Last week, you may know, I reported in this column that I have been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, and promised to keep you informed of my progress. Since that time, not much has changed…. EXCEPT that I will be undergoing surgery to have the tumor removed. In fact, by the time you read this column, the surgery will have already happened, and you will likely already know the initial outcome.
I can tell you that my doctors have given me great optimism going into the procedure. With cancer, though, we rarely have any long-term assurances.
When I reported this news last week, I explained a few of the reasons I feel like the luckiest man on earth. If you missed it, I hope you can visit my internet blog: www.doingthefirst.blogspot.com to read last week’s column entitled “The Luckiest Man On Earth” -- so you can better understand the pure joy I have experienced during the last week… AND so you will understand why I’m able to attempt a little levity on this subject.
This could be either the most difficult column I’ve ever written… or the easiest!!! Because we publish WEEKLY newspapers, our deadlines come a few days earlier than daily newspapers… which means I am writing this a few hours BEFORE my surgery, but you will be reading it AFTERWARDS! How ironic is that? It’s quite the conundrum.
Okay. I’ve decided. I chose the EASIEST. Go figure.
So here’s what I’m going to do. One of my favorite types of columns I have written over the years is a little something I like to call “Isolated Thoughts”… just a random collection of whatever happens to be on my mind that particular day. I’m going to do exactly that: just report to you some random thoughts that happen to be floating though my mind in these hours before surgery to remove the tumor from my brain. So here goes:
-- I am the luckiest man in the world. And this has been one of the best weeks of my life. I am blessed with friendship and love.
-- A few days before I found out about this cancer, I joined 14 of my friends in a “Weight Loss contest”. Each of us kicked $100 American Buckos into the pot, and the biggest loser after 7 weeks wins the money. One wag emailed me and said, “Man, you’ll do anything to win a contest, won’t you.” Now that’s funny, I don’t care who you are.
-- I’m actually trying for my second T-Shirt. When I was diagnosed with melanoma in the early 80’s, I was given a 30 percent chance of survival.
-- As I was riding from Columbia to Charleston on I-26 Sunday to prepare for the Monday operation, I couldn’t help but think of the time back in 1996 when I water-skiied from Columbia to Charleston. And all of a sudden, I received a call from my good friend Joe Agnew, who skiied along with my brother Shawn and me. So we made a date to do it again a year from now, in August 2009.
-- Everyone I have talked to has agreed that I don’t seem very worried about this upcoming procedure. That’s because I’m not worried. Not even a little bit. If God’s will is for me to survive, I will, and if not, I won’t. So why worry. Just go with the flow, and submit to God’s will. What could be better? Also, though, I’m not afraid of death, because I know that death is simply the beginning of the life that really matters. Too many of us know that, but for some reason seem afraid anyway. I think it’s just because we tend to fear change. Now, I can relate to fearing change. Like being forced to switch over from Windows XP to Vista. I fear Vista a lot more than I fear death.
-- I have just decided that this will have to be a two-week column. First of all, I might not be able to write a column for next week, depending on my condition. Secondly, there are simply too many random thoughts flooding through my mind right now to include them all in one week. It would take too much space, so I have made the command decision to write two-weeks’ worth of columns now, and save one for next week.
-- Since this occurred during Dog Days – the slow part of summer when nothing much seems to happen in the news – a handful of daily newspapers used the news of my condition to fill up news space: “Political Consultant battles brain tumor” or something of the sort. While it was nice of them to mention, as usual they got it wrong. I’m not battling a tumor. I’m just kind of laying back watching other people battle the tumor… LOTS of people… doctoring, praying, dashing about taking care of things for me. I’m just staying out of their way.
-- Have I mentioned the steroids? Wow! Those things are GREAT. Since the tumor was pressing up against my brain and affecting my communication, my friend and doctor, Oscar Lovelace, gave me steroids to control the swelling. Turns out, they also turn you into a Super Man. I’ve been averaging about 3 or 4 hours sleep per night, lots of energy, and thinking clearer than ever. Now I understand what all the fuss is about with the pro athletes.
-- Steroids will also make your feet and ankles blow up to approximately the size of a Beaufort County waller-mellon!
-- Oh! Most important of all: In case I forget later in the week: Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you. (And I’m not just printing this to save from having to spend 50-cents on a birthday card, like most- years!)
-- This is really weird. You’re going to know the results before you read this – maybe before I do. Like the people on the west coast voting for President after the winner has already been declared by the exit polls from the west coast.
-- My son, Ross, has a blog which he updates more frequently than I do, so he agreed to keep it updated with any news or medical developments which might occur on behalf of my family or myself.. If you want to know the results – maybe before I do – you can visit his blog at: Please visit www.scbarbecue.blogspot.com/
-- (This is off topic, but am I the only voter worried that since we turned ALL of the nation’s voting machines over to the computers, that the computer geeks of the world are probably going to be able to tamper with the results, and change the winners?)
-- If I get a break, I hope to use it to catch up on reading old emails. I have several hundred emails “saved as new” until I can get around to reading them. A lot of them are jokes -- those annoying “forward” emails…. Which don’t bother me at all. I love them. It lets me know somebody cared enough about me to include me on their list. I’ll read them when I can. Keep sending them. (Also, a lot of them are business. I try to get to them first…. But sometimes it takes me a week or more to get around to solving a certain problem.)
-- Prayer chains: “When you feel that little prayer wheel turning, you will know that little prayer wheel’s burning.” I think that’s how the song goes. I tell you I have been FEELING those prayers churning this week, and for that, I am grateful.
There’s more, lots more, to say… but I had to just make notes for next week’s column, and maybe a week or two after than. Just too much to say. And WAY too many blessings. Again, just to start, you’d need to read my column from last week: You can find my column online at: www.doingthefirst.blogspot.com/
Ok, I gotta go get some surgery now…in a couple of hours. I’m the Luckiest Man on Earth, because I have so many friends, so many blessings, and so many total strangers who have prayed for me this week – I just got an email from a prayer group in Canada -- and brought me so much closer to the Lord. You have made this one of the most pleasant times of my life, and given me the ability talk to you honestly, openly, and even jokingly about a surgery that I suppose should cause me to be nervous. But I’m simply not nervous. Not even a little bit. So I’m just going to slide on down to MUSC go find out what He has planned for me.
I thank you for making me feel like the Luckiest Man on Earth.
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You can read all past columns on Rod’s Blog at: www.doingthefirst.blogspot.com Your emails are also welcome on any topic of interest. Email Rod personally at: RodShealy@aol.com