Archive for August, 2009

Cancerversary

August 24, 2009

From the archives:

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December 13, 2006

 

I guess it’s really official as of today.  Like a space shuttle take-off, I am in the
final countdown to surgery.  This morning
I began a clear-liquid diet in preparation for the slicing and dicing that will
take place on Friday morning. I’ll spare all the gory details, but suffice to
say that it is easier for the surgeon to work on me if my pipes are really,
really clean.  The definition of
“Clear” liquid is somewhat ambiguous, though, as coffee falls into that
category, even though it obviously cannot be seen through.  Beer, I believe, is a clear liquid, but two
days worth of Guinness Stout or Fat Tire Amber Ale would be a bit much.

 

As to the actual procedure itself, here is a site that has a
video showing, in an animated version, how the DaVinci robot works.
http://www.davinciprostatectomy.com/video.html  The MD performing the surgery – Dr. Steven
Ruyle – has done this procedure more than 300 times.  I’ll be in his capable hands at about 8:00
Friday, and for the next 3.5 hours he will get to know me inside out, if you
will.  Assuming everything goes according
to plans, I should be out on Saturday and back home either Saturday night or
Sunday.  A week or ten day recovery and I
should be back to work by the first of the new year.

 

My life changed on September 27th, 2006, when the doctor
told me I had cancer.  Notice I said
“changed” and not “ruined”, or some other term like that.
Because one of the things this diagnosis has become is perhaps the greatest
blessing I’ve had. Of all the people I’ve talked to and told about my
diagnosis, so many of them have offered to say prayers for me. To think that
people are asking God to intercede on my behalf is most humbling. To know that
people really care and sincerely offer their help is also humbling.  I am very, very fortunate to have access to
outstanding medical care, family and friends that love and support me and a
business that allows me to take the time I need to recover without facing
financial disaster.  Not everyone has
these things when faced with a diagnosis of cancer, and I am very grateful that
I do.  Cancer has gotten me back in touch
with friends I had not heard from for years, as they called and wished me well.
It has solidified relationships with friends and family that may have drifted
off just a bit.  So you can see why
cancer has been such a blessing.

 

I’d really like to acknowledge my friends at the Lance
Armstrong Foundation for all their support, referrals and endless stream of
information on what to do when the doctor says the “C” word. I never
thought that when I started my relationship with the LAF in 1999 that I would
be the beneficiary of its mission. They do wonderful work and I am very
thankful for their help.

 

The outlook for me is wonderful. I am not symptomatic at
all, I don’t have any radiation or chemotherapy in my future, and the odds of
getting rid of this stuff completely is very, very good. I’ve mentioned to some
of you a phrase I’ve heard – “If you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him
your plans.”  While I’m planning on
complete removal of the cancer and a swift recovery, in the event that the
world doesn’t turn quite that way, I am very confident that we can handle
anything that crops up.

 

Thank you all for your love and support.  Say a prayer for the surgeon on Friday,
because he’s got the difficult job. Also, while you’re in that space, say
another one for Sherry, Brianna and Chandra, because its so hard to be the one
in the waiting room.  Me? I’ll be asleep.
I’ve got the easy part!

 

God bless you all,

 

Matt

 

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January 5, 2007

 

I heard the news today. It came out of nowhere.

 

September 27, 2006.
Somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30 pm.
It’s all a blur, running together as some kind of opaque image that
flashes through my mind, over and over and over. I had the biopsy done just
five days before. God, that was awful. I was actually looking forward to
meeting with Dr. Bryant on the 27th to get the results of that torturous
procedure. This will clear it up, I thought. The appointment was for 3:00, if I
recall correctly.  I got the phone call
from his office just after lunch. “Dr. Bryant is running late in surgery today.
He’d like to move your appointment to 4:30 or 5:00. Is that OK?”

 

I said yes, but I didn’t feel right about it. If there was
nothing wrong, he would have rescheduled it for another day. I knew, as I hung
up the phone, that this was not good.

 

In his office waiting
room, we were the last ones there. Finally, the nurse came and called me. “Mr.
Potter? Come on back, please.”  Into the
exam room we went, smiling nervously and breathing a little harder than normal.
In the room, waiting for the Doc, we laughed at the pictures of men’s plumbing
systems, trying to dissipate some of the nervous energy we both felt. Finally,
Dr. Bryant walks in.

 

“Hi. Thanks for rearranging your schedule. Well, let’s take
a look here and see what we have.” What, I thought, you haven’t looked at these
results before we came in? How could you not do that?

 

“Well, it seems that we had ten biopsies and, umm, it looks
like, umm, four of them are, umm, positive. Yes, four of them are positive. Mm
hmm.”

 

Hold on. Did you just say four of them are positive?

 

“Yes. That’s right”

 

Sherry has taken over. I feel hot, my ears turning red. My
vision is a little blurred and I can’t think or see straight.

 

“Does that mean that Matt has cancer?”

 

 

 

He puts the folder down, looks at us and says:

 

 

 

“Yes. Matt has cancer.”

 

 

 

I wish I could run away, but where would I go?

 

 

 

No. That’s not possible. There must be a mistake. Let’s get
out of here – we have a dinner to go to, remember? It’s with the Estate
Planning Council, a bunch of lawyers and CPAs and I’m the president of the
group this year. I have to go. I can’t have cancer. I have to go. Now!

 

 

 

I can’t run away, because cancer doesn’t let you run away.
No matter where I go, it’s with me. It’s deep inside me, growing and growing.
But I don’t want it to be there! Doesn’t make any difference. It’s there. And,
here’s the really insidious part: it wants to take over my body and kill me.

 

 

 

Is this my destiny? Something so unfair…

 

 

 

My destiny? I can’t help it if my genes are bad – first my
Dad, then my brothers, now me. I kind of figured it would happen, just not now.
I’d be ready for it when I was 65, but I’m just 48 years old, much too young to
have to fool with this old man’s disease. It is unfair. I never asked for this.
I don’t smoke. I exercise to the point of fanaticism. I watch what I eat. I
take vitamins and minerals to prevent this from happening. But I can’t cut out
that little bump in my DNA that says “You get cancer!” like Don Pardo
announcing some special prize on Jeopardy.

 

 

 

What will become of me?

 

 

 

Good question. Will I die? Prostate cancer isn’t “real”
cancer, is it? It’s not like breast cancer, where millions of people race for a
cure each year. It’s just an old man’s disease that most guys die with and not
from. I don’t really have to worry, do I? Umm, yes, in fact, I do. It turns out
that prostate cancer kills lots of men each year, second only to lung cancer.
They have a special name for men my age who don’t get treatment – “The late Mr.
So-and-so.” The reality is that, if I don’t get this taken care of now, I won’t
live to see my first grandchild enter kindergarten.

 

 

 

God only knows.

 

 

 

And he’s not telling me. I sure didn’t plan it this way.
Somebody once told me that if I wanted to hear God laugh, I should tell him my
plans.  He must be falling off his chair
in paroxysms of laughter.

 

 

 

And they say the road to heaven might lead us back through
hell.

 

 

 

I’ve got that to look forward to. Because all the stuff that
happens between diagnosis and surgery may not be hell, but it’s sure not heaven.
The worst part is what happens between my ears. The “C” word is fertilizer for
some very, very serious mind talk about pain, sickness, loneliness, sorrow and
death.  That’s the fuel for sleeplessness
and anxiety. Double espresso at 10 pm.

 

 

 

Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, we will win this fight and
bury this sorrow.

 

 

 

This is a fight. No doubt about it. I have an opponent that
wants me dead, so I have to kill it first. It’s me or him.

 

 

We’re so alive, still holding on, not ready to die, so we
LIVESTRONG.

 

 

 

I’m not anywhere near ready to die. I’ve got way too much to
do in my life, so that’s not an option. I’m very much alive, and I intend to
stay that way for a long time. I’ve got kids who need their Dad to ask for
advice and to borrow tools from. I’ve got clients who need my guidance to help
make them financially sound. And I’ve got a loving wife with whom I want to
grow old.  Living STRONG gets me there.

 

 

 

My pride is left for dead, as my world gets shaken.

 

 

 

Pride? What’s that? Cancer doesn’t allow for pride. It
doesn’t care. It does shake my world. It changes everything. Every sneeze,
every cough, every headache, every upset stomach. Is that more cancer? Has it
grown? Has it moved? What now?

 

 

 

The thoughts inside my head are so hard to control.

 

 

 

They go wherever they want to, and that means, more often
than not, to dark places that I wouldn’t usually choose. It’s incredibly
difficult to shake this crap out of my brain. I know all the statistics about
cure rates, about how this is the kind of cancer to have, if I have to have
cancer. But that doesn’t mean anything once the thoughts get going. I have to
bear down and force them out, actively replacing them with the truth. Some days
it wears me out.

 

 

 

And they say the road to heaven might lead us back through
hell, but we’re holding on for more than stories to tell.

 

 

 

I want celebrations, not stories. I want to feel the ecstasy
of life. I want to see the joy of my daughters’ wedding, and the delight of a
grandchild’s first ride on a bike. I want to feel the soft warmth of my cat as
he crawls onto my lap. I want to feel the strength of my wife’s hand in mine. I
want to feel the bite of a winter dawn, and the sweat dripping from my brow
after a summer run. I want to feel the exhaustion of a hundred mile bike ride.
I want LIFE!

 

Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, we will win this fight and
bury this sorrow.

We’re so alive, still holding on, not ready to die, so we
LIVESTRONG.

 

LiveSTRONG. Day after day. Just look down at the yellow
rubber band around my wrist, and it’s there to remind me of my mission.

 

LiveSTRONG. Today, I will.

 

LiveSTRONG. It’s more than just some pop culture phenomenon.
It’s the real thing. A real guide to surviving cancer.

 

LiveSTRONG.  I’m
cancer free. That’s what matters most.

 

LiveSTRONG. People did it for me, now I can do it for them.

 

My thanks and eternal gratitude go out to the following:

 

Sherry, my wife, the softest rock in the world. Her love and
care went far, far beyond the call of duty. “In sickness and in health” only
touches the surface of her commitment.

 

Brianna and Chandra, our daughters. Whatever we asked, they
did. Selflessness personified.

 

Corey, Brianna’s boyfriend. “Here, I’ll do that.” “Can I
help?” Always willing, never complaining.

 

Cindy and Jan.  They
held us up when we were falling.

 

Dr. Stephen Ruyle and the medical staffs at the Urology
Center of Colorado and St. Luke’s / Presbyterian Hospital in Denver. Their
skill, training and commitment made for successful surgery and a cancer-free
outcome.

 

Our siblings. Their calls, cards and flowers were lights in
the darkness

 

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (www.livestrong.org) for
their support and constant stream of friendship, referrals and information.

 

The scores of people who offered, and delivered, food,
prayers, moral support, wishes for health and a speedy recovery, emails, cards,
letters, phone calls. You may never know how much they meant to me and to us.

 

And to God. For the blessings cancer has brought me, and for
life.

 

I’m cancer free, and so very, very grateful.  God bless you all.

 

Matt

 

Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow

Written by Scott Leger, lead singer of wideawake

 

Inspired by a friend’s cancer diagnosis and the LIVESTRONG
campaign, Scott Leger wrote Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow to honor cancer
survivors across the world.

 

Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow is dedicated to the millions
of people affected by cancer. Those who we’ve lost and those who survive,
fight, volunteer, support, research, raise awareness, give and inspire.

 

The song debuted on May 19 at the LIVESTRONG Gala and is now
available through iTunes. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this song
benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation

 

You can hear and purchase the song at:

 

http://www.livestrong.org/site/c.jvKZLbMRIsG/b.1695823/k.BB94/Maybe_Tonight_Maybe_Tomorrow.htm.

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow Lyrics

 

I heard the news today. It came out of nowhere.

I wish I could run away,

but where would I go?

Is this my destiny? Something so unfair… What will become
of me?

God only knows.

 

And they say the road to heaven might lead us back through
hell.

Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, we will win this fight and
bury this sorrow.

We’re so alive, still holding on, not ready to die, so we
LIVESTRONG.

 

My pride is left for dead, as my world gets shaken.

The thoughts inside my head are so hard to control.

I am staring down the unknown, but one thing is certain.

You could break my body, but you will never break my soul.

 

And they say the road to heaven might leads us back through
hell, but we’re holding on for more

than stories to tell.

 

Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, we will win this fight and
bury this sorrow.

We’re so alive, still holding on, not ready to die, so we
LIVESTRONG.

 

 

About wideawake

 

Wideawake is an award-winning band from Austin, Texas that
brings to it fans a blend of rock and pop music infused with high-energy sound
and emotional, honest lyrics. Wideawake has won “Best Pop Band,” for
three years running at the Austin Music Awards (2004, 2005 & 2006).
Additionally, at last year’s SXSW Music Festival, the band won “Best Rock
Band,” “Best Songwriting,” and “Best Male Vocalist.”

 

The LAF thanks band members Scott Leger, Eddie Willis, Nate
Navarro, Chris Heerlein and Matt Fletcher for their generosity and commitment.

 

For more information about wideawake visit wideawake.com

 


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