Friday, November 3, 2017

In A Hurry

For as long as I can remember, I've been in a hurry. Very few things were more frustrating to me than being stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle, or a slow-moving person. Until I reached my fifties, I always took stairs two at a time. I had places to go, and I wanted to make good time getting there.

I have actually thought many times, when I couldn't get around an elderly person who was moving too slow for me, that the less time we have, the more in a hurry we should be. After all, we're running out of time, right? Of course, my attitude about this has changed. But though I'm not in such a hurry anymore, my cancer is.

In a comment on my last post, my friend Trevor Downing said, "You want to stop rushing things, mate. Heaven can wait!" I replied, "I’ve always been in a hurry. Can’t stop now."

I talked in my last post about what I called the first symptom, nausea and weight loss. To give you an update, the nausea has not been bad today, and my weight is steady. There's a constant undertone of queasiness I feel, but I've discovered that one thing I love makes it worse. Coffee.

I've been a daily coffee drinker since I was sixteen. I don't drink it all day, but I generally have three cups each morning, at least. But yesterday, I met a friend for coffee, and only finished about a third of my Grande at Starbucks. I realized that the coffee was making me feel worse. So I drank water instead, and felt better. I felt very little nausea when I got up this morning, but as soon as I started drinking coffee, the nausea came to the forefront.

I also realized that coffee is an appetite suppressant. Dieters drink coffee to curb their appetite. One thing I don't need is an appetite suppressant. So I have to give up coffee.

This is a huge blow. But as a singer, I've had to go on "coffee fasts." Coffee is not good for your singing voice. It's dehydrating. One of my rules for the singers I coach is, no coffee the day of a show. So I'm used to not having coffee for a few days in a row, though I never liked going without. But now I'm going on my last, longest coffee fast. I hope they have really good coffee in Heaven.

No, tea is not a good substitute. What my stomach wants is water, nothing else. I drink a lot of water anyway, so I can do this. But your sympathy is appreciated. I'm sure that, before too long, I'll wish my biggest problem was not being able to have coffee.

There are a few other changes in how I've been feeling, as well. These are both very recent changes, like within the last week. For one, I'm having trouble with balance. Not vertigo or dizziness, just feeling unsteady on my feet. I usually need to hang on to something when I go up and down stairs. I take stairs slowly now, most of the time. But I'm still taking the stairs.

I also have to break a lifetime habit of standing up fast. When I do that now, I tend to feel lightheaded, and need to grab on to something. Its not an occasional thing, like we all experience. It's every time. So I have to learn not to be in such a hurry.

I also feel like my body is running down. I seem to have less energy, strength and stamina every day. I'm sleeping better, so I don't think it's that. I just feel like an old car that there's no point in trying to repair. I'm beyond repair. I've been totaled.

I have to say that I'm a bit shocked at how fast this is happening. I thought I'd have more time feeling like my old self. I even thought I might start to feel better when hormone treatment began to wear off. But that hasn't been the case. I got about a month of hospice care before I started to show symptoms. I expected more.

But I shouldn't be surprised. This is the way this disease has gone from the beginning. Everything has happened faster than predicted. And the rest will too. All my cancer has done is accelerate. Sure, we've been able to slow it down temporarily a time or two, but it always came roaring back, faster and meaner than before. There's no reason to believe that, now that we're not treating it, it will decide to slow down. As a matter of fact, it's spiking.

It's like the expansion of the universe. According to recent observations, the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. There isn't enough mass in the observable universe to slow it down, much less reverse it. It will continue to expand until the last star dies, and all that's left is a dark soup at absolute zero.

Likewise, my cancer will continue to accelerate until I am no more. Please listen to me, my dear friends. I know I'm breaking your heart right now. I know you don't want to hear this. Neither do I. But I must be a faithful witness. This is happening, and fast. People I love very much are telling themselves a story right now about me living longer than expected. I want to let you down gently, if I can. Please just ask yourself what in my history indicates that I will beat the odds. Not a thing. If past is prologue, we know how this will go.

The cancer cells in my body are not an alien organism. It's not something I picked up from someone sneezing on a bus. It's part of me. These cells originated in my body. That being the case, is it really such a surprise that a guy who hurried throughout his life would hurry toward his final destination? Not intentionally, but because it's how I was made.

If you love me, please stop telling yourself I'll be fine for a while. I'm not fine now. Please don't tell yourself we have plenty of time. We don't. I'm still hoping and planning to do everything on my schedule for the next few months. But with each day that passes, I wonder more and more if that will happen. My cancer is in a big hurry.

I'm sorry this post hasn't been more uplifting. There are no jokes, and God doesn't make an appearance. And I'm sorry I feel the need to put this in your face. But if you care for me, you need to understand what's happening. I will not be one of those who outlasts the six month hospice time period. I will go home with time to spare. It's what my heart tells me, and what my history with this disease tells me. If you want to see me while we still have an opportunity to do something fun, you'd better hurry. Because my cancer is in a hurry. #waroncancer #bearingwitness


  1. Mark, your words documenting this difficult journey have, and will continue for years, to touch and influence lives and hearts. Mine is one of them. Your attitude, spirit, selflessness, and bravery in the the face of this storm will bear fruit for a long, long time. You are a fellow college classmate, a great husband and friend, an example and mentor to many...and my brother in Christ. Thank you my friend, for your gifts of love to us all.

  2. I AM hoping to see you Wednesday. So, selfishly, I'm praying God will give you strength for just a little more. I understand what you are saying. I also know that when you are in the arms of Jesus you will not be hurting or suffering any longer. For that, I pray. God is good and heaven is your true home. Much love to you and Sharon. See you soon!

    1. I will be there on Wednesday, Amee. See you soon.

  3. Thanks for the honest witness. Though I have not and never will meet you this side of heaven, I admire you deeply for your honesty.

  4. Blessings on you and your family ...

  5. Mark, you don't actually know me. I am a friend of Jaci and Eric Gillette. I have been following your journey on FB.
    I work with the dying and families of the dying every day. I plan to recommend your blog to them as often as is appropriate. I appreciate your candor and insight to letting go and letting God. There is truly a time in life for all things, and embracing every step is the way to pass through life.
    Thank you for this telling of your journey. It has touched me and soon it will touch the lives of my patients.
    Thank you and Gods Speed.

    1. Thank you for reaching out, Patt. Please give Eric and Jaci my love. They mean a lot to me.

  6. I pray for you, but yet I thank God that you came into my life for me to follow. I, too, fight the same battle,as you know. And I appreciate your brutal honesty,as I am the very same way. Thank You Mark...stay the course! Tom Childress, Rugby,ND

  7. I understand what you have been going through. My husband, Sven-Erik, was diagnosed in October 2016, with exactly what you the letter. I know what it feels like to be a wife standing helplessly beside the person that I love and know I can't do anything. Sven-Erik left this world with a PSA of 6000 only 10 months after his original diagnosis. Through many of these last months, your courage, faith and honesty have helped me to care for him and now, for myself. Without God, I can't continue. I'm too old, too tired, too sad and too afraid of the changes on my own. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your strength and love for the Lord. Your journey has brought strength and peace to many. You and your wife are in my prayers.

  8. Mark, it is amazing to see what God has done and will continue to do with your life and testimony. Though it hurts deep inside to know that one day soon you'll be gone from this Earth; you, I and many of your friends know that you'll be in the presence of Jesus far sooner than most if not all of us (jealous!). Randy Payne's version of 'I Can Only Imagine' rings in my thoughts as I write this, and I can truly only imagine.

    One of the most important things God has confirmed to me with your blog is that the joy of reaching people for the Kingdom far outweighs our own significance -- even our own happiness. Thank you for your obedience in your final lap.

  9. I'm not sure if your feeling it..... but I am hugging you pretty tight right now.