There is one phrase that can bring the strongest man to his knees. One phrase that can make everyone on the planet feel so afraid immediately when it is directed to him in conversation. One phrase that absolutely rocks your world and makes everything else immediately less important.
“You have cancer.” Three simple words. I heard them today at 11:00 am from a team of doctors when I went in for tests thinking something was simply out of whack with my intestines. And I will never again be the same. My goals, dreams, challenges, lifestyle and faith will never be the same again.
All of us really have no idea how WE would react to hearing that discussion. I have often wondered if I would be strong, if I would just start crying, if I would be in denial, if I would be ready to fight. But when I heard the words today, I would have to simply describe myself as totally numb, no feeling, almost in total shock. It was as if I was above the discussion on the ceiling watching doctors talk about a person below around a table.
I had been traveled around the Southern USA for several weeks with no energy, diarrhea that was almost white, urine that was Home Depot Orange. And I was losing a lot of weight in a short time. I knew it was something blocking my liver functions…. I figured it was a Gall Stone wedged in the bile duct or something. So I cut the trip a week short and rushed home to get to doctors. They took blood tests and it confirmed extremely high emzyme numbers in my liver. AST, ALT, Bilirubin etc. all of a sudden became important elevated numbers to me.
So, I came into the hospital last night to stay and would have a CAT SCAN in the morning today that would identify what was blocking the bile. Simple enough, I thought: probably a gall stone that they can pluck away (even with surgery) and I can be off to Italy next week on a planned for so long BTO Photo Adventure I was leading with 20 terrific people. All the beautiful parts of Northern Italy to show them with cameras…. how exciting for all of us.
Everything was true indeed exactly as I stated — the only difference was WHAT was blocking this bile track would affect the rest of my life. Instead of just a little gall stone (or some stone), I have a mass of cancer on my pancreas. Welcome to Pancreatic Cancer, Mr Bill. And it will be something I will fight beginning today.
The reasons I am writing this blog are threefold. First, I want to have a way of communicating with my global friends, people that love me, family that loves me and let everyone know daily progress and insights. Secondly, I have to allow myself time to rest, make decisions, fight this disease and not be on the phone talking and telling details over & over. And, thirdly, I hope that perhaps this blog can be of help & perhaps encouragement to even people who do not know me so they can be inspired to fight this horrible disease. So feel free to share this blog with anyone that you know that may be helped in any way.
I promise there will be days with only a paragraph or two written…. Something like “I threw up today”, or hopefully, even more days of, “I saw a beautiful flower today in the garden that I never noticed before.” That is how we should all live anyway (as I have tried to do in my life as a photographer). We ALL, with cancer or totally healthy, need to notice the beauty, peace and joy of our world and not race by everything in our lives. We hear it always “Stop and smell the flowers”….. but far too many of us think we have UNLIMITED time on Earth to do that, and we are promised nothing, my dear friends! Believe me, staring cancer eyeball-to-eyeball now, I will search for the beauty & love in every day, in every way I can, in each small beautiful thing or gesture.