My Cancer Hobby

Days after my prostate cancer diagnosis on March 26, 2007, my wife presented me with a copy of Newsweek dated April 9, the one with the cover story, “My Life with Cancer,” by Jonathan Alter. I didn’t read it then, and I haven’t read it now. I remember the exact words that ricocheted through my mind the moment she handed me the magazine: “Cancer is not my new hobby.”

This was, of course, back in the days when I lived under the presumption that  a prostatectomy would “cure” my cancer, and I had an 80 per cent chance of it. So, no, cancer was not going to be my new hobby: I’d have surgery, be done with it, and get on with my real life enjoyments — travel, photography and cooking.

But my first cancer did not go away, as was my plan, and this blog exists not because I had cancer back then; it exists because I have cancer right now.

And cancer has become my new hobby.

How did this happen, I ask? My treatments certainly have not taken up that much of a retiree’s time. So…?

It started with annual prostate cancer symposiums and then general cancer gatherings, where researchers, survivors and families would share the latest. (A woman in a wheelchair at one of these conferences talked about being sent to hospice to die — three times! She just refuses to.) Next I added informal monthly presentations on cancer and nutrition, and my kitchen hobby morphed into a cancer-fighting cooking interest.

And all along the way, there became this increasing need to get current on the latest developments in treatments of my advanced (or Stage IV) prostate cancer. (I had skipped that chapter in the book I read in March 2007.) Ever so gradually, gathering by gathering, article by article, test result by test result, cancer was expanding its place in my life, just as it was expanding its presence in my body.

Then this blog. I started it to keep family and friends in the loop on something that’s become more than a fleeting wisp of a health matter. It’s fun, I enjoy it, and it helps me work through how I feel about cancer things.

But — and how did I not foresee this? — the blog, and similar postings on my high school class website, have prompted extraordinary conversations with others about their cancers. Long-time veterans with courageous war stories. Serial survivors on their second and third diagnoses. Super people who challenge me and, in the process, help me distill my thoughts and decisions. Some long email exchanges, and often. You’ve seen some of their names here; you’ll see others in the future. It’s no longer about me; it’s a bit about us, the cancer community, and each other, and those who care about us.

And now, on May 25, I’m to give a presentation at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance on Blogging about Cancer. So I’ve been somewhat in overdrive to get ready to stand and deliver next week. I even found research saying that people who have meaningful conversations and who blog about their cancers “better cope” with their health conditions.

It’s been so mind-expanding — and the notion that I might be able to give back just a little, just a teeny bit, to others dealing with their cancers — well,  we’ll see how it goes.

I am, after all, early on in my cancer hobby.

About Bill Curry

Stage 4 prostate cancer

8 Responses to “My Cancer Hobby”

  1. Hi Bill

    I just came across your blog and have to say it is the first thing I have read about cancer that corresponds with my own viewpoint/approach to it. I especially love the “cancer is not my new hobby” quote LOL!

    I have renal cancer and am waiting for surgery. There is no chemo, as it doesn’t work, so if the surgery doesn’t do its job, then it’s not good news. Now, I could just think about that and get really depressed. But like you, I prefer to live in the present and enjoy what there is to enjoy about each day as it comes. And there IS plenty to enjoy. People have told me that “I’m not human” (nice!) but your blog has reassured me that there are other people with the same approach out there. Thank you for making me laugh today.

  2. Those folks at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance won’t know what hit them! Who knows how many others you will inspire to share their stories. Thanks for the gift of your beautiful prose and keen insight into living with cancer. Wishing you strength and continued perseverance. And please get a new hobby soon.

  3. You’ll do great! We need to get together again soon — perhaps you and Becky could come out for a weekend.

  4. Billy, thanks for the updates.
    We are far far away but we are no longer long, long ago. We are really looking forward to a Labor Day picnic!

    Doug

  5. HI, Bill,

    Thinking a lot about you these days. Lots I want to say but probably won’t here so public. I’m so sorry that this has become a part of you now. Cancer is a big gig.
    I have you in my thoughts and prayers and I hope at some point maybe we can talk. Your old friend, and with warm thoughts to you and your family, Susie

  6. You have set the bar so high for brains, courage, sensitivity, and talented expression of these qualities.

    Thank you.

  7. Don’t forget to mention that your blog is a great way to help the non-cancer people in your life know what’s going on and how to support you! You help set the tone for the rest of us!

  8. You go boy! Knock ’em dead! ( Not in the literal sense.

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