October 31, 2010


When Dr. Clark came to class with bright pink hair one day in the Fall of '04, I was mildly impressed that someone of his stature was willing to make such a stark pronouncement about the importance of raising money for Cancer Research. And when the Engineering Head Shave happened a few weeks later, I never even paid too much attention about the people involved or the total amount of money raised. It was just Dr. Clark standing there in front of the class saying where we could go to donate, and how good he thinks he looks bald, or something...

In August 2009 I first started thinking about this blog and what I wanted to put into it. Generally, I was just thinking about how the many ways life is not fair: How some of us are born into circumstance, some of us abuse privilege, and how some of us are just insanely hard-working well-rounded people but eventually run into a series of unfortunate events leading to our ultimate demise. And even further - how some people just have this natural ability to go live their perfect happy lives, and have everything go right for them! GAH!!!! I find it somewhat frustrating that some people can just be so damn' happy all their lives and then the next guy can't help but to see nothing but the atrocities in this world (or worse yet: living in their own personal nightmare).

"Give me something worth crying over" was one of the phrases I had in my mind at the time, since, in general, I have had a relatively easy life. I've always had difficulty distinguishing between and relating to the degrees of all the different types of adversity in the world: the rampant destruction of our planet, the thoughtless brutality and hatred that exists in ohh soo many human relationships, and the intentional belligerent war-mongering and attacks on people that we don't even have *any* kind of relationship with at all. Insanity is a full time job.

And the year moved on. And I thought about different things. Sometimes I didn't think at all. One time I watched a Grey's Anatomy where 'trauma' was the theme. This was around the time that there was an apparent EMT & Paramedic shortage in Edmonton, according to the newspapers. It makes you wonder why so many people keep on driving into & over each other, yet still have this totally unfounded confidence that the ambulance will be there to make everything okay? Don't you think they would would be better off helping other people with REAL problems, rather than pulling dismembered and broken bodies out of twisted pieces of metal from the outrageous concept that we have come to label "accidents". There's no such thing as accidents, after all.

So with this, you get to thinking again: "There has been a lot of 'trauma' in my life." In '96, my cousin died in a car accident. She was 18. STARS Air Ambulance was even involved. Sad stuff. Inexcusable stuff. Nine years later a cousin died in a plane crash. He was 25. Even more sad stuff. It's really even hard to fathom carrying on at all when such random tragedies seem to occur to anyone at any time. I can't imagine how my aunts & uncles have coped. There have been other sad, sad stories in my life, but I think that those 2 take the cake. My Grandma was 76 and a smoker when she was diagnosed with cancer and lived mmm maybe 6 months after that? Still very sad. Especially for a 14 year old in a pretty close, very small family. Outside of the family, a friend from engineering, I found out, had recently taken his own life. Although I did not know him as well as I could have, I do know that he was a great man. He was involved in many activities and groups and was aware of many of the issues in the world. And then just like that. He's gone.

Personal tragedies, I am certain, trump the worst of world-wide adversity. World Hunger, Child Soldiers, HIV/AIDS, Global Warming, The Energy/Water crisis, Nuclear War. They all come second. That's why a lot of my prior 'priorities' seem a lot less important now. Having my Mom being diagnosed with ovarian cancer 2 months ago has really made me stop to think. Again. One more personal tragedy. One more hill to climb.

Focusing on negative things is not a healthy lifestyle choice. So we are trying to stay positive. There is soo much hope. There is soo much uncertainty!!! It does a guy's head in. Currently we are heading into our 3rd out of 6 treatments of chemotherapy this week. In December we have the surgery, then 3 more treatments after that taking us into early February. After that, god, it better be gone. Cuz otherwise, I don't know what I'll do. Focus on the positive. Other people have overcome worse.

I find strength through recent friends like Linda. She has been through some bad times in her life, but ALWAYS looks at the challenges she's had in the past and thrives off of the success of overcoming her own health problems. She has been really great support, especially early on. And even hearing ohhh sooo kind and sincere words from other friends like Laura, Matt(s), Joeal, Adam, Melissa, Thomas, and Sean to name a few, has been more helpful than they realize in my staying strong as I try my best to cope through this uncertain time. And it's not even me who's sick! So thanks. It's because of all the support I've received that I've been able to keep my perspective on the importance of staying in touch with my priorities (like the happiness and health of family). And it's because of this perspective that I have had a relatively easy time sacrificing things in my life like going to Pennywise, Justin Rutledge, Jeremy Fisher, and No Means No concerts. Or passing on checking out lectures by Maude Barlow or Stephen Lewis. Or going out drinking with pretty girls or going to keggers. Or even keeping working at my current job. Priorities. Family. Perspective. Support. Important stuff.

So now I look back on that first semester at uni and think to myself how absolutely terrific Dr. Clark is for being involved with the engineering head shave. A person usually can count the degrees of separation from bad things like cancer from his/her personal life. Not to mention, stigma makes people want to distance themselves with anything to do with the disease even more. Aside from my Grandma, I never really had to pay all that much attention to cancer and I was only a kid then. Aside from the breakthroughs on the news or the incredible stories (like Barb Tarbox), Dr. Clark provided one of the few channels to bring cancer into real life for me. Even if it was on a relatively distant, impersonal level.

Life can be painful. Pain of all sorts. All around the world. Anywhere you go. But thank you friends, family, for making this uncertain time all a little bit better. I am going to continue to stay positive and might even say a prayer tonight. If you could too, that would be great.

Ch. 70 "Life! Is! Pain!"

This title is inspired by a kid wearing shirt at a hardcore show. It had LIFE IS PAIN written in big white block letters on the back of a black t-shirt, I'm pretty sure at the 10 for 10 show.