The HAY Question

It happened again.

A very close friend asked, “How are you?”

“I’m fine.”

“No,” he said. “How are you.” Oh, my cancer.

And a cousin wrote, “I signed up for your blog, and it’s very informative, but sometimes I can’t get a real sense of how you are doing.” They’re certainly not the first to ask, and I doubt they’ll be the last. So here goes.

I’ve been open (blatantly so) that I’m Stage 4, and that there is no Stage 5. But within my staging, there’s a cancer continuum that arcs from where I am all the way out and beyond the horizon to hospice. I’m classified Stage 4 because of lymph node involvement, a tiny tumor in each of two lymph nodes (out of 13) sampled at surgery. Regional metastasis, I believe it’s called. It’s that serious, and it’s that simple.

Physically, I’m fine. I’m active, and I feel great — no aches, no pains, no masses burgeoning within me to make life uncomfortable. When my calendar’s not full, it’s busy. On any given day, I feel like a healthy 67-year-old who goes to the gym for a vigorous workout. I take no meds related to cancer, and I live a ‘normal’ life, traveling hither and yon, unimpeded by my cancer. I’m soon off to Peru and then Sri Lanka.

Life goes on even as more hormone therapy and radiation await. They’re in queue not because I’m in dire straits but because I’m being aggressive — early and often — in kicking cancer’s ass. Prostate cancer has an affinity for bone when it metastasizes, and my April 27 bone scan came back clean. But, like about 99.9 per cent of cancer fighters, I get fatigued — not so bad now as when I was on hormone therapy. Back then, somewhere around 4 each afternoon, I’d fall off a cliff. Fatigue just comes with the territory, whether the territory is cancer or cancer treatment.

Bottom line: To be with me day in, day out, you’d never react, OMG, Bill’s ill! I make plans, sometimes quite far out, and I buy green bananas, sometimes quite green.

Mentally, I think my head’s screwed on straight. I accept the fact I have cancer — I’d rather not have it, but I accept that it’s my new normal, and I don’t waste time/energy/life being angry about it or wishing it weren’t so. It is so. I had two best buddies, Al and Bill, both killed in their 20s, and I’ve often thought they’d love to be my age and have a good case of prostate cancer. That gives me perspective on life and puts my cancer in its place.

I try to focus on enjoying life, enjoying my family and friends and doing all I can to counter the cancer within me. Oh, and getting as much good out of my cancer experience as I can (and there is good to be had, make no mistake).

I confess to three really bad head days — all of which occurred while I was on hormone therapy: From out of the blue came black. I just fell into a black hole, and that’s the only way I can describe it. A black hole. How, why — who knows? Each time, I spent about a day in the black hole. Twice I climbed out by watching the movie “Rocky” (see the Yo, Adrian post below), and once, I just had to have a little talk with Bill.

Bottom line: It is what it is, and I’m dealing with it as best I can, given who I am. There’s no training or preparation for cancer. One day, someone just hands it to you, and you begin the process of figuring out how you’re going to handle it — the where and how it fits into your life and into your mind. Stoically, I’ve never even been tempted to ask, Why me?

Although I have mused, Why not me?

About Bill Curry

Stage 4 prostate cancer

7 Responses to “The HAY Question”

  1. Hi Bill:

    Thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts with us. You are an excellent example of how to deal with what you have been dealt. Probably many of us, as we read your blog, hope we could be as level headed about our situation when we have a severe turn of life events. Your blogs will be a great gift to many people. We will be re-reading your thoughts when our turn comes as it surely will. At that time we will all say,”That Bill Curry, what an example he is. I’ve re-read his postings and they give me great joy, great courage and great hope.”
    Thank you,

  2. Bill, I love the line about when something good happens no one asks, why me? Keep up the accounts. Share your musings about life, love, family, fear, joy, the health care system, whatever. You’ve always had a gift for writing, more than you know. We want your words more than ever now. Best, Steve Fehr

  3. What is there to add? I continue to be inspired by your insights and fortitude and hope to do as well in dealing with my cancer as you have with yours. Go Bill! L’dude

  4. You forgot to mention that you did 500 pushups in one day a few months ago! You are stronger than ever. Very proud of you indeed. 🙂

    Love, hugs, kisses,
    The Daughter

  5. Everytime I read a new addition I think this is the book. You are already writing it. You owe it to other cancer patients and you owe it to your self. Add your photography as it pertains to the process. A bigger audience needs to hear your openess and honesty. It will help others dealing with the uncertainty of cancer open up to the other important people in their lives. It could be so freeing like a 100 lb weight was just lifted. You could do for cancer patients what Oprah Winfrey has done for so many people; teaching them to believe in themselves and not hide all they feel.

  6. When Bill says he falls off the cliff from fatigue at about 4:00 PM every afternoon, I think it’s important to mention that he’s been up since 4:00 AM every morning. I have to say, he’s got a pretty strong constitution. And I have been totally impressed with how diligent he has been about eating right, getting exercise, and learning all he can about cancer. I’m proud of him.

    Love, hugs, kisses
    The Wife

  7. Much is made about the devastation of breast cancer in women, but not enough about prostate cancer in men! If there was a Susan B. Komen for prostate cancer we’d have it under control.
    Once you are diagnosed, you can’t rewind the tape get another outcome. You have to deal with it or it will deal with you. IIWII = It Is What It Is, except that taking advantage of the wonderful resources of the SCCA gives you tools with which to fight back. The operative word which you embrace is “fight.” For that, you are an inspiration and a beacon for the rest of us. So keep kicking the s**t out of it because without the ‘tude it’s just a grind and not a journey. Go big guy!

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