Friday, September 26, 2008

The Luckiest Boy In The World

That's me!


Today is my birthday. I've made it to 56 years.

Slightly over two years ago, I got the news my colon cancer had metastasized to my liver and I was now at Stage IV. Less than 20% of colon cancer patients survive two years after it spreads to the liver (for example, former White House press secretary Tony Snow only lived an additional 17 months). Not only am I still here, but the only real signs something's wrong are weight loss, erratic sleep, and a lack of energy. I am still able to do many things I enjoy. When I got the news back in August, 2007 that the chemotherapy had failed to stop the return of my liver tumor, I wanted just one more good year. I got it, and I'm going to get some more time. That's a big reason why I am so lucky.

But an even bigger reason is people like you. Yes, you reading this blog!

Since getting sick, I have had incredible support from my family: my wife Dianna, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, and my ex-wife Tina. It is easy to walk a tightrope when you have such a big, strong net under you. They have all given me the most precious gift any cancer patient can ever get, namely the knowledge that you matter to other people. I am so grateful. In particular, my "Princess Di" has been there for me.We have spent over half of our married life with me as a cancer patient. We had such big dreams when we bought the ranch in Smithville and planned to raise horses; all that went out the window just a few months later. Yet she has never complained, never uttered a word of regret, and has shown amazing grace and courage since then. I am so, so lucky to have her in my life.

And then there are my friends who have been with me during this time. Some have been my friends since junior high (like Hugh and Chuck), others (like Forrest Mims and Jon Erickson) I have known since the Carter presidency, and still others are those Di and I have made since returning to Texas. I can't find the words to describe how much I always enjoy hearing from them, whether by phone, e-mail, or visits to our home. (Notice to those who have done the latter: our new cat Stanley is now declawed, and you may visit us in safety.)

I had "virtual friends" long before the internet came along, and by this I'm referring to the people I got to know who were either readers of my writing or fellow radio hobbyists. I have communicated, in some cases for years, with such people through letters and, later, e-mail; in only a few cases have I ever met them face-to-face or even spoken to them on the telephone (although I have "spoken" to some of them via Morse code over my ham radio station). I now regularly exchange e-mails with people in places as widely separated as Japan, Germany, and Australia, and even though I will almost certainly never get to meet them I feel as if I know them intimately.

I am so grateful to everyone of you. You have given me so much, and I hope I have given something in return------but I know I got the better end of the deal because you have all been such special people. I am very lucky to know all of you.

And that's why I feel so lucky today. Your love and friendship is a gift I get all year long from you, and I treasure it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

I have nothing special planned for today. Di and I went out for lunch earlier today, and I went into a buying frenzy at the local Barnes & Noble. I also have a nice pitcher of azul margaritas in the refrigerator, and I plan to consume it tonight during the presidential debate; I'll be playing "Presidential Pass-out." I'll chug down a margarita whenever Senator Obama utters the word "change" during the debate, and I'll do the same whenever Grandpa Rambo. . . . . . . . er, I mean, Senator McCain makes some reference to having been a POW. I anticipate I'll probably be good and drunk twenty minutes into the debate. (Full disclosure: I voted for Obama in the Texas primary and will do the same in the general election.)

But seriously. . . . . . . my sincere thanks and gratitude to all of you. You mean so much to me!