I bet you came here because you thought this post was just another rant about something gone wrong with stuff-‘n’-such in Lake Highlands, right? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint. This is about a great ABC Primetime episode last night, about the celebration of life that Randy Pausch lived after he was diagnosed with metastatic (stage IV) pancreatic cancer. In case you have not heard of him before, he was a Carnegie Mellon U. professor in IT and virtual reality. He became famous for his "The Last lecture" video and book. You can, and should, watch it on YouTube here. It’s a very moving presentation about life, that the audience thinks is directed towards them. Except, at the very end, he tells them it’s not for them. It’s for his kids because, barring miracles, he won’t be around to see them grow up.
Diane Sawyer took that speech and did her first PrimeTime show with Randy this past April. Last night’s show reprises some of that and then reflects on what Randy lived since then, up until his death last Friday morning. His take on life was that you can be a Tigger or an Eeyore. Life is what you make and you better damn well look at it from the bright, positive side because that’s all you have. Thankfully play the cards you have been dealt and don’t sweat the small stuff, because it changes nothing to mope around or complain.
Cancer patients have that instantaneous car wreck we all dread — WHAM! — and then walk away physically. However, studies show how emotionally and mentally devastating it can be to you, your family and friends. How you handle it is all about how you will continue to live and become a cancer survivor. Whether that’s the less than 20% of pancreatic cancer survivors 6 months after diagnosis, or longer term, because you are not a bell curve statistic, you are you. They are encouraged to throw off beliefs they thought were sacrosanct. Whether that’s voting for the same party "because my parents did, and besides, talk radio says it’s OK" or getting that vanilla latte each morning "because I deserve it so what if I weigh 20 pounds too much" or being grumpy with your spouse or kids this evening because "I had a frustrating day at the office and I’ll apologize in the morning" or… insert self-excuse here: ____________.
Once you throw off those beliefs, you can start living your convictions, which you soon realize are usually very different from those "beliefs." And you know what? It really works! How do I know? Because May 27th I was diagnosed with stage IV, non-operable, pancreatic cancer. My chemo is working great and I feel better than I have since January. I have no outward physical side effects whatsoever. My CA-19-9 tumor marker has gone from 1200+ to 400 to 104 in only 5 weeks! It’s our own private miracle. So, I am surely getting (in addition to weekly gemcitabine infusions) the clinical study drug rather than a placebo (I’m in a 50-50 blind, phase 3, controlled trial at UT Southwestern).
It’s why my posting has been sparse for the past couple of months, and will continue to be moving forward. Because I’m much too busy living my Tigger convictions. Let me encourage you to reflect and then try it, too, before you get a WHAM!