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Enjoying Each Day 15 Years After My Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Milestones abound! This is my 50th article. When I was contacted to write for Health Union (the parent company of BladderCancer.net), I thought it was an internet scam (sorry to all the wonderful folks I have met). The truth is, I could not imagine what I had to offer or if I could write at all. I could not fathom anyone reading my ramblings. I am more of a storyteller and take great joy in regaling folks with my tales and travels. In written form was a new challenge.

It's been 15 years since I was diagnosed with cancer

Secondly, this is 15 years, give or take a few days since I heard those fateful words, “You have cancer.” Full disclosure, I never dreamed I would be alive to write this or anything else. I was fully convinced my ashes would be resting in my favorite Harley gas tank. Nothing screams class and taste like an urn of gloss black with red orange flames and a couple of dents.

I have survived

Yet here I am. In the 15 years, I have watched my kids graduate high school, a college, a culinary academy, and a commercial driving school. I have officiated over each of their weddings and held my grandchild. I cannot remember how many miles I have ridden on motorcycles. I have shared every moment with the love of my life. I have even survived a brain tumor and a couple of wrecks. In short, I have lived!

Living despite fear and anxiety

Depression and anxiety have been my constant companions, as have doubt and fear. There have been plenty of tears and pain. There have been side-splitting laughs and tear-jerking joys. Yes, I have lived these 15 years and will happily fight for the next 15 and the 15 after that. When death catches up to me, I want to be sitting on my Harley, doing at least 100 mph with my middle finger waving loud and proud.

I know the road ahead will not be without obstacles

I know there will be scopes and tests and I will face fears and doubts. I know I will wrestle with my depression and that at times, I will have to pull over to the side of the road to breathe through my anxiety attacks. I accept that. I will befriend both my highs and lows because all of this is part of my life and it is a damn fine life.

An opportunity to grow

If you are just hearing your diagnosis, think about dying...for 15 minutes, then wipe your eyes and get busy living every day. Live every single day! The good, the bad, and the ugly. Every single one of them. Accept that cancer is an opportunity to grow. A chance to realize what really matters. Sure, it is a tough teacher, but it is the teacher that demands our best!

Life is the little moments

My wife is picking up the grandson and bringing him home for the night. At 1:30 in the morning, I will get up to go to work and he will wake up as mama makes my coffee. Poptart (my grandson) will grunt for me to get him out of his crib; we will sit on the couch. He will have his bottle, cuddled up to me and I will tell him about my day to come. It has become our ritual over the last year. I will pass him to grandma for a snuggle and to go back to sleep. This is survival. It is not a test or a medication. Survival is the morning cuddle with a baby or the phone call from a loved one. It is the gumbo that my daughter makes or working on my and my youngest’s truck. Survival is a game of cribbage and bourbon with my eldest or a hug and kiss from my wife.

Find your joy

Find what makes you come alive and hang onto it. I have 15 years of memories I never thought I would have. Death will find me one day and on that day I will flip him my middle finger and try to outrun him.

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