Tuesday, March 8, 2016


One of the main themes of this blog has been how prostate cancer has fundamentally changed my life. It's changed my outlook and my priorities. Many things I used to think were of vital importance now mean almost nothing. That tends to happen when you receive a life-threatening diagnosis. That's what happens when you get smacked by God's 2 by 4.

Especially when they tell you it's inoperable. This is why early detection is so important.

One thing you hear about prostate cancer is that it supposedly grows very slowly. But that doesn't apply to everyone. I only neglected to get my PSA checked one year, and that was enough to push me out of the "easy to fix" category, from a PSA score of 6.6 to 15.8, with a Gleason score of 9. When prostate cancer is detected early, it has an almost 100% survival rate. Once they can no longer operate, the numbers change fast.

And of course, that's the reason that priorities change in times like these. When you get a glimpse of mortality, you realize what's really important. Time becomes your enemy.

If you've been reading this blog, or my CaringBridge journal that preceded it, you know that two big things have changed for me. For one, my main passion in life has changed. For my entire life until the past few months, my one desire and my main focus was music. Making it, listening to it, putting out albums and buying them, putting on concerts and going to them. There was nothing I'd rather do. Nothing. Unless the Broncos were playing, or my wife gave me a better offer.

Now, I still love music, and I still enjoy performing and recording, but it's no longer my priority. Just ask the people who are trying to get songs out of me right now! Now my main passion is writing this blog. For most of my life, I felt that music was my calling. Now I feel that getting my story out to as many people as possible is my calling. That's the biggest difference in priorities for me now.

But there's another one that's just as big, really. Maybe bigger. I finally realize that my relationships are what's really important. Not my career, nor any of my hobbies, whether it be politics, reading, following sports, or when the season premiere of one my favorite TV shows is. One of my favorites, Bates Motel, premiered its fourth season last night. But the main reason I'm excited about it is that we'll watch a lot of it, if not all of it, with friends. It's not as much about the show for me as it used to be. It's an excuse to see my friends. Priorities.

I have a DVR full of shows that I keep telling myself I'm going to watch, but when I have time, I'd rather call someone. I'd rather work on my blog. Maybe one of these days I'll be stuck in bed for a while and be glad I have those shows recorded. But I wonder. Have my priorities changed completely? Has a child of the first true TV generation finally outgrown TV? Doubtful, but it's certainly less of a priority for me than it used to be.

Other priorities have changed as well. Gaining weight, or avoiding losing weight was never a goal for me until recently. Now I struggle to stay no more than 10 pounds lighter than my former weight. When I'm at a restaurant now, I always choose the highest calorie option, just to keep my weight up.

By the way, stop making jokes around me about how you wish you had my problem. Trust me, you don't.

I hope and believe that, for as long as I'm on Lupron, I'll be able to maintain a healthy looking weight. People will still be able to breathe a sigh of relief when they see me for as long as Lupron keeps working. They tell me that will probably only be for another year or so, due to that high Gleason score, which indicates a very aggressive cancer. But I'll take it, because of another priority for me.

One tradition that my wife and I have had during our marriage is we have "family" pictures taken every five years. We display these pictures in a gallery on our wall that many people have enjoyed looking at over the years. The gallery starts with our wedding pictures, then you see our 5th anniversary pictures, our 10th, 15th, 20th, etc, all the way to the present. Our last setting was in 2012, for our 35th anniversary. Next year, we will have pictures taken for our 40th anniversary.

I bring that up because it occurred to me this morning to calculate how much longer I'll be on Lupron, and therefore be likely to look good for a picture. I was glad to realize that I'll still be on Lupron until September of 2017, and our pictures will be done in time for our anniversary in July. Looking good for a photo shoot is not something I've ever had to think about before. Welcome to womanhood, I guess.

If I make it to our 45th anniversary, I don't know if I'll want my picture taken then. That's a weird thing to think about, but keeping my weight up until we get those pictures taken is suddenly very important to me. I want my wife to have at least one more good setting of pictures of us together, looking like ourselves. Priorities.

It's always been a priority for me to get enough sleep, but that's even more true now. And now I have an excuse to take a nap whenever I want!

There are other priorities that have changed, and I'm sure that will continue to be true. But it's mainly about the writing and the relationships. I've become painfully aware very recently that certain relationships have taken priority over others. That's natural, but I need to be careful that I stay close to those who are closest to me, and not look past them to those who may not hold me as accountable.

This will sound harsh, but for me, this has also been a time of shedding a relationship or two. The old saying is that in times like these, you find out who your friends are. I have learned how true that is. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. You find out who your friends aren't. Our social calendar is so full that we don't have time to see all of the people who love us and want to spend time with us. That's an incredible blessing, but it also means we don't have time for some who say they're our friends but don't show it. Priorities.

But the two relationships that have the greatest priority for me, for the rest of my life, are my relationships with my wife and with God. I can have all of the friends in the world, but if those relationships aren't right, none of the rest of it matters. When my closest friends are ushered out of the room in my final moments, my wife will be there. When she lets go of my hand, I'll grab my Lord's. Those relationships are my priority. #waroncancer

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