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I recently had the pleasure of being diagnosed with cancer, or to be more explicit, Renal Cell Carcinoma, and have thus far found the process to be an incredible learning experience. Follow me below the fold and I'll attempt to elucidate:

This diary will hopefully be followed by more substantial missives, but I wanted to share my personal thoughts first...

We were first made aware of the "mass" in my kidney back at the beginning of July (that's right, July), when I was being treated for a kidney stone, further diagnosis was not possible at the time, nor was treatment, due to my insurance status, (which is a subject for another diary or two). I was left with months of pain, fatigue, partial blindness until we were able to get a definitive diagnosis (by which time the tumor was 3 times larger). Somewhere along the way, I effectively lost my business, or at least my ability to work at it (again another diary) meaning that we had almost no income after November.

          In January of this year, we finally received a definitive diagnosis, and were able to schedule the surgery (a radical nephrectomy) on March 31. I was very lucky, I had an excellent surgeon, and he was able to remove the entire kidney intact, preserving the adrenals. The pathology was very good also, no sign of spreading, clean margins, and the tumor had spread to, but not penetrated the capsule. Unfortunately my projected 4 day stay in the hospital was extended to nine days due to complications necessitating an NG tube, and no narcotics (again another diary when I can talk about it).

       Ten days without food, and minimal sleep, having and (hopefully) beating cancer, losing all your income, and effectively your company, or going through all of that at your spouse's side is a very educational experience....it teaches you a lot about what is and isn't important.

We realized that what we have been doing has little or no value to society, or the establishment.

We learned that we have virtually no friends that we can truly trust, which makes the ones we do have that much more important (and some of you know who you are).

We have learned to face the fact that almost everything we own actually belongs to the banks, and have come to accept that if we lose it all, even while still fighting to keep it, we are no worse off.
I learned that I can never be successful in business, on my own, because I don't love the pursuit of money, indeed I find the whole concept somewhat childish.

The stress at the present would probably be worse than before, banks and creditors not caring about recovery time or any personal considerations, but it seems somewhat distant and unimportant.

      Many people pay lip service to these ideals, but we have been forced into true belief...Life, living, nurturing, community and fairness matter, they are values and have intrinsic value...dollars are a means of measuring chattel value, and having the pursuit of them as a primary driving force in your life just doesn't have a lot of relevance for me anymore.
      An aquaintance once said to me "can you imagine losing everything you have worked for for 6 years, seeing it all destroyed" I had no real answer at the time, but now can say "If a dream consists of nothing but dollars, and it's strength doesn't consist of people, then it doesn't truly stand anyways" and people endure, we are much better at surviving than banks and corporations.
chuck

PS...Sorry for the delay in updating, but I am still somewhat vertically challenged at the moment, I have been home for about 5 days.

Originally posted to farmerchuck on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 09:45 AM PDT.

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