Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It's Been Three Months And...

On January 5, 2016, Dr. Thomas Schwaab of Roswell Park informed me that I needed to have my right kidney removed immediately due to the presence of kidney cancer. Then he started throwing a bunch of medical terms around that I did not understand and, to be honest, I wasn't hearing much anyways.

Dr. Schwaab could see that his diagnosis was starting to hit me, so he rolled his chair over to mine and made me a promise. "If there is anyone in this world who can save you, it is me." As I looked over his shoulder and saw the rock of my world crying too (my wife is excellent at containing her emotions, but she is human), I knew that I had to believe him. Arrogant? After 25 years of compiling a winning record when it comes to cancer survivors, the guy has the right to be arrogant. But it wasn't really arrogance. He was confident, and he made me confident.

I have to admit that the start of my treatment after my surgery was a little suspect. My surgeon and my oncologist were obviously not on each other's Christmas card lists, and Amy and I were in the middle of this battle of wills. After the surgery, even my eternally pessimistic oncologist gave me a 10 percent chance of beating this completely. When I realized that he was talking about complete remission and not just survival past five years, I started to gain a small level of confidence.

It is amazing how much can happen in three months. Amy and I have gone from battling with the oncologist and his assistant, to having meaningful conversations with the two of them about our options for treatment. I have had a couple of smaller scares since the big surgery, but I have to say that I feel great right now. While my hair did not change color as promised, I do feel like everything about my life is relatively normal. I am losing weight again (on purpose), and I will be stepping up my exercise routine whenever the weather decides to go back to normal.

Through these last three months, I have seen a lot and learned a lot. I learned that you guys like me, you really like me. I have learned that I have one of the best group of friends a guy could ask for, and a family that has become my comfort zone. I have seen what stress can do to people, and how much stressful situations bring out the trooper in family members. My wife has been a trooper through all of this, and now it looks like we might have some clear sailing for her to least for a while.

I finally got a day named after me in Lockport (Mator McCaffrey still has to give me a chance to thank her in person) and I had a blast at the arena on Valentine's Day. My friends were there when I needed them, and we remain friends to this day (of course). It was quite a three months, but it is only the beginning.

After three months of terror, we can start looking towards the future again. My positive feelings are contagious and now my family and I are starting to plan future events. You have to understand that planning for the future kind of stops when you are not sure if you have a future to plan for. Now that I feel like we need to start making the most of life, we are making plans.

Craig and I have started our new website, and we hope to turn it into a multimedia business venture that you will all enjoy for many years to come. I have started writing books again, and I finally had the extra money to buy a copy of Pink Floyd's Meddle on vinyl. It should be in my hands by the time you read this. I cannot wait.

So what have I learned in three months? I learned that I am not immortal and the things that I do have consequences. I have learned that my family is an extremely strong group and that we can get through anything, even cancer. I have learned that it is better to appreciate the things in life you enjoy than spend time complaining about things you can do nothing about.

After three months I have learned that maybe I do matter to people. I have learned something my mother and I knew years ago - that I had made the right choice when I asked Amy to marry me. More importantly, I have learned that when life throws you a curve ball, just swing low and make contact. No matter where the ball goes, at least you got a hit.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident and very close to being a cancer survivor. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him an email at