Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Bullying”

Not Playing Favorites


When it comes to taking photos with my daughters, nearly all of the time, you will see one on each side of me. Much like a scale, to me, this particular pose, shows balance, equal. And that is the relationship that I want with my daughters. I do not favor one over the other.

Adopted roughly two years apart, that is the only advantage that one daughter has over the other, time. I pretty much nipped any kind of “competition” or sibling rivalry in the bud at the first sign when my older daughter asked following a karate demonstration, “who did it better?” referring to her sister’s execution versus hers.

Up until their high school years, I gave them constant reminders, anytime I heard any hint of one having an edge over the other in anything particular. That it was okay if something came easier for one than the other. That each would have their own methods to get from point A to point B, and both could be correct. But that did not mean that one way was better than the other.

In the theory of nature versus nurture, both daughters were raised to have the same values and virtues. That I expect of both of them. In that regard, they are both equal, and I could not be more proud.

But as they grew, they each developed their own interests and likes. They each got stronger in certain skills. Both have their own study habits. Both of my daughters have their own paths to get from point A to point B, and both, will get there.

As I mentioned, time is the only difference between the love I have shared equally with them. I have a year and a half more photos and memories. But that is all.

Now, as my daughters reach adulthood, there is a shift. I will have one daughter going off to college. And just like the song “Cats In The Cradle,” I expect difficulty in time to get to spend with her. And while my younger daughter graduates the following year, I will continue the frequency in visits with her, until she moves on as well. But time, is the only advantage one has over the other. That is not me favoring one over the other.

In their elementary and middle school years, it was a lot easier to maintain this balance. But in high school, as future goals and decisions needed to be made, I do my best to maintain that balance, making sure not to ignore one daughter over the other. Both of them have important things going on in their lives, again, just the timing of one year between them making the difference. They both need my attention. I love each of them the same.

Science And Numbers Have Not Lied


First, looking at this picture, do not be distracted by what I am listening to. I actually do like Nickelback. Don’t judge me. LOL.

Obviously, it was that time again for me to get bloodwork done. And for one of the few times, this was a blood test that I was looking forward to. For one, I keep getting the same phlebotomist who performs the draw flawlessly, painless, and quick. The other reason, the test would provide information in regard to my vaccine status and overall Covid exposure.

But before I go any further, I will save anyone time. If you do not believe in science, and/or allow that it can be flawed at times, skip this post. I am not going to get into anything political about this.

From the beginning of the pandemic, science, at least the CDC, NIH, and FDA, had been concentrating on the more susceptible with their studies. The Leukemia Lymphoma Society, recognizing that it was not likely, that studies would be done on those of us who are immuno-compromised, decided to organize their own study, using patients how have or had dealt with blood cancers, such as leukemia and my cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

I am not going to get lost in the weeds with all kinds of details, but here is the summary. In my particular case, I made a conscious decision to hold off on being vaccinated, until I knew that a 3rd dose would be approved. I had more than a strong hunch, that two doses would not be enough to protect me based on prior vaccines. For me to have gotten the vaccines when they became available, would not have allowed me the full benefit I needed from a third dose. Here is my proof.

Following my first dose, my blood showed no traces of antibodies, either from the vaccine, or from a Covid exposure. This was done two weeks after my dose.

My second dose was given 28 days after the first dose, with bloodwork following two weeks again. This time, there was a slight appearance of antibodies from the vaccine, nowhere near what I needed for protection. But the good news was, I also was not exposed to Covid.

Because of the choice I made, unlike others who got their vaccines as they were originally available, and their 3rd vaccine, 5-6 months after their 2nd, I received my 3rd dose, just 28 days after my 2nd dose. As I expected, the 3rd dose was a homerun, producing a robust amount of antibodies, and confirmed, still no exposure.

All I had to do was wait. I knew that I would have more bloodwork, to see if I still had coverage, but I was already anticipating a 4th dose being necessary. The lead doctor of the study, had already hinted at the likelihood. But now, as the fourth dose had not been approved yet, I am now in the position, where I needed to wait five months, to get that fourth jab. But before that, yep, more bloodwork.

This bloodwork would confirm what my levels were like after five months from the 3rd dose. The 4th dose had already been expected in my mind. I anticipated a drop in my antibodies, but not as badly as they had, an 82% decline over the five months. I am as close to no longer being protected again as I was back in the beginning of this. The 4th dose is now scheduled. More bloodwork to come. But will there be a 5th dose or some other plan? Clearly, Covid will be a lifetime risk for me.

There was some good news with this latest blood test. To be clear, I have followed every recommendation from the CDC, regardless of the “keystone cop” approach with communications, the message did not change, “use the caution we recommend”. Masks. Wash hands (really cannot believe people needed to be told that). Avoid indoor crowds. For well over two years, I have done it willingly, without the false trope of “losing freedom” or any of the other false claims that these precautions actually did do. I have faced several exposure risks, from having to be in the hospital for three surgeries during Covid times, people around me discovered to have had Covid and remained silent instead of being concerned for my vulnerabilities, and as shown in the photo below, a crowded airport as I waited to check my daughters bag for their flight home (the mask mandate was still in place, yet 75% of the people were unmasked, and the wait was well over an hour and a half, packed together, indoors). The blood test confirmed, as with the others, “no infection.” Yes, I was still following all those recommendations from the CDC that so many complained about as flawed. The fact is, they work. Need proof?

Of my sibling and I, it is me that has all the vulnerabilities. My sibling was (spoiler alert, I did write “was”) younger, and given all of my complicated survivorship issues, expected to easily outlive me. But there was a problem. My sibling followed the chain of false information and reasoning, from “Covid is a hoax” to “Covid is an attack on Trump,” to “I don’t trust the vaccines,” to “I put my faith in God to protect me,” to “I put my faith in God to cure me.” As I said, “spoiler alert”. I am the one writing this post, not my sibling. My younger sibling died because of all of the anti this and anti that.

The mandates are gone and as expected, all those who were “forced” to protect themselves have now made their choices to throw all precautions to the wind. Many have been infected multiple times, emboldened that they have survived each time, and therefore, will not go to any lengths to protect themselves or anyone else. As one of my friends mistakenly offered his opinion, “herd immunity is what is needed. Which I have always said, herd immunity would come at such a high cost, millions of lives, to which this person responded, “all for the cause. It is the patriotic thing to do.” I was speechless at the thought that someone claimed to have strong religious faith, was okay with sacrificing lives for the cause of the country, as opposed to following simple recommendations. And this sentiment still continues over two years later.

My goal as a long term cancer survivor, as a parent, was to see my daughters grow, become adults, start their lives. As hard as it is, and the odds that are against me doing that, Covid was not something I needed thrown in front of me, making these wishes even more challenging. Yet here I am. I need to avoid Covid so that I can be there for my daughter’s graduation just next month, fortunately, will be an outside event.

So, I must continue to mask. I always wash my hands. I avoid crowds (in full transparency, have always hated crowds anyway). I do go places, but at “lighter” times of day when not as busy. I have just begun eating out, but only if outdoor seating available, or just do take out as I have during the whole pandemic. I have no interest in overpriced boring movies in theaters or concerts. I am pretty much doing all the things I want to do, with all the precautions. I am still free. I am still alive. That is science. Those are the facts.

A Simple Rule


Violence for any reason, is not okay. Making fun of someone dealing with a medical issue, is not okay. It really is that simple. It is not about being triggered. It is not just about having empathy or understanding for someone else.

I was not watching the Oscar’s the other night when the slap heard round the world was thrown. And I really do not care who was involved. I have seen my share of the videos and memes going around.

Many responding to the incident, are doing so in reaction to “news” or newer information about prior history between Chris Rock and Will Smith (who for the record, I do enjoy watching both). I get confused however by the logic some are using not just for needing to choose a side as to who was right, but why?

It really is simple. Both were in the wrong. I can put myself in both positions to see if either could have been right. I can make the excuses on what I saw, and what possibly I would have done had I been in either of their positions.

Yes, there is a history between both, with Rock having the obvious upper hand, having more public opportunities performing stand up, whereas Smith has no reason to go after Rock in any of his movies. With comedians typically having no mercy or filter, that is not to say, they do not have the ability to sense when something might not be right. Even facing hecklers, comedians must know how to de-escalate a situation. And Rock knew when he crossed that line.

You could see there was an unspoken warning after the “GI Jane 2” crack, and Rock saw it too. And had he improvisationalised (I realize this is not a word, but I did not want you think I meant “improved”) away from that situation, things would have turned differently. And I do not believe Rock meant it to go any further and genuinely felt badly when he saw the hurt reaction. It was his need to explain that left Smith, feeling that the assault would continue which it did not, especially from Rock. I do think things could have and would have ended much differently had Smith remained in his seat. Hell, he could have even shouted his comments without assaulting Rock, and that could have been understood.

But I know, how quickly I would respond, were either of my daughters, or anyone that I am close to, were attacked in a similar or worse situation. And it would likely be on that same level. No, it is not okay. That is what emotions can do.

I also know what it is like to be made fun of, when struggling with an illness. Especially when we cannot hide the fact that we are dealing with it. This is most obvious when it comes to someone fighting something as serious as cancer. Hair loss from treatments is one of the most devastating side effects for both men and women. It is not just about how it looks, but we know that it also lets everyone know that we are sick. And that is likely to affect how you react around us, that is, if you remain around us. So yes, I can see both sides of this altercation, and neither were in the right. It does not matter if the person being mocked has made light of their situation in the past, we do not have the right to pile on to it. That person has their reason if they quip about their own situation, as a defense mechanism.

My world does not change by what happens next between those two. And my attitude does not change either. Violence to resolve anything is wrong. And mocking anyone who is dealing with an illness or handicap is wrong. It is that simple.

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