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Epilogue #1

An epilogue to a book generally gives the writer an opportunity to offer additional thoughts and tie up a few loose ends. My original premise was to write a simple, lighthearted blog, with each entry constrained to 500 words or less. The idea was that I could occasionally update my family and friends on my progress during a multi-year cancer journey, with a goal of keeping it lighthearted and informative, based on my own learnings (a secondary goal of this fledgling marketing guy was to build additional content in our Cincinnati Cancer Advisors website, which might increase our SEO rankings).

As someone with no medical training, it requires constant discipline to not act like you know more than you actually know about your evolving cancer journey. My desire to be a well-informed and educated patient – even to the point of working daily with some of the most intelligent medical professionals I have ever met – has still left me woefully unprepared to explain the inner workings of cancer or give seemingly well-informed advice to other patients. As such, I have tried to fervently avoid doing that during my now 11-year battle with metastatic, castrate-resistant prostate cancer.

There have been more than a few dark days, but I would still say more “high five” days. To be clear, cancer has taken a lot of things away from me, but there are so many things that cancer can never touch. As Jim Valvano once said in one of the greatest speeches of all time - at the 1993 Espy Awards - in describing the physical abilities that cancer had taken away from him but citing the things that cancer could NOT rob him of, “It cannot touch my mind. It cannot touch my heart. And it cannot touch my soul.”

It is somewhat ironic to me that Coach Valvano maintained that view despite what cancer had already done to his brain. He had to be literally helped to and from the stage by Dick Vitale (now also a cancer philanthropist and cancer survivor himself) and Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is also a cancer philanthropist that has done amazing work for the V Foundation. It had already affected his brain, to where he could not even walk normally anymore, but it had not touched his mind, which is obvious when you watch the speech (if you haven’t seen the speech, please run – don’t walk – to watch it).

Strangely, I would submit that cancer has touched my mind, heart, and soul, but all in a good way. Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective. Coach Valvano had become a very celebrated and successful college basketball coach, winning the men’s national championship in 1983 with a group of kids from North Carolina State who were never given a snowball’s chance at being able to pull off that miracle. That national championship final is still widely regarded as one of the greatest college basketball games in history. He had become a beloved and iconic personality in nearly every respect.

Given the amount of money that the college game now generates, the lucrative, long-term contracts that college basketball coaches can enter into these days, and the television analyst gigs they are offered at the sunset of their coaching careers, it could be argued that cancer was robbing Coach Valvano of all of that, so perhaps his way to cope was to focus on what cancer could NOT take from him.

At the time of my diagnosis, I was a fun-loving and (I hope) affable guy who was muddling his way through life alongside great friends, doing work that I was not passionate about and, to be quite honest, pretty much taking each day for granted. Without some sort of shake up, I may have just continued mailing it in, playing out the string, or whatever other metaphor you might want to use to describe a guy that could have, and should have, done more with his life.

Cancer changed all of that for me. Whereas it could be argued that cancer robbed Coach Valvano of his future, it gave me a new chance to get out of my comfort zone, treat each-and-every day as a gift, stop wasting time doing things that I didn’t want to do, and begin finding ways to – as my dear friend Janine Sharell would say - use my powers for good.

Common sense would tell you that any cancer patient would like to erase that diagnosis from their mind and if given the choice, make it such that it never happened. My answer might surprise you. Barring some sort of Earth-shaking medical miracle, cancer is going to shorten my lifespan. I know that. That means less years to do things with, but I feel like with getting the age-50-kick-in-the-pants that I received, I might actually eke out more “living years’ that I might have otherwise.

Will I miss being with Diana, my family, friends, co-workers, and dogs if “the end” comes much earlier than I would have chosen? Of course, but that would be the case whether I lived to be 65 or 85 years of age. Thanks to recent diagnosis and treatment advances, I have already lived longer than I expected, but I have no intention of giving up any time soon. I have found my voice and my purpose, and I intend to use it like a battering ram against cancer for as long as I possibly can.

Diana and I have canceled our dream 40th anniversary trip to France and Monte Carlo. I have been given an opportunity to pursue a novel therapy that could yield life-extending benefits for me. I need to be here, doing my own part to improve my outcome by extending my own battery life. The downside is maybe never seeing Paris and Monte Carlo, but the upside could be adding more years to my life and having more time this summer to sit on my back porch and enjoy the company of Diana and my dogs.

I am pleased to report that I did receive the first dose of the trial medicine today. I am being monitored very, very closely by the medical team here at MD Anderson Cancer Center and everything is fine as I close out the first day after treatment. Now I need to do everything in my power to hang on to this clinical trial like Harrison Ford hung onto the Nazi truck’s muffler in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or Robert DeNiro did in “Cape Fear” (great, albeit highly unbelievable movie scene, but who cares?).

I have taken up a good deal of your time now, writing about my own cancer journey. I hope it has been helpful in some way. It has caused me to rediscover my lost passion of writing, or as Janine Sharell would say, use my superpowers for good. Perhaps you have this book because it somehow caught your eye at an independent bookstore somewhere. Maybe you are a cancer survivor. Maybe you are battling cancer now or supporting a family member or friend with cancer. Perhaps you donated to one of my favorite charities – Cincinnati Cancer Foundation, Inc. (federal employer ID number 81-4093626) or you are a patient of Cincinnati Cancer Advisors, and you received a free copy at your free visit with Cincinnati Cancer Advisors.

No matter how you may have received the book, I am humbled that you accepted it and that you are reading it. I intend to continue publishing updates online, and those updates will hopefully be added to a future edition of the book. My hope is that those future updates with find me triumphing over cancer for many more years to come. For as long as I am able to continue proudly representing the Cincinnati Cancer Foundation, you can find the updates at

I have titled this chapter “Epilogue 1” because I anticipate several more epilogues as my fight against cancer continues and future updates to this book are published. By doing it as a charity fundraising project for Cincinnati Cancer Advisors, I hope that many cancer patients will benefit either directly or indirectly from this book for several years to come. Thank you for being a critical part of my cancer journey, as well as my life’s journey.

Until next time,



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