#120 Return to Blogging with a Refined Perspective

Why haven’t I posted in a while?  The following may shed some light on the subject.

As some of you may know, and many of you don’t, my sister-in-law has been battling an aggressive form of ovarian cancer for almost two years now.  She was “cancer free” for nearly a year after having a stem cell transplant, chemo, brain radiation, and stomach radiation.  In April her cancer came back with a vengeance.

Jessica went back to the doctor and was receiving chemo once a week for a couple of months.  However, it was just too much for her and she felt like crap constantly.  So, her and my brother decided to stop the treatments.  Jessica’s father heard of a naturopath in Reno, Nevada that has had success with various forms of cancer so they decided to try that.

When I heard about the naturopath my skeptical spidey sense immediately kicked in.  One thing that made me OK with it was that this was a last resort.  All of her options had been exhausted.  If they had decided on this course of treatment instead of traditional treatments then I’d have stepped in and tried to do something about it.  Also, this naturopath was using a form of chemo in conjunction with different herbs and spices.

The treatment lasted a month.  We got to visit with Jessica and my nephew James (2 ½ years old) during the month they were here.  They were staying at her Uncle’s house here in Reno.  My brother even came down for a couple weeks.  It was fun and we had some good times.

We went to see Jessica and James the night before they left town.  We talked about how she would be back down in a few months for follow-up treatments.  We talked about visiting in the next couple of months.  We talked about how she felt.  It was the last time we would speak to her.

A few weeks after leaving Reno Jessica went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain.  They drained nearly 4L of fluid from her abdomen.  They also gave her three to eight weeks to live.  

That was a shock.  All of us sort of expected her to pull through.  Even though no one really survives this cancer no one in the family expected her to not make it.

We found out on a Wednesday that she didn’t have much time left.  My wife and I decided to drive up that weekend after work on Friday.  Originally we were going to work half days on Friday and drive part of the way.  We would camp somewhere in Oregon and then drive the remainder of the trip on Saturday.  By Friday morning Jessica was unconscious and the prognosis was grim.

We left earlier than intended on Friday and drove straight though.  When we arrived at my brother’s house at about 1:30 am we went straight to the bedroom.  I gave my brother a good long hug and we talked for a bit.  He hadn’t slept in almost two days and had been by her side the entire time.  I decided to stay up with him and let him get some sleep.  He only remembers getting about an hour of sleep but I think it was more like three or more.  I had a hard time staying awake but I did anyway.

Just before 0700 on August 4th, 2012 my sister-in-law passed away with my brother telling her to let go and that it would be OK.  I was sitting there in shock.  It happened so fast.

Why am I telling everyone this?  My sister-in-law was 35 years old.  Last year a friend of mine, 33, was diagnosed with colon cancer.  It was May, I think.  He passed away the day before Thanksgiving.  Someone I don’t know, but many people did, here in the Great Basin died of breast cancer, I think, just a couple months ago.  She was 33, I believe.

The point is, you never know what life is going to throw at you.  As an atheist I’m constantly concerned with my legacy.  I’m concerned with how I’ll be remembered and what I’ll leave behind when I go.  I don’t have an afterlife to look forward to so my legacy is all I have.  For me my legacy, in part, is this blog and my podcast.  Those are things that people can look back on and learn from for years to come.  For some people their legacy is their children.  Personally I think your legacy should stand on it’s own.  It’s not difficult to have children and you should’t take too much credit for their accomplishments.

I also see part of my legacy in the various archaeological databases across the nation.  My name is on site records and reports in about 14 different states.  Think about that.  Its pretty powerful.  It’s also something that no one can ever take away from you.  That worthless little can scatter you recorded at the end of the day when you just wanted to go home and rest your feet is going to have your name on it until we nuke ourselves into oblivion.  That’s awesome.

If I had a child and I found out I was going to die, or could die from whatever I have, I’d want to prepare resources for him/her to refer to later in life.  Did you see the movie “My Life” with Michael Keaton?  I think it’s from the early 90s.  He was going to die from some horrible disease and made short videos to his infant son about everything from cooking pasta to shaving.  That’s amazing.  I wish my sister-in-law had thought to do that.  I tried bringing up that subject many times over the last two years but never had the courage.  They saw me as the atheist with no hope, I’m sure, and I didn’t need to make things worse.

I wish I’d tried, though.  It’s a huge weight on me right now and I really regret not saying anything.  I’m sure they thought of it but always thought they’d have more time.

So, that’s why I haven’t been blogging lately.  I’ve just had other things on my mind and could’t really focus.  I think I’ll be back to it now.  I have some great posts lined up and I’m ready to start building that legacy again.

What would you leave behind if a semi crashed into your car tomorrow?  Think about it.  But, don’t think long.  You may not have the time.

Sorry to be so morbid but someone had to say it.

I'll miss you, Jessica.  We didn't always agree but we had fun debating.  I wish we'd been able to spend more time together over the last 15 years.  There always seemed to be "plenty of time" for getting together.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field.