Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year Without A Heart

Goodbye, 2016.

You were not the year I was hoping for when this whole thing started back on January 1st.

You were vicious, uncaring, dangerous, and vile.

From taking artists that helped shape who we are, to tearing apart hopes and dreams, to holding up a mirror forcing humanity to see the ugliness that had been previously hidden, to my own personal battle with monsters and demons.

I will not miss you, 2016.

One year ago I stated I would not be looking back fondly on 2015. My dad lost his battle with cancer while my wife fought her own battle with breast cancer. It was truly a shitty year. I was ready to move on to a better 2016.

As you all know, that didn't happen.

Instead, I received my own diagnosis of cancer.

Then I fought my own battle for a good portion of the year because the treatment was so difficult.

There are no words to describe what one goes through when battling cancer. It "sucks" and "fuck cancer" just don't quite do it justice, but it's about all we've got.

Fighting it becomes your life.

Both that you are literally fighting for your life and that your everyday life is about battling cancer.

Since I chronicled the experience as I was going through it, I won't rehash it again now. I'll just say, yes, the treatment was difficult both physically and mentally, but the added stress to our family because of the diagnoses (both my wife's the year before and mine this year), the treatment, my inability to be a functioning human being for months, and the fact that I was forbidden to drive for six months because I had a seizure on the operating table, all made the year even more difficult.

Then there were the friends that had their own battles with cancer this year. Some ongoing, others a new diagnosis.

I now relate to people learning they have cancer in a way I never knew existed. It can be a perfect stranger and I'll feel this overwhelming empathy for them.

When it's not a stranger, the feeling envelops me, swallows me whole, and then spits me out and leaves me a crumpled mess on the floor.

I said it in my first post regarding my cancer adventure, "I've joined the club no one wants a membership to."

But that's what it is, a membership.

And I am emotionally affected by others becoming new members.

I'm tired of cancer.

But it is what it is.

For now, I will not say I am "cured". (It just hasn't been that long since I was in the throws of battle.)

Instead, I say: according to the last scan, there is no evidence of cancer present.

And I am grateful for that.

So while my personal difficulties were quite challenging in 2016, there were also many other things going on in the world that made 2016 quite the shitty year. Everything from the climate to politics to ignorance to hatred.

It was the year a good portion of music died: Prince, Davide Bowie, Glenn Fry, Merle Haggard, George Michael, Maurice White, George Martin, and Leonard Cohen to name only a few.

Some others that were lost in 2016: Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Mohammad Ali, Florence Henderson, Ron Glass, Kenny Baker, George Kennedy, Gary Shandling, Patty Duke, Garry Marshall, Arnold Palmer, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Harper Lee, Morley Safer, Gordie Howe, Richard Adams, and of course, John Glenn.

Then, because 2016 wasn't finished fucking with us, we lost Carrie Fisher with four days remaining in this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

The following day, her mother, Debbie Reynolds died.

Losing famous people often makes us realize our own mortality.

For a certain age group of people, we were given many opportunities this past year to have that realization.

It's sobering.

We know we're going to die but we rarely think about it. Then a famous person who had some impact on our lives dies and we realize, holy shit, that could be me. Particularly when that famous person is relatively close to our own age.

And/or we realize that all this, this bullshit that we war over, hate over, hurt others over is all just that: bullshit.

And/or we realize our childhood has been dead for many years and that we have far fewer years ahead of us than we do behind us.

Or we just don't give a fuck and we get right back to warring, hating, and hurting others.

Then it eventually passes and we move on to just trying to live through our busy lives, not giving another thought to death. That is, not until the next death of someone that has impacted our lives.

But while the year was filled with celebrity deaths, it was politics and world events that out shined everything else.

In the year 2016, humanity showed its true colors.

And they were not pretty to look at.

The disgusting U.S. Presidential election left most of us confused and despondent. Is this really the country we live in?

Apparently so.

Do so many fellow Americans harbor so much hatred?

Apparently so.

Then there was Brexit, Aleppo, Sudan, Russia, refugees, and the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub.

This is the world we've always lived in.

It is what it is, but I don't have to like it.

So I will not be looking back fondly on 2016, either.

It can not leave fast enough.

So good riddance 2016.

You personally brought me pain and took me way too close to death.

You brought many friends pain and fear.

And you tried to squash our hope with humanity's disgusting displays of violence, hatred, and killing.

It was the year full of hate
Where intolerance and ignorance did shine.
It was a year to never forget
As we crossed line after line after line.

It was the year full of death,
That needed to end right from the start.
It was the year full of pain.
It was the year without a heart.

Monday, December 5, 2016

I Don't Understand

I've seen the children
Die in the streets.
I've seen
Governments fall.
I've seen a doctor
Die in vain.
What has
Happened to us all?

I've seen the riots
I've seen the wars.
I've seen
I've seen them murder
We just don't believe.

Sometimes, I run.
Sometimes, I hide.
And sometimes,
I wish to Hell I didn't know.
Sometimes, I live.
Other times, I die.
And sometimes,
I just watch the hatred grow.

I've seen the women
Raped in their homes.
I've seen
Babies get sold.
I've seen the children
Just get raped by their own.
These are
Stories of old.

I've seen politicians
Stoke and incite fear.
I've seen
Truth lose to lies.
And God's often used
To justify atrocities,
To control who lives
And pronounce the very next to die.

Sometimes, I run.
Sometimes, I hide.
And sometimes,
I wish to Hell I didn't know.
Sometimes, I live.
Other times, I die.
And sometimes,
I just watch the hatred grow.

I've seen the government
Cater to the rich.
I've seen,
Jane and John Doe.
They live on a street
Where their soul's been sold,
To those that choose not to know.

I've seen the people
Who sell their skin.
I've seen
Sex end time.
I don't understand
This fucking world that I'm in.
But there we go
Crossing another line.

Sometimes, I run.
Sometimes, I hide.
And sometimes,
I wish to Hell I didn't know.
Sometimes, I live.
Other times, I die.
And sometimes,
I just watch the hatred grow.

--Randal D. Anderson
May 6, 2016

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Long and Winding Road

I had a CT Scan a few weeks ago that looked good.

Today I learned the results of the Pet Scan I had recently.

I'm cancer free.

Obviously I'm thrilled to get this news.

Both the blood work and the scan looked good. I'll do it all again in three months.

I'm "probably cured" but I know cancer can return, or show up somewhere else, at any time. We just never know what lies in our future.

I'll be getting tested every three months for quite awhile, and there will always be that concern/worry of it returning or appearing somewhere else in/on my body.

It is what it is.

I'm grateful for the doctors, the treatment, and the science that helped me stay alive.

I'm very thankful for all my friends and family that helped during this most difficult time in my life. Your support, both physically and/or emotionally, was much appreciated.

Thank you.

I thank my wife for keeping the house together, taking care of the boys, driving me everywhere, and for pretty much everything else during these past months.

I love you.

I took the title for this post from one of my favorite Beatle's songs because yes, this road has been long, winding, and littered with pot holes. It's been the most difficult road I've ever traveled:

The no eating; the no sleeping; the pain; the vomiting; the nausea; the depression; the apathy; the chemotherapy; the radiation; the countless doctor's appointments; the surgeries; the seizure; the no driving for six months; the lying in bed for weeks; the lost weight; the exhaustion; the nurses visits; the PICC line; the G-Tube; the scars (both physically and mentally).

A road I hope none of you ever have to travel.