASCO results columns, helping with a couple of post ASCO webinars, doing some media interfaces, meeting with Dr. Lenz w/ Wunderglo, building up my blood counts/quality during chemo holiday for a big blood draw to finish up immunological profiling of my neo-antigens, interfacing with a new U Michigan collaborator, helping to work on determining prioritization of neo-antigens for therapeutic vaccine, a huge solstice party with family & friends, I think 2 more personal blog posts planned for June, plus the usual daily stuff… that’s what I know so far. 🙂 It should be a good month 🙂

      Aside from some planned vacations, July is still very foggy 🙂 One month at a time…

      Like

  8. I have literally read this post 5 times:) Love it. And I am SO looking forward to MANY more cancerversaries posts!
    On many exciting things emerging from the fog next year!
    Michela

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comment Misa 🙂 I hope you enjoy many future years’ worth of cancerversary posts too! I plan to keep running that fog shrouded road of life for the foreseeable future! 🙂

      Like

  9. Pingback: Happy June 4th! (V. 4.0) | Dobrodružství_terminálně_optimistického_života

  10. Pingback: Happy June 4th! (v5.0!) | AdventuresInLivingTerminallyOptimistic

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