So, time is slipping away until the day where everything changes. We are very hopeful that this change will be for the good. Surgery is set for the second week of July, about three weeks away. This is the day where we hope to hear that I am cancer free. After the removal of my esophagus, most of my stomach, and surrounding lymph nodes, the hope is that a new way of life will be for the better. The recovery will take anywhere from 1-3 months, varying amongst patients due to potential complications. I have been blessed up to this point to have done very well with treatment, and my body and mind have been strong. Chemotherapy and radiation were not too bad for me. I hope this is an indication about the success of the recovery from this very intense six hour surgery. Smaller meals and more attention to what I intake will be crucial to the way of life from here on. It will be similar to someone experiencing a gastric bypass if all goes well. We will not talk about worst-case scenarios, although there are a couple. We will remain positive, as we have done thus far.
The struggle for me more than anything has been to keep those around me whom I love unaffected by all of this. This has been a very hard feat. My attitude and well being directly affects them everyday. Typically, men deal with emotions not by crying, but by getting angry. I have been no exception to this. Anger surfaces over the smallest things when you least expect it. It sweeps through a situation and then passes in an instant. I must always remember that the people that are most affected are the people helping me the most. My wife, Alix mainly. She is dealing with this in ways I cannot relate to, and the difficulties for her are much different as the caretaker. We push on, however, and her support is everything to me. My son has been a huge part of our concerns as well. He is a smart, inquisitive three year old. He will be four in August, and he is at the age of inquisition. He questions everything. He wants to be independent, yet is even more emotionally attached to us since he has seen tangible signs of his father’s illness. We told him early on exactly what was happening. Superheroes, robots, good, and evil are the things he knows, part of his fantasy world. We told him, “Daddy has a bomb in his tummy. It is making him very sick some days. He may have a green flag some days, and a red flag on others. This is a sign of how good he feels. But it is going to be okay, because the doctor is going to use a robot and get the bomb out. Everything is going to be fine. He is just going to have to rest for awhile.” He is fascinated with the robot, so much so that he wants to see it in real life. Maybe we have a future physician on our midst. It would not be much of a stretch given the extensive family medical tree from which he is rooted. Cate is 13 months old and unaffected, of course. Her perpetual smile and ever-evolving bag of tricks keeps a smile on my face daily. It has been a blessing to watch her grow up before my eyes.
Personally, my biggest obstacle has been remaining driven in my craft, passion, and career. The first thing that the doctors made me cut back on was work. Okay. My job is my livelihood, my hobby, my craft, and my passion. To ease up on that means I no longer have any of those in my life with the vibrancy I once did. Alix has planned a trip for me to help justify this problem. We will have more on that to follow. I want to fuel my passion again and restore some of the lost time in the kitchen. I want to get the spark back. Once this surgery is done, the hope is that the doctor tells me the cancer is ridden, and it is time to recover. This recovery will be mental and physical. The idea is to make myself better in every way. I want to be a better man, human, father, and chef. Our mental attitude determines our opportunity for success in anything you do, everyday, and we are the one in control. Although I have been given this terrible diagnosis and have a long road ahead, I have seen the true good in this world. The support and prayers of thousands to help me and my family recover is more than I could have imagined. This is a blessing in cancer, one that I hold dear to my heart. For this enlightenment, I will be forever grateful and must drive on to make a better life for me, my family, and perhaps those unmet persons in need. For now, we are counting down the days until the second week of July.