Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Up To 1825 : Living UP to beating the Odds

Hello, and welcome to the wild mixed up world of a cancer patient, an artist, a husband, a father, a teacher, and a friend. THIS blog is created to give you a window into how I (the patient) plan to defeat this newest cancer threat through the energy provided by allowing Art to infuse my life, like a good brandy on a cold winter day.

It has taken me a long time to realize that, while I am certainly no Picasso, that the creation of art - in whateever media I am using at the time, is one of the things that I believe keeps my 'life-force' alive and well, and allows me to battle what comes my way.

I want to separate this blog - stylistically at least - from my others. My other blogs, deal with my cancer experience (www.secondbattle.blogspot.com, www.chemoradiationman.blogspot.com) and a third one that deals with the complex world of being unemployed in this shaky economy (www.shockinglyunemployed.blogspot.com). So if  you have nothing better to do, and want more of the 'back-story' as it were, you can check those blogs to see what I have been up to the past several years.


Back to this new blog. Why am I doing it? What the heck does 'Up To 1825' mean anyhow? Well, fill up your mug and here we go.

As fate would have it my 'second battle' with cancer has now turned to a third - my original colon cancer has metastasized to my liver and lung and so, I am facing more challenges. Without boring you again (those who know me will be glad of this, I am sure!) I have been given a prognosis of 5 year survival of 30%... That is I have a 1 in 3 chance of seeing my 53rd birthday.

When you get information like that, of course there will be sobbing and worrying and confusion. But, the fighter in me refuses to see the window closing but rather, that it is 'stuck' 1/3 of the way open and I need to figure out what to do to get through it.

In order for this to happen, many things have to align properly and most of them are ones beyond my control. The doctors will come  up with a treatment plan. The nurses and techs will deliver the latest chemo-concoction design to kill the microscopic invaders that are trying to kill me. From the medical perspective, all I can do is show up, take my medicine and let them watch and wait, monitoring my tolerance of the medicine, and periodically checking the progress of it's effectiveness - all things that are really out of control.

The next thing I cannot control is the 'outside world'. Perceptions of what it means to have cancer are complicated, in more ways and from more interpersonal relationship angles than I ever knew existed. As a patient I cannot control these. One good example is very, very relevant to people in this shaky economy.  Until the fall I had a job for over a year that was going well. During my employment my second cancer was discovered. I let the employer know what was happen, and to their credit they were very supportive. Though the could not pay me for the 3 months I needed off for surgery and recovery, they did hold my job for me. Even when I returned to work, the allowed me to alter my schedule to get my monthly chemo treatments. Everything seemed to be going fine. I had healed up and was handling the work, learning, doing well and then one day came the call, "Scott, can I see  you in my office?"

Well, to summarize (more details in my unemployment blog if you want to read them), I was laid off, due to 'lack of busniess'. Now to be fair to my employer, this COULD be a very legitemant reason, but way deep down in the back of my head - again owing to the penny pinching nature of the economy - I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe the fact that I had cost the company close to $500,000 in medical insurance cost that it may have been 'suggested' to find a way to get me off the payroll to save money.... Again, I don't like to BELIEVE in conspiracy theories, but I don't ignore their possibilities.

 Jump ahead a few months, after more tests and doctor visits and here I am, being told that there are possibly hard-core limits to my future that I should gear up for. Well, I say, 'Fuck That!' I plan on being around a lot longer than 5 years, and here is MY PLAN on how to do it... through the creation, distribution, discussion and expression of ART, as a way to supplement the medical treatments I will be undergoing, and to share my LIFE experience, not just my experience as a CANCER patient with people in such a way that maybe their lives will be made a bit better, contain a few more smiles, a few more hugs, a few more good meals and of course a HUGE amount of ART to beautify their worlds, no matter how long I am here.

Thus, 'Up To 1825' : The Project

If you have  not figured by now, 1825 is the number of days in 5  years, and while many people in my situation start the clock in reverse -- counting down to the grave -- I intend to count UP to victory over this disease. A big part of the personal artistic discipline I am creating for myself is to create one new piece of art (or work on an existing piece) every day. I now (through the help of many great friends) have a functional studio space at home where I can work when ever I want to. Thanks to the Doctors putting me on disability, and my employer laying me off, I also have all the TIME I never had before to undertake such an endeavor. SO here I go. One drawing, each day until 5 years passes - at which time i wold hope that the practice is so well ingrained that it will just continue.

Hopefully, along the way, some people will be encouraged, uplifted or just made to smile a bit more - no matter what they are going through, by the simple act of choosing, buying and enjoying art in all of its many forms....

It begins...


  1. Best of all possible luck to you Scott, I love your attitude! My Sister has bone cancer which also has its "limits", that is not something I believe in. Everyone has there own path, part of that is to do something you love, like art! It really is therapy!!! Take care youself.

  2. Gloria, thanks so much for your comment, and give your sister my best as she goes through this medical wringer, and hopefully all goes well and she gets the chance to live many more years, that is what I am trying to do. I firmly believe that focusing on something you LOVE actually DOES make a difference....