|The Truth Of The Matter And Other Ramblings Of A Dying Man
Journal entry by Michael March — 6/15/2016
June 15, 2016
2:18 PM - 11:05 PM
On January 5, 2016 around 3 PM I was told I had about 6-12 months to live. The HPV Throat Cancer had spread to my lungs, it was inoperable, incurable and I should now focus on spending as much time with loved ones as I could. I should do whatever it was I ever wanted to do, and enjoy the best quality of life I could have.
Today, almost 6 months later, I was meeting with the local oncology doctors, suggested by my Johns Hopkins Doctors, (HopDocs) and although it was a hard meeting to sit through, it is exactly the way I want things to be. My doctor told me he would not sugar coat anything, be brutally honest, and lay it all out on the table. Which he did, and for which I am grateful.
I have known all along I could not beat this third cancer. I have been researching cancer since 2008 when I had my first bout with the beast. I know how this works, and how it even works for that 1 or 2 percent that has incredible success. They all die within 18 months. I am no different, and I am dying. Stage 4 cancers are known to kill within 3-6 months from prognosis. I have almost beat the low end of 6 months, but I doubt I will beat the long shot of 12 months.
I think about all the things I simply enjoy doing and at some point, I will never do those things again. But of course, everyone ends up that way. I still picture my father spending hour after hour and even day after day playing with his stamp collection. I say play, because I could never get into the whole thing. No matter how hard I tried. But he loved his stamps. He worked on that collection up till the week he died.
Here is it, 18 years later, and he has not had a moment of enjoyment doing what he loved to do, simply because he is dead. I have that on my mind constantly. Silly thoughts, I know, but that is my mind protecting me somehow, letting me know it is okay to "waste" my last days doing what I find enjoyable.
I have been busy doing what I enjoy, knowing it is a total waste of time, but it also allows me to just stare the beast down one more time, and push on to the point of no return, doing what I find relaxing. I have always liked to plan things, put things together, gather people around, and just do something. Do things I was told could not be done. I am still trying to do that, even to planning my own funeral and memorial service.
That explains The Gaggle of Noobs, The Tip Of The Spear Network, before that, The WCC Lottery Team before that, the Football Team before that, and the list just seems to go on, and on. All the way back to high school and building a skate board ramp under our deck for everyone on the local team could use it. I created the team too.
So, that makes me glad to still be alive. But the desire to see one more day is starting to diminish with each passing day.
But the honest assessment of how things are is rather plain. Things are just not good.
My birthday is on August 20. I have an equal chance of being alive, or being dead. Or if the decision is made to go the Chemo route, and it "works" for me, maybe I see Christmas. However, I am nearing the end of my life. I feel rather crappy, but it could be, and will be much worse. That is the point I find myself in. Do I want an extra month, or two, or maybe even 4 if I am sicker than I have ever been, and know there is no getting better? Or do I just stay as pain free as possible, and slide into my tomorrows without yesterdays?
The Gaggle of Noobs has kept me alive over the last 5 or 6 months. That has kept my mind busy, my will to help others still growing, but I now know I am just being pandered to, and that is not the way I wanted to die. Maybe I have been wrong the whole time with The Gaggle. I have never been rich, but I have been smart. I do not often toss money around, unless it was a worthy cause, and there is a worthy cause all around.
Since I was given less than a year to live, it has actually been harder to keep The Gaggle thing going. I really thought I would get swamped with folks wanting to join, if for no reason other than I was dying, and this was my last year to pester them. But I have kept hearing the same thing over and over. They smile, say they are broke, and whatever else.
I know now I can no longer convince those around me, to keep joining the Gaggle of Noobs, help me reach my goal for the group, and to keep helping us, help others. That is convinced me to give up a little bit of what has kept me going for the last few years, and be okay with appearing to be that punch drunk boxer flailing at shadows of a former time.
Although, as far as I am concerned, you get more back, by giving more away. I have been asking people for $25 for a yearly membership ($1 every two weeks) over and over again for the past few years. Probably less than 25% of those I have ever approached said okay. That makes me sad for our community. But I kept at it, because I enjoyed building something. It just makes me sad knowing I am leaving my own world, a much worse off place. Populated with people that can't set aside as little as 90 minutes of their yearly work income, to help kids. Kids? As a nation, I think we have truly seen our best days.
I hope and pray The Skyline Gaggle of Noobs, which is what it is now, will be able to overcome what I was never able to overcome. I always thought the apathy I saw all around me was just something having to due with my approach. I have come to think about it more being the problem with this whole society we live in. I actually feel lucky to be checking out sooner than later. It will only get worse, and I would rather not have to see it happen.
I have always believed in the kindness of the American Public. The kindness of my own Winchester Community. But for reasons that boggle my own mind, things have changed. I guess the more I have tried to raise money for very worthy causes, the more I realized our community has changed so much, trying to persuade others to help, is almost impossible. I have heard people tell me over and over they are living paycheck to paycheck and I understand how that can be. I think we all have done that at one point or another. I still think everyone can afford $1 every two weeks regardless of their protestations.
Anyway, all I have wanted to do as I close out my life will surely not be done. I am slowly losing the ability to think clearly, enjoy the thought process, and remain connected to a world gone mad. On Thursday, I will be united with an oxygen bottle that will be the opening shot, to the end of the road. There will come a time, when I just stop taking part in this world, due to either no longer caring to take part, or not being able to.
When the end comes, it will be with a whimper instead of a scream. It will hopefully be painless, but that is doubtful. I can only say I am sorry for putting my family through the kind of pain that for me, lasts but a moment, but for them, it may last a much longer time. Down the road they will say over and over "Mike would have loved this." or something along those lines. I still think that way today of my father, who passed 18 years ago.
My time is drawing to a close...... be kind to each other.
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