More good news…and Jerks

Medical/Personal Update

I’m switching things up by starting off with a health update…besides, the jerks don’t deserve to go first!

I recently had my “six-month scan” and received more great news that my tumors are continuing to shrink.

Back in April, when I was first diagnosed with the big c in my pancreas and liver, things did not look good.  The tumor in my pancreas was the size of a golf ball.  I had four dominant tumors in my liver, three the size of golf balls and the largest the size of a racquetball.  Worse yet, they were growing rapidly.

But chemotherapy and prayers are working a miracle in my body.  With my tumor marker numbers indicating little to no cancer in my body, I was hoping to hear the word “remission” after my latest scan.  Defeating the big c, however, is never easy and this evil disease is always looking for ways to mutate, spread, and destroy.

But the big c is quickly becoming the little c in my case.  The largest tumor in my liver is now down to the size of a walnut and the three others have shrunk to marble and even pea size.  The tumor in my pancreas is also now pea size…everything is getting much smaller.

Here’s how Dr. Ocean described my scan:  “This is great news, everything keeps going down which hardly ever happens.  This much progress in six months is wonderful!  Remission is when we see no active cancer in the scan and you’re not there yet, but I’ll take this for sure.  The drugs are working!”

We then talked about treatment options.  I told Dr. Ocean that my attitude from a life in the world of athletics has been to never let up on an opponent when you have them down.  She agreed…so we’ll continue with chemotherapy…even though my body is struggling more and more with the “cumulative effects” of six months on chemo.

I’ll also be visiting with doctors from the Sloan Kettering research hospital in New York City to see if I am a candidate for some of the new drugs being used on patients with a genetic family history of the big c.  More on that in future blogs.

I recently had a sad reminder of just how deadly the big c is in the pancreas.  A friend from my college days, Leo Casiano, surprised all of us on September 7th that he had pancreatic cancer with only six more months to live.  I communicated with Leo via Facebook and learned that he was also first diagnosed in April but had chosen to keep things private.  I planned to see Leo on my recent trip back to Nebraska, but on September 17th, he passed away.  His six months became only ten days.

This is what pancreatic patients are up against…I’m one of the few lucky ones.


My all-time favorite cartoonist is Gary Larson creator of the “Far Side.”  I often laugh out loud at his off the wall humor…which many times contains nuggets of wisdom.  Below is my favorite Far Side cartoon entitled “Jerks.”


I kept a copy of this cartoon on my desk at work for over 10 years.  Why?  Because it was a good reminder to me of how I wanted to deal with jerks.  Rather than get upset, I view jerks as an inevitable fact of life…and my goal is to not let the jerks upset me or worse yet, cause me to act like a jerk in return.

In Luke 6:32 Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.”

The same holds true for jerks…just because someone acts like a jerk doesn’t mean you should act like a jerk in return.

In my opinion, jerks are people who don’t treat others with kindness.  They actually take pleasure in treating people badly.  Some jerks are power hungry authoritarians.  Some are insecure egotists who take pleasure in cutting down others.  Some are just miserable people who want to make other people’s lives miserable.  But the common thread is they are just not nice people.

I have many, many friends in my life from a variety of backgrounds and philosophies…but none of them are jerks.  Oh…we all act like jerks now and then…but my friends care about others and by-and-large treat friends and strangers with kindness.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are jerks in our lives that we can’t ignore or get way from.  Bosses especially come to mind…and I’ve had a few jerk bosses.  Co-workers and neighbors can be annoying jerks…and then there’s the inevitable jerk relative.

I don’t claim to be Dr. Phil or anything…but here’s my advice for dealing with jerks:

  1. As my friend, Charley North likes to say, “kill ‘em with kindness.” It doesn’t always work, but it’s usually my first option.
  2. Don’t be afraid to confront a jerk. Let them know what you think of their behavior or actions.  Early in my career, I worked with an older jerk who was in a position of authority.  For seven years, I tried killing him with kindness but when I finally stood up to him and called him out, he backed down and started treating me better.
  3. Ignore them. Not always easy, but simply choose to not make them an important part of your life.
  4. Laugh them off…they’re here to “make life interesting” so don’t let them get you down (and realize that as life goes on, the jerks will become more and more miserable and have very few friends).

Bottom line, I think many people waste a lot of time, energy, emotion, and worry about things that they really don’t have any control over.  It’s why the Alcoholics Anonymous “Serenity Prayer” has long been one of my favorite philosophies :

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Next stop: Lessons from Brook