Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “January, 2018”

Blame It On The Moon

Sure, many of us got to experience a Super Blue Blood Lunar Eclipse this morning.  When it is worded that way, it not only sounds cool, but also like it might be the theme of some sort of apocalyptic movie.  Three events of the lunar cycle combined for an occasion that has not happened in over 150 years, a Blue (new) moon (the second full moon within the month), a “blood” moon (colored from the sun), and a lunar eclipse.

But for me, what makes this event even more special for me, is I got to share it with my daughters this morning.  Not physically, as we live several states apart.  But through Facetime, I was able to share an experience, and tradition that started many years ago back when my oldest daughter was in second grade (during the marriage).

We were experiencing a “blood moon”, just a normal one that evening.  But we would have to wake up at 3:00am.  My daughter was so excited as things such as dinosaurs, dolphins, and the moon excited her.  We had an understanding with each other, that if I woke her, to witness the blood moon, it was no going to eclipse that night, just turn red, she had to promise me that she would go right back to sleep once it was over.  After all, she had school later that morning.

We had been outside for approximately 45 minutes, but it gave us one of our many special daddy/daughter moments.  The next lunar event, my youngest daughter insisted, all too happily to be included in these family science lessons.  I was all too happy to oblige.

So, this morning I went outside, and started filming the moon’s trifecta event.  It really is something special to be able to witness something that does not happen more than once in a lifetime.  So, along with experiencing an eye of a hurricane (Irma) this Fall, I can now add another event I had not expected.  I took video and snapshots of the different stages.

Of course, timing was becoming an issue, as I wanted to share this with my daughters on Facetime, and I knew that they would be leaving for school shortly.  “Hurry up Moon!  Would you?!”

As soon as the moon had eclipsed, I raced back inside my apartment, and called my daughters.  I could not wait to share this moment with them.  Where they live, the sun was already out an hour, and would not see this.  I showed them the videos and pictures with the same enthusiasm as our first lunar experience, and their reactions were the same.

Always the parent who makes their education a priority, this morning I gave them both something  that they could share in school, if the conversation came up, either with friends, or even during science class.  More importantly, we continued a tradition, that in spite of our distance, continues today.

As one of my friends mentioned to me just yesterday about this Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse, “it is a special day, and only good things will come.”  I am looking forward to it.

Does It Really Make A Difference “How” or “Why”?

Surely it has happened to you at some point in your life.  You spill a drink, and not just any drink, but one that will leave a huge and permanent stain, and definitely only get worse the longer it sits.

There are all kinds of hacks to clean up a spill that will cause a stain.  But they all rely on how quickly you respond.  If done immediately and correctly, perhaps there can be nothing noticeable remaining.  As the liquid sits, the stain will become more difficult to deal with.  And of course, to do nothing, well, say goodbye to the carpet then.

This is not just a metaphor.  This is a life saver.

Do you stand there and wonder how it happened?  Why it happened?  What you could have done differently so that the drink would not have spilled in the first place?  Does it really make a difference once it has occurred?

I was 22 years old when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  To my knowledge, I am the only person in my family history to develop this type of cancer.  I had five other family members who had battled a different form of cancer, all have passed away.

I am on several social media pages for cancer as well as life after cancer.  Usually two or three times a year, a discussion comes up wondering about the cause of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  While we know there are hereditary possibilities with certain cancers such as breast cancer, dietary influences when it comes to colon cancer, and of course smoking linked to lung cancer, there are no confirmed actual causes of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

There are similarities however, amongst many of us, in regard to our health histories that should not be ignored.

Please read this next sentence carefully, very carefully.  Most of us who have had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at one time or another, dealt with the Epstein Barr virus.  THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!  This does not mean that everyone who gets EBV will get Hodgkin’s.  Like the lesson taught in school, “all mammals are animals, but not all animals are mammals,” the same applies here.  I have never been tested for the Epstein Barr virus, and with my Hodgkin’s having occurred almost 30 years ago, if I got the test done, I am pretty sure I would test positive for having had it.

But the EBV does often lead to another illness, mononucleosis, “mono.”  And again, though just as prominent among Hodgkin’s patients and survivors, many of us have had mono, though not as numerous as just having EBV.  Now the same rule applies as with the EBV, not everyone who gets mono will develop Hodgkin’s.  And considering how prevalent a diagnosis of mono can be, Hodgkin’s is considered rare with an average 50,000 diagnosis each year.  So, sadly, at best, EBV and mono appear, or are at least looked at as just coincidences.  Just as a matter of fact, I was diagnosed with mono at the age of 18, four years before I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s.

Agent orange is a mixture of an herbicide and chemicals, most popularly used during the Vietnam War, having exposed so many to its toxicity.  And for several long term survivors of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, another similarity, from exposure.

Then there are also conversations about “clusters” or “hot spots”, locations with higher incidents of diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  In my early days of survivorship, I had first learned of this situation, concerning areas of Ohio.  I have since learned of other areas, from Los Angeles to Ohio to New York to Norway.  Again, there seems to be a causality due to exposure to chemicals such as Benzene.  There are many of us who lived near Three Mile Island (though I know some who lived closer to TMI than I did when the crisis occurred back in the 1970’s) so radiation is yet another coincidence.  I had even seen reports narrowing down a cluster to a particular high school.  But in the end, these are all just treated either as numbers, or coincidences.

Ultimately, if I really wanted to pinpoint anything, especially with Hodgkin’s being a cancer of the immune system, I would point a finger at stress, not necessarily as a cause, but definitely a trigger.  Like many other things I have had to deal with medically, my events were all preceded by higher amounts of stress than normal.  And what effect does stress have on the body?  It lowers the immune system’s ability to respond and defend.  At the time of my diagnosis, I could not have been under more stress – a challenge I would well exceed fifteen years later.  But again, I want to stress, no pun intended, stress does not mean you will end up with Hodgkin’s.

In the meantime, for those of us in this world of Hodgkin’s, are you letting that “stain in the carpet” sit longer, or have you just taken care of it and have moved on?  To obsess about the “how” or “why”, especially in the beginning of the Hodgkin’s journey can cost valuable time in regard to treatment.  And as most of us HD survivors will tell you, time is critical in treating Hodgkin’s.  And to obsess about the “how” or “why” in survivorship, will only mean that we are not paying attention to the things around us that should matter more.  Sure, it would be nice for closure, to have the “a-ha” moment that we could tie our Hodgkin’s to.  But in reality, I do not see this in my lifetime, which I am hoping for another 30-40 years.


Defining Insanity – Why Do We Still Do It?

I cannot name the author of the following expression, well, because it is just too confusing.  Rumors attribute to Einstein, Ben Franklin, and others, depending on who you wish to give the credit.  But as argument to who the author is does not change the quote.

“The definition of insanity, is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting a different result.”

For decades, this is exactly what we, as a society have been doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.  School shooting – express shock, pray for victims, forget.  Teen suicide – express shock, deny signs that might have prevented, pray, forget.  A trusted staff member violates children sexually – express shock, deny, forget.  All three of these issues have been in the spotlight recently.  I have written many posts about all of these issues.  Sadly, my posts prove the point about defining insanity.

12 year old Gabriella Green hung herself January 10th of this year.  One fellow teen decided to trash Gabriella on social media with horrific rumors and innuendo.  Devastated, she expressed to another fellow pre-teen, she had tried to kill herself, to which her “friend” told her over a phone call, “just do it.”

Bailey Holt was just 15 years old, before she was killed (along with another 15 year old student) and more than a dozen injured after being shot, in school by a fellow classmate.

I am posting the picture of the judge in the case, as opposed to the 150 victims of a sexual predator, a once trusted staff doctor of several sports programs including Olympic athletes.  During sentencing, which the perpetrator received over 175 years and is not eligible for parole for at least 90 years, the judge expressed, “I just signed your death warrant.”

All three situations, it is the same thing, over and over, and yet we expect different results.  This is insane.  Innocent children are dying, or at the very least, having their lives destroyed, because we cannot come up with anything better than the usual, express shock/pray/move on.

We have to start someone.  Parents need to be in control of their childrens’ social media if they are going to allow their children to be on it.  I am a firm believer in allowing my daughters, who happen to be similar in ages to victims in all three of these situations, to have certain freedoms, but given the atmosphere, and the reluctance of entities we trust with our children to protect our children, I still, as a parent have to be that first line of defense.  I do not believe my daughters to be on social media (actually neither has any interest in it currently), but when they do decide to engage, I want their user name and password.  At least until they are 18 years of age, that is not only my right, but my responsibility.  Gabriella and so many others may have had help to deal with their angst instead of feeling isolated and hopeless.

As for the school shooting, I am tired of the argument from both sides, “need common sense gun control” or denial from our representatives of government or the NRA.  The fact is, neither give a shit that we now have school shootings nearly once every week.  We are supposed to believe that our children will be safe in school.

I graduated in 1983.  Shortly after that, police officers were soon being used in the schools, as well as metal detectors.  As an alumni of one of the first schools outside of a major city to use these options, it was embarrassing.  But seriously, a government that will not do anything, and most school districts more interested in protecting the rights of the bully over the victim, what other options are there?

And how many people knew about this monster, trusted to treat student athletes only to sexually violate them, and did nothing.  Yes, it is a double edge sword.  Yes, the whole “innocent until proven guilty.”  Yes, the whole “turn your back for the good of the program” or “if you want your success, you will stay silent.”  These horrific acts were committed against these children, and those who needed to protect them, turned their backs.  And just who else might have known this was going on and did nothing?

As far as I am concerned, if you know something is a possibility, and you do nothing to voice that concern, you are complicit, allowing the action to commence further.  Just because it has not happened to your child, does not make it okay that you did not speak up.  Again, having two daughters the same age as the victims in all three of these scenarios, this hits real close to home.  I have many friends who have lost children, permanently, witnessed their never ending grief.  And I am sure they would say the same thing, to do nothing is to take their lives, if at the very least, their innocence away.

If you suspect something, address it calmly, rationally, and legally.  At the very least, you put the possible perpetrator on notice.  But to do nothing, someone vile who is actually continuing their abusive acts, will only keep at it.  And that is what would make you complicit.

All three of these situations could have ended differently, but instead, our society keeps doing the same thing, over and over again.  Youth suicides.  School shootings.  Sexual abuse by those in positions we trust – coaches, doctors, clergy, teachers, etc.

It starts with a communication and involvement.  Be involved with your child’s life.  Make sure that your child can come to you and confide in you.  Make sure that your child knows that you will protect them.  And then back that with actions.

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